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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting Ready for Christmas

It is definitely starting to feel like Christmas around the Kulish household.  Decorations are getting put up and Christmas music is playing.  It is by far one of our families favorite times of the year.  This year I decided to do a double painting of one of my favorite Christmas flowers: the amaryllis.  I usually begin growing either an amaryllis or paperwhites inside to bloom during the holiday season.  Our family Christmas would seem odd without one of them in our dining room.  I chose to paint basically the same scene twice on 24x12 panels.  My idea was either to use them together as a match or sell one and keep one for my own home.  It ended up that one of them was needed for the second month of the Mercy show to replace others that had sold, so I kept one to put on a decorating shelf in my home (see the picture below) right next to this years' paperwhites.  Maybe next year I will grow an amaryllis and paint a paperwhite!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Magnolia - Work in Progress

   I was faced with a dilemma this holiday week.  I set a personal goal recently, for the sake of consistency, to post a project on this blog by every Tuesday.  I am not a daily painter, in the sense that I start and complete a small painting every day (although kudos to those who can and do - I so admire them!!)  But I usually have at least three or four projects going at any one time and you would think that if I work consistently, something should be presentable on a weekly basis.  Added to that is the news I received last week that Mercy Hospital (seems like a strange place to show art, but it has been one of the best places for me thus far!) had a cancellation with the artist that they had scheduled for next month and would like my work to stay up.  But quite a few of them already sold, so I need to bring down about ten of them for replacements the first week of December.  So I have been on a marathon to try and complete some projects that I had in the works.  All that to say - surely it should not have been a problem for me to post something this week that was done.  Alas - no.  I know, I know, it was only a personal goal, but darn it, I like to meet the goals I set.    Plus, I feel like some of these projects should be further along than they are.  This makes for some frustration.
  Of course, it could be that maybe God has a lesson in all of this for me.  Just as it so often happens, art imitates life (or visa versa).  This morning I sat down for my time of Bible reading and opened up to the book of Philippians.  This is what I read:

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others
Have this attitude in yourselves that was also in Christ Jesus,
 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."  Philippians 2:3-8

  As so often happens when we open God's word, it's like having your eyes opened for the first time and seeing your own heart as it really it is.  I really saw how far short I fall from this passage - as a wife, a mother, a friend.  Too often my focus is not on others, but instead wrapped up in my own to do list for the day. Ouch.  I couldn't help but think - "Geesh, you'd think by now I would be a little further in my maturity.  Why am I still dealing with things like this? " 

  That is when God reminded me, of course, that I am a work in progress. I have learned and overcome and been refined in a lot of areas.  But I am nowhere completed yet.   But I have given my life to Him and He is changing me, causing me to grow and mature, more and more into who He wants me to be - in His time.   I want to have overcome selfishness by now in my own life.  But sometimes the slower process brings about a more quality work.  So for now, I rest in the fact that " I can be  confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. " (Philippians 1:6)

Okay, so back to the painting.  This is a work in progress.  I would like to be able to say that it is completed.  But it is not.  Not yet.  I have some tweaking to do here and there.  But I will not be frustrated about it.  I will instead enjoy the process knowing that the slower process brings about a more quality work.
  Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving - enjoy your family and remember to give thanks to the ONE who gives us every good gift!


Monday, November 15, 2010


  I am putting a check mark next to painting number two for my fall/winter portrait project.  For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may remember that I am attempting to learn, learn, learn about portrait painting (I have so much to learn!).  I am working through this cold season from photos sent to me from all over, by people willing to let me use them (or a loved on) as a model.  
  This is Kennedy, my great niece.  Her mother sent me some really cute pictures of her and I actually chose the one black and white one that was sent (not quite ideal) because the pose was just so cute and the shadows were strong. 
    I have to tell you, I struggled with this one.  I know that I have spoken before about familiarity and how difficult it is to really see the details of someone that you see all the time (Tori at Twelve).  I think I had a hard time with this one because of that - although obviously this is something that I must overcome!  The interesting thing about that is that I have never actually met Kennedy.  She and her family live quite far away and unfortunately, I haven't gotten a chance to see them since she was born.  So although she is not someone that I see frequently, I think some of the family resemblances were hard for me to get past and just paint what was there and not what I thought was there.  Weird, I know.
  The whole project is being done for me to learn from, and I think I am learning as I work through things and try to get better and better.  As with anything in life, we are in trouble if we ever get to the point that we think we have it all figured out.
  On another note, I enjoyed seeing one of my prints and one original (Midnight Glory)  auctioned off last week at two fundraisers for the rebuilding of community buildings damaged by the terrible floods that Cedar Rapids saw in 2008.  It was kind of a neat experience and one that I hope I can do again.
Hope you all have a good week!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rosebud Study

   It is getting to be that time of year again - time to get painting for Christmas.  I am working on this study of a rosebud for a Christmas present for this really neat girl who is a special friend of our families (I don't think she reads my blog - but just in case, I better not reveal names!)  She got her first apartment this year and my daughter let me know that she would like one of my paintings for her room.
  I considered what kind of flower to paint for her and ended up choosing a simple rose bud for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I think the rose bud speaks of potential and newness of life.  I thought that fit the time in her life as she is twenty and the whole world lies before her with endless possibilities.  When your twenty, you don't quite know who you are yet, or who you will become, but it will be so exciting to  get to make that discovery.  Secondly, I loved the feminine curves of the rosebud and this girl is such a beautiful girl (although at that age, sometimes you just don't realize it), it reminded me of her feminine beauty.
  Since this was just a study, I decided to play around a bit with it.  I usually do a study on some left over mat board which really tends to take away from the richness of the oil paints blending together.  I find that frustrating (even though I know that it is just a study) so I decided to try a little glaze over the whole thing to give me a hint of what the final painting might do.  I used a little linseed and a little mineral spirits to wash over the whole thing.  I apologize that it makes for a rather "glaring" photo, but it does get me excited to put that actual painting on an actual canvas.  I'll keep you all posted !

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Apples and Bittersweet

  This painting is setting out to dry for a Christmas present for a very fortunate mom.  Last spring my daughter had a group of friends over to hang out at our house. One of the boys there, Nick, who is about as quiet as can be, asked Shelby if her mom would paint something for his mom for Christmas. ( I think he was too shy to ask me.)  I just thought that was the sweetest thing - I mean what senior in high school commissions art work for a Christmas present nine months away?  He is obviously a really good kid - and his mom must be a really great mom.
  He left the details of the painting in my hands, except for the fact that he wanted apples (because that is what his mom loves).  I tried to set up a still life that would include the apples, plus the mason jar and some dried branches for interest.  I ended up adding bittersweet blossoms to the branches because - well, you know me, I have to have flowers in there somewhere!
  I am looking forward to giving it to Nick when it dries and hope that it is what he had in mind.  I kept thinking of the way this young guy is going out of his way to get something for his mom that would be a little out of the ordinary - that is so special.  I am reminded of God's promise in the Bible that tells us to "honor your Father and Mother that it may go well with you and you will have long life...".  I hope when his mom opens it on Christmas morning that she likes the painting, but I know for sure that she will feel extremely blessed to have such a thoughtful son.

  One other note: if you are in the Cedar Rapids area, stop by and see my paintings on display at Mercy Hospital during the month of November.  The paintings are on the first floor, cafeteria wing, and my note cards and coffee mugs are on sale in the gift shop.


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