62°F and very breezy. Somehow you don’t mind the wind when it’s mild, even if strong. I could sit here for hours.
After only a few minutes, to my surprise, a flock of ducks descend on the water. But these are no common mallards. What are they? They communicate with each other by “whisping”….whisp, whisp, whisp. It’s a cross between a whisper and a hiss. One performs some kind of walk-on-water dance. Was he impressing a female? I believe these are blue-winged teals. I watch them with great wonderment. They don’t feel my eyes prying, staring like a rude intruder.
l sit for an hour painting the bridge. I contemplate where it leads and why it was built. A smile comes across my face as I think about Easter and realize that Jesus became the bridge to unite us to God. By dying on the cross (also made of wood), he bridged the gap between sinful humans and God. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. [Eph 1:7] And after paying for our sins, He rose from the dead because death could not hold him. [Acts 2:24]
This act of death on a cross came at a great, painful price. A great loving price. A free gift from the Father through the obedience of the Son. If we repent and accept Him as our Savior, He promises to forgive….no questions asked…no sin too big, nor too horrible to forgive. You will be made white as snow and He will remember your sins no more. [Is 1:18]
He wants to be in your daily life. He isn’t a God who sits on a fluffy white cloud waiting to strike you down. He is love and wants to communicate with you through prayer. He also promised to never leave you nor forsake you. That’s good news especially in our tumultuous times.
A stranger walks towards the water and the bridge. Not only do frogs on the fringe of the pond shriek and leap for their lives into the water, but my ducks become frightened too and swim out of sight. Chorus frogs steadily call in the background.
The seen and unseen mysteries of life are fascinating. It’s all attainable, doors will open if you knock.
Posted in art, Artwork, Chicago, duck, God, hiking, nature, Paint His Love, sketchbook, watercolor painting, watercolor sketching
Tagged art, Artwork, blue-winged teal, bridge, Easter, God, Jesus, journal, nature, painting, pond, sketchbook, spring, watercolor
Driving home and not intending on stopping, something told me it was deeply necessary. Necessary because the world depends on it? Well, no. But rather necessary because my soul needed it. It’s been a while.
But I don’t have time!
But I’m expected home right now!
With art supplies in the back seat, I was able to focus on this scene and contemplate nature…the way the horizon looks a tinge peach even though I am facing east and it’s an hour from sunset…the way the dried golden grasses reflect in the water…the way the tiny foreground tree has tiny gnarly twigs…
And suddenly it is well with my soul.
I am learning lately to relinquish control and listen to that still small voice. I cannot fail if I trust in God even if I cannot fully see the situation. Today was a favorable situation and I enjoyed my quick impromptu painting, but can I still have that same positive attitude with a less favorable condition? Do I trust? Can I let go of control? Will it still be well with my soul?
Now that would be some kind of faith.
To trust in God, to trust He has a plan even when things don’t go my way or perhaps when suffering is involved, if total control is relinquished, that’s not only courageous faith, but peace and freedom too. And that faith will not go unaided, for He said:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Cor 12:9
Posted in art, Artwork, Chicago, God, nature, Paint His Love, sketch book, sketchbook, watercolor painting, watercolor sketching
Tagged art, Artwork, faith, God, hidden lake, nature, painting, sketchbook, trust, watercolor
Winter brings out the true character of a tree, exposing every branch, every twig. It reveals the very essence, divulges hidden secrets, and leaves you in a trance as you try to follow one branch with your eyes…from the trunk to the very tip of its tiniest twig. It’s a challenging maze and no two trees are the same.
It is perhaps that challenge of recreating the spirit of the tree on paper which brings me so much joy, but I can only fully understand it in the wintertime. Exposed and silent, it confesses that spirit and somehow I feel as if I’m communicating with its Creator.
That is the mystery of art. Although done in solitude, you are not alone. Your creativity begins a conversation with nature and with God and the best part is, they speak in return.
This apple tree had the setting sun turn selected twigs a golden yellow, while others blushed with rose, and yet a few had a cobalt glow. A downy woodpecker feasted on the suet cake at the feeder, filling up before twilight. That’s the story it told me.
On another day, I chose to study this mulberry tree by drawing in graphite with branch pencils my daughter gave me for Christmas.
Neat pencils! It’s like I’m drawing a branch with a branch.
This winter mulberry tree has a hard lean to the right. Most of it’s branches grew from the right side. To the left of the mulberry tree is a thick evergreen tree. There is struggle for sunlight, resulting in the mulberry’s shape and that’s the story the mulberry tells me.
Let’s go out and paint nature, but more importantly let’s hear the stories nature is trying to tell us. Enjoy.
Posted in art, Artwork, God, nature, sketch book, sketchbook, watercolor sketching
Tagged apple tree, art, Artwork, branch pencils, drawing, mulberry, painting, sketch, sketchbook, tree, watercolor, winter
Weathered but strong for the moment
A safe space made by man.
Time and the elements will destroy
But God in the heart of man, a safe space forevermore.
For no force against can deploy.
My watercolor was made from this picture I took at CITW of a birdhouse on the fringe of a field with dried goldenrods still bobbing their heads in the breeze. It was peaceful to look at and I contemplate the story behind…think of the hands that made the birdhouse and the successful broods of birds now alive and flourishing because of this man made safe space.
Posted in art, Artwork, God, nature, Paint His Love, poetry, sketch book, sketchbook, watercolor painting, watercolor sketching, wildlife
Tagged art, Artwork, birdhouse watercolor, God, nature, poetry, sketchbook, watercolor
It is time once again.
I felt it stir within, an urgency to go back. A time to retreat.
As I grow, I am more in tune with my body and emotions. With the weight of work and family obligations I needed a time out. Silence is what I crave, giving me the ability to hear my own thoughts and process them. I get so little of it normally, so it was time to go back to Christ in the Wilderness for a solitude retreat.
This time I stayed in the hermitage called, Mariglen. It has a fascinating view of the land and it’s a very popular spot for the birds to visit. You can read last years visit if you wish here, here, and here, when I stayed at the Paul of Tarsus hermitage.
It may seem to some that staying at a place like this throws you into the dark ages, as there are no TV’s, cell phone service, and no WiFi. But oh, on the contrary! Being in the “dark” here contains more light than the brightest lifestyle back home, with all of its empty technology enticements.
For the silence at CITW not only lets me hear the wing beats of birds, but I can also hear them cracking seed in their beaks. My soul craves this.
Time on the trails gives me perspective. I ask God lots of questions and it’s quiet enough to hear some answers. Last year I pondered much on my past but this time it was more about my present and who Christ is to me.
He is the Light, the Life, and my Hope. This is what He whispered to me in the wilderness.
I also discovered other mysteries on the trail, like these bones most likely from a coyote. If you look close enough you can see fur, underneath the bones, closest to the grass.
And on one of my nights I was indulged with this cloud bow. Great treasures are all around, even in the sky.
It was with a heavy heart that I had to leave, but when the time is right I will return. I know I bring home with me a little piece of this Peace, I am never truly far from it.
Posted in art, Artwork, Birds, chickadee, God, hiking, nature, red-bellied woodpecker, sketch book, sketchbook, Sunsets/Sunrise, watercolor painting, watercolor sketching, wildlife
Tagged art, Artwork, chickadee, Christ in the Wilderness, CITW, hiking, IL, nature, painting, red bellied wookpecker, retreat, sketch, sketchbook, solitude, Stockton, watercolor