Jeremy Sams Art Blog

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cauble Creek Artist Invitational Winner

Cauble Creek Vineyards was kind enough to host an artist invitational show this past November. Each artist was invited to submit up to three pieces of art, one of which should be wine/vineyard related in subject matter. The Vineyard had over 400 visitors walk through to view the artwork...and what a view they had. There were some absolutely beautiful pieces of art on display from some extremely talented artists.

This past week, I received a letter from Cauble Creek Vineyards announcing to me that I was their Artist Invitational Winner. All I can say is, "Wow". What an honor and what a complete shock! If you could have viewed all the artwork, you would understand my shock. But, I am truly grateful and humbled by their decision.

A special thanks to all who purchased my paintings, and for all the gracious comments left by the voters...Thanks for helping feed my family! Thanks to Adele Goodman (An excellent artist who speaks my language...along with her signature, she signs her work with the initials "SDG"...for "Soli Deo Gloria!") for organizing the event, and thanks to Cauble Creek Vineyards for hosting. Be sure to stop by their beautiful vineyard if you're ever in the Salisbury area.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time For Violence...Battling Depression and Anxiety

The Christian life is a violent life. We are told to "fight the good fight of faith"...We're also told that if we "through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, we shall live." Mortify doesn't exactly mean to be embarrassed here...It means to KILL. These violent metaphors of war-waging run all through-out Scripture.

However, we must ask ourselves, to whom or what is this violence directed? Does this mean we're to be violent to others? God forbid. Violent to our enemies? Yes...but, our enemies are not defined as being our neighbors, or people of other religions, or even people who've done us wrong. Our enemies can be found in two places: The first place is the spiritual realm where Satan and his evil minions dwell. He's a very real threat and many have been wounded and killed by this roaring lion. However, one of our biggest and most troublesome enemies can be found within us.

The Christian life, contrary to what the prosperity preachers tell you, is not "Your Best Life Now"...Sorry Joel, if you're living your best life now, then that means your life to come is going to be a hot one (cough-hell-cough). With that being said, our lives are filled with a roller-coaster of emotional highs and heart crushing lows. Let me be real honest here...losing two of my babies within 8 months HURTS. Holding their limp cold bodies HURTS. Watching dirt fill their graves HURTS. I can assure you, this has, by far, been one of the worst years of my life.

After experiencing these heart crushing lows, that stinking flesh in me wants to plunge my whole being into depression. My flesh is at constant war with my spirit and its battlefield is my mind. This holds true for my wife, Crystal as well. Her enemy is anxiety...anxious about death, possible diseases, sicknesses, abnormalities, will we ever have another live baby, etc... And from what she's been through, it's very understandable to have these feelings. It's like a cruel cycle of trauma-grief-anxiety-depression-anxiety-depression, etc...which seems impossible to break free from. She hates it...I hate seeing her suffer.

We're tired of playing defense in this fight for joy. So, we've decided to get violent. Tonight we started our first phase of attack. Our plan, so far, is to fight these enemies with a two-pronged attack:
  1. Fight with the Sword of the Spirit...the Word of God. We started tonight memorizing Matthew 6:25-34. After we get this passage, we'll move on to other anxiety/depression-crushing verses. Our goal is to renew our minds with the truth of God's Word so that when these feelings of anxiety or depression come along, we'll have some ammunition to hurl at the enemy. What we have to understand is that feelings come and go and you certainly can't trust them...they lie...However, Jesus is the TRUTH...He's the reality and His word is truth and in them is life. Scripture memory will be key in this renewal process. 
  2. Ministering to others. By taking the focus off ourselves and looking to the needs of others will be another great way to "fight for joy". This could be accomplished in several ways like giving the gospel, encouraging someone else, helping those less fortunate, etc...
This is going to be an interesting journey and we know God has placed us on this path for a reason. The last thing I want to do is waste my trial. So, I pray: God, help me to learn, teach me thoroughly, but please be gentle with us and give us the grace we need to persevere. We thank You in advance for the good that You're bringing us to.

 Would you like to go with us on this journey? Let's begin with memorizing Matthew 6:25-34 and look for ways to minister. Keep a sharp eye out...I bet God will be quick to place someone in your path. Be sure to check out another post I wrote earlier dealing with the subject of joy in Farming for Joy. Be sure to give any biblical suggestions you might have in this battle for peace of mind and joy.

Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Celebrating The Ultimate Artist...God

"Psalm 104:24"
24x30 acrylic on canvas

"O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches." Psalm 104:24

As an artist, it's impossible for me to view such magnificent scenes of God's creation and not be overwhelmed with awe. In my quest to duplicate colors and moods, it becomes very plain for me to see my inadequacies. I struggle just trying to duplicate a scene in front of me. The problem lies in that I'm merely duplicating...but, on the other hand, God is no duplicator...He's no copyist...He's not building according to someone or something else...He's the original artist.

On Nov. 4, 2011, I was invited by Friendly Avenue Baptist Church to participate in the "Festival of Tables" where they honored God as the ultimate artist. It was a lovely night with music, dining, a wonderful testimony of a family on the mission field, and a special song by my wife Crystal..."I was Born To Serve the Lord". During these couple of hours, on stage, I was privileged with the opportunity to indulge in my own expression of thanks to God by painting this scene of Yosemite National Park, above.

We'd like to say a special thank you to Friendly Avenue Baptist Church for the hospitality, the prayers, and the opportunity to minister.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Our Little Girl, Selah...A Gift of Joy

Some nightmares seem to never end. Too often we've all had those reoccurring nightmares in the same night of sleep. It's as if you know it's not real but you if you could just wake up, you could find escape. Sadly, there are experiences in life that truly are nightmares, but there is no "waking up" for it to all go away.

Early Thursday morning, I was woken by my wife who obviously had not been sleeping. There was a slight panic in her voice. She had been experiencing, the day before, some pretty uncomfortable cramping. But this morning, she was fully aware that these were not normal cramps. She felt as if they were labor pains. So, to be safe and to alleviate our fears, we went immediately to see her doctor at the women's birthing center in Statesville. While I held my sleeping daughter Ellie in the waiting room, I heard a very familiar cry of agony coming from the examination room.

The nightmare has returned. I will never forget those horrifying screams as I rushed into the room, they were all too familiar. Once again, an ultrasound confirmed no heart beat.

