Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Birch Lake, Montana

Painting for a friend who took a trip out west from Pennsylvania.  The painting is a gift for the guide, and was a pleasure to create.  I believe some day I'll go there myself someday to experience the peace.

Spearfish Canyon Falls

Painting for a friend to give as a gift to her mother, the reference photo taken on a hike while they visited with us in the fall.  I wish I could have captured the feel of the spray on our faces from the waterfall, or the woodsy smell of the trees and soil.  Next time I paint this scene it will be plein air.

Weary Seaman

Richard E. Becker, Jr. 2011

Dad passed away on Christmas Eve 2011, and the first anniversary approaches quickly with the daily rising of the sun.  The morning light constantly reveals the darkness of this world as I turn on the news and hear of shootings in schools, bomb threats, riots, hate and death.  And I am torn as to whether or not I should wish my dad here with us for Christmas or be envious that he is no longer in this hell.

The photo used for this painting, my feeble attempt at a tribute to the man, was taken on a fishing trip by my brother.  My sister never liked the picture, but I was drawn to it as his story seemed most evident in his eyes.  They spoke of his pain, his fear, his longing to go Home.  When I asked my brother if I could use the photo as a reference, he said (being an artist himself), "Make sure you get the eyes right and everything else will fall into place."  I know he was referring to perspective -- but it was Dad's eyes that I most wanted to capture in the first place.  

As I painted and even now as I linger over the finished work, I find myself relating to the obvious pain and fear etched in Dad's expression.  I see myself there, wrestling with images and trials of the past, fears and concerns for the future, a constant struggle to find joy anymore in this world.  I picture Daddy at the feet of Jesus now, celebrating Christmas the way it's supposed to be celebrated, and I long to be with him there where there is no suffering, fear or pain.  I picture him welcoming the 20 children who were just murdered in their classroom in Connecticut.  I can hear him talking to them like Daffy Duck like he used to do when I was little.  And they laugh like I used to laugh.

Christmas will be hard this year, and not just for me.  So many have had their loved ones ripped from their lives, and all the while Christ is being ripped from the season.  People would rather believe in a fat man in a red suit with flying reindeer than in the One Christmas began with.  (Which story requires more faith?)  What breaks my heart is that they're happy in their hopelessness, drunk in their blindness, oblivious to the real Hell that boils in preparation for their souls.  Dad's eyes may be full of pain, but behind that earthly agony lingers a Hope that Heaven awaited him.  He knew that.  And so do I.  That is where I find Joy.  That is my Peace.  That is my Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Daddy.  I'll see you soon.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

They say "practice makes perfect", but when it comes to painting, I've never been one to practice.  I like to think that every canvas is a masterpiece, and then I laugh at my attempts at masterdom and tell myself, "you really need to practice more."  I've kind of been forced into the monotony however, having been invited to participate in a Quick Draw event this Saturday, my first.  One hour to create a "masterpiece" for auction.  My first thought was that I'll never be able to paint something worth selling in one I started practicing.  And guess what.  Each one gets better than the one before.  Hmm...I think I'm on to something here.  ;)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Well I had a nice little plein air study I was going to post (not that anyone is looking) but for some reason the post and the picture wouldn't both show at the same time.  I can't tell if it's the picture file or the text that's giving me a hard time.  For my own sake and reflection though, to remember what I learned from that day, I will try to describe again the points of the painting session...

I set up some potted plants (a tomato, dill, parsley, and a couple petunias for color) and a Quaker chair my dad built years ago in a nice little setting on the deck.  I started late in the day, hiding from the sun under the eave of the back porch with my easel.  The shadows cast by the setting sun on the deck helped enhance the composition, but the shade I painted in I believe was a bit too dark.

I finished the plein air sketch in a little over an hour, wanting to work longer, but stopping before I muddied the painting by trying to add too many details.  The perspective caught me as a bit "off" here and there, but it was good practice in capturing light and shadows. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Had the best time at the lake trying to hone my 'skills' at plein air painting.  I realized with this attempt that relaxing is key.  The clock needs to be kept in the peripheral vision while the focus remains on the subject, keeping time in the back of the mind and the fingers moving -- but not fretting the traveling sun and growing shadows so much that you miss the colors before you.

The best part about plein air is the studio -- or lack thereof.  No walls or light bulbs, just open space with the sky for a ceiling and a grass carpet underneath, the sun as the light source and the birds as the background music.  I was visited frequently by a big, bold yellow butterfly, a robin gathering sticks and stems for her nest,  and the occasional bug, casual observers that didn't ask questions or offer critiques, just curious as to why I was there.

My husband, Ron, spent the afternoon with me.  I was afraid he would get bored and I would have to rush -- but he was most content to fish from the banks even if nothing was biting, and dipped into the lake in our canoe once in a while, exercising his own skills for the first time this summer.

Yeah, days like this can't be planned.  They are a gift enjoyed when you respond to their spontaneous calling.  And I've learned through these little painting excursions that sometimes I just need to let the dishes set and go out and play.
Aruban Pelican

Done by request, the friend that received Beached Vessels wanted a series for his wall and asked me to paint this scene from the same vacation. They now hang side-by-side above a mantel filled with souvenirs and artifacts from the trip.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Beached Vessels

What started out as a practice session turned into a framed gift to the friend that gave me permission to use his photograph as a reference.  This painting took exactly four hours and one bottle of white merlot to complete.  It was the best way to spend an afternoon alone.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pump in a Field

Yep, that's just what it is.  A pump in a field.  Snapped this reference photo on a hunting excursion where I shot my first whitetail buck.  I think I got too wrapped up in the details of the field and lost the depth of the whole composition -- in fact, if it weren't already sealed, I would go back in and wash out the background with a light glaze -- but was very pleased with the pump itself and had fun adding blues into the shadows, a trick I learned from studying the work of the professionals out there.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

She Smiles at Me

This little lady from India captured my heart when I saw her photo taken by a missionary friend of mine.  She sits on a concrete floor at a Sunday church service, not worried that she doesn't have a cushioned chair or a digital display or a contemporary band or donuts after worship.  She smiles from within, simply content to be with her God.  She inspires me.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ezekiel's Inaugural Vision

Painting for auction at 2012 Macedonian Ministries Mission Conference

"Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward... and each had two other wings covering its body. Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go..." - Ezekiel 1:10-12