A Young Friend of Mine...How I Love This Girl!

If you get a moment, please visit my friend Christina, over on her blog, "Simplicity of Life".

She is such a go-getter, a girl who has fought battles both in her personal life, and for the Gospel.  The above link will take you to a short video clip.

Christina is slightly  hearing impaired, and yet she does not let that stop her from having major adventures, nor does she let that stop her from staking her entire claim on the Word of His Grace, which, as the apostle Paul said, "is able to save souls"...

I'm praying for her every day, this summer.  She's away on another adventure, and I couldn't be more proud of my young friend!

A Peek Inside the Sketchbook...

Practicing painting poppies on sketch paper, before braving The Canvas...

This is what happens when you ( I ) paint at night.  In artificial, overhead, dim light.  I was going for orangey-red, and ended up with pinkish orangey red.  How the..??

I could have sworn there was no pink on my paint palette, which in this case was a sheet of waxed paper, since this was meant to be kind of a creative Brain Dump, and not a "real" painting.  There.  Was.  No.  Pink...anywhere.  There were two shades of green, some red, some orange, some yellow, some "lamp black"...no pink.  I am betting that, somehow, a dab of the titanium white, which I used with a pinprick of yellow to achieve a softer green (are you following me?), sneaked over and mated with some of the crimson.

My take-away?  Never seriously paint in anything but bright natural light.

Or buy an expensive Ott floor light.  (Lots of paint-by-nighters swear by them...)

Problem is, I am a paint-by-nighter.  My Muse loves sunset.  Well, my Muse can be a workhorse and a driver, and once she gets me going earlier in the morning or day, she doesn't want to quit just because the pretty light has sunk in the western sky.

Good thing this was just practice, on sketch paper...

I Can't Believe It

We are done.  My home education career - 20+ years - is officially over.  And I found myself approaching the occasion as the full, whole, wealthy woman I dreamed of being 20+ years ago.

Against all odds.

And by Grace Alone.

Oh, by grace alone!

One set of home schooling parents actually said, tonight, (and I'll call them "the Williams" - names changed to protect the not-so-innocent legalists) "Our daughter Matilda is number five of eight.  We've graduated four before her, and we now have 5 to prove that the Williams System works."

I sat in total consternation.  I know my whole face was, like, "Oh no you di'in't.  You DID NOT just say that in my presence."

The "system" works??   No.  No, a thousand times, no.  There isn't a system of child-rearing out there that churns and turns out reliable results, every time.  Systems do not lovers of God make.

Systems rob God of the glory that belongs to Him Alone.  I almost stood up, in Holy Ghost Authority, to set the record straight.

Not really.  Of course, God doesn't need my defense of His grace and glory.

But He so deserves every speck of credit.  I am certain, in that moment, that my eyes burned with the flame that is shut up in my bones...a heart that burns with a desire to see the Finished Work of Christ proclaimed.  The Preacher and I dared not make eye contact.  I am absolutely certain that, had we made eye contact, one of us would have given the other the "go ahead"....and one or the other of us would have gone to preachin', right then and there.  

On a lighter note....I came home to a surprise family party.  My four adult children gave me the most amazing gift...I walked through my door, weary but happy, and there were candles lit all over the house, James Taylor playing on the Bose system, cake, and presents...and more presents...

Most special of all, there were the letters and cards, thanking me.  For.  Real.  Each and every son and daughter took the time to write out their love and thanks.  I dissolved into a complete flood of tears.

Has it been easy?  Nope.

You.  Have.  No.  Idea.

Has it been worth it?  Yes.  A thousand times, yes.

Would I do it all again?  Ask me in a few years.

What is next?  I don't know.  

That is partly why this blog exists!  I'm making it up as I go, and I don't care to say so.  Transparent honesty is my gift (or so I was told this evening).  Come with me, as I explore all the happy possibilities that middle age, ministry, grandmothering, and a for-now- full (but eventually-to-be-empty) nest can bring!

Thoughts on Graduation Eve - Last One

Here I sit...propped up on pillows, wanting to talk to all of you.  It is going on 11 o'clock and I am beyond the point of exhaustion.  When I stand up, my kneecaps shake.  This night, somehow, feels like the end of  20 years of hard work.

