Friday, December 23, 2011

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas season celebrating the birth of Salvation himself.

It occurred to me last Sunday how seldom I stop to consider the real life aspect of the story of Jesus’ arrival. We read the story and it is so compact. Recorded by men who wanted to cover the major events and spread the good news, not write a novel. Reading between the lines I am drawn to consider the relative upheaval Mary’s life must have gone through as she carried the child of God. What unnerving questions, what moments of doubt and restless waiting must have occurred. It says she pondered the angel’s words in her heat, but I am sure there were also questions of life and living. Between the supernatural events there was the everyday workings of life. The business of surviving and getting along. (As most women know, this isn’t always easy when pregnant!)

Then I thought about the people who came to visit Mary and Joseph at that vulnerable time right after Jesus’ birth. Shepherds. Not only strangers, but most likely smelly strangers. Using my imagination I suppose they were excited and a little crazy eyed on top of it all after the grandiose display the angels gave them. I think back to my own experience, having my boys in the warmth and quiet of my own home. How I wanted to keep those warm moment with my baby and my family to myself. Perhaps close friends could come visit after we were good and rested from the ordeal of birth. But strangers? No way!

How can I compare my own experience with the birth of Christ? Jesus was different. Surely Mary knew that. Jesus was not just a baby to be cuddled and enjoyed. He was the Savior. Destined for great and trying things which would tear at her heart. He was a man of sorrows, aquainted with grief, born to die for the sake of us all. But Mary, she was human. She was a woman, a mother, just like me. Before he saved the world, she had to feed him, change his diapers (or cultural equivalent thereof) and burp him. There were the years of watching him grow…what must it all have been like? Did she understand what was happening when he began his ministry? When he died? When he rose from the dead? How did she reconcile who he was, God incarnate, with the tender moments of motherhood that must have been nestled in her heart?

There is so much between the lines, so much that came before and that came after. As I sat and thought about all this I found myself dissatisfied with quaint little depictions of the nativity that is so popular this time of year. Contending that it did not show enough. It was too clean. Too cute. Too quaint. It seemed to me to encourage us to forget the reality of Christ.

Notwithstanding, not a week after all these thoughts I found myself making this very image as I tried to come up with a good Christmas card for a friend. Why? I ask myself. Especially when I thought so lowly of it just days before!

I’ll tell you what I think.

We like to clean things up. Make them more beautiful, more presentable than they are. To bring joy and cheer to ourselves and those around us. Life is dirty, stressful and full of trials. So we decorate, rearrange and find images of hope and beauty with which to surround ourselves. This part of us. The part of us that longs for something more, something better, though we’re not sure what it may be. This is the part of us that testifies of our need for salvation. We are trapped in our own humanity, our own messes and the messes of those around us. Jesus came to redeem us from all that. To clense us from the dirt of this world and our own sinful natures. He came to give us hope. He came to give us a future. The one we all dream of. Where we will not have to clean things up to hide reality, because reality itself with be unhindered beauty and perfection. We will not have to paste a smile on when we see people and pretend everything is okay. Everything will be okay. Every child of God will be reconciled to Him, to each other and to themselves. Peace will be on earth.

So, yes, the quaint little nativity doesn’t tell the whole story. But it can remind us. Remind me. That Jesus came to bring us the perfection we all crave.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hairy Fisherman

Beards are so in right now.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Lately I've had a hankerin' to watch the old Star Wars trilogy, and I'm always in the mood for coffee. These are just doodles. Ballpoint pen on the back of the church bulletin. But I've been daydreaming about making up a whole scene of these guys, you know, hanging at the local coffee house.

AKA: Java the Hut.

So there you have it. The geek in me, really and truly shining through.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Monster Haircut

Edward has been watching a lot of Pixar lately. That, combined with a recent Wookie/Star Wars drawing kick (evidence to come)....well. It's a weird little painting (Mike Wizowskie's hairy cousin?)
But I think I like it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Art Installation : Oak Harbor Library

As many of you know I have been working on a large art installation for the Oak Harbor Library. Over the last several months I've shared bits and pieces of it with you. Teasing you. Showing you pieces of this giant jigsaw. Well, here is the payoff: The install!

