I have two words for you: Madeleine Peyroux. Pour yourself a glass of great Merlot, and turn up your speakers.
I know, right? Bliss. The song La Javenese describes my day today...though I haven't a clue what it is saying. The mood. The mood of the song has been the mood of this day.
I wish I could rewind this day, and take you with me. What. A. Perfect. Day.
I woke up, and decided that, with The Preacher in Venezuela, and my youngest visiting the basketball coach at his future college, I actually could go do whatever I felt like doing...without anyone missing me.
Without anyone needing me. Oh my dear sweet Lord.
La Javenese. I don't know what that means, but that's all I got to say about that.
I grabbed my Nikon and was out the door. Sans makeup. The world was lucky I got dressed! I was bustin' to cash in my "get out of jail free" card. (Not that my home is a jail or anything...I've just been tending to lots of details lately. And I had worked until 2 A.M. this morning! It has been months of "nose to the grindstone" for me here at The Cottage.)
I drove to the University of Tennessee's arboretum, where I walked and shot with the Nikon - the sun was that perfect morning golden. I haven't uploaded any of those pictures, so I don't know what I've got on my big girl camera yet.
But I had something else in my back pocket. My smart phone. And interestingly, I'm hugely pleased with the Instagram photos I took with it! Easy, easy...
Shot from a little foot bridge, over a small pond...hear the birds?
How can you not be deliriously happy, walking in total silence, but for birdsong, while praying while taking pictures while inhaling the sweetest fragrance? I am itching to upload this onto Photoshop, tweak it some, and slap a texture on it. And maybe a short quote.
After leaving the arboretum, I swung into an antique shop. I even left my purse in the truck, tucking it behind the bench seat. I told myself, "Today is a "look, don't buy" kind of day."
(You know, the kind of day you have after you pay to have your son's car repaired...)
But. But. But I found this beauty:
A Brownie Hawkeye camera. 1950's model. $12.
Would you say no? I didn't think so.
My son-in-law, artist and photographer Jonathan Howe looked it over for me, and tutored me regarding this camera. He even took me to Thompson Photo Supply to get me some 120 film for it - which he painstakingly, in a pitch black bedroom closet, re-spooled onto this camera's 620 film spools. (620 film has been mostly discontinued, and costs $12-$15 for a 12 shot roll. 120 film is still available in camera specialty stores, costs $5, and can be used in this camera by respooling it in pitch black darkness. Thank you, son-in-law.)
My baby is ready to go! I cannot wait to see what I get with this camera. The shots I've seen online, all taken with this very model Brownie Hawkeye, are dream-like in quality...very vintagey. Tomorrow, I hope it will be sunny again, because I already know what I want to shoot, after church lets out...
...the perfect barn, about 5 miles away from my house.
...the same flowers I shot at the arboretum with Instagram (see above).
...some downtown architecture.
...a 50's model Chevy truck I saw today, with weeds growing all around it, and vines climbing onto it.
...some old signs, if I can find some great ones.
Any more ideas for me? I'd love to hear from you, if you are a Brownie camera lover! Apparently, there are quite a few of you out there. I hope I get some sweet, sweet shots tomorrow.
Twenty-six years ago, I fell in love with a Preacher.
Those are his hands, up there.
Well...back then, he was a technician at an engineering company. And he'd preach to anything that seemed it remotely might have an Eternal Soul. He had a six pack of abs, muddy work boots, a big smile, and eyes looking out at me from underneath his baseball cap that that made me melt like buttah.
Preacher-boy could do "the smolder".
And tonight he is in Venezuela, preaching the Gospel. People came to Christ, tonight, and my heart savors the knowledge that a few more eternities have been forever sealed. Tonight, I miss him. My sadness collides with my joy, and joy is left standing.
Oh, the fathomless grace of God. And the word of His grace, which, the Bible says, is able to save our soul.
Twenty-six years, four children, one church plant, two decades of home schooling, many mission trips, prodigals-come-home, and two grandchildren later - I need that word of His grace more than ever. I need to hear it preached and sung that "He became sin, who knew no sin, that we might be made the very righteousness of God, through Christ Jesus..."
And I am ever discovering how the truth of the Finished Work of Christ applies to my present circumstances.
Professional burden-bearer am I. I bet you are, too. We compensate for compensating. We end up not just dysfunctional. We end up anticontradysfunctional...whatever the very, very, very opposite of "functional" and whole is. That would be us, without the strong consolation of the Gospel.
