Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Thought for The Day - What Lies Beneath

It's a line, a stretch of land or fabric; who knows "what" it really is. But it hides something underneath...



Peeling back the layers of what we normally perceive, to allow our minds to see another reality...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thought for The Day - Be Encouraged

Shaken Up! 8 x 11 pencils

I woke with this song playing in my mind and it seemed somehow, appropriate for this morning's entry. Not sure where this will take you and I, but here it goes!

These words "be encouraged," said when we know someone is going through a time of difficulty; the power of these words is the intent behind them. Literally saying to someone, with a desire that their life is turned from tragedy or calamity to joy; that desire seems to lift that person's sense of hope. And seeing that "shift" in the individual, gives us hope.

Paramount to my existence is giving individuals hope and encouragement. For me, it is like igniting or giving additional energy to the light inside us all. It is the human/divine connect that awakes in us our purpose for living. And for some, the igniting is more than a matter of "lifting up the bowed down head," for some, it's a matter of taking destructive energy and turning it to life affirming, life building energy! And just as uttering words of encouragement reflects on the listener as well as the one who says it, so we are a community, designed to bring us all into our divine purpose.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Thought for The Day - Progression!

Pre-dawn Light 18 x 24 charcoal

Snail's pace...

Can you see the slow moving trail of your steps? Can you picture the pace you would prefer to move and the many encumbrances along the way? And does it make you want to lose your mind that the "sleepy town" where you are, bars your way? Seems that way for me as well my friend! So very often!

I have wanted to "see the world" for many years, one of my favorite ways of imagining it is seeing the fields and small farms where people live and work. I've wanted to spend time with artists and writers, musicians and composers; I want to understand their creative processes, the times where they feel like their feet are set in concrete and the times when they feel like they're soaring high above.

And yet, moving forward remains at a snail's pace. But small steps count as progression as well! And please remember the greatest effort of launching a rocket into outer space occurs before the rocket reaches the upper atmosphere! Keep at it, my friend!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Thought for The Day - Launching Out into the Deep

You never know what will move you out there or what you will experience when you get out into the "open seas," but you can trust you will discover as much about you as you do about the world!

There are many things I'm reluctant to do; some things don't fit my identity and aren't part of my make up . I don't need to feel get high from liquor and certainly not drugs; good conversation and good music do the trick for me. But there are some things I know I want to do and places I want to go and situations I want to experience. And quite honestly, not everything can be learned through YouTube!

I find that this journey has strange twists and turns and yesterday's failures become tomorrow's epiphany. I began "blogging" years ago, though I wasn't sure what I wanted to say. I was told by the experts that an artist should blog about his art and so I did. But I didn't always have something to say about it. I could blog about my relationship with God, my aspirations and my philosophies about life, but not art - at least not all the time. I wrote about what was on my mind. But "it" wasn't working; I wasn't feeling the need to do so.

"Back to life, back to reality, back to the here and now..." I went back to the corporate jungle, back to the places where income is the main thing and back to my old role. Oh how I hated the notion of doing so! I met a coworker who seemed to be the epitome of class and professionalism and with a wonderful smile. But the strangest thing: without warning, I would have this sense that everything wasn't right. I didn't know her well enough to ask and yet this feeling wouldn't go away. One day, on a whim, I sent an email to her, short and simple: "Whatever you're going through, no matter what the day brings, there is nothing God can't bring you through." She LOVED IT! And asked if I could send these every day - joking of course. But it stirred the idea: A thought for the day, with a theme. I mulled it over for a while and found there really was a theme for each day. Lord knows I write enough on my own without sharing it so with a little practice and development, and here we are!

I have found through this process, I am peeling back layers of my own frustrations and finding someone beneath the surface I forgot existed. I find that I am far more sensitive, meaning I am both spiritually and emotionally aware of other's feelings as well as hypertuned to my own. This 240 pound guy isn't afraid to admit he cries! Wow! Admitting that now puts me out further in the deep!

There are days I am certain I have so far to go; my goals are stretched out to the other end of the universe! And there days I don't think I have the strength or cunning to make it another inch. But each day, without fail, I am further along this journey. And everyday, there is another part of me peeled away and more of me revealed.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Thought for The Day - Mission Impossible

Sleeping Beauty 8 x 11 pencil drawing

Shooting from the Hip...

Life long journey, at it for more days than my conscious mind could reason. Fighting each day to make this life have meaning. I've done what everyone else does, I put books in my hand and words in my head, trying to make sense of the life I've been given. Some days, I'm not sure if I got the logic down.

So I put brush in oil-based pigments and touched canvas: energy and light! Except there aren't enough hours in the day or a return to the tune of giving up the day job. My expression of love gets pushed to the side and gets hobby level hours. What's in me? What light dwells beneath these brown eyes? My daily words try to express it, write and post on Google to record my time here. Sharing a good word, or a gut wrenching truthful word, all the while, more words spill out everywhere else.

