Streams in the Desert – July 9
by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
“I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48:10).
Does not the Word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yes, is it not an asbestos armor, against which the heat has no power? Let the affliction come–God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayest stride in at my door; but God is in the house already, and He has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayest intrude; but I have a balsam ready–God has chosen me. Whatever befall me in this vale of tears, I know that He has chosen me.
Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, His presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom He has chosen for His own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is His sure word of promise to His chosen ones in “the furnace of affliction.”
–C. H. Spurgeon
Pain’s furnace heat within me quivers,
God’s breath upon the flame doth blow;
And all my heart in anguish shivers
And trembles at the fiery glow;
And yet I whisper, “As God will!”
And in the hottest fire hold still.
He comes and lays my heart, all heated,
On the hard anvil, minded so
Into His own fair shape to beat it
With His great hammer, blow on blow;
And yet I whisper, “As God will!”
And at His heaviest blows hold still.
He takes my softened heart and beats it;
The sparks fly off at every blow;
He turns it o’er and o’er and heats it,
And lets it cool, and makes it glow;
And yet I whisper, “As God will!”
And in His mighty hand hold still.
Why should I murmur? for the sorrow
Thus only longer-lived would be;
The end may come, and will tomorrow,
When God has done His work in me;
So I say trusting, “As God will!”
And, trusting to the end, hold still.
The burden of suffering seems a tombstone hung about our necks, while in reality it is only the weight which is necessary to keep down the diver while he is hunting for pearls.
I freely admit that I am NO great fan of the desert under most circumstances, but we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the desert and there are times when the beauty is both totally surprising — and overwhelming.
After a rare rain, the flowers are a delight. And the mountains provide for spectacular views and awesome sunsets. Our desert times have inspired these paintings.
Despite the HEAT and unbearable dryness of the desert, I did come appreciate the beauty that can be found in the desert, but it’s still a discovery process to our friends Bill & Patricia Kics.
They’ve left everything familiar to them — beloved surroundings, (moisture), family and friends — all to serve and support those who are in foreign and domestic mission fields, using their skills in the offices at MissionONE.
You can read more about them and their journey here:
We know firsthand just how long and difficult the road has been to get them from their beloved Sarasota, FL to Phoenix, AZ. They have sought the Lord and surrendered to His will as they pursue this work.
They are indeed worthy of your prayer and financial support as they share Christ’s love by serving those in the offices of MissionONE and other Fields elsewhere.
For every person on the “mission field,” it requires a great deal of support from others, praying and giving to meet needs. We are members of one another and the hand cannot say to the foot, “I have no need of you.”
I don’t believe you’ve found this blog post by chance and if you have read this far, please prayerfully consider whether you should be part of their mission to share Christ’s love.
This was originally posted on my blog at Niume –in late 2016 or early 2017. Since then, I have been to Seattle and back, finished a long project in Fort Myers Fl and am again poised to “Go.” We have longterm plans elsewhere and are moving forward, expecting doors to open. Thank you for upholding us in prayer:
Who will follow their Master’s command to ‘go’? Who will stay and send those who are called to go? Who will uphold in prayer–that those who are in desperate need will hear the Truth that Christ died for them? All these play their parts in preaching The Good News. Don’t neglect the command of your Master; “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” This painting, Whom Shall I Send, sprung from my heart’s cry after reading KP Yohannan’s book, No Longer a Slumdog. And I am poised to “Go” once again.
About the first of the year, I decided that I should be drawing more, especially since I haven’t been able to paint in months. I figured that pretty much, no matter what, I could manage 5 minutes a day. I figured wrong. 🙂
It’s the 16 of January and I’m already behind, but I thought I’d share the ten or so I’ve managed to do so far.
“The world waits for a miracle
The heart longs for a little bit of hope
Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel
The child prays for peace on earth
And she’s calling out from a sea of hurt
Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel
And can you hear
The angels singing
Glory to the light of the world
Glory the light of the world is here
The drought breaks
With the tears of a mother
A babies cry is the sound
Of love come down
Come down, Emmanuel
He is the song for the suffering
He is messiah
The Prince of Peace has come
He has come, Emmanuel
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
For all who wait
For all who hunger
For all who’ve prayed
For all who wonder
Behold your King
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Behold your King
The world waits for the miracle
The heart waits for a little bit of hope
O come, O come Emmanuel”
I had lots of time on my hands in Seattle–rain, rain and more rain. Here’s a bigger version of the architecture at Inverness, Scotland that I worked on while trying to ignore all the cold, damp weather.
This is one of my first watercolors I attempted after watching Terry Madden’s Watercolor Workshop. I incorporated his techniques in this painting; I wish I had used some of the Iced Tea Powder in the vase here, but maybe that was in a later lesson.