We were left to weep and pray. We then decided to return to High Point to be near our family and friends and to examine what our next step should be. We were given different options of going ahead to induce labor or wait. It was obvious that the cramps she was experiencing was her body's way of taking care of itself by going into labor.

We called our doctor in High Point and began to make arrangements to deliver our baby. A couple of our midwives also came by to check on her at our house which was a great encouragement.

At around 5:30, the contractions began to become more intense, so we made our way to the hospital. I watched my wife with the help of our doula/friend Jennifer pace in the ER trying to walk through the contractions. Could these people who check you in have been any slower??? My goodness, what was only a few minutes seemed like an eternity as I watched her breathe and groan in the check-in office. Jennifer was pretty adamant telling the people to get her to labor and delivery NOW, of which the lady finally complied.

Finally, we were checked into our room and Crystal was checked for dilation. She was a zero. Crystal mocked her pain saying, "yeah, it's just my luck to be having these kind of contractions and not be dilated at all!" Her contractions were lasting up to 2.5-3 minutes with only about 30 seconds of rest in between each one. She walked around the room and rocked in her standing position refusing to take anything for pain. I stood in amazement and fear as I watched my wife and her doula dance this unusual dance of labor.

After 30 minutes or so of enduring some pretty intense contractions, Crystal cried out that she had to use the bathroom. Complaining of the extreme pressure caused Jennifer to hit the "call" button for the nurses. But, everything was happening too fast...Crystal stood and cried, "The head's coming out!" Jennifer and I were close by as she yelled "catch it, catch it!" So, I dove to the floor, held out my hands as Crystal stood, and caught this little warm sack.

I couldn't believe my hands was my precious little girl still in the birth sack. My hands were trembling...bloody...but I was holding a miracle. Even though I knew I was holding just a little lifeless body, it was still a very overwhelming experience. Now, I can see why doctors and midwives do what they do, as this rush of joy flooded through my soul knowing I helped deliver one of God's greatest miracles. This miracle may have not been alive, physically, but I can assure you, she is more alive than any of us!

If a doctor or midwife no longer gets joy out of delivering babies, he/she needs to hang up the towel. What an absolutely rewarding experience they must have. This caused me to think...if we, as fallen humanity, can be so filled with joy at the birthing of a much more is Christ flooded with joy as He births His own? I'm a sinner...however, redeemed... but still, every aspect of my being has been affected by the curse of emotions, especially. If I can get that much overwhelming joy out of delivering a physically lifeless child, how much more does the perfect Creator of joy...Creator of emotion...Creator of life...Creator of ALL much more joy and pleasure does He get in the new birth of His children! Oh, can you imagine what He feels when he breathes life into a soul!

Why did He go to the cross??? For JOY! WE are a part of HIS JOY!
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

Not only is He joyous for giving spiritual life, but I can imagine the joy He will feel when He resurrects our bodies to a glorified life. What an incredible event will take place when he gathers His children from the four corners of the earth, gathered together as His bride...Oh, what joy He will feel! We, as believers, are His treasures...not because of some inherent worth in ourselves, but because we are gifts from the Father!
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" John 6:37
"And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." John 6:39
Our security and worth as believers is based on the fact that we are gifts from the Father...the value of the gift is not measured in itself, but by the Giver of the gift. We are precious to Christ because we were given of the Father. All children should be precious to us because they also are gifts from our heavenly Father.

We chose to name our little gift, Selah. In Hebrew, it means to praise or exalt. It's also a term used to indicate a pause or a time to meditate and "think on this". For us, after our ordeal with losing our son, Zion, God gave us a little time of praise. She was a little pause in our life to praise God and a time of healing. Psalm 66 is the chapter that sealed our decision to use this name... read it carefully, meditate on it, and heed it:
" 1Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:
 2Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.
 3Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.
 4All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.
 5Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.
 6He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.
 7He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.
 8O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:
 9Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.
 10For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.
 11Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.
 12Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
 13I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows,
 14Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.
 15I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah.
 16Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.
 17I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.
 18If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
 19But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
 20Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me."
In closing, I must ask you...are you a gift of the Father? How does one know if they are? It's simple...have you received the gift that God has provided? We are all sinners by birth, by action, and by our failure to treasure God and His glory. He, on the other hand, is a just God who will not at all acquit the wicked (Nahum 1:3) Because He is good and righteous, He must punish sin and not sweep it under the rug...He will not let the wicked go free. The good news is that this same just God sent His Son to die as a substitute for all who will believe. He is just and the justifier of those which believe in Jesus. If you reject this gift, you will prove to all creation that you in fact, were never a gift of the Father. But, now, God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the not reject Him...He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but He has overwhelming joy for all who come to Him. Make your calling and election sure...prove that you are part of the "joy set before Him" by believing in Christ...which means valuing Him as your most supreme treasure.

I was asked by my good friend, Rick Cope, this morning, "Jeremy, what are you thankful for today?" In short, I am thankful for the gift of my daughter and that I am a part of His joy!...Selah

Soli Deo Gloria.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grandfather Mountain Plein Air

Grandfather Mountain in Fall
8x10 acrylic on masonite en plein air

On October 21, 2011, plein air artists from all over North Carolina once again swarmed over the Sweetgrass Community in Blowing Rock, NC. I couldn't pass up this opportunity to paint along side of some incredibly talented artists.

The weather was beautiful with nice sunny skies...the only drawback was the wind and the chill. The last time I was here, in July, I ended up freezing my rear-end off in a downpour of rain... in JULY! It's October now, so I came prepared: 2 pair of thermal underwear, fleece, windbreaker, toboggan, gloves, 2 pair of socks, etc... I felt like the Pillsbury dough-boy all wrapped up. But hey, I wasn't frostbitten. 

 Me...warm, but cold-faced

I was privileged to paint with a good friend of mine, artist, Scott Boyle, founder of the Charlotte Plein Air Painters... a group that I'm currently a member of. We both share a passion for magnifying God and His glory through our paintings. 
While scoping out the property, we settled on a lake view with Grandfather Mountain in the distance. It was quite beautiful with the most brilliant blues reflecting in the water. So brilliant, in fact, that it almost looked unbelievable. I attempted to paint it...I mixed...I painted...I struggled...I got frustrated...I had a breakthrough!

