Monday, December 3, 2007

Neighborhood Watch - the original!

Neighborhood Watch @2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 20 • acrylic on cradled gessobord • sides painted dark umber
gloss varnish for protection & ease of cleaning

Well, we’re fast approaching another new year (they just keep on coming, don’t they?) so I’ve been doing my best to muster up the gumption to put the finishing touches on projects I started months ago and tie up all those loose creative ends for this year. I think this was the only painting I had left unfinished, and now it’s done!

This one has a kind of a retro, illustration-y feel to it that I really like; I started the painting back when we were still living in town ... this is our Trixie keeping an eye on things on our corner. She was really good at letting me know if any unauthorized persons (or dogs, or cats, or squirrels) were passing by. Even out here in the country where she and Henry can actually go outside just about any time they feel like it, she still loves looking out the windows.

Here’s a detail of the picture:

Thanks to all of you who keep checking in ... I’ve been a little lazy lately when it comes to my blogging. Also, I’ve been blog-tagged by fellow artist blogger Helen Read (thanks, Helen!) so look for my response to that soon!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Inexpressible Joy, the 6-month painting

Inexpressible Joy © 2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
24 x 18 • acrylic on 2" cradled Gessobord • sides painted dark umber

Yep, we all have ’em ... that project that gets started with a gung-ho enthusiasm (“... this is gonna be great!”) and then for some reason or other gets pushed aside for just a bit ... then weeks, months, years. It seems the longer these projects go unfinished, the harder it is to pick them up again. This painting, which I started in May, has been lurking around the edges of my to do list since June. Here’s a detailed description of the first progress photos.

After the muted chilly morning grays of Anticipating Flagstaff I felt like doing something really bright and sunny, so I painted Oak Tree on Ratcliff Street (I still need to get a final photo of that one to show you) and then I pulled this one out, dusted it off and dived into luscious color!

One of the things I miss about our old neighborhood in town is all the wonderful front yard gardens ... I love day lilies, and these particular ones were out in full force last May, right around the corner from our place. When this painting first appeared in my blog, I pointed out the lively sweeping motion of the picture; it just seems so joyful to me ... hence, the title!

More work in progress photos; this first one was my starting point.

When working on a picture like this one that might have a tendency to look busy, I have to step back from the easel pretty often to make sure that the composition as a whole is still making sense, and has clear overall areas of light and shadow. Toward that end, I build up all the areas as I go along, as you can see from the progress photos (rather than starting at one end and finishing my way across),

Here are some details:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Recipe for Success

Psalm 145:2-3 (The Message)
I’ll bless you every day, and keep it up from now to eternity.
God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough.
There are no boundaries to his greatness.

Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Oak Tree on Ratcliff Street ... work in progress photos ...

Whew! What a week! My art exhibit went up in the LSU Medical Center Library on Tuesday, and I’m planning to take some photos tomorrow ... I’ll try to get them posted by tomorrow night. Above is a work in progress photo of the last painting I completed for the show ... unfortunately I forgot to take a final photo before I delivered the art, so I’ll get a good pic of it when I go, and post it tomorrow as well.

My day invariably goes smoother, and God grants me much more patience and perseverance with obstacles and difficulties when I take some real time for prayer in the morning. Reading in my little book of 19th century devotionals, I was quietly encouraged during this hectic week by these words of timeless wisdom, to re-commit every aspect of my life and work to the glory of God, every morning:
Morning by morning think, for a few moments, of the chief employments of the day, any one thing of greater moment than others, thine own especial trial, any occasions of it which are likely to come that day, and by one short strong act commend thyself beforehand in all to God; offer all thy thoughts, words, and deeds to Him – to be governed, guided, accepted by Him. Choose some great occasions of the day, such as bring with them most trial to thee, on which, above others, to commend thyself to God.

– E. B. Pusey

Will you not, before venturing away from your early quiet hour, “commit thy works” to Him definitely, the special things you have to do today, and the unforeseen work which He may add in the course of it?

