Friday, January 31, 2014

Thought for The Day - Random

Sketch for Predawn (bird in flight) 18 x 24 charcoal




Without a pattern

In no part of our lives is "this" acceptable. When resources are irregular, we experience anxiety about our future. Go days where you don't have food and when it comes, it's in meager quantities, it will make you wonder if you have a future. Or maybe you can push off anxiety long enough to discover the pattern in the random availability of your resources...hmmm.

We need rhythm, a beat, a pattern to fit in this world. We realize how much it's needed in it's absence and in the times where those vital patterns our absent, we are like lost children, searching for home.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thought for The Day - Getting Out the Door

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like getting out of the house on a typical day is like preparing to do battle. Now, I've never been in combat or faced an enemy on a field,  but I've had quite a few fights and that same sense of anticipation  is felt as I prepare to leave the house. For the most part, I don't acknowledge it on a regular basis; I simply rise, journal, draw, paint, shower shave and a myriad number of tasks before hitting the door. Many of the tasks I do without consideration, but it's the thoughts of the gym and the mad scramble getting to work that brings these thoughts to mind.

The prep activities are less of a concern, it's the thinking and planning for the day that gets me amped. I consider the gym time, what exercises I have to do that day, how much time I have and the amount of weight I've done and will do in this workout. Then I consider the rush afterwards, the mad dash to shower, get dressed, fight traffic to the train and then there's "being at work!" I work in a relatively quiet setting, but like any "place of business," there are these attitudes and subtle political games being played out nearly every second of the day. What is said loudly, said by whom, the usual challenge of who will "one up" whom and so on. It never ends. And I consider all these factors before I hit the door. As a matter of fact, I would say at this point in my life, if I didn't anticipate and plan my place in the small daily skirmishes, I would be a victim, rather than a simple participant. Mind you, I'm not out for blood; I came to perform certain tasks and receive my pay, that's it. Positioning and posturing for "higher ranks" has never motivated me.

Not every warrior is out for blood; for many of us the battle we fight is for the lives of our family and our own growth. Consider your needs and place that over what others are fighting friend and foe to gain!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thought for The Day - Winter Break

The image that came to mind was a bear in hibernation, but that's a luxury I can't afford! So it's a winter break.

Sometimes your journey requires a time of reflection and pause. Please believe, I seem to enjoy "meditating on the go" but every now and then, God slows my feet, forces me to sit and change my view point. A few weeks ago, it was a cold that all my smoothies, exercise and vitamins would not help me avoid. I tried to go to work in the middle of the illness, felt great for the better part of the day and toward the end of the day, I could barely keep my eyes open. A couple days off and a weekend for that. Then last week, taking the stairs to the basement, the usual evening routine of preparing for the next day, I tripped over my son's 'boats' sitting on the stairs. One leg went down the stairs, the left twisted behind me and I heard and felt a nice pop! Undaunted, I got up - eventually - and finished getting clothes together to go to the gym the next day and ate dinner. But as the evening went on, the swelling and tightness started. I didn't go to the gym the next day, but I went the following day. I now have a doctor's appointment to determine how serious this can be.

Routines are good, we need plans and goals and execution of the same, but sometimes, we also need to slow down, allow the noise to quiet. Listen. Reflect. Determine if there is something else you need to consider. This is where I am today.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thought for The Day - The Inner Dialogue

I struggled with the title, but "id" won. :)

There is a a part of me that loves the brightness of the day and the quiet of the night. It isn't moved by the sense of right we "conscious thinkers" are troubled by. It isn't violent or prone to long dissertations about politics, race relations, and whether prayer should be allowed in schools. No, it's preference is to take in the many textures and tones around me. It loves to touch soft skin, to smell oranges and eucalyptus held by a lady on the train. There is this part of me that revels in music improvised by Robert Glasper Experiment, on the spot at a NPR Desk Jam - another smile!