During the weeks of dreary soggy weather during my visit to the Seattle area I’d picked up a pencil to do some sketches again. Here’s one of the views of Inverness, Scotland that I did while I ignored the constant dripping skies. 🙂
This is another older watercolor done larger than I usually work — it was a half sheet of watercolor paper; I was experimenting with permanent rose an Indian yellow. I’m definitely going to have to put the permanent rose back into my palette.
More than twenty years have passed since I painted this version of Monet’s Garden at Giverny. My mother-in-law, Eileen, introduced me to the world of art; I used to draw in school and even did a tiny bit of pastel work after high school, but I got very frustrated and just gave up. Eileen helped put me back on the road by sitting me down with a stretched canvas and her paints.
My art “career” actually started here with this painting (above). After returning from a year in China with two small children, we were living in a condo that someone had decorated with tropical themes. I get it. It’s Florida, but this canvas in the living room had this GIGANTIC Nautilus shell painted on it. I like shells just fine, but I REALLY REALLY HATED that painting.
I told my mother-in-law that any time she wanted to cut down the great mounds of paint making up that ugly shell and paint Monet’s garden over it, I would be delighted! Not long after that she took the enormous sofa painting down, cut all the huge globs of Nautilus shell paint off it and then enlisted the help of my four year old daughter to paint. They laid the painting down in the grass outside and grandmother and granddaughter painted the afternoon away. After that initial blocking in, we hung it on the porch and whenever family members visited, everyone was given a brush, some paint and a reference photo. It became a huge family project. My husband’s grandmother even contributed.After that, Eileen gave me my own smaller canvas so that I could work on my own version — that you’ve just seen on the the first page of this post. And the rest, as they say, is history.
This is another older watercolor from a few years ago. I was experimenting with wax resist using Crayola Crayons and decided I wanted to make this a very colorful house and played with complementary colors. I also tried to keep it kinda loose, so it looks as though this house may fall down soon, but I still had fun.
Today’s painting–a little study of a waterfall somewhere in Illinois; I’ve seen precious little sun for over a month since we’ve been in the Seattle area and today is my day to paint some high contrast scenes.
I think this is the last one that I have an early comparison for from the Walter Foster book. I painted this in 2013, before giving the book away, just as a way to see how far I’d come. To see one of my first efforts, go to the next page. I’d prefer you didn’t, but feel at liberty to see some of my worst early work! 🙂
I can’t believe I’m showing this to ANYone, but this is the first version of this painting I did, way back when, in probably 2009.
Another old lesson in the Walter Foster book from my last hurrah before I gave the book away in 2013; apparently, I didn’t feel the need to do water and rocks when I first got the book in 2009, so I don’t have an earlier comparison of this lesson. I always find it a challenge to keep so much white of the paper, but this is a good reminder that I need to focus on doing that more in my current works.
Looking back at this one–another 2013 redo of the Walter Foster lessons in that book before I gave it away–I think I should have put some more darks in it, but for a relatively quick painting, I was pleased with it. See the next page to see one of my first versions of this lesson from about 2009
Another one of the first few watercolors I painted using instruction from the Walter Foster book. In some ways, I like this first one better. But in truth, if I had either of these originals now, I’d add more layers of color to both of them and probably do some ink or graphite in them as well.
This was a lesson from a Walter Foster book; this is 2013 just before I decided to give the book away. I wanted to get an idea of just how far my skills have come in the seven or eight years since I started painting in watercolor. Click to see the next page and you’ll see just where I came from! 🙂
This is one of the earliest watercolors with instruction that I’ve done–probably 2009 or 2010–I hope you can see why I put the one from 2013 on the first page.
Straight lines are boring. This was a great lesson–again, from a book I picked up at the library. It’s one of my favorite compositions too; it reminds me of my grandparents’ old cow barn. There were many techniques used in this painting — from creating the brick work, bleeding out lines in the door, adding paint splatters and lifting out paint to create a vignetted appearance on several of the edges.
An old painting and one of my first attempts ever at painting the human figure. I painted it for my sister and brother-in-law who’d gone to Marrakech and allowed me to use their photographs as reference material. Overall, I was very pleased with this, especially the women’s faces. You can tell they are faces, but without much detail.
This is another older watercolor lesson done from a library book. It’s not a technique I use often, but it calls for dipping your brush in several different colors of paint before applying the brush to the paper, instead of mixing the colors beforehand. I like the effect, it’s just hard to keep my colors clean unless I’ve planned ahead.
These are the last of my peony studies from a few years ago on 90lb practice paper. I really loved the pink blended with the purple. I threw some Phthalo green in with Phthalo blue and I LOVE the pink witha that vioet. All in all I loved this color combination and I’ll definitely be adding the pink and sap green back into my standard palette.