We are through the rehearsal part of our home school high school graduation - tomorrow is the Real Thing.

No one can know what it took to get here.  Truly.  You can't know.

Tonight, after taking me out to dinner (once rehearsal was over) the Preacher and I were riding and talking...reflecting on the journey, reflecting on this Epic Graduation of our youngest.  In basketball terms, it doesn't feel like a "blow out win".  It feels like we squeaked out with a two-point, one basket win.  It feels like we could have....perhaps should have....lost.

But we smiled, and took each other's hand, and said, just like we've said after many basketball games the last few years:

A win is a win.

It was ugly.  It was messy.  This "win" might even be messy, right up to the final seconds.  (Isaac swears that he will not wear a tie - mandatory Home Education Association graduation dress code for our area.  But I have no room to talk.  I am planning on wearing my linen dress pants, instead of the "mandatory" dress or skirt that the powers that be told us we must wear tomorrow...and I wonder where my son gets his penchant for ignoring stupid rules.)

No Valedictorian speech, no sparkling ACT scores.  In fact, he qualifies for college by the skin of his teeth.   This child was the one who would have been labeled and medicated in public school.  The fact that we made it this far is amazing. He was more work than the other three put together, in every way - academically, emotionally, socially, spiritually.

This is a win that has been barely pulled out, and in the "final moments" of the game, no less.  The playing, from the beginning of this game to the end of it, has not been pretty.  All members of the team could have done better.  The coaches could have coached better.  The player could have played better.

In short, nothing about it has been perfect.  Fans will leave shaking their heads, wondering, "How did they win??!"

But when all is said and done, I can say I did my best.  There were more days I did my best, than there were days I didn't do my best.  I did my best...on most days.  Can more than that be done, really?

I can't even say there were more good days than bad.  Not with this boy.

That's the part of home education no one talks about.  Some academic years have more dark days than sunny ones. Some children, from kindergarten through graduation, encounter more hard days than happy days.  No one wants to talk about that.  However, you know me.  The Gospel has made me so free, I can tell the truth.

I did what God called me to do.

The Preacher and I pulled out the Messy Win.

But a win is a win.

And when I look back, many years from now, there will simply be a "4" in the wins column - and a "0" in the losses column.  Four wins.  No losses.  I didn't give up.  I didn't quit.  I didn't quit, maybe even when common sense said I should have.

That will be what matters to me.

I've Gone Emo...

I've gone Emo.

Real Tears.  I've completely cried off what little makeup I put on this morning. And I thought that the distraction of taking my own picture would make it stop.  Nope.

It is the week of my youngest son's high school graduation.

And I've gone Emo.

God, help me.

I may as well give in and wear the skinny jeans with the canvas sneakers, paint my fingernails black, and experiment with my hair color, because I am way too in touch with my emotions this week.

I defy you to graduate your youngest from your home school, listen to country music whilst running Graduation Errands, and not cry your butt off.

Pray for me, friends.  I am truly afraid of what I might be capable of, this Saturday evening at 6 o'clock, as The Preacher and I walk across the stage to meet our youngest, and hand him his diploma.

What if I sob?

What if I have to exit stage left, crawling on my hands and knees?

What if I decide to sell Amway?

What if I move to Post-Yuppie Farm Road,  and start killing my own cows and milking Nubian goats?

Nah.  I'd rather get a nose piercing.

Help me, Rhonda.  God, grant me the serenity.  And get me through this weekend.

More Pictures - New "Studio"

Someday, I won't have to put quotes around the words "studio".

But for now, I will gladly trade having a whole room to myself, for this:

Little Britches, helping his PopPop set up Mimi's "studio"...

You tell me...is having a "room", quote unquote, better than having a "studio", quote unquote, AND getting to enjoy this sight, each and every day?  Nah.  I didn't think it was better, either.  Hey...when this season is over, it is over.  Justin and Hannah are very close to the moving out phase - they are house searching weekly.  And once they are gone, I am sure I will be plastering pictures of a whole, new, big, beautiful REAL studio, no quotes involved.  But for now I'm sloppy blessed.  Wouldn't trade this for a "room".

