Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Oil Painters of America Blog

Happy Middle of the Holidays to you!  I have something I'd like to share with you and I hope it works.  Today, Oil Painters of America published an article I wrote about color charts on their blog.  I will post the link at the end of this but I am going to try to copy and paste it to my own blog, so that you can read it if you don't subscribe to OPA's blog.  You should, though.  There's always something interesting for oil painters being discussed on it; you might enjoy it.
Okay, wish me luck, I'm cutting and pasting now:

The Value of Color Charts

My advice—my plea to you—is to do the charts for your sake. (Do not use mine.) The charts are not a sure-fire gimmick guaranteed to make you a color wizard, but they are the best way I know of to understand your pigments and enter the study of color on sound footing. Take your time; don’t be in a rush just to get them done. Stay alert and see what is happening, not only on your palette, but within yourself. Impatience will well up, so will exasperation as you make mistakes or struggle with decisions about the right color and value, but I urge you to stick with it. In a way, the charts are intended to be somewhat agonizing so that you will develop the patience and self-control so necessary in painting. It should be like an initiation ritual before what is to come, so you may endure it without giving up.
Richard Schmid, Alla Prima
I begin with this quote because, seriously, anything that Richard Schmid pleads with his readers to do is worth consideration. The discipline of charting color might be compared to learning to read music or understanding grammar. I know some great musicians who play “by ear,” and writers who know nothing about the rules of grammar, but they will admit that they wish they had that academic knowledge in their hip pocket. Color charts are like that. You may not learn everything possible about color by doing them, but you will have, as Richard said, “sound footing” to begin your journey. You will also have confidence, knowing you’ve done your work.
The purpose of the charts is to show how each color on your palette relates to all the other colors there. You will want a chart for every color, to see how that particular color interacts with one other color, and then how their offspring look when mixed with white. Each chart will show the influence of the dominant color on the other colors. You will be able to tell by looking which color is represented in the chart; your red chart’s red/yellow will not look like your yellow chart’s yellow/red. You will add white as you go down, tinting each color until it’s all but white; across the bottom, all the lightest lights should be the same value. Most of the other colors start out at different places on the value scale, so the other rows will have a variety of values. Even though you can tell by looking, it’s still a good idea to label all the columns.
Here’s what you will need: ¼ inch masking tape (easiest to buy online; costs about $2.00), a pencil and ruler, one or two small palette knives (the second one can scrape the first, you won’t have to wash brushes between each color, and your squares will be pretty), and of course your paints, palette, paper towels and canvas. When I am teaching color, I start with four colors (plus white) in order to reveal the unlimited potential of a limited palette. This number of colors fortuitously fits perfectly on a piece of 14×11 canvas, which can be bought in tablets.


Charts.Pic#1.Materials.materialsHere’s how you prepare your canvas: It’s easier to work on a tabletop for this than using an easel. Tape the canvas to a board to allow yourself freedom to spin the chart around as you fill the squares. Measure out a quarter of an inch for the width of the tape, then an inch for each square, and repeat for every color. Make tic marks with your pencil, rather than lines, to indicate placement. Put the quarter-inch tape between the marks and leave a tag hanging off the end for you to pull when you’re done. Place all vertical tapes first, followed by all horizontal tapes. You will carefully remove the tape as soon as you are done with each chart (don’t wait till later!); it is easy to pull the horizontals off first, then the verticals. Now write the initials of the colors you will be charting. For example, the colors I use for the limited palette are Transparent Oxide Brown, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red, and Cadmium Yellow Pale: TOB, U, CR, and CY. The Transparent Oxide Brown chart will have these headings on the columns: TOB, TOB/U, TOB/CR, and TOB/CY. Note that the size of your chart/canvas will be determined by the numbers of colors and values you want to explore. For the limited palette, I chose four colors and five value steps, so I will have four across and five down, plus some space between each chart. Measure it out accordingly.

Prepared Canvas

image2Here’s how you create your chart: Understand that this is an exercise for your eyes, mind, body, and soul. It will demand your full involvement in a most personal way as you begin a real dialog with your colors. Give yourself lots of latitude, grace, and hours.
The order that the colors are laid out on your charts is a personal choice. Some people want the order of colors to be the same on every chart; others prefer that the dominant color leads on every chart and the rest fall in behind it. How you lay your colors out is a choice you make based on how you want to see your colors. To me, it makes sense to start with the dominant color, so I can see at a glance which chart it is. Then the other colors follow according to their value, so that whether reading across or down, they start with dark and move toward light. Lay yours out in the order that makes sense to you.
Allot a nice big pile of the color you’re charting on the palette and another pile of white. Your first color is always the easiest, as you only have the one color, plus white. The square you fill first is the top left one— pure, untinted, unmixed color. The second one you’ll mix is the last box on the column; it is nearly white. To mix that, start with a pile of white and add just the tiniest spot of color to it. All the bottom boxes on your chart will be the same value: nearly white. The value of the other squares will be determined by the value of your master color.
You will be working one column at a time, taking five value steps with each color. The first column of each chart is the master color’s value scale. All the other columns will show this master color’s effect on the rest of the palette’s colors. Here is the first column for the limited palette chart:

