Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Hospitali-tea" - A Sneak Peak at a Commissioned Painting Series based on a Children's Farmhouse Theme

Flower and Butterfly Detail from "Hosptitali-tea"     16" x 20"     Acrylic on Linen
Oh what joy I've found in doing this project that was commissioned by my church's Antioch campus for their youth department. It's something I get to do alongside one of my best friends, which makes it all the more exciting to do, and the theme is "Welcome to the Farm," which as you can imagine is right up my alley!

I'm having a blast with the imaginative process of this commission - and the fact that in the end there will be such a large number of works to add to my portfolio is a massive plus! At first all I felt was overwhelmed by the idea of jumping into something like this, but I knew God wanted me doing it, despite how hard it could and would end up being, both related to time and physical effort. But somewhere along the line, He showed me the true blessing of it all- that all the artwork I'd done in my whole life had built up to this moment where I could give back to something far greater than myself - where I could give back to my church and more importantly serve my Creator. He showed me the story of Behaliel and Oholiab, two master craftsmen who were gifted in many different trades in the arts, so that they would one day be able to build the temple, God's resting place, and make it a place of sheer beauty befitting the greatest King ever! I don't know if you know the pure, unadulterated joy of creating with the very one who created you, but it's beyond spectacular, trust me on this!!!

I've prayed so often that God would allow me to become gifted like those special men in that way, that I might be able to serve Him with it, and I have seen such growth in the moments when He takes the wheel and steers for me. It's like you get lost in this creative zone, and if someone were to ask you how to do it again, honestly, I'm not sure I could, because it was so thoughtless, so "in the moment" - almost like I'm floating on air and I'm not even in control at all, but that God IS, that I'd be hard pressed to recreate the exact same thing again. I think that's partly why I never did well doing my work in school settings - I could never ever get totally lost in it, and that's when I do my best. Same thing around certain people - I have to be insanely comfortable with you to be able to paint - otherwise I fidget and get nothing done, it's the oddest thing. I wonder, do any of you out there struggle with this in your own art, from photography to graphic design, it doesn't matter what it is, but do you ever feel this way too? I'd love to hear from you!

I've still got a long way to go before I'm finished with this project, and this here painting is only a few brush strokes itself away from being done, (these little butterfly pictures are just a little sneak peak at it) but I have a feeling I've found my calling for sure! It's definitely children's books and illustrations for me that lie in my future - now I just have to figure out how to get discovered! Hhhhmmmm.... That could be interesting...

Well, I really hope you have a wonderful night (or day for my far away friends) and if you ever hear of someone needing an artist for their new children's or fantasy book, maybe you could send them my way... Hey, a girl can hope, right?

Butterfly Detail on "Hospitali-tea"     16" x 20"       Acrylic on Linen

Sunday, January 17, 2016

"The Appaloosa of the Woods" - A Colored Pencil Painting

"The Appaloosa of the Woods"     2.5" x 3.5"     Colored Pencil on Paper (ACEO)

I've been trying to post for days now but oh bother, the last few days have just been torturous for me! It's funny, I'm stuck in this irony of needing and desiring desperately to pray for rain because we need it so desperately after all these years of drought, but praying for rain is for me literally means I'm praying for insane, and I mean INSANE, amounts of pain. It's a bummer, because I'm finally starting  to get used to feeling almost human again (Praise the Lord oh my soul - how good it feels to be able just to sit down and help my kids with their homework, or play with them a little, or clean, or even cook for the first time in 5 years!!! My soul sings it's praises to my King for blessings like these that most people, including my former self, take for granted and even dread doing!) that I keep wanting to push myself and it ends up in disaster. All the atmospheric pressure changes and the fluctuations between rainy, sunny, cloudy, misty, rainy, and sunny all over again in this loop that goes on and on cause my body to freak out and I go into this spiral of chronic sleep, agonizing charley horses that are so bad they bring me down screaming and now my calves and thighs are in constant spasm from them - oh how that hurts - you've no idea!

