Things Hoped For

24×30

Acrylic on canvas

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!”

Psalms 27:13

A friend shared this quote the other day. (Thanks Caryn!) It was spoken by David, a man who had a promise from God that he would be king, but at the time was in hiding from the current king who was seeking to kill him. He waited years to see what was promised come to pass. Yet as he waited he had hope and faith that what was promised would be seen.

Sometimes our view might look like what’s in this painting. Taking our breath away with its beauty, full of promise, needs met, expectations exceeded. That’s what we want right? Other times this is what is hoped for but not yet seen. Our view looks daunting, we feel tired and overwhelmed. I’ve faced some daunting circumstances this year, as have friends whose circumstances are so far beyond what they can fix.

So what do you do when life looks bleak?

Despair? Deny? Work harder? Surrender? Hope? Wait?

Can you picture yourself here?

Or is it instantly dismissed as a dream?

I know I have been encouraged when hard circumstances surround me to read accounts of men like David and Moses, women like Ruth and Mary, while not perfect, they clung to the one who promised them that there was more to come.

God’s faithfulness has not changed. His timing often looks different that what we think would be best. But then we appreciate the beauty all the more when we’ve been in the dark.

This painting was inspired by my friend from afar, Nicki, who lives in the small town of Positano, Italy on the Amalfi coast. I’m thankful she shares her life in photos and videos. (If you follow her you’ll see beauty mixed with challenges.) This is the view from the balcony of the Hotel Poseidon Positano.

Look for @NickiPositano on Instagram.

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Prince of Wales Hotel — Niagara-on-the-Lake

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but some places, some events, you need far more than one picture to capture the spirit of the place. Knowing I’d be visiting Niagara-on-the-lake I did some research. Looked on Pinterest for what places to make sure you visit while there, and I took a virtual stroll down the street with the help of google street view. I found the Prince of Wales hotel and knew I wanted to paint it. When I was there I took many photos, enjoying the flowers and architecture. Getting different viewpoints from near and farther away. I looked through the photos I’d taken trying to find that one that would completely capture the hotel and the surrounding beauty. Like past landscapes and city scenes I’d done, I realized sometimes you can’t capture all something has to offer, but you can give a glimpse. You portray a moment. And really it’s not a bad thing to be left wanting more. Perhaps prompting the viewer to go and explore it for themselves. The beauty snags you, draws you in, invites you to more.

As I write a story I’ve read many times comes to mind. About a man who had a big request. He asked for something so amazing he wouldn’t be able to take it in or fully grasp or appreciate it.

The man was Moses, he wanted to see God in all his glory. And God, knowing what Moses could and couldn’t handle responded;

“And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:21-23 ESV

Moses caught a glimpse, not the whole. That glimpse gave him what he needed at the time. And yet it wasn’t over, Moses went up the mountain to talk with God many times. Heard his voice, saw him work, and grew in intimacy. In this age of information and got to have it now, sometimes appreciation comes from seeing new aspects over time. Appreciating each piece as it comes. So here is one small view of the beautiful Prince of Wales hotel in Niagara-on-the-lake.

detail of painting

The Patio at Hotel Dallavalle Niagara-on-the-lake 4

24×30

I struggle with not enough. I don’t think I’m alone. Wondering if I have talent enough to make it as an artist. Being jealous and feeling in competition with other artists, that there is limited room for art and beauty in the world. Before that was a fear that we wouldn’t be about to find enough support to continue our work with an amazing non-profit. Not feeling like I have enough wisdom and grace to parent my tween children well as they pull away and struggle into adulthood. The list could go on. I’m guessing you could add your own items, times where your chest gets tight and you wonder how will this work out.

I can be dense, needing to relearn lessons over and over. And I’m coming to terms with that is OK. Learning and relearning over a lifetime is OK. And one lesson I appear to be getting schooled in is God is enough. More than enough. As I referenced when I started the Niagara-on-the-Lake painting, he is gloriously wasteful. And He wants to share his resources with me. He isn’t stingy with his grace, his forgiveness, his love or wisdom. He put reminders everywhere that he is a wellspring of life, always with more to give, not a cistern with a limited quantity. Daily sunsets, flowers, the variety of plants, bugs, animals. How many bay species do we really need?

