A Painting of Encouragement

A Painting of Encouragement

I am thankful for my job as a portrait painting artist. I am so blessed to be able to paint portraits for a living. Many of the commissioned portraits I do are given as gifts, and they are very meaningful, especially when it is given to keep a memory alive for someone who lost a loved one. Here is a miniature portrait I finished earlier this month. It’s a 5 x 7, acrylic on hardboard. I don’t do many miniature paintings like this, so it’s always fun to challenge myself and see if I can paint the details in such a small format. This portrait was commissioned by a woman from my hometown in Merrill. She gave this as a gift to her daughter for her birthday, a portrait of her and her dad, who passed away recently.   Here is what she and some of her friends wrote on Facebook:   “My mom and Randy came over today to visit and give me my birthday present early. I was so touched it brought me to tears. She had taken a very nice photo of my dad and I, but the picture was pixelated. With dad no longer with us, she had a very talented artist paint the photo. It turned out wonderful. Thank you so much mom and Randy!!💗” When I do commissioned projects like this, I’m always amazed at the love people show each other by giving such thoughtful gifts. I’m thankful that I can do this for a living! If you would like a commissioned portrait done, just let me know. I’d love to be able...
Smoldering Wick, Part 2: the Photo Shoot

Smoldering Wick, Part 2: the Photo Shoot

In a previous post, I shared before how when I was going through a difficult time, God encouraged me with a verse in Isaiah 42 that inspired the painting “Smoldering Wick.” I sketched out the idea, and then the sketch sat around for a few years before I got the chance to actually paint it.   There were many distractions–a part time job, painting commissions, and my own procrastination. I wanted the painting to be just right. Waiting for the ideal circumstances, I delayed starting the project. But finally, one day I realized unless I actually just took some steps to start the painting, it would never happen. So I asked my brother-in-law, Zach, to come over to my house for a photo shoot. Why a photo shoot? It’s not like I run a model agency! Here’s why… When you are trying to do a realistic painting, you can’t just “invent” the realism. At least I can’t. Maybe some can. But I think history bears out that the best realistic paintings of all time–like Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” or Caravaggio’s “Conversion of St. Paul” were painted using real-life models posed specifically for the artists to paint from. In other words, they didn’t just paint from memory. They used a reference. I am not comparing myself to either Rembrandt or Caravaggio, by the way. But their work inspires me. One day then, Zach came over to my house, which I transformed into something like a theater stage or movie set. Well, one room at least. My wife gave me permission to do that for a few hours, as long as I...
A Smoldering Wick He Will Not Snuff Out, Part 1

A Smoldering Wick He Will Not Snuff Out, Part 1

What do you do when you feel like you are at the end of your rope? I recently finished a painting called “Smoldering Wick,” which I’ve shared on Facebook a little bit, and many people have asked what it is about. Even though I just finished the painting just at the end of last year, the idea came to me several years ago. I was feeling discouraged about certain things in my life that weren’t measuring up, my failures and mistakes glaring me in the face, and I wondered if God could forgive me. Many times when I feel this way, I get on my knees, open up my Bible in front of me and ask God to speak to me out of His word. Although I know God is forgiving and that He also will help me in all my discouragement and difficulties in life, I want to experience this forgiveness and goodness from God. I want to know He is right there with me. Some people may be able to, but I have a hard time shutting of the floodgate of my feelings. When I feel down, I can’t just put a smile on my face and pretend everything is OK when, inside, I feel like I’m drowning. And I’ve found from experience that nobody knows me like God, not even myself. And nobody cares to listen to me pour out the bitterness of my soul like God. And nobody has the answers that I so desperately need like God. And so this is what I do. I seek the Lord until He comes and reigns His...
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. 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...
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...
New Art and Getting Back in the Game

New Art and Getting Back in the Game

It’s been way too long since I posted on my blog. Please forgive the lapse. I feel like I’m getting back in the game in working on my blog again. This past month, I was away from home much of the time over in Minnesota, creating a large scale mural like I did last year for the Montessori School. The same client who asked me to paint the massive portrait of his family, hanging out together in their 20’s with New York and Minneapolis in the background had me do another for him. This time, it was a 8′ x 18′ mural of the new US Bank Stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Even a Packer fan has to appreciate the excellence of the Viking’s new venue. Their stadium is a fantastic design, and I heard has tons of artwork on display, as well as several clubs for people to hang out at. My client, Jim, had mentioned this idea back when I delivered the painting to him in April. He showed me his media room, complete with five big-screen TVs on one wall. (Are you kidding me?) His idea was to have the Viking’s new stadium as the backdrop, and then install a score ticker on the top, roughly matching the size that it would be in the actual stadium. I loved it, and I could visualize bringing it to life for him. This would be more than just a picture decorating the room. A mural is not just a painting on a wall–it’s a painted environment. In August, things lined up and Jim pulled the trigger. So I...
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