I put them - the words - in sermons, telling the good news to congregations that heard a quarter of what I said. Every now and then someone acknowledged deeper waters. Taught in classes where the focus is on a Man who loved us so deeply, he wrote it through ghost writers over thousands of years. We still wont believe or try to hear what he says.

It seems like a mission impossible, an assignment we should just close the books on, blow this blue and green rock out of orbit and be gone. But if it's a mission with no possibility of a return, we will keep at it until every bit of light (love) is spilled on those who reject it. But it's an endless source, so the mission is not impossible. I/We will win!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Thought for The Day - Dead Weight

After the Dance 18 x 24 Charcoal

A saying that conveys carrying someone who is unable to "help you" carry them; perhaps someone knocked out, who can't adjust their body or shift to make the load easier. Or worse, literally someone who is dead. Metaphorically speaking, we often carry people, situations, emotional history that is just that: dead weight. It hampers our steps, as in you should be able to go forward with your life, the plans and desires you've had for years, but this dead weight prevents you. You should  feel freedom of movement and a joy of life, but this dead weight is like extra gravity; you can't get free!

Is it that you are bound to these people, these situations or this emotional baggage? Or is it a choice you make to carry it? Do you decide, before flying off to freedom, that "no, I can't go because 'so-and-so' won't approve." Do you recall those past hurts when you meet someone who is kind and seem to  unselfishly look out for your best interests? Do you give helpful people a side-eye glance, trying to determine "what's their angle?"

The problem with carrying around "dead weight" is eventually, you become dead, lifeless, stuck. You find the same old tune playing each time you wake and every waking moment of the day. And the larger issue, though you can't tolerate the song, you keep it on repeat!

My friend (and talking to myself), take the steps today to free yourself. If all you take are small steps, do it today and little by little you will be free to move and live.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thought for The Day - Maybe You Need Word with Your Pictures?

Phoenix 18 x 24 pastels

Abstract images get a bad rep from the uninformed. Yes I know, calling someone uninformed is the equivalent of using the biblical analogy where Jesus said you shouldn't cast your pearls before swine. People don't hear their "name" called until they perceive an insult. But the "uninformed," those who won't look into the multiple abstract images floating in their head and perceive the message; for those people, an image on a canvas is best represented by faces, torsos and bowls of fruit! To those people, that's art! Expand your mind, friend!

I don't like seeming insulting, but honestly it's just as insulting to be told: "I don't get it!" Or the worse "my five year old niece/nephew/grandchild could do that!" Honestly, they couldn't! Unless they reached into that place where souls are willing to go, first of all. And then they would have to allow that "source" to flow through them. Not many go there; and quite honestly, not many should. Every person has their unique expression and gifts. 

Admittedly, our "message" isn't readily received. I've long thought to add words, maybe a little story to make things clearer. Not sure if I'm getting the desired result, but until I hear differently, I will continue to do so. The image above is one of those images. It's entitled Phoenix and is named after the mythical bird that regenerates itself. But the story is more important how my image came to be.

Sitting down one evening, pastels and a sheet of paper, I started with a simple stroke of green. I've always liked building layers of colors and moving them about the surface. Equally pleasurable is mimicking contour, depth and form. These are objects we see every day: the surface of a car, your arm, a child in motion. With all of that flowing through my mind, but not necessarily the goal, I went at it!

I can't begin to explain the many thoughts going through my head while rendering, I can only tell you about the "middle place." At some point, I begin to make more concrete decisions as opposed to simply flowing. Judgement, correction and intention play into how an image develops. With "Phoenix," at some point I saw there was a wing to the left and this ghost-like, energetic bird in the middle. My sense was this image represented life, or the progression of life. I didn't "intentionally" place an egg in the lower right hand corner, but when I realized it was there, it made perfect sense. The images were coming together as one and as a result you have a representative of life: how it comes to be, how we find ourselves (the bird's wing) and our eventual transition into another. 

Words and Images; not sure where else I can take the idea, but for now, we will leave it at that. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thought for The Day - Breaking Winter

Elastic 18 x 24 pastels

Many years ago, I worked briefly with a lady who moved here from Alabama. She said to me: "you all complain about your winters here in Chicago; it gets this cold back in Birmingham!" I quickly defended "my home" and told her: "this isn't a Chicago winter! A 'normal Chicago winter doesn't have any warm days and there's always snow!" Well after nearly 30 years, it seems we may be returning to the winters I knew and tolerated/appreciated!

