"God's art [Creation] speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He is like."
Francis Chan

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tori at Twelve - Portrait Completed

  I have a new found respect for portrait artists.  Painting a portrait is really hard!  I had a lot of fun giving it a try these past few weeks.  And I learned a tremendous amount.  One thing I learned is that I need to find a portrait drawing class in my area to take!  I spoke with my father, who is an artist in Colorado, and told him what project I was in the middle of.  He bluntly told me that if I ever wanted to be decent at painting - I needed to draw, draw, draw.  Good advice.
   I also realized just how much we think we know what someone looks like, especially those closest to us, when really we haven't taken the time to know every detail that makes them, well - them. The slightest upturn of the nose, the curve of the eyelid, the roundness of the cheek: if any of these are just a hair off - the picture will no longer look like the subject.  I think I redid the lips on this portrait seven times and still feel like I didn't quite "get it".  It is all of those specific, unique details that scream out to us of the fact that we are "Fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139) by the hands of a brilliant Creator and not as a result of the mishaps of evolution.
  Then of course, just when you may really know what someone looks like they change in appearance, especially at this young adult stage that my subject happens to be in. She will never again be at that twelve year old "little girl on the verge of growing up" stage.  That look is fleeting.  I wanted to try and capture it while it was still there.  It seems like everyday she is changing and leaning more towards the grown up look instead of the little girl look I was so used to.  Which may be why, unfortunately, I think my painting ended up looking a little too old.  Try as I did, I think she is looking more like sixteen then twelve (and I'm certaintly not ready for that!) 
For ten years she was the baby in our family until Sophia was born two years ago.  Then all of sudden she started growing up.  Isn't it funny how that happens?  And it's not just the looks that change but, the personality too.  She is beginning to find her own likes and dislikes.  Her full name is Victoria Grace and she was named that because it is a testament, after a difficult time right before her birth, of God's victorious grace on our lives.  About a year ago she decided that she didn't like that name and wanted to be called Tori.  It about broke my heart!  I didn't say anything when her friends began calling her that or when she began signing her name that way, but I refused to call her that.  Recently I have realized that she is her own person and it really might be a case of needing to choose my battles.  So I signed all of her Christmas presents  "To: Tori".  I know it might not seem like a big deal - but it was huge for me!  It was a small way of acknowledgeing the fact that she is growing up.  Although I am sure during the times in the future when she is acting like a child and gets herself into trouble, she will be hearing the full fledged "Victoria Grace!"  when I call her!
One thing that seems to never change in her is that sweet smile and big bright eyes.  I am pleased that I was able to capture in the painting somewhat of that sweet essence that she has. 
This painting was so fun to do (and I have so much more to learn!) that I have a whirlwind of ideas for other portraits running through my mind.  I may return to portaits after I finish up a couple of other projects that are waiting to be completed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Update - Victoria's Portrait

   Let me start off by giving props to my husband who stayed up until 12:30 last night (he is so not a night owl) to help me with the proportions and perspective on my preliminary sketch for this portrait.  I had the basic sketch done, and had even roughly painted in the background with burnt umber and french ultramarine blue.  But I didn't want to get going on the skin tones without his help. I will gladly admit that he has a much better eye for perspective.  He is much more of a perfectionist than I am.  He is the detail guy -I am the creative free spirit.  Even in the simple tasks of life - when we paint the living room he does the painstaking, time consuming trim- I get the big block of color in the middle to go crazy on. So when I had her face as close as I could, I knew I needed his eye to help me see what I had missed.  It is amazing how a new set of eyes helps us see things a little clearer.  I suppose this is true in both art and life. 
After he helped me out (and then went to bed)  I was able to lay down some of the preliminary flesh tones.  I was most concerned with getting the strong shadow on her neck where it creases in the right place.  I didn't concentrate to much on the mid tone shadows of her left cheek yet.  That will probably be what I zone in on today.  At two thirty this morning I felt like I had a good start (although, I know I will need to somehow make her look younger - she appears to be about seventeen in my rendition at this point)  and headed to bed myself.

