The Dreams of the Elderly

The Dreams of the Elderly

Ours is a society of youth. Technology is constantly changing; everything seems to be getting faster. We’re constantly looking for the latest young celebrity, while the older ones are being pushed off to the side to make room for the new. And those who are old are being propped up to look younger, so that they can still be an acceptable part of society. Years ago, we used to appreciate and respect the grey-haired for their wisdom. The older people were the living links to the past: they could share historical events first hand, what they learned, and pass it on to the next generation. But recently, we have increasingly diminished their role in society, often leaving them in nursing homes with little to no contact with family. Over Thanksgiving break, we went to see my wife’s grandmother in the nursing home. Although she didn’t remember us very well, I think she was thrilled to see her children, and especially her great-grandchildren. Our two year old daughter connected with her over a stuffed animal that she shared with great-grandma. Earlier, I visited my grandmother in the nursing home before she passed away a couple years ago. I am glad I did, and now I don’t have any regrets. Now my grandmother, too, at the end, was not very lucid and so it was a bit awkward to visit. But even though she couldn’t communicate, who knows how much ideas, hopes, and aspirations were still circulating within her mind? Here is an excerpt from the book I illustrated, “The Boy in a Tree.”  As I’ve shared in the past, the...
How I do Shading with Acrylic (Video)

How I do Shading with Acrylic (Video)

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I know I did. It was rejuvenating to take a little time off from the studio, and spend it with family. Sometimes as an artist, you feel the crunch of having to create a lot of artwork, and your creative energies get tapped out. Thanksgiving’s a fantastic time to recharge, give thanks to God for all the blessings He’s given, be with family, and of course, eat a wonderful home-cooked meal. Back to the studio tomorrow. While teaching art classes lately, I’ve discovered one of the most challenging things for my students to learn is how to shade. For artists and art appreciators, shading is a mysterious thing. We wonder how to do it, or how others did it. Shading– the transition from a dark value to a lighter value in a two-dimensional work of art–is one of the most important techniques you can master to make a painting or drawing look realistic. I’d like to share a video (hosted on YouTube) I created earlier this week about that, with you. This is my first art instructional video–in fact really the first serious video recording I’ve done, since the old days of playing around with a VHS-C camcorder with my buddies after school. We made some pretty crazy movies back then! Somewhere towards the end of the video–maybe about 2/3 of the way through–is where I really get into it: how to do shading with acrylic and make it look real. Hope you enjoy this video, and let me know if it helps you in your painting. Let me know, too, how I can...
“The Boy in a Tree” Interview

“The Boy in a Tree” Interview

About a year ago, I was asked to illustrate a children’s book called the “The Boy in a Tree,” written by my sister’s friend, Pamela Boodle, a resident of Schofield, WI. We now recently published the book–a 30 page, full color story of a boy with special needs named Nick who has a fascination and relentless interest in climbing trees. And not just any tree. He searches for trees “with branches made just right for climbing and up, up, up he goes.” Nick has a different perspective on life. He simply enjoys being out in nature and being himself. He is not distracted by all the things that most people are and is free to love, to be silly, and to spend time with the people he cares most about.   The story in this book really spoke to me, as I can relate. I have a son with special needs as well. While reading the manuscript, I was nearly moved to tears, and I felt the connection. I knew I needed to illustrate the book for Pam. A few days ago I did an interview with the author, asking her about the inspiration behind the book. I’d like to share her thoughts with you… Me: Tell me a little about yourself. Pam: I live in northern Wisconsin with my husband of 38 years. We have two married children and eight grandchildren. We are guardians of a niece and nephew who still reside with us. I have been involved with various children’s ministries for over 25 years. My heart’s passion and joy has been working with children with special needs....
A Portrait of My Veteran Friend

A Portrait of My Veteran Friend

It was November 11, 1919. A year ago on that same day, Germany and the Central Powers agreed to put a stop to the war, laying down their arms and agreeing to the terms of peace set forth by the Allies. President Woodrow Wilson wrote a message to the people of America on this first commemorative Armistice Day: “…The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men. To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with – solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.” Armistice Day was later officially changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954. This is a day that we honor veterans, not just those who have died in service, but the living as well. Both my grandfather and grandmother served in World War II. My grandfather was a pilot who did bombing missions in the Philippines, and my grandmother was a troop transport pilot, spunky and zealous enough to get in the army at age 16 (beats trying to get in a bar under-aged, right?). They met there during service and later got married upon returning home at the conclusion of the war. My brother...
After the Artisan Market

After the Artisan Market

This past Saturday, we had our Artisan Market event at Artisan Forge Studios. It was a great time, with a steady flow of people visiting. In addition to all the artists, we had the wood fired pizza guys there as well as Soul Brewed Coffee. I grabbed a nice cup of a dark roast made in an aero press, which they then poured in my mug. Very unique flavor–it kind of grows on you! I’d like to get some more 🙂 During the show, I met some wonderful folks and some people I knew came in and visited as well. The main painting on display is a work in progress called “Smoldering Wick.” I’ll share more about that in-depth later. On the wall opposite my easel, I displayed a print series of the 4′ x 28′ mural, depicting Biblical history with an emphasis on the gospel message, that my friend Dave Mattison and I completed in 2013 for Bethel Church in Eau Claire.   Most of the day, I painted on that canvas live (though mostly I just talked). A lot of people were touched by the message of encouragement, and had really incisive questions on my process in creating art. A few were interested in having custom portraits painted from a photo. At this time of year, getting close to Christmas, I tend to get a lot more of those kinds of commissions, which I am very thankful for. Partway through, I met a gal that does some excellent photography work. Although an amateur photographer, she takes professional-quality portraits for people that can’t typically afford them–senior photos, wedding,...
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