But there is this other part of me that worries and frets over the appropriateness of the moment: should I be painting, considering there's a stack of laundry, books and tasks to be executed? I shouldn't spend too much time looking out the window at work; what would my bosses think? And who has time to get all this stuff done? Why isn't there more time in a day?

These parts (and so many more) serve their purpose. We are all composed of a myriad number of intersecting, intermingled and completely oppositional components. And yet, through it all, we get through the day, the week, this life. Just make sure you allow "joy" to rule the journey.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Thought for The Day - Picking Up Supplies

Went out Saturday to pick up art supplies and nearly forgot what I needed when I walked in the store. I'm not one for shopping these days; the thrill of buying items, getting home and realizing I've spent too much and finding out the money I just spent could have gone on a bill or the car which just broke down...that got old. Life, you can be funny at times! Anyway, I was excited to be in the store, aisle after aisle of paints, brushes, papers, canvases, etc, the type of stuff artists get excited about. I reigned in my "oooos' and "ahhhhs" and remembered I was there for pastel sticks, a brush and "something else." Just could not remember the last thing.

I generally like to keep a tight schedule when I go to a store; that also keeps me from 'browsing' and picking up unnecessary items. If I know I have a few minutes to shop - not as long as I like 'cause "I'm grown" - I find the items I came to buy and I'm out. No time for idle wandering and dreaming...sad life for an artist, that you aren't permitted time to wander. Really sad!

I narrowed my search to a handful of pastel sticks and another handful of oil pastel crayons. I also picked up a non-toxic bottle of fixative, used to prevent work from being smeared - very important for pastels. I'm standing at the counter, the cashier, completing the sell and applying my "preferred customer" discount, she gives me the total. The guy next to me hears the total and says "you should have picked a cheaper medium, to work in." Besides wanting to tell him to mind his business, I thought of snappy repartee to say like "the medium chose me," but instead I chose not to say anything. I sort of smiled, handed the lady my debit card and waited for her to package everything.

That comment stayed with me for the entire weekend and I'm sure I'll go over it for a while. I thought about the relatives and friends who want to "support" you by "allowing" you to give them art for free, declaring their poverty. I thought of the many people who tell me "I love your work, but it's too expensive!" I thought of the many people out there who steal other artists work with a camera or simply going to your website and hitting the "print screen" button on their pc. You know, we aren't permitted to walk in a store and simply pick up supplies, food, etc, just because we are related to the owner. And we can't walk onto a car lot and get a car for $25 because "I love your Jaguars, but there just too expensive." Hear me folks, any artist doing work from his heart and soul, isn't considering the cost of supplies before he does the work, but he has to be careful in what he spends. He cares about the work and the message and as a result, what it will do for you, the audience. Cost, value, cheap and expensive; words we toss around, but I think we get their definitions confused.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Thought for The Day - The Nitty Gritty

Yes, an old phrase, if you're under 40, you know nothing about it! (smile) It means getting down to the details, the fine, confusing, truth revealing details.

Let's get to it. This art thing; can't state enough that this is love, but this goes beyond everyone's definition of love. The details, looking at reflections of light on someone's face, seeing the fine details of skin, observing the depth of details of granite...the list goes on. But that's the details I hold on to, it's the images and details I see without trying, sitting on the train, the kitchen table and anywhere shapes, colors and textures occur.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thought for The Day - Dark Valley Days

Have you ever considered your life from the darkness of the valley? Have you had those days when you thought you couldn't get much lower? Income hardly meeting obligations, you and the spouse on the outs and the weather leaves you miserable as you go out your daily tasks...And you think to yourself "how much worse can it get?" Somehow, it gets worse.

But have you ever considered that our depths are as much a part of our upward climb as the night is part of day? Have you noticed that often distractions appear, the type that take your mind off the misery of your life? And no matter how dismal life seems, if you're awake and moving, you rise, take care of those boring day-to-day tasks, and repeat the process? While the last part may seem truly dismal, it's actually part of your solution. It demonstrates your ability to keep moving forward in spite what a day may bring. And if you're reading this, you are searching for the light of day. Continue searching, your daybreak is coming!

