Small Art Makes Me Smile

About a year ago I moved my studio out of my tiny dining room and into a much larger space in an old carpet factory. It has been a great move for me. I have been more productive there than I have been in years, even though I can’t be there every day. The space has afforded me the opportunity to work much bigger. I have been painting one large canvas after another and really loving it. 

I have not done quite as much small work. My space need small work though. So this week, I decided to get back into working smaller, and adding a bit more paper Collage than I use in my bigger work. I like to work in series when I work Small. 

I am particularly happy with the way this group turned out. I didn’t plan them in advance. I don’t work that way. When they were finished I saw a peaceful meadow. 

The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing. Psalm 65:13

These pieces are available for $30 each.



287081_262976693714593_7875297_oAs I sat down to begin to share all that is unfolding in my life and work right now. I felt that I could not move forward in my narrative without taking the time to share with you the most significant change that has rocked my world, because nothing that is happening to me now, or ever will happen going forward will mean anything outside of the context of this one earth shattering event.

I lost my mama.

It is hard to write anything more about that. How can I adequately describe what that means in my life? My mama was a fixed navigational point in my life. Her presence, her wisdom ,her influence, her goodness, could be depended on whatever might come. Whatever happened in my life, good or bad, could not be fully understood outside of the context of mama. I did not celebrate or mourn without her.

She was the best there was. Jesus is blessed to have her.


Veiling With Acrylics Mini Tutorial

photo-12Every artist has their own unique process or technique for painting.  Mine is crazy.  I am serious.  Most of my paintings go through multiple stages and layers before finally landing at a good place to stop. I hesitate to say finished, because I don’t really know that they every really are.  My process mirrors my life. It is a continual cycle of change, learning, holding, experiencing and releasing.

One technique I use often in my process is veiling. I add a ghostly layer of paint over top of work that is already laid down to obscure it somewhat but not entirely.  I have had questions about veiling through my Facebook page. So I thought I would share a little tutorial on a couple of ways to veil with acrylics. Hope you enjoy it.  Would love to hear from you if you found it helpful.

I am Rooted, But I Flow

I feel a thousand capacities spring up in me. I am arch, gay, languid, melancholy by turns. I am rooted, but I flow. -Virginia Woolf


It is Thursday. The beginning of this year started out with Thursdays being MY DAY. The kids normally go to a full day of homeschool classes with another mom on Thursday, and I get the entire day alone. I don’t schedule anything on Thursday. It is just my day at home by myself to work. It has been a really long time since I had an alone Thursday. Weather and illness have meant that classes were cancelled several weeks in a row. We were gearing up to go to class this morning when I got the email that my Mom friend is still very sick and has to cancel again. I was very surprised to find that I am totally okay with this.
It used to be that I was very ritualistic about my art making. My studio was separate from my home. I felt like I had to be in there for long stretches of time with no interruption in order to be at all productive. I had to have a cup of coffee and the right jams playing. It was even better if the whole family was out of the house.


In the new house, I have a tiny room right smack in the middle of the life of things. It opens to the kitchen and the main room. It is exposed to everything that is happening. I thought I would hate this. On the contrary, it has been fantastic. Without going into a long story just yet, I will just say that my art making has totally shifted this year. It has really become integrated into my everyday existence. I am in and out of the studio flowing from housework to helping with math to cooking and back again to make a mark on a canvas or a swipe of paint on the paper. I am flowing. Art is flowing. Life is flowing.
So, when I learned that the kiddos were going to be home all Thursday long again, it just enfolded right into the flow. I had planned to get outside this morning before the rain to explore. I ushered the kids out too. Adam is working on building a campsite in the woods. Messa and I wandered to the swamp and the creek. It was a perfect way to start a day of creative play, to fill the well before pouring it out on the canvas.


Mapping 2015

I have been resistant to mapping out this year. I think it is because last year went so far off the rails with dealing with aging and ailing parents, my husband was in a bad accident and is permanently injured, and we moved to our dream home. Last year was nothing like what I thought it would be. This year I am very firm in my resolve to go with the flow and not “should all over myself,” so making a map of the whole year seemed like trying to get too tight a grip on it all.