An old peony study on 90lb paper. I’m in the mood for spring! So I’m posting another flower today. Technically, it’s a little early for peonies, but I don’t care. I LOVE FLOWERS and miss the peonies my mom used to grow in our flower garden when I was a kid. This one reminds me of the bright and delicate pink varieties that brightened our yard.
A few years ago we happened to live in an area of the country that had a fabulous Public Library system. I used to regularly check out the art section and find all kinds of great books on art instruction and they also had some really good videos as well.
This is one of my favorite watercolors. I did it a few years ago; it was done from a lesson in one of the library books I’d picked up. I had a blast creating those bricks, putting in the darks for definition and then lifting out at the corners of the painting to sharpen the contrast in the overall work.
I think it’s about time to try another version of this one, but it may be a while. Paints are put away, following Irma; though this leaves me wondering what I may be able to accomplish with digital. Hmmm….
For the last week, my friends have been posting pictures of their daffodils that are starting to bloom, so I thought I’d share this early watercolor of daffodils that I’d done many years ago. I just love daffodils!!! I was not made for winter and seeing this flower in bloom is just thrilling for me.
A few years ago, I had to stop a big painting I was working on to learn how to draw. Going through Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain helped me to overcome some huge obstacles in my art. After working through a few exercises in the book and using a glass picture plane, I was able to draw my left hand.
Here is my glass picture plane and how it helped me draw the complicated lines of a lampshade I was working on.
Once you have your sketch paper divided into four quadrants (like on the piece of glass), you can draw in the outlines of your difficult subject on your sketch paper, using the grid method.
To use this method for my hand, I had to lay the picture plane on top of my left hand and draw the lines in marker on the glass with my right hand. It was kind of a balancing act, but it worked. Then I used the guide lines drawn on the picture plane as a reference to draw lines in graphite on my toned sketch paper that I had lightly marked with quadrants using the grid method. (Betty Edwards’ grid method only uses a grid of four equal blocks.) With the initial drawing laid in on the toned paper, I was able to add more graphite to create deeper tones and then lift out graphite with a kneaded eraser to create highlights.(If you want to learn to draw better, you should check out Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. No, I don’t get paid to say that; I just liked the book. A LOT.)There are a number of artists out there that say that using a picture plane is “cheating*”; Albrect Durer used one as did many other famous artists. It’s just plain faster than figuring out complicated lines without the extra help.
*Apparently, it’s not cheating if you are a professional artist whose life depends on greater productivity — because you like to eat.
Watercolor special effects: this is an old study exploring watercolor techniques touching one color up with another one and letting them mix on the dry paper; before the colors dried I sprinkled instant iced tea in various places to create a mottled effect on the stoneware pieces I was having fun with. It’s still one of my favorite watercolor effects, but unfortunately, when I have instant iced tea powder around, I usually just drink it and don’t have any left over for painting. 🙂
An older watercolor from a lesson. It was one of the most satisfying early paintings I’d ever worked on and kept me going in my quest to be a real artist. I’ve worked on similar compositions and have never been quite as pleased as this first one that I did; it may be time to try another one though. 🙂
I’ve been working on horses for the last six years or so. This is my first attempt at a minimalist approach to a horse. Knowing that I needed to make every stroke count, I tried to keep those strokes very fluid to communicate the spirit of the animal. His ears are a bit short, but overall I am VERY pleased with this drawing.
I’d been sewing, crafting and painting for DECADES, but my husband told me many times –and for YEARS– that I should learn to draw; I hemmed and hawed and totally ignored his encouragement because I simply didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to stop painting and take the necessary time to learn a new thing with tools I didn’t prefer. Then one day I found myself in the middle of a very personally important project –a gift for someone I love– and I couldn’t complete it because I didn’t have the skills to do what I most wanted. I got REALLY frustrated.
After getting most of the landscape portion of this painting completed, I hit a road block that stopped everything and made me back up. The painting process went on hold and I finally began learning to draw. However, because of my time constraints, I couldn’t complete the ultimate ideal project . This painting should have a moose in it. You will notice that it does not:
After I learned to draw a bit, I was able to do this moose as a study, but he was too big to fit in the painting I was working on and with my limited skills I wasn’t able to fit a smaller one into the painting and finish it on time. I tried. Believe me, I tried, but I’d hemmed and hawed too long:
I still don’t draw as much as I should. Everyone says so. Everyone who matters most to me. But here’s one of my most recent charcoal sketches.
My figures still aren’t fabulous, but they are good enough to get an outline laid in for a painting if I need one and I no longer fear having to tackle a complicated subject like a horse. Before I went through the Betty Edwards’ book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, I would have simply avoided the subject altogether. Avoiding things left me feeling very incomplete and stunted, both personally and in my work.
I just can’t say enough good things about Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Betty Edwards provides exercises and tools for you to SEE better and so you can draw what you are seeing, not just what you think you see. The book is often available at your local public library. Check it out. Literally.
