Stone Hall

I have decided to go sketch outside once a week (at least).

This is my first trip.  It was Friday October 10/6/17

This was at Stone Hall park, a tiny Metro park near my home.  It was a private residence that was built 1918.

I found a little porch where I could sit.

Here is the dry watercolor pencil version. This took an hour.

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Here it is after I added water.

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A lady named Julie came by and unlocked it.  She was cleaning it up for a wedding that afternoon.  I asked if I could go in.  She said yes.  I couldn’t believe my luck.

I’ve made up so many excuses to skip doing this for at least a year.  It was too hot or cold or sunny or wet or I was tired or needed to go to the bathroom or take leftovers home….and while some of these were applicable here, I went anyway because I had packed my supplies and a camp chair in my car.   I thought it would be a shame to not at least go and look.  I ended up spending over an hour here.  It was very invigorating.

Here is me inside the building.

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The inside/outside room

This week’s sketching adventure was at Summit hospital. There is a small patio that is surrounded by the building. It is inside and outside at the same time. The door has been locked for at least a year due to construction and remodeling.

I’d been there a year ago (an annual appointment with my cardiologist brings me here) and was planning to sketch then.  The construction had just begun, so there was no way.  This sign greeted me this year –

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I looked.  I could see no danger.  I didn’t test the door.

I got a pumpkin spice latte at the coffee shop and sketched and photographed from inside, through the glass.  This was my view from the inside.

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This is what I sketched (this is dry watercolor pencil)

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It is more impressionistic than realistic.  I didn’t match up the angles in the top North East corner (9 to 10 on the clock), so there is a gap.  It is OK, and I was grateful to have done this – to have made time to do this.

But this wasn’t enough for me. I talked to three people to determine why it was still locked.  The second person didn’t even think people were meant to be out there.  When I told her there were benches, she changed and said “Ask Ann” and jerked her thumb behind her to a small window that was set up like a bank teller.  It turns out that Ann is in charge of the switchboard. I have decided that if Ann doesn’t know the answer, she knows who knows.  She made some calls. She learned that it was safe to open again.  She called a security guard to unlock it for me.

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I’m the first person there in a year.

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I was overwhelmed with joy and pride at my bravery in asking.  I quietly said the “Shehecheyanu” prayer  – – “Blessed are You, Lord, ruler of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this moment.”

I chose a bench to sit on.  Here is what I saw –

One picture could not cover it all.

Here is what I sketched – (this is dry watercolor pencil)  This was 10-11 am, Friday October 13, 2017.  It was about 65 degrees.

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Here is what it looks like after, with water added. sum 10.jpgSketching isn’t about drawing everything that you see.  It is more than a photograph.  The filter is your perspective – not only externally, but internally.  It is what you want to show.  It is about editing out the trash cans, or highlighting the blue reflection of the mirrored glass.  It is choosing to draw only three lines of windows instead of 5.

It is more than a photograph because it shows things from a human perspective.

I took the results to the three people who I talked to in order to gain access.  I said “here is the fruit of our labors”   – and only the coffee shop person even remembered me.  I’d been gone for an hour and the other two had talked to lots of other people in the meantime.  They had forgotten about me.

Ann was particularly taken by my sketch and said “Do you do this for a living?”  No – I’m not paid (yet) for my art.  I do this to live.  But I don’t make money at it.  She brought up a local artist, Phil Ponder.  To have my art compared with his is a huge complement.  She said “You have real talent”.  I am pleased with my work, but I don’t think it is that great.  But this is inspiring.   She also thought that it would be a shame for this to stay in my journal – that I should make it so it can be on display in the hospital.

We will see.  This would involve asking more people, making sure that it will actually be on display and not hidden in a corner.  It might involve re-painting it on bigger and better paper.  Getting it framed.  Do I pay for that – or do they?  Do I want to go through all of that work?

The buffalo series

I went to a moving sale for an art store.  They drastically reduced their prices so they didn’t have to tote everything over to their new location.  I heard about the sale a little late, and it was a few more days until I had a day off and could go.  This meant that the supplies I was looking for weren’t there – and certainly not the colors.  I decided this was a good opportunity to try out new kinds of art materials as well as new colors.

I chose a vintage postcard of an American buffalo (really, it is a bison) that a pen-pal sent.

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I made a limit for myself that I could only use the materials that I had bought at the sale, and only one material type per page.  I used carbon paper to transfer the outline of the buffalo to my sketchbook.

Here it is in pastel –

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This is artist crayons –

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This is colored pencil –

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This is acryl-gouache –

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I will add more versions here as I do them.  There is only one more medium to use from that sale, but I am enjoying this enough that I may continue doing this in other mediums – perhaps even in collage and washi tape.

Here is “Jerry’s Artarama jumbo jet sanguine”, charcoal pencil, lamp black pencil, and Derwent onyx.

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Hidden pictures

You know those picture books where you’re supposed to find a hidden picture? There may be an elephant or a rabbit or even a cartoon character hidden within the picture. You know that you’re supposed to spend some time really looking deeply into this picture to see what is hidden there for you. Otherwise you’d pass right over it after just a glance.

What if life is like that? What if everything is a hidden picture and we’re supposed to slow down and look very carefully?

I like to think of that with God. I like to think that God is hidden within everything and that if we just look really hard will see God hiding in plain sight right front of us. Just like with those pictures. The elephant or the rabbit or the cartoon character was always there. We didn’t have to uncover anything. We just had to slow down and take the time to look, and the only reason we knew to do that was because of the title of the picture. It was there all along.