  When I woke up this morning I came into my office and realized that I have missed the mark on the lower half of her face.  I believe the lips and chin are protruding too far out.  This may be part of the problem that makes her look older.  I guess this will be another problem that I need to remedy this afternoon.
I would love insight or suggestions from any of my artist friends out there!  As I said  in my last post, this is a challenge for me and I would love to learn from anyone out there with some wisdom for me.  For now, I press on!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Portrait - Victoria Grace

   Every Christmas break I try and begin a new painting to work on while I have the extra free time.  This year I am stepping way out of my comfort zone to work on a portrait.  I have only done a couple of portaits and freely confess it is not my area of expertise.  However it is something that I have always desired to do more of.  I especially love the idea of capturing moments in my children's lives as they grow and change.
  I recently read two articles in "The Artist's" magaxzine  that provoked me to give it a try.  The first article was about an artist that did a painting of her son every year of his childhood (and into his twenties, I believe).  They were gorgeous and what a neat record of how he had changed throughout the years.   The second was from the January/February 2010 issue.It was a technique article by artist Chris Saper (http://www.chrissaper.com/ ) about capturing that small time period in a child's life when they are between the child and adult stages. She gave some great advice and pointed out things about a "tweens" face that I had never even noticed.
   Armed with that info and with an idea for a painting that had been floating around in my head, I am ready for my Christmas break project.  I chose to do a painting of my twelve year old daughter, Victoria.  Today I asked her (i.e bribed her) to sit for me with while I did a couple of sketches of her to get the feel for her features.  Unfortunately , those sketches didn't turn out so great.  So I took some snap shots of her to use when her neck gets stiff and tired and then I sent her on her way.

  This photo is my favorite.  It is exactly the look that I was looking for.  I wanted a dark background with light streaming in on her face.  I love sthe soft shadows on her neck and face. Talk about inspiring!  The photo alone has me jumping up and down!  I am not a photographer (although I have to admit, it is one thing that I have always thought would be so neat to do!), but somehow within twenty or so shots I was able to capture the look that I was going for.  I love how it expresses her sweet smile...now if only I can capture that on a canvas. 
I will be doing a few more sketches to work out some of the trickier issues - one being her lips which for some reason really snag me up.  One of the things I already see that I will have to work on is getting past the familiarity issue of assuming I know what she looks like and trying to see her as if it is for the first time.  I will give updates as things progress and let you all get to know why I find this special girl an inspiration to be painted.  Until then, you can check out my very first portait attempt that happened to be of  a five year old Victoria.  Remember, I told you up front, portaits are not my expertise!  She was much cuter than my feeble attempt displayed.  But even, after seven years, this painting is a sentimental treasure to me.

One last note: the poppy painting is finished!  I named it "Flander's Field".  I have two shots here, both zoomed in a bit to show some of the details.  The last thing that I did, which is such a fun part of poppies, is the highlighed fine hairs on the stems.  When that was finished I knew it was done.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Update on Poppy Painting

I wanted to give a long over due update on how things are going with my latest poppy painting. As you can see, it survived the paint brush of my two year old! She had painted red and magenta over most of the leaves and stems. After a lot of time and fresh paint I was able to fix it and proceed.
I just recently began to add lighter highlight strokes to the petals. I wanted to convey a redder tone to these poppies but had been feeling like they were too brash. My goal is to get a softer "glow" look with lots of small strokes in a large variety of lighter colors. I also tried adding variety to the petals by laying down some shadowy areas in faint blue to provide consistency with the blue background.
I am hoping to be finished up with this within two weeks if all goes well. Such a busy time of year - but what a joyful one! We have so much to be thankful for! God has sent a Saviour to save us from our sin!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Soon...and Very Soon

I wanted to turn my attention away from the paintbrush and canvas this week to another area that gives me tremendous inspiration - music. Like art, music was something that I grew up surrounded with. Singing is something that has been a huge part of my life since I was very young.

As I got older, and became a Christian, I found songs to be the way to express my gratitude to the One who saved me and to tell others about Him. I can think of very few things that I take more pleasure in than opening my mouth and letting out my heart through song. It seems like music has been one of the main ways in which God has always helped me through difficult times in my life. I often think of the verse in Psalm32:7 "You are my hiding place. You shall preserve me from trouble. You compass me about with songs of deliverance."