Drawing exercises a different part of the brain that often gets neglected in many parts of everyday life and it helps you access creative solutions and develop problem-solving skills that will help you work through problems in other areas of life, not just in art; almost everyone has access to a pen or pencil and a piece of paper throughout the day. Draw more.
I actually had a few meltdowns as I began to learn to draw, but made GIANT leaps forward in my personal life, in addition to acquiring new art skills. Once I began to really SEE what was around me, dormant parts of me began to blossom; my communication skills improved and I also had more self-esteem as I learned to conquer my fears in this process; it’s been personally therapeutic as well as professionally satisfying.
In most instances and for the average person, pencil or pen and paper is sufficient for drawing sketches, but for those who want to see what they are really capable of I heartily encourage you to go through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain; she’s an excellent teacher and gives you the tools you need to succeed.
Here is one of the exercises I worked on in 2012, using a glass picture plane (demonstrated and explained in the book). Hands are one of the most difficult subjects to draw and I’m still astounded that I was able to do this! You can too!!! She’s an excellent teacher and gives you the tools you need to succeed.
Here’s the glass picture plane I used to draw my hand; here you see I was working on angles for some confusing lines on a lampshade:
I am NOT a city girl, but last year we spent 5 months in Sydney, Australia and I loved it! But alas, visas run out and we returned to the States. Earlier today, a friend posted a meme of an Aussie Rock Melon, captioned, “Why do Rock Melons have elaborate weddings? Because they Cantaloupe.” Corny, I know, but it got me thinking and pining over Sydney.Here’s a watercolor I did of a Rock Melon and other fruit (fresh and fermented) that I did while we were there; we’d had some serious weather with terrible flooding and I was stuck in my room for a few days, but on this rare occasion I was able to get most of my painting done before my family ate and drank my models!
Today’s Art Tip:Always take a reference picture of your still life before you walk away; family members may not notice your big signs, “DO NOT EAT!” At least that was their story. And they’re still sticking to it.
A reblogged post from my now defunct Niume account:
So, last year when I was staying in Auckland I went through a couple of very sleepless nights. At first, I thought it was because I was on the other side of the planet from where I’d grown up and all my friends “at home” were up, but now I think it really was a factor of aging or I that I had lots of things on mind. In fact, since returning to my native hemisphere I’ve had to limit my screen-time to mostly daylight hours, so that I sleep like normal people. Normal people… Anyway, during my sleepless nights I’ve been known to do a bit of digital painting; it’s hard to paint with traditional media in the dark and I really don’t like to have lights on while my husband is trying to sleep, so painting digitally is a huge blessing on those occasions! It helps me refocus my mind and settle down so I can sleep. (Now that I’m limiting my exposure times to blue light–computer screens–I am sleeping better, so I don’t have many nights when I simply can’t sleep anymore.) These are a couple of my middle-of-the-night paintings when I was experimenting with the full version of Sketchbook Pro on a Surface 3 that I was trying out.
I did really like this “brush” for doing abstracts!
And though this was a daytime painting, it was the first one I did on the Surface with the full version of Sketchbook Pro, so I’ve included it with the other works. Reference for this lemon painting was shot by my friend and fellow artist-photographer, Allen Randall, in San Diego. Seriously, the man can make snails look GLAMOROUS and this lemon was stunning. I am not kidding–he’s been a great inspiration!
After a few months, I discovered that I didn’t “paint” as much using the full version of the program. Yes, yes, there were too many choices and I found it overwhelming; the program and the hardware worked quite well, but I’ve never been too much of a “bells and whistles” sort of person. In the end, I ditched both the hardware and the full version of the painting software and went back to my old Galaxy Note8 and the simpler version of Sketchbook Autodesk.
Here’s a painting done with the Note8 and Autodesk; reference also provided by Allen Randall:
I pronounce the simpler program totally adequate for my needs! The Note8, however, is on it’s last legs and I’m left wondering what to do…
So, if I’ve piqued your interest at the idea of glamorous snails then you can check out Allen Randall’s paintings here while you wait for him to upload his photography :
My spot for viewing the first half of Irma was handpicked for me; Hand-Picked by Someone who knows more than I do about what I need and where I need to be. I don’t think we could have plopped in a safer place. The steps of a a righteous man are ordered of the Lord; and from what we’ve seen, so are his stops. Our hotel room on the 3rd floor of a Ft. Myers hotel took no wind throughout the entire storm. We had a north-facing window and during the day we saw trees battered by winds from the east. Later as the sun went down and we were in the calm, we could see the lights from Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte from our room. We lost power about 5 pm so we watched the changing sky from our room; it was pretty calm about then as the eye was passing over. Just after the sun was almost completely set, I saw three notable explosions in quick succession at the same spot on the horizon. Later, I heard that one of the other hotel’s generators had blown up. I was immediately grateful we didn’t have a generator!
