The Light of the World Shining in Our Darkness

The Light of the World Shining in Our Darkness

Several times, I have wanted to give up being an artist. The end of last month was the most recent time.
After Thanksgiving, we had our “Small Business Saturday” sales event at Artisan Forge Studios.
But the day before I was very discouraged. The month of October and especially November were slow months, with not a lot of art sales or commissions.
Rent was overdue.  Our landlord called, after getting a partial payment on rent, and he wanted to know when we would bring our account up to date. I didn’t know the answer to that question. I didn’t know what to do–and I had already tried everything I knew. I felt like throwing in the towel.
Sharing these sentiments with my wife, she matter-of-factly and truthfully advised:
“God has always provided. He’s not going to stop now.” 
Feeling just a tiny bit better, I went to bed.
Artisan Forge Studios, a place of collaboration, painting, sculpture and more!

Artisan Forge Studios, 1106 Mondovi Rd, Eau Claire

The morning of the show I prayed, “God you’re a big God, so I am going to pray a big prayer. I pray that I would sell ‘Smoldering Wick’ (my biggest and most detailed painting, a 30″ x 40″ ) today at the art show.”

 

There was only a trickle of people that came in. But I smiled even though I didn’t feel like it and talked about the painting and the message behind it to whoever showed interest. During the middle of the show, two middle-aged men came in, and drawn to the painting, they asked me what it was about. They listened openly to the spiritual message behind it, and although they didn’t seem to quite share the same perspective I had, they loved the luminosity of the brushwork and the compassion portrayed by the people within the picture.

 

Then, out of the blue, one man said to the other, “So, do you want to get it?”

 

My ears perked up. And I thought, What did I just hear you say?

 

And they discussed where they were going to put it, and if I took credit cards. I told them I could take their card on the spot with Square. So we rang up the sale and it went through! “Congratulations!” I told them as I shook their hands.

 

After they left, I prayed “Lord, what did you just do? I asked for that painting to sell and you answered!”

 

Well, needless to say, my family had rent money.

 

I later learned that the collectors of this painting  just happened “by chance” to show up at Artisan Forge Studios that Saturday, the day of the show.
Acrylic painting of realistic figures in Christian inspirational art

“Smoldering Wick”, 30 x 40, acrylic on canvas, 2016, by artist Matt Philleo of Eau Claire, in collector’s home.


The Lord has done this many times for us. You would think I wouldn’t worry, but I still often do. But my faith is growing little by little, and I’m amazed at what God does. And so, yes, it isn’t easy being a full time artist in some ways, but it’s an exciting ride! This is what I’ve been called to do. So I’m just stubborn enough to stick it out (with some encouragement from the right people) when many people maybe think I should have packed up my brushes a long time ago, and given up on the fantasy of being a full-time artist.

Although I’ve already posted some images of the painting on Facebook, I’ve had a lot of people ask what the painting “Smoldering Wick ” is all about. I will share more about that and the inspiration behind it down the road, but for now, I want to say it has everything to do with the “the Light of the World.”
Jesus is the “Light of the World.”
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” (Isaiah 9:2)
All of us were in darkness before Jesus came. Darkness in our sins, darkness in ignorance, or even willful disobedience. In my predicament here with the financial problem, I was in darkness. Not just the darkness of not having enough money to pay rent, but the despair of the feeling of hopelessness.  A lack of faith.
I think Jesus may have said to me, like He said to Peter, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?”
Nevertheless, He answered my prayer. I didn’t feel so confident when I prayed it. But God, in His mercy, answered it. 
Now, should I have had more faith?
Yes.
But, God still answered my prayer, even with the little faith I had.  And so it gave me more cause to thank God for how kind He had been to me, as I realized I got far more than my feeble faith deserved.
My wife, who teaches the children’s Wednesday night Bible class at church, used a line as a metaphor for faith. She shot out a line with a sticky end and reeled in the object she desired as the kids watched. As long as she continued to reel, she would get what was attached to the end of the line. But if she set down the line, because reeling it in (or trying to get the object to stick) was too hard, she would never get the object at the end.
This is a powerful picture of faith and I still remember it.
It doesn’t take a rope to reel in a big fish. You just have to keep reeling it in with the line you have and not give up.
But, now, I want to say more about the object of our faith: there are many objects we want to pick up at the end of that line. But whatever the object is–maybe a better job, a nicer car, a relationship restored, healing for a disease, even forgiveness of our sins–and these all  may be good things to desire–ultimately the goal of receiving these transient things is to receive the true object of our faith, Jesus Christ. In other words, when we see how good He has been in answering our prayers and providing for our needs in the midst of the struggle, we will see Him more clearly. His generosity, His kindness, His consistency, His love, His power to deliver, His glory will be unfolded to us. When we see Jesus for who He is, we will be amazed. Our natural response will be to thank Him, to praise Him. And I don’t think there’s anything that pleases Him more, than when we rejoice at who He is.
Smoldering Wick, Bruised reed and the suffering servant,

