Watercolor Journal: And the Tree Was Happy

Photo Mar 02, 10 19 08 AM2.jpg

This tree drifted onto Moonstone Beach at some point.  As I tried to get to know it, I wondered what it’s story was.  If driftwood could talk…  Where did it come from?  Did kids climb in it’s branches?  What animals lived in it?  Was it near the edge of a bluff, hanging on until a big storm finally eroded it’s grip?  Where was that?   Not even sure, what kind of tree it is, but now it is nicely wedged in the sand, and makes a nice place to sit.  Someone has carved initials and a heart on it. 

My name was carved alongside my husband’s on the trunk of our Buckeye tree, by Gary long ago.  It shaded our house and front yard for many years.  It held the special “mist heads” which kept the ferns cool during the hot summers.  Of course, someday that tree will die, or be cut down to make room for something else.  Then it will be useful for firewood, mulch, or a stump to sit on.

At home (19).JPG

I relate to the driftwood in my painting.  I used to be Gary’s wife for a long time.  There were a million things to do in that role, and I loved it.  Now I have new things to do, and I enjoy them too.  Maybe you’ve read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  Sometimes I see myself as the “tree,” wanting to be useful in new ways, and sometimes I’m the “boy,” looking for a comfortable place to sit, and enjoy the view. 

From "The Giving Tree"

"I wish that I could give you something... but I have nothing left. I am an old stump. I am sorry..."
"I don't need very much now," said the boy, "just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired."
"Well," said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could,
"well, an old stump is a good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest."
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy.”

At home (5).JPG

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”  Philippians 4:4

A Little Gem in Stepney

On Sunday, June 19, my daughter, son-in-law, and I were in London, mid-way through a trip of a life-time.  We were traveling with a group from their church through 5 countries looking specifically at the Reformation period of Church History.  I have SO much to say about this trip, and am getting ready to share photos and thoughts with you, but you know how it is when there’s something that just won’t keep?  I have been chomping at the bit to share one particular memory with you.  It was not a part of the scheduled tour, but it was a thrill for me personally and I was inspired to paint as soon as I got home.

St. Dunstan's Church, Stepney

Sunday, June 19, 2016

 One of many descents into the Tube.

One of many descents into the Tube.

My eyes filled with grateful tears, when descending the escalator to the London “Tube.”  With our very busy tour schedule, and the remoteness of this little church, I was so happy that things were working out.  It would take about an hour of underground (the London “subway” or Tube) , bus and walking.  I’m not sure I could have found it on my own, but thankfully, Jon and April joined me for free-time that day.  I will always be grateful to Jon for making it possible. 

A little church, in Stepney Green, at the East part of London, and just a few blocks from the Thames, was our destination.  From 1640 – 1646, Jeremiah Burroughs was preaching here, for the last 6 years of his life.  He was called “The Morningstar of Stepney” back then, and 350 years later, his most well-known work, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, became one of my husband’s favorite books.  Burroughs was a faithful Puritan pastor and member of the Westminster Assembly, for more info, click HERE. or for more detail... HERE

But, back to my story…

It had been a very full day; church in the morning, a 2 hour walking tour in the St. Paul’s Cathedral area, the Tower of London, and a quick look into the British Library “Treasures” room before it closed.  Interspersed were meals, eaten on the run, and multiple Tube and taxi rides.  (Thankfully, all museums in London are free, so you can duck in and out, and not feel ripped off.)  Walked a few blocks to grab some dinner, which we ate on the run, now aware that the evening would soon be upon us, and we still had a ways to go to find St. Dunstan’s Church. 

With dinner in hand we discovered that the Underground route we needed was closed. We had to go a round-a-bout way, (still with dinner in hand), sharing the most crowded underground ride yet.  We were literally inches away from everyone, including a drunk guy who was nearly falling over on us as we stood holding on to the poles.  (no such thing as "personal space")  He was intent on telling us how we Americans should vote this fall.  So funny!  I felt relief when the doors opened at our stop.  Next, a bus ride, and then a walk of 5 blocks through a quiet, residential neighborhood.  I was so thankful to have Jon with us, as it was a bit lonely feeling. 