About four or five years ago we discovered a lump in my neck that the doctors felt pretty sure had all the signs of being thyroid cancer. The tumor was about the size of a golf ball and was causing some discomfort for my breathing and a strain on my vocal chords. Cancer or not, it had to go. I have to tell you that I felt such a peace about it possibly being the "C" word. It was the lyrics to one of my favorite songs that instantly brought me that peace. In the last verse of "In Christ Alone" it says:

No guilt in life, no fear in death
this is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

When I met with the surgeon for a consultation before surgery I had absolutely no fear of dying. However, when the doctor told us this is a simple procedure with very few expected complications - unless of course, you happen to be a singer.... I felt panic sweep over me. He went on to tell us that they would have to remove most or all of the thyroid which has a tiny nerve that runs right through it that connects to the vocal chord. Most people would not notice any difference. However cutting that delicate nerve would basically ruin your singing voice. I was in shock. I sat in the doctors office and cried for over an hour. (He was an extremely kind and patient doctor!)

But as I prepared over the next two weeks for the surgery, I began to feel even a peace about that. I thought about Job and all of his trials that made my little issue seem very insignificant. And what was Job's reaction to God allowing the things he loved most in this world to be taken away?

"Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him" Job 13:15

Right before surgery I wrote the prayer of my heart in the front of my Bible - God, it's your voice to give and to take at Your will. I just ask that if You choose to take my voice You will give me another way to praise You."

It was the music of Selah that really got me through that time also. The words to "Be Still My Soul" reminded me...

"Be still my soul, the waves and winds still know - they still know - His voice, that ruled them while He walked below."

I'm happy to report that God faithfully brought me through and guided the surgeon's hands. They only had to take half of my thyroid to get the lump and missed the snip of the delicate nerve. I'm so thankful for His grace.

I have someone very dear to me that is waiting this week for what may be some very bad news. The stakes for her are far bigger than not being able to sing. I can only imagine what she is going through as she waits to hear. I have been praying for her and it seems like I find myself once again finding comfort (for her and for those of us who love her) in the lyrics of a song. The song is called "Soon" by Brooke Fraser and I recently had the honor of singing it at a women's ministry night. It is a reminder to those of us who know what it means to have the horrible things that we've done forgiven by a holy God because of His Son's love and sacrifice. It is a reminder that this is not our home and that someday soon and very soon we will stand before our God in our true home in heaven and lift our hands and endlessly sing His praise. The question I guess, is what "soon" means for each of us. Five years ago, for me, it wasn't my time - but my time will be soon, whether it's a year from now or thirty years from now. For the one that I am praying for right now - she may well receive the news that her time is truly soon. But there is no fear in that! There is excitement and joy, and knowledge that all of God's people will be together in Heaven...soon.


Soon and very soon, my King is coming - robed in righteousness and crowned with love
When I see Him, I will be made like Him - soon and very soon
Soon and very soon, I'll be going - to the place He has prepared for me
All my sin erased - my stains forgotten - soon and very soon

I will be with the One I love - with unveiled face I'll see Him
And my soul will be satisfied - soon and very soon
I will be with the One I love - in endless song I'll praise Him
And my soul will be satisfied - soon and very soon

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Little Picasso

Okay, it happened. It was inevitable. It could have been a lot worse, I suppose. But it still wasn't the best thing to happen. You may have even guessed what I'm referring to...Sophia has discovered a love of art! Unfortunately, she expressed her creativity all over the two projects that I was working on at the moment. Let me back up a moment.

Sunday (our day of rest...ha ha) was extremely busy. We had been running all day and as happens more often than not, we all were going in different directions for a short time and I had only one older child able to watch Sophie for the hour or so that we would be gone at Victoria's basketball game. The older child will remain nameless at this point, but suffice to say, they apparently got distracted from their babysitting duties. Fast forward to 6:20 pm - we are running late for the small group that we are attending that night. I stop into the office because I see a light that needs to be turned off. The light happened to be my art desk light. Strange, I hadn't even been painting that day. That's when I saw it. The two paintings that I posted about in "Frustrations of a Multi Tasker " were covered in all sorts of abstract designs, using the last paint that I happened to have used - bright red and fuchsia!

