Thursday, December 31, 2009

Auld Lang Syne


A trip down memory lane...


This is the house where I grew up. It was fun yesterday to tour Bakersfield and all the familiar places. No nostalgia, though, as the present is a happy time!

Happy 2010...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And the angel said to them...


"Fear not, for, behold,  I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people. Unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men."
                                Luke 2: 10-14

Joyeux Noel!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Simple Things


There are three things I miss about Bakersfield: Smith's Bakery, Dewar's Candy, and Wool Growers Basque restaurant. Today I received a little taste of each. One of my students has a friend visiting from Bakersfield, and she brought me Smith's happy face cookies AND Dewars' peanut butter taffy chews. Heaven in a bite... Corinne made beans and cornbread for dinner, and by golly, the seasonings mimic the beans from Wool Growers! Life is good.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Holly


Holly has an interesting history with Christmas. It was originally a plant reverenced by the Druids because it was an evergreen. Over time, Christians began to see a metaphor for Christ in the plant. The red berries represent the blood of Jesus by which mankind can be saved. The green is a symbol for eternal life. The thorniness has a double meaning: it reminds us of the crown on thorns Jesus wore at the crucifixion and it also illustrates the fact that God never promised his children a life without trials, but rather the grace and strength to endure and grow through them.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Luke 2:8-18

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."



Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,


"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."


When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

It's easy to overlook the significance of the shepherds' response to the angel's message. These men were the least educated, roughest, and lowliest of the peasants. Angelic appearances happened to the priests, if they happened at all.  Fear was certainly a first response, but bewilderment perhaps should have been a second reaction. Maybe disbelief would follow bewilderment. Modern people would probably analyze, justify, or try to explain the angels as some natural phenomena.
 
These shepherds, however, were neither bewildered nor analytical. They dropped their staffs and went directly to see the promised Messiah. That's trusting faith.
 
We don't see too many angels this day and age. God speaks clearly to us, however. He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) Those shepherds were both weary and burdened by their occupation and their place in society. The very moment they were invited to see the Promised One, they left everything to go. We never hear about them again after they leave Mary and Joseph, but we can deduce their changed lives by their reaction to Jesus: When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke 2: 17-18)
 
How easy it is to overthink God's great gift. The shepherds understood the magnificent simplicity of how the prophecies of the Messiah would be fulfilled: God became man so that man could know God.
 
I want to have the faith of those shepherds, who took God at His Word, and never looked back.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Joy!


I created the card base on my Silhouette. The paper is from The Paper Studio, and the sentiment is from The Angel Company. I used a little Dimensional Magic on the word and a couple of the stars.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving


I have much to be grateful for. I have a faithful husband, healthy children, a home, plenty of food, clothes to wear, and a reason to wake up every morning.

Mostly, though, I am thankful for a Creator who made all things and yet chose to love me, an insignificant speck in the span of time and space.  Without Christ, I am nothing. The things that bring me joy (my family, my art, and my teaching) can only do so because God has given me the ability to participate in them. He is the Ultimate One, the One who gives life and breath. He is the One who triumphs over death and hell, saving those who follow Him completely.

As much as I treasure those things that bring me joy, I know they are nothing in the scope of eternity--which is yet another reason to offer thanksgiving to the Lord of All.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blog Candy Winner!

I didn't forget in all my housework that I had a drawing scheduled for today! The winner of the notecards featured on Stamper's Quest is CAROLYN! And for everyone, thanks for playing!

CLEAN!


My house is as clean as it has been since we moved in. You'd think my mother was coming to visit---oh, wait, she IS (hence the cleaning frenzy.) Here is evidence that yes, in spite of teenagers, husband, and greyhounds, my house CAN look nice now and then!








WHEW!  Now I can sit back and enjoy the fruit of my labor!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blog Candy!


I met my goal of 52 posts for 2009! WOOT!!! To celebrate, I am giving away a set of six "thank you" cards that I made for Stamper's Quest. Leave a comment and on November 18 I will randomly choose a winner. Check back on that day, because I'll need your snail mail address to send you your prize!


Thanks for celebrating with me!


Apples of Gold


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Highs and the Lows

Talk about a extreme 24 hours. Last night I received a wonderful note from a student who graduated nearly ten years ago, telling me of his life and thanking me for being a teacher who saw in him something unique and who encouraged him to step out of his comfort zone and pursue great things. His words really encouraged me, confirming again that God can (and does) use me in spite of myself.