First Color Column

image3When you have your first and last colors laid in, you will mix the value that is right in the middle of those two. Mix it and hold it on your knife over the two color values on your chart and ask yourself which it favors more, the pure color or the lightest tint. This is when your colors really start talking to you. When you finally mix a color value that favors neither, you have your middle square. The last two colors are halfway between each of these: one is halfway between pure color and middle color value, the other is between middle color value and lightest possible value.

 The next column will be a little bit more complicated, as you are adding another whole dimension: you’re making not only value decisions but also color decisions, as you mix color columns that show two colors in which one dominates the other. It should be clear on each chart that you’re showing a certain color as it’s influenced by other colors. You then create the tint steps in the value scale for each.

First Chart Before and After

As you are working, remember that this is your chart and no one is timing or grading you. Let it be a joyous experience, with not one nerve wracked and nary a tear shed. Scrape your mistakes and don’t worry about the squares; your tape is in place to keep you tidy. You will be so surprised when you pull the tape off and see how beautiful your work looks. When I first finished mine, I put them on my studio wall because it was just so satisfying to look at them; like a lovely rainbow of harmonies. But they had to come down. They are a tool, and just like the tools on the pegboard, they have another use besides looking pretty on the wall. I use them for teaching and for note-taking in the field. A good field sketch combined with informed color notes is invaluable back in the studio.
A good field sketch combined with informed color notes is invaluable back in the studio.

Limited Palette Color Chart

 When you’re finished with all your color charts, you may want to varnish them after a few months to ensure their long life. You can keep them with you as loose canvas pieces or cut them out, hole-punch one side of them and put them in a binder, or you can just keep them in transparent sleeves. When you want to add a new color to your palette, it is good practice to create a new chart for it, to see if it can play nicely with your other colors. Some very nice colors are too weak or too aggressive to fit in with the family. Subjecting them to the scrutiny of the chart is a quick qualifier for contenders.
image6It’s easy to see how your mind and eyes are challenged by the creation of color charts, as all the measuring is intellectual and visual. If you try to literally measure part-for-part, you will not have an accurate chart because every pigment has a different saturating power. So, your mind and eyes are about to get smarter. You will not find how it challenges your body until you start the process. You will then be amazed at how physically demanding this assignment is. This isn’t for sissies. And as for the soul… ultimately your choices, as objective as this process seems, will be determined by how you feel. It can’t be taught. You will only get it when you do it. This is why charts must be done and not just seen. It’s also why the color charts vary between different artists, and why Richard Schmid can say that he learns something new every time he makes a new set. He is still making new charts for himself! And since he’s been painting longer than a lot of us have been breathing, perhaps it really is a worthwhile thing to try.                                     

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Civil War Reenactment 2014

The weekend before Thanksgiving: that's when they have the Civil War reenactment at the historic Liendo Plantation.  I had to miss it last year because I was getting ready for that big solo show in Houston and had made myself very sick breathing great doses of varnish.  This year looked grim too, as the weather was just awful at the start of the weekend.  Then, a clearing.  Sunday was beautiful! 
I got there just as the big battle was starting so I couldn't get any closer to the action than this:

We were to be sitting down, and you can see the yellow cord that was supposed to keep us back.  The four people center and left let that cord mark where their backs would be, and they were on their knees for most of the time.  From my position then, were captured a plethora of photos that look like this:

...as I held the camera up over my head.
It was exciting though.  The most exciting part for me was seeing two people who I felt close to because I had painted them over a long period of time.  It's funny to have a one-sided soul-connection with someone, but my heart was pouring things into the figures I was portraying, completely unbeknownst to them.  When I saw them again, I greeted them: they being dear friends to me; I being a perfect stranger to them.  How odd, but somehow sweet.  Like when you dream about someone: you have had this experience with them that they don't remember at all!  Still, it's a part of your memory of them, hopefully a pleasant one.

So here is the bravest of them all, Gordon, and the painting I did of him, "Behind the Lines:"

He is the symbol of our military, staying on the periphery of our lives but laying their lives on the line for our freedom.  Gordon himself, and his children, have served/are serving our country in the military.  He is a true patriot and he is keeping our history alive in a very literal sense. 

And here is the most lovely of them all, Billie, and the painting I did of her, "Something Found:"

She is a symbol of the sweet pursuit of something lost.  Her grace and beauty have moved a lot of people.  She has such a gentle but strong countenance that people seem to confer upon the image of her wishful pieces of themselves.  I had the good fortune of meeting her, and so know that she is everything you would wish such a beautiful person to be; humble, gracious, kind and more beautiful than a brush could render.

