When I was working on this painting I often thought “destination unknown…that’s what this represents”. The painting was done from a photo that I’d taken of my daughter Allison and her friend Jamie on our yearly summer trip to visit my parents in Michigan. We had gone to Port Huron for the day. I told the girls to sit on the tracks and do their best to look serious. It was not easy to capture the image because they had a hard time keeping straight faces! But they finally did and I really liked the picture. To me it represented the future, unknown and full of possibility.
With the sale of this painting, I have the opportunity to donate to a wonderful cause that is another story of a “destination unknown”. My friend Kim suffered a pediatric stroke when she was 6 years old. She’s an amazing lady and I’m blessed to count her as a friend. And, she’s running the Boston Marathon this year! The following is her story, in her words: “Without warning, a healthy 6 year old incurred a pediatric (ischemic) stroke, losing most function and ability. She couldn't walk, talk or function...it changed my world and certainly my parents' world! Learning to walk and talk again, albeit with abnormal gait, I now thrive as a married woman with children and grandchildren, managing a career and active church life! When my oldest able-bodied daughter began running cross-country in high school, I began running initially as a way of supporting and encouraging her. Now, I run because of the sheer joy and gratitude experienced in the life I am incredibly blessed to live! Yes, it is true that I will never win a race with the slower pace I run. However, that is not my ultimate desire. My desire is to continue building awareness that there is quality life following stroke! I want those affected by stroke directly and their loved ones to see, first hand, a successful stroke story! I also seek to dispel the misnomer that stroke is an "old people's disease." It isn't! Stroke can and does impact individuals of all ages! So, this is, in part, why running for Tedy's Team is so important for me! My recovery from stroke was and is (at times) a lonely journey; a marathon journey! I’m seeking to run the distance for those families and stroke survivors and be a "face of hope."
I doubt that all those years ago Kim or her parents envisioned her doing something as incredible as running the Boston Marathon. Talk about a destination unknown! I’m totally excited for her and grateful that I could help support her.
Each time I do a painting it seems I find a new favorite. This portrait of a Haitian woman was so much fun to paint, and even though I've never met her I absolutely fell in love.
As a dental hygienist I have the joy of meeting a lot of different people, and after 21 years in the same office many of them feel as much like friends as patients. It's through one of those relationships that this painting came into being.
I was talking with a patient one day a year or so ago about a painting I was working on. It was the portrait that I did of Frankie, the beautiful women I had met while on a missions trip to West Virginia. After describing her face and her story and the feeling of closeness that I felt to her while working on the painting, Mark shared his story about being on a missions trip to Haiti, and a woman he had met there and how the photos he had of her displayed the same qualities I was describing to him about Frankie. Basically, there's just something about that beautiful face! I told him I would love to see the photos and so, 6 months later, he came in and brought the photos with him. He was so right about her image. You could see the beauty of her soul right there looking at you.
I didn't start on her right away. I was a bit nervous about trying to paint her. I taped the photos to my wall and looked at them often for months. It was after I completed the painting of the reflection in a wine glass that I decided to give her a try.
It brought me so much joy to create her image on canvas. I'm not sure if every artist feels a sense of relationship with their work, but I sure do and it's the coolest thing. I just called her "Lady", because I didn't know her name. Every time I'd sit down to work on her I'd say "hello Lady"!
The little that I do know about her is this: She's in her 80's and lives and works high upon a hill in Haiti. She is the primary caretaker of her son who is in his 60's and is blind and handicapped. A doctor travels to her house once a month to check on her son. (This is who Mark was helping on his trip and how he came to meet her) You can't reach her house by car. They drove as far as they could and then had to hike the remainder of the distance. Her face and hands are those of a woman who has worked hard all of her life. Her eyes are kind and gentle. My friend Shirley, who I paint with every Tuesday, said "I'd love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her". I would too.
One day when I was over Shirley's painting, the sun was coming in the window directly behind me and as I was looking at the photo in the direct sunlight I was thrilled to notice that there was a child in the background, holding the curtain back and peeking out at the person who had taken the photo. Adding her to the painting gave the composition a sense of depth and added another layer to the story that the picture was telling. I was so excited when I got to show Mark, thinking that I had somehow discovered something secret. He, of course, already knew she was there. I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to paint this beautiful woman and to come to know a bit of her story.
These two painting may be my favorites simply because I love my boots and hat so much. I'm a country girl at heart and sometimes I wonder why I ever ended up in New England. Of course I only have to look under my own roof to find the answer to that, but still, sometimes, especially in the dead of winter, I kick myself for moving east instead of south.