A wrong idea of God - an incomplete understanding of the Gospel - leads to heartache and burnout.
Twenty-six years ago, I fell in love with a Preacher, who is in Venezuela tonight, preaching of the liberty that is ours in Christ.
His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. If just one person - maybe one Venezuelan pastor's wife, in the pastor's conference where my Preacher is speaking tomorrow - can be freed from the perpetual burden of performance-based Christianity, then my time spent on the over-consumption of cookies and feeling mighty lonely will be worth it all.
Last week, I was commissioned to paint another "Grace Revelation". This is the second "Grace Revelation" sold! Finally finished, I'm pleased with the result ~
12x12 mixed media canvas, on a background of antique hymnal and book pages...
Painted with acrylics, watercolors, guache, splotches of India ink...all seven colors of the rainbow, three rows of them, with the name of each color written over the top...
With the Scripture verse from Revelation, "...and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald..."
I named this one "Grace Revelation", from my own revelation one day as I was reading the story of Noah in Genesis. I followed the thread of "many colors"...rainbow colors...on through the story of Joseph and his coat of many colored favor, through various Messianic prophecies in Isaiah ("...this is as the waters of Noah to Me, says the Lord...I promise never to be angry with you again...") all the way through to the rainbow that is even now around the throne of God - you know which throne.
The one called "throne of Grace".
Truth and beauty are one in the same, in our God. The law of God was every whit fulfilled in the Finished Work of Jesus. He fulfilled every righteous requirement of the law, and He did it on our behalf. His obedience (righteousness) is now my obedience(righteousness). Mercy and truth have become intimate lovers - the Bible says they have "kissed each other". At the very least, they are not at all at odds with each other - all because of Christ. This "God of all grace"...
...oh, He reigns! Second Adam has reversed the destruction of the first. We are free. Forgiven. The Father is watching for all His prodigals to remember how good He is, and point those beautiful feet towards His house.
(I will never forget, back in August 2009, when Tim and I received a public word of encouragement - in other words, this can easily be verified by others - from an English minister we'd never met, who has a prophetic sort of gifting. He prayed over us and said that the Gospel we preached was accurate and powerful, but the Gospel we were painfully living out in our home was even more powerful, and there was an anointing on our lives for the return of the prodigal.
Oh. My. Word. Three years later, if you could see...and if only I had time to tell you tonight. Right now, our church is full of returned and returning prodigals. Oh, if you could see.)
I gotta stop this and get on with my bad self. I am making myself cry.
If you'd like one of these paintings for yourself, to remind you of God's favor towards sinners, they take me (on average) seven hours to paint, so it is a labor of love, not of income. The 12x12 price is $55, postage paid. Email me, if you want to commission one!
Half of everything sold goes to fund our church's youth mission trip in June, the other half goes back into art supplies.
This one, as of tonight, is still available (post edit: is sold):
(this painting is sold)
Remember "Grace Like Rain"? (See yesterday's post for more detailed pictures.)
Though I have received an email that someone intends to buy it, I haven't yet heard the final word. So this one goes to the first person who lets me know for certain that they want it!
Post edit: I am now visiting the issue of making prints. I'll let you know when prints are available!
"Grace Like Rain"
done in acrylic, watercolor, and ink, on a background of antique book and hymnal pages
Finished in a black gallery wrap style, painted edges.
Here is somewhat of a close-up. You can see some of the hymnal pages...and the fact that it is, indeed, "raining" in this painting...when grace rains, and when grace reigns, beautiful things grow.
It's a given.
Here is a close-up of a portion of the flower-part of the canvas....stylized flowers, graphic style, but also an aged, vintage look.
...and here it is "at home" on my studio wall (my makeshift studio)...so you can see it in somewhat of a real-home context...it looks so cheerful!
This piece is $65 postage paid. Half of everything goes to fund our church's youth group mission trip to train in street evangelism, in southern California - where there is a giant multicultural meltingpot.
The other half goes to art supplies.
I'm already out of a huge tube of titanium white. And I just went to the art supply store this morning.
Please email me, if you love it, and want to give "Grace Like Rain" a good home.
Next, this one is also available...
This is "Mercy's Promise"...10x20, done in acrylics, watercolor, guache, inks, and hand lettered - folk art style. Each color of the rainbow is written over the top, and there is a faint swirl design all over the background. The usual antique book pages are there, but are barely discernable, giving this painting a beautiful depth and texture you can't quite put your finger on...it is "just there".