I am so grateful this Thanksgiving for the things the skipper in my very first command told us we were living to serve: God, country, family.  I wish you a wonderful holiday.
God bless you and God bless America!


Friday, October 24, 2014

The Vanishing Mist

I don't know what is in the mind of other painters when they work, but my mind is very busy while I paint.  As I spent my day painting this man, who is in his work clothes, being as he is a genuine Hieromonk of the Orthodox Church, I was thinking of what he might be thinking.  I was hoping that I might convey something, like a vanitas painting, that would project beyond the subject and into the ether of the great beyond.  Without being weird or morbid.

So my first idea was kicked out immediately: that of Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1; the famous "Alas, poor Yorick!" meditation.  Now, Shakespeare was my favorite in school and I knew him well, but holding the skull of a friend must needs be counted as weird and morbid in any man's book.  And Father John, as he is called, seemed not to be tragic at all, as he rested his hand on someone's skull.  Rather, he seemed somehow radiant and self-transcendent; the opposite of Hamlet.

That's when it hit me.  He gave me the same feeling that I had when I looked at Bernini's sculpture, The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa!  Here's what Teresa herself says about her feelings following the vision she had, that inspired the sculpture:

"...The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God... It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying..."
(from her autobiography, "The Life of Teresa of Jesus" 1515-1582)

There are no "alases" in her heart, the heart that she perceived as pierced by an angel with an arrow of fire unto earthly death.  This is what I could see in the priest-monk's face as he posed in silence.  It was as though he were looking at a thing of beauty that only he could see, and I was finally reminded of the verse in the Bible, James 4:14:

 ...you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

So I left the top part of the painting lighter, like a lifting fog, and have entitled the painting, The Vanishing Mist, so as to allude to not only the vision that vanishes when one awakes fully, but to earthly life itself: a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 
That makes me want to live a life that counts; one that is colorful and courageous, while it's still today!

The Vanishing Mist, 20x16, available through RS Hanna Gallery

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Freedom Flowers

It feels good, she says from southern Texas, to turn the corner toward autumn.  There is an ever-so-slight hint of cool in the days all of a sudden that makes me excited to get back out to paint! 
In the last post, I told you that I was going to Fredericksburg to do an oil painting demonstration at my gallery (rshannagallery.com).  Thank you all for the great turnout!  
I brought my whole set-up, including a table, wooden box and spotlight, so I could paint something patriotic from life.  I went with some Gerber daisies that reminded me of bursting fireworks, and a kind of red, white and blue color scheme.  I had a graphic from 1776 America tacked to the back of the box, of an eagle with a shield, arrows and olive branches: perfect!  Altogether it made a good subject for the day.  At the point of the top picture, I had just finished the initial block-in and was preparing to talk about color and temperature.  The set-up is visible on the left.  The lower photo shows the finished painting, which is available at RS Hanna Gallery.  Some of those paintings on the wall are still available, too.  I'll be updating inventories in the coming weeks~ I want to sincerely thank the art lovers and collectors who are such a rich blessing to me; thank you so much.  I hope that the paintings you've taken home with you make you smile every time you see them!  
Welcome to the new season!  And thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Holiday Dream

Happy Independence Day!  I'm so proud to be an American.  I hope that you and your family are enjoying this holiday.  As I said in the last post, I will be demonstrating the art of oil painting at the RS Hanna Gallery in Fredericksburg during First Friday Art Walk~ I would love to see you there.  I'll start at 5:00.

Today I want to share a brief sketch of a woman napping in a park on holiday, to get you ready for the long weekend.  The model, Khayt, has posed for our Friday group a couple of times and seems to epitomize the relaxed vacationer.  Too bad she wasn't in red, white and blue, but she does have an apple!  And I believe the volume at her hand is Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America," in which the author opines about the greatness of our young country: "...I have nowhere seen women occupying a loftier position; and if I were asked... to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply, --to the superiority of their women."  A wise man!

Happy Independence Day, God bless you this holiday and God bless America.

Holiday Dream, 8x10 $old, RS Hanna Gallery

Monday, June 30, 2014

Three Little Pitchers

Spring semester classes have finished and our art league is soon to be homeless again so my classroom is disappearing for awhile.  I will publish workshop, class or demo dates as they are scheduled, and my next demo date, as a matter of fact, is this Friday at the Art Walk, RS Hanna Gallery, in Fredericksburg, 5 p.m. www.rshannagallery.com 
I would love to see you; if you are in the area, please stop by.