 St. Dunstan's and All Saints Church, Stepney, London, England

St. Dunstan's and All Saints Church, Stepney, London, England

And then, rounding a corner, there it was.  St. Dunstan’s Church in the midst of a beautiful, churchyard of green grass, big trees, and old tombstones.   It was not crowded-in by high-rise office buildings, like so many of the churches we’d seen.  The gate was open, though the church door was locked.  There were some people walking their dogs and a few men sitting on a grave, talking with their friends.  It was a very quiet scene.  This church dates back to the 7th century, but most of the current building was built in the 15th century.  (some parts go back to 1200)  Amazingly, the building had survived the Blitz of WWII and with minimal changes over the last 500 years,  it is almost entirely the same building that Burroughs preached in, rag stone rubble, limestone trim, gargoyles, and all. (*more info at end of post) 

How Gary would have loved this place.  He would have enjoyed seeing where one of his heroes preached, and walking around looking at the gravestones.  But, of course, he's actually WITH Jeremiah, in the presence of the Savior they both love so I won't feel sorry for him.

 I love looking over the notes Gary wrote to himself, to see what was important to him.  

I love looking over the notes Gary wrote to himself, to see what was important to him.  

I am grateful for Jeremiah Burroughs.  Gary, sat under his training, every time he returned to "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment." I believe Gary's peaceful acceptance of life's ups and downs was largely due to this book.  Gary did not particularly love reading, as it was not easy for him, and there were few books he read, but let me share a couple of things he underlined in the book.  Maybe you'll be blessed by them too.

"Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition."  J.B.

"Contentment is a sweet, inward heart-thing.  It is a work of the Spirit indoors." J.B.

"When you are in a ship at sea which has all it's sails spread with a full gale of wind, and is swiftly sailing, can you make it stand still by running up and down in the ship?  No more can you make the providence of God alter and change its course with your vexing and fretting; it will go on with power, do what you can.  Do but understand the power and efficacy of providence and it will be a mighty means helping you to learn the lesson of contentment." J.B.

 "So this is the art of contentment: not to seek to add to our circumstances, but to subtract from our desires." Jeremiah Burroughs

"So this is the art of contentment: not to seek to add to our circumstances, but to subtract from our desires." Jeremiah Burroughs

I'm glad contentment was important to Gary.  He would be the first to say it did not come easy to him but he really wanted to trust the Lord in every area of life, especially the rough patches.  He prayed to have a trusting heart often and God answered that prayer by making the big trials in our life so much easier, and enriching.  The girls and I have read it too, and I'm going through it again, because I'm struggling with a greedy heart lately, and contentment in God's plan for me is the answer to greed!  

A few hours earlier on this day, I had stood in a very, very long line to see the extremely valuable, and highly guarded Crown Jewels, in the Tower of London. They were amazing.  The royal crowns and scepters, are decorated with HUGE and beautiful diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and more. British royalty are honored with the biggest and best gems in the world.  But Jeremiah Burroughs calls "Christian Contentment" the rare jewel.  Contentment, is so elusive yet we are called to it.  One day, in Glory, it will be mine.  Until then, I entrust myself to the Lord's training and like the apostle Paul,  am "learning" the secret of how to be content.  On this day I was able for a little while to walk in the steps of a faithful man who, though dead, still speaks.  Thank you Rev. Burroughs. 

 This rose, if I'm not mistaken is a Newport Fairy Rose.  Gary grew these rambling pink roses at our Sunland home.  It was frosting on the cake to see these growing on the church grounds. 

This rose, if I'm not mistaken is a Newport Fairy Rose.  Gary grew these rambling pink roses at our Sunland home.  It was frosting on the cake to see these growing on the church grounds. 

 
 "My brethren, the reason why you have not got contentment in the things of the world is not because you have not got enough of them - that is not the reason - but the reason is, because they are not things proportionable to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God himself."  Jeremiah Burroughs

"My brethren, the reason why you have not got contentment in the things of the world is not because you have not got enough of them - that is not the reason - but the reason is, because they are not things proportionable to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God himself."  Jeremiah Burroughs

"...I have learned, to be content, in whatever circumstances I am. 

I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." 

Philippians 4:11-13

(FOR MORE STUDY, Pastor Mike Riccardi preaches about Biblical contentment; what it is, and how to learn it.  To listen, click HERE!)


*INTERESTING TRIVIA:  St. Dunstan's was known as the "Church of the High Seas" and many sailors are buried here.  The naval ensign continues to fly from the bell tower.  There is a stained glass window dedicated to those sailors who lost their lives in the war.  It is built of Kent limestone.    Shortly after Burroughs died in 1648, the churchyard had been expanded to 7 acres to accommodate the massive number of deaths due to the Great Plague of London.  Today it is a park, open to all. 

 St. Dunstan's Church, Stepney

St. Dunstan's Church, Stepney

I love to get your comments...either here or on Facebook.  Thanks for visiting! 

Lexi and the Sparrows

...WITH THIS PRINT,

I AM RAISING PRAYERS AND FUNDS FOR LEXI...

