How Death Reminds You to Seize the Day

How Death Reminds You to Seize the Day

My goal as an artist and, I feel, my calling in life, is to encourage people. So, when dealing with the subject of death, it’s easy to think of it in a morose, depressing way, but I would rather look at the positive side. Just like the leaves changing colors and falling to the ground signals that autumn is here and winter is on it’s way, so also when someone dies, we are reminded of the brevity of life. We think again about our priorities and if we are doing the things that really matter. It’s so easy to chase after more stuff, more success, and happiness in all the wrong places. But the only thing we can take with us when we die is ourselves and those we love. My neighbor, Stu, died about a month ago. I had just gotten to know him–he lived a couple blocks down, but would often walk by and then hang out my next-door neighbor’s house. He was the big, rough kind of a guy that could definitely hold his liquor, but had a softer side too. We found that out when my wife had stopped by our neighbor’s house. Stu was sitting out in front, and he was introduced to my eight-year-old son, who has special needs. When my son found out Stu’s name, he said, “BEEF Stew!” That was the first association in his mind apparently. Stu just smiled and laughed. Later on, I gave Stu a print of my drawing “Inscribed,” that has the hands of God with many names etched in. I was surprised that Stu really loved...
Beautiful Art and a Beautiful Drive

Beautiful Art and a Beautiful Drive

I have been a part of a local studio tour, the Falling Leaves Art Studio Tour for five years now. The tour is like the classic Sunday afternoon drive, only you get to visit local artists in their studio, see their incredible art, and in between the stops, take in beautiful scenery adorned by the rich fall foliage that we are so blessed with in Northern Wisconsin. In the tour, there is all kinds of art to see–painting, drawing, pottery, jewelry, functional silverware, woodworking, alpaca yarn creations, and other things you wouldn’t normally associate with art.  I happen to do painting and drawing. But I hook up with an artist, Ron La Blanc, who does functional and handsome pottery work and colorful landscape paintings as well. In fact, I stay at his home, and take up residence for two days in his garage, which is transformed into my gallery space. It’s a little challenging, because the side of garage I use is actually where he stores his wood to get him through the winter. (Well, he stores enough to get him through about 5 winters!) Over the last few years, I’ve gotten a little better each time at converting a wall of irregular wood into a gallery space. You hammer nails into the logs, pivot the framed artwork against the various pieces, and pray that they don’t fall!  Some of the tour goers have said the wood wall makes a unique backdrop. I agree. I really enjoy getting into meaningful conversations with some of the visitors. A couple years ago, a lady looked at one of my paintings, and...
How to Paint a Realistic Acrylic Portrait in 5 Steps

How to Paint a Realistic Acrylic Portrait in 5 Steps

  I have been doing commissioned portraits for 24 years, since I was in high school. One of the questions I’m often asked is: “How do you create your art?”   I am going to show you a recent portrait I did, step by step, and my hope is that you may be able to learn a few tips that will help you in your own portrait painting. Although I paint in acrylic, some of this information may help you even if you paint in oils. If you are not a painter, I hope this post will still be interesting to you! Who knows? You could even start painting today!   For this particular example, my portrait was based off a great photo (which unfortunately I am unable to show since it was a professional photograph ) and it lent itself to a great painted portrait. Amateur snapshots can be used as a basis for a portrait, but unfortunately, the lighting and detail is usually lacking, so the image you create from them as an artist is similarly lacking in depth. Get the best photo you can, and your painting will be all the better for it.   Step 1: Start Right With a Sketch Without a good sketch, you’re just shooting in the dark. The sketch is where you will create your composition, ensure the likeness of your subject–that is, make sure the person you’re painting looks like them–and define specific details. Be sure to center your subject on the surface of the canvas and if it is a head and shoulders portrait, the face should fill about...
How to Be Content and Happy

How to Be Content and Happy

From the day we are old enough to crawl and grab for something, it’s obvious we have a constant desire for more. Our older brother has a toy and we want it, just because he has it. We grow up and go to the mall. Then we want the toy on Black Friday that everyone else is pushing and shoving to get. Our neighbor has a new car. We were happy with our car a moment ago until we saw what she has. Now we want it. it is hard to be content today in this world. We have TV, newspaper, billboard and internet ads telling us we’re missing out and have a major problem unless we have the latest product they’re selling.   And when we buy something new, it captures our attention. We feel great with our new purchase, we can’t wait to try it out–or on–and then after a couple weeks or even less, the newness wears off. And off we go to something else that glitters and captures our interest once again. This cycle of discontent–acquiring–fascination–apathy–discontent continues on and on for our whole life, consuming everything good, ravaging relationships, until we look back in regret on the wreckage of our lives. By that time, it’s often far too late to do anything about it. How can we be content?   All of us–unless we have major issues–want to better ourselves. We want to provide a decent living for ourselves and our family. We want to have something to share with others. We want to contribute value to our society. There is a struggle in working...
A.D. After Davis: Where Should Christians Go From Here?

A.D. After Davis: Where Should Christians Go From Here?

  The recent malaise in Rowan County, Kentucky with the defiant County clerk Kim Davis is a signpost signaling a new era in the culture of America. Biblical, traditional family values are out; unorthodox, non-traditional values are the new normal. I’ve been following the news on Kim Davis very closely. (Maybe a little too closely!) If you aren’t aware by now, she is the Kentucky county clerk who dared to defy the recent ruling by the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage, and then was jailed for it. She has put a name and a face to the incendiary cultural clash of traditional Judeo-Christian values and post-modern secular atheism. Never before in America has a government worker been jailed for simply following their Christian belief. After the Court’s ruling in June, I felt like I was watching a football game and my team lost. And when Kim Davis was jailed, that was the dagger! But now, she has been released and it remains to be seen if she will continue in her courageous rejection of an unjust law (which is really no law at all). I and many Christians around the nation prayed for her to be set free, and that she would strand strong in the face of severe opposition. I’m glad she didn’t give in to the pressure to conform. Somehow though, her release from jail seems like a hollow victory, especially with the strict warnings the judge imposed on her to no longer interfere with the signing of certificates. It feels like we just scored a touchdown, but we’re down 41-10 with 2:00 minutes remaining in the...
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