Three new paintings are on display at RS Hanna gallery: The Three Little Pitchers. 
My beautiful and brilliant mother-in-law loaned me these pitchers so that I could paint them.  They were my rainy-day painting subjects: on days that I had no model or could not go out to paint, I painted them in the studio.  They are 8x6 paintings in nice solid wood frames and they make me feel so happy!  In my imagination, we are all vessels, looking a certain way on the outside, containing certain things on the inside, each unique and wonderful in his own way.  We are always being filled up, poured out, or holding our own.  These three pitchers are beautiful and purposeful, so very different from each other, but complementing each other perfectly, like a good family. 
I hope they bring you a smile today: 

Gold With Green 8x6 $295

Green With Blue 8x6 $295
Blue With Pink 8x6 $295
Three Little Pitchers $800

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

All About the Light

The only thing a painter can paint is the light.  It seems like he's painting a tree or a face, but he's painting the look of the light that is bouncing off the object and landing on the retina.  The subject is the light.  Even if it's in the shadows, a painter is painting something about the light: the bounce light, the ambient light; if it can be seen, it has light touching it somehow. 
The light has a color to it that will be felt by the viewer as warm or cool, and will influence the local color of the object.  It's smart to try to understand this, as it does influence color choices.  A blue light on a red ball will make the local red color look different (purple) from a yellow light on a red ball (orange).  This is because blue and red make purple, and yellow and red make orange!  The funny thing is, if you paint it right, it will read "red," even if it was actually painted with purple or orange pigments. 
And the shadow that will be cast is different according to the color of the light as well.  "Warm" light casts a cool shadow; "cool" light casts a warm shadow.  The first thing a painter has to do is determine the color of the light.

Each of these four studies, done when I was painting with Gerhartz, was painted in a different light.  I was glad to be able to really closely scrutinize the temperature and relationships for as long as I wanted.  Well, as long as I wanted in three hours.
(I don't know how these will be presented in the email version of this post, so if you want to see it in its natural and deliberate format, please click www.kimcarlton.blogspot.com )
You've already seen part of one of these in the last post.  Here are all four:

There is cool natural light (the girl with the flower); cool natural with warm artificial light (the girl in the kimono); cool artificial light (the auburn-haired girl); and warm artificial light (the man).  The most challenging one was the cool natural with warm artificial light.  Most of the face was in shadow and I had to concentrate to discern the temperature there.  In spite of the warm artificial light, the shadow was warm, maybe due to the overall cool light pouring in through the north-facing windows.  The studio is painted a warm color so that would also affect the feel of the bounce light.
No matter where we are or what we're looking at, it's all about the light.  The purpose of most representational painters is to share a light impression, regardless of what the objects in the painting happen to be.  I feel like it is true in life as well: it's not about the objects; it's all about the light.  The way you see the world is related to the kind of light you put on it. 

Monday, May 26, 2014



I have been so inspired.  Recently, in Texas, we have had Sorolla in Dallas, Sargent in Houston and Gerhartz in The Woodlands. I have learned from these three artists by studying how they process and organize light and temperature and values.  I spent today with Sargent, saying good-bye and asking for just one more lesson; he never ever disappoints a person who asks nicely and listens carefully.

This is a crop of a painting I did from life while studying with Gerhartz, showing the play of light and shadow across the form of girl's head, that embodies many of the ideas I've been exploring this spring.  Her face is illuminated by cool north light from a window and her hair is up-lit from behind with a hot spotlight, yet most of her face is not in the light at all.  I love the extreme subtleties of form that can be turned within a color-value shape, just using slight shifts in temperature.  If I learned nothing else from Sargent and Sorolla, I learned that there is infinite strength in restraint.  I will be practicing this idea over the summer and I'll try to be better about posting on the blog and website. 

I taught my last class of the semester this week and am looking forward to catching up on some studio work.  I found out that Something Found was picked as a finalist in the prestigious Art Renewal Center's International Salon, so that's two international salons that the little Spanish lady did well in.  She's back and available at RS Hanna Gallery now.  Shannon has sold five of my paintings in the last couple of months so I know I've found the right place for my work.  I love this time of year when all the quiet work of the winter is blossoming forth and bearing fruit!  
Thank you for stopping by www.kimcarlton.blogspot.com and have a safe and grateful Memorial Day holiday.   

Monday, May 19, 2014

Salon International 2014

Salon International was very different this year. Greenhouse Gallery, the SI venue, has new owners and has moved back into their original gallery space.  Many decisions are being made to "remake" Greenhouse and the Salon, including expansion of the show to include other media besides oil, and limiting the number of accepted entries to around 200 from the traditional 400.  I felt honored to have both my paintings chosen this year, and then flat out elated to be one of the 12 winners chosen by the great master artist, David Leffel.


The two paintings in the show were Something Found (above), which won the first honorable mention, and Little Gypsy Girl.  The show was great and having Mr Leffel there to judge it first time out was a fantastic stroke of brilliance.  Having Mr Leffel there to talk to collectors about your work while you are standing right there is nothing short of surreal.
Thank you to the people who came out to support the arts and the artists in the salon!
And thank you for visiting the Paint Your Joy blog!  www.kimcarlton.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 6, 2014

RS Hanna Gallery

Of all the news I've had to share with you, I've saved the best for last.