It's April 23rd and the high for today is expected to reach 48. I will leave the house wearing the same winter coat I've worn all winter and a knitted cap. This is a Chicago winter; one that carries well into spring. You will see people in short sleeves and shorts; personally I think they're crazy because this is the type of cold that finds a good home in your limbs and joints and long before you're old, you wish you had enough sense to dress properly and respect a "cool breeze off the lake!"

One good thing about our strange weather: it teaches you to appreciate 90 degree days, at least it taught me to do that! Another thing that occurs, you learn to make plans and as soon as the weather breaks, implement them. That's a life lesson I think I've grown into. A couple days of warm and sunny days, I'm in the yard trimming and clipping and raking. And like life, the stubborn winter winds come howling down again, just so you don't think you're in paradise! I slow my pace, put on my protective outer layer and wait for the next break.

Life has been that way for me; on my way to the life I hope for, the road can be extremely smooth. Friends and family are kind and considerate. But suddenly, out of nowhere, the road cuts off and I find myself on a detour not on the map. I spend days, weeks, months and years trying to find my way back to the path and I learn to tolerate/appreciate a few sunny days and peaceful nights. But all the while, I'm looking for the "break"; the dissolving of winter's icy grip.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thought for The Day - Doing the Hard Work

Have you ever looked at one of your goals and thought "I really want to do _____ but I don't know if I can!" You question your capabilities, whether the world is ready for your execution of _____ and is the timing right. You doubt your knowledge, skills and even wonder why the notion won't leave you: "why can't I put this out of my head?!" But it remains an active part of your thinking.

It's the hard work, the challenging task and sometimes, most of the time, we want the easy route. But this one notion, this one goal or ideal remains in your head. This is not a fool-proof method, considering I have a nylon string guitar sitting in a closet that I have yet to gain "novice" level skills. Here it is: start simple. Before you build your castle, either buy, or form a brick. That one brick, or action is motivation and give you an idea whether you will be successful or not. You might find, maybe this isn't for you...

Quick example: I hadn't touched pencil to paper or brush to canvas for over 15 years. And I had built all this anxiety around doing this work I said I loved. My wife bought an easel some years ago and it took me months to assemble it. And when I did, I was still hesitant to buy paints, brushes, etc to do anything with it. But I had to start somewhere. And it started by carrying a sketch pad and pencils in the car with me, when I took lunch in a local forest preserve. One day, I sat I relaxed, sitting in front of a tree and reached for the pad and pencil. I had anxiety, but I was relaxed as well and let's just say that tree and I "connected." So I drew a line and erased it; I tried it again and again and slowly made my way up to the branches. The rendering was crude, but it was the effort that counted. So over a few weeks, I made the effort to kill that dragon and pick up that pencil. Never mind that my drawings looked like they were done by 10 year old, I was slowly building my skills again.

Now I would love to tell you it was a continuous path from that to "my goal," but truthfully, there have been bumps in the road! Heck, there remain bumps, tree stumps and dragons in my path and some days, it doesn't look like I'm going to make it! But I keep doing the hard work, one task at a time. And a repeated effort or task becomes a habit. And a habit is how you reach your goals!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Thought for The Day - A New Day

I'm Listening

We pray and hope for it, not necessarily for dawn as in the sun rising and "allow me to survive this night." No, we pray for a "new day" as in a turnaround of our lives. Not everyone feels this way, some are content and live life fully regardless of the resources they have or don't. But this is about those of us who aren't "there," yet, who yearn for a change in their situation and for those who realize the change occurs within. There are those of us who realize we haven't used our resources as well as we should and even now, becoming good stewards of God's riches is a struggle. It isn't squandering or purely selfish motive that dictate our actions, but neither is it striving for the highest good intended by God.

It is a daily discipline that begins for me using the creativity entrusted to me. For the time being, it is used in writing, communicating a word or message to those who read my blog. It is giving voice to feelings that come from me, but mirror the feelings of others. And yet, for all my creativity in this medium, there is so much more to do. There is a burning question in my mind each day: have I used what is in me to provide light to others? I might do a good job, but I know there is so much more to do. I need a "new day."

A New Day always seems to be a little beyond that carrot on a string held out in front of me. It doesn't exist in a paycheck or even millions in the bank, though income is a result of it. No, the New Day is a way of living,  a discipline and a joy of life. It is expression that is purposeful and timely. It is giving myself to my work and to those who need it. And above all, it is aligned with God's will for my life.

A New Day.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thought for The Day - What I Do

I take bold steps and step back to see if that's okay. I challenge myself physically, emotionally, creatively and then wonder why I'm not seeing the results I desire. I have moments of creative insight, great concepts for rounding out this latest painting, and I run off to do the laundry.

It is a struggle and blessing, going from the mountain-top, to the valley in a days time. Now I know, "into each life, a little rain must fall," but there's something to be said for not doing the "rain dance," to invite it when you're standing in four feet of water. We really can be our own worst enemy, and if that isn't enough, we are our worst critic.