This little sparrow print is very special to me. It is reproduced from a watercolor painting I just finished for a dear family who has been going through a really hard time. It is inspired by little Lexi, the six year old foster daughter of Rusty and Summer Page. You may have heard their story in the news. I couldn't think of a more helpless, or insignificant bird than a sparrow, and yet, the "least among us" are precious to God who cares for them. (Scroll down to read a short summary or find out more at www.saveourlexi.com)

BY PURCHASING AND DISPLAYING THIS PRINT, YOU WILL...

1. Contribute to the Pages for legal and associated expenses.

I will be sending my proceeds, minus my costs, from the sale of these prints to the Pages to help with their legal and associated costs as they continue to make their appeal to get Lexi back home. (For duration of 2016)

2. Remind yourself to pray for this sweet little girl and her family.

I have known the Pages for years and along with many of you, have been praying for little Lexi. She is away from her home, siblings, school, church and her life. Her communication with all of these has been cut off, and I can only imagine how she must be suffering. BUT thankfully, God is not unaware, or surprised by this. He has a soft spot for the helpless, and Jesus reminds us that God values his own.

To purchase this 8 X 10 print for $14.95,

click HERE.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31

A SHORT SUMMARY OF WHY I WANT TO HELP:

Lexi lived with the Pages for 4 years until March 21, 2016 when she was removed by L.A. County to go live in Utah . Because she has 1.5% Indian Blood, she is under the authority of the Indian Child Welfare Act which seeks to place Native Americans into homes with N.A. relatives. When reunification efforts with her parents were ended, at the end of 2012, the Tribe recommended placement in the Utah home. The Pages have been seeking to adopt Lexi ever since. Twice the trial court has ordered Lexi to Utah, and twice, the appellate ruled in favor of the Pages. Their last request was denied on March 18 and 3 days later, Lexi was taken from the only family she has ever known, and bonded with and has been cut off from all communication with her foster family. The Pages are continuing to try and bring Lexi back by every legal means possible. Almost 120,000 people have signed a petition requesting that Lexi be allowed to remain with the Pages (To sign petition: change.org) (To follow on Facebook: #Save Lexi)

Click HERE to purchase the print and all the proceeds beyond my costs will go to the Page family.  This print is on textured Sundance card stock and does NOT include frame. This print fits nicely in an 8" X 10" frame or mat in an 11"X14" frame. Shipping is extra on this item. Colors By Laurie prints are reproduced from my original watercolor paintings and may not be reproduced.

Thank you so much!

Laurie

Watercolor Journal - Wind in the Pines

A family asked me to paint their beloved cabin in the mountains of New Mexico.  I’ve never been to that state, but as I painted the pine forest background I reflected on my childhood camping trips.  My parents took me camping from a very young age, mostly to the High Sierras in California. Mom and Dad loved back-packing and mom even made me a little down-filled sleeping bag.  If there was no rain, we didn’t pitch a tent, and I remember laying on a bed of pine needles, and looking up at the stars at night.  I listened to the crackling campfire and their voices nearby until I fell asleep.  Sometime later I’d wake up between them, with a cold face and warm body, secure in their love and happy to be a little girl, outside in the forest. 

The wind in the pine needles above, made it’s whooshing sound, and was familiar, because outside my bedroom in Southern California were three big pine trees.  But outside, in the forest, the sound of the wind was grander, and deeper.  There were many instruments in this beautiful symphony.  And here, as the dead pine needles were blown from the trees, they would not have to be raked off our driveway at home, so let the wind blow, and do it’s work, adding to the softness of the forest floor, preparing a little bed for the next sleepy-head to rest upon...look up...and listen. 

Watercolor Journal - A Pebble in the Hand

Small actions end up meaning so much later on.  At the time, I didn’t know how much a few little rocks would mean to me.  Yes, they are pretty, and smooth, and remind me of a special place, but now they speak to me in a much deeper way.  Gary and I collected them at Moonstone Beach during our many visits here.  I’m here again.  This time alone since Gary can no longer leave the house.  It’s hard to leave him, even though I know he is well cared for, but I know he’d say… “GO!  Have Fun!”  So here I am. 

 

If interested click HERE for note card and print.

 

Last week, in anticipation of being here, I had the pleasurable experience of painting this exact handful of pebbles. 

 

 

 

 
 I stood still for about 20 minutes waiting for this Egret to get this close, and right after this he caught the mouse and took it farther away to dine in private. 

I stood still for about 20 minutes waiting for this Egret to get this close, and right after this he caught the mouse and took it farther away to dine in private. 