I've joined RS Hanna Gallery of Fredericksburg, TX and am so very pleased to be a part of what they are doing.  This pint-sized powerhouse is packed with high caliber artists from all over, but it was because of who owns it and because it's in Texas that I chose them. 
One of the things that I love about Fredericksburg is the busy art scene, including their First Friday Art Walk every month (www.ffaw.com).  I'll be there every single first Friday that I possibly can be, including this one, in spite of the dire weather forecasts. 
If you get to go, make sure to stop by and meet the wonderful Shannon Hanna and check it out for yourself, you'll love it: (www.rshannagallery.com).

208 South Llano Street, Fredericksburg, TX 78624
One of the things I love about Shannon is that she doesn't want me to be uni-dimensional; she wants figurative, landscape, genre, and still life!  I'm very happy about that.
She will be representing me exclusively so questions about paintings will go straight to her now.  
In other news, I will have two paintings in the Salon International this year: Something Found and Little Gypsy Girl will stand before the great master, David Leffel, to be scrutinized and judged.  A preview of the show can be seen here:
And last but not least, I am beside myself with excitement as tomorrow I will get to see one of my most favorite masters in a show up in Dallas: Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, or "Sorolla" to his rabid followers.  Talk about a proficient multi-dimensional artist!  I will be learning some lessons from him.  I have packed already my notebook, my sketch pad, my camera and my binoculars, just in case. 
Here's a link to the show:
I have been able to paint every single day so far this year (except Sundays, my study day) and I would like to be able to say that at the end of the year, so I'm already finagling a way to keep the streak~ wish me luck! 
I hope to see you at all or some of the events listed today, but most of all I want to see you at RS Hanna Gallery!  Come this Friday if you can: the more the warmer!


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Plein Air Magazine

Plein Air Magazine's Editor-in-Chief, Stephen Doherty, has published part of John Pototschnik's article on faith in the field in the current digital edition of his magazine.  He used all new paintings of some of those interviewed by John who do paint en plein air.  I thought that you would like to see it, although the best way is to subscribe to either the digital edition (which has expanded stories and videos), or the hard cover.
Check them out at: http://www.pleinairmagazine.com/

And now, here is the article (click on the pages to enlarge):

For email subscribers, click here to go to the blog in person so you can enlarge them in context: www.kimcarlton.blogspot.com
Thanks and have a wonderful Sunday!

Monday, January 27, 2014

New New Year

What a new year! 
Our show in Houston, Power & Peace, ended on 6 January and was a great success, breaking a sales record for that gallery.  It was a "solo show" but I was never alone in it.
I am so very grateful to our friends and family who were there, before, during, and afterward, making everything work.  It was a lot of work!  And people came to the opening in spite of the fact that it was the worst weather day in the whole of 2013.  I was a little afraid that it would just be a couple of people in that cavernous space, but it turned out to be an exciting and busy affair.

         Here are artists Denise Mahlke, myself, and Fran Ellisor, just before the doors opened.

On another front, I just posted an interview by John Pototschnik a couple days ago, and there was an additional one by him around the same time involving 14 artists across the country: 7 women and 7 men, entitled "Faith... A Shield or a Crutch?"  I will share that with you here as well:

Faith…a shield or crutch? (Part 1)

Posted on

In this two-part series, 14 professional artists reveal the important role faith plays in their lives and how it directs, strengthens, and enables them to persevere in their chosen field.
One of the blessings derived from writing this weekly blog for the past three years has been the opportunity to communicate with some very talented artists and to discover so many of them are unabashed of their faith in Jesus Christ.
It’s this time of year that we traditionally celebrate His birth, and special songs such as “O, Holy Night” are ways in which that faith is verbalized. Just a few verses will demonstrate what I mean…
“The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger, In all our trials born to be our friend; He knows our need, To our weakness is no stranger, Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!”
When one speaks of faith and its importance in their life, they are often called spiritual, religious, or perhaps a “person of faith”. If they are really serious and actually attempt to live it, then labels are quickly attached such as fanatic and radical.
What we fail to realize is that all of us are “persons of faith”. We all put our trust in someone or something. Some of us have faith in ourselves…in our strength, ability, or intelligence. Some look to others and have faith in them to provide what is lacking. We may have faith in our national power, our leaders, our money, our insurance, our possessions, even science. More importantly, maybe our faith is dependent on what we’ve been taught about God, or possibly we’ve put our faith and trust in what we want to believe about God and creation…a belief system of our own making. Bottom line, each one of us lives by faith and we have built our life on that foundation. The key question of course is, “How reliable is that foundation?” When all the things mentioned above are taken away…and they will be at some point…what is left? That’s the key question; that’s when the ultimate reliability of the “object” of one’s faith will be revealed. There is sufficient evidence for me, and the artists participating in this blog, to entrust our lives and eternal destination to the Rock of Ages and to Jesus Christ His Son…Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
It’s an honor to bring you the inspiring words of my friends. First you’ll hear from the women. On 29 December, you’ll hear from the men.
What part have faith, strength, and perseverance played in your life and art career?