To this end, I work daily to remain on top of the given tasks. If I can't get to a painting, I sketch out the ideas on my electronic sketch pad. I make notes and journal and follow up on my ideas, so that some forward movement occurs in my life. I'm hardly the model of progress and no "guru" of personal development, but if I can get over my own two left feet, I might leave a legacy that my grandchildren can appreciate, if not admire.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thought for The Day - In the Face of The Void

Pre-dawn light (bird in flight) 24 x 30 Oils

Let me start off by saying I truly hate it when "strong Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc" get on a high horse and forget their moment of darkness. We all have them, and some of us, multiple times, repeatedly and unexpected. When you think you've conquered every dragon, demon, "ex-somebody" or bad habit, another shows up to play slap tag with your sensibilities.

I remember years ago, preaching a sermon about Elijah the old testament prophet, and his exposed moment of darkness. He had a God appointed meeting with 450 prophets of a idol god called Baal. He made them look silly with on simple request to God: "accept the sacrifice and light the fire." Done. Celebration by all who witnessed this show of strength and the 450 prophets were killed. Yeah, yeah, I know, in our "sensible society," such acts are unconscionable, but that was then, and this is now. Let's get to Elijah's turning point. The next day, when King Ahab, the ruling king of Israel (northern tribes) told his wife, she sent a message to Elijah: "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them."First Kings 19:3 says: "Elijah was afraid and ran for his life."There is a great deal afterward, but I want you to see the void, the darkness he faced! He had served God for we don't how many years before this, he hid in the wilderness while King Ahab lost his mind and decided to kill anyone associated with the Jewish worship customs and he stood up to him and 450 prophets when God asked him to do it. Why would he be afraid now? This was a woman; the king had all the power and he was dealt with!

My friend, it wasn't 'her' that got to him, it was "all of this!" Have you ever had an "all of this" moment? Often, when we want to know what made someone 'snap,' we look at the the last detail before they lost it, before their character changed. For many of us, that's the straw that breaks the camel's back, but it's all the other straw sitting there, weighing you down as well. It is the unanswered question "why am I so different from everyone else?" Or "why is it, every time I save $200, I have to spend $300 on repairs?" (that one says "why can't I get out of this hole?") There are hundreds of question, either directed at God or the 'air,' but we ask them incessantly, consciously or unconsciously. And those questions, the thoughts are the void that we fear crossing. It is the place where no answer seems to live.

The King of kings faced one himself. He faced a darkness that we would never believe God would. He called it "the cup." That late night as he and his disciples sat in the garden of Gethsamane, as he prayed and mentally prepared for what was to come, he took a look into that dark liquid in the cup. He faced the darkness like you and I would. He asked this question three times: "If it is possible, let this cup pass from me. But nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done." I know we know this story and it's outcome, so the significance of the moment can pass you by without your acknowledging it. He looked in that cup and wondered, should I do this? Should I go this route? Do I really want to do this? THIS. IS. HUGE!!!! He faced a darkness; God himself faced a darkness and learned a valuable lesson: obedience and humility.

The darkness comes for many of us, because we have a ways to go. Our journey is long, though we don't know how long. We may have a resume of accomplishments or a rap sheet as long as a greedy detective's arm, but we have history. And no matter how far you travel, no matter what you know, you will face darkness, or the void from time to time. I offer no solutions today, but I will say this: hang in there. If necessary, if required - you will know by what your soul tells you - go into that void, but know you will come out of it.

God's blessing on you today.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thought for The Day - One Day I Want to Fly - Today I Want to Fly

Phoenix 18 x 24 Oils

Let go of pain
One way conversations
Get up from this seat
Pass through the side of the building
Or dramatically through the top of the glass castle
And head West
Not home or to heaven
But over the plains
Through lands few know about
Into the dreams of children who still do
And into the heads of adults
Who secretly wish they did
I want to fly
Feel the air across my skin
The necessity for gravity
Or weighty impossibilities

Left way below my view. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thought for The Day - Float

A Day in The Water 24 x 30 Oils

Slowing my pace
Easing my mind
Present in this moment alone
The world is a tranquil place
The waves of water carry me along

Nerve endings respond
On impulse
Turning over on my back
and turning my thoughts
from slight panic
To calm acceptance
I float along on my back

Submerge into the depths
Eyes open
But not seeing much more
Than sun illuminated blue
Ears, detecting murky voices
And the sound of water
Close to the eardrums

All is peaceful in this place
There is no hasty schedule to keep
No work deadlines to panic
There is only the peace of floating
In liquid tranquility