Peace and Hope!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thought for The Day - Radiance, A Burst of Light

Words and Images...I love this work!

A few months ago, when I began this process of blogging the "Thought for The Day," I told a coworker that there are times when this is HARD! She said "I thought you love doing it?" And I said I do, but love isn't always pleasure; there are times when love is pain and ache and longing.

There are days when I look at my work and ask myself "what am I doing? This is a waste of time and those brush strokes are terrible!" There are days when I can't help but think about what I'm working on (in my head) as I sit testing software. There are times when I wake and I "have to" put a couple brush strokes or place a couple strokes of the pastels.

A labor of love, some tears and a blend of my soul as I pour it out. The words aren't always poignant and soft; sometimes truth hurts. But then, there are times when the very brightness of the effort is the reward longed for.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Thought for The Day - Distractions

I've decided to include a "healthy dose" of distractions in the morning as part of my morning prep. You see I'm a multi-processing, multi-interested individual, even at my best effort to be singularly focused. I don't think I'm ADHD or anything, it's just I'm trying to squeeze in a great deal of interests in the morning. I am supposed to be working at journaling; that was supposed to be part of the reason for getting up at 3:00 am. But sitting in my 'space,' surrounded by my art, pieces that are complete and in process, I think of ways to improve on the work. There's always a theme I want to repeat, to turn into a series for exploration purposes. Then there's "social networking..." that can take up some time, but I can get as distracted by the music I "have to" hear as well. Currently, I allow iTunes to play at random whatever it chooses, but there are certainly times where an artist and particular release, comes to mind.

There's also the prep for the gym, which includes packing the bag, getting the clothes prepared and having clothes ready to change into afterwards. It's amazing how two hours fly by when you're trying to squeeze it all in. My absolute favorite distraction is the easel. Because I know that can be an all consuming activity, I have to balance time in front of it or else, I won't make it to the gym. Speaking of which, I'm on my way out the door.

Above, my latest process, call it "Linen, with a little distraction." - Working title.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Thought for The Day - Moving Forward

Some days, weeks, months seems like "forward" isn't possible. Then one day you look up and you've moved away from all that held you back.

Twenty-two years old, certain there were at least two things I was "destined" to do: visual art and preach/teach. Didn't know how I was going to do them and in the short term, placed emphasis on the latter.  I'm doing both now. Didn't know how it was possible, thought they were diametrically opposed and couldn't see how a preacher could paint and preach. I see now.

Thank you, Lord.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thought for The Day - A Minuet

She Twirls (in process) 12 x16 Oil pastels

Defined as "fine, delicate, diminutive (used as a noun) of menu 'small.'"

But there are there no small dances or music pieces, there are only the parts we are privy to, in that 'snippet' of time (the word "snippet" also meaning 'small.'). This is life my friends; I have your attention for a few minutes before, after and in-between the busyness of your day. You stopped by purposely to see and read, to have your heart stirred, tickled or gain insight. But you are here. But in these few moments, I can no more tell you "all" about me, than I could put a cure for cancer in a pill.

Working on the piece above, it occurs to me, there are stories unfolding all around me. I'm not the center of the universe, as many would like to believe (smile). But neither are you. You can live your life with someone, grow old at their side and there are intricate, potentially life changing aspects of their life you will never know. A snapshot only captures the essence of us and while a greater truth hides behind a smile, our conscious minds can't fathom it.

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels..."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Thought for The Day - Changes

Phoenix 18 x 24 pastels

How much of our updating, revamping, swapping out the old for the new, is external? How often do we 'change' and oh so fundamentally remain the same? If the constant changes in life leave us unchanged, then what does that say about our character? Is it a solid iron being incapable of changing?