So we went from what you see up there, to this...

 I am the Queen of Making It Work.
This is my "studio", quotes gladly added...
one wall...in my room.

 Inspiration wall...

 ribbons and embroidery...

some of my paints...actually, a very few of my paints....

 Stuff n' things...

 ...more paints...

...more inspiration...not the least of which is a young friend of mine, Christina Damron, for whom I will be praying this summer, as she embarks on Amazing Adventures in the Gospel...as a photographer!
(You can follow her adventures via her blog, "Simplicity".  The link is to your right, under Harvest Blogs)

 ...what was accomplished today...
not done yet, but almost!

 I.  Am.  Loved.

...and so are you...

Thanks for coming over to my "studio".  I'm beyond excited about it, and I appreciate that you took the time to come and see!

My New Studio

Here is what I've been working on today.

Forgive the shadow-y picture, I just now (as in this minute) shot it with my phone, and it is nearly 11 PM.  There is no way I'm breaking out the Big Girl Camera at the moment.  I'm just too tired.

I'm in the process of moving my "studio" out of my dining room, and into my bedroom.  You are looking at my Mother's Day gift from The Preacher.  New desk and easel!  And I used a gift card from my youngest son to get the cool shelf that you see...with metal bins for paints and rod upon which I hung up all my ribbons and clipped up some of my fabric samples and embroidery.

To the left of that, you see my $6 find from today!  A metal thingey.  I put a wooden dowel through one part of it, to hang my burlap (used for a cool backing on my small 5x5 canvases) and also my kraft paper (backing for canvases larger than 5x5).  Then you see a really large canvas that scares me, so I haven't faced it yet.  Then you see some upholstery fabric.  Oh, and a small stool that will keep my tiny netbook (upon which I am now typing away) visible but safe from water and paint and matte medium - where I can access it while working.

I've even already started a new Inspiration Wall.  There are several pictures torn from various magazines and taped to the wall behind my easel.  That wall will fill up soon, I am sure.

More pictures tomorrow.  I am worn out, but happy!  My Inner Muse is producing and the mojo was full-on today!

"Never forget that the nurturing and preservation of your own muse is job one. Lose it and you may be losing a great deal."

-Robert Genn

My Muse and Keurig Coffee

I never found my mojo today.  After a late night, last night, and fitful sleep with vivid dreams, I woke up to the familiar aura or "halo" in the left eye.

Aw, heck no.  I have not had a migraine headache since the first week of August, 2009.

And I am happy to report that I still have not had a migraine headache since August of 2009.

But I could not find my mojo.  Not to save my life.  I tried so hard to power through this day without it.  You should see the disgusting befuddlement of purple and pink I put on a canvas today.  My very first unmitigated disaster.  I ended up gesso'ing over the whole convoluted hot mess.

Mojo matters in art, apparently. I blame my Inner Muse.

I think perhaps my Inner Muse is spoiled on Keurig Caribou coffee, and hid the mojo when I tried to fuel her with reheated leftover Eight O'Clock.  I'm out of Caribou.  Blasted Muse.   After realizing I'd gone the whole day on nothing but a whole wheat English muffin and microwaved Eight O'Clock coffee, I've plied her with a lovely spinach and grilled chicken salad, diet Coke, a nice bubble bath, and WhoNu cookies...still, she has remained unresponsive.

Yesterday was so full of mojo.  Yesterday was all art and all business and all prayer and all git 'er done with a side of mentoring a young college girlfriend of mine.  I felt powerful yesterday. I wanted a repeat of yesterday, and thought I could have it all and a bag of chips, with or without appropriate rest, self care, and Keurig coffee.

I ended up a pitiful shadow of my yesterday's self, smearing purple paint on canvas and wishing I could down a red Solo cup of Jack.  But I'm a Preacher's Wife, so I am limited to Diet Coke.

This being an artist thing is harder than it looks.  My muse is a brat.  Apparently she requires that I take better care of myself.

Stupid muse.