Even with everything I know on how to manage pain and with the blessings that come from modern medicine, my body still goes into somatic reactions because the levels get so ridiculously high for me to handle and I end up passing out. Ty's become quite the pro at seeing the symptoms before they happen at times, and can either guide me to the couch in time or catch me mid-air falling (that's always fun! - sarcasm here)... But when he's not around, it's downright scary and dangerous, and I've hit quite a few interesting things and landed in some odd positions - some not so comfortable when I wake up hours later. And since when I pass out it's usually not just for a few seconds or minutes but hours on end, it's been a very interesting ride for us around here. But once again, God has proven so faithful and good to us, and blessed us though a friend with a very nice CPAP machine to keep me breathing (and living essentially) while I'm passed out for hours at a time which is quite common. And Paula, if you're reading this, I am forever grateful to you for the machine you gave me - it's literally saved my life a number of times as proven in my follow up session with the sleep therapists where we got to look up the log and see how long I stopped breathing for - it's so crazy and gave me a whole new respect for the machine. I don't hesitate to wear it anymore after that sesh, that's for sure! So thank you my friend - you are literally a life-saver!

And yes, while all this isn't much fun for me and it's hard to have a great attitude during flares like this, where I'm sleeping so much of the time and get so lonely when I am up because that's usually when everyone else is asleep, since it's 3 or 4am, I know in my heart that I need to try my hardest to live like Christ and have the best attitude possible. So I've been trying to keep myself busy by coloring - painting has been a bit harder to do as of late, but I try to do it as much as I can when I can - and I ended up with this little horse trotting through the wildflowers in the woods. I wanted the lighting to be ephemeral, and was able to get it that way a little bit, but not as much as I'd envisioned. I still really like how it turned out though, and it ended up being a study for a totally different painting I am working on right now, well, as soon as I finish writing anyways. So, I must go and get to work and I hope and pray for all of you sufferers out there with terrible conditions no matter what they are that today would be a day of reprieve for you from your symptoms. That God would hold you in His mighty arms and heal you, even if just for a day or two, so you can feel some comfort and joy in what can be such a depressing and lonely place. I wish you ALL a wonderful day, and God bless!

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Mysterious "Pastel Mountaintops"

"Pastel Mountaintops"     3" x 5"     Pastel on Paper
This "pastel painting" as it were (I never quite know what to call them - they end up feeling more like paintings in the end than a drawing, so I'll go with that) is one of a few I did what felt like only a year ago, but apparently I've been slacking on posting up my work even longer than I thought! Anyways, I remember creating this piece, and being quite happy with the color palette and how the colors tended to harmonize with each other, but for the life of me, I have no idea where on earth I took my inspiration from. I'm not sure where these mountains are from. It's possible these mountains may actually live somewhere quite far away in fact, on the way to Montana or the like, and either been painted on that drive or done at home (or at a hotel or destination while on vacation after being captured by phone). Or perhaps they are from one of what feels like my MILLIONS of Doctors appointments I've been through over the last few years - seriously, I literally would have 4 or 5 a day 3-4 days a week for months on end - no joke - it was so bad!!! If so, then the mountains would be our very own little beauty called Mount Diablo, one I never get sick of seeing, even if it gets harder and harder to with all the development going on around here.

I remember when I was little we could see it from our house in Brentwood, a clear, gorgeous shot with orchards in the foreground and from spring to fall we would go up there and jump ginormous rocks or try to catch the ridiculous amounts of blue-bellied lizards and tarantulas that lived there. It was such fun! I haven't been there for ages though, and sadly the best view left of it that's accessible for most people is from Kaiser - gee, isn't that ironic? Maybe I just don't get OUT out enough... Still, it's always a treat to see snow on it, that's for sure, even now as an adult! I suppose I'm just going to be left wondering whether or not this is that. Especially since I've no idea where the original picture is or if there was no picture at all in the first place and I just drew it while my lover boy drove me around (love ya Ty!) - which is quite possible... Oh well, sometimes having that bit of wonder is actually more fun than knowing for sure, and either way, the best part for me is making the artwork and having something to look back on, so I guess it's a win-win!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