We sit in a seat on our patio, watching the trees bud, the breeze moving the branches and twigs. The buds become leaves, green and full and the temperature warms up and the sun hangs in the sky longer, until we see shelter from it all. But soon the wind changes and the leaves as well; they become brown, orange and red and fall, leaving the trees bare once again. But in all the changes for the tree, it has grown; it's gained more branches, veins and it's trunk, thicker. Even if you trim the tree, it continues to grow fuller...funny how that happens.

Difficulty, hardship, struggle, even tragic loss has an effect on each of us. A person cannot remain innocent and unfettered by this world. Some say we should not operate from our 'ego,' instead from our heart and soul. But our ego serves to protect us, albeit, 'over-compensate,' at times. And yet, in the final analysis, we will have lived life as best we could, some epic fails and moments of pure ecstasy. And if remain open to the many lessons and experience life brings, we are as fluid as mercury and solid as an iron statue.



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Thought for The Day - Magazine Clippings

Self portrait (peek inside my mind) Oil painting
Many days, in the course of the day, I think of old friends, people I haven't seen or heard from in years and for a minute or two, I recall times we spent. It's only a minute, a quick thought of calls shared and how we laughed at a bad habit or just hanging out. Those memories are like the magazine clippings when one puts together a collage. Like a collage, a narrative is required for those merely looking at it; the story isn't as clear as the original picture. People, cars and coffee cups are pasted together in my head and only I know their deeper meaning. But I share them whenever possible, the vivid emotions a friend expresses comes back as a lesson for you and I.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thought for The Day - What is This Thing Called Love?

Of a Feather 18 x 24 pastels

I have the above titled song as it was recorded by Charles Mingus and it is 8 minutes of pure joy. But before I launched off into expressions about the song, I did a quick search for the song's origin. Written by Cole Porter and performed in a Broadway musical "Wake up and Dream" (another popular thought for a "modern world). But here's my true focal perspective: music and for me, in particular Jazz music.

I woke this morning, prepared to face the day. There's always a lot to do, even on the weekends, yet I prefer to start my day with writing. It is the basis of communication and as I was taught so many years ago, I like to spend time communicating with my Father. Often times, I'm accompanied by music in this process, my computer loaded with 'enough' music to last several days. But this morning, I went to YouTube and on my list of recommendations was a full recording of a concert, Gregory Porter being the star of the show.

The concert takes place in Amsterdam and he sings with the support of the Metropole Orchestra. Now this is Jazz, with a full sized orchestra and Gregory's velvety voice! Sheer beauty! Wait a minute now, Jazz music sang in a classic setting; music that is traditionally improvisational, with near unpredictable shifts and rises and falls, sang with an orchestra and sheet music! And you know what? They rocked and rolled with Gregory as if the sheet music contained every possible rise and fall, turn and shift!

But that is this thing Called Love. We are traveler's on this journey and while we may believe we travel alone, there are so many unseen and seen fellow sojourners. What is this thing called love? It is the assistance we receive and the beauty we create along the way. It is the sheer joy of this journey and it's strange, out of nowhere pain. It is discovering something new and remembering some forgotten moment of joy. And once again, it is sharing this thing, the thing we call L-O-V-E.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Thought for The Day - Prosperity

Sketch for Predawn Light (in process) 18 x 24 charcoal

Names, titles, descriptions, they are a funny thing. A word can be used so often and in a particular way, that  the mentioning of it generates a "group think" vision. Like the word today, "prosperity." Mention it in most circles and especially Christian circles and immediately, we think of a pocket full of money, cars, large homes and full closets. But what about prosperity among the middle class or the working class? Can it exist there as well?

Since childhood, I have lived in a house with full cabinets and well stocked refrigerators. Even when "times were tight" for my wife and I, there is always plenty of food to eat. I have always had a change of clothes and a car to drive. And yet, so very often I consider what I don't have and I get sad. Not only do I get sad, I get to praying for more. But as it is, I consider what I have as well and while that doesn't cause me to pause and be thankful each time, it does take the edge off my complaining. In truth, while we have, we are always in search of "more" or "different."