 Landscape painter extraordinaire, Scott Boyle

Yep, I had a breakthrough...I turned my easel into the sun. I had straight sunlight shining on my palette and my canvas panel. Suddenly, the colors looked so dull. So, what do I do but react with artistic speed and precision! I was feeling good...feeling like I was accomplishing something. Then, at the epitome of my artistic fury, Scott reminds me, "Jeremy, be sure to turn your easel into the shade just to see what it looks like in different light." I believe the words that came out of my mouth at that time were something like, "HOLY COW!" The painting that I thought looked so awesome turned out to be one of the darkest valued paintings I think I've ever done. It was embarrassing it was so bad. It's so bad, I haven't even taken a digital picture of it, so don't expect to see it posted here. It goes in my "bad painting" pile...that same pile is growing, by the way. (Scott assures me that his bad painting pile is now several feet, that's encouraging)

So, lesson learned: paint in the shade, or at least have your canvas and palette shaded, if possible. Painting in the direct sunlight can make for an extremely dark painting, especially when you bring it indoors.

The painting at the top of the page was my second painting of the day. The wind died down enough for me to set up my shadebuddy umbrella and paint under it...Ahhhh, relief! What a difference a day...a little shade makes!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Farming For Joy!

Have you ever planted a garden? I had the privilege of growing some of my own vegetables this past summer and oh what a treat it is to be able to step out your backdoor and pick your supper! What a gratifying experience!

I thought I would be a real man this past year and do this the "old school" hand. I got my shovel and ho and went to work. Two days and many blisters and sore back muscles later, I had cultivated my own small garden. (note to self: tillers are our friend, don't deny them) After planting my little plants and a few weeks later, I began to see the fruits of my labor budding out. What a cool a little, plant seeds, water, then watch it grow.

Throughout this experience, I witnessed an interesting thing...did I cause the seeds to grow? No, they were underground. I had no clue what was taking place under there. The only responsibility I had was to plant and water. So, who or what caused these seeds to grow into these tall beautiful plants yielding delicious vegetables?

This is where an old principle that is taught throughout the bible begins to take a whole new meaning. One passage in particular comes to mind, 1 Corinthians 3:6-8:

"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour."
 Notice who does the planting and watering: Paul and you and me. But, it's God who "gives the increase". This principle runs all throughout the Scriptures in almost all areas of our lives. We witness and evangelize, but it's God who gives the increase. When people are born again, they are born of God and His will, not by blood or the will of the flesh, or the will of man (John 1:13). yet, it is our responsibility to sow and shall they believe in whom they have not heard? (Romans 10:14)

This principle also applies to JOY. I must be honest here...over the past few months, one of my greatest struggles is maintaining joy. We know that true joy is a fruit of the Spirit according to Galatians 5:22. I say "true joy" because I want to make sure we differentiate deep satisfying joy with the fleeting temporal emotion we call "happiness". Don't get me wrong, being joyful will bubble out to your emotions causing happiness but you can also have joy in the midst of extreme suffering...However, we all know it's hard to be happy when you're suffering. True joy is finding satisfaction in God. He is our source of true joy.

The problem lies in, how do I get this joy? Can I wake up in the morning and command my heart to be satisfied in Christ? Can I command myself to not be depressed, like I command my fingers what to type here? The answer is, NO. I'm utterly useless in this area.

So, how do we solve this? Are we doomed to just sit and wait for God to miraculously produce joy in ourselves? How miserable we would be!

Our answer lies in the biblical principle of sowing, watering and reaping. If I want God to produce joy in me, then I must be satisfied in Him and this is accomplished by me doing my part of the cultivation process. I must sow and water. I'll list a few things that help me...there could be more for you, I suppose there's no exact formula.
  • Daily bible reading...even if you don't want to. Sometimes you have to force feed yourself. When you're sick, the last thing you want to do is eat...but it's usually the eating of nutrition that will stop the sickness.
  • Listening to Christ-honoring music. Music plays an important role in your emotions. Feed it with quality food.
  • Witness...a passion of mine is evangelism. Joy is an almost automatic result when I overcome those barriers of fear and tell someone the gospel or share a testimony.
  • Study a book or an article on the promises of God or His attributes. Our understanding of God is directly related to how we will live our lives. If my knowledge and understanding of God is shallow, then I shouldn't expect to live in much victory. The more I learn of my wife, the more I love her...the same applies with God.
  • Get Inspired...when I get stagnant as an artist, I surround myself in inspirational places and with inspirational people. Surround yourself with other can be contagious.
  • Take care of your physical active and get rest
  • Pray...just be honest with God and ask Him to produce fruit in you. The more you spend in relationship with God, the more He will manifest Himself to you.
 So, are you caught in the funk of little or no joy? Rejoice in the fact that God has designed you to find no satisfaction outside of Christ. He is our Bread of Life and our Living Water. It's now time to start cultivating! Get your spiritual garden tools out and get to work! The fruit of joy is waiting!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Ascension of Christ

Ascension of Christ

This mural was painted in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Banks of Thomasville, NC. The dimensions are approx. 10x24'. The mural was painted using latex wall paint. Feel free to contact me for pricing details if you're interested in a mural.

Acts 1:1-11
1The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,  2Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
 3To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
 4And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
 5For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
 6When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
 7And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
 8But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
 9And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
 10And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
 11Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Zion's Death

After months of answering questions and hearing twisted versions of what happened to us with our stillborn son, Zion, we have decided to write a list of frequently asked questions. It is our hopes that this will answer any question that people have had or may be afraid to ask, and to stop the mouths of the gossipers who embellish and twist the facts to make their story more juicy. So, here we go:

What caused his death?
According to Dr. "D" and the labor and delivery nurses, the cause of his death is unknown. He was perfectly healthy until the moment his heart stopped. According to their examinations, there were no problems with him physically, no problem with the umbilical chord (no knots, discolorations, abnormalities), no problem with the placenta, and no problem with Crystal's blood. All the medical tests that could be administered, apart from a full autopsy, showed no cause or reason for death.

According to Dr. D, "There is not one thing you did or you did not do that would have changed the outcome...sometimes, we just don't know."..."He is perfect, I just don't understand."