Floating upward
The need for reality
And air
Burning in my chest
And mind
Just before I breathe in
I pause
To imagine
If only life could be lived
In these depths!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thought for The Day - Giving from My Being

A Reply 24 x 34 Oils

Something I observed as a child, was my father engaged in conversation with others. For the most part, he didn't have much to say, but the other person would be talking a mile a minute! And he would stand there with a huge smile on his face and occasional words "oh yeah?" or the one he's famous for "great day!" Believe me, this could and did, go on for hours; one of the worse times was getting cornered at his previous pastor's house after my father made repairs to his roof. We were there longer listening to story after story, than it took to do the repairs! And my father didn't seem to mind. I remember on so many times like this, thinking "I don't want to listen that much; I want to be heard too!" I often wondered with whom he shared his life story. I sense there was no ear there to catch his stories...

The person I've grown into, is the person whose kindness and generosity impressed me the most: my father. I am my "father's son, listening constantly. So much so, I almost went the route of professional counselor. I listen, for the most part and while I listen empathically, I have always yearned to be heard as well. I give my ear, my prayers and my concern. But I've tried to give based on the needs of others as they are expressed. I have changed my personality to fit the complaints and requests of others. But I'm learning, in playing this game of contortionist, I experience pains while the intended person sits comfortably, enjoying the show. No one recognizes the effort until I withdraw from the show and then it is perceived that something is wrong with me. 

I'm choosing to give, but more so, from who I am. It doesn't matter the "why" I'm choosing it now, though I suspect it is at this time of life where I'm less inclined to care what others think of me. I just want to be myself and whether that means I am "heard" or not, I am choosing to do me. Decisions hover above and I wonder do I pluck down a "yes" or "no." Personal "Thought for The Day" may become dinosaurs in a bit! That's one of those decisions hanging on a string. You know, you can love people, care for them, but while love is in an action, an energy, there are times when it must see it's reflection. Giving; there has to be a return, a conversation; as much as we like to believe love simply gives, it must also receive.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thought for The Day - Accept the Good

Taking a break from my normal routine and talking about something I learned this morning, about myself.

First of all thank you, China Brooks - check her out on YouTube for a video by the same title: Accept the Good. I watched it this morning, as I went through my morning routine of journaling. I listened, while I wrote and I had to admit something to myself: I don't "accept good." I'm one of those people who decided to be a "giver," but complain when I don't receive. Oh I could give the reasons and excuses, try to justify my behavior, but quite honestly, it's time I allowed "good" into my life. I've had friends come and go, family members who moved on with their lives or passed on, and I didn't appreciate the contribution and love. My wife buys good food and prepares it well because she loves me. And yet, I'm always too concerned with what I'm not getting to notice what I am receiving.

I could go on identifying my shortcomings, but what I want to say in this moment is allow the good in your life. If God thought enough of you to give you a name, an identity and personality, He loves you and pours it on you EVERYDAY! Merely receive it and allow it to flow in you and through you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Thought for The Day - Please, Can You be Someone Else?

"I know that's who you think you are, but I need you to be someone else! I don't like when you're that way!"

Family and well meaning friends often make requests: "Can you change your identity? Who you are rubs me wrong. I want you around but only if you change this, this and oh, by all means, change that!" We experience this in employment and in neighborhoods, people give you a cold shoulder when your personality doesn't match the status quo. We are given the impression that if you don't tow the line, you are an outsider. It's no wonder people don't disappear into the darkness of the arctic for trying to fit in. 

I'm sure "their" intentions are well meaning; they want to be comfortable around you and want others to feel the same. But the path to "mutual comfort" should begin with acceptance. And above all, the ruling motive should be love. Too often, we aren't tall enough, thin enough, we are the wrong race or too "cultural" in our persona. As a result, we don't fit the environment, and the "environment" stands on the verge of spewing us out. 

But it's okay they we don't fit in. As a matter of fact, I think it's correct to be yourself. Those that 'fit in' are the ones who are invisible and the greatest collaboration occurs when people agree to bring their unique views to the table. No, by all means, don't fit in; don't conform. By all means, be you!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Thought for The Day - Calmly Solving Problems

A number 2 brush in hand, dab the brush in linseed oil, then, the red, the orange, the yellow and white. Mix it against the palette to even the that it? Not sure; place it in an area of the canvas where the color closely resembles it. Did it blend? Yes, continue to the area you originally aimed to paint. 

Strokes go on smoothly and when they don't, I'm turning the brush, changing the direction of the stroke; all the while, gauging the remainder of the painting and deciding where else we are going in the time allowed. Decisions are made, questions asked and answered. Other questions remain unanswered, getting strung in front of me and given their own orbit around my other thoughts. 

When I reach snags, hurdles and iron walls, I back away, survey alternatives, including setting this work aside till I can safely throw it away. But the peace and tranquility of working in this oily medium is like none other! 