– F. R. Havergal

And finally, In my last post I showed work in progress photos of this painting, Anticipating Flagstaff: I decided to put the finished version here at the end of this post so you can more easily see the pics together:

© 2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
24 x 18 • acrylic on cradled Gessobord
This painting will be available for sale after my show
at the LSU Medical Center Library in Shreveport,
November 13 - December 31, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Flagstaff Morning ... work in progress ...

I started this one yesterday ... another remembrance of our recent road trip west. It’s 24 x 18, acrylic on cradled gessobord. I’ll try to finish it today, if I can get my fingers to thaw out!

This is traveling west on I-40, just coming into Flagstaff. It was a chilly October morning; we had left our hotel in Holbrook before dawn, and had stopped a while back for gas and coffee. (travel note: you can pretty much count on the fact that Flying J truck stop will have French Vanilla creamer on tap ... ooo la la!) I was cozily ensconced in the passenger seat with a steaming mug cradled in my cold hands and hot air blowing on my frozen toes ... aaaahhh. The sunrise was behind us, making the sky ahead of us glow with wonderful, lovely, yellow and lavender light. I hope I can capture the feeling of it!

Friday, November 2, 2007


800 Miles to Long Beach © 2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
36 x 18 • acrylic on cradled gessobord
Gloss varnish for protection and ease of cleaning
This painting will be available for sale during my show at the
LSU Medical Library in Shreveport, November 13 - December 31, 2007

This morning while walking the dogs, I stopped to pick up an empty beer can someone had tossed out on the side of the road. This isn't the first time I've had the privilege of picking up some anonymous motorist’s trash; in fact, we’re thinking about putting up one of those little signs, “This section of Yearwood Road adopted by the Schmidt Family.”

Anyway, as I was walking along carrying the empty can, one of our neighbors down the road came driving by on her way to work and I waved good morning with the hand holding the can, because I had Trixie’s leash in my other hand. She smiled and waved, and as her car disappeared around a bend in the road it suddenly occurred to me that it might look like I had just had a Bud Light for breakfast. Hmmm.

Then I thought, I wonder how many times I’ve jumped to a wrong conclusion about someone based on my false perception? Maybe (hopefully) next time I’m tempted to form a hasty impression I’ll flash on a picture of myself walking down the road with a beer can in my hand!

I was kind of relieved when I came across two more cans a little further up the road. A 50-year-old woman walking a dog and carrying an empty beer can may have just had a brewski for breakfast, but a 50-year-old woman walking a dog and carrying three empty beer cans is definitely just doing her part to help keep the roadside clean!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

One dog’s life.

800 Miles to Long Beach work in progress.

It’s occurred to me that I’ve never introduced Henry, our Bluetick Coonhound rescue, here in my blog. He’s the newest member of our little menagerie, but as it turns out, he’s probably the eldest.

Last year around Thankgiving, he showed up one Saturday while we were down here working at the house. He was literally nothing but skin and bones, painful to look at; I almost cried when I saw him. He had a wound on his right hindquarter and he stank to high heaven, so we covered the back seat of the car, coaxed him in and took him to our veterinarian to see if he could be saved. It turned out he had heartworms, but other than that nothing wrong with him except starvation ... because Paul and I were still in our apartment at the time, my parents graciously offered to let Henry stay in their back yard temporarily (even though they have three Australian shepherds of their own). It didn’t take him long to work his way up to “inside dog” – my Dad is a soft touch when it comes to canine family members!

The vet guessed Henry is about 10 years old, but he’s very high energy, which I learned is typical of the breed – a bit much for a quiet suburban neighborhood. Henry made a quick recovery and soon was jumping the fence on a regular basis. When we moved out here to the country in July, we brought him with us, and he’s doing great. There’s plenty of room for him to run for miles and miles to wear himself out, and he always returns home after his rounds and hangs out on the back porch most of the time.