I was too stunned at first to do anything but yell for Craig, my husband, who thought I must be having a heart attack or something. He, of course was less than pleased with the nameless older child responsible for watching Sophie. Sophie knew she was in trouble because we have had the "Mommies paints are a no no" conversation everyday for the last two or three months.
But it was bound to happen sooner or later because Sophie is a sinner susceptible to temptation just like me and because - darn it, who can resist those beautiful colors!

I am counting myself fortunate. I have a friend, Charles Frietag, who is an incredible artist that was commissioned to paint the official portrait of the then Governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsak. You guessed it...his then two year old snuck down into his studio and painted over - of all things - the Governor's face! (Perhaps he had underlying grievances with the Governor's politics?)
My little Picasso did much less damage.

To be honest, I wasn't even that upset. I even laughed about it as I was retelling it to our small group later that night. I think it was a laugh or cry situation. The good news is, the paint was still fresh enough that I was able to scrape some of the globs of red and pink off and then take mineral spirits and lightly rub off a lot of the rest. The Fuchsia Peony took the brunt of it, as the "like" colors sort of mushed together to make a muddy look. But time and a little repainting in spots can heal all painting goobers (or so I am hoping.) In the end, they are just paintings and by no means priceless master pieces. All is well. I just wish that I had had the foresight to think to take pictures of Sophie's paintings. I'm thinking that in years from now when we are reminiscing over funny family moments that will definitely go down as one.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Paintings of Daniel Keys

This blog was created with two things in mind - to remind us who is the Creator that gives us each the ability to create and to share anything that personally inspires me in hopes that it will inspire others. My subject today fits both descriptions. I ran across the paintings of Daniel Keys (his painting entitled "Azaleas" is to the left) while reading the art magazine American Artist a few months ago. I loved the colors that he uses and the soft appearance of his work. I think they are just beautiful.
What really got me excited was to see the background behind the painter. Daniel Keys is a young man (in his early twenties, I believe). He is self taught. He was homeschooled all of his childhood which gave him the freedom to explore and grow in his love for and talent in art. More importantly, he was raised in a Christian home and unabashedly gives God the glory for his abilities. I always am excited to see that and find it tremendously inspiring. All of his paintings are meant to remind the viewer of "God's love for all good things" (quoted from "About the Artist" on Daniel's web site).
After Daniel appeared in American Artist (his painting also appeared on the cover), he has become quite well known. It seems like I see his name everywhere in the art magazines and websites that I frequent. I have found myself praying for him at times as I would imagine that being suddenly in the limelight would be a bit overwhelming. I pray that he would be strengthened in his faith to be able to maintain his wonderful witness for the Lord and always remember to continue to give His God the glory.
I encourage you to check out more of his amazing work. You can find his paintings at www.danielkeysfineart.com or follow his blog that includes his newest paintings at www.danielkeys.blogspot.com.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Frustrations of a Multi Tasker

Creatively speaking, this has been a frustrating week. I have been thinking a lot about time - and the lack there of that I have. As you will notice from the picture to the far left, I haven't really gotten much done on my latest painting. I have a deadline of mid December and had great aspirations this week of getting a really good start on it...but that's not really what happened.
I hear about all of these artists who have do the "painting a day" thing. A painting a day? You've got to be kidding me? They must be incredible organizers to find the kind of time to do that. And apparently I am not. Last Monday I had a plan in my head on how far I wanted to get in my "poppy" painting. Here is how it actually went...
Monday - I worked on the background, laying in splashes of Prussian Blue, Burnt Umber, and French Ultra Marine. So far so good. I was determined to paint even though I woke up with an eye infection that required me to wear a patch over my eye to dull the irritation to light. I looked ridiculous (like a painting pirate), and really gave myself a headache trying to focus with one eye.
Tuesday - Got a little more done between running my daughter to choir class that she takes at the public school, dealing with a two year old that wants to paint too, and working a couple of hours at our company.
Wednesday - Well, Wednesday is laundry day around here - need I say more? Seven loads of laundry done -zero painting.
Thursday - Fairly profitable. I put on a second layer of my background, adding some highlighted areas with the Prussian Blue and Titanium white, doing lots of blending to get that soft look I am looking for. I began to add the Sap Green to the stems to help me better see where the shadows and highlights will go.
Thursday was also a chance to return to another painting that I had set aside for some drying time. It is the Fuchsia Peony posted at the top. Now that some of the base layers were a little more dry I could begin glazing and doing soft blending. I am fairly happy with the direction that this painting is going, however, there are a few problem areas that I need to work out.
Friday - Yes! The Weekend. I was ready to set aside the school books and the office paperwork and paint all weekend. Okay, maybe in a perfect world. Friday was a less than perfect homeschool day, spent trying to catch up on stuff not completed after a less than perfect homeschool week. Plus more laundry, and grocery shopping, and trying to convince Sophie that yes, she was tired and needed a nap.