I did the painting of my boots first. It was in the spring I remember, because the daffodils in the basket we had brought home from church after an Easter Sunday service. The basket used to sit on my dining table with fruit in it. It's since been replaced by a ceramic fruit bowl. It must have been empty at the time, or I just didn't want fruit in the painting. I'm not sure which. I arranged the items on my patio and took several photos. I was in no way fast enough to complete a painting in one sitting. In fact for the first few years I was averaging about one painting per year. Honestly! I was that slow. It wasn't until I starting taking formal lessons that I began to speed up.
I enjoyed doing this painting very much. I had thought the leather texture of the boots was going to be hard to capture, but it just kind of happened effortlessly. The basket was a different story. I must have repainted it at least five times. But I was really happy with the final outcome.
My hat I started when I was visiting my family in Michigan in the summer of 2011. My parents have a beautiful house on Harsens Island. It's one of my favorite places to be. I put my hat on the back of one of my moms porch rockers and placed the rocker in front of one of her flower gardens and took several photos. The hat turned out to be more challenging than I thought it would be and I'm still not really happy with the outcome. I look at it and think, I could do more with that. But I've heard some say that artists always do that. I was very happy with the flowers. I love the color. I took some artistic license at the end and changed the color of the rocking chair. In reality it's a shade of light green, close to sea foam I believe. It's a pretty color but it didn't really work with the overall color scheme of the painting, so I made it brown.
The best part of these two painting though are the frames. They aren't shown in these pictures, but they are beautiful. My dad hand made them out of original wide pine floor boards that we took up from our house in New Hampshire. I swear my dad can build anything! I will get a picture of them up at some point. They really are worth seeing.
About 10 years ago my husband and I took a weekend motorcycle trip, meandering from our home in southern New Hampshire up to Lake Placid New York, over to Plattsburgh and then across Lake Champlain to Burlington Vermont and back home. If not for the rain the last 4 hours, it would have been a perfect weekend. But, the majority of it was absolutely beautiful! While we were in Lake Placid I spotted this church sitting high upon a hill. It was lovely, so I had Kenny stop so I could get a photo of it.
Not long after that I was talking to a good friend about how I didn't really have a "hobby". She and her mom are both artists and so she suggested that I try my hand at oil painting. Willing to give most anything a try, I agreed. She took me to the store to get some basic supplies and told me to find a photograph that inspired me. Immediately, I thought of the beautiful church in Lake Placid New York.
And so it began...
This painting of the church in Lake Placid was my first. It was done in 2008 and I think it took most of the year to complete. The process was fun, frustrating, encouraging and challenging. The cool thing was, I started looking at the world around me. Really looking. At shapes and colors and shadows and light. Since then I've taken lessons and read and studied as much as possible to develop my skill and ability. I still find the process fun, frustrating, encouraging and challenging. And I still love it!
There are some people who you’ll feel an instant connection with after just one encounter. Frankie was one of those people for me. This painting that I did of her and her daughter was one of my favorites to do. It’s a 12×12 oil on canvas.
Frankie lives in McDowell County WV. We met when I was on my 2nd mission trip there. We spent 2 days working together and sharing stories about our lives. I was deeply impacted by the reality that is Frankie. That may not make sense, but I don’t know how else to say it. And she’s complicated too. She has a fearsomeness that makes me sure if I ever needed it, she’d have my back. But she has a vulnerability that makes me want to tuck her under my wing as one of my own. God has taken a thread of each of our stories and woven them together; and I’m so glad he did.
When I completed the painting I had it framed and sent it to Frankie as a gift. This past June I had the privilege of going back to WV, spending time with Frankie in her home and seeing the painting hanging on her wall. Frankie has a story of her own that I think is worth telling. I’ll share one poem that she wrote, but the whole of her story is hers to tell.
Jan 17, 2014
This morning I took time to have a talk with the Lord and as we spoke I began to write and I made it into a poem (My Testimony)
Lord you know I’ve lost my way, I’m at your mercy while I pray…I know I haven’t done my best when it comes to serving you; and I beg that you will hear my plea and help me carry through,
“You know all my troubles, my heartache and despair…and when I called out to you I felt you wasn’t there.”
Just as I spoke those words I froze and my heart began to say,
“I am the one and only and I have not turned away; You my child have chose your road, you forgot I gave you two; I laid them there as you were born, the rest was up to you; I have seen your troubles, your heartache and despair; You know I’ve not abandoned you, for I am always there; I gave you peace to ease your mind and your heartaches don’t you see; For every time you felt so lonely you would always come to me; Your despair only makes you stronger, and it lets my will be done; You know I’ll never forsaken you, you’ve known me since you were young; Rest your heart with me my child for I give you signs every day, and if you choose to follow them then I will guide your way; I have always been with you and I’ll never turn to leave, GREAT things will happen you will see, if you choose to follow me.”
Thank you Lord Jesus for the reminder!!!! – Frankie
I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I am an artist, a wife, a mom, a hygienist, a youth leader, a masterpiece, a mess, a woman. I am seeking to bring glory to God through my artwork and my life.