From My Heart to Yours - For Women Everywhere

...here's what you do...
...click on the image above to enlarge it...
...let it fill your screen...
...let the music play...
...and go about your business.

Just look back here, every so often.

Be reminded.

The Father loves you,
and so do I.

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to each woman out there who has nurtured a young one - whether from the womb or from the heart and soul.

I've been blessed this morning by a grandson, by each of my children, and by a heart-child...a note from a spiritual daughter...and it isn't even 9 o'clock yet!

My heart is full, and my wish for you is that your children rise up and call you blessed, both the ones you carried in the womb, and the ones you've carried in your heart.

There are many women out there who have never had biological children, who are truly mothers.

New Art For Missions - "Galatians" Canvas...and More

I have only a few weeks left to contribute to the June mission trip our youth group is taking - so please buy quickly, and visit my shop, if you are considering any of my paintings!

Brand new -

 This one is entitled "Galatians".  It is a 12x12 canvas, done in all gauche, and graphic style renderings done in General's Sketch and Wash, also inks.  The background is the usual antique book pages, but this time they are very visible.  Love this one!  See the bird standing outside her cage?  The text says, "For you are called to freedom!"

Next is a small 5x5 canvas.  I wish you could see how these come mounted!  I will take another picture of this one mounted, soon:

I've named this one "New Creation".  It comes mounted uniquely and beautifully on a cast iron, antiqued "door knob" type of feature.  Can't wait for you to see!  But for now, you can click on the picture, for an enlarged view of this canvas, done in ink and acrylics and watercolor pencil, and hand lettered with a Pitt pen.  Perfect for any woman you may know who has recently chosen to pursue a relationship with Christ.

Last, another 5x5 canvas, and it also comes mounted on antique hardware, but I don't yet have a picture of it actually mounted:

  All original photography...the cup is Depression era lustreware in peach.  The quote says, "He was my cream, and I was his coffee - And when you poured us together it was something."

Holla.  I bear witness to this quote, so much so, I had to put my interpretation of it on canvas.  My Preacher and I are like that...a sweet, hot mess, and when you put us together, we are so much more than the sum of our individual selves.

If you search carefully, you will find on each of my pieces of art a tiny, inked key. This is something I began to do about a month ago. On some pieces there is only one key hidden in the painting.  On others, it might be more, and on some pieces, the key isn't so hidden.  When I sign each piece, I put a number, indicating how many keys are tucked away in the painting, then my initials, then the year I painted the piece.

Why a key?

Because of the Gospel.  The Finished Work of Christ is the key to understanding all of Scripture, Old Testament and New.  The law and the prophets pointed to Jesus.  In the last days, God has spoken to us by His Son.

Once you choose to view all of life and Scripture through the lens of grace ("grace came"), through the lens of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, the veil is lifted, and you begin to walk free.

Chapter IV, In Which Sheila Attempts to Apply Hair Removal Creme to Her Upper Lip Area Without Her Readers On

Some things come with being a raving brunette beauty.  Some things come with being over forty.  If you don't think you have fuzz on your upper lip area, step out into the sunshine with me.  Come on.  Don't be ashamed.

For me, however, some things come with being preoccupied, and addled in the brain.


So I was going through my usual beauty ritual of coloring my hair, shaving the legs, yadda yadda.  I was applying exfoliant to my face, whilst soaking in the tub, whilst listening to Steven Pressfield's  book on Audible, entitled "Do The Work".

Oh.  My.  Word.  I was completely absorbed in Pressfield's book.  Completely.

As I was gently exfoliating my face, I sort of thought, "Hmmmmm.  I need to grab that little tube of Oil of Olay Hair Removal For Upper Lip Area"  - a product tailor made for all raven haired beauties and women over forty.  It works great, really, and comes with its own little moisturizing stick that you rub on your lip first, to minimize any chemical burn from the removal creme.

I schlepped out of the tub, and absent mindedly pulled the middle drawer of the vanity open, and grabbed that little moisturizing stick that comes with Oil of Olay's Facial Hair Removal Creme...and grabbed the first other tube that seemed right.  I plunked myself back into the warm jacuzzi - after all, getting out makes you cold, so I was in a hurry.

