Sailor’s Delight

36×36 inches
Acrylic on canvas

You might have heard the phrase; ” Red sky at night, Sailors delight, Red sky at morning sailors take warning.”  This phrase came to mind after I’d finished the piece. The scene is still and calm, a moment of overwhelming beauty. Those perfect moments tend to be fleeting, you never know how long they will last. They are a chance to catch your breath, a respite, perhaps a renewal of hope or time to strengthen oneself before facing the world again.

The painting could be read as either a promise of calm for the next day or a warning of what’s to come. Some storms we can see coming and others take us by surprise. Many times we are powerless to prevent what’s coming. All we can do is prepare. What do you do to prepare? What gives you hope when you know one is coming or you’re in the midst of one?

At times I’ll admit I worry, imagining all that could happen, usually all the worst-case scenarios, stomach in knots. Convinced after looking up my symptoms that I’ve become a doctor and something is majorly wrong. Somehow thinking my being focused on how bad it is or could be can do something other than weighing myself down. Feeling without help in the world.

Other times I shift my focus from the storm to the one who can calm the storm, and promises to be there with us in the midst. I’m less paralyzed and remember that I am not alone. The circumstances don’t change but my perspective does, and a determined hope surfaces.

So smooth sailing or storms ahead I think there is always a reason to hope!

Advertisements

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.

First Watch

30×48

Acrylic on canvas

The alarm was set for way too early, but no time to snooze. I checked outside the window and could see the outlines of clouds on the horizon. Quickly we got ready and hopped in the car. We drove North along A1A and the sky got brighter. Finally, we arrived at the Cocoa Beach Pier. A few others stood facing East, ready for the sunrise. The sky was a beautiful display of colors, the water reflecting and crashing onto the shore. Birds took off from the pier flying in an agreed-upon pattern and settling again.

Looking at the lifeguard tower makes me think of readiness, watchfulness, and diligence. Far too often rather than being watchful, it’s more like I’m playing in the sand, digging, busy, head down, suddenly surrounded by the tide, my designs washed away. Life is busy. But I think it’s meant to be lived with built-in rhythms. Sunrise and sunset. Work and rest. Waiting, and catching up.

Waiting to Begin

24×30

Gathered into teams we were given a time limit a challenge and a few instructions. There wasn’t one right way to tackle the challenge. Some teams dove in headfirst, figuring if it didn’t work they’d make some mid-course corrections. Others took time to talk through a plan and assign roles. In the middle of the challenge, the moderator threw us for a spin and had us switch spots, giving our progress away to another team and trying to make use of what someone else had done.

That challenge time was meant to show how we work together, different people having different strengths. In the end, there wasn’t one clearly right way to accomplish the task.

In life some people rush ahead, others wait hoping a map will be given to them to direct their path. (And sometimes people are a little of both, cautious in some areas, adventurous in both.)

When I finished this painting I thought its as if the viewer is standing on the edge of the path, waiting. Being still, taking in the beauty around him. Perhaps it’s uncertainty, or waiting for more light to illuminate the path.

Lately, I feel like I’m waiting for direction but still taking steps forward. I need to remember to enjoy the sunrise even when I don’t know what the day(s) ahead will bring.

Repetitive Reminder

24×24
Acrylic on Canvas

I have middle schoolers. Closer to adulthood than preschool, they have learned so much, and are growing in leaps and bounds towards independence. “I know” are words often heard when we remind them of some task to do. (Bring home your gym clothes, do your best, try and be friendly and kind, remember we love you….) Eye rolls and yes, we know. Yet gym clothes are forgotten, or brought home but not put into the laundry. We hear the same complaints over and over. They might act as though we were an embarrassment or a nag rather than a loving parent and biggest fan. They may think they know it all, yet they have much to learn.

Learning takes time and repetition. It would be great if we learned, retained and applied every lesson immediately, perfectly, permanently. But we don’t. Some things just don’t get through. It can take years to understand some lessons. We may have blind spots or grow frustrated by lack of change. Or we may get discouraged when what we offer is not received. We might stop striving or repeating the offer.

I’m amazed at how repetitively patient God is with us. I think sunrises are one great example of God’s patient, enduring love. He will repeat His message to us that we are loved, cherished, known and valued, that there is hope over and over day after day. Sometimes I witness the sunrise, and it stills my soul. Other days I hit snooze and wake anxious for all the day holds. I’m grateful that regardless the sun still rises.

My hope is to see the sunrise, be encouraged and keep extending those moments of grace to others in my life. (Even if they roll their eyes, ignore me, or say I know.)

How about you? Have you felt a moment of peace in the midst of your crazy world?

 

Recently I attended a team function with my husband, we stayed at a hotel on the beach. I don’t have a high energy level, but we are almost never at the beach at sunrise. So I set my alarm and woke as the sun was just making it over the horizon. I’m thankful for the beauty I encountered, the peacefulness. And of course some nice photos to use as painting inspiration.