So if you’ve read until now you might be scratching your head saying what does that have to do with a cafe scene? Everything God made reflects his nature, including humans, and what we make also reflects him.  I think the reason I’m drawn to these scenes is they’re lavish, in their beauty. Far beyond a functional meal to scarf down and run out the door. The message is sit down, fellowship, enjoy your surroundings. My reminder to myself is when overwhelmed, don’t focus on if you are enough, but that God is enough.

Have you tasted this His goodness?

This painting is the patio of Hotel Dallavalle on the corner off Gate street and Queen street in Niagara on the lake. Overhead flower baskets hand from a pergola. Crisp white tables and chairs welcome, interspersing with red umbrellas. A number of tall trees provide shade for the area.

Courtyard with Koi Pond

36×36

Acrylic on canvas

This is my second painting of the courtyard for the Lightner Museum, formerly the Hotel Alcazar. A covered arched walkway surrounds the courtyard with small shops, offices and the museum off the courtyard. The building is four stories high of poured concrete that was mixed with shells found locally. Palm trees reach toward the sun and a koi pond with a bridge sits in the middle of the space.

The surroundings feel peaceful and protected. A bit a sanctuary in the middle of town.

When I think of refuge I think of a place like this, secure, high walls of protection with beauty inside. We all seek refuge, in our job, finances, family, our faith. What does refuge/security look like for you?

The Ponce-St. Augustine

24×48

Acrylic on canvas

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Driving around where I live you see a lot of new construction. Suburbs expanding, cranes working on new buildings and highways. History predating the 50s seems hard to find. It’s newer, bigger, better. I’m thankful to live in a place that’s growing and thriving. However, I also find it interesting to explore places and buildings that have stood the test of time.

St. Augustine is a few hours away and as the oldest, European continually occupied city in North America offers some history. The Castillo de San Marcos fort is a national monument that peacefully changed hands several times over hundreds of years. Over a hundred years ago, Henry Flagler co-founder of Standard Oil company (with John D. Rockefeller) hoped to transform historic St. Augustine into a winter getaway for wealthy northerners. He was interested in the poured concrete construction method used by Franklin Smith for his Moorish style home Villa Zorayda. Flagler’s The Ponce de Leon Hotel was completed In 1888 in the Spanish Renaissance style. After decades of use and glamour, The hotel referred to as The Ponce, was closed in the 60s and became part of Flagler College.

Looking around I felt a bit like we were at Hogwarts from Harry Potter. Love the arched porticos, and the tall towers, the courtyard with the frog fountain. There are plenty of architectural details to add interest and charm. It fits in the surroundings as the nearby Lightner museum and Casa Monica resort were built in similar style around the same time. These buildings stand out. They have stories to tell. They have a beauty that’s been preserved and restored for new generations to enjoy. Next time we visit I hope to take a tour and be able to further explore these places.

Along Avenida Menendez – St Augustine

wIMG_9138

24×48
Acrylic on canvas

White strung lights adorn many of the buildings and trees in the old part of St Augustine around Christmas time each year. They add to the beauty and charm of the buildings and street. We arrived as the sun was setting one night and found parking on a side street. We walked along enjoying the scenery of this old town. It was chilly for Florida and a brisk breeze came off the water. None the less, we enjoyed exploring and seeing buildings that belong to a different time.

This is the first in a new series of paintings depicting St. Augustine, Florida.

The town has a long history and there are many buildings with interesting details. This was taken near the Bridge of Lions facing Avenida Menendez avenue. The fort Castillo de San Marcos finished in 1695 is at the far end of the street. Lights wrap each palm tree and horse-drawn carriage awaiting tourists. Sailboats bobbed in the water of the Matanzas River.

Have a favorite place? Share it with me!

Courtyard of Hotel Alcazar

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24×30
Acrylic on canvas

As a child, I loved the book “the secret garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I loved the idea of a hidden away garden, a secret place full of life. Ask any parent and they will confirm children love making secret hideouts and can happily spend a day making a fort from cushions and sheets. Something in us longs for private sanctuary.

My family took a short trip to St. Augustine, Florida. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. It was fun to explore the narrow streets, take in the fort and other historic buildings. While searching for a bathroom we discovered Hotel Alcazar. It was built over a hundred years ago, and it now contains various shops and a museum, and an inner courtyard. Surrounded by an arched portico, the courtyard has palm trees, and other plants as well as a coy pond with a bridge. It’s own secret garden. A little place of peace and beauty to rest.