Our hotel staff was awesome. They were short-staffed, had never been through a hurricane and have handled themselves admirably. Just before the sun set and we lost power, they went from room to room, handing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fresh fruit and water to everyone who was hungry. The second night with no electricity, they brought in meat and mayonnaise sandwiches for everyone! La Quinta is now my new favorite hotel. Love them to bits!
We were without power for about 28 hours. We are SO thankful for everyone who worked so hard to get power back to our area so early! Again, another reason we know our room was handpicked for us; we were near the airport and the hospital which were both high priority for restored electricity. After Wilma we were without power for about 5 days down in Naples. Irma is my 4th hurricane. I would like to hope that she is my last, but I have the feeling that this is just preparation for what is to come.
I won’t lie; I had many anxious moments, especially before the storm hit, but KNOWING that I was in my Father’s hand the whole time and that we had friends and family all over the planet who were praying for us, I had tremendous peace after the rain and wind started. I was even able to lie down and sleep peacefully though the first parts of the storm and then slept soundly through the night for the last half after the winds changed direction. “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.”
The following morning we took a look at the damage in our area; there were lots of damaged trees and two of the other hotels on our road had some minor roof damage. Our hotel lost the big sign out front and the pet station. Not bad, all told. We are most grateful for everyone’s prayers. Thank you!
See my post Irma photos and brief video of the winds here:
Ever since I was little I’ve been fascinated with horses; I was not one of those fortunate ones who ever got to ride one much and certainly never owned one of these beautiful beasties. My fascination with them continues and after several months of solidly painting landscapes I decided it was time to get back to some horse work today. I’m not going for masterpieces here, but my son and another artist friend of mine have encouraged me to do quick paintings as an exercise. So, today, I got back to it and had a lot of fun with it!
This full horse was done in about an half hour with just a few colors that were left on my palette from my landscapes earlier in the week.
I spent a bit longer on this head sketch, but also used a limited palette and tried to work quickly.
This is Rodeo, a friend’s horse, that I did several years ago; he’s still one of my best and favorites. It was a quick sketch in acrylic paint with a limited palette.
After watching the 2009 film Defiance that told the story of the Bielski partisans during World War II, I wanted to paint my inspiration and dedicate this painting to Tuvia Bielski and his brothers, Zus, Ashael, and Aron who fought the extermination of their people and saved about 1,200 lives. This is the swamp in the Naliboki forest that they needed to cross to escape an attack by the Nazis.
Many thanks to Siarhei Hatski for allowing me to use his photograph of the Naliboki Swamp as reference and to the Jewish Partisans Educational Foundation for allowing me to take their on-line course as I researched the era and the Bielski Partisans. I’m very grateful for JPEF and their work to keep these memories alive and for teaching methods of resistance to tyranny. For more information on the Bielski Partisans and the surprising number of resistors during WWII visit their website:
This painting was done in tribute to the Granite Mountain Hotshots who were killed in the Yarnell Hill Wildfire on June 30, 2013. 19 of the 20 members died that day. One of my friends is from Prescott and news of the tragedy really struck a chord in my circle of Arizona friends, so it affected me too; I painted this as the firefighters were being carried to the cemetery for burial. This is one of the most emotional pieces I’ve ever done and if anyone knows who has the original I would be gratified to connect with them, for no other reason than to finally find out where it ended up. The original painting was acrylic on a piece of MDF that was about 12″x24″:
Ashcraft, Andrew – Age: 29
Caldwell, Robert – Age: 23
Carter, Travis – Age: 31
Deford, Dustin – Age: 24
MacKenzie, Christopher – Age: 30
Marsh, Eric – Age: 43
McKee, Grant – Age: 21
Misner, Sean – Age: 26
Norris, Scott – Age: 28
Parker, Wade – Age: 22
Percin, John – Age: 24
Rose, Anthony – Age: 23
Steed, Jesse – Age: 36
Thurston, Joe – Age: 32
Turbyfill, Travis – Age: 27
Warneke, William – Age: 25
Whitted, Clayton – Age: 28
Woyjeck, Kevin – Age: 21
Zuppiger, Garret – Age: 27
I’m very grateful for these firefighters who laid down their lives to protect others; I pray that their families are comforted and that all of their needs will be met.
Today, I am resting and only doing things that I find restorative; I found an older piece of art that needed some tweaking, so I began to play. No stress, no striving, just letting the creativity flow. I find that enjoyable and very restorative. Things like promotion will wait for a “work” day; that’s not restful.
As I was playing, my mind wandered back to why I am doing this (art) again. As I so often do when I am being contemplative, I turned to Streams in the Desert:
EVIDENCE OF HIS LOVE BY MRS. CHARLES COWMAN
In Streams in the Desert
“But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him…And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf” (Gen. 8:9-11).