Why did you not have an autopsy?
We were advised by our Dr. not to put ourselves through that experience. According to the Dr., "Realistically, we're probably not going to be able to tell you anything that we can't tell you now."
Besides, really...what good would it do us? The fact is, he was healthy, Crystal was healthy, then he died. Does it really matter as to exactly how? What would it change? Will that help a grieving parent or will it cause even more emotional distress? So, thankfully, we took the Dr.'s advice.

How long did you carry Zion?
40 weeks and 2 days.

Were there any symptoms or any clues as to something being wrong?
No, up until that day, he had maintained a perfect heart rate of around 160 bpm and was a normal active baby in the womb. Crystal had not even had a day of morning sickness. There were absolutely NO physical indicators to Crystal that anything was wrong until about 6pm when she realized that she had not felt him kick since that morning. He was confirmed dead by ultrasound at 8pm. So, for those who are saying that Crystal had intense pains that day and she should've went to the hospital at that moment, please get your facts right. She was perfectly fine as we went shopping that morning until the afternoon. It would be illogical for a 40 week pregnant woman who's in excruciating pain to be out walking  around all day don't you think?

Did he die because you were planning a home birth?
No. We never had the opportunity to attempt a certified professional midwife assisted home birth. As ignorant and asinine as this question is, you'd be surprised at the people who ask or imply it.

Again, according to Dr. D: "It would not have mattered where you were at or whose care you were under, there's nothing I nor this hospital could have changed. You did everything you could have done and so did your midwife." According to the docs and nurses in the labor/delivery, they admit that stillbirths happen more frequently than they care to admit. I am amazed at the volume of parents I've met through this trial who've experienced the same thing we have, even through doctor care...death is no respector.

Were you having contractions?
Yes. Crystal was having the normal braxton-hicks contractions leading up to the time of the due date. These contractions were sporadic and not consistent in length, intensity or time which is absolutely normal. We believe she may have been in early stages of labor the day he died, because her contractions had just started to become more consistent.

Why didn't you get help when you noticed the first contractions?
Even with a hospital birth, they recommend you not to check yourself in until the contractions are at least 5 minutes apart, consistently, ...or, if your water has broke. Neither of these were our case. However, the midwives were in constant contact with us looking for the progression of possible labor, which was not time yet.

Why were you allowed to go past your due date?
Due dates are approximations. It is very common to go as long as 2 weeks past your "due date"...some longer. Every woman's body is different. Zion was delivered 3 days past his due date which was the same for our first child, which is very much right on time.

Did you deliver your baby vaginally?

Did you have to be induced?
Yes. The Dr. broke her water and after little labor progression, they started her on pitocin.

Why did you not opt for a c-section?
It's a well known fact that vaginal births are the healthiest choice, if applicable. Besides, how horrible would it be for Crystal to have to endure the effects of a major surgery with no baby to make it all worthwhile?

Was he a normal baby?
Yes. Everything was intact and he weighed 7lbs. 9 oz., with big feet and broad shoulders. He had very little skin tear (a common occurrence to still born babies) which means he hadn't been dead but for a short while. His color was even a little pink when he came out...while watching his ruby red lips, it seemed as though you could almost see him breathe.

Was it hard to deliver a child that you knew was not alive?
Extremely. But, God gave Crystal and I a peace which is unexplainable and we were able to praise and worship Him during the delivery despite the many tears. We were also surrounded by family, good friends and an excellent hospital staff.

Is there anything you would have done differently?
No. God makes no mistakes.

In closing, I would like to explain our Christian worldview. When I say "God makes no mistakes and we wouldn't do anything different", some will automatically be thinking of what we should have done, as if we were the ones in control of our child's destiny. Many believe in a god, but they believe that we are the ones in control of life. According to the Bible, they are guilty of idolatry because they have made a god of their own imaginations. Their god is no God at all. Deuteronomy 32:39  says,
"See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand."
1 Samuel 2:6 says,
"The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up."
Psalm 68:20 also states,
"He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death."

 The bottom line is this: God is sovereign over ALL His creation, not just bits and pieces and only the "good" things. If He is not upholding all things by the word of His power, then He is not God. Every man has an appointment to die just as Hebrews 9:27 states. Zion met his appointment at precisely the right time...not a second too soon, or a second too late. You will also meet yours at God's appointed time.

Even Nebuchadnezzar knew God's sovereignty, notice what he says in Daniel 4:35,
"And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?"
So, we'll either conform our thinking to God and His Word or we will base our thinking on humanistic philosophies. We'll either bow to God and His sovereignty or we'll be rebels against Him. For those who have a hard time swallowing the hard verses in the bible, I say, let it conquer you...quit trying to twist and redefine God. He is who He is and there is none like Him, there is none who can control Him, there is none who can advise Him, there is none His equal, and there is none who will escape His appointed time. he is the Supreme Ruler over ALL...even life and death.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bush Hill Heritage Festival

Bush Hill
10x8 acrylic on masonite en plein air

This is my painting of the Bush Hill Heritage Festival which takes place every year in Archdale, NC. I thought it would be nice to do some plein air painting while attending my art booth this year. Everyone likes to watch someone performing their craft and painting is no exception. I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and had the privilege to share the gospel with several as well. Overall we had a great time and I'd like to say thank you to everyone who stopped by the booth and their encouraging words. We'll also be at the Asheboro Fall Festival Oct. 1 and 2nd... hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Need Refreshing?

Cool Water
6x8 acrylic on masonite en plein air

The title is a bit of an understatement; I should've named this painting, "Freezing Cold Water". After walking up this creek (which filters into the New River near Fleetwood, NC) nearly a half mile, my feet get numb from the cold. The interesting thing about this creek is that it doesn't matter what time of year it is, whether July or September, the temperature of this water is always frigid.

As painful as it can be to tread through cold water, it is such a refreshing experience...and makes for a nice spiritual analogy. No matter the temperature change of the surrounding landscape, this water is always constant and unchanging. In the heat of the day, it offers cool refreshment and is never stagnant. Kind of reminds you of Jesus Christ, doesn't it? He is the unchanging God, who is never altered by outside circumstance and He offers refreshment to those who are weary and thirsty. From this creek, there springs forth life...I saw a deer drinking from the bubbling brook...trees draw nourishment from this life-source and grow strong and tall. The same goes for Christ; He is our source of life and nourishment. Our spiritual growth depends upon our dwelling in Him. Are we satisfied with the dead, stagnant, temporary and unfullfilling pleasures of this world? or, are we thirsting for true satisfaction that can only be found in Christ?