Saturday and Sunday - The dream was still alive - there was still that idea that I would have hours upon hours of free time to brush away...Until I fell into bed Saturday night after a day filled with early morning Bible study groups, soccer games out in the cold, running kids to basketball practices, clothes shopping for kids who were outgrowing everything, and Sunday afternoon family lunch preparations. Sunday afternoon (after the family lunch) I looked out the window to see all of our leaves blowing into the neighbors perfectly manicured yard and realize - I would be wielding a rake that afternoon, instead f a paint brush. When I finally do get to my art area to paint at about 9:30 Sunday night, I had one intention - to really focus on those stems. Wouldn't you know it - I tell you know lies - I was down to scraping Sap Green out of the tube. Guess I would have to squeeze in a trip to the art supply store on Monday before I could go any further.

Don't get me wrong, I really am not complaining. I love my crazy, busy life. I love all of the kids activities, and the time we spend together learning during our school days. I love serving them by keeping house. Okay I don't love laundry - I can't lie about that one. But generally speaking I have a great life.

Someday, I will get up in the morning and find that I have all the time in the world to paint. This isn't that season of my life. Of course my husband reminds me that with our youngest being a two year old, that season may not come until we are almost sixty! But that's okay.
For now I am thankful at the few minutes I can steal in my day to paint while the baby is playing and the other kids have gotten their assignments and are working on homework. I remind myself that creating isn't just done on a canvas. My whole home is a canvas needing to be painted with beauty and warm meals and even clean laundry. And my kids' childhoods are canvases needing to be painted with good memories. So onward I go with the multi tasking juggle. And I will be thankful for the times, no matter how small, that I get a chance to handle the paintbrush.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thought I would let you all see my newest painting as it progresses. This one was commissioned after someone saw "In the Poppy Field". So I get to revisit the poppies again which I am excited to do. I will keep you posted as it moves along.

"Friends are flowers in the Garden of Life"

I am sharing two paintings this week that remind me of friendship. The first is a painting that I did about four or five years ago for a wonderful lady named Amanda. She belonged to a special group of friends that met at my house every Tuesday morning for Bible study for years. We all grew so close as we dove into God's Word together and learned more about God. We shared ups and downs with each other and prayed for each other through some very difficult times. That whole group of women are very special to me and I find each one of them very inspiring.
Amanda had asked me if when she got married would I paint her a picture of purple flowers. Low and behold, it wasn't long before she was engaged! I was very happy to do this painting. I was trying for something that brought a peaceful reaction, so I used lots of cool colors. I also wanted an intimate feel to the painting as a symbol of the closeness of marriage. Lastly, I wanted something that reflected the femininity and beauty of the beautiful girl that I was painting it for. I finished it shortly before her happy day. It is called (surprisingly!) "Amanda's Flowers".
*Note: Blogger for some reason doesn't seem to want to upload "Amanda's Flowers. To view it go to the top of the post from October 4th. I'll try to upload it later on this week to this post!