Because Blueticks are born hunters, I was a little apprehensive about how he would behave around the cats, but he’s never tried to chase them or eat them. Actually, I think he’s kind of scared of them ... he gives them a wide berth when they’re around and when one of them is standing a little too close to the doorway he’ll wait until they move before he comes in. He steers clear of Dawson, the dachshund next door, too. Pretty funny.

He and Trixie are best buds; they love to play together outside and in the living room. When I take Trixie for our twice daily walk (on a leash, because she absolutely cannot be trusted not to run up to the highway and race with passing cars and trucks, or the train!) Henry trots right along with us, occasionally taking off through the pasture or the woods, baying at the top of his lungs, and usually returning to join us a little way down the road. At night he and Trixie sleep together in the living room, Trixie on her blanket on the sofa and Henry on his blanket on the loveseat.

Not a bad life for an old hound dog!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Road Trip (working title) ... work in progress

Just a quick progress post for my latest painting. This one is nice and big ... 36 x 18. I haven't settled on a title yet; maybe Born to be Wild, or Wrong Turn at Albuquerque. My husband likes this painting a lot, especially the cinematic dimensions.

Hey, I just thought of a great title: 800 miles to Long Beach.

hmmm ...

(pause to take a sip of 6-hour-old coffee while mulling over this latest title choice)

... yep, I like it – I think we have a winner!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Back Home

Psalm 103:1-2 (from The Message)

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I'll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God, don't forget a single blessing!

Paul and I got back home this week after a great trip to California - north to San Francisco area to visit his parents, and then to southern Cal to visit with my sister and family, and to check in with the corporate office of the company I work for as a graphic artist. It was good to see coworkers again, and meet a new one (hi, Al!) whom I only knew through phone conversations and email, but after a few days in the office I sure was reminded of how spoiled I've gotten not having to commute to work in heavy freeway traffic every day! My usual morning commute is carrying my cup of coffee (with French vanilla creamer) from the kitchen to the computer desk. And believe me, I don’t take that for granted!
It was a wonderful trip, but as usual it’s good to be back home.

(... pause to take a sip of fresh hot coffee - with French vanilla creamer - from my favorite mug ... )

I love this time of year. No matter how busy life gets in the fall, I thank God for a heightened awareness of seasonal blessings ... gifts that appear for a time and then are gone with a promise to reappear at their appointed time.

The spider lilies that have populated the yard since mid-September have come and gone ...

... hay is being stacked and stored for equine and bovine midwinter snacks ...

... it’s harvest time for cotton ...

This was a good year for cotton around here; most was taller than my husband, who’s 6 foot 2. I took these pics a couple of weeks ago.

Now the cotton is being harvested; it stands in huge, heavy bales by the side of the road until it’s hauled off to the gin (to get rid of those pesky seeds), leaving behind remnants on the ground that look kind of like the last patches of dirty snow that linger after the spring thaw in parts north. (snow simile courtesy of my childhood in North Dakota.)

... and a happy surprise that greeted us upon our return home ... the beautiful Confederate Rose hibiscus planted just outside our back door - a housewarming gift from a very dear friend - is in glorious bloom!

I've been seeing monarch butterflies in the yard, passing through on their yearly trek to Mexico. These days I’ve traded in my usual sandals for thick socks and tennies, and I’ve broken out my sweatshirts for the chilly morning hours; I’ve noticed that I’m wearing said sweatshirts later and later into the day. This old house is holding the morning chill long after the day warms up outside. I guess it’s time to move “thinking about getting some heat in here” from the back burner to the front!

And I am getting back into the daily routine ... including new paintings and continuing work on the house ... it’s kind of hard to get back into the swing of things after a long trip, but I’m newly inspired, and I’ll be posting new artwork soon!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Heeeeeeere’s Louis!

Basket Case © 2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on gessobord
Gloss varnish for protection and ease of cleaning • sold unframed
CLICK HERE to bid!