Ho, Everyone who thirsts, come ye to the waters!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Painting Animals in Plein Air

Evening Stroll
8x10 acrylic on masonite en plein air

Oh the elegance and the sophistication of a swan, how prestigious they are! They're like the "cats" of the waterfowl world...always on display and doing their own thing. My daughter always associates them with princesses thanks to her numerous "Swan-Princess" movies. However, as proud as they seem, they do make for good subject matter in a painting. The only problem is, they don't usually remain still.

So, how does one capture animals in a plein air painting? Good question...I'm still figuring this thing out. But, here's what I do:
  1.  Do a small thumbnail sketch on a separate sheet of paper, sketchbook, etc.... This helps tremendously when trying to figure out your composition. It's better to get the design down first before delving into a painting only to realize your composition is horrible and then be forced to fix it, wasting valuable time. this step includes locating your center of interest. Will it be in the bottom right corner? Top left? etc...
  2. Capture the landscape. The sun light is moving slower than the animals, in most cases. So, paint the surrounding landscape first to make sure your values and color is right.
  3.  Add the animals last. You can then place them at whatever focal point you choose and arrange them in the best compatible composition if there's more than one animal.
  4. Be sure you don't alter the setting so much that you lose the scene that inspired you in the first place. Try to keep it as close to that first initial "Ah-hah!" moment that captured you.
Chetola Lake, located in Blowing Rock, NC, was the setting for this plein air painting.
To purchase this painting, click the button below. The price is $150 with $12 shipping and handling. If you don't need it shipped, feel free to email me at

Monday, September 5, 2011

Banner Elk Plein Air Competition

Shawneehaw Greens
8x10 acrylic on masonite

What an experience! On Friday, August 26th, I had the privilege of testing out some oil paints under the instruction of fellow landscape artist and plein air painter, Scott Boyle. He had offered a plein air workshop in conjunction with the Avery County Arts Council in Linville, NC. After the long yet informative day of oil painting, fellow-shipping with other artists, and visiting an art show opening with some friends and fellow artists,  I was ready for Saturday.

On Saturday, The Art Cellar, a fine art gallery located in Banner Elk, NC, hosted a plein air painting competition. This was my first plein air event where my work would be judged along side of other artists' work. Was this nerve racking? Absolutely... Was I intimidated? Absolutely! Was I ready to have a great time? you guessed it...Absolutely!

We started early that morning scoping out a place to paint after registering for the event. I settled on a path in Tate Park looking at one of its bridges. I had the opportunity to paint along side with some pretty incredible artists at this location. After finishing the Tate Park Bridge painting and lunch, I headed back toward the gallery in search of another inspiring scene.

Eureka! I found my perfect scene of the day along the banks of the Shawneehaw River. Mountains in the distance covered by fog, the gallery on the left hillside, a sunlit field, fir trees, bushes, foliage, and water...what more could you ask for?

It took me about 2 hours to finish the painting en plein air. The time seemed to fly by...especially since I knew I was on a time restraint. I tried to capture the atmospheric perspective of the humid day with the bluish background mountains and trees. When the overcast sky would occasionally break, the sun would lay these beautiful highlights on the field, so this too had to be attempted. Overall, I was fairly pleased with the result.

However, not only was I racing against time and the changing light, but now my paintings would be set beside everyone else's to be...JURIED!!! These kind of events can wreak havoc on you if you have an inferiority complex. Or, so I thought.

The show was nothing like what my imagination had foretold. The other artists were so kind and everyone was strolling through the gallery chit chatting, and recounting the events of the day. It didn't seem as much like a competition as it did an artist fellowship. So, in that, I was eased.

Eventually, we were all called to the room with all the plein air pieces on display. It was time to announce the winners. I wasn't that nervous. I hoped to place, but I had already viewed the other artists' work, which was exceptional. So, I thought, at best, I might get 3rd place. You can imagine my shock to hear my name announced for 1st place. Did they make a mistake? Did they not see the other paintings? There was a lot of talent there and I was truly humbled just to paint along side with these experienced artists, and even more so to place in the show.

Thanks also to Sarah Gilley for sending me a picture of the painting... In all of my excitement, I forgot to take pics.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Old Salem en Plein Air

Bank Street
8x10 acrylic on masonite en plein air

This was my first trip to Old Salem. I had driven by this community hundreds of times, but never took the time to actually stop in to look around. Well, all that changed yesterday. I believe I walked every square foot of that place...with all my painting equipment, of course. (Note to self: next time leave equipment in the car while you scope out a place to paint.)

After chatting with several wonderful people about their favorite scenes of Old Salem, I finally settled in at the corner of Bank Street and Main Street. I haven't painted many street scenes, so I was excited for the challenge. Again, at several points, I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew. But, with some perseverance, I was able to block in the masses and along with some fine tuning, I ended up with the painting we have here. I believe this would make a nice larger studio painting...we'll see.

If you're interested in purchasing this original painting, the price is $150. If you'll need it shipped, you can order it here:

If you don't need it shipped, and will pick it up, order here:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Vineyard Painting

18x24 acrylic on canvas

This is a scene from Zimmerman's Vineyards in rural Randolph County, NC. This is a preparation painting for an upcoming show at Cauble Creek Vineyards near Salisbury, NC. 

This is definitely an experimental piece for me. I used my palette knife to apply thick paint for the red clay soil and rocks. I also used heavy texture in the leaves while keeping the background trees smooth in an attempt to give it some "textural" perspective.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Psalm 1 Plein Air Painting

Psalm 1
8x10 acrylic on masonite en plein air

1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  2But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
 3And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
 4The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
 5Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
 6For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
This is a scene located on the New River in Fleetwood, NC, which is near West Jefferson, NC. The trees on the left are actually set on a small island that is surrounded by the river. This is a nice little place to kayak...if you ever go here, take the left passage, it's deeper.