“Smoldering Wick” 30 x 40, acrylic on canvas by painter Matt Philleo, with Isaiah 42

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1: 4-5)
None of us have ever seen God, but we do “see Him” as we experience His truth in the Bible, coming alive as we read, believe, meditate upon, and live it out. We stand upon His promises and we watch them come to pass.
Jesus said as recorded in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus will breathe life into the smoldering wick: the soul with a flickering flame that still yearns to burn brighter.
May God’s riches blessings come to you this Christmas, as the Light of the World shines brightly upon your path!

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Getting the Message Out

Getting the Message Out

This Thursday, I was excited to see the copy of the local paper, the Leader-Telegram, and the article they did on the book I illustrated, “The Boy in a Tree.” They did a great job in highlighting the main message of the book: being content, trusting God like a child, and seeing the value that people with special needs can offer the world.

The Saturday before, the author and I held a book signing event at Artisan Forge Studios, and we had a great time chatting with people interested in the story, listening to their stories, and eating too many cookies.

Special needs childrens book illustration

Author Pam Boodle and Illustrator Matt Philleo sign copies of “The Boy in a Tree” at Artisan Forge Studios in Eau Claire, December 3, 2016.

 

Special needs children's book event at Artisan Forge Studios

“The Boy in a Tree” book signing at Artisan Forge Studios in Eau Claire, December 3, 2016.

It was also neat that I had a chance to see an old friend that I worked with at Sears from years ago and catch up with him.

Today, a woman who had read the newspaper article walked into my studio and  bought two copies of “Boy in a Tree” from me. We chatted for several minutes, sharing stories about the children in our lives who have special needs, and talking about how thankful we are that societal attitudes have changed so much in the last few decades towards differently able people.

Children's book on special needs with full color illustration

“The Boy in a Tree” at Artisan Forge Studios in Eau Claire

I can recall a few years ago, when I had take take my son out of the store because he had a meltdown and, while trying my best to keep my composure, someone looked me in the eye and said, “Good job, dad.”

Just those three words made all the difference.

I thought, “this person gets it.” It gave me just a bit more of a spark, and I think helped ease the tension a bit. What an encouragement that person was.

So now when I’m in a store or other public place, and I see a child misbehaving, and I’m tempted to give a disapproving glance, or maybe even say something, I remember I don’t really know the child or the story behind that child. And, although I hate to say I was that judgmental person (I never said anything, but I sure thought it, and maybe I did give that ice cold glance unknowingly) since I’ve been there myself…

…it’s a different story now.

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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 story follows Nick, a boy with special needs who loves climbing trees throughout his life.

At the end of the book, we read how, as an old man, he is still dreaming…

 

Elderly person, children's book, Matt Philleo

Excerpt from “Boy in a Tree,” by Pamela Boodle and Illustrated by Matt Philleo, featuring Nick as an elderly man

 

Interestingly, the Bible shares that sentiment with us–that the elderly are vitally important, and have great ideas. They have excellent, lofty ideas that have been founded upon wisdom and experience–perhaps dreams that never made it to fruition–and now they lack the strength to carry them out.

It is for us in the next generation then, to carry on this torch, to retrieve the baton, and keep the vision of the previous generation alive. 

We see that with Moses passing the baton to Joshua, who finally entered the promise land in his lifetime, even though for his predecessor, it was only a dream.

We see that with Martin Luther King, Jr., who we all know from history had a dream that the white man and black man would stand together in equality and harmony. We’ve made steps toward that as a society, but obviously, as we see in current events, have a long, long way to go. Although he was not elderly at the time he gave his famous speech, if he were still alive, he would be an old man today and his dream would still most likely remain unfulfilled. But the dream is good, and the hope of it lives on.

We see that with Simeon, in the New Testament, who was waiting the long-promised Messiah, the deliverer of Israel. He dreamed that one day He would get to see this child that would the change the destiny of nations in person, and for him, the dream became reality, when Joseph and Mary entered the temple to perform the cleansing and dedication ritual for their Son. The elderly Simeon held baby Jesus of Nazareth in his arms, and he knew that his hopes of the healing of the nation of Israel–and the world would be realized.

Jesus is the fulfillment of all good dreams. 

Peace on earth, goodwill to men, and everything good that we long for, is found and will be found in Him–this perfect man and God, in the form a humble human servant, who ultimately demonstrated this posture of service in laying down his life for us on the cross, to bring us forgiveness of sin, and the restoration of humanity.