I was feeling terribly guilty, because I committed to my friend Jill Berry that I would participate in Mapping 2015. I just couldn’t’ come up with anything. This morning, however, I realized that my daily morning doodles are a sort of a map, and I believe they are expansive and far reaching enough to apply to the next year, and probably beyond. I do these doodles as a part of my morning meditation and prayer. Most recently, I have been asking God to show me what he wants me to see, and I have been just closing my eyes and letting my hand take the pen where ever it wanted to go on the page. What I am getting from these doodles is that I am in a safe and very good place, that I have grown, but there is much more expansion to come. There is a promise of new adventures and fresh revelation. That sounds like a map to me! Maybe a treasure map really.


Ditching the To-Do


Right at the end of last year, I was flipping through Facebook and an article popped into my view that made my gut lurch.  It was called something like “52 Weeks to organize your life.”  I had an overwhelming visceral negative reaction to this title. I recoiled from it like it was a cobra, I promise you.


I’ll tell you.

I am forty-six and I’ll be gosh`darned if I am going to spend one more minute of my life trying to improve myself to meet some artificial, constantly shifting arbitrary standard of what an acceptable woman ought to be!

I have spent years of my life bogged down in to-do lists and goal setting, an never, ever feeling like I have accomplished anything. I have used these lists as a weapon against myself to prove just how short I fall compared to the measuring stick of womanhood.  Satan has beat me over the head with uncompleted tasks, messy closets, and Bible verses left unmemorized and left me feeling condemned and ashamed. I am sure many of you have felt it. It is that false identity of “not enough.” It is the ache in the pit of the tummy that tells me that no matter what, I will never ever be or do enough.

Enough for what?

Enough for love?

Enough of that! I quit! It is a lie and I refuse to believe it, and so should you.

How do I know it is a lie? Because Romans 8:1 says to me that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, if I feel condemned it is a lie! Even when the condemnation is coming from my own self it is an outright, bald faced lie of the enemy.

I refuse to believe that mess, and so should you.

I am enough. I am more than enough. I am enough of my family, my friends and myself. I am most certainly enough for my God. I mean, he gave me the Spirit right when I was in the middle of being at my worst. He reached down and picked me up right when I had dug down as low as I could possibly go. Does that sound like a Father who would be disappointed in me because I have not spent enough of my time memorizing scripture or organizing closets?

So, this year I am ditching the goal setting and the to-do lists. I am keeping my eyes on dreams and desires, and letting that lead me. I am refusing to feel condemned by a messy house or a missed appointment. The funny thing is that life is moving along just fine. I am loving myself right where I am and it is good. Join me?


Things Get Too Real Sometimes

Monday morning this week was the official beginning of summer for the kids and I. I was so looking forward to slowing down and just being able to rest. I have been very intentional about keeping our schedule pretty open for the summer. I woke up around 7:30, got my coffee, started reading and responding to email. About 8:15, the house phone rang. When I answered, it was my husband, Matt. I could hear right away that something was wrong. ” Sweetie, I am OK, but I was out on my bike, and I have been hit.” The room spun. My hands started to shake. All I could get out was “Where are you? I am coming.” I woke the kids out of a sound sleep. I was staying calm for them, but shaking like a leaf. He was just down the road. We turned the corner. There was the fire truck and ambulance. “Is that it?” My son said. “Yeah, that’s it. But, he is okay.” I left them in the car and jumped out. The fireman directed me to go down the road and cross. I couldn’t see him. There was a knot of firefighters and rescue workers around a duffle bag on the side of the road. No, not a duffle bag, my husband in a small, still pile, right on the white line at the roads edge. He was completely conscious, and completely lucid. Blood was everywhere. They were putting him onto a back board. At that moment the thought of spinal injury crossed my mind. I pushed it out. Only the facts you know, nothing more. I held his hands and prayed out loud. I thanked God for sparing him, and asked for more grace. I told Matt, I would find a place to take the kids, and meet him at the hospital. They rolled him onto a backboard, strapped him onto a gurney, and loaded him into the ambulance.

In the middle of all this, my kids stayed remarkably calm, I guess because I stayed remarkably calm.  I don't know if it is like this for anyone else. When trauma happens, I climb into a box. I only let the now and here and what I know in. I shut down the parts of my brain that might put me into a panic.  Things happened at light speed at the hospital. It took less than three ours for them to find out that he had no broken bones, and no serious injuries and send us home. It was nothing short of miraculous.  I have been thanking God over and over.

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So, now we are on day three. He is in pain. His back is very tender. He is on pain medication, and it is not entirely eliminating his pain. He is in a narcotics fog. He is suffering. It is too real right now. I want my box back. The one that shuts out scary things. Matt is the healthy, strong, active guy. Now he is really, really hurt. What is this road going to look like? How long will it be? He wants his life and his body and his mind back. I know it has only been three days. How many more? Will he get back to normal? I can’t sleep. I want this to go away. I want it to never have happened.