Early mornings are particularly beautiful on the New River with its wonderful colors and vibrant blues in the distant background mountains. Of course we all know mountains aren't really blue. However, the atmosphere that stands between you and the mountain (or distant tree, buildings, etc...) gives the object a bluish hue. I painted this scene while standing under a bridge which was pleasant...nice cool breeze with no sun to contend with, in my eyes or on my palette and panel. The only noises you could hear were crickets, the trickling river, the occasional car overhead, and the jumping of the fish...NICE!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bicentennial Park Plein Air

"The Student" 
8x10 acrylic on masonite en plein air

This plein air painting was painted on location at Bicentennial Park in Greensboro, NC. Of all the beautiful subject matter to paint at Bicentennial Park, I couldn't pass this little scene up. In the early evening, the sun's light accents all of these trees, exotic plants, shrubs and sculpture...and who doesn't like a nice stone bridge? The sculpture is called "The Student" and makes a nice focal point of the painting.

I'm learning a lot about myself in this painting journey. I'm learning that most of the time, I tend to bite off more than I can chew. I see this spectacular scene that I feel will make a great painting. So, I drop my gear and set it up immediately. As I begin my initial sketch on the panel, I begin to see some composition tree is leading your eye out of the painting. So, I compromise reality and "fix it". Now, the trees are pointing in the painting, keeping the viewer's eyes within the confines of the painted panel. What do I do with this bush that's right in front of the statue? If I take it out, I'll have this massive empty space of mulch...not attractive. So, I leave it. The list went on and on like this for about 30 minutes. Fix this...fix that...and so on.

At this point, I'm wondering: "Should I have tried painting this?...should I have chosen a more simple subject?" So goes my lot in life. Why do I always choose the hard road? Why not take the safe route and keep things simple? Everyone's heard the phrase of K.I.S.S.: "Keep It Simple Stupid." But, somehow, I always forget this. Besides, do you ever really grow if you never go through the growing pains. Stretching yourself to be and do better comes with a price...not only in painting, but in life...especially your spiritual life. 
When you get to the point in a painting where you're torn between "what was I thinking??? just wipe it out!" and "If I can make this work, it's going to be great"...your decision will reveal your willingness to be safe or grow. Trust me here, I'm NOT saying I pulled this painting off and it's just fabulous. I am saying, however, that I didn't paint over it. Am I satisfied with the final product? No, but the experience was prize enough. I realize there is much that could be better and I hope to improve that in a future painting, but, I do know this: I'm not satisfied with mediocrity.

As stated earlier, this principle also applies to your spiritual life. Are you satisfied to be an "average" Christian, like all the other modern day, so-called, "Christians"...those who do their religious duty by showing up to a building with a steeple a few times a week, while wearing the proper attire, and are never willing to go through the struggles or to pay the price in order to grow. If this is you, examine yourself. If there's no growth, no fruit...then you're a withered branch that will be cut off. However, if you're a fruit bearing Christian, you will be pruned and you will give more fruit. The pruning process is not always easy, but it is certainly beneficial.

Don't settle for mediocrity, do hard things! In the power of the Holy Spirit and in accordance with grace we can do that which is impossible to the "average" man. Grow!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Treasuring Jesus Ministry Paintings

The last week of July, I was invited by Bethany Baptist Church in Thomasville to bring a series of messages on the subject of "treasure". A brief overview of each lesson is listed below:

Which is worth more, a bottle of water or all the gold in Ft. Knox? If you're reading this with your belly full, you'd of course choose the gold. However, change the scenario a bit and you might have a different choice. Imagine you're 4 days in the dessert without having any water...your life is coming to an end through lack of fluids...suddenly the water takes on infinite value.

The same goes for us spiritually. You'll not see water as a treasure until you are desperate to live. Jesus proclaims Himself as the Living Water who completely satisfies and gives life. He makes Himself freely available to all who are thirsty. Those who do not desire Him will never come to Him. Only those who see their condition as hopeless and destitute would ever be willing to deny all worldly pursuits and come to Him in order to quench their thirst.

Day 2:
On Thursday morning, we looked at the Shepherd as the treasure of the sheep. In order for the sheep to see the Shepherd as his true treasure, He must first see his own condition: ruined, helpless, dirty, separated, and dead. Were it not for the initiative and work of the Shepherd, the sheep would remain in that ruined condition, unable to help himself.

Sheep are not well known for their intelligence, they need to be led!

Day 3:
Friday morning we explored 2 of the kingdom parables of Matthew 13: the treasure hid in the field and the pearl of great price. These two treasures were so valuable to these individuals that they were willing to sell everything they owned in order to acquire this one single treasure. Christ demands that we see Him as this valuable...that we're willing to forsake ALL, even if it means family, comfort, wealth, etc... in order to have Him. Is Jesus worth the price that we might have to pay? If He's worth it, are we willing?

Special thanks to Bro. Tom Fields and the people and kids of Bethany Baptist Church for allowing me to come and minister.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Painting At Linville Falls, NC

Upper Linville Falls
8x6 acrylic on masonite en plein air

Linville Falls has always been a favorite place of mine to visit ever since I was a child. It's a great place to hike and behold God's glory as pointed out by His creation. Listening to the roar of the falls and seeing the enormous amount of water that cascades through this rocky gorge is such an awe inspiring experience. This is one of those places where you get just a very small glimpse of the bigness of God and the smallness of man.

This was a great day to paint, the sun was out but it wasn't too hot. I set up on the overlook at the top of the falls looking upstream to the upper set of falls (there is another waterfall located left of the painting subject that I could not fit in from my perspective). I met many wonderful people that day, some from as far away as Holland, some from Baton Rouge and some from right down the road. That's one of the perks of plein air painting...mingling with people and enjoying God's creation together.

Sweetgrass Plein Air Paint-out

Sweetgrass Rain
8x10 acrylic on masonite en plein air

Someone said, "If you want to end a drought, plan a plein air event!" Boy, was that the truth for the Sweetgrass Plein Air Paint Out on July 15, 2011. If the Blowing Rock community was a little water deficient, it certainly got cured that day. It poured rain for what seemed like forever. Not wanting to waste the experience, I put on my coat and hat and grabbed the umbrella for some rainy day plein air painting!

Here I am painting the "Sweetgrass Rain" scene. Photo by Scott Boyle.

Boone Fork Creek
8x10 acrylic on masonite en plein air

Boone Fork Creek that runs through the Sweetgrass community was the subject of my second painting of the day. Fellow artists, Scott Boyle and Craig Franz, and I found this neat little spot to set up and paint. This was one of those places that your first reaction is "Nice spot!" but after 45 minutes into the painting you're contemplating, "What was I thinking??" 