The other painting that I am posting was done recently for someone that has shown such kindness to me and my family through a difficult time. She is the sort of person that really takes the time to ask you how are you doing. And she isn't saying it as a greeting - she is really asking and expecting a real answer. God has really used her to cause me to question my self as far as how good of a friend am I? Do I show care and concern for others as I should? Very challenging! I heard her mention one day that poppies were her favorite flowers and I went home that afternoon and immediately began painting.
It is such a joy to paint something for someone that you know and who mean a lot to you. Friendship is such an important part of our lives and truly is inspiring.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Woman in the Garden

In my last post I showed you the painting that is probably my husband's least favorite. I thought this week I would show you his favorite. It is only fair , as he is super supportive of my endeavors in art. He is actually great about it. The man has put up with paint splatters on our walls, part of our bedroom being overtaken with my easel and paints, and endless picture frame assemblies (not my area of expertise, but he can put anything together.) He is the kind of guy that will tell you exactly what he thinks, so he is great at critiquing. But at the same time he is always letting me know how proud he is of me. Plus, I am still amazed at the awesome portable art display that he designed and put together so I could do art sales.
So I didn't actually know that he had a favorite painting of mine until he mentioned it one night when we had some friends over. He chose this one, entitled "The Woman in the Garden" (oil 24x30). It is one that I plan on never selling, due to the fact that I got an idea for an important element in the painting from another painting that I had seen. I can't remember where I saw it, or who the artist was, but it wouldn't be right to try and sell someone else's idea.
When asked why he liked it, my husband said that it was because it reminded him of me out in the garden, bending over my flowers. It was just so sweet of him. And really funny. Here is this almost romantic scene of a beautiful lady in a flowing dress, delicately smelling a flower....and then there is the real me in the garden - wearing cut offs and a tank top, covered in sweat because I've been digging and pulling and transplanting. What a true testament to how wonderfully blind true love is!
The garden is actually one place that I find tremendous inspiration. We live on about two acres of land and I have about seven gardens. They are full of my favorites - hydrangeas, roses, spider wort, and cone flowers. And of course there are lots of wonderful prairie grasses that swoosh and whisper in the wind and glow at sunset. I love being in my garden (and I love all the sweaty work too)! There are few things that I find more peaceful than working or even just walking through my gardens. I can't help but stand in amazement at God's glorious creation. His intricate designs and brilliant colors are amazing. It makes me think of Psalm 33:8 "Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him."
So I guess when I painted "Woman in the Garden" it was that feeling of the peaceful time talking with God, enjoying His creation that I was trying to convey. Even if my times in the garden are in cut offs and a tank top!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Christmas Tulip

The painting to the left is titled "The Christmas Tulip". It is an oil painting (20x24). I know the name doesn't seem to make much sense, as Christmas time is not often associated with tulips, but I did this painting last Christmas break (I do a lot of painting during that two or three week break I take from homeschooling at Christmas time!), therefore I associate it with Christmas. I don't know consciously what caused me to decide to do a tulip. But It could have been a subconscious thought. Maybe I had new beginnings on my mind - and of course tulips are associated with the new beginning of Spring.

That previous year I had taken a break from painting at the birth of our baby, Sophia Joy. The truth was, my painting corner was replaced with a crib and changing table. There was also the busyness of having a new baby in the house. Sophia was a surprise to our little family of four (the youngest being ten.) Talk about a time of new beginnings. It felt like our whole world had been turned upside down. But she is fulfilling her name in being such an incredible joy to not just our family, but really, everyone who meets her. She is turning two tomorrow, by the way - my how time is flying! One thing about having her at this point in my life is I have been able to really take the time to enjoy every moment so far.

Anyway, back to the painting... so this was the first opportunity after a year to delve back into my oils. After a year of doing nothing but a few watercolors I suddenly had such a desire for oils: to mix colors together and get paint on my sleeves, and to lay long beautiful curves of luscious oil paint. And I I enjoyed the whole process of this painting. It was one of those paintings that just went right from beginning to end. It has become one of my favorites - which is funny because it is not one of my husbands. He says he doesn't "get it". Which is alright with me. I love the intimacy of it. It is so up close and in your face. I love the curves of petals and the fiery look you get when you mix the warm colors of the reds and yellows with a few splashes of purple and pink. Painting it was really a blast.

I hung it in my dining room all last winter - a practice I usually do with new paintings. It honestly might not have gone very well with my Christmas decorations and then even after the new year my "wintery" decorations of dried branches and the like. But it sort of encouraged me during those bleak Iowa winter months of January and February that Spring was coming! Hope for new beginnings.

