About Me

My photo
This is my blog AND my website now. Click on the " my paintings" tab to view my paintings. Scroll down to read my blog.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Brotherly Love- Julius and Jordan

Monoamniotic Twins

The first time Nikki came over to my house, she glanced around at my unsold paintings which hang on the walls of my own house, like most people do when they come over for the first time. But then when she saw the painting of conjoined twins, she stopped and stared longer than most people do.... and not in a confused, head cocked, scrunched up nose way that says, "why would she want to paint conjoined twins??". I could tell that it intrigued her more than it does most people. But I didn't discuss it with her for a while. Then, about a month later, she emailed me inquiring about doing a "family portrait"... which left a bitter taste in my mouth- until she explained that it would be a different kind of family portrait. The painting of the conjoined twins had struck a chord with her because she had once carried two boys, named Julius and Jordan, that had a lot in common with conjoined twins- they were monoamniotic twins- twins that start out the same way as conjoined twins do, and reside in the same amniotic sack throughout the pregnancy (normally twins are in separate sacks), so they are literally as close as any two people can possibly be, without being conjoined. Sadly, the boys died very shortly before they were due to be born, because they're umbilical cords became tangled and constricted. Nikki wanted a painting that could memorialize their special and unique life that didn't make it past the womb.

I enjoyed putting the painting together, because I did the majority of it in the weeks before Christmas while the kids were out of school, and it was very educational for them. I had checked out a stack of books from the library about fetal developement so I could use them as visual referrences. The kids also loved looking through the amazing pictures of babies prebirth, and they asked tons of questions, and learned a lot about reproduction and how people start. Telling them about it in simple terms, and seeing the look on their faces, made me realize again how awesome and amazing the process really is. Then they wanted to go look at their own baby pictures again and think and talk about how they had just come out of my "tummy" and how wierd but cool that is, and how they wished they could remember it all.

They also learned about Julius and Jordan and their story, about how their mother loved them so much even though they weren't even born yet, and how devestated she was when they died- which I could tell disturbed them some. I told them I wanted to create something beautiful for her to remember them by. When it was done, Rocket told me he thought it was beautiful and thought Nikki would like it. Roxanne said she was just angry because she wished she could paint like that, which I took as a compliment too. I hope Nikki liked it- she said she did, but most people dont say when they dont. And I hope that I never stop being thankful the beauty of my own kids, and the amazing fact that they actually came into existance. And I really hope that they can never stop being thankful and amazed by awesome and beautiful things like that too.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Final Advent Painting

This is the last video of the advent paintings. I feel that if I were a better painter I wouldn't need to preface it by saying this: Be sure to look carefully when all four of the paintings come together (that's why I intentionally set the slide length to be annoyingly long) and remember that "the whole is more than the sum of its parts".

Originally, I tried to place the symbols of captivity and sorrow in the dark sections of the painting and the symbols of freedom, liberation and peace in the light sections. At the end, this division of light and dark values is how I formed the Jesus face. However, on about the third painting, I started to get confused about all my symbols, which I think lead to somewhat of a revelation. The symbols that I thought represented freeing things, like butterflies, airplanes, etc., began to seem like negative things in light of the fact that we are separated from them. I started thinking about how the very things that represent freedom to us, are usually what we are held captive by.

For example, I used the Rockstar Energy drink logo as a positive symbol in the second painting (the yellow star with two Rs in it), because of the feeling of freedom to accomplish more that I get when drinking a Rockstar. But the more I thought of it, the more I realized that it's really something I am held captive by since I am so dependant on it, and probably am never fully satisfied with the high it gives me. I am sure this is true of many different kinds of addictions.

Initially, all the flying things seemed like symbols of hope, but as I started looking at the characters in my painting (like the girl longing to fly on a bike like ET and the girl with homemade wings), I realized that this longing for something we can't have is actually something that will eventually destroy our souls, if we don't learn to be satisfied otherwise, which leads me to moral of the story.... And that is that humans are very near sighted things, often only seeing the many pictures within the larger picture. And the larger picture is Jesus- the only true Messiah who can rescue us from ourselves, from our longings, from our captivity, from our sorrow. Or atleast that's what I believe.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent Painting Week 3

OK, my apologies, I forgot to post last weeks video on my blog. I posted it on Facebook, but not on my blog. So here it is.

The concept of week three is very similar to the concept of week two. It is supposed to be of a little girl who has made wings for herself out of paper, and then has gotten a bunch of helium balloons and is looking to the sky, as if she is attempting to fly- trying to transcend the limitations of this world. I took pictures of Roxanne posing for me in her art apron, and she obviously inspired a lot of this picture. Roxanne's art always seems to represent an escape to me. She is still so imaginative, free spirited and whimsical- feelings that I think can lead to cynicism as we discover the reality of the captivity this world holds the human soul.