God knows just when to withhold from us any visible sign of encouragement, and when to grant us such a sign. How good it is that we may trust Him anyway! When all visible evidences that He is remembering us are withheld, that is best; He wants us to realize that His Word, His promise of remembrance, is more substantial and dependable than any evidence of our senses. When He sends the visible evidence, that is well also; we appreciate it all the more after we have trusted Him without it. Those who are readiest to trust God without other evidence than His Word always receive the greatest number of visible evidences of His love. –C. G. Trumbull
“Believing Him; if storm-clouds gather darkly ’round,
And even if the heaven seem brass, without a sound?
He hears each prayer and even notes the sparrow’s fall.
“And praising Him; when sorrow, grief, and pain are near,
And even when we lose the thing that seems most dear?
Our loss is gain. Praise Him; in Him we have our All.
“Our hand in His; e’en though the path seems long and drear
We scarcely see a step ahead, and almost fear?
He guides aright. He has it thus to keep us near.
“And satisfied; when every path is blocked and bare,
And worldly things are gone and dead which were so fair?
Believe and rest and trust in Him, He comes to stay.”
Delays are not refusals; many a prayer is registered, and underneath it the words: “My time is not yet come.” God has a set time as well as a set purpose, and He who orders the bounds of our habitation orders also the time of our deliverance. –Selected
“God is never late! He has no where to go.” Arthur Burt
You can trust Him.
As I was reading through Streams in the Desert I was remembered something from a few days ago–I sat down to spend time with my family as they watched a movie; I’d grabbed my Notebook to do some digital painting as I listened and watched snatches of the movie I’d already seen years ago. I clipped through two neglected paintings and by the end of the movie was very pleased with my finished products; this was one of those instances where I was totally in The Zone which makes it even more remarkable that I was able to pay close attention to the dialogue scenes in the movie. One scene, in particular, spoke to me nearly a decade ago, but as I had incorporated the meat of the message into my doing, I’d forgotten about it over the years. This week I was reminded about those first instructions and that scene freshly watched spoke the same message as an encouragement again; I caught a glimpse of something very important–why I am still painting even though I don’t see it going anywhere.
I know most people don’t get it when someone says that God speaks to them. I can’t explain how I know I’ve heard God speak something to me. I just know. He says His sheep know His voice and another they will not follow. I believe that. I don’t “hear” in that way very often, but when I do, I tend to snap to. I’m very visual and often scenes from movies speak very clearly to my heart. This was one of those times. I don’t pretend to understand all the things God is engineering in the process for and through me, but I am doing what I believe I was told to do. And this week, I needed the reminder. Post-Christmas business is non-existent. I remind myself I’m not in it for the business, but sometimes I need a reminder from higher up.
In the movie, the central figure is rather disheartened and seeking God because He just doesn’t see any fruitfulness in his life when a praying man comes to him and tells him he needs to bloom where he’s planted. This protagonist remains rather befuddled and questions the man who comes to him. Then the messenger tells him of two farmers who were in the midst of a drought. Both farmers prayed for rain, but only one actually trusted God to send the rain they each desperately needed. In the end, it was the one who who went out and prepared his fields that got the rain. He had demonstrated that he trusted by his actions. In some circles, this would be described as works being the natural outworking of one’s faith.
I heard that direction to prepare my fields 8 years ago, as if it were spoken directly to me, and began working very hard at that time to “prepare my fields.” Occasionally, I get a drop of rain here or there that keeps me hopeful and trusting that I’m still on the right course, but still no field-quenching rain; I’m still working and trusting that in His time, the rain will come. Thankful for the reminder from the movie, I know I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing and I’ll be ready.
Plow now; if we think we can wait until the rain comes to prepare our fields, we will be caught unready. I’ve never done much gardening, but I don’t think it’s very practical to plow mud. If it’s even possible (forgive my ignorance), it’s certainly much harder.
In reality, the word-picture that was used demonstrated that ONLY the one who prepared beforehand ended up getting the rain he needed. We need to pay attention to that.
“No extra junk” –great advice from a speech therapist we are working with to help coach a friend who’s working very hard to regain the power of speech after having a stroke last year. It applies to SO many things in life. I think that also applies to this blog. So here’s another re-blog.
I’m getting back to goals that were laid aside and have been working on horses again, (discussed in my last post) and I’m also in a season where I can just pick up a paint brush or pencil almost whenever I want, but the business side of art is again on the back burner. And that’s okay. I’m just noting the change of season. One of my artist friends posted this blog today and I always find this kind of thing encouraging, especially when I am tempted to look at my age and consider that my life is probably well beyond being half over. I’m not in any hurry to leave; I just want to make sure I’m using my time here the way I am supposed to and I’m apparently not alone in using my later years to hone my artistic skills. Compared to many of those mentioned here, I am a spring chicken!