"Mercy's Promise" is $55 unframed, $75 framed, postage paid.
If you love it, and promise to give "Mercy's Promise" a good home, or make it a gift to a good home, please email me, and mention the painting by name, so I know which one you want. I confess to being a little attached to this one...
I can only part with it for a good cause. Remember: the full proceeds of half of everything I sell goes to our church's youth group mission trip this June. The other half gets plowed back into the ground, in the form of art supplies.
I’ve always known that preaching is a holy vocation.
There is that aspect that we are ALL called to proclaim the Gospel, but we also
cannot get around or deny the fact that God calls certain men, in particular,
to preach, teach, and exposit the Gospel in two ways:
1. To the congregation
(teaching/preaching), and also
2. THROUGH the congregation, TO the world (equipping)
At no point in a person’s life, before they are saved or after,
do they not need to hear the Gospel continually rehearsed to them,
taught to them, in short: PREACHED. From cradle to grave, may the
Gospel be heard and loved and elevated and preached!
If we value The Message of the Gospel, to that exact level, we
will value the preaching of it. We will support it,
promote it, and put ourselves in front of it to hear it. Every generation
tries to say “preaching is irrelevant in our day” – yet the foolishness of
preaching will forever be the vehicle or the tool God uses to save and nourish souls until
Christ comes again. In our day of computers and smart phones, preaching
is more relevant than ever.
Please read that last sentence one more time.
Does this “elevate” the Preacher himself? Not if he has
addicted himself to preaching, as my Preacher has. “Woe is me, if I
preach not the Gospel!” He’s just feeding his addiction.
At the same time, we can’t deny the
fact that some callings have vested in them a contingency that involves eternal
souls…souls are contingent on proper Preaching of the Gospel, and the correct application of the law of God...
…just as outcomes are contingent on a
lawyer being a good lawyer. The same as quality of life can be contingent on a doctor
being a good, caring, skilled physician, souls are won and then souls are fed
by a preacher who is skilled and courageous and faithful. How
important is this vocation! As much as we need plumbers, a soul
isn’t contingent on a plumber getting his plumbing right. Souls are
contingent when the plumber PREACHES the Gospel to someone else, which
hopefully he is being equipped by his church leadership to do.
I say this, not because I am all about my husband. I say
this, not because I am the Preacher’s wife. I say this because I too
have addicted myself to sharing the Gospel. The Message (not Eugene Peterson's, but THE Message) is a fire shut up in my bones. And I am revisiting the fact
that a faithful and courageous (and accurate) Preacher is God’s Idea.
Preaching should be AS valued a Profession – more valued, dare I say, (which is
SO NOT politically correct to say) – as any other…not because of the
man, but because of the Message.
For the sake of the Gospel.
So next time someone says, “We are all called to preach –
preaching doesn’t make a man special.” We, as well taught believers, should understand
their heart. We “get” what they mean, and should find a certain level of
agreement with the statement. But we must also find a certain level of
disagreement with that statement. Because we deeply value the Message, we instinctively and reasonably deeply
value both the act of preaching, and a man who gives his life to the call.
Preaching will always be relevant. Preaching will always
be necessary to our lives. I challenge you to impress this on your
children and your teenagers – this importance of Preaching. May a culture
of honor be further developed in churches everywhere that deeply values the
preaching of the Gospel – valuing it almost to a fault, if that is even
Because that is part of the equipping
process. WE WILL NOT USE TOOLS WE DON’T ESTEEM FOR REASONS WE ARE NOT
PASSIONATE ABOUT. If we first are passionate about the Message, if we begin to
highly esteem and honor preaching as being “the foolish tool” God uses, we will then begin to
really listen to,and be fed by preaching. THEN, I promise we will
begin to open our own mouths to share The Message.
No School Like the Old School.
Preaching is what’s up!!!
But it might be sold already, I am waiting to hear. Someone saw the 12x12 version on this blog and emailed me about commissioning another one.
I am going to go ahead and post it because I want you to see this size, and see it framed!
The name of this one is "Promise of Mercy". The Scripture verse is out of Genesis, instead of Revelation (like in the 12x12 "Grace Revelation"). It is hand lettered in a very, very folksy style, instead of the more exact manuscript hand lettering. It has each color of the rainbow written over the top - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo.
The colors aren't reading well in the light I had available to photograph this - but each color reads clearly in person. If this isn't already sold, I will repost a better picture later, when we finally get sun.