I’m here to relax, remember, and make some new memories of my own.  Today, in fact, I explored a new area nearby, and saw something new!  An Egret hunting in a grassy field, and catching a MOUSE if you can believe it!.  I’m so happy I got to see 5 of them when on a walk in the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.  They were too far away for a good photo, but easy to see in person. 

 

 

 

Gary was so good at noticing the unique things.  One time he’d say, “Let’s collect all GREEN pebbles this time.”  Another it was “Collect pebbles that look like jelly beans.”  Anyway, we did, and over the years have accumulated a few jars of smooth, little rocks.  One time I found all the colors of the rainbow and laid them out on Gary’s handkerchief.  He was also good at finding the perfect flat pebble for skipping too.  I marveled at how many skips he could get out of a throw. 

 

 

Why so special?  It was time spent together, marveling at Creation.  God didn’t have to make rocks in various hues, but He did.  He didn’t have to make light with a spectrum of color, but He did.  I’m happy to be here, for the both of us, being able to look at things with fresh eyes, and refreshed for serving again. 

Getting time away for respite looks different for everyone, but Jesus set the example for us long ago.  Let’s all try to find a way to follow in His footsteps. 

“But Jesus Himself would slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Luke 5:16. 


Watercolor Journal - Walking the Planks

 Inspired by the boardwalk, the ocean and the many wildflowers.

Inspired by the boardwalk, the ocean and the many wildflowers.

Moonstone Beach at Cambria is on the California’s Central Coast.  A view of the ocean from my window, inspired this painting, and I painted most of it right there on my mini-retreat, alone, two weeks ago. Moonstone Beach Drive runs along the bluff with the view on one side and the hotels on the other.  Cambria is our best, “close” place to make us “feel” far away.  It is a 4 hour drive from home that seems much farther.  The only man made thing between the drive and the beach side is a boardwalk (see it?) that runs the length of the beach on the bluffs, amidst sage, wildflowers and pines.  I’m guessing it was originally built to encourage people to stay off the natural landscape, which it does, but there’s more to it's story…my story at least.

 2005 - Things were fine then.

2005 - Things were fine then.

I have walked this boardwalk with Gary before, and at those times gave it little thought, but on this solo trip, the wooden walkway was an inescapable connection to my husband.  Memories of other days rolled over me like the nearby waves.  Gary and I had walked along the bluffs many times.  If the day was cold and misty, we had coffee in hand.  If clear and sunny, we had sunglasses and trail mix.  It was always refreshing or leisurely or inspiring, but whatever it felt like, it was shared.  The wooden planks are frequented by runners and walkers, lovers strolling, surfers checking out the waves, tourists with binoculars hoping to see an otter or sea lion, and underneath are ground squirrels hoping for a treat.

 November 2011 - Middle stage dementia, but still enjoying the walk.

November 2011 - Middle stage dementia, but still enjoying the walk.

We have been coming up here for many years.  We love it here.  Our daughter, Sarah and her husband Ryan, came along with us 2 1/2 years ago to help me with Gary.  It would be the last time for Gary and I to be here together.   I remember that during that trip to Moonstone, Gary enjoyed walking on the sand without anyone guiding him and at dinner, how much he enjoyed his salmon dinner fed to him by Ryan from across the table, as I sat next to him at Robin's Restaurant.  It was a very special time. 

Right now, at this moment, the waves are breaking in rhythm.  Someone is walking hand in hand along the bluff.  I’m happy for them.  I’m happy for us. 

 Moonstone Beach, Cambria, California - Walking with the Lord and very sweet memories.

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, California - Walking with the Lord and very sweet memories.

 

 

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Watercolor Journals - The Secret Place

"The Secret Place”

based on “The Secret Garden,” by F. H. Burnett

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles. In the robin’s nest there were Eggs and the robin’s mate sat upon them keeping them warm with her feathery little breast and careful wings. At first she was very nervous and the robin himself was indignantly watchful. Even Dickon did not go near the close-grown corner in those days, but waited until by the quiet working of some mysterious spell he seemed to have conveyed to the soul of the little pair that in the garden there was nothing which was not quite like themselves—nothing which did not understand the wonderfulness of what was happening to them—the immense, tender, terrible, heart-breaking beauty and solemnity of Eggs. If there had been one person in that garden who had not known through all his or her innermost being that if an Egg were taken away or hurt the whole world would whirl round and crash through space and come to an end—if there had been even one who did not feel it and act accordingly there could have been no happiness even in that golden springtime air. But they all knew it and felt it and the robin and his mate knew they knew it.”  From Chapter 25, The Secret Garden

Being pregnant with our first daughter, brought out the nesting instinct in me.  A hand-me-down crib required a coat of paint, bedding and a new mattress.  We chose yellow, because in those days, no one knew the gender until the baby arrived.  I made a Noah’s Ark mobile to hang above the crib. The cabinet received a new coat of varnish.  The drawers were lined with pieces of the green and yellow wallpaper and the shower gifts were placed inside.  Her room was warm, safe and ready. 21 years later she would leave her nest.  A few years later her sister would leave as well.  Now they have their own nests, and the cozy ritual goes on.  Getting ready for little ones is one of the greatest privileges in life.