This is Louis (pronounced Lewis), who lived next door to us before we moved out to the country. A beautiful black kitty with auburn highlights in his fur, golden eyes (though one eye was a little on the greener side), sometimes he would come over for a play date while his servants/owners were gone to various work and school activities. Most times the play dates turned into get-into-everything-he-could-find dates. I walked into the front room one day to find him here in our dog Trixie’s toy basket. Maybe he thought that’s where he belonged, since he was one of Trixie’s favorite playmates. And even though Trixie is about six times his size, Louis had no trouble holding his own with her!

Trixie and Louis were best buds, and often whenever Trixie and I would go for a walk, Louis would tag along with us, just like a little dog. A few times he accompanied us all the way around several blocks. I’ve never seen a cat do that before. Sometimes my husband would really crack me up by saying things he imagined Louis was thinking, in a voice that sounds like Phil Hartman impersonating Frank Sinatra. What a cat! We love it out here, but we sure do miss our neighbors!

Here’s a closer detail of the painting:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

In progress ... another cat in a basket!

Here's the painting I started today ... it still needs a little more work, but I thought I’d post the work in progress. This is Louis, aka ’Mokey (“Smokey” without the “S”), who lived next door to us before we moved out here to the country. More on him when I post the finished painting, maybe later tonight!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Don’t try to cross that river until you get to it!

Joshua 1:9

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

North of San Antonio © 2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on gessobord
Gloss varnish for protection and ease of cleaning • sold unframed
CLICK HERE to bid!

Here’s the passage I want to share today out of my little 1884 book of daily devotionals; I hope you get a blessing from it as I have.
Watch your way then, as a cautious traveller; and don’t be gazing at that mountain or river in the distance, and saying, “How shall I ever get over them?” but keep to the present little inch that is before you, and accomplish that in the little moment that belongs to it. The mountain and the river can only be passed in the same way; and, when you come to them, you will come to the light and strength that belong to them.

– M. A. Kelty

Here's a detail of today's painting:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ray, Watch Cat Extraordinaire

Neighborhood Watch II © 2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
5 x 7 • acrylic on gessobord
Gloss varnish for protection and ease of cleaning
SOLD • private collection, Jacksonville, Florida

Here’s Ray, ever vigilant - well ok, occasionally vigilant - keeping tabs on the neighborhood squirrels (and the dachshund next door) from the comfort of his favorite chair.

This one was fun to do ... it includes three of my favorite things:

1) a vintage kitchen chair with delicate metal scrollwork;

2) a blue ball pitcher that I found in one of the closets when we first started cleaning out the house in preparation for moving in; and

3) Ray

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Neighborhood Watch II in progress ...

Just a quick post to show this little painting I started today during my studio time. This one is 5x7, and I’ll list it on eBay when it’s finished ... probably tomorrow.

I really like how it’s turning out ... I think I might do a larger version of this one as well - we’ll see!

Monday, September 17, 2007

“Her children arise, and call her blessed ...”

Enid Townsend Platt


Last week God took my mother’s mother home to be with Him.

Family and friends from Colorado, California, Louisiana, and Texas gathered in San Antonio for her memorial service. Her pastor shared the good news of the Gospel, because it was her request that God's merciful plan of salvation and grace be presented at her memorial, for those who may not know. We sang her favorite hymns and shared our memories of Grandma – a time of mixed emotions, joy and sadness and laughter through tears – as we said goodbye to Enid – friend, Mother and Grandma - who will be greatly missed.

She was born Enid Townsend in Kansas in 1911, the first of eight children. She married Fred Platt when they were 19 years old, and they were married for 65 years when Grandpa passed away. Their wedding ceremony was performed by her father, a Quaker minister, and she liked to tell that before the wedding her father said, “I’m going to tie this knot so tight that NOTHING will be able to get it undone!’ I guess it worked!