Done in self-mixed acrylics, watercolors, inks, using a variety of methods - all on a background of barely-visible antique pages from books and hymnals.
This needs a real close-up shot, so you can even see the papers that make up the ground layer of this painting. Again - when we get good sun.
I'm pricing this one at $55 unframed, postage paid - $75 framed, postage paid.
Half of everything I make goes to fund our church's youth mission trip to the streets of California in June (several of our kids come from a single parent household, and my heart is so enlarged towards them...I want to see them able to go!), half goes back into art supplies. (I've already spent more than that replenishing, so far...money invested, not just "spent", seed sown, not consumed...like my word for the year 2011, I am still sowing...)
If you want one like this, in this size, email me. I can do a special commission for you. Each one will be slightly different, of course, because this is all hand done, from gesso, to papers, to finish signature.
You can click on the above picture, if you want to, to see it closer up, though I can't imagine you'd want to. The journal entry says, "In the language of flowers, the sunflower means, "I am so proud of you.."
Then it says, "Proud of my girls..." One flower has Hannah's name on it, one for Sarah, and one for my grandaughter Aidyn, who will be born in July. Three little sunflowers, my three girls.
This sketch is not awe-inspiring...not amazing...quite ordinary...so why share? Because if you want to make art, sketching is a good discipline to establish. I'm trying. They say it takes 30 days to establish a new habit. I would love for someone - some really inspiring art teacher - to offer an online class featuring 30 days of sketching lessons, prompts, encouragement, inspiration, and technique.
I had not put this piece up for sale yet, because I wanted to tweak it just a tiny bit. But before I could even tweak or put it in my "shop" (which, for now is this blog!)...
This one is called "Grace Revelation". I apologize for the bad photography - but the painting sold before I could retake pictures (and I was planning on retaking pictures, when we get some sun around here!). The Scripture across the bottom is in an old Remington font and is the second part of Revelation 4:3, "...and there was a rainbow around the throne, in sight like unto an emerald..."
As you can see, there are three rows of all seven colors of the rainbow. Across the top of each color, I hand-lettered the name of each: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
This piece was done in self-mixed acrylics and watercolor, inks and patches of Pan Pastel, and even markers - trimmed in a gentle-looking metallic bronze guache, all on my typical background of gesso'ed antique hymnal and book pages.
And just like the Scripture itself, the painting's emphasis is on the "emerald" color in the center.
This painting was 12x12, and it was a joy to create! It is modern and graphic, yet vintage and old-looking. Perfect combination! And the concept is completely original. I personally have never seen anything like it.
I wrote down the paint formula I used to arrive at the background I laid down (over top of the pages), so I think I can replicate this, if anyone wants to commission me to paint one for them.
I am already working on another version of this - a 10x20 landscape canvas, and it will have one row of seven rainbow colors, with the Scripture across the bottom.
...not because I am any good whatsoever, but because I am honest and brave.
Seriously. You have no idea. My son-in-law is the Jonathan Howe whose fine art graces homes and businesses and government buildings all over my city, and other states.
I'm brave as can be, to be sharing any of my art with you.
I am a teacher by gifting, so the process is as important, if not more important, than the end result. I can't not share my process with you. I can barely teach on Proverbs 31 without telling you what I had for breakfast.
Context. Process. Even if I'm learning as I go, I have to take someone with me on the trip.
So. ::clears throat::
Drawing is foundational to making art - even mixed media art. Drawing is a learned skill. If you want to become better at it, you have to do it for a few minutes, every day, as a discipline...
...hence, the sketch book. It isn't to be taken seriously, insofar as the result. It is to be simply drawn in. Every day.
I got this shot off today, flat on my belly, on a gravel road. Camera in full manual mode.
No lie. Every part of my body (except for my head and my wrists and my hands) was on the dusty gravel backroad, deep in the mountains.
So stinkin' sweet.
I confess to loving this picture. What you see is straight out of the camera, I have not even opened Photoshop's tools. (You can tell, because there is no watermark on it. Come to think of it, I need to fix that...but it is late. I'm sleepy. I don't want to open Photoshop. I'll do that tomorrow. Surely no one will steal it between now and then. I've had about four of my photographs "stolen", before I had the ability to watermark them!)
And The Preacher adores that I get so carried away in any given moment that I will squeal, drop to the ground, camera in hand....breathless with joy. He has seen what sadness does to me. He vastly prefers to see me taking joy. He thinks I'm cute. I'm glad.
