Showing posts from 2010

Calculating Worry

Last night as I lay awake actively worrying, I turned on my radio and stuck it up next to my ear so only I could hear it and there was Chuck Swindoll's voice teaching about worry. It couldn't have been more providential. His radio program, Insight for Living, is running the most popular teachings from the last year, and I'm not even slightly surprised this is one of them. 
I know when I worry I'm sinning. I'm not trusting the Lord to handle whatever has me so concerned. I feel like I have to unravel the knot or solve the code or insert the missing pieces, but that never works. It only makes things worse. Let's face it, have you ever really solved a problem you were worrying about at 2:00 in the morning? I haven't. 
I found a transcript of part of what Pastor Chuck said and want to share it with you. It's certainly helped to clarify my mind on worry.
“I worry when I add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
I worry when I add . . . . when I add more things to a…

The Beloved Stuffed Animal

My son had a stuffed bear that he carried with him incessantly as a child. This lump of formerly soft white fuzz became torn, filthy, and lost a lot of stuffing over time. I tried to clean Gundy (as we came to call him, for he was indeed a Gund bear,) but it was a losing battle. He smelled rather pungent up close, but the scent of boy, dirt, bedtime bottles and various other aromatic additions was uniquely beloved. Every night the bear slept with the boy--in fact the bear became the pillow.

Without more than a thought I can see, feel and smell Gundy...and the sleepy toddler in his jammies, hair awry, clutching him. My now-24 year old son still has him, for he is much beloved even now. Time can't change that.

Just because the stuffing has been knocked out of you, and the dirt of this world has turned what was once pure and soft to stiff, matted gray, just because you've landed in the dirt and come up worse for wear, do you think Jesus loves you any less than the boy loves the…

A New Song, Please!

Have you ever had a silly song go through your mind over and over and over? We all have, I think. I woke up with one plaguing my mind this morning. It's old and has a slightly 'naughty' context, not outright rude or nasty, just not the kind of song I want to dwell on.

I started thinking about how the temptation to sin is a lot like that endlessly repeated song. Although consciously I don't want to hear it any more, at the slightest inattention I find myself humming the dratted thing again.

I prayed and asked the Lord to replace it with a worship song, but He didn't deliver me from it. Temptation is like that. I can ask God to take it away but the moment my mind slips into neutral the tune wafts through my mind and out onto my lips. We may pray "lead me not into temptation", but the song is still there...

I need to replace this tune, the temptation, with another one that's healthy and good. I need to choose what will go in its place, and then listen …

The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God." Psalm 50:23
Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors God.
Why? Because when I'm thankful, truly thankful (not just saying it), I keep a much lighter hold on the things of this world. In thanking Him, I come to recognize that the Lord is providing all, so I stop striving. I no longer need to exert myself, or use up all my energy, or struggle and fight to get things, look good, or receive honors.
I don't need to impress God.
I need to obey Him.
That pretty much takes my hands off the steering wheel of my own life. It used to seem scary to me to be "hands off", and I can't claim to have totally relinquished that desire to run things, but I can assure you that I have seen how the Lord's guidance prospers me in those things that are most important. 
When I stop and thank Him for what He sees fit to provide and for His guidance, …


Have you ever noticed how the palette of landscape colors change in autumn? Of course you have. Who hasn't? The shift from cool to warm colors is so refreshing. After months of green-green-green (more in some parts of the world than others) we suddenly have yellow, orange and red ablaze everywhere.

Isn't that just like the Lord? He "causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45)," but He also comforts the senses with the warmth of color before we plunge into winter.

Easel Basics

I'm busy writing an article that includes a lot of information about easels, and as I pondered what to write the Lord seemed to whisper a small thought about what an easel represents. I can't include this in the article, of course, since the magazine is about art, not faith, but I want to share it here.

What's an easel for? It's the structure that your artwork leans on, the place where it's supported as it's painted. My board or canvas leans against the strong, stable upright piece, held securely in place so that my strokes don't go astray. It keeps my work at eye level, directly under the light so I can see clearly as I add large, sweeping strokes or small, delicate details. It's always there, waiting for me to start another painting or work on one in progress, standing quietly in the studio until I'm ready to spend some time before it.

I wouldn't be the first to liken an easel to an altar. In a primitive sense it could easily seem to be the p…

Two-Track Autumn

Just thought I'd post my latest gouache, which is GIGANTIC! What? Doesn't it read as that big?

Well, for me it seems plenty big. In fact, it's twice the size of my usual gouache landscapes.