My mom was the first of six children born to Fred and Enid; they had five daughters and one son, 20 grandchildren and about 30 great grandchildren ... I say “about” because I haven't had my coffee yet and I may have lost count somewhere along the line! And as of right now, one great great grandchild on the way (congratulations to my cousin Debbie, who will be the first of our generation in the family to be a grandparent!)

Fred and Enid lived in Oklahoma and Colorado until the dust bowl and hard times drove them to Southern California, where Grandpa went to work driving a dairy delivery truck, and where they raised their family and lived until Grandpa retired. It boggles my mind to think how the world has changed during their lifetime!

Saturday I took part in a choir retreat, and over lunch I was telling some friends about the memorial service and about Grandma ... one of them said, “What a wonderful heritage!” I heartily agree ... I’ve been very blessed with a strong Christian heritage, from both my father's and mother's side, and I thank God for that!

Grandma was a woman of strong faith, always ready with a kind word for everyone. All her life she was truly a blessing for her family. I’ll close with this passage from Proverbs 31:10-30, which was read at her memorial.

A woman of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.

She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.

She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Basket Full O’ Ray

Basket Full O’ Ray © 2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
5 x 7 • acrylic on gessobord
Gloss varnish for protection and ease of cleaning • sold unframed
CLICK HERE to bid!

Whenever I’m painting I keep the tubes of paint for my current palette in a basket on the floor beside my chair, and occasionally I’ll toss in a used paper towel, to be recycled after it dries. On this particular occasion, when I turned to reach down for a new paper towel, this is the sight that greeted me ... Ray, making himself at home in my work basket. I didn’t hear him come in because when he does things like this he goes into “super stealth” mode. I laughed out loud and immediately reached for my camera. Here’s the result: A Basket Full O’ Ray.

And yes, his eyes are really that green!

Monday, September 10, 2007

... and now, for something completely different ...

I don’t usually go surfing around the net unless I’m researching something for work (it just eats up WAY too much time, and I’ve got a life to live here!) - but I just stumbled upon this pretty cool video: Morphing 500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art.

The description under the video: “500 years of female portraits in Western art, from DaVinci to Picasso. Kinda creepy, but cool.”

It takes a couple of minutes to watch, but it’s pretty mesmerizing!

Cat Nap

Catnap © 2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on gessobord
Gloss varnish for protection and ease of cleaning • sold unframed
CLICK HERE to bid!

Well, last week I spent way too much time working on a certain landscape painting - it was getting to the point where I was reworking it to death and getting nowhere with it. I know most of you artists out there know exactly what I’m talking about - I think it looks terrible, and I haven’t decided whether I’m going to try to change the direction I’m going on it or just jump ship altogether. I finally realized I was just spinning my wheels (let’s see how many other transportation-related metaphors I can throw into this post!), and had just decided I needed a break from it, when I glanced over at Bailey, who was napping on a sweater I had tossed on a table earlier. Something clicked, and here’s the result ... a loose, fun, illustration-y little painting that was completely fun and relaxing to do!

I think I just might do a few more of these little ones to clear my palate (or palette - ha!) before getting back to the larger ones for my show in November.

November! Yikes!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The peaceable office ...

An average workday – as you can see, Bailey has settled quite nicely into the new office space.

... and here’s Ray in his favorite spot in front of the fan:

Monday, August 27, 2007

I guess Faulkner is good for some things

(Please forgive me, all you Faulkner fans!)

Morning Light in August
© 2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 12 • acrylic on 2" cradled Gessobord
This painting will be available for purchase during my show at the
LSU Medical Library in Shreveport, Nov. 1 - Dec. 31.

Hi everyone! Here’s the finished painting – I adapted the title from William Faulkner, whom I’m NOT a big fan of (WAY too convoluted and full of Southern angst for me – although I have gotten more than a few laughs out of reading past entries in the annual Faux Faulkner writing contest, which I don’t think has been held for a couple of years now). Nevertheless, I love the poetic sound of this book title, A Light in August..