The word prosperity, when applied to my situation and probably the lives of nearly everyone reading this, fits our lives. It isn't a matter of what you lack but what you have. Certainly, many would rather have bank accounts with near unlimited money; I don't know about you, but the thought of having more money, immediately brings up the things I would "trade" my money to buy! I don't stop at the thought of having money, but I think of buying and spending and filling up a house with stuff. I imagine a life of full days and luxurious vacations. But in the best sense, I have all I need N-O-W! I might want an abundance of rest, but I have this uncanny ability to fall asleep at the drop of a hat! I can sit in a waiting room full of people and if I'm tired, doze off in heartbeat! So do I need more rest or to manage better what I have 'at hand?'

Perhaps stress comes because we are always focused on what we don't have, what our lives aren't. What if we focused on the blessings in our hand, on our shoulders and on the plate in front of us? Would we come to realize we are prosperous?



Friday, January 10, 2014

Thought for The Day - Momentary Value

Linen (in process) 30 x 40 oil

In this case, when I say "momentary," I'm not speaking of temporary or transitional, but those moments when you appreciate something or someone. I don't know about you, but I can be fickle; it's not a matter of not loving or having long lasting appreciation, but it's a matter of having "highs and lows." Behind me, sits a painting titled "Linen," the first in a series (currently working on number two; that will come up for air soon) and certain aspects of the colors and the style of it struck me. I "appreciate" my work, but there are times when I don't "value" my work. I'm thankful for the gift of expression, for the ability to express myself in word and images and so glad I'm back to rendering. But there are times when I take for granted that I'm doing work that is rich and attention worthy.

Believe me, that isn't an easy thing to write. I'm thinking of the reaction of the people who might read it, thinking they will say "that's conceited" or worse "I don't see anything of value." But sometimes you've got to start where you are and appreciate your own work. Now tomorrow, with a little time on my hands, I may look at that same image and see the flaws and consider ways to improve it or what should have done differently. But for now, I appreciate the depth of color and movement - the Momentary Value.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thought for The Day - It's Not The Shoes

There was a series of Nike commercials during the late 80's early 90's, where Michael Jordan is repeatedly asked by Mars, a character from the movie "She's Gotta Have It," and played by Spike Lee. Mars repeatedly asks Michael if his ability to play basketball so well is attributed to his shoes, or his jersey or anything other than Michael's own prowess and discipline. And so it is with most of us; we want to believe the "power" and capability has been magically transferred or originates from our food, shoes or our body. We also blame the same for our feelings of pain: "all this preprocessed food is killing us," yet we never stop eating it or if we do, we're back to it "every now and then."

I bought a pair of shoes nearly a year ago, specifically designed to be lighter and provide cushioning for my feet. I bought them for the daily commute to work and to feel comfortable as I walked around the office; business dress shoes can be restricting, though stylish. The shoes are comfortable and can feel like I've got room to grow, but there are times when it seems my feet are "rolling around" in the shoes and I'm uncomfortable wearing them. What I decided is "it's not the shoes." It isn't the corporate setting where the shoes are worn; there are people there and in similar offices who want to be there and for various reasons. It's not the uneven pavement or slant of one of the streets that make me uncomfortable; it's my own thoughts and feelings.

Now, as I mentioned in the posting "Pesky Little Things," the sense of discomfort can be a good thing; it could be your psyche's way of telling you to keep reaching for "better things." We want better, we want our time here in this world to mean something and when that isn't happening, rather than settle for 'less,' it is our tendency to express angst with our situation. But by all means, when the "pesky," miserable life you live is getting to you, go find the world you long for, but keep in mind: "it's not the shoes..."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Thought for The Day - Pesky Little Things

The Beginning of... 18 x 24 pastels

Those annoying little noises, habits and distractions. "I wish they would stop making that noise!" "Somebody needs to do something about ______!" We all have those things and people in our lives and in those moments of frustration, we wish those things would go away! But maybe, perhaps, it could be the problem isn't the noise, the habit or the person; maybe it's you who is the problem. OR the solution!