16 -kc - r
Kim Carlton
"Something Found" - 16"x 20" - Oil
Kim Carlton – “Something Found” – 16″x 20″ – Oil
Kim Carlton:   A biblical definition of faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  It is what we believe to be true and orient our lives toward.  It also says in there that “faith without works is dead.”  I believe that I was designed to be an artist, but I still had to exert strength and perseverance in order to actually produce art; otherwise, my faith that I was an artist would have no life beyond my own head.  Art is separate from the artist; it is the substance of a vision.  Strength involves disciplining yourself every day to align the day toward what you believe to be true.  Perseverance requires staying on track, and getting back on track when you inevitably get knocked off.  I have always been an artist but it has taken time and patience to be sufficiently trained to communicate my vision well.   Carlton website

Dot Courson
Dot Courson
Dot Courson - "Fall Retreat" - 24"x 36" - Oil
Dot Courson – “Fall Retreat” – 24″x 36″ – Oil
Dot Courson:   Faith leads to strength and perseverance. Art is part of my make-up – it’s what I’ve longed to do since childhood.  I didn’t get to take a direct route to become an artist, but persevered because I felt this is what I was meant to do. God has a life plan for us all.  He works it out in His time and in His way. His judgment is infinitely better!  As an artist, I have had successes and failures, but with each work of art -as in life- I’ve tried to be strong and use my gifts to work hard.  In this economy it’s not as easy as it used to be. But in life, struggles made me stronger and I have faith that this is what I need to continue to do. I truly have been blessed and so I feel that in turn, it is my duty to encourage and help others in their lives.   Courson website

Judy Crowe
Judy Crowe
Judy Crowe - "China and Primrose" - 12"x 12" - Oil
Judy Crowe – “China and Primrose” – 12″x 12″ – Oil
Judy Crowe:   I chose to become an artist but before that, I chose to become a Christian.  The loss of my mother when I was in high school had a direct impact on the search for answers, but questioning, studying and reading led me to my decision.  I would say my life has been quite a tapestry of events since, which has shaped both my life and my career, becoming intertwined and bittersweet.  I feel God has had a hand in all of it, that he’s led me to become an artist and given me the strength to persevere in times of doubt.  I am very thankful for this gift of Light and Truth in my life because through it, I find hope and peace in the realization that I am doing just what I was put here to do and that I’m being led daily in the way that I should go.  Even when I don’t understand and things don’t turn out the way I think they should, He never gets it wrong.   Crowe website

Debra Joy Groesser - "Morning Glory" - 24"x 30" - Oil
Debra Joy Groesser
Debra Joy Groesser - "Morning Glory" - 24"x 30" - Oil
Debra Joy Groesser – “Morning Glory” – 24″x 30″ – Oil
Debra Joy Groesser:  My faith guides my life and has helped me get through some very hard times in my personal life and my career: including a difficult, unhealthy first marriage, divorce, the loss of my parents, and having to give up my art career for several years… to name the major ones. As with many artists, I knew from a very young age that art is what I was meant to do…being an artist was who I was. It took a lot of faith, strength and perseverance to hold on to that and to not give up on it over the years that followed. Faith has helped me to look back and understand how the path I’ve taken has helped me in my life and my career. It’s helped me to see something good, or find a lesson, in nearly everything, good or bad. If not for the difficulties, it would be easy to take our blessings for granted. Although they are painful, the difficult, challenging times build our strength and our character and teach us to persevere. My faith guides me in all I do.  When presented with opportunities and challenges, I pray for guidance to make the right decisions and for the things I do and the work I create, and to be a blessing to others.   Groesser website

Sheryl Knight
Sheryl Knight
Sheryl Knight - "Evening Cypress" - 16"x 20" - Oil
Sheryl Knight – “Evening Cypress” – 16″x 20″ – Oil
Sheryl Knight:   All three play a major part in my career and life. My strength and perseverance come from my faith in God and in knowing He is ultimately in control, not only in my life but also in the universe. I believe God sovereignly holds tomorrows pains and pleasures, failures and victories in his mighty hand. I try to focus on what God can do through me, not what I can do myself. That gives me strength and enables me to persevere even when things aren’t going so well, or when it seems I’m in a desert. I find my inspiration in nature and the beauty of it all. I see the presence of God’s amazing design all around me, even in the ordinary. I don’t believe the random events of life are anything less than His appointed order. Living by faith gives hope, meaning, and purpose to my life and art. I have a quest to achieve something deeper through my art, more than just a nice painting. I want to bring joy and peace, as well as celebration and hope.   Knight website