There are days, comparing the 8 hour grind to this work, where I'm so ready to be in the studio, it's near unbearable! But I've come this far, gotten to this point, not because I had all the answers, but because I was willing to ask the questions. 

There are moments when the galaxies seem to turn at a dizzying pace; the problems to be solved are greater than applying this ray of light to the canvas. The problems go as far as generations to come, what influence will my decisions have on them? If I stay "nailed" to the office chair, how ill that be perceived? When the weight of my surmising gets too heavy, I walk away from them, leaving them to resolve at a later date. 

And just now, one of the answers, a possible solution to one of the queries revealed itself. In the calm of the moment.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Thought for The Day - A Thousand Miles

The Turn 12 x 18 pastels

Think in terms of travel. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. But beginning ain't nothing compared to the journey. A thousand miles is composed of many steps and each step, while you're closer to your destination, countless thoughts, calculations and feelings occur. We are a myriad of thoughts, impressions and feelings. In a given moment, hundreds of impulses go through our head. In a moment, you can be on a path one way and decide to get off, it seems, because the wind change directions. But truthfully, there are hundreds of decisions occurring in your head continuously!

I find myself on that journey and each day "you" are in each footstep. I think of each person who might read this post. I consider the place you find yourself in your own journey and I pray each step brings you closer. I consider those who have not read and some day, may "stumble" on this path; I wonder what they will think, what they will say. I laugh when I recall finding people to follow through social networks or I've read their books on self-improvement. I've argued, laughed and given serious thought to their thoughts. With some, I've argued against their logic and even fumed over it, but their journey is not mine; we just happen to be going the same direction for a period of time. 

There are times when I look down "this path" and wonder how much longer? Oh, I'm not after a certain place; I know life is a journey. But one has to realize there are times when you feel weary, when you have tried 'this' and 'that' and the return isn't what satisfies. I don't plan to lie down and die; I've come to far and while it seems like I'm a million miles from my desire, I keep pressing forward. It's my desire to see you doing the same.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Thought for The Day - Tripping Over a Pebble

Elastic 18 x 24 pastels

You've scaled mountains, crossed the burning sands, survived corporate attack after attack and this one pebble trips you, and you're flat on your face! Sometimes it is the enemy you can't see, that does the worse damage. And sometimes, it is the fact that you've come so far, and accomplished so much, that this "one thing" reveals what remains inside of you.

This is not to say you haven't accomplished much or that you aren't strong; quite the opposite, it proves that you are. But everyone has a "breaking point." No, I take that back: everyone has several breaking points! And the very shape of life is designed to uncover them! Years ago, having decided to get serious about my Christian life, I decided to attend church every Sunday. A few months of that, I added to it regular Bible study at church AND Sunday school. I was practicing being kind and patient and generous, using softer words and expressions. I was doing fairly well! But one day I thought: "If I could change a couple more bad habits, I would be okay!" Big mistake! It was going to take far more than a couple more self-perceived flaws to change me into a "Godly man!"

Life, our consideration of this journey, will have you "up" one minute and "down" the next. And it isn't always the same stimuli that takes you in either direction. We are prone to failure and in a sense, that's okay. We can also choose to learn from mistakes and rise above each one. But please be aware: there's always a pebble, or twig, or beautiful face, ready to trip you up!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thought for The Day - Shhh! We're Talking Now!

A Rhythm of Her Own 18 x 24 pastels

We say it, dance it, arrange it in prose. Many say it in strange colors and images and you tilt your head and say "my five year old could do that!" He does and you don't hear it still. The message continues to flow and your ears are full of wax: a combination of your sweat and oil, the fruit of your labor limit your hearing. 

We write it in stories, sing it song, strum it on a guitar and yet your dull ears can't perceive a thing! When we put it on the large or small screen, if isn't scintillating, you turn away, far too accustomed to sensationalism, without truth. But we say it again, and again, and again.

It is our mission to repeat phrases, reuse words, splash the dullness of lives with the brightness of reds, yellows and ebonies! We have been tasked to bring messages to this world, to get your attention, to change your mind! And though you try to ignore us, we are clearly seen and heard by those with a yearning to know. Those whose hearts have been broken, whether the offense is minor or major, yet they ache for healing...those are the one's who perceive. 

Our work is never done because there will always be one or two or many who don't get it. And we continue, from generation to generation, declaring this good news.

Are you ready to listen?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thought for The Day - My Extended Hands

I'm Listening 24 x32 Oils

It's my hope that, when needed, my words are heard and felt by you. It's my desire to soothe and ease your journey through life. It is my hope that the words written and images bring healing and a sense of wholeness to you.