We are often the the author of our trouble; we know this already in the sense that we have bad habits, crazy thoughts and the like. But switch gears for a second; maybe what we are so accustomed to expressing is our frustration and we should switch to is the voicing our desires! Believe me, your desire isn't for "them" to "stop making that noise," it's for your own thoughts to be clearer and for there to exist in your life a sense of peace and harmony. Truthfully, we are so out of touch with what we want, our lives filled with things we don't, we lose sight of real desires.

The real? That sense of self exists beneath all the fears, reminders of loss and the latest "breaking news." Spend some time and not just today, getting to the core of who you are and the genuine desires within.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Thought for The Day - Turn the Love Light ON

Now my "generation" will see those words and think romance and "love making"....kind of.

I've said it before and for the sake of discussion I bring it up again: I grew up listening to Soul and R&B music, it was played by my parents as we rode in the car, in the morning before I went to school, when we cleaned on Saturday mornings and when my mom and her siblings got together, records and albums were pulled out to listen to some good music! I loved it and still do. But I found jazz music to be more exciting and well worth my attention. Imagine, a 7 or 8 year old kid listening to John Coltrane or Louis Armstrong, or listening to big band music and thinking it was "swinging!" That was me, the odd kid who searched for jazz music on the radio and when he was old enough to buy his own, bought Herbie Hancock, Al Di Meola and Spyro Gyra.

I think it's time we turned on the "real" love light, the light shines from one heart to another. But rather than people copulating and "connecting" as man to woman in a need to satisfy one another, let's spread love across humanity. There are hurting people everywhere, but everyone, regardless of the degree of 'pain' or past hurt one feels, needs love. We can love one another, care for one another, and uplift one another. We can break the barriers of race, class (doesn't it seem ridiculous to hate someone because they have more or less than you?) and national boundaries and simply care and provide for one another.

Here's an amazing thought: in a global economy, whether we are doing it for selfish reasons or not, we have to provide for one another. How about we do it because we love one another?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thought for The Day - Practice Session

I was nine or ten years old, living on the West side of Chicago. My mom and I decided it would be a good idea for me to learn to play the piano. I guess there's a musician buried beneath all of the other creative stuff I do comfortably. Initially, she would take me, wait in the entry area, while I had my lesson. But eventually, I had to walk the four or five blocks by myself. I used that time to imagine my playing the songs I learned in class. Of course, the teacher suggested that I practice at home, but we didn't have a piano and small Casio keyboards weren't available so many years ago. But we had a small organ, which, when I think about it, was a blessing. I would try to play the songs I learned in class and it seemed like I never got the sound just right. But I would practice.

I had an older cousin who was far more gifted in music than I and on the day of a recital, his mom and mine were there. My playing was simple and choppy barely getting through the song without too many errors, but my cousin, he played like a young concerto! He had the look and the confidence as he played each note. The music lessons lasted maybe a year before we moved and I never was that good at playing. I did learn to place my hands on a piano or keyboard properly and I can still pick out middle C.

A few years ago, I tried my hand at poetry and unlike the piano lessons, there wasn't anyone to guide me. It was on my shoulders, but the burden seemed light. To express myself with words, creatively, with flow, pitch and flowed easily. Now, I'm not one to appear on a stage and read it - at least not yet - and there's all this expectation that one does it with the swagger and confidence of the "spoken word" crowd...that's not me! but I continue to practice word creativity; this is one way to do so.

I guess, in essence, the painting and drawing, the writing and now reading up on guitar playing - yeah, trying that now - are my practice sessions. And it all meant to serve, inform and uplift.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Thought for The Day - Open Access

Of a Feather 18 x 24 pastels

I had a little talk with myself yesterday. I've had a good break from work and in that time, I've completed two pastels, stained a canvas and started sketching a drawing of one of my cousins. To some, that my sound like a lot of work, but I know what is required. I know where the gaps in activity occur and long before my days are 19 hours, I needed to convince myself to keep pushing through it all.