I just got done with painting #4- the grande finale. Now I am going to go work on putting it in a video format.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Advent Painting Part 2 of 4

OK, here is week two. Again, I am incredibly irritated by how much I am in the way- watching the painting evolve isn't nearly as cool when I am standing right it front of it. But I still want to show the video, because just showing the finished product doesn't really communicate the same metaphor- the process, the struggle, the production, is what the painting is about- not so much the outcome.

Lots of people seem to think the painting needs an explanation. If you weren't there to see it be done live, the sermon being preached simultaneously is about the hymn "Oh Come Emmanuel". Each of the four weeks concentrates on a different verse of the hymn, which basically is about the captivity of Isreal and their longing for a liberator. As is much of the historical events recorded in the Bible, this is such a powerful metaphor for the human condition in any time period. My paintings so far have been about human limitations/struggles/pains (represented in the darker sections) and contrasts them with the freedom we long for (represented in the lighter sections).
For this week in particular, the girl stares into a snow globe which separates her from a world where freedom is achieved (yes, it is the iconic scene from E.T. where Elliots bike suddenly takes flight).

On black Friday, Jodi and I went thrift store shopping, and at one Goodwill, I found a snow globe just like this. I kept looking at it thinking it was so cool and wished I had someone that it would make a good Christmas gift for. I couldn't think of anybody so I didn't buy it. But the image stuck with me, so that's why I put it in the painting.

Both of the paintings, so far, are filled with all kinds of symbols. Some of them are pretty self-explanatory, and others are things that are just personal to me, so maybe only friends and Matt would know what they mean. Its amazing how each year the subject matter of the advent series always seems to resonate with me so deeply in light of recent feelings and events in my life... it's almost, like, magical. But, ultimately, I would hope that other people would be able to relate to the concept of the painting. If I can touch and connect with someone else, that is what I would most long for... but connecting with others freely, is the freedom I long for, that I am painting about... and that I am tragically separated from.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Advent Painting Part 1/4

It's the advent season again, which means I will be painting live at church each week until Christmas. This year, there will be four paintings that will culminate in one gigantic heavy painting that I am not sure how to hang yet, but am hoping that Matt will come up with something. I am not so thrilled about compiling a video this year, since I am not painting on plexiglass, like last year- so you see a whole lot of the back of me (not my favorite part of me) blocking the painting. But here is part 1 anyways.

Africa Panels
Yes, I am playing catch-up on my blog today... don't think I am commiting to any long term upkeep though!
I didn't actually get to attend the event these pieces were displayed at, because it was in Iowa, but it was something I was so excited to be a part of! Jody and all the people that do all that water4christmas stuff sent me three wooden Africa cutouts to paint any way I wanted. I pawned one of them onto Jodi (the Colorado Jodi, not the Iowa Jody- notice the spelling difference), and these are the other two that I did: Then, once back in Iowa, they were displayed and auctioned off at a water4christmas banquet. I wish I could have been there to see all of the Africa's all together. A special informant, who was actually at the event, told me that both of my pieces ended up going for over $300 each! That's really exciting, because last year, I threw a big present wrapping party, in efforts to raise money for water4christmas, and after a whole lot of party throwing work (and that's hard work) I raised roughly the same amount of money. I think I am meant to paint much more than I am meant to throw parties.
That same special informant also told me that they subscribed to my blog yesterday. Unlike the previously mentioned information, this information sortof burdened me, as I remembered how pathetic my blog had become.... its gotten all skinny, its ribs are starting to show, its hair is falling out and its been staring at me with this really insane psychotic gaze that's kindof freakin me out! So, you understand, why I am trying to revive it... we were once so in love. I don't know what happened.
Baseball Art
I was asked to participate in a baseball art show recently. Since baseball isn't something I'm exactly passionate about, I had a hard time coming up with subject matter. However, I do know somebody that I am crazy about who IS passionate about baseball... so I decided to paint that little person- Rocket. I decided to draw him thinking about baseball, because while it is true that he would like to spend most of his time actually swinging the bat or throwing the ball, in actuality, he probably spends the majority of his time begging and wishing he had someone to do it with. And I threw Friday in there too cause he's so cute!
The art show was totally not the kind I am used to being a part of! It was in a fancy ballroom with Chandeliers, and we got served some really delicious food. Matt thought it was the best art show I had ever been in, since he was more interested in the speakers than I was. Dick Monfort, the rich guy who owns the Rockies, and other former baseball players talked endlessly about baseball and the Rockies and whatnot... yawn. Matt sure looks nice in his purple shirt, huh?