I write because I can; because words contain healing. My words are an extension of my desire to see people enjoy this "thing" called life. We live in a world of conflict and at the very least, difficulty. From day-to-day, people move about either oblivious to one another or indifferent. I understand, I get it. When there is so much abuse and misunderstanding, finding genuine connections are rare. Well, take this as my genuine offer to you.

Each day, I think of those who are reading this and many I may never know. I may not receive recognition from you and to a certain extent, it's okay. The intention is to stir your thoughts, your feelings and allow God's presence to do the work I can only imagine. Open your heart to healing; to a life without limits!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thought for The Day - Momentum

...let it continue; there are words to be written, to be uttered; bring the other world’s energy to this place and effect a change. Planting seeds, providing soil and rain nourishment. Don’t stunt the growth, but permit it. Remove what is dead and useless to be moved. Pull up what is not desired and grow. But in all, continue moving until your soul says “pause.” 

There images in mind that when rendered, communicate truths. There are colors and shapes to bring from the source, their power and purpose can change the very lives of the viewers. And the only limit is the available time to draw them out. 

As one moves and gets in the practice of "gaining steps," one finds some things, some people fall behind. It isn't intentional, and certainly not your desire to leave, but you are gaining momentum, moving forward. A kind way to put it, is we aren't on the same path and it makes us feel a little easier when conversations don't occur as often. 

Momentum is needed and near perpetually. Even when the path we're on is uphill, full of obstacles or outright blocked, we have to continue on our way. And the difficulties, the times of loneliness, well we hope at some point the road gets smooth and new friends as well as old friends find their way back into our lives. But when you gain momentum, when you're moving forward, continue doing so.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Thought for The Day - The Energy needs Space

The Phoenix 18 x 24 pastels

I’m running, I know I am; I can feel the need to be elsewhere and here at the same time. But I need to allow the space and energy to move as needed; my body and soul struggle to keep thoughts and feelings in check, to rein in the demands I make. 

Is there enough space for all the energy? These thoughts, these ideas and plans, they seem to be bouncing off one another in an effort to have priority. But no one idea is preeminent at the moment; just the need to arrange the space in my head in such a way I can be productive. And the idea of being productive takes the lead, opening my heart and mind to pathways unexplored.

It is a daily struggle, the need to order thoughts and desires, to spend nearly 10 hours away from my main interest. And yet, I have to maximize the time before and after, creatively. It is this discipline, this bending of the rules that instructs and makes stronger. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Thought for The Day - Good Little Soldier

sketch for Pre-Dawn Light 18 x 24 charcoal

The daily grind; it's ingrained in your head, beaten in by routine and a sense of safety and security. You have become an expert at "getting it done," and to the world around, you're the model citizen.

But you honestly despise the course of your life and have for a long time. From the time of day you wake to the time you go to sleep, your root emotion is anger and frustration at the direction your life takes. Oh you wouldn't readily admit it, "responsible adults" are supposed to go to jobs and earn money and pay bills. Isn't that what everyone does? But everyone also struggles with weight, diet, exercise and downing that handful of prescription drugs that never quite cures their ailments. And for everyone, the only relief experienced occurs for a few brief hours in the evening and on Saturdays. And everyone assumes this won't end until retirement, that time of "magic" when the only expectation is living on a fixed income and waiting for the long sleep. But while "everyone" is feeling and living this way, you secretly ask yourself: "Is this really all there is?"

In the back of your head, tucked in the corner of the attic of your thoughts, is a notion of another way to live. And secretly, you believe you can live above the daily rush, the trips to Home Depot for fertilizer and the annual doctor exams that never resolve your ache. You believe not a single cure exists for what "ails you," but an overall dramatic change can dramatically alter your existence -- from the inside out. And who knows, maybe that can affect everyone around you. 

But go on, be a good little soldier, and rush off to work, now... Or...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Thought for The Day - Pushing Aside

Pre-Dawn Flight 30 x 40 Oils

The season of "Spring Cleaning;" removing the clutter of the last two seasons, shedding the shell that held us fast till Winter's chill ebbed. Brutal was the repeated blows of cold, snow, wind and darkness and what survived, we that live, are waking and moving about.

I find myself busy, this Saturday morning, so much so, two hours go by without notice. Laundry, cleaning and planning occur and I haven't touched my work. Staring at the canvas, the image "Dance of Her Soul," laying on it's side and the blank, white canvas and wall, there is work to do. Energy isn't urgent, but like a stream of water, it flows as it always has; the source of it, endless and unseen. The shame would be, allowing this time and energy to be wasted by fear and frustration. While I'm planning -- a typical activity that can be the "ends" in itself -- I act; I push aside clutter on surfaces that have held energy and concentration for too long. Closet spaces also hold certain trauma, and they are cleaned out as well.