Let me know what you think of it. I love a good critique - especially from any other artists who might be out there.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Art Speaking

The title for this blog all began with an inspiring quote. Have you ever seen something written by an author that just speaks to you? Certain words can light a fire under you, or make you want to do something great. Or sometimes you read something and would just like to say to the author - that is exactly what I was thinking and just hadn't realized it yet until you wrote it for me. That is what I felt when I read a quote by a writer named Francis Chan.

"God's art [creation] speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He is like"

Of course this is not a new idea. Psalms 19:1 says "The heavens declares the glory of God; and the firmament shows forth His handiwork." It couldn't be truer that that the beauty all around us is shouting to every human being that there is a great and awesome God who created it all and is worthy of our praise.

But the thing that caught my eye in the Chan quote was the idea that creation is God's art. What a wonderful way to describe it! And then to point out that God's art is speaking. I know it is just a different way of stating Psalm 19, but as an artist it really got my wheels turning. The way God chooses to paint each sunset in such an array of colors is a direct expression of who He is. How He causes the sunshine and shadows to fall on feather grass in the late afternoon, so the plumes look like they are glowing - this is no accident, but is instead a reflection of who He is and what He is all about. The hundreds of unique colors that can be seen when you really look at a field of soy beans at this time of year (you can tell I'm from Iowa!) is a display of His imagination and beauty. Amazing.

Of course, this leads me to think about man, made in His image. In my last post I discussed how we are all called to creativity, no matter what the expression. For me, it is through painting, or singing, or decorating, or gardening. For you it may be something else. But it is in us to create. So now my mind is swarming with the question...what is my art speaking? what does my life -art work or any other area - say about who I am and what is inside me?

One time when my children and I were touring a local art museum, we walked through a gallery filled with monochrome paintings by a certain painter. There had to be twenty of them, all very black and gray, all touching on similar themes. There were paintings of hallways with doors upon doors that led to dark, empty rooms, portraits of solitary people with empty eyes that spoke of such loneliness, and paintings of stairways that led to stairways that led to still more stairways -all going no where. My children were fairly young at the time and immediately spoke up in there little innocent bluntness. "Whoever painted these sure was sad." one of them said. It was so true. His paintings screamed of his hopelessness and despair. I felt so sorry for the artist, whoever he had been. He had passed away years earlier, yet his art still spoke.

I know that I am not a master painter by any stretch of the imagination. I have never been to art school. And although I love to study and learn knew techniques - I will never even come close to being an expert in art. I would imagine that many an art critique would look down their nose at what they may consider my novice attempt. That's okay with me. I love to paint what I think are beautiful things. I love to see my friends and family enjoy something that I have done. And most of all I am thrilled at the thought of one of my paintings causing someone who sees it to be reminded of the beauty of God's creation. My desire, whether in art or life, is for my art to speak of God's glory.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Introduction

Well, here is something that I never thought I would find myself doing...sitting at my desk preparing myself to delve into the big wide world of blogging. My daughter suggested it, actually. I'm not sure why, but the more I thought about it the more I decided to go for it. So here I am.

My name is Julia Kulish and I am from Center Point, Iowa. I live in a loud, busy house filled to the brim with the activities of five busy children (make that four, as my oldest just got his own apartment - more on that at another time perhaps). We homeschool our children and I consider it a joy and a privilege to know and be a part of the lives of these fun, fascinating kids. They are "the flowers that bloom in my garden" and the "jewels in my crown". My husband and I have been married for twenty years and own a small electrical company. I work a couple hours a day there, doing payroll and billing and the like. And in my free time (when I can find it), I paint.

Painting is something that I began when the kids were small to relieve stress. It has become a huge part of my life. I have a passion for painting, especially flowers. As my family will attest to- my floral paintings are taking over our home. But I can't even begin to describe how much I enjoy creating something that is beautiful.

I think that is something that the Creator put in all of us - that desire to create beauty. (We are, after all, made in His image). It doesn't matter if you are an artist, or construction worker, or a homemaker. We all have that need to create in some form or another. And whether we realize it or not, our creativity, in whatever form it displays itself, is ultimately for God's pleasure. "...You have created all things and for Your pleasure they were created." Revelation 4:11

I guess the aim of this blog is to explore that creativity - through discussions on art, family and day to day living.


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