I’ve never been one for making New Year’s Resolutions and I’m not going to start now, but a few days ago when I was asking the Lord about His directions for my life for the coming year I got the gentle reminder to finish the things that I began a year ago. Between travel and new projects, I have a longstanding goal that keeps getting shoved aside. I’d like to attribute it all to the unexpected and occasionally urgent things of life that just pop up, but there’s more to it. There’s been a fair amount of trepidation and procrastination. So, as I took a few days to regather resources and finish up other 2015 work, this blog post from Ann Voskamp showed up in my newsfeed today:
How To Destroy Procrastination: Dear You Who Doesn’t Want to Do that Hard Thing in the New Year
So, what have I been procrastinating, you ask. Horses. Drawing and painting horses. I’m sure most people won’t “get” it, but a few years ago, I was told to draw horses. It struck a real chord with me at the time and I just KNEW it was what I was supposed to be doing. I’ve pursued it whole hog from time to time, usually using a paintbrush to “draw,” but also sketching in graphite; to be brutally honest, for the longest time I found it VERY, VERY frustrating. Sometimes, I could do a drawing that I was very pleased with, but most often not. I love horses, but I’ve never gotten to spend much time around them and I somehow feel deep inside if I could just get my hands on one again, I’d be able to understand their anatomy better. Maybe. Maybe not. Right now, horses are a bit thin in my locale and I have a few pictures, so I’m getting back to it. Here are today’s effort in charcoal:
And while I may not have perfect executions here, I’ve come a LONG way from where I started. I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but it was good to work in black and white and not have to mix color. These drawings were done relatively quickly.
I met Chantel Barber online ages ago, it seems. She’d posted this absolutely gorgeous mountain landscape and since then I have been a huge fan of hers; her loose and free impressionistic style awes me! Lately, her work has become most notable for her incredible, impressionistic portraits which can be seen here . She has an Online Atelier and has published at least two books. When it comes to our personal histories with Acrylics, Chantel and I share some common experiences. Here’s a brief interview with her done by Gaye Sekula: Chantel Barber
Unlike Chantel who knew from an early age that she was already an artist, it took me a LONG time to figure out that I actually had ANY artistic abilities. As Betty Edwards observed from her research that led to Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, kids often give up doing anything artistic as they grow up. Like most adolescents, I gave up any serious interest in art out of frustration. My last art class was in 8th grade; I don’t recall any lessons in turning forms, values and making things look dimensional and I didn’t have the vocabulary to express what I wanted to learn. My parents didn’t have any interest in art when I was that age, so they didn’t recognize my frustrations either. At one point in that last art class, I’d done a nice dog drawing, but when I couldn’t get the snout to look right my teacher came by and finished it for me. While I had asked for help, I didn’t exactly mean for her to do it for me. She did a great job. I did like how it looked, but it seemed that all of my hopes for learning HOW to draw and paint just flew out the window in that one moment. As I entered high school, I never even considered taking another art class. I just filled my elective slots with extra history classes. I still love history, but think my early adult life would have been far different if my artistic abilities had been encouraged and trained.
I did pick up some pastels and charcoal pencils to fiddle around with later in high school, but I never produced anything I was happy with. Perhaps that’s where my deep and long-standing hatred of working with pastels developed. If I had ever painted anything like this Echinacea flower by Chantel, I might have kept up with them. Alas, I didn’t know anyone that worked in pastel, or any other media for that matter, who could help me, so my box of pastels were transported from pillar to post as I moved around, but rarely used. Many years later, I was introduced to acrylic painting by my very creative mother-in-law, Eileen. She helped me get started with art again when she began teaching my young children to draw and paint. After a while though, I developed many of the same frustrations Chantel mentioned about acrylics. The translucency and quick drying times of the paint were maddening. There really wasn’t anyone doing any work in acrylics that I admired; no one on TV worked in acrylics and the artists publishing books at that time just weren’t producing any kind of artwork that I liked, so I couldn’t get any useful instruction. Early acrylic paintings always flattened out and though you could make an object look dimensional with different values, shading and highlights, acrylics were not a great choice to create paintings with texture.
I was a big fan of the textures and vibrancy of oil paintings; I grew up watching Bill Alexander and and Bob Ross. I love how oil paintings look, but have never been willing to work in that medium, so I wanted to find a way to work happily with acrylics, but it just wasn’t happening. In 2009, after years of frustration, I was ready to quit art again. I can’t even remember if I’d bothered to offer up a prayer about my frustrations, but apparently the Lord heard my heart cries whether I did or not.