This was the largest work I've ever done, and the most complex. We had to create each individual piece of the installation off site based on measurements and drawings we made of the space. Even with all our measuring and planning there were the inevitable hiccups. Thankfully Seth is a master problem solver and we were able to get everything in without much difficulty. I really can't express how grateful I am to have such an amazing husband!

My Dad also came along to help. We really couldn't have done it without him. (Thank you Daddy! I love you!)

Everything was constructed from 1/2" plywood. I drew the designs and Seth cut them out sanded them down and joined the pieces for me. Then I painted the illustrations using first acrylic for the outlines and much of the background. Then I switched to oil paint for the color and details on the animals and letters. Much of the painting was done in an untraditional translucent style of application. I am partial to this style especially when painting on wood because it allows the wood texture to show through and adds character to the images. Finally, Seth finished the lower parts with a varnish to prevent tiny fingers from damaging the paintings.

The transparent mesh that hangs between the foliage and in the middle of the installation is actually just window screen. I bought a few rolls of the stuff, cut it out and spray painted it. I thought it would look kinda cool to have transparent pieces where light and shapes could overlap. It also helped with the transition from the woodland side of the entryway to the sea and shore side.

I'm not gonna lie, it was a little heartbreaking, at first, watching Seth shoot little brads and pin nails into my paintings.

I eventually got over it though (you can hardly see the holes, anyway). I even got brave enough to use the brad nailer myself on a few of the little critters. It was actually quite fun.

The whole installation process took about 8 hours from start to finish.

In the end, it's still hard to capture the entire piece with just a camera. I'm not that great of a photographer and it's made to be viewed up close, in person. This is a permanent installation though, so you are welcome to go and view it in person anytime during library hours.

There will be a ribbon cutting reception on December 2nd at 4:30 for those who want to come.

I'll try follow up with another post of detail shots and photos of people interacting with the art after the reception for those of you who cannot make it out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Woodland Update

Here are a few more images of the woodland creatures I’ve been working on the last few months. Many of these critters are fairly close to life size and all of them are local to Whidbey island. Which is fun. I’ve had a lot of help from local wildlife experts and the wonderful librarians at the Oak Harbor library. I feel so blessed to get to work with these people! We’ve set the install date for Nov. 11. I can’t wait to see how it all looks put together. I have a feeling it will be like the thrill of completing a rather large jigsaw puzzle.

Edward is pretty keen on the Eagle.
Mr. Mole here is one of the exception to the whole "life size" bit. I think I just got in the groove of drawing him and forgot to take measurements so he's about double his actual size...but I suppose that's okay. Seth (the husb.) argued that he could be from Narnia. This seems probable since he wears glasses and can read.

The library has scheduled a ribbon cutting / grand opening type event for December 2 at 4 p.m. It is open to the public.

Oak Harbor Library
1000 Southeast Regatta Drive
Oak Harbor, WA 98277

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Its hard to see the woods for the...animals?

It's kind of hard to explain what I've been working on. Right now it looks a mess. Animals and letters strewn about. Some just looking cute, others learning to read. I'm really enjoying myself when I get a chance to paint long enough to get in the groove of things. Really working at keeping a consistent hand on the line quality and style of it all. We'll see in a month and a half how it all fits together. Lord willing.

And, when I say "Lord willing" it truly is by his grace that I have the time or energy to work on this. Oil painting isn't exactly easy when you have a toddler and an infant on your hands. I praise God for my husband, my family and for reasonably well behaved children. It's all Him. My Jesus. He created these beautiful creatures. He gives me the ability and the provisions for it all, and I am simply thankful.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Woodland Literacy

Just a little preview of a project I've been working on. It's a rather large piece which will serve as the entrance to the children's area in the Oak Harbor Library. I've been working on it since March. It's been a lot of research and sketching up to this point, but I'm finally getting to the fun part. Shooting for an Oct/Nov install - Lord willing. There's still a lot of work ahead of me but I can't wait to share the finished work with the people at Oak Harbor. The librarians there have been so helpful and supportive during the research period of this project. I am so grateful.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Public Art

I am currently in the beginning stages of creating a public art installation for a Library. It's much larger than I've ever worked, but I'm really excited. The husband and I will be collaborating on this project, and I must say, I am so blessed to have such wonderful, supportive husband who can do just about anything!

I don't want to give away the project before it's complete, but here are a few preliminary detail sketches. Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011