And Pressfield's book is so good.

I applied the moisturizer, and then generously smeared a dime sized dollop of said tube all over my upper lip, glanced at the time on my smart phone (which was also playing my Audible dot com Pressfield book) and sat back to relax.  A full six minutes later, I thought...

..."Hmmmmm.  This book is so great.  But this creme smells really odd.  Really.  Odd."

I held the tube at full arm's length, and squinted in an attempt to read the words on it:

Itch.  Cream.  As in...itch cream for a woman's extremely sensitive area. Back late winter/early spring, I had to go on a brief antibiotic for a sinus infection, and as a result, got the requisite, mild yeast infection.  That stupid cream was still in my drawer.

Oh dear Lord.  God grant me the serenity.  Jesus take the wheel!  I yelped and grabbed my wash cloth, scrubbing madly.  I had just put that...that... that cream all over my upper lip!,

(I can hear you now..."Oh no you di' int!")

Oh.  Yes.  I.  Did.

And...the story gets better.

I schlepped out of the tub and checked the mirror.  No whelps, no bumps, upper lip still there. What a relief.  So I opened the middle drawer and grabbed a small black tube.

Somehow, I associated that black tube with Oil of Olay hair removal creme.

I was confident.  This time I had it right.

I sank once again into the jacuzzi and turned on the jets, and turned up the volume on my book.  I then generously smeared the contents of small black tube all over my upper lip.  I glanced at the time on my smart phone.

About five minutes in, I thought, "This book is amazing, but this creme smells too good to be hair removal creme."

I held the tube out at full arm's length, squinted as hard as I could, and read:

"Neck Firming Cream"


It was a sample tube that had come WITH my Oil of Olay Hair Removal creme.  I had sat for a full five minutes with neck firming cream all over my upper lip.

By this time, I was howling.  I sat and giggled so hard, I cried.

Then, I schlepped out of the tub for the third time, opened middle drawer, and really looked, this time.  As in, I turned over all two or three  remaining miscellaneous tubes, squinted, held them out at full arm's length, and read them.  Towards the back of the drawer...bingo.  Found it.  Oil of Olay hair removal creme for the face.

Dripping wet, I climbed back in the tub.  I generously smeared the contents of said tube allllllll over my very, very firm, and definitely not itchy upper lip.

Only this time, I grabbed the smart phone and took a picture:

New - Grandmother's Song

This one is named "Grandmother's Song"...for the first song I ever sang to Timothy, and the first song I will sing to Adyn Esther, and the first song I will sing to each and every grandchild yet to be...

12x12, in acrylics, watercolors, inks, and General's Sketch-n-wash pencil, on a background of antique book papers...

If you love this, grab it. Trust me, a happy mixed-media painting is hard to find.

Perfect for a nursery or playroom or any room where you want to be reminded of some little someone who is your sunshine!

"Grandmother's Song" is a happy painting. It should be - becoming a Mimi has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

So far, I can only do happy work. I pray my work will never get moody and broody. The joy of the Lord is my strength!

 If you are interested, please either email me, or visit my shop. You'll find Paypal there, and I'll get this out to you right away!

A Season of Harvest Is Now ALSO "Sheila Atchley Designs"

random picture from my archives, because I didn't want to leave you pictureless...

I've heard from a couple of you!

You typed in my blog address, like you always do, and you ended up redirected to a more or less blank page.

I know, right?  What was I thinking?!

Well, here is the scoop, hopefully condensed:  since my art is actually selling, since I might even do a big art show in the fall, since I am taking Jeanne Oliver's class on small business, I am looking at making some changes to my web presence.  You can still always find me at  "aseasonofharvest.blogspot.com".  But, effective immediately, anyone and everyone who types www.sheilaatchleydesigns.com into their browser will  also be taken right here.

To our blog.  It isn't "my" blog, because that means nothing.  A blog is nothing without readers.

And I couldn't give you up.  All one dozen of you.  You mean so much to me, I've spent hours and hours figuring out the simple act of directing all traffic to sheilaatchleydesigns.com, to this blog, so we wouldn't lose each other.

