Category Archives: sketch book

In Memoriam

It is with a broken heart and many tears that I announce the passing of a dear friend, sister in Christ, and painting buddy, Alanna.

I met Alanna 7 years ago when she contacted me through this site. She LOVES to paint and wanted to learn more, so she emailed me. We struck up a friendship and knowing she was from my area, I offered to teach her how to paint at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center. That began a wonderful painting and hiking friendship where we visited many forests preserves and explored nature together.

Through the years we shared many things…talking hours about God, sitting in her prayer swing in her backyard, discussing frustrations in our lives, discussing current events, relationships, you name it. She always has a way of making me feel better about any situation. I only wish I could do the same for her.

Many of you might recognize her from the MeetUp group painting events. It was rare when she missed one.

This is the last MeetUp painting she beautifully created….

She wrote:
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…. ye, though I walk through the valley of death, I shall fear no evil.  Psalm 23”

The MeetUp topic was depression and how to cling to God’s word in the midst of struggle. This was her favorite verse.

But she was depressed and she was very fearful about an upcoming surgery. A routine surgery.

It is with the permission of her family and with great devastation that I inform you that Alanna took her own life.

Our mission now is to tell her story and help others considering suicide. See, just because someone seems strong, or independent, doesn’t mean that they aren’t a scared little girl or boy on the inside. Just because someone says they’re close to God, or a Christian, doesn’t mean that they feel safe and have it all together. Many hide their true feelings deep within.

But God LOVES YOU.
He IS love.
He knows the very number of hairs on your head. (Matt 10:29-31)
He has loved you with an everlasting love. (Jer 31:3)
He sent his very Son to die on a cross for your transgressions so that you would be with Him for all eternity. (John 3:16)
He personally formed you in your mother’s womb. (Ps 139:13-14)
He adopted you as a son or daughter through Christ. (Eph 1:5-6)

Not only that, but He sent the Holy Spirit to walk next to you day by day to strengthen you because he knew this world is difficult. (Matt 10:16)

Life is difficult. Christians are not exempt from suffering, nobody is exempt from suffering, but the Word has power and we must cling to it.

He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:5)

If you are struggling with life and have even a tiny fraction of a doubt whether you can go on or not….
If you’re scared and don’t know what to do….
If you’re lonely and have no one to turn to….
If you’re lost and you think there’s no way out….
If you’re so angry you can’t take it any longer…..
If you’ve been made fun of and you believe the bullies….
If you can’t look into the mirror anymore….

DON’T GIVE UP

Call 911 and tell them.
Call the Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255  available 24/7
Text “CONNECT” to 741741 on your cell phone

Please.
You are not alone.

Listen to this encouraging song and hear the words:

I will always keep Alanna in my heart and with me in the woods when I’m exploring.

I know many of you will have kind, heartfelt comments. I thank every one of you in advance. At this time I cannot reply.

All Things Tiny Watercolor

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93°F
Hot Humid

Journal Notes:
I found a bench in the shade and it’s ALL MINE. I claim it.

A healthy breeze keeps me comfortable, despite the heat.

A charm of American goldfinches keeps my spirits exceptionally high as I notice their hilly flight pattern above my head. Suddenly, a blasting car horn in the distance abruptly ends my trance on the goldfinches. Grrrr……
But my goldfinches pull me back. My mind happily flutters up and down with them in the air as if I am sailing right next to them. Their cheery song while cresting high and falling low is no match for a bad mood.

Circular ripple patterns in the lake grow outward but I missed what caused it.

The air in my nostrils is warm and humid but sweet all at the same time. I am forever thankful for this moment in nature.

My mission as of late is to dwindle my watercolor supplies for the field to a bare minimum. I have become lazy lately and have not taken healthy hikes because I use the excuse of my supplies being too heavy.

Well, no more.

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Introducing my tiny watercolor field supply kit. It fits in your two hands. Light weight, portable, and can wrap around your wrist.

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All of these supplies fit nicely inside. One watercolor cold press pad (6″x4″), one Daler Rowney watercolor field kit, two aquabrushes, one pencil, one black micron pen (not shown), and a paper towel (not shown). Total weight is probably three pounds. This kit will remain in my car. Now I will have no excuse for a spur of the moment venture.

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And here is my new tiny kitten. I call him: Little Baby Turkey Stuffing, but his real name is Niles. Niles does not fit into my tiny watercolor field supply kit. He waits for me to come home so that he can bite my supplies and my hand. Bad Baby Turkey Stuffing!

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Here is the reference photo of what I was looking at when I painted the pines. I took the pines in the distance at the beautiful Morton Arboretum and used artistic license, weeding out the background to create the tiny watercolor sketch.

What about your sketching strategy? What does your kit include?

30 Minute Quick Watercolor Sketch Churchill Woods

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Just above the water, swallows chase each other under the bridge. A Baltimore Oriole makes a quick appearance, then disappears into a sea of green. The wind is strong, but the temperature is warm and a rush sounds in between the leaves.

I sit and make a quick sketch. Simple color and simple shapes. I let my mind float away on the next breeze.

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Churchill Woods

I started a new MeetUp group called, Through Christ Who Strengthens. Not only do we visit multiple forest preserves to paint nature, but we discuss a topic of struggle in life and how to overcome them. Running to scripture and renewing our minds is a key strategy in overcoming life’s difficulties. When we are done with our watercolor sketches, we add a scripture verse pertaining to the struggle.

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The group painting.

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Our beautiful artwork.
Everyone chose a different scripture verse pertaining to worry. Now, the next time we worry, we can look at our sketches and read our verses. Someday the group will make some encouraging artwork for others too.

So, if you live in the Chicago area and would like to sketch with us and learn how to defeat life’s struggles with scripture, find us here.

Mr. Bad Raccoon Watercolor

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This is Mr. Bad Raccoon. Mr. Bad Raccoon liked to visit my bird feeder at Christ in the Wilderness promptly at 8pm every night. He was very hungry.

He was also very smart. His large body conquered the raccoon baffle on the feeder itself by standing on his hind feet, hugging the baffle, and inching his way to the top where he would lift the lid right off. Once on top, he would either cup his hands grabbing seed and bring it up to his face or he would place his whole head inside the feeder.

His determination created a soft spot in my heart and I stopped shewing him away. I reasoned with myself that if he went through all of that hard work, he must be rewarded. So I just watched in amazement. His is kinda cute.

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Rest Here Watercolor

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There’s something about an empty bench underneath a gorgeous, shade providing tree… I couldn’t resist.
Here you find rest. The birds sing for you. The leaves cover you from the scorch of the sun. Time slows down a tad. And your mind unclouds. Life goes on around you without your help as it should. It’s healthy to take a time out.

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That’s exactly what I did a few weekends ago at Christ in the Wilderness, a solitude retreat in Stockton, IL.

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The tiny little chapel on the property is open all day and night and perfect for solitude meditation. Every retreatant is given a bandana. If you wish to be alone in the chapel, you tie the bandana to the outside door knob and everyone respects your wishes to be alone.

When I start to feel like my wheels are coming undone and life starts to get hectic, I know it’s time for a retreat.