While I was finishing up the painting Saturday afternoon, my husband said I should name it You Can’t Hurry Love. He said this over his shoulder as he was walking through the room, and really didn’t give an explanation of any kind – I guess since he’s a musician he’s more in tune with the names of songs rather than novels. I thought about his suggestion for a while, and even for a very brief instant considered You Can’t Hurry August Light but in the end decided to stick with Faulkner for this one.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Work in progress ...

Proverbs 3: 5-6 (the Message)
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.

work in progress • 16 x 12 • acrylic on deep cradled gessobord

Good morning, all! Here’s what I’ve been working on, painting-wise, this week ... still in progress ... an early morning view of our farmer neighbor’s yard, about half a mile down the road from us. This is another painting for my show at the LSU Medical Library here in Shreveport, Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. I’m working extra hard to get as many more large paintings finished as I can by the end of October, which is sneaking up fast! I can’t believe the summer is almost over ... lots of activity makes the time fly, doesn’t it?

I wanted to share that my 96-year-old grandmother was put into hospice care this week in San Antonio. A sad time because she will be missed, but a joyful time because we know she belongs to Jesus, and she is going home to be with Him. Grandma went from the nursing home to live at my aunt’s house, with a 24-hour hospice care nurse to help care for her.

My sister who lives in Long Beach, California, told me that ’way back when Grandma was 92 she said she was “ready to go!” She said, “I just don’t know why God doesn’t take me now – there’s nothing else I need to do here; all my work is done.” Well, maybe when she gets to heaven God will let her know why He kept her here for 4 more years!

Sorry my posts have been few a far between lately ... thanks to all of you who have been checking in!

I know I had the above Proverb in a previous post, but I’ve repeated it this morning because

a) it’s one of my very favorites

b) I need to read it often ... to keep reminding me! and

c) it goes right along with the reading I’m sharing today (which includes a poem and a prose passage) from my little 1884 book of devotionals:
“Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on.
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step is enough for me.”

– J. H. Newman

God only is holy; He alone knows how to lead His children in the paths of holiness. He knows every aspect of your soul, every thought of your heart, every secret of your character, its difficulties and hindrances; He knows how to mould you to His will, and lead you onwards to perfect sanctification; He knows exactly how each event, each trial, each temptation, will tell upon you, and He disposes all things accordingly. The consequences of this belief, if fully grasped, will influence your whole life. You will seek to give yourself up to God more and more unreservedly, asking nothing, refusing nothing, wishing nothing, but what He wills; not seeking to bring things about for yourself, taking all He sends joyfully, and believing the “one step” set before you to be enough for you. You will be confident that even though there are clouds around, and your way seems dark, He is directing all, and that what seems a hindrance will prove a blessing, since He wills it.

- Jean Nicholas Grou

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

NOW we’re cookin’ with gas!

Midsummer Morning
© 2007 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 16 • acrylic on 2" cradled gessobord
SOLD • private collection (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

Just a quick post to show you the finished painting ... and to make the big announcement:

Not only do we have running water, now we have HOT water! The propane tank is FINALLY hooked up to the gas lines. Ain’t life grand?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Keep a quiet heart ...

Deuteronomy 15:10 (from The Message)

“Give freely and spontaneously. Don't have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God's blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures.”

My place of lowly service, too,
Beneath thy sheltering wings I see;
For all the work I have to do
Is done through strengthening rest in Thee.

– A.L. Waring

Today I'm showing you a painting I did a couple of years ago ... it's a picture of a hiking path in Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina, and I sold it on eBay to someone who lives in Seattle.