5" x 3.5"

As I said, GIGANTIC!

Okay, so it doesn't seem all that big to you, but to me it seems quite large. Ever think about how gigantic something seems to you, and how really small it is to God?

Watchman Nee is quoted as saying:
"Why do so many Christians pray such tiny prayers when their God is so big?" Hmmm, maybe my painting is tiny after all.

Sculpture or Painting?

I was thinking about how the Lord shapes our lives, crafting His kids' experiences to point us in one direction or another or to help us grow straight and true. I found myself musing over how that process is His creative act, with my life and that of everyone I interact with as His medium. I know it's an imperfect metaphor, but stay with me.

There are times when I sense God's hand shaping me and very often it feels like a God-sized chisel and mallet swinging down to form my character, my family and church, and all my surroundings. But I recognize that this simply cannot be the swing of His arm crashing down on my life or I'd be utterly destroyed.

As I mused on, it became clear to me that the hammer blows are really just the gentle swish of His paintbrush toning my life, repainting certain bits, adding a new layer of color, touching up a detail here and there. Why would I not be delighted to bathe in lavender, be covered with green or awash in orange? Up close they on…

"Spiritual Mom"

There's a gap of 33 years between our ages but we're friends. We met in church, and McKenzie asked me if we could study the Bible together. I guess she thought my gray hair made me an expert — I am an older woman. The Lord gave me these verses in Titus 2:3-5 to encourage me to disciple her.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2:3-5)

Now she calls me her 'spiritual mom'. I’ve been thinking about the fact that she’ll begin discipling her daughter, teaching her to be a godly woman as she grows up. The Lord has expanded some thoughts about these verses that I'd like to share.

The words ‘older woman’ have a different connotation to us now, but when the …

Demonstration: Mountains and Aerial Perspective

It's important to recall that you can't make good value judgments until you have all the colors in place, meaning that most of the adjustments come at the very end. It made me smile to remember that only God sees the big picture, the global value judgments, so to speak, and thus I really must trust Him to make the calls and do the final adjustments. As the Artist, He knows the goal, sees the values, and controls the process it takes to get there.

Some days I feel like a tiny speck of pigment swirling in a composition that currently makes no sense. I cannot figure out how "all things work together for good", as the Bible promises believers in Romans 8:28. Then I recall that the Artist's composition is a WIP, a Work In Progress, from my perspective, but from His point of view it is fully complete, perfectly executed without error.
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a fut…

20-Stroke Painting

Sometimes it's a good idea to cut to the bone and see what comes of it. This exercise is a way to challenge myself to get down to what is really needed to express something, using efficient strokes. I tried to limit myself to twenty. I enjoy the beauty of the loose strokes, the incidental marks, and the simplicity of the expression.

It may be a bit like those times when the Lord cuts away part of your "flesh life." It's so easy to get in the habit of having everything cushy and comfortable, and just going on your way through life without thinking about it. Then one day the Lord removes something--something you thought of as natural and forever, like the use of one part of your body. One day a part breaks or ends up being incapacitated, and you recognize that it's inconvenient, challenging, even slightly faith-shaking, but when you get down to the essence, you really can function without it. In fact, in some ways you notice that you get it, understanding what you…


I've become so interested in painting in gouache, not to mention making these little ATC/ACEO sized painting (2.5" x 3.5") and suddenly the idea of painting fruits from life in simple settings has captivated me. It came out of a thread at Wet Canvas where we're featuring different subjects each month. I wasn't too thrilled with painting still life--then.

NOW I'm enthralled.

Two Navels

Lean on Me

Pear in Blue

It just goes to show that the fruit of your life may be somewhat unexpected to you, but it comes of a lot of little things dovetailing, however unexpectedly. I made a painting of oranges because I was given a delightful gift of a HUGE box of oranges fresh from a California grove. I wanted to prepare some paintings to show on the thread I mentioned above, since I'm hosting it for a couple of months, so I plopped two oranges on a white napkin and gave it a go. I didn't sit down and think it through or make a plan to start doing still life. I didn't …