But the Bible says in Proverbs "In all labor there is profit..."
We had our missionary friends Lewis Burke, his wife Kristen, and their two delightful boys Sterling and Benjamin over for dinner last night.
This morning, Lewis brought the word to Harvest Church, and I would be genuinely surprised if there was a dry eye in the building. God's people were deeply ministered to, and it is possible that our new friend Keece came to salvation in Christ - time will tell!
Profit! In all labor, there is profit.
Being an integral part of a church community is hard work. ("Integral" meaning: being a vital part of the structure of community, versus being "scaffolding"...there, temporarily supporting the work, and then gone. The average time frame for scaffolding saints is 3-5 years. I feel sorry for them.) It is work to stick and stay and to be committed.
But the Bible says, "In all labor there is profit..."
(Lewis, and a Cambodian woman)
Lewis and Kristen, your profit margins are unbelieveable. Only a Kingdom Investment can reap the rewards you have!
Lewis and Kristen invest in God's Favorite Thing: People.
People! Not livestock or livery or hobby or home or anything money can buy. God's favorite thing is people. Any work we do related to people, any investment we make, equals treasures in heaven.
Heaven! Where nothing breaks down, or has to be repaired, or gets mouldy or has to be locked up. No thieves can steal profit stored in heaven.
And God releases that profit to us, as needed, right here on earth.
Jehovah Jireh loves people. I think I want to keep investing in them...in friends like the Burkes.
I was commissioned by a friend to paint my "In Christ Alone" canvas in black, white, and gray...
...and she also ordered my "He is Risen" print. She plans to hang them both in her bedroom, which is decorated in black and white.
A closer view of the print...(available for $12 - email me if you want one!)
A closer view of the canvas. (If you want to commission one in colors of your choice, the cost is $45, postage paid. Email me, and let me know what colors and what size - I do 9x9, 10x10, or 8x10 for that price. Half of everything I make goes to our church's youth group mission trip this June, the other half goes to purchasing more art supplies, so I can keep creating "Art For Missions".)
This one was such a challenge to paint! I thought it would be difficult, but it was harder than I expected. It was done in acrylics, watercolor, ink, and pages from Old English catechism and antique hymnals.
Do you see the faint outline of a cross in the center? Can you see shades of gray dripping down the canvas?
I find I cannot paint a canvas without "flow". As I continue to work to develop a personal painting style, I'm beginning to find that I can't create without purposely letting paint drip and run. I've thought about it, and I believe this is for several reasons.
I'm strongly affected by Biblical imagery, and everything powerful and effective God does has "flow" to it.
He anoints my head with oil. My cup overflows.
Blood and water flowed at the cross.
But mostly, friends...it's the perfume.
Yeah. It's the perfumed oil that the worshiping woman poured on the feet of Jesus, and then wiped His feet with her hair.
Extravagant worship is messy. It drips, it flows, it weeps. Lately, I can't create anything with paint, without this imagery showing up somewhere.
Beginning next week, I'll be painting more canvases. I'll be doing another "Grow in Grace" mixed media canvas, and I also have some new inspiration I can't wait to get painted up. Can't wait to share it with you!
This video is about 14 minutes long...an eternity, in this medium called a "blog". But if you can slow down long enough to hear...I can tell you, you'll be blessed.
This man, Makoto Fujimura, though I've never met him in person, has impacted my life. I get my love for mixed media from him (a fact which might horrify him to know...because the man paints with real gold! I use a mix of watercolor, acrylic, ink, and pages from antique books!) For another thing, I have learned a deep love of abstract art from him - a love that I never had before. I understand abstract. I finally understand it. Well, I might only understand it from the context of the Gospel of the Finished Work of Christ. All that art does, ultimately, is resonate with an obsession or deep need in a human being. Only a very small percentage of modern art will resonate life...life...life...to the human heart. Fujimura's art resonates life.
To me, mixed media and abstract art can be the most closely representational art there is...it most closely resembles real life, its surprises, its dark and light places, its mistakes made beautiful, its mosaic of experience, and infinite variety of materials encountered in just one average, normal day....and the fact that every human being will experience grace and life differently - through their perspective, whether Old Covenant, New Covenant, or No Covenant At All.
Towards the very end, the things Mr. Fujimura says about the church, grace, fatherhood...it will "school" you, if you allow it to. If you are very short on time, bump the video up to about the 11 minute mark, and watch from there.