Well, I realize once again that almost a whole week has gone by since my last post! A week chock full of work ... with a very nice surprise visit Wednesday from a lovely close friend who now lives all the way on the west coast; and a fun impromptu visit yesterday from our “next door” neighbors (the mom of the family and their two daughters, ages 10 and 6). They are also working on fixing up their big, not-quite-as-old, house, and we had fun comparing notes! We went on a tour of our house, then I went over to their house and toured their progress ... a lot of fun, getting encouragement from each other. I was especially impressed at the painting Mark (the dad of the family) had done on the walls of the girls’ rooms: big flowers and butterflies for the 6-year-old and bold, colorful shapes and designs for the 10-year-old, who, she emphasized, had pre-approved the design before her dad painted it on the wall!

The scripture and poem above are from my reading today in the little book of devotionals I mentioned in my last post (of course, the scripture was in the King James version, not The Message!) Also in today’s reading was a longer quote I want to share – I’m really growing to love these words of encouragement spoken by voices of generations gone by! This is a really good one for those times we get so frustrated at life’s interruptions that keep us from working on our art (or whatever work is your passion!) as much as we’d like. I don’t know about you, but I tend to think of a day full of interruptions as a modern trial, characteristic of the times we live in, but note that this was written by Annie Keary, an English novelist who lived in the 1800’s:
I think I find most help in trying to look on all interruptions and hindrances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one’s work. Then one can feel that perhaps one’s true work – one’s work for God – consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one’s day. It is not waste of time, as one is tempted to think; it is the most important part of the work of the day, – the part one can best offer to God. After such a hindrance, do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime, and keep a quiet heart about it.

– Annie Keary

Thanks, Annie, I shall do my best to “keep a quiet heart about it” when I experience any interruptions that come my way today (listen to me, I'm even starting to talk like a 19th century person!)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Unexpected Blessings

Psalm 103: 1-2

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits

This one is almost finished, I think. Some more work on the foreground, maybe soften up the background a little more ...

Shortly after I started working on our house last summer, I found a wonderful book of daily devotional readings selected by Mary W. Tileston, Daily Strength for Daily Needs, first published in 1884. I’ve grown to love this little volume; I wanted to share with you all what I just read from it. This is actually the reading for August 6, but this morning I was overcome with the urge to put it in my blog, which makes me think that maybe somebody out there needs this today – I was really blessed by it!
Into all our lives, in many simple, familiar, homely ways, God infuses this element of joy from the surprises of life, which unexpectedly brighten our days, and fill our eyes with light. He drops this added sweetness into His children's cup, and makes it to run over. The success we were not counting on, the blessing we were not trying after, the strain of music in the midst of drudgery, the beautiful morning picture or sunset glory thrown in as we pass to or from our daily business, the unsought word of encouragement or expression of sympathy, the sentence that meant for us more than the writer or speaker thought, – these and a hundred others that every one’s experience can supply are instances of what I mean. You may call it accident or chance – it often is; you may call it human goodness – it often is; but always, always call it God’s love, for that is always in it. These are the overflowing riches of His grace, these are His free gifts.

S. Longfellow

I hope you are blessed by reading this as I was. My prayer today and every day is that God would grant me the privilege of using me as His instrument to express to someone in my path “the unsought word of encouragement or expression of sympathy, the sentence that meant for us more than the writer or speaker thought.”

I pray the help of His Holy Spirit to keep this uppermost in my thoughts as I go about my Saturday!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Midsummer Morning progress ...

The heat and humidity was a real drain on my energy today – I didn’t feel much like doing anything after work, but I made myself paint some more on this today. I’m glad I did, because I really like how it’s coming along ...

I don’t know about you but I’m so glad tomorrow’s Saturday!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Back in the Saddle ...

Midsummer Morning: the beginning

Not a long post ... I FINALLY got back to painting today and I just wanted to show you all this new one I’ve started. This is from a reference sketch I made this morning, and I’m painting the colors from memory. Normally this itty bitty bayou would be nearly dried up this time of year, but we’ve had so much rain this summer that the water is still pretty high. It was slightly foggy this morning, so I’m going to soften the colors way down, but I wanted this underpainting to be vibrant. So far it has just the feel I wanted. I think I can finish this one tomorrow ... it sure feels good to be painting again!