Finally, God Himself promised, “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)

Hear the dreams and aspirations of the elderly. Maybe these dreams can become your dreams too, and even become a reality in your life.

 

Boy in a Tree Childrens Book by Pamela Boodle and Matt Philleo

Excerpt from “Boy in a Tree,” by Pamela Boodle and Illustrated by Matt Philleo, featuring Nick climbing a tree

 

If you live near the Eau Claire area, the author of “The Boy in a Tree,” Pam Boodle and I would love to have you come and visit us at our book signing event this Saturday, December 3.  More about that here.

As we get into the Christmas season, may it be a blessed one for you and your family. 

All the best,

signature_200dpi

Matt

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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 improve it in any way, so going forward I can create some videos that are more helpful, or informative for you. Or maybe you don’t paint, but you are interested in the process of acrylic painting. Again, let me know if you’d like to see more stuff like this in the future!

And of course, as I always ask, please share this with your friends! Thanks!

Blessings,

signature_200dpi

Matt

P.S. I will have the painting featured in the video on display at the art show this Saturday at my studio. (1106 Mondovi Rd, in Eau Claire, 10-4pm)

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“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.

 

special needs, cognitive disabilities, tree climbing

“The Boy in a Tree,” pages 9 & 10

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.

PamI 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.

Me: Where did the inspiration/ idea come for this book?

Pam: Our nephew, Nicholas, was born with cognitive disabilities. His love for the outdoors and especially climbing the perfect tree was the inspiration for the book.

Me: Why did you want to get the message contained in the book out?

Pam: Nick’s child-like outlook brings a newfound sense and appreciation for “what matters most” in life and the beauty that is all around us if only we take time to see it.

Me: What things do you think people will gain by reading it?

Pam: I believe readers of all ages could benefit from this story as it seeks to draw awareness, but most importantly, instill a greater appreciation for those with disabilities and what we can learn from their lives.

Me: Have you ever written books or other pieces of writing before? If so, what?

Pam: I have written personal stories and songs for friends and family.
Me: How did you choose an illustrator for the book?
Pam: I truly believe God brought us together and feel blessed to have Matt as the illustrator of The Boy in A Tree. He is a gifted artist that brought “life” to this project with his sensitivity to this subject matter. But mostly, I appreciate his passion and how he prayerfully pours his heart and soul into all his art, for the glory of God.
Me:  Do you intend on writing more books in the future?
Pam: I would love to as the Lord leads. I am currently working on a children’s series on the character of God.
Both Pam and her husband Jeff were so kind and generous to me in the production of this book. You can meet Pam and learn more about this book and the inspiration behind it in person. Pam and I will be having a book signing event Saturday December 3rd, from 1-4 p.m at my studio–Artisan Forge Studios, 1106 Mondovi Rd. in Eau Claire.
You are invited! We will have copies of “Boy in a Tree” available and we would love to sign a copy for you. There will be refreshments available as well.
Boy with special needs climbing a tree in a children's book

“The Boy in a Tree” Bookmark for Book Signing Event with Pam Booodle and Matt Philleo, Dec 3, 1-4 pm at Artisan Forge Studios, 1106 Mondovi Rd, Eau Claire, WI

Hope to see you there! In the meantime, here is another post I did about this book that you can check out. Please let your friends know about this event–especially if they have or know children with special needs. I believe this book would be a great encouragement to them.

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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.

Prints of the 4' x 28' mural at Bethel Church, Eau Claire, WI

Prints of the 4′ x 28′ mural at Bethel Church, Eau Claire, WI

 

Portrait painter Matt Philleo mixing colors on his palette at Artisan Forge Studios on October 29, 2016

Portrait painter Matt Philleo mixing colors on his palette at Artisan Forge Studios on October 29, 2016

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.

Artisan Market at Artisan Forge Studios, Eau Claire, WI, October 29, 2016

Artisan Market at Artisan Forge Studios, Eau Claire, WI, October 29, 2016

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, engagement, etc–for free. I think that’s amazing. Here you can see some of her work:  

Photo from Treasuring Memories by Tricia Henchen

Photo from Treasuring Memories by Tricia Henchen

At the Artisan Market, there were people selling jewelry, paintings, sculptures, glass creations, stone carvings, prints and a lot of other great art. It’s exciting to be part of a place where there is so much energy–like a gallery and workshop all in one. I will definitely be looking forward to the next show. Thank you to everyone who were able to make it out there!

 

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If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave me your feedback below! I will personally get back to you. Can you help me spread the word? Please share this post with your family and friends by using the social media links on the side or below. Thank you!

 

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