The process, the "cleaning" is as necessary as gathering and preserving. My friends, recognize the season.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Thought for The Day - Pieces

It occurs to me that many creative people communicate fragments of "The Dream." The dream isn't mine, neither does it belong to you; we swim in it, breathe it in, fight over it and in desperation, try to escape it. It is everywhere and everything is it, but we can't perceive it because of the "proximity;" "can't see the forest for the trees."

In a day's passing, countless thoughts, impulses and emotions wash through our conscious and unconscious. Decision as insignificant as whether to turn our head or the appropriate word to use in this sentence, pass from life to some other place. And yet there are the dreamers, or creative people who capture them and freeze it as a reference for us to snag our thoughts. Often, the snippets aren't immediately perceivable; we are after all, a bread and butter, meat and potatoes kind of world. We like our cars with four wheels and four doors; don't expect me to be okay with a car that never moves. Never mind I never go anywhere in the four wheel car. And never mind I'm too stubborn to move out of my own mental prison!

It occurs to me that some of us -- probably more if people would acknowledge there ability to create -- are compelled to create. Sure, we see the smooth, fluidity of daily traffic, and we have plenty of "good food" to eat, but our soul is so restless, it vibrates against our consciousness and forces out these snippets of messages. To sit quietly with all this 'stuff' in us; it would kill us! And we all want to live!

You feel me?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thought for The Day - Bringing All The Pieces Together

Linen (the original) 30 x 40 Oil

Linen with a swirl 24 x 30 Oil

It is very much like assembling a bike, a baker's rack, a semi-portable basketball rim or backyard swing set. It is also like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. From the idea in my head, to the last stroke, there are parts that don't quite fit and times when there's no perceivable forward progress. But amazingly, I continue to move forward, ignoring the sense that "this color" doesn't match the overall scheme.

There are days when the closest I get to the canvas is tossing my clothes on the wooden stool I keep near the easel! There are the times, I'm practicing colors on a photograph, kept on my tablet, to get a sense of what's to come. And there are times when the odd shapes and colors come together. Slowly, the image materializes; my vision takes shape.

Painting this image is much the same as many of the other parts of my life; the two factors seem to be true: it takes a long time (seems longer than it should) and I CAN'T GIVE UP!!!

I did a series a couple years ago, entitled "The Turn." I went as far as blogging about it on my website. I didn't realize at the time, I was at the apex of a major shift myself. I only knew what I rendered and wrote, spoke to my murky feelings. Now, I believe I'm at a similar place again. And hopefully it is a "turn" for the better.

Peace be with you!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thought for The Day - Thought Patterns

Linen with a Swirl 24 x 30 Oils

My wife doesn't "get" abstract art, but she loves me. :) So it's okay that I do what I love to do. I have explained the process but it bears repeating: themes run continuously through my head and yet, it isn't until I sit down to begin a new painting that "one of them" comes to the surface. The series: "Linen," is one of those patterns.

I have sat and stared at the pattern of woven material, many times and it never ceases to amaze me! the intricate over and under, the tightness of the material, the weave and texture - simply amazing! The same holds true for landscapes and cityscapes; look at the patterns and the way areas rise and fall as they spread out over the horizon! And one of the most amazing patterns is the pattern of skin texture. Simply look at your own skin (and rather than fixate on your flaws, actually look at the pattern that runs underneath), hold your hand up and look at the intricate detail "woven" there!

So with all the patterns in my head and found in a given day, "Linen" continues to grow!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Thought for The Day - Rubbing the Sleep from Your Eyes

My evening routine: come in after work, grab a snack before dinner - breaking a mom's cardinal rule, except it doesn't ruin my appetite - eat dinner, fall asleep on the couch, squeeze in a little gaming, get clothes together for the next day and go to bed. Pretty much each week night, the routine is the same. Except, since 2009, when I begin painting and drawing, I've wanted the evenings to be filled with drawing and painting. Can you imagine being 'haunted' all that time with a desire that you, yourself seem incapable of fulfilling? I have my evenings, where I make it into my studio and get to the work, and there is the weekend. But I know the value of doing the work when it is begging to be done!

I would love to think last night would be a new routine, but I know my tendencies all too well! I started my normal routine, making it through dinner a nap quickly to follow, but through the process, I could see in my head the painting on the easel. I could see the colors I wanted to paint and the movement it would take. All of that hovered in my head like a pleasant reminder of the work to be done. Well I had my nap and not as long as I thought I needed. I woke with only 15 minutes rest and went to work. It was time well spent and though I expected my sense of dread for the next day to kick in, any moment, I made it through a good two hours of working.

I know exactly what I want for my life and would like to believe I am on the path to it. I will take last night and use it as a reminder of what I can do when I focus. And hopefully, I am moving down that path at a better pace. Thank you Lord!