It's amazing; the contrast between the flow of creativity versus the sense of being blocked. The former is an expression of love, peace, joy, longsuffering, gentleness and for those familiar, it is like the fruit of God's spirit. The latter is something else entirely; I'm capable of functioning, helping, working an 8 - 5 job and taking out the garbage. :) But it is the effort it takes and the way I think about life in the latter. I think of ways to "prevent," to "avoid" and "maintain." In my opinion, it's a sad way to live, even if everyone around me is doing the same. But in that respect, we are like patients in a hospital with no hope of getting out alive or experiencing good health. We are patients with no hope and no tomorrow.

When I keep the door open to express my thoughts and emotions, words flow like the power of God. I have no doubt that lives are being touched as I paint and draw. Years ago, I was "tasked" with teaching teenagers in Sunday School. I wanted to teach, but I had a different age group in mind; I wanted to teach young adults, my peers where it would feel more like an exchange. I knew the reputation of the youth in my church; they were difficult at best and downright disrespectful at the worst. But I decided to be "quietly obedient." One thing I was told is that teens can spot insincerity a mile away and that would make them less open to learning. Well I knew I wanted to teach and I wanted people to learn the truths of God's word. The only way this would work was through prayer and effort. I showed up in those classes as if those youth were the best pupils in the world and I did so, by studying them and praying as if their very lives depended on this class. I realized what I taught each Sunday might not make sense to them at the time, but later on, the impact would change their lives. Not only did the effect change them "in time," but in the coming months the students begin to understand what my intentions. But I had to remain open as if I were a channel of the Love of God.

That's what I strive for in my work as an artist and writer. I have to consider what I'm writing, painting, the message conveyed, who it will reach and what God wishes to share. And I have to remain open at all times. It's not easy, but it is worth it!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Thought for The Day - Shine On!

A Response (in process) 24 x 36 Oil painting

On any given day, at any given moment, we are capable of the greatest light reflecting from our hearts. Yes, the snow, cold, aching bones, long hours at work, being unappreciated while we're there, working jobs that are boring (but we need the money so we never lift our eyes to see what's in our soul) and a life that is fairly mundane...whew! Stuff weighing us down! Your every thought turns to the burdens and before you know it, everything is killing you!

But...somehow you go on. You rise, get dressed and face another day. You find humor in the morning madness of radio hosts and wish you could have "their job, they make it seem like so much fun." And though those moments of laughter don't last long, it remains in your heart. The day progresses laboriously; you make it through the day, barely it seems, but you survive it and in the evening hours, there's not much to look forward to except preparing for the next day. But every now and then, something stirs in you, prompting you to consider there's more to life than meets the eye. And you go on.

You explore another degree, perhaps take classes or just pick up a hobby. "Maybe I'll join a bowling league or join an exercise class." You call it boredom, needing excitement in your life and you move from one thrill to another. But...

The light exists in your soul and whether expressed through the mundane or gloriously in the light of celebrity status, shine on! When we allow the light to shine on us and through us, we touch, heal and elevate one another to heights unknown. We soar, we glide on wings and breathe "rare air." Come on people, SHINE ON!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Thought for The Day - Upstream

The Beginning of... 18 x 24 pastels

Johnny Hartman. For the vast majority of the world, that name doesn't "ring a bell." A male vocalist of the Jazz era, with his most 'notable' work in 1963, when John Coltrane recorded an album of ballads featuring Johnny. Absolutely beautiful, velvet voice; smooth as butter creme! And this is where the "rub" occurs: with talent like that, why isn't he world renowned?

It's a mystery; there are people around us with great intellect, great talent, a great personality and yet, many with less of the former are carried on the shoulders of the media and adoring fans. People stand in lines, Google names of their favorite poets, artists, singers and the "great minds," to catch a snippet of their lives. Why? How does it change or affect their lives?

Each one, reach one. To the one you reach, the singular person who cant wait to read your words, hear your voice, you are a star. And be true to you, what talents and contribution you bring to the world. No one person is the center of the universe; we all have our place in it and play our part.