Then this evening came a virulent and angry e-mail from a parent who didn't like a quick note I had sent. Perhaps my short communication wasn't phrased perfectly, but the lengthy attack really caught me off guard and shook me up. I still don't understand exactly what the parent was really upset about (and if it was really just about the note I sent, then there are other issues at play), but I sure don't like the way I feel.

Words matter. Job 12:11 says, "Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?" Certainly words have the power to encourage and discourage. Thoughtless and hasty words can do more damage than a physical attack. Exhortations can buoy the spirit through difficult times.

Proverbs 29:11 establishes the value of words: A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. To offer the right word at the right time is to give a treasure. Conversely, an ill-timed or ill-intentioned comment can leave the hearer broken.

The book of Samuel makes an interesting statement when it teaches that Samuel "let none of his words fall to the ground." (1 Samuel 3:19) How often to my words fall to the ground, worthless and fruitless? It is something to ponder.

I am a woman of language, so perhaps the lesson in these highs and lows is to remember that all words have the potential for great harm or great good. To allow my speech to be anything but gracious and seasoned with salt means that I have allowed myself to squander a treasure, and to be guilty of causing the same kinds of hurt that I feel when I am unjustly treated. I need to be more careful to be an encourager and to remember:
Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
Ecclesiastes 5:2

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A promising day...


I went to the hills on Wednesday. As I drove, I enjoyed the colors of the leaves change from green and brown to gold. The higher I went, the more vibrant the color. This picture is from the beginning of my day away. It began with great promise, and proceeded to be an altogether satisfying and refreshing day.


It was cold and rainy every day this week EXCEPT Wednesday, and I fully appreciated the glory of the day the Lord made for me to enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Playing Hooky

So, I should be working---on school plans or editing or housework---but sometimes a girl's just got to play a little. So, I took on a challenge from on of my yahoo groups to paint my face--digitally. It's kind of trippy to start messing with your own face---even when it's a terrible picture to start with. So, here are the before and after images:



The best thing I learned from this little bit of playtime was how to make my lips turn up into the smile. Good to know....
I think it's time to get back to work.....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Autumn Leaves


With the rain we're getting this year I don't know how much fall color we'll get. The trees in front of my house are dropping leaves pretty quickly, but without turning the yellow and scarlet they usually do. Hopefully later this fall the North Georgia hills will have some colors to photograph.


So, for now, I'm enjoying creating my own autumn colors with a combination of markers, chalks, colored pencils, and FlowerSoft (a pretty cool way to add texture and color.)
Stampscapes images are wonderful for coloring--which is a nice way to spend an afternoon when it's gloomy outside! I also got some new collage images from I Brake for Stamps.


So, until I make my way north, these colors will be my view of autumn leaves.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Space to Create

It's amazing what a few shelves and a LOT of purging will do! This weekend I spent hours purging, cleaning, emptying, and reloading the workshop are of my studio. (Yes, I am incredibly blessed with a studio AND a workshop. Maybe I'm just spoiled...either way, I'm grateful!) Brian put together shelves for me and now I have room to create without tripping over myself. There are no "before" pictures because it was just a cluttered mess. However, here is the space where I can do my "messy" creating:


By the way, most of the purged material is still usuable, and will be donated to "Art Feeds." It's a non-profit one of my students is involved with. Their mission:

"We believe in doing what you love and changing the world with it, so this is what we do to create change. Art Feeds is about finding giant inspiration within these small kids, and giving them the tools to acheive their dreams. Love Naively. Give Generously. Be Foolishly Compassionate."

I get a cleaner space, they get stuff to play with--everyone wins!



Friday, October 09, 2009

Time to read

My "to-do" list keeps growing. As soon as I check off one item, two appear to replace it. This week is my "fall break," which means I have no classes to teach. Theoretically, it's a time to refresh the mind before beginning the next school session. Practically, it's a time to catch up with those items long neglected and get ahead for the next few weeks of school. So, clean and organize the workshop, catch up on the digi-art projects, upload school pictures, work on Stamper's Quest projects, write lesson plans, answer questions on E-notes, clean house...and on and on. For the first part of the week, practicality trumped theory.