I struggled with this painting mainly because the values were so close. It was in the shadows with no overhead sunlight due to the rainy weather. If this scene were on a gray-scale or a black and white photo, there would be very little contrast between the lights, midtones and darks. So, it was an exercise in painting contrasts using colors rather than values. Every painting is a learning experience.

Thanks to artist, Kevin Beck, for hosting the event, and Sue from Blowing Rock Realty for catering to some 25 artists. Check out Charlotte Plein Air Painters if you're interested in these type of events.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Young Man's Attitude Toward Women

"Although our American culture has blurred the lines between masculinity and femininity, Christians are to be different in the way that they treat the opposite sex. In this teaching session on Biblical manhood, Paul Washer explains what kind of attitude that young men are supposed to have toward young women."  -quoted from
 Here's an awesome video for any age male or female, married or unmarried from Bro. Paul Washer of HeartCry Missionary Society. It's a very practical look at the role of men and women from a biblical perspective. Watch it!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Old Randolph County Courthouse Painting

Old Randolph Co. Courthouse
8x10 acrylic on masonite en plein air

Every first and third Thursday night, the Randolph Arts Guild hosts a drawing session for anyone who would like to practice their drawing skills. It's a great way to gather with other like minded artists who are eager to create, learn and just have good fellowship. This was my first time participating with the group and I decided to do a plein air painting. Our subject matter for the evening was the old Randolph County courthouse located on Worth St. in Asheboro, NC.

One thing I've learned recently, one of the hardest parts of painting in plein air is to simply get started. I walked around the place, up and down parking lots, in the shade, out of the shade, etc...looking for that perfect perspective and composition. After wasting about 20 minutes of good daylight painting time, I finally settled on the view above. I chose not to paint the bank teller shelter in the parking lot that is actually located on the bottom left. I was afraid it would 1) cover too much of my main subject, 2) be too much to paint in the given time. 

Why should I be concerned for the time? Well, when you're painting in the evening, beginning at around will only have about 2 hours of that same light. From around 8pm on, you're going to have a more sunset type of lighting. If you're going to paint sunset light, then it's no big deal to start your drawing early and wait to paint your shadows and color shades till later. But, if you're going for that 6pm light and color shades, you're going to have to put the pedal to the metal with that paintbrush. Another factor last night was rain. Throughout the session, we tried to avoid the occasional rain drop while looking over our shoulders at the upcoming rain cloud. Possible rain showers is a great motivator for painting quickly.

Overall, it was a great night. I was so impressed with the talent that we have here in Randolph Co. Feel free to email Les Caison at the Randolph Arts Guild for any details or questions.

Contact me for purchasing information.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Old House at Badin

House at Badin
10x8 acrylic on masonite en plein air

What a pleasure to paint in the shade when it's early July, 96 degrees, and so humid you can see it.
This is a little scene located near Badin Lake, NC. Eager to paint, I drove around for a while searching for a subject that would catch my eye. I found several scenes that I liked...most of which would have placed me in an open field under the blazing sun. If you've ever painted outdoors with acrylics, you could understand my hesitation. Thankfully, I found this scene with a nice shady spot to paint. After a couple of hours of flicking ants and ticks off my legs, the painting was finished!

I like this painting's simplicity...just an old house with a nice rusted tin roof accompanied by some shade trees. I debated on painting the telephone poles. I painted them in, then painted them out. Without the poles, it was just too simple and plain looking. So, I left the poles which adds some perspective and helps lead your eye into the painting right to the subject matter.

By the way, the pole in the foreground isn't really curved...that's the product of my poor digital camera skills.


10x8 acrylic on masonite in plein air

Ahhh, the joys of tribulation! Sometimes paintings just flow and work out and it feels like you have somehow, in spite your depravity, found glorious favor with the Almighty God. What a wonderful feeling! It's too bad this state of being doesn't last forever.

The painting you see here has been through much working and re-working. I've added to it, I've taken away from it...but this is what I've finally settled on. Am I happy with it? Hmmm...well, I'm happy with parts of it. My first initial struggle was that it looked like something from a Disney cartoon. I'm not sure where I went wrong...most likely, it was a culmination of several things: wrong values, exaggeration of colors...the list could probably go on.

However, after some advice and perseverance, I think I've finally come to a place of finality with the painting...maybe. I haven't signed it yet, so we'll see. Sometimes it helps to take a break from a painting when it seems like every brush stroke is a struggle. Come back later and get a fresh perspective.

I would like to thank Harold and Leslie Frontz for allowing me along with Plein Air Carolina to come to their home and studio to paint, and for the great tips. What a blessing to have those who are more experienced take the time to share some of their knowledge with young artists. Thanks Harold and Leslie!

LaGrange, NC, The Garden City

LaGrange, NC
8x10 acrylic on masonite en plein air

This is a plein air painting that I completed during the reception of my art show in LaGrange, NC. I drove around that morning looking for the perfect scene that would capture my vision of LaGrange. I found many beautiful scenes because there is much to choose from ranging from historic buildings with the most beautiful architecture to acres and acres of crops, fields, etc... However, this place really captured my attention as, to me, it is the essence of LaGrange: a huge grain bin (I guess that's what you'd call this massive place) surrounded by open fields with a long straight railroad disappearing into the distance. I'm sure the locals have many ideas of the essence of this small town but, for me, this scene is what intrigued me...a portrait of small town, hard-working, agricultural NC.

The scene was painted on an overcast, humid morning in May, 2011. If you look carefully, you may see some of the mosquitoes that found their way in my wet paint.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Book Cover Painting

"Fearless Heart" by Gail Cauble Gurley
Artwork by Jeremy Sams

Gail's new book Fearless Heart has been released by World Castle Publishing. Here's a little tid bit about the book:
The Blairs are stranded in New York after the market crash of 1929. Robert walks to the river docks each day, seeking work to feed his wife Ellen and their four year old son Stephen and pay the $8.00 rent for the slum in which they live. Their faith and courage are tested as they struggle.
 He provides a small Christmas for his family but then the dock work shuts down and he is desperate to find work of any kind.
 He is approached by a stranger who will direct and influence the Blairs in a startling manner. He is jolted by events that promise to turn his life asunder, shaking the foundation of the person that he is. He is in an unknown world, given information of which he has never dreamed. Will they be opportunities or burdens? Will he be able to marry his life to this new direction or will he abandon a life so different from any he has ever experienced? He has his family’s and friends’ support as he struggles with the shocking torrent of choices he is given to make.
Fearless Heart has gentle, colorful, believable characters who touch the heart and raise the spirit. It is truly a feel-good work.
Order online at Click on Available Titles. Use code UYTQJ2F9 at checkout for 20% discount. Also available at Order the e-book from Barnes and Noble.
Printed book $10.99, e-book $5.99. Suitable for all readers.  Check out the author’s website .