When I heard Johnny Hartman's recording of "Lush Life" some years ago, I couldn't get enough of his voice! I searched iTunes to find more of his music, but what I had at the time was the extent of his available recordings. In that song, there's a line where he says "I'll live a lush life in some small dive,  where I'll rot with the rest of those whose lives are lonely too." I imagined him performing in small clubs in New York, leaving the clubs just before dawn, sitting in a small diner, a cigarette in hand and hovering above a cup of coffee. He does this before making it to a small apartment and crashing until 1:00 in the afternoon. I imagined his life, the typical small-time performer, considering what 'day-gig' he could take up to make ends meet. I imagined there were those who showed up in the small clubs where he performed who just wanted to hear someone as lonely as they were and whose 'success' was as menial as his. I imagined the cigarette smoke hovering above the heads of the patrons like a dark cloud. But what I didn't consider was, here I sat, listening to his voice, loving every rise and fall of it, some 40 years after that recording. What I didn't consider is Johnny did what he loved and doing so, he reached "at least one."

Peace and Blessings

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thought for The Day - Blank Surface

Fall for Francene (in progress) 11 x 17 watercolor and pastels

Starting the "new year" with blank surfaces. A canvas sits on the easel and though no paint has touched the surface, I know what is to come. I sprayed fixative onto my latest pastel pieces and placed them in the folder with all my other work. My two drawing boards sit in the corner with nothing on them. It's time to start something new.

There is never a shortage of ideas and sketches I would like to try. I probably have more ideas in my head than will ever see the light of day. But one thing is certain: I love my work! I read years ago that a person's career should consist of things you would do if money weren't the object. I'm not there yet, but the writing and drawing and painting are things I would regardless of whether I was paid or not. While I wasn't blessed with an ear and ability to play music, since I was a child, I've tried playing different instruments periodically. And when life changes for me, I will pick up those guitars, start playing the piano again. There are so many tunes in my head I would love to hear myself playing!

It is about expression; it's about sharing one's perspective and one's mind with the world around us. I start this year doing what I love and sharing it with you.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Thought for The Day - New

Prep work...

For some, this is a new day, not a new year. Because we are in a "Western society," it is acknowledged as January 1, 2014, but many are resistant to the significance of the calendar. It is, after all, based on an approximation of the number of years since the Jesus, the Christ was incarnated. That thought is abhorrent to some, but not me. This is not only a new day, but a new year, based on His appearing here on earth and accomplishing what only God can.

Each day is truly a new opportunity to do things right. We might "prefer" to wait until the masses decide to practice resolutions or their plans to diet, exercise and not use profanity and anger in traffic (smile), but by the end of January or early February the "masses" have already allowed failure to rule their lives. A smaller mass of people will fight through April, perhaps May, but by June, the lure of mass produced food, muscles that are sore just because you're getting old (as opposed to you forcing them to gain strength and flexibility through your devoted effort) will win for the remainder of the year. And swearing and near uncontrolled anger? Oh that ugly side of us came the first day we were in a hurry to get to the mall for a sale of items we already have!

New; it really doesn't have to be a "masses" decision. If you are in an abusive situation, if you are tired of being depressed and sad, the moment you decide to take action to change your life, "new" begins for you that same hour. You can declare a new year any day you decide. I'm going to make it personal: I've had many new years in my life and usually they occurred in conjunction to changing a habit or adopting new behavior. I decided to live as a Christian in April 1985, and be true to the calling on my life. I decided I would stick to exercising January, 2010 - and I have since then. I decided I would exercise my talents as a visual artist in early May 2010. There are many more commitments and behavior changes I decided to incorporate into my time here on earth and yes, I've failed, "backslid," but it's all part of my commitment to living life in service to God and man. One truth remains overall: my life is not my own; I've been given this life and these talents to be of service to man and to glorify God; I fully intend to do so.

Peace and Blessings in this coming New Year of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, 2014!