One afternoon as I sat down to eat my lunch, I turned on PBS and found Jerry Yarnell’s School of Fine Art; I’d never heard of him before and assumed that he was painting in oil like all the other TV artists, but was absolutely delighted to see that he was using acrylics. I was hooked! His landscape work was beautiful and I continued to watch him every day at lunch, certain that I could learn from him. His solution to my problems with acrylic was Grumbacher Gesso, a product that has totally changed my relationship with acrylic painting. I don’t have any financial relationship with Grumbacher Gesso or Jerry Yarnell; I just love them both and owe them both a huge debt of gratitude. The fears that tempted me to chuck my paints and give up melted away as I watched lesson after lesson. I began applying Jerry’s techniques to my paintings and finally got good enough that my husband bought me a sketchbox easel.
Since then, however, we’ve returned to a more mobile lifestyle and my sketchbox easel became too much to carry, so I’m moving toward painting smaller using a Guerilla Thumbox–another reason I so much appreciate what Chantel is doing with her small portraits! Her work has encouraged me to stick with the smaller set-up; painting small is a real challenge so far, but I’m trying. I think I’ll enjoy it more when I get the mount and a tripod for the thumbox.
Here’s a 6×8 plein air painting from when I was in Australia a few months ago:
Here’s a collection of photos from one of the funnest days I’ve ever had; five years ago on our trek through the southwest of the United States and California, we’d met Marty Marshall at his storefront in Balboa Park. We had a great time talking about glass blowing and all the big names in the art–Dale Chihuly, Pino, Lino and Murano glass. Since we’re such huge glass fans, Marty invited us to come to his hot shop for Marshall Arts Blown Glass to watch the process in person. It was an incredible afternoon and very educational. He and his partner Mike made several pieces while we were there; we got to see how colors are added and how tiny holes are created in pieces of glass (on purpose) using a frog and feel the incredible heat of the furnaces. (By the way, the frog they use is a metal tool; Google “flower arranging tool” if you want to see one. No amphibians are used in the glass-blowing process.) Some day, I might actually get around to editing the hour (plus) video we took, but for now here are the stills I took:
I’ve been SUPER busy since our return from Australia two months ago; I was sick for a couple of weeks and then ran non-stop cleaning and painting walls to help get our friend’s house ready for the market. Now that things are slowing down a bit, I was reminded by this poem that I should not mistake the urgent for the important. Things do need to get done, but in the doing I don’t want to forget to maintain a child-like nature.
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Come to me, O ye children!
For I hear you at your play,
And the questions that perplexed me
Have vanished quite away.
Ye open the eastern windows,
That look towards the sun,
Where thoughts are singing swallows
And the brooks of morning run.
In your hearts are the birds and the sunshine,
In your thoughts the brooklet’s flow,
But in mine is the wind of Autumn
And the first fall of the snow.
Ah! what would the world be to us
If the children were no more?
We should dread the desert behind us
Worse than the dark before.
What the leaves are to the forest,
With light and air for food,
Ere their sweet and tender juices
Have been hardened into wood, —
That to the world are children;
Through them it feels the glow
Of a brighter and sunnier climate
Than reaches the trunks below.
Come to me, O ye children!
And whisper in my ear
What the birds and the winds are singing
In your sunny atmosphere.
For what are all our contrivings,
And the wisdom of our books,
When compared with your caresses,
And the gladness of your looks?
Ye are better than all the ballads
That ever were sung or said;
For ye are living poems,
And all the rest are dead.
Yes, another middle of the night digital done on ArtRage. This was inspired by my love of Chinese brocade patterns and cinnabar carvings and my recent acquisition of dandelions out in the field. But now I’m off to got get my 6th cup of coffee-like substance. That’s not a complaint–it does taste good, it’s just kinda weak 🙂
Jackson Lake Watercolor on 140lb paper. This is another lesson that I did from a library book I liked. I just loved the colors and how the whites just draw your eye back into the painting. These posts of older works and lessons I’ve done have really been a good review for me and remind me of some things I’d like to get back to.
A larger watercolor study (about 8×10) of a peony on 90lb paper from about 2010. As I’ve been going through these old watercolors, I’m starting to regret that I didn’t replace that pink color in my palette. Now I can’t even remember what it was; I guess I’m going to have to do some digging to find out.
Reminiscent of a couple of different sunsets (from different parts of the world), I decided tokeep a monochromatic color scheme with this quick painting using the ArtRage app. I’m still experimenting with the four different “brush” textures and also the difference that comes from using my stylus vs. my finger.
So, I’ve been in Seattle for almost 2 months and am starved for SUN! Even the locals have said it’s been usually bad weather. A few days ago, I found a field full of dandelions and picked a bunch of them to brighten up my room, thinking they would probably only last a few hours. I was delighted that they lasted an entire day and gave me time to do some painting from life and then later when I couldn’t sleep I was able to work on this from what I had remembered of my models from the daytime. Have a great week!