"Multicolored Tulip" - A Pen and Colored Pencil Drawing

"Multicolored Tulip"     3.75"x 3.75"      Pen and Prismacolor Colored Pencils on Coaster
Haha, so this drawing really IS square, I just had a hard time taking a picture of it for some reason (impatience perhaps...?) and now it looks like it's receding into the background or something, like an optical illusion, when it's really just a bad shot. I must say though, I had such a fun time creating this particular piece. I just let myself go, letting the colors flow from me and be as vivid as possible, so it ended up with some of my very favorite colors of all time - teal, true blue, lime green, coral, buttercream, burgandy, and deep forrest and peacock greens. Apparently I like red a lot more than I realized, too, though only as a punch of color if it's in a home (meaning I won't ever paint a room that color, but I'll put some vases or candles or pillows in there that are like that.) Well, at least I'm good for one work of art a week, which is a WAY better start than last year! Woo-hoo!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year! "The Emerald" - A Work in Progress

Well hello out there! It's been ages since I've posted any work, though I've actually did quite a lot this last year thanks to a huge commission for my church and the great blessing of changes in medication which has allowed me to actually feel almost human again - it's been soooo amazingly wonderful I can't even begin to tell you, and the improved health (I'm still sick, still having flares that knock me back, and can feel all my pain hidden under my meds, but which I'm so incredibly siked about! I'll post about that soon, but wanted to come back with something easy. This is not quite finished, though the intial "Tangling" part is done. It's just been forever since I posted something, and I figured that what better than the start of a whole NEW YEAR to give myself a chance to put the bad feelings aside, the guilt I feel every time I finish a work and don't put it up here just for my own sake as an artist, and to embrace trying to get back on track posting more and more works than ever. Even if it's just a tiny little part of a work in progress, I want to treat this like an artists diary of sorts - well, I suppose I always have, but I want to get back on track. So to start the year of, I figured a work in progress, much like myself, would be the very perfect thing to go up today. I've got so many things to show you, both finished and in the works, and I'm so excited to share them all with you this year! This year is already starting out on such a happy note, and I hope the same goes for you. Happy New Years Everyone! And may it be a very, VERY BLESSED ONE AT THAT! 
<3 Much Love,
~ melissa ~  

"The Emerald"    Pen and Ink      Zentangle on Coaster

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"To Be Set Free" - A Colored Pencil Drawing And A Work In Progress

"To Be Set Free"     Colored Pencil on Paper     11" x 20"

"To Be Set Free"     Detail of her face
So here's the next installment of "To Be Set Free." I still need to go back and add some fly away hairs in the front like I did in the background, and the Bokeh (the circles of light and darkness) needs some serious blending, but other than that, I think all she needs next is her wings. I'm not sure if I'm dreading that or looking forward to it, to be quite honest... But I do know it's going to be a challenge to get those textures just right, especially getting them to look further back behind her without blurring them out or making them appear too detailed. This could be interesting...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"To Be Set Free" - A WIP (Work in Progress) in Colored Pencil Over Graphite

This originally was a graphite drawing I started in college, but I saw my friends black and white colored pencil drawing and immediately fell in love with the way it made everything look like a photo, and so I set to work right away on re-drawing it right over the original with colored pencils. Right here it's in both phases, so you can see the hair is graphite, as well as from her shoulder and collar bone and down, and the rest is colored pencil, just of white and black, though I'm adding grey in later as well. It's got a long way to go before it's even close to being finished. Definitely a Work in Progress at this point. By the way, the blackish brown lines around the outside are just my couch. Not part of the picture. Just really wanted to get this posted because I miss blogging sooo much!
God has been working on my heart in ways that you wouldn't even be able to believe or imagine. He's brought some absolutely amazing women of faith my way that have been such needed encouragers of the faith and speakers of God's truth through LOVE  that they have taken this wretched woman in me who has been engulfed in bitterness and anger over losing soooo much in my life - nearly everything I hold dear - and I mean it - when my illnesses hit, it was like our lives stopped dead in their tracks - both Tyler and I are still reeling from the suddenness and severity of how intensely we lost nearly everything we held dear to this absolutely mind boggling constant and excruciating pain. I know I've said it before, but my pain is literally so insanely bad that nearly every specialist I've seen - like my Dr. at the pain clinic, my rheumatologist AND Sleep Study Therapists have ALL said is off the charts it's so bad - that I have pain so severe they've never seen anyone with it worse than me for what I have, and that it literally doesn't get any worse than what I have. And to add insult to injury, the sorrow on their faces as they empathize with us over our age and the fact that we have two little babes at home is just heartbreaking. They all tell us how sorry they are for us - it's been crazy to finally be validated, and yet heartbreaking in it's own right because not only am I the worst they've ever seen, but usually you start out really bad and get better each year but for me it's not been the case. It's gotten worse and worse each and every year - it's just crazy town. But God gave me this burden to bear, and I am convinced wholehearted that He is going to do AMAZING things out of it!!!

