Thursday, August 1, 2013

James' Owl and Wand

"It's not every day a boy turns eleven."

Okay so I'm not sure of the exact quote, but I'm sure Hagrid said something like that.
James turned 11 while away on summer visitation. I was buried in homework and housework, so I just finished this and will give it to him Saturday when I pick him up.

I hand stitched it out of some faux fur I got at JoAnn's. I wanted it to be different from Tali's owl, and James likes really soft things. I got cat eyes at the store too, but do you think they sell beaks? No, of course not!

For the beak I hit the hardware store for the supplies. I fashioned a mold out of parchment paper, aluminum foil, and tape, then filled it with epoxy. Think JB Weld, but cheaper generic, mix and pour, don't get on anything. I set the head of a little cabinetry hardware screw in it and it sealed in as the epoxy dried. I used a BIG washer and a nut on the inside of the fabric to hold it on. Yes, the beak was half the cost. I probably could have sanded it down, but I kind of like it rough hewn like it is.

There are wings on the side and a tail in back. All three have the faux fur clipped in little curves to give the impression of feathers ending.
The wand is just a dowel that I attacked with my dremel. I carved runes in it. You may recall that James was a wizard one year for Halloween, and he had runes on his robe. Thank goodness for Google! I'm no Hermione.

James's owl Front View photo P1070374_zpsd39d5d9c.jpg
James' Owl Face photo P1070377_zpsa47a12df.jpg

James' Owl Side View photo P1070375_zps67776229.jpg

James' Wand photo P1070378_zps83cf1dea.jpg

Friday, May 24, 2013

And Now as I Said Concerning Faith

About a month ago I came to Alma Chapter 32 in my latest read-through of The Book of Mormon. It is a wonderful chapter, one of my favorites, the kind of chapter you can read over and over and always get more out of. I should know, I've probably read it twenty times.

As I read Alma's beautiful analogy of how faith is like a seed planted in our hearts I was overcome with a desire to express the analogy in paint. It was kind of odd for me to feel this way, because really I'm not a painter. I don't even consider myself a real artist. Sure I do cool stuff, and sure I have painted a few little things, but anyone who knows me knows that when I am feeling expressive or creative I am much more likely to write.

The desire didn't leave me though, and I found myself looking at prices of canvas and nearly fainting. A dear friend of mine gave me some small canvases, and I did another painting on one of them, but I knew I needed something big. I didn't know how I was going to afford it, but I knew I needed to paint this painting.

Then I stopped by my favorite thrift store, where one of my favorite people happens to work, and found a 3 x 4 painting in the rack. It had some kind of raised medium on a section of it, which concerned me, but the rest of it was beautifully flat with only a few flaws. I talked with my friend and we devised a plan to incorporate the raised medium so I could use the canvas.

I brought it home, took it out of its frame, and then began the process of staring at it.

Some of you may not know how much staring at the canvas it is part of painting, but it is. First you stare at it and imagine what you want. Then you stare at it and change your plan. Sometimes you sketch, sometimes you do trial paintings on smaller canvases. But me, I just stared, and googled, and looked through old pictures of the oak trees in my yard in North Carolina. I love my tress in North Carolina, they are so beautiful, so elegant, so patient.

During my staring I decided the existing raised medium just wouldn't capture the texture that I wanted. It would never mimic the way the bark is layered and flakes. Somehow (and I don't even know when or how, but it was probably due to the multiple conversations I had with two other friends about my project) I came up with the idea to use fabric dipped in paint and wood glue to create a raised medium of my own for that section.

On May 13, 2013 I filled a Styrofoam plate with white acrylic paint and set to work painting over the old painting (under much protest from my daughter who somehow LIKED the old painting and thought I was committing a crime!)

For those not familiar with Alma, well you should read that chapter, but I will sum it up for you. It talks about faith. He compares our faith to a seed which we plant in our hearts. We know the seed is good because we can feel it start to grow. It is a beautiful analogy about how we need to give that seed of faith nourishment and sunshine constantly if we want it to grow.

I've seen this happen in my own life. If brings tears of gratitude to my eyes to think of how small my seed was once and how strong my tree is now. I am so thankful for my faith and the miracles in my life.

Now I'm going to talk art, and I don't know much about art so this shouldn't take long. The grown tree is in the background layer, but it is also 3D. This is because the grown tree is the last in the analogy, but the state which the soul is at at right now. The sprouted seed is the top layer of the rings, because that is where it starts, with that sprouting in our hearts. Then later we  have a seedling, followed by a sapling, and then a young tree. That brings us to the last layer, which I mentioned first, the layer that is today's reality. The space at the top should bring to the mind how infinite the room for growth. The rings were intentionally made to look like tree cross-sections to remind us that the process goes on year after year. The grown tree to the left is so wide to again symbolize the potential for growth. The paintings of the younger trees are left in silhouette, because they are but the shadows of the past.

So, there's my thousand words (nearly) and now here is the mixed media painting "And Now as I Said Concerning Faith":

And if you have read this far, thank you for letting me tell you about my painting. Now I want to tell you what my painting taught me.
If you have been to my homes of the past you probably noted that I didn't have much of my own art work on display. This is because when I looked at my art, all I would see was the flaws, and they haunted me. I wanted my art to be perfect, because I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be perfect so that I was beyond reproach, so that no one could ever say I wasn't good enough, so that I would not agree with them deep down in my heart when they said it.
Anyone who looks at this painting will see flaws. There are smears, smudges, and drops of paint flung far and wide as I worked with the wet fabric. Those trained in art probably see more flaws than I do, because honestly I know nothing of balance and composition. I mean, you can only learn just so much in one art class and one stagecraft class in high school.
Yet, when I look at this painting, the flaws don't even bother me, and that is where this painting has opened my eyes. I don't care that they are there, in fact I am glad that they are there and that they don't bother me. THEY DON'T BOTHER ME! They are okay because I'M okay. I am beautiful, strong, lovely, talented and worthy the way that I am! I'm happy with me! I've got so far to go, so much growing to do, but I face that reality happily now. At last I carry with me constantly the knowledge of God's unconditional love for me and that he is proud of me. He's proud of me, I'm proud of me, and you know what? I'm proud to say, I painted this!

Sunday, May 12, 2013


A few weeks ago a friend of mine gave a lesson in church. Her lesson was about asking the Lord to help us identify and resolve the things in ourselves that were holding us back. She described how she had gone to God in prayer and asked what was amiss in her soul. In response an image came to her mind. It was of a bright beautiful light. That light was joy. In this light was a black dot. This black dot kept her from fully experiencing the brightness of joy available to her. She said there were other black dots, but she knew that for now this was the one she needed to get rid of.
She shared what that black dot was, and it was something so small. Yet, it still got in the way. She was able to get rid of it, and now experiences a fuller joy because it is gone.

It was such a powerful image, and I wanted to keep it always, so I decided to paint it. I've not really done a lot of painting, and this is a departure from even that, but here it is, and I love it.

Those who love me will likely argue that I put too many dots on this painting of my joy. To be honest I am so prideful and think so highly of myself, that are times I would agree. But when I am honest, each of these dots is really there. I'm working on them, though.

Lately I've just been focused on the light. I have so much of it in my life and I'm so overwhelmingly astounded by it. I suppose that means that I am doing pretty well and have a good attitude and all. All I really know is that I am thankful for it, for who could deserve such joy?