Bittersweet Nightshade Watercolor Sketch

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I found this beautiful weed climbing on a friend’s fence. Beautiful but rather toxic. While not as poisonous as its cousin, Deadly Nightshade, Bittersweet Nightshade should not be consumed.

On this particular vine, the berries were in every stage of color. The berries start green and are most toxic during this state. Next, the berries ripen into an orange color, until they reach their final deep red color.

But what attracts me the most are those purple and yellow flowers….the pre-berry stage. And so it did as a child, attracted me to them. It’s a fond childhood memory of mine, finding these tiny flowers pop all over chain link fences.

In Thessalonians we are reminded to be thankful in all circumstances.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Being that this is a weed, but so beautiful, I can be thankful for weeds. On that thought, what about the things in life that we can’t see a silver lining for? Can we still be thankful then? For example, when you are without something you need or when someone back stabs you…can you still find a reason to be thankful?
Oh, now that’s difficult!  But that’s what we are lovingly instructed to do. Why?

I found myself upset about a personal situation. I thought about it for many hours, how I was unjustly wronged. But in this moment, I had two choices…..

  1. Dwell on it and be upset, causing me to be in a negative mood and affect other areas in my life.
  2. Be thankful for something, ANYTHING in that situation and meditate on positive thoughts.

In reading the New Testament, I am reminded of Christ’s example. While hanging on the Cross he said, “Father, please forgive them, they know not what they do.

How’s that for finding the positive?

While I can’t come close to living like Christ, I can try to follow in His direction. And how good it feels to be set free like that! Even if it doesn’t seem like it…these bizarre life hacks (to find the positive in all situations) are for our own wellness. To give us life and hope.

Rough Sketch – Cicada Shell

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Vanity – n., 1 anything that is in vain or futile 2 worthlessness or futility 3 being vain, or too proud of oneself  (Webster’s New World Dictionary)

It is my love for nature… that is the reason why I decided to start, Let’s Paint Nature. I enjoy being outside and looking at every detail, inspecting things, learning about them, drawing/painting them, and sharing it, in the hopes that it will inspire others to pick up that pencil and discover their own nature and the One who created it for them.

Somewhere along the way however, I was more concerned with uploading pretty pictures (vanity). How ridiculous! In doing so, I lost that first love…..sitting in nature, getting dirty, and scribbling for the love of learning without a care in the world who saw it and who did not. Without concern on how the final product ended up.

I don’t want to only pump out pretty pictures.

I wish to inspire the amateur artist who loves nature. The one who wishes to get back into drawing like they did when they were a child. The one who says, “I would like to start a nature journal but…..”

No more buts. Let’s come out of our shell. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Don’t worry about what it looks like, just put pencil to paper and go. Nobody has to see it. You love nature and you will love to draw too. And I promise not to pump out pretty pictures for the sake of a pretty web site.

Today during lunch I sat on my favorite bench beneath a maple tree near my work. To my surprise when I looked up, I discovered a slew of cicada shells, all clinging to the underside of maple leaves. How happy I was to discover this! Yes they’re kind of creepy looking….but wow!!!

I came home from work extremely excited to start sketching. That excitement stirred up that old feeling of wonder and purpose. Nature is amazing!

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Pretty paintings might happen and pretty paintings might not happen and that’s okay. It doesn’t matter. Becoming closer to nature through art is the aim.

Nature at Fabyan Windmill – Watercolor

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I sit underneath an oak tree whose arms sprawl against an intense blue sky this cool brilliant morning. The arms of the oak becomes a playground to the chickadees that delight here. Puffy clouds move southwest rather rapidly. The air is sweet, but I don’t know why…. Rains from last night?

I am not alone. I count at least 65 geese that are within a few feet. Some preen. Some stand on one leg. Some lay on the grass and some eat, but all have one eye assigned to me.
I mean no harm.

This is Fabyan Windmill in Geneva, IL. The mill was not moving this morning, but it is still in operation. You can even tour inside on certain days. It sits next to the Fox River and you will find picnic tables for convenient use. The parking lot is adjacent so people who cannot walk much would find this place ideal. It is a wonderful afternoon trip for anyone in the Chicago area.

Whatever is Lovely… Dwell on These Things – watercolor

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In light of recent abhorrent events in the United States, one can find themselves in a state of disbelief, sorrow, confusion, and have a slew of unanswered questions. The answer to the question why, may never come. Violence never solved a thing and it never will.

When current events get me down, I hear the words of Paul in my mind…

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.      Phil 4:8

Sitting in my backyard, I stare at potted flowers. I notice them waggle in the wind. Sunlight dapples in between leaves. The makeshift plant pedestal has evidence of tiny holes and I know my woodpecker friend was here. This beauty is simple but lovely. It is good and it is pure. It uplifts my spirits for a time, but it is not the answer. No, dwelling on lovely is not the answer.

Love is the answer.

Just this morning, I came upon these statements:

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.      1 John 4:10-12

It makes complete sense. Nobody has seen God, but when we love one another He is actually dwelling in us. And what better example of love than our Father who sacrificed His Son for us? Not to receive anything back, not to have fame, but out of total self sacrifice to pay for our sins and make a way for us, even while we still rejected Him. That’s love.

There is no room for hate and violence in this kind of love. Let’s serve one another in love, let God dwell in the midst of this love, for underneath skin we all have the same color blood.

Summer Vitality Watercolor

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I’m having a difficult time feeling as alive as summer does. That’s as honest as the sun is hot. I sit in amazement watching bright yellow American Goldfinches flit from purple thistle to purple thistle, always singing a cheery tune. I notice insects scampering with excitement. Butterflies flutter in a swirling dance. I see fish jump and flip above the water surface as if playing just for the fun of it.

The energy of summer escapes me. I feel more like winter, wanting to retreat more and more. But being in the middle of nature, drenched in all of its energy is good. An ounce of it sticks with me without even realizing it. It is good. It is uplifting and I must do more of it.