Try this with everything. Try looking for the hidden – this hidden beauty in everything. I promise that you will see amazing things.

Grief message – our loved ones are still with us

Our loved ones remain absent from us for as long as we mourn. Their spirit cannot intersect with ours while we grieve. They are afraid to plunge us further into the pit of despair, so they do not approach. Plus our “certainty” that they are lost to us forever in this realm creates that reality. We see what we expect to see.

Bodies are not permanent. Death is inevitable. However, we are more than our bodies. Once we open up and remember that the soul (the part that matters most) is immortal we will once again be able to interact with those who have passed.

It will be in a different way, of necessity. We will see with our hearts instead of our eyes, and we will feel with our souls instead of our bodies.

This is not a skill that Western society teaches because it isn’t even seen as possible. Western society speaks only of the afterlife – of meeting souls again only after we die. However, this connection is still possible during life. It takes practice – but more importantly, it takes knowing that it is possible. Take some time soon to “call up” your loved ones who have passed from this dimension and invite them for a chat. You’ll both be glad you did.

Earl and the Geese

He was waiting for the birds. Every year around this time they flew over his land with their squawks and chirps or silently, only the perturbation of their wings a sign to look up.

So few people looked up anymore, he mused. So concerned about staying on the sidewalk, not veering off the path, not tripping over a root or rock. They never looked up unless told to, and then reluctantly, squinting as if they only half wanted to look.

Duke, his loyal hound, almost never looked up. His neck wasn’t built like that, not when he was walking. He could look when he was sitting, when his spine was closer to being perpendicular to the earth that he loved to sniff and dig at. But even he would stop and take a glance at a gander or a goose when it honked its hello from on high.
It was a sign, he’d learned after all these years of living alone in the woods, that it was time to decide whether to hunker down or move on. Maine in the winter wasn’t easy for someone even in their 40s, and Earl had passed that decades ago. If the geese were high, he’d stay. If low, time to go south to his sister’s house for the season. Maybe she’d let him in if he apologized and meant it this time.

False sincerity can come from a fear of frostbite, and she knew it. It wasn’t any use letting him in if his words weren’t from the heart. Otherwise, it would be a long winter, regardless of the weather. If things weren’t right between them, the coldness outside would be nothing to the coldness in the house between them.

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Notes on the story –
This short story was inspired by a card left in a book by a patron. Her name is Peach McComb, and she is a professional artist. She makes cards of her artwork to use as business cards. Since I was through with the “Short and Strange” series, I decided to write something inspired by her card. I taped it in my journal and chose to only use one page, forcing me to limit what I wrote to just the essentials.
This story is like a sketch instead of a full rendering. I chose to leave the rest up to the reader. Consider these questions – Why are the brother and sister estranged? Why does he live alone in the woods in Maine, far from family? How long will he keep going back to the woods once the weather improves? What did he do before moving there? Is it significant that his name is Earl and his dog is named Duke? Feel free to write the rest of the story and post it here.

A new era

Did the world end on September 23rd, as some had predicted? Obviously not – or has it? Was it the end of an era, and a time for a new one? Have we entered a different age?

I have noticed interesting bands of light in the sky since the evening where Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) started. Then I noticed different pictures from friends from all around the world in the week before that. The sky looks different – like God is using the sky to get our attention, that a time of change is upon us.

L. Banks took these photos at Rev. Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens on 9-16-17

T. Fishel took this photo in Africa 9-17-17

I took this on 9-20-17 – Rosh Hashanah is about to begin.

These were taken by me on 9-23-17 in St. Meinrad, Indiana

The light seems different – otherworldly. Do all these pictures simply show lens flares, or crepuscular rays? Maybe. But they also might call us to be awake and to turn towards God, and that is a good thing.

What does Jesus say about that time? When asked by his disciples, he replied in Luke 21:8-28. Read this all carefully. All these things have not happened yet.

8 Then He said, “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Don’t follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and rebellions, don’t be alarmed. Indeed, these things must take place first, but the end won’t come right away.”

10 Then He told them: “Nation will be raised up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of My name. 13 It will lead to an opportunity for you to witness.14 Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time, 15 for I will give you such words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will even be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. They will kill some of you. 17 You will be hated by everyone because of My name, 18 but not a hair of your head will be lost. 19 By your endurance gain your lives.

20 “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that its desolation has come near. 21 Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains! Those inside the city must leave it, and those who are in the country must not enter it, 22 because these are days of vengeance to fulfill all the things that are written. 23 Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for there will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

25 “Then there will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and there will be anguish on the earth among nations bewildered by the roaring sea and waves. 26 People will faint from fear and expectation of the things that are coming on the world, because the celestial powers will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near!”

Pay special attention to verse 9, where he tells us “don’t be alarmed” and in verse 28, that we are to “stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near!”

Indeed, we shouldn’t be worried – but we should be mindful. Because Jesus goes on to say in verses 34-36 –

34 “Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly 35 like a trap. For it will come on all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”

In the end times God will decide between what is good and what is wrong – what is bearing fruit of the Spirit and what does not. Meanwhile, we have to be mindful and make good choices. Our decisions will affect what happens to us. It isn’t our religious practice that will save us. God doesn’t care how many times you go to church if you don’t learn the message and act upon it. You have to treat everyone with kindness and generosity and compassion – forgiving them constantly.

(All Bible translations are HCSB)