I did it.  Finally figured it out.  Bam.

Sheila Atchley Designs Dot Com.   I may start a small business by that name, who knows?  And if I do, people need to be able to find me by name.  Hence, the new/old address  Sheilaatchleydesigns.com, which will take you to this old/new blogspot address.

One thing is for certain:  I will be making some changes to the Season of Harvest blog you've always known.  Good changes.  But you will still find me at the address you've always known.

I'll be creating a new header, and launching into a new project that I want to keep a surprise.

Regardless of what I decide to do, I need your support!

How can you support me?  Just keep coming back.  And pray for me.  I have several new avenues I want to take with this very website, and sharing the Gospel of the Finished Work of Christ will always the object of all my endeavors - be it through art or business or websites or whatever.

And just for fun...please type "www.sheilaatchleydesigns.com" into your browser.  Let's get this party started, and blow up Google Analytics!

Well.  ::cough::

I can dream, right?  Whatever happens with my Google ratings, I am glad we had this little talk.

PayPal Now Available - Art For Missions - New In The Shop!

For your convenience, PayPal is now available - an easy way for you to purchase my original art, and in so doing, contribute to our church's youth group missions trip this June!

Brand new, in the shop ~  SOLD

 12x12 mixed media canvas, "Free Indeed"
(click on picture for an enlarged view...)

done in acrylics, guache, gesso, watercolors, and inks, on a background of antique book and hymnal papers...gallery-wrap style painted edges, so this can be hung without a frame.

...flower detail...

pages from an old, old hymnal...

...more flower detail...stylized flowers dominate the aqua blue, ivory, and white background...

 hanging on the wall in my studio...
$55, postage paid  SOLD

Next up, is this sweet little canvas ~

In this photo, you can see all the pretty details, but the canvas background reads a little more "yellow" than it actually is...see the next photo...(and click on any picture for an enlarged view)

"My Mother"
5x5 mixed media canvas, beautifully and unusually mounted on cast iron trivet

 I found four of these beautiful antique keys the other day...I snatched them all up.  One made its way onto this canvas.  Reading is the key to wisdom and knowledge...

page from an antique book, peeking out on the top...it reads "Literary Lanes"...

excerpt from a poem by Strickland Gillian
"...richer than I you could never be - I had a mother who read to me."

If you don't have a PayPal account, please email me, and we can make arrangements for payment and receipt of your art!

I have an opportunity to put my art in a shop in Pennsylvania, and I may have a chance to do my first art show...in November...and I'm told it is a major art show.

I will keep you posted!

There will be more new things up on my blog-shop very soon...please stay tuned, and thanks for all the love.  It means so very, very much to me! 

Art For Missions - New in The Shop

"My Mother"

Everyone knows that reading is the key to wisdom and knowledge.  If you had a mother who read to you, you are so richly blessed.

5x5x1.5 canvas, beautifully and unusually mounted on cast iron trivet
Acrylics, gesso, guache, inks, modeling paste, with a genuine antique key mounted on the canvas
 hand-stamped and hand lettered, on antique book pages. 

This original painting features an excerpt from a poem by Strickland Gillian

"...richer than I you could never be -
I had a mother who read to me."

Here are some other detail views for you ~

The antique key

the words on the top of the canvas peek out: "Literary Lanes"

And on the side, the antique book page reads "A Sermon on Reading"

So uniquely mounted, with one last surprise - the back is stamped burlap.  This piece looks rustic and pretty and finished, even from behind. 

Love this.  It so speaks to what has always been a major philosophy of motherhood in my life and home. I read to my children every single day, even as high school students, I read to them for a few minutes each day, for the sheer joy of reading books.  Reading aloud is truly the key to all learning!

This one is a hit here...we are all so partial to it.  Lots of love went into it, and The Preacher even did all the fabrication and mounting, Hannah did the photography.

$45 postage paid

If you love this "My Mother" canvas, if you can give it a good home just in the nick of time for Mother's Day, please email me right away! 

Remember - half of everything I make - gross, not net - goes to missions, the other half goes back into my art supplies...which now must necessarily include cool and unusual mountings for smaller square canvases!  Fun!