Denise LaRue Mahlke
Denise LaRue Mahlke
Denise LaRue Mahlke - "Communion" - 20"x 32" - Pastel
Denise LaRue Mahlke – “Communion” – 20″x 32″ – Pastel
Denise LaRue Mahlke:  I think God has given each one of us, the gift of creativity and a longing for ‘something more’…When we persevere in faith, in confidence and boldness, not in a spirit of fear, we can move forward, onward and upward towards the dreams and desires He has given us. God’s grace and love are boundless. Committing my way to the Lord as a follower of Christ has led to a closer walk with Him and His best for me. My desire is to please Him by giving back by way of committing the works of my hands to His honor and glory. Perseverance comes daily and dedication and growth is the reward for going forward in faith and the strength He supplies. Faith, strength, and perseverance are entwined throughout and into every part of life, like the vine and it’s branches. Proverbs 3:4-5 has been a guidepost for me: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”   Mahlke website

Dawn Whitelaw
Dawn Whitelaw
Dawn Whitelaw - "Autumn's Last Stand" - 20"x 20" - Oil
Dawn Whitelaw – “Autumn’s Last Stand” – 20″x 20″ – Oil
Dawn Whitelaw:   My life is too full of “coincidences” for me not to be a believer. When I paint outdoors, I see His presence everywhere, and my faith is affirmed. I know that God loves me in spite of who I am. This realization leads me to live a life of gratitude. I am a work in progress both as a painter and a follower of God. My joy is in the journey. When people tell me I am a gifted painter, I know, that the true gift is not the ability to paint, but the drive and stamina to pursue the craft, and the ability to teach. The people that I can most help always seem to find their way to my door, in droves. In the end, the teaching and mentoring I am able to do will be my best work on this earth and far more significant than anything I can ever paint.   Whitelaw website


Faith…a shield or crutch? (Part 2)

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Women are often viewed as the “spiritual” ones in the home while men appear more apathetic, certainly not ranking spiritual matters very high on their list…and even if they do, they’re not easily inclined to talk about it. For some men, issues of faith can be perceived as unmanly and even a sign of weakness. That’s why I’m so pleased to feature a group of men (highly accomplished professional artists) who are not ashamed to proclaim that their faith is critical to their life and that their trust is in the God of the Bible. Their faith has become a shield, part of their armor, with which they can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
As mentioned in Part 1 of this series…we all have faith in someone or something, and we exercise that faith every day. When it comes to eternal matters though, one’s faith is really critical. In whom or in what that faith is placed can mean life or death.
Any statement about God, or life after death, is a faith statement. For many people, what is identified as “faith” can better be described as “hope”. Hope in and of itself doesn’t necessarily guarantee that what is hoped for will actually be realized. That’s why it’s really important that one’s view of God and His relationship to the world is based on what He has to say, not on our hopeful speculation, no matter how sincere we may be.
The Bible describes faith as the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Of the 14 artists featured in this two-part series, all recognize that God has revealed Himself to man through His Son, Jesus Christ…and all the promises given to those who put their faith and trust in Him will indeed be fulfilled, for the Scripture assures us, “You will not be disappointed”.
The one question all humanity must deal with is…”Did God really say…?” If God has indeed spoken, we would be wise to listen. The men and women featured in this series believe He has, and they have taken it to heart.
…and now, let’s hear from the men.

What part have faith, strength, and perseverance played in your life and art career?

Roger Dale Brown
Roger Dale Brown
"Autumn Along the River" - 30"x 40" - Oil
“Autumn Along the River” – 30″x 40″ – Oil
Roger Dale Brown:   In the beginning of my painting career, I don’t know how much strength or perseverance I had vs. naivety. Whichever it was, it was powered by God. I knew I had nothing going for me when painting came into my life. It was a sliver of light, in what had been a long dark tunnel, and I held on to it with all I had. Talent is a gift. Its up to us to develop it and that takes hard work. I started to study and become a student of art. I turned my life over to God and was rewarded with the awareness, aptitude and passion to discover art. The ability to create is a gift, and to not create would be a insult to the giver…With God’s gift I can make the positive statement that I regard it as an honor and a responsibility.   Brown website

Larry Clingman
Larry Clingman
"Plum and Copper" - 12"x 24" - Oil
“Plum and Copper” – 12″x 24″ – Oil
Larry Clingman:   I cannot imagine my life without my faith. It has provided the *strength* to stand, fall, and stand again. When life has been at it’s emptiest moment, when all opportunities seemed exhausted, when it seemed there was no hope or no way forward, it was my faith that guided me. Many times in my life and career it seemed the only answer was to quit, to give up, yet my faith provided the *perseverance* to carry on. Author Richard Carlson once said, “Obstacles and problems are a part of life. True happiness comes not when we get rid of all of our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice patience, and to learn”. *It is my faith that has given me the strength and perseverance to recognize and act upon these observations.   Clingman website