Watercolor Journal - Closer and Closer

based on “The Secret Garden,” by F. H. Burnett

"Oh! look at him!" exclaimed Mary.

The robin was evidently in a fascinating, bold mood. He hopped closer and closer and looked at Ben Weatherstaff more and more engagingly. He flew on to the nearest currant bush and tilted his head and sang a little song right at him.

"Tha' thinks tha'll get over me by doin' that," said Ben, wrinkling his face up in such a way that Mary felt sure he was trying not to look pleased. "Tha' thinks no one can stand out against thee-that's what tha' thinks."

The robin spread his wings-Mary could scarcely believe her eyes. He flew right up to the handle of Ben Weatherstaff's spade and alighted on the top of it. Then the old man's face wrinkled itself slowly into a new expression. He stood still as if he were afraid to breathe-as if he would not have stirred for the world, lest his robin should start away. He spoke quite in a whisper.

From Chapter 10, The Secret Garden

A few weeks ago, my little granddaughter was excited to show me her friendly hummingbird.  She learned that if she sat very still, near the feeder, the hungry bird would come quite close.  It’s hard to be patient, but she lifted her hand and “froze” whenever he was near, and he hovered right there.  The little birds are a wonderful brush with wild things, the “magic” of our own secret gardens, and so we love them.

Watercolor Journal - Mary's First Friend

Based on “The Secret Garden,” by F. H. Burnett

“Mistress Mary went a step nearer to the robin and looked at him very hard. "I'm lonely," she said.

She had not known before that this was one of the things which made her feel sour and cross. She seemed to find it out when the robin looked at her and she looked at the robin….. Suddenly a clear rippling little sound broke out near her and she turned round. She was standing a few feet from a young apple-tree and the robin had flown on to one of its branches and had burst out into a scrap of a song. Ben Weatherstaff laughed outright.

"What did he do that for?" asked Mary. "He's made up his mind to make friends with thee," replied Ben. "Dang me if he hasn't took a fancy to thee."

"To me?" said Mary, and she moved toward the little tree softly and looked up. "Would you make friends with me?" she said to the robin just as if she was speaking to a person. "Would you?"   (From Chapter 4, the Secret Garden)

 April at the Colorado River. 1981

April at the Colorado River. 1981

How lovely to remember our children reading this story.  Now, our oldest granddaughter is reading about the same mysterious garden, and the robin who knew where it was.  Generations of children have played outdoors, laughed at the antics of the wild things, and imagined they were friends.  Grown ups are no different.  Ever try to entice a squirrel to come close with a peanut?  While hiking once with Gary, we came upon a huge bull moose.  The surprise and fear gave way to the realization that he did not mind us being there.  We weren’t exactly “friends” with him, but for a moment, he was allowing us into his wild world.  Thrilling.

Watercolor Journals - Behind the Wall

Since my robin note cards are making the rounds this Spring, I'm posting some of the musings these paintings have inspired in me.  I can't see a robin without thinking of the cheeky lil' beggar in The Secret Garden.  Enjoy!

 Behind the Wall - original watercolor

Behind the Wall - original watercolor

“And delight reigned. They drew the chair under the plum-tree, which was snow-white with blossoms and musical with bees. It was like a king's canopy, a fairy king's. There were flowering cherry-trees near and apple-trees whose buds were pink and white, and here and there one had burst open wide. Between the blossoming branches of the canopy bits of blue sky looked down like wonderful eyes.

Mary and Dickon worked a litle here and there and Colin watched them. They brought him things to look at--buds which were opening, buds which were tight closed, bits of twig whose leaves were just showing green, the feather of a woodpecker which had dropped on the grass, the empty shell of some bird early hatched. Dickon pushed the chair slowly round and round the garden, stopping every other moment to let him look at wonders springing out of the earth or trailing down from trees. It was like being taken in state round the country of a magic king and queen and shown all the mysterious riches it contained.

"I wonder if we shall see the robin?" said Colin.”  (From Chapter 21 of The Secret Garden by F. H. Burnett)

 Canada Geese in view.