Detail of her mouth, chin and some fly away hairs - still working on it - needs it's highlights for sure on those lips and a lot more blending to make it smooth. Loving to work on this again. God is sooo good!

And what's even better is that God is now speaking hope into my life again. Showing me that joy and praise, not bitterness and anger, are the way to a happy, positive and God-filled life, even if it's a life lived on the sofa just about 24/7. And yes, that means it's my lonely little bed if you're wondering... Anyways, God is teaching me that to let go of all the pain of the past AND present, of all the hurt I have over abandonment by friends, or loneliness, or any other host of issues. But to hold on to the pain is to give Satan a foothold over my life, and I just WILL NOT HAVE THAT ANYMORE!!! I RENOUNCE HIM FROM MY LIFE, AND I CHOSE THE LIFE OF REPENTANCE FOR ALL MY OWN SINS, FOR THE UNFORGIVENESS IN MY OWN HEART, THE BITTERNESS, THE ANGER, THE DARK PLACES I GO TO WHEN I FEEL SO MUCH PAIN THAT I JUST WANT TO BE REUNITED WITH MY KING! I CHOOSE JESUS, AND FORGIVENESS, AND LOVE, JOY, AND HAPPINESS. To try to be a peacekeeper instead of stirring up drama, to try to love others and realize that when they sin or hurt me they do it out of their own brokenness, and I'm no different. I want to be FREE and POSITIVE and full of HOPE again, SO THAT I CAN SERVE God in MIGHTY, MIGHTY WAYS,  AND BRING HIM AS MUCH GLORY AS I CAN - TO BE A CONQUERER FOR HIM, because I LOVE Him sooo, soooo very much.

What I found very odd about all this, is that when I started making these choices in my life and asking for forgiveness, forgiving others, uprooting these ugly roots of bitterness that so deeply entangle me, well, I started getting passionate about my art again. And I mean VERY passionate about it. I've been drawing again, with a Godsend of a friend who met because I saw one of her gorgeous drawings and immediately had to introduce myself, we immediately hit it off right away, and now she comes over just about every week to draw together. And now I have the blessing of being able to try to paint again as well because of another one of my Godsend friends who was sooo sweet that she sat down in Hobby Lobby for like who knows how long and literally sat with EVERY lap easel in her lap to find the lightest one for me for my birthday knowing that I can't paint because of my pain, and so she knew that if the easel was light enough, I could do so (isn't that such great love?) that I might be able to paint again - I am soooo truly blessed!!!

In fact, we're hoping to start up a little group of artists who can come and pray and read the bible and do art together we're sooo inspired by all this. God is soooo good!!! And what I've noticed so fully and truly is that in order to truly get rid of all the filth inside - the anger and bitterness and unforgiveness - is to fully fill our minds with praise and all that is pure and lovely. As the Bible says:

 Philippians 4:1-9
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Final Exhortations
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

So basically, I've learned that I have to get my heart right by forgiving those who hurt me, by becoming a peacekeeper rather than someone who tries to constantly fight or be "the one who's always right all the time" and by giving up this spirit of arrogance and rebellion that I've had for FAR too long - something that at times I'd confuse with confidence and pride and get all mixed up until I was all twisted up inside. But by coming to God DAILY first with a heart of praise, thanking Him for all that IS good in my life, praising Him for His Glorious creation - one that is soooo breatakingly beautiful and that I have the privelage to try to re-create WITH Him as I do my art and spend time with Him in worship. There is almost nothing more that I love to do than to sit alone with God and paint with Him by my side, or draw with Him out in nature, marveling at all the glorious beauty that he has created! My, what a Majestic and Artist and Gifted God do we serve!!! <3 The more you sing praises to Our King, the more that peace and tranquility creeps into your heart and soul, as the light, the GLORIOUS LIGHT pushes out the darkness because where there is LIGHT no darkness can reign. Halleluiah! I am so on FIRE for our King, let that fire NEVER falter, let it never grow dim or burn out, but Lord, let it grow and grow until it is all that people see when they see me - You and Your light in me. AMEN to that, right?!
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