Stones, Weeds and Dry Leaves

Plum in Pink, 3.5" x 2.5" gouache on Bristol vellum
I can't claim this painting is authentic. It's the plum tree I can see in the back yard. I painted it to record the light at the very end of the day, when one last shaft of sunlight seems to illuminate the tree from the inside out. But it isn't real. I'd love it if there were a carpet of lush, green grass leading up to it, but here in sun-baked New Mexico a lawn like that takes a lot of water, weeding and work. What's really there are stones and weeds and, at the moment, a lot of dead, dry leaves that have yet to be raked up and disposed of. (True confession time! Ack.)
How often do we 'dress things up' to look better than they really are? It's commonly done, and even considered polite. No one wants to be faced with stark reality all the time and have to deal with the un-raked leaves or weeds of another's life. Grass is much more beautiful than stones. Now, in my paintings I'm more tha…


The Anointing at Bethany Mark 14:3-9
And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

I remember a beautiful little blue glass perfume bottle that my mother kept tucked away in the corner of her…

Rushing Streams and Solid Rocks

Falls River, 4.25" x 3.25" gouache on Somerset Black Velvet printmaking paper
I'm preparing some 'rocks and water' paintings to share on WetCanvas soon in a thread devoted to that theme. I love painting this subject matter and wanted to show submerged rocks in this one. 
Green River Falls, 6.5x4.5 (paper size) also on Somerset Black Velvet
I left a border on this one, making it quite dramatic, I think. Below is a close up to show you the loose brushwork I enjoy.

Colorado Runoff, 3.5 x 2.5" gouache on Bristol Vellum
This one is meant to demonstrate the splash that's so much fun with gouache. Adding those sparkling lights last is always a thrill.  ___________
Like these rocks that seem so stable and unmoving, despite the rush of water around them, I will not be moved. 

"To stand"= histÄ“mi (Gk.) : to place, put, setto make firm, fix, establish to set or place in a balanceto stop, stand still, to stand immovable, stand firmcontinue safe and sound, stand unh…

Green without 'Green'

Elena's Greens 12" x 9" pastel on Wallis paper
I taught a class last week on how to paint greens without using any actual green pastel sticks. Instead I layered a lot of turquoise, cobalt, cerulean and ultramarine blues with gold, yellow, yellow-ochre and pale orange to arrive at 'green' colors. In the course of the painting I used almost every other hue in my palette, except true green. This exercise helps illustrate the almost unlimited palette of colors you can derive from using what you have creatively.
Isn't that a lot like life with the Lord? When I look at what He's given me, the talents and giftings from Him, the experiences I've lived through as I've grown to trust Him, there's every reason to be confident that I have everything I need to accomplish what He gives me to do. It's just that sometimes He may ask me to make new and different "mixtures" in order to arrive at an outcome, instead of falling back on my old tried-and…

Is it SPRING yet?

Royal Garden, gouache on mat board, 2.5" x 3.5"
Heather, gouache on mat board, 3.5" x 2.5"
The refreshing of the earth is a gift from God, isn't it? It's so good to stand at the door and sense spring coming. I'm so ready for it! I want warm air caressing my face and arms and the sweet scent of flowers on the breeze. Spring--when you turn the heater on in the car in the morning and the air conditioner in the afternoon, wear a sweater out but come home in shirt sleeves, or bask with a steaming cup of coffee in the morning sun but enjoy that tall iced tea in the afternoon. Delicious time...coming soon. It's on the wind. Praise God!

A GIFT FOR YOU... my book: 'Landscapes in Pastels'

I'm announcing the release of my book!

But the best part is that it's NOT for sale, it's a gift. Okay, the truth is you have to accept the gift in installments, but hey, it's free! I contemplated selling it, but in the final analysis I decided that it was better to give. Jesus tells us, "Freely you have received, freely give." So I will. I hope you enjoy and benefit from it. There's a lot in it about both the landscape and painting with the wonderful medium of pastels.

Take a look here: Landscape Painting in Pastels I have lots more to post there, but it will come. I'll post here when I add chapters, but if it's something you're interested in it will be best to follow that blog.

I have a fancy layout all done in MS Word format, but the blog seems to be the most direct and streamlined way to deliver the information. I hope you enjoy it!


Slow Fade, by Casting Crowns

Do you know this song? I heard it recently, though it isn't new. It's touched me. Songs can carry a lot of emotional weight. The line that caught my mind:
It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings.
I'm reminded of King David, who was a mature man when he took a second long look at Bathsheba.
Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. (2 Sam. 11:2)
David didn't see her and look away. It was the second look that changed everything. It's root in Hebrew means in part 'to inspect'. He watched her, spellbound perhaps.
Who am I to cast stones at King David for this? I've beheld a thing or two in my life, too. (Saved by grace through faith...)
But I'm glad the song reminds us to be careful not to gaze or walk where we should never go. Deborah