Canada Geese in view.

I wonder the same thing each morning as I open my blinds.  I wonder if I will see the robin, hopping about looking for worms, or the two Mallard ducks who sometimes work their way along the golf course looking for breakfast, or the five Canada Geese who flew in and landed on the ‘green,’ disrupting the putts of some ladies last week.  Right now, I can hear a symphony of animal life.  It is evening, and the crickets and tree frogs are singing in the ravine, interrupted only momentarily if someone is walking a dog nearby.  There is so much to see when we look expectantly outdoors.  I must keep those binoculars handy.

Watercolor Journal - Cherished Forever

Click on painting to enlarge.

"It will be cherished forever." That's what P.G. said when she received the painting last week.  It was a gift from her husband.  Hummingbirds and African Violets hold a special place in his wife's heart.  Why?  Her mother had loved them first.   Her mom is no longer here, but now, P.G. waters the same plants and treasures the glass hummingbird “sun-catchers” that hung in her mother’s window.  It was my privilege to create this painting, a gift from her thoughtful husband, to keep the memory of her mother fresh.

"Let me tell you it is the most beautiful gift I have ever received. It is a beautiful compilation of so many meaningful elements. Thank you for making (my husband's) vision a reality. it will be cherished forever!!!  It is truly a magnificent piece of art! I only wish my Mom was here to see it...she would love it as well."  P.G.

Thoughts on my own treasured mom...

This project gave me pause to think about my own mother.  In the winter of her life she is as beautiful as ever.  Thankfully, my mom lives within walking distance of me, so I can still enjoy her smile, and kind heart.

 

 My mom and I getting ready for Easter.  

My mom and I getting ready for Easter.

 

Let me conjure up some memories of my own.  My mother delights in so many things.  She’ll try anything and is the quintessential “good sport.”  She’d jump on our trampoline, teach the granddaughters how to cha-cha, and reads Uncle Remus with the perfect accent.  Her mobility may be limited, but her mind is active, serving my father, reading the Bible, and keeping track of her great-grandchildren’s birthdays.  She always wore a brightly colored hat for road-trip photos because it was “photogenic.”  When she puts scotch tape on a Christmas gift, the ends are folded down on themselves so there are “pull-tabs” to make it easy to open.  She made all our Halloween costumes from scratch, every year, and at age 90, just made herself a new apron with bluebird fabric to remind herself of the bluebirds that used to nest in their eaves.  I already think of my parents whenever I see a bluebird.

The real gift here, is not the painting, but the cherished mom, who inspired it and like my client, my mental treasuries are full, and I love my mom.

 

Watercolor Journal - Cute

P6250003-001.JPG

Every minute I've spent with this little guy to capture his personality, aka cuteness, has been really fun.  I've been wondering what makes a baby owl SO cute?  I think it has to do with his big head and 'starey' eyes.  And fluff.  Lots of baby animals have similar "cuteness" and elicit a spontaneous awwww!"  But why do we humans love looking at baby animals so much?   Guess what?  The day after I finished this painting, I read that recently a study at Hiroshima University, found that looking at pictures of baby animals, increase productivity, focus and fine motor skills in adult employees One reason may be that watching babies of any kind encourage the caring/nurturing part of us, that requires  attentiveness to the needs of the little one.  If you wonder how researchers would come up with this type of a study, Japan is 'crazy' for "Kawaii" (Japanese for 'cute').  Remember Hello KittyPokemonAnime

 Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty

 Christmas morning 1977.  Sarah and Sniffy. 

Christmas morning 1977.  Sarah and Sniffy. 

So, I decided to display the little "owlet" painting near Gary for the time-being.  I'm hoping his focus, and concentration, can be enhanced by this small, feathered tutor.  In any case, this baby owl, will certainly exude cuteness, and that has to benefit Gary's sense of well-being.  It does mine, every time I walk by.  When Sarah was two years old Gary bought her a little bunny.  She named it "Sniffy" because...wait for it... it sniffed.  As you can see by the photo, it gave her a sense of well-being too. 

Watercolor Journal - Lil' Bandit

Furry, cute, and oh so sneaky!  A favorite lil' critter of mine is the raccoon.  I know they can be mean and you don't want to get cornered in a small space with them, but the little mask, striped tail, and the fact that they 'wash' their food makes them irresistible to my imagination. 