God knows that I need to rest my frenetic brain. Usually He allows me to get sick, but this time, He let my car break down. Twice. Last Friday it went in for new brakes. Today it went back because the gas pedal "disengaged." (I don't really know exactly what happened, but I do know that I was driving home with Caty Mae yesterday when suddenly pushing the gas pedal did nothing. I coasted into a parking lot and called the service people.) The tow truck would take up to 90 minutes to arrive-and it was already past 8 pm.) Caty Mae and I were able to get a ride home with a friend, and I called AAA this morning.

That's when God said, "Chill." While I waited for the tow truck, I read a book. Just a pleasure book. Nothing philosophical. Nothing profound. Nothing having to do with school or photography or publishing or art. Just a "dessert" book. For 45 minutes. And I am refreshed.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Color Craze






So, the newest thing in the paper crafting world are Copic markers. They've been around for years, but illustrators kept them a secret. Being the premiere tool, they command a premiere price, and so I decided to skip the trend and stick to colored pencils and acrylic paint.



However, I had the opportunity to place with the markers last weekend and I now understand WHY they are are preferred marker for artists. Copics are an alcohol based ink, so the colors are vibrant and pure. The color lays down smoothly, and they blend beautifully without damaging the paper. Copic does offer a smaller version of its Sketch marker called the Ciao. It was designed for the smaller hands of young artists, but being smaller, they have a lower price point. I left the retreat with nine markers in earthy hues and a blender pen.



Upon returning home I decided I really needed something in the yellow family. I did a quick search of local stores and found that I could get the Sketch markers, but not the Ciao. I decided to see if there were any other alcohol based markers that would mimic the Copics at a lower price. I took my coupon for Dick Blick's and went exploring. I played with their brand as well as a Tria marker and then I saw Pantone Universe markers. These, too, are alcohol based, lay down a smooth layer of ink, and blend well. The colors are from the original Pantone colors, so they are consistent and predictable. The best part is the price--almost half the cost of Copic.





My next project was to compare the Copics and the Pantone on paper. I chose an image with lots of coloring and blending space. Anything in yellow is Pantone, while the blue and green are Copic. The brown is both Copic and Pantone. The top flower is Copic and the bottom flower is Tombow, a dye based marker than has now been bundled for donation.



The difference in using the markers is negligible. The Copic lays down ink more smoothly and the Ciao marker is easier to hold. The Pantone Universe markers don't roll around and they have both a brush tip and a fine tip, which is nice for detail work. Copics are refillable, while Pantone Universe are not. Both markers blend beautifully--even with each other.



The biggest difference between the two is not related to the markers themselves, but to the information available on them. Copic's numbering system is logical and readily available. Y is yellow, YG is yellow-green, and so on. There are You Tube videos and written tutorials on using the Copics. Any information about Copics is a mouse click and a Google search away. Pantone Universe markers, on the other hand, are virtually impossibleto research. I never did find an explanation of the number system (18-1022 means what, exactly?) There are sites selling the pens, but very little actual information about the product itself. This makes me nervous about the longevity of the product as well as for customer service after the purchase.



So, after much internal debate, I think I will choose to have fewer pens at a higher price point rather than invest in a product about which I know little. Of course, if I need a color quickly, I know that the Pantone Universe markers are a good product, as least for the short term, so I will use them to supplement where needed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When it rains...


...it pours. Here in the Atlanta area we are recovering from a crazy storm that flooded neighborhoods, closed schools, and created all kinds of messes to clean up. We were protected at our house and only lost a portion of a retaining wall between our side yard and the neighbor's driveway. Others weren't so fortunate.

The power of water is an amazing thing to consider. It is vital to our survival, and yet it can be incredibly destructive. Even when it appears to be safe, water's power cannot be belittled; ask the dozens of people who had to be rescued from their cars this week.

One of the first moments of creation involved God separating the water from the sky and then the dry land. God placed the first humans in a garden surrounded by the rivers of water. His intention was that water be a source of refreshment and nourishment. It wasn't until sin entered the world that water became a destructive force.

Sin does that. Sin takes something intended for good and twists it into a destructive force. That sin leads to death is the first consequence and truth that Adam and Eve (and every descendent of them) had to face. As long as there is sin, there will be destruction. God, however, planned for redemption, recovery, and restoration in Jesus.