Summer Sunset at Knox Farm

24×24

Acrylic on canvas

In March I completed a series of 20 some mini paintings. Quick sketches of sunrise and sunsets. They were quick to complete, loose brush strokes, unconcerned with detail, wonderful colors. There are a few of the mini paintings I did after completing a larger piece with the same subject. It’s a challenge for me to maintain the expressiveness in larger pieces that comes so easily in smaller ones.

For this piece I picked a small study I had done and aimed to produce something similar but larger. I put some detail into the bottom using photos I had of Knox farm as inspiration. Then for the sky I broke out bigger brushes, and mixed more colors. I wasn’t satisfied with the result, they looked like two parts that didn’t quite fit together. So I went back into the sky to add some small brush work.

Sometimes I finish pieces thrilled with how they came out. Other times I chalk it up to a learning experience. I struggle with paint transparency, and an interesting yet cohesive piece. We are all still in process. It can be easier to stick with things we know, or come easy. (I hear complaints daily from my teenager of when will she ever use some of what she is being taught.) Yet we cheer for each new milestone a baby reaches. History remembers and movies celebrate those who keep pushing themselves. Who didn’t give up when they failed, but learned from it.

(Smaller study)

Sunrise/Sunset series #12

20×20 inches

Acrylic on canvas

I joked around with my husband that instead of storm chasers we were sunset chasers. It was a cloudy day, so we took off just before sunset, driving a few miles to a spot where there was water and palm trees. We took a bunch of photos, one of which was the inspiration for “Orange Sunset at Lake Hart.” As we drove back the sky and clouds continued to change colors and we pulled over for a few more shots.

At times I will leave out lights and power lines from my paintings. In more simple compositions I enjoy the leading lines they bring to the piece.

Why do we chase beauty that is so fleeting? Why does taking in a beautiful sunset so something for our soul?

I think it’s because we are created for more, beauty reminds us to have hope.

Last light

36×36 inches

Acrylic on canvas

Waves cresting, crashing, lapping at the shoreline, coming in and then receding back into the ocean. White foaming surf carrying along sand, shells and tiny sea creatures. The sun making a dramatic exit as it lights up the clouds, changing the sky into purples, oranges and yellows. Clouds darkening heavy with rain.

Vast, deep and mysterious people are drawn to the beach, not to simply work on their tans, but to rest and reflect on life. A place where one might be tempted to feel very small can be one that offers peace. Our surroundings, the constancy, serving a reminder that God is more than big enough to handle with care the details of our lives.

Mini studies and freedom

Sunset/sunrise series 13&14 and mini-studies

I’m showing my work at my first art festival this weekend. Florida has a lot of festivals, and a friend gave me a gentle nudge to jump in. While I was collecting items I would need to show off my work, (walls, and weights, packing supplies…) other artists offered their support and words of advice. One said to have some pieces at a lower price point. I leave prints and other reproductions to FineArtAmerica.com, not wanting to deal with upfront costs. But I dug out from under my bed some cute little 4×4 canvases waiting to be used.

I love finishing a big canvas. It has a presence and draws you into the scene. However, these small canvases were a breath of fresh air! No remixing paint, or worrying about capturing every detail. Their smallness was freeing. And, as I admired their more abstract nature it helped me to loosen up and enjoy painting large scale again.

Enjoy the small and then bigger paintings.

22 small 4x4inch studies

Amplified

 

Acrylic on canvas 11 paintings, 7 12×12, 4 20×20

This is a collection of amplifiers. Bright, small paintings of quickly passing moments of beauty. The saturation is turned up, and they are done in a quicker, looser style, to reflect the momentary life of a good sunset or sunrise. We enjoy when the sky turns oranges, pinks,  and purples, putting on a display, shedding its ordinary outfit.

Advertisers are tuned in to our desires for more. We have mixed feelings about our desire for new, bigger, better. We might think it is a temptation to avoid, or something you can’t be happy without. Many would perceive God as being against all desire. C.S. Lewis has an interesting view.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses

So desires, give hint to our being made for more.

In the Bible Moses goes up on Mount Sinai and talks with God. When he comes back down to the people, to reality, he covers his face with a veil, as it glows with the glory of having been with God. He for brief periods got to experience that something more, amplified awareness of God’s glory. Life how it was meant to be. Fast forward to the New Testament, and we see another veil, in the temple separating where people were from the holy of holies, where God’s presence dwelled. At the moment Jesus died, it says that the veil was spontaneously ripped from top to bottom. God’s glory was let out. Face unveiled. Amplified.

I enjoyed doing my last collection that featured Celebration, Florida, but at the same time it was hard work. The paintings are bigger and the details of buildings take more time. No immediate gratification. I was feeling a bit burnt out and even a little discouraged, wondering if I can keep this up. A change of pace was needed. I decided to do some small paintings for fun. Nothing super detailed, being able to finish quickly, in one setting. And that’s where these paintings come from. Enjoy.