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Everyone has a good raccoon story.  My favorite took place at our old house.  With the Koi pond, and it's shallow rock waterfall, raccoons and possums were around from time to time..  A  place to wash food, an occasional fish food pellet, ornamental grass which hosted grubs, and worms, to say nothing of the tempting fish.  Gary had built the patio over hanging the pond a little, so that the fish could hide from predators and most of the fish were too big for a raccoon to pull out, but all the other goodies in our garden were in abundant supply.  Anyway, we knew they were there, our dogs kept us informed of that in the night.  Being nocturnal, I always wondered where they went in the daytime.  Our tree trimmer found out one day, when pruning a palm tree.  Up on a very tall ladder, and deep into the thickest part of the palm fronds, he came face to face with a big raccoon.  It was right next to our pond, and had made a nest there.  Both of them were surprised, and Mike took a quick exit.  When he went back up, Mr. Raccoon was gone.

 Evidence

Evidence

When we take Gary for a walk every morning, guess what we see?  Evidence!  We've got raccoons here too, and I love knowing that.  I saw muddy prints in our little garden right outside our living room window, so I know they are close by.  We criss-cross their paths as we walk through our little neighborhood.  I wonder where they go in the daytime?  What tree, or bush do they live in?  Are they curious about us too?  Seeing these little prints day after day, reminded me of our little ecosystem by the pond, and inspired me to paint Lil' Bandit.  Love the daily "brush" with critters, and capturing them with MY brush!

 Makes me feel like we're back in Sunland!

Makes me feel like we're back in Sunland!

Do YOU have a good raccoon story of your own to share?   

Watercolor Journals - Abiding in the Vine

Right before Christmas, I had the privilege of painting this set of watercolors for returning clients.  They had asked if they could write a journal entry about their artwork for the blog.  Of course I said "YES"!  Their kind words are included below.


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"This lovely duo was a very special Christmas present for me.  My husband and his mother conspired with Laurie to surprise me as part of our plans to redecorate our living room.  My husband knew of my desire to ‘upgrade’ our current wall decorations with something less pedestrian and more personal.  He commissioned Laurie to create a pair of paintings that would coordinate with our color scheme as well as reflect the heartbeat of our home. Laurie went to great lengths to ascertain our styles, colors and tastes.  She noted the color schemes found throughout the home and the specific colors planned for the living room where the finished art would reside; she even used pictures of our living room to help in her creative thinking.   I couldn’t be more pleased! Laurie’s careful planning and artistic ability resulted in a beautiful pair of paintings that truly echo our heart and soul!"  S.K.

"I looked through Laurie’s previous work to decide on a gift for Stacy.  Particularly striking were her illustrations of vine.  This reminded me of God’s metaphor: Jesus is the Vine and believers are the branches that must abide in the Vine in order to bear fruit. (John 15:5)  Laurie has painted an excellent work by merging the imagery and text of Scripture together that is not only beautiful but aptly illustrates the believers’ fruit found only through belief and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior." J.K.



Watercolor Journal - Vineyard Celebrations

I was recently commissioned to paint a monogram.  The couple was celebrating a 35th wedding anniversary at a beautiful vineyard location.  That's a longtime love. 

Painting grape leaves made me think of the Tokay (sp) grapes we had growing at our former home.  At least that's what someone told me they were.  They rambled along an arbor to a chain link fence and behind our old garage where they climbed up and over the wall to the neighbor's back yard.  She appreciated the grapes, so that was a good thing.  The arbor was replaced with a patio, but the vines kept growing, each year with the fruit moving down along the fence, and getting further and further from our yard.  It's kind of funny how we did the watering, but our neighbor ended up with the results.  But that was toward the end of our time at that house, and we didn't mind, because the vines themselves were pretty on the fence. 

We were in that home for 30+ years and during that time there were countless jars of grape jelly.  It was beautiful too.  So pink!  So I'd like to make a jelly "toast" (not jelly ON toast, although that sounds yummy) to the "A's" to congratulate them for 35 years of fruitful love. 

Our grape jelly!

Watercolor Journal - "Miss Liz"


My daughter commissioned me to create this "thank you" gift for a very special lady.  Lizanne Blake is the very talented speech therapist who helped my grandson learn to speak.  To our family it's simply "Miss Liz".