As the Georgia floodwaters recede, people will begin the task of cleaning up and restoring land and property. From an eternal perpective, God has already begun the retoration process for humanity; all we must do it trust and obey. Then we can rest beside the still waters of God's love and be refreshed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Friday, August 07, 2009

Immutable

How can I adequately create a visual image of Immutable GOD? Everything I know and understand changes--even those things that appear to be constant like sunrise and sunset and tides and granite mountains. The concept of GOD, who is the same from eternity to eternity, is too much for my finite mind to comprehend. So, I take something that comes as close as I can imagine, a sunset on Stone Mountain, magnify the colors, and overlay it with the Psalm that says HE will change the heavens as easily as I change clothes. Wow. That this same GOD loves me...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Having fun with PSE!


This is a technique I found in the July/August "Cloth Paper Scissors" magazine. I'm printing it on muslin and it looks SOOOO cool! The funny thing is that my original watercolor is not nearly as good as the photoshopped one. The image is for sale now in my smugmug store (you can get it on a tote bag or notecards....think Christmas....)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lilies and Sparrows

This is my most recent mixed-media piece. The picture does not show the texture of it, but it is composed of acrylic paint, paper, wood, gel medium, molding paste, pastels, and a resist of petroleum jelly. There are cut-outs of birds printed with verses from Matthew and Luke, as well as handwritten texts.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ...Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (Luke 12: 6-7, 25-31)

Every generation has its troubling times. Insecurity and fear are common to all humanity. Whether it is economies or wars or social unrest--or some combination of the three--life is tenuous. No one can predict the future, and it is easy to be afraid of the unknown.

There is, however, a difference between a healthy respect/preparation for the future and worrying about things outside of one's control. God does not want His children to consume themselves with things that only HE can control. The future belongs to Him, and He is faithful to meet the needs of those who trust Him.

Nature is resplendent in its glory, but its beauty is short. God created all the colors and textures for His pleasure and our enjoyment, but his joy in that creation is nothing compared to his love for us. If He derives joy from lilies and if He meets the needs of sparrows, how much more will He derive joy from and meet the needs of us, His children?

Rejoice! For He holds the future, and we are secure in His care.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

From One Extreme to the Other

I try to capture all the important events in my children's lives in photographs. Usually I take enough to get one or two good pictures, but sometimes it just doesn't happen. Corinne's All-State Honor Band experience in Savannah was one of those times where I just didn't get a single good shot. I have lots of great Savannah/Tybee Island pictures from that weekend, but not a single good one of the reason we were there to begin with. Part of it was the limitations of the facility---the stage was a LONG way from the part of the room where I was and it was dark (and I would never dream of using a flash even for a dress rehearsal without explicit permission.) The other part of the issue was the subject who, at 15, was horrified that her mother was there taking pictures. Hence, no smiling at the camera, instrument in hand. What to do?

Along came the free class from Jessica Sprague where I learned a ton of great Photoshop techniques. Most of the time, I think I'll use the techniques for digital artwork, but today I made it work for taking a bad picture and making it one I can put in the family album.

Before:


I used several techniques, but the one that brought it all together was a layer of "Through the Viewfinder" (TTV.) I wasn't aware that there is a whole artform dedicated to recreating the look of photos taken with old box cameras. There are dozens of downloadable "fake-ttv" images for personal use, so I downloaded a free one and WOW--it gave the picture a dreamy, introspective feel that works well with the blurriness of the image and the Emerson quote.

After:

Now I have something to commemorate Corinne's participation in Georgia All-State Honor Band 2009, AND I learned that I just never know where an art technique may come in handy taking a photograph from one extreme to the other.


(TTV frame from "Nasos3" on Flickr.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Meditation


Caty Mae has a heart for God far deeper than her 13 years would suggest. I love this picture (taken by some adult at middle school camp in June 2009)because it captures a moment where the angels dance around her unaware.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

1922

This week I'm taking an on-line class from Jessica Sprague where I'm learning all kinds of cool tricks with Photoshop. This is my project from week one:


I desaturated the photo and then added three different texture images and a cool frame (nesser-flickr_2811398017), along with some "hand" tinting and blending layers. This is really fun to learn, and Jessica is an exceptionally good teacher!