David Griffin
David Griffin
"Country of Big Dreams" - 30"x 24" - Oil
“Country of Big Dreams” – 30″x 24″ – Oil
David Griffin:   Painting has always been a difficult process for me, and surprisingly made even more difficult with age and experience. Consequently the more I learn, the more I realize how little I actually really know. So, with that personal revelation, I began again to remember God’s faithfulness and my own faith in the Creator who inspired the Scripture “that He who began a good work in you will carry it onto completion”. My “art life” has had its share of mistakes, failures, and rejections to the degree that I have thought I was not up to the task of being the best steward of this gift I can be; only to be reminded by God’s Spirit that “there is strength in my weakness” and my faith is again restored by God’s grace. I’m trying not to have any illusions about where this “art” will take me, but only daily reconnecting to the One who does know and will carry it onto completion.   Griffin website

Michael Godfrey
Michael Godfrey
"January Evening" - 12"x 12" - Oil
“January Evening” – 12″x 12″ – Oil
Michael Godfrey:  I have a deep abiding love for God and all that he has done. I am constantly in awe of the wonders of the natural world. His handiwork can be seen in every scale, from the microscopic to the vastness of the universe. Whatever ability I have is God given. I sincerely believe that. I think we give God pleasure when we use our gifts for him. He has put a little of himself in all of us. My work is a journey that expresses the beauty that I find from day to day. Each discovery deepens my love for God and I am thankful that he has given me the senses to experience this wonderful world and the desire to express it in art. My journey in art has been very rewarding, but it has not been easy. I think that God allows challenges in life to strengthen and to reveal what’s inside us. Anyone can rejoice from the mountaintop, but the learning comes from the trek up the mountain. It is through adversity and trial that we grow. I have kept these ideas close to my heart as I have pursued my career.   Godfrey website

John Hanna
John Hanna
"Red Oxide and Pink" - 12"x 9" - Oil
“Red Oxide and Pink” – 12″x 9″ – Oil
John Hanna:  Faith is a word that I have been familiar with since childhood. My father was a preacher so I heard that term often. Only much later in life did I realize it could apply to something other than religion. Art or drawing became a part of my life around age five. It fascinated me then and that fascination has never left. I copied the work of great illustrators and studied “How-To” books by Walter T. Foster. By the time I got to college, already with two years practical art experience working for small art departments, I came to realize that if I worked hard, I could have a full-time career in art. I began to believe that with faith and my own ability, I could make it. During my senior year, while looking for a job, I met Bill Neale, an art director at a Dallas ad agency. He suggested I go to New York. On faith and the strength of my wife Sherry, we did. My perseverance was thoroughly tested in New York, but I found a job and through those relationships really began to think about what makes art. It’s strength and perseverance that allows you the faith in yourself to succeed.   Hanna website

Jeff Haynie
Jeff Haynie
"Lion of Judah" - 19"x 13" - Digital
“Lion of Judah” – 19″x 13″ – Digital
Jeff Haynie:   My life and career has been a journey of faith. As a self-assured young artist ready to take over the art world, I fell hard to realize that I needed help to make it through this life’s challenges. So I received God’s grace in the form of Jesus Christ. He became my Friend, Savior and Personal Counselor through this journey. I feel the closest to God when I’m creating art. It’s like an ocean of freedom where anything is possible. My faith is not a philosophy but rather an honest day to day walk with a real Friend and God who understands my weaknesses, fears and insecurities. It started thirty years ago as a choice to receive God’s gift of Jesus into my heart but the reality is that was a necessity for my life and the best decision I ever made. He is waiting for anyone to come to Him and find life. (Romans 10:9)   Haynie website

Jason Tako
Jason Tako
"Cluster of Gold" - 11"x 14" - Oil
“Cluster of Gold” – 11″x 14″ – Oil
Jason Tako:   My Catholic faith in Christ has played such a tremendous part in my life I cannot put it all into words. Belief in God gives everything meaning, including art. In his monumental book on Jesus Christ, The Everlasting Man, G.K. Chesterton said, “Art is the signature of man.” We are the only creatures that create solely for the sake of beauty; the only creatures that express a concept and desire for beauty, and the only creatures that are made in the image of God. I think art, among other things, proves that we are made in His image. This gives meaning to what I paint or draw. Beauty gives a deeper meaning to human existence, and art should reflect this beauty. It should draw us in, and at the same time draw us outside of ourselves and closer to God.   Tako website

Thanks to each of you wonderful artists for what you have contributed; may it be a blessing to all and life changing for those who take it to heart.  --John Pototschnik

And thank you, John, for your courage and leadership; you are deeply appreciated.