One to two times a week for several years a highlight of the week was the visit to her office.   On one of our visits, I got to go along.  Not only did she have the coolest toys to play with, but she would get down on the floor in the midst of the boys and toys to play with them.  I enjoyed seeing how she used the playtime to draw out and emphasize certain sounds needed for speech.  "Good Talking, Micah!"  "He's making all the right sounds, April" she would encourage.  Then eventually the words came, and today, he is speaking fine.  When I Skype the boys, to read them their weekly story, our once "speech delayed" boy, will tell his stories to me.  That's music to my ears!  He doesn't need to go to Miss Liz anymore, but he misses her.  I'm happy I could have a part in this gift, because I want to say a big grandma THANK YOU to Liz Blake.
"We love to go to see Miss Liz!" 
The painting was approx. 10" X 20" and here's a close up of the background for those of you who like to see the details:


Watercolor Journal - Celebrating Pink

 I have to admit that painting a monogram with cherry blossoms for a little girls room was especially fun for me.  Now pink always makes me think of girly things, like dollies and fairies, and princesses.  Cherry blossoms are the most perfect naturally occurring pink I can think of.  (The mom who bought this painting very kindly mentioned it on a parenting blog she contributes to. There's lots of good ideas at this blog, for you moms out there. Click HERE to see the photos and how nicely it is framed.  The photo is 3rd from the end.)

It was a privilege to raise 2 daughters, and as I was working away on this painting, which was special ordered for a "Pink Nursery" I kept thinking about our daughters.


Sarah with Holly Hobbie
April
When I was pregnant, before the age of ultrasounds and finding out the sex of your child ahead of time, Gary had been very vocal about wanting a boy, that is until the Dr. handed him our little Sarah.  Everything changed in an instant.  He was now a father of a girl, and soon would have 2.  He never looked back with any kind of regret not getting a boy.  He took our daughters on dates, to the Hello Kitty store, taught them to let a man hold the door for them, and was their protector.  He even got down on the floor to play My Little Ponies, on occasion. 
I loved sewing dresses for them, and having them help me make cookies, and all those typical things, but they knew how to climb up in the tree house too, and ride the zip line to the front yard.  And as you can see, one of them even liked to cuddle frogs. 
 Our girls to this day, are the best of friends, but their personalities are as different as night and day.  That may be the reason...  They have their own families now, and have supplied Gary and I with 6 grandsons and 2 granddaughters.  Since I just finished making another memory book for my husband, Gary, who has Alzheimer's,
these photos were fresh on my mind.  I couldn't resist sharing...

Sarah in the rain

A visitor in our fish pond
Who needs a dolly






Watercolor Journals - Psalm 103


Recently a friend asked me to paint a portrait of their home for an anniversary gift for her husband.   Don't you just LOVE their house?  I really enjoyed this assignment. Especially the white porch railing and the red door.  The reference photos they sent me showed rocking chairs on the porch.  What a great spot for a glass of iced tea and a good book. 




My favorite part of this project, though, was thinking about their family and how they have given of themselves to others, using their home as a gift from God to be used for His wonderful purposes.
"Bless the LORD oh my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name!"






It was not possible to include in the painting, but there is a Bible verse written just above the door on that very welcoming porch. That's what got me thinking...




How am I stirring up my deepest self to magnify God's character?  Am I using all the resources I've been given to "show off God"?  Am I yielding up to God the secret areas of my life that I like to control so that I better reflect Him?   Charles Spurgeon said it better than me when he commented on Psalms 103:1

"Soul music is the very soul of music.  The Psalmist strikes the best key-note when he begins with stirring up his inmost self to magnify the Lord.  He soliloquizes, holds self-communion and exhorts himself, as though he felt that dulness would all too soon steal over his faculties, as, indeed, it will over us all, unless we are diligently on the watch.  Jehovah is worthy to be praised by us in that highest style of adoration which is intended by the term bless...Many are our faculties, emotions, and capacities, but God has given them all to us, and they ought all to join in chorus to his praise.  Half-hearted, ill-conceived, unintelligent praises are not such as we should render to our loving Lord.  If the law of justice demanded all our heart and soul and mind for the Creator, much more may the law of gratitude put in a comprehensive claim for the homage of our whole being to the God of grace." (from Treasury of David)


Karen has kindly written about my painting on her blog if you care to check it out.  Karen's blog post



Watercolor Journals - Two Lambs

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
He leadeth me beside the still waters
He restoreth my soul. 
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
 

Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
Thou annointest my head with oil,
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Amen." 
David's 23rd Psalm

I'm just a stupid sheep, in desperate need of a shepherd.  Hungry. Thirsty.  Lost.  Fearful.  Hurting.  Empty.   So needy.  BUT my Shepherd, so kind, brave, and good, bought me for His very own, in spite of my condition, and now with David I can say goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life!

My Jesus is ALSO called a sheep, but He is not at all like me. 

"...you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold... but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." (1 Peter 1) 

Like a precious lamb, pure, and without blemish, but not helpless, He willingly went to the cross to pay the penalty of death for sin, for me, as worthless as I was.  

That's what I'm most joyful about.