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Legacy Gardens Plein Air

Legacy Gardens
8x10 acrylic on masonite

Today, I was privileged to be invited to paint with the fine artists of Piedmont Outdoor Painting Society. The location of our paint out was Legacy Gardens located on Burlington Rd., Greensboro, NC. This was a beautiful little place that was well worth the trip to see the blooming flowers, lilly-ponds, sunlit paths and garden decorations. The early morning shades made for a great place to paint. However, when the sun moved my shadows, the sweat began to roll. Standing, facing the blazing June sun can be very demanding. Demanding in that it forces me to paint extra fast! That's another good reason to make sure you have plenty of fluids and a good hat when you paint outdoors.

Contact me for pricing or ordering information. Thanks to the ladies at POPS for allowing me to paint with them. They are very talented artists and I'm eager to see their finished products.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

God's Perfect Will or God's Permissive Will?

What child doesn't like playing with play-dough? Many pounds of play-dough have been ruined here at the Sams' house from my daughter's love and neglect of this pliable medium. Maybe she'll be a potter or a sculptor one day.
In high school, I once tried putting my hands to the potter's wheel. I had these plans in my head of the exact pot I would make. It would have a large bowl area at the bottom, a tapered more narrow neck opening up to a wider spout with a little dip in the top for pouring liquids. As much as I could envision the final product, my hands and my inexperience prevented this work of art from coming to pass. As much as I loved getting dirty, I found out rather quickly that my artistic area was painting. So, I made a few ashtrays to accompany my leaning pots and called it quits.

However, in the bible, we have typologies and references to God as being the Master Potter. You can rest assured that this Master Potter is unable to make mistakes or have (as the PBS artist, Bob Ross would call) "happy little accidents". This brings us to question our understanding of God's will and His purpose. Does God have a permissive will which is separate and distinct from His perfect will? Or, is God's permissive will one in the same as God's perfect will? In a practical sense, does God, as the potter, begin forming a pot with a planned piece in mind (God's perfect will) only to have something go wrong...then, He changes His plans to form it into something else (God's permissive will)?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Portrait of Charlie

16x20 acrylic on canvas

This portrait was commissioned by Archdale's author and writer Mrs. Gail Gurley. You might remember her name from "Red Dirt Rising", a movie which is based on her book, "Red Dirt Tracks". Here's a brief description of Charlie from Gail, his grandmother:

Pvt. Ronald Charles "Charlie" Peters, Jr., of the U. S. Marine Corps graduated from Taylor High School in Katy, Texas, class of 2010. He joined the U. S. Marine and completed his boot camp in April 2011 at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Ca. He is in the school of infantry attached with Company G, 3rd Platoon, Camp Pendleton, Ca. He will attend Communications School at Twenty-nine Palms, Ca., and will then be assigned to a permanent base. He is the son of Denise Gurley of Katy, Texas and has a brother and sister. His brother Spencer is 17 years old and sister Madison is 13. He is the grandson of Ed and Gail Gurley of Archdale, N. C.

Thanks Gail, I hope you and your family enjoy the portrait.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry Field
16x20 acrylic on canvas

I can't help but think of that old Beatles song, "Strawberry Fields Forever" when viewing this painting. This was painted from a plein air study that I painted one day last week while watching my daughter, Eliora, pick strawberries at Ingram's Farm near High Point and Archdale, NC.

This painting is currently in the Randolph Arts Guild's 29th annual juried art show hanging at the Sara Smith Self Gallery in the Moring Arts Center in Asheboro, NC. The opening reception is June 7th, 5:30-7:30 pm, everyone is invited.

Pisgah Covered Bridge and Sanctification

Pisgah Covered Bridge
10x8 acrylic on masonite

June 3rd's paint out with Plein Air Carolina was held at Pisgah Covered Bridge in Randolph County, NC.

This was a challenging scene of which at several times during the painting, I thought maybe I bit off more than I could chew. After searching for the perfect set up spot, I finally found this angle in the middle of the creek. I set my tripod up on a big rock and commenced to paint. Wow, was there a lot of subject matter or what! It's so easy to get distracted by the details that you forget the big picture...this was my struggle here. I had to force myself not to spend too much time on the background foliage and not forget the foreground reflections.

This was one of those paintings that really stretch you as an may not seem so complicated while viewing the finished product, but I can assure you there was much struggle in getting there. You know, that kind of reminds me of our process of sanctification as believers. When you look at some of the older matured saints, we may have the tendency to view them as being pieces of God's artwork molded with tender grace and simplicity...their conforming to Christ's image was an overnight success!...while viewing ourselves (as works in progress) as receiving God's harsher treatments and having to endure things no-one else has endured. It's as if we say the previous saints had it so much easier and boy, do we have it tough. However, we must remember that we're viewing God's work (older saints) as nearly completed works. We don't get to see the process of struggle they had to endure to be conformed to the image of Christ. So, let's not despise God's processes of sanctification but embrace these struggles knowing that a piece that is struggled with, in the end, is highly favored.

Plein Air Carolina will have the opening reception of their "Glimpses of Carolina" plein air art show at Railwalk Gallery in Salisbury, NC, Saturday, June 11, 1-5 pm. The exhibit will run through June 30th. Everyone is invited to attend.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Always Work To Do

Always Work To Do
10x8 acrylic on masonite en plein air

This is my latest plein air painting from Zimmerman Vineyards. Every time I visit, I see Norman out there in the field somewhere working. No matter how blistering the heat or pleasant the breeze, there's always work to do.

 This painting reminds me of Galatians 6:9,
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Zimmerman Pergola

Here is last Thursday's plein air painting at Zimmerman Vineyards. The pergola was lit up from the evening sun which created some cool shadows and warm highlights.

Zimmerman Pergola
8x10 acrylic on masonite en plein air