I am so very grateful that my husband is still alive. If any one variable had been different, we wold not have him here today. I covet your prayers for a speedy recovery, and that he will be his whole, healthy self again soon.


The Stone Collective- May

The Stone Collective Final logo


The Stone Collective is a community making much of Jesus as we create art, photography, prose, poems or music that commemorate the wonderful things God does in our life. Based on the passage in 1 Samuel 7:12-14, each month we will collect Ebenezer Stones as a regular practice in the art of worship via our creativity. Want to join in on The Stone Collective? Create your own Stone and link up to LIVE IT OUT! Blog. #TheStoneCollective


Therapy Squares


Truth- I have been in a difficult place with my art for a while.  Life stuff has overwhelmed me, and I have been stuffing it instead of processing and working through it.  I am a little angry with God at the moment. I have been afraid to tell Him.  With a little help from a friend, I have started to open the hurt place up.

These little collages are a part of the process.  Yesterday, I made myself sit down and create uninterrupted for an hour.  That has been a struggle for me for a while.  I can usually give it 15 minutes and then I start to get antsy.  For my hour, all I did was rip papers  and glue them down, working on four squares at a time. No thinking is allowed, I just let the Spirit lead.  I know God is faithful.  I know he is working,  I know I can trust Him.  I just need to get out of the way.

Map Art Lab Book Release and Giveaway



I finally have, here in my eager little hands, a copy of THE BOOK!

Of course I am referring to Map Art Lab: 52 Exciting Art Explorations in Mapmaking, Imagination and Travel.

Before we go much farther, let me invite you to comment on this blog post for an opportunity to win a free copy of THE BOOK.  At the bottom of this post you will find a list of links to the pages of all the other contributors who are participating in this blog hop, and also giving away a copy.  Read and comment on all of them to increase your chances to win. The winners names will be drawn on May 16 ( the same day that my Prayer Pouch Necklace online workshop begins, incidentally.) Trust me that you want to have this book.  Imagine having a prompt for a map related art project for every week of the year!  I know, it is almost more that you can handle!

Of course, I am excited to have been included among the wildly talented and esteemed contributors of the book. Two projects of mine are featured in the project pages.

Abstract Map Bowls

Abstract Map Bowls

Abstract Map Bowls

Abstract Map Bowls

These map bowls are created from old wooden salad bowls found at yard sales and thrift stores.  They are  multi-layered with paints and collage.  Each of them represents a landscape that is real, or fictional.  You will need to get the book to get the details, but I will share this close-up and insight about my “Hometown” bowl.

Close-up of "Hometown"

Close-up of “Hometown”

I grew up in Crozet, Virginia.  Crozet is a small town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  When I was a kid it was a small, rural community.  Everyone knew each other. It was a wonderful place to be a kid.  In this detail shot, you can see three purple houses in the subdivision picture in the middle of the bowl.  One is my childhood home.  The other two represent the homes of my two best friends, Beth and Carrie.  I still love those girls.  I still love Crozet!

Prayer Scroll

Prayer Scroll

The second project I have in the book is this Prayer Scroll.  I made this scroll as a gift for my daughter, who was adopted from Ethiopia in 2007.  It shows our journey to her. Again, you will have to get the book for more detailed information on this project.

Prayer Scroll

Prayer Scroll

Thank you so much to Jill Berry and her sister, Linden McNeilly for asking me to be part of this beautiful project.  It is such an honor to be included among such talented artists.

I have to tell you that I am pretty darned excited about this book for much more than my artwork being included.  Each project is written with detailed, easy to follow instructions that are awesome for kids of all ages.  Educators will love working through these exercises with their students.  My two kiddos are homeschooled.  They participate in a weekly art class with dear friend of mine.  We have already started laying plans for working through some of the projects with the group.  I am also really stoked to do some of these projects on my own.  I love prompts to help get creative juices flowing, and having one for every week of the year is fabulous!

Can you tell I am excited? You will be too when you get your copy.  I hope you win one from myself or one of the other contributors listed below. Visit each of them.  Read and comment, and please share this post with your friends on Facebook, via email and twitter. Let us know where you shared it! Thanks!

May 7 Linden McNeilly
May 8 Kim Rae Nugent
May 9 Cynthia Morris
May 13 Janet Fox
May 14 Tony Kehlhofer
May 15 Laurie Mika