Jeremy Sams Art Blog

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Am I therefore become your enemy...

In our study of the Epistle to the Galatians on Wednesday nights at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, I came across the verse which I find relevant to a popular mentality of today:

"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" Galatians 4:16
 Here's a commentary from Barnes Notes on the Bible concerning this passage:

"Am I therefore become your enemy ... - Is my telling you the truth in regard to the tendency of the doctrines which you have embraced, and the character of those who have led you astray, and your own error, a proof that I have ceased to be your friend? How apt are we to feel that the man who tells us of our faults is our enemy! How apt are we to treat him coldly, and to "cut his acquaintance," and to regard him with dislike! The reason is, he gives us pain; and we cannot have pain given to us, even by the stone against which we stumble, or by any of the brute creation, without momentary indignation, or regarding them for a time as our enemies. Besides, we do not like to have another person acquainted with our faults and our follies; and we naturally avoid the society of those who are thus acquainted with us. Such is human nature; and it requires no little grace for us to overcome this. and to regard the man who tells us of our faults, or the faults of our families, as our friend.
We love to be flattered, and to have our friends flattered; and we shrink with pain from any exposure, or any necessity for repentance. Hence, we become alienated from him who is faithful in reproving us for our faults. Hence, people become offended with their ministers when they reprove them for their sins. Hence, they become offended at the truth. Hence, they resist the influences of the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to bring the truth to the heart, and to reprove men for their sins. There is nothing more difficult than to regard with steady and unwavering affection the man who faithfully tells us the truth at all times, when that truth is painful. Yet he is our best friend. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful," Proverbs 27:6. If I am in danger of falling down a precipice, he shows to me the purest friendship who tells me of it; if I am in danger of breathing the air of the pestilence, and it can be avoided, he shows to me pure kindness who tells me of it. So still more, if I am indulging in a course of conduct that may ruin me, or cherishing error that may endanger my salvation, he shows me the purest friendship who is most faithful in warning me, and apprising me of what must be the termination of my course."
 I couldn't have said it better myself.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Portrait Ornaments

Here's my latest project for preserving memories...portrait ornaments. The ornaments are oval masonite panels (same material as my plein air paintings) that measure approx. 4.25". The name of the individual, as well as the year, can be painted on the ornament. Attached at the top is a nice little bow and ribbon of the color of your choice which will match the backside of the ornament. 
Each ornament is a hand painted portrait from the photograph of the customer's choice and is varnished once completed to make sure it's nice and sealed. Most ornaments I paint are of a single individual. More people can be painted, but I may have to rotate the ornament to a horizontal position. The price will vary depending upon how many individuals are in the portrait. Contact me for pricing and more info on muti-person portraits.

How Do I order a portrait ornament?
All you need to do is provide me with a good digital picture that you could email to me at . If you need to pay online, I will set up a paypal link when your order is complete. In order to do this, I will also need to know if you'll need the ornament shipped or if you'll be willing to pick it up. I also accept checks, if you prefer this method. Be sure to think about what color you would want the back of the ornament painted, as well as the ribbon color, and include this in your email.

Be sure to visit my website to view more ornaments and artwork

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Firefighter Christmas Ornament

Firefighter Christmas Ornament

September is a month infused with many memories. We reflect back to 2001 and remember that tragic day that many lost their lives due to a terrorist attack upon our own soil. In remembering that day, you can't help but think of all those men and women who risked their lives and the many who gave their lives to help others. The firefighter is one of those special people that stand out in my mind when I think of 9/11.

The firefighter has an incredible duty upon his shoulders. He is trained in how to rescue the perishing and how to quench the fires that are given to destruction. In an emergency situation, their training kicks in, and without hesitation they forget themselves and go to the heat. Their fears are overcome by a passion to save others from a horrible fate. This is courage. This is selflessness...risking your life for the benefit of another.

As a Christian, I can find many good qualities from the firefighter. When it comes to eternal matters, there is nothing more destructive than God's wrath upon sinners. We, as Christians, are called and (should be) equipped to be ministers of reconciliation. Man is perishing in sin and apart from the atonement made through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah, man will suffer God's righteous wrath, which means an eternity in the lake of fire. It is our obligation to be like the brave firefighter by manifesting that quality of selflessness, overcoming our fears with the passion of saving others from eternal death.

"Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;..."
2 Corinthians 5:11
"The Firefighter" Christmas ornament is available for purchase. The top and edges are ready for customization in case you want someone's name and date painted on it. If you're interested in this ornament and you need it shipped, you can order through my website Here. If you don't need it shipped, order Here. If you want to order more than one and would like to save on shipping charges, Contact Me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

August Portrait Special!

Gail Gurley
20x16 acrylic on canvas
For the rest of the month of August, 2012 I'll be offering a painted portrait special. The special will include a bust portrait, like the one above, of a single individual painted on a 16x20 canvas. The portrait will be painted from a photograph.
The usual price for a portrait of this size is $600, but for the month of August, these portraits will be available for $350. So, if you're interested in getting your Christmas shopping done early, and want something unique and original, order a hand painted portrait! 
Visit my portraits page to see more. Contact me if you're interested!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Latest Pochade Box

Agur wrote in the Book of Proverbs 30:15-16,
"...There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough."
I believe Agur would have added one more character if he would've know any plein air painters in his day..."the plein air painter saith not, just one pochade box is enough".

This is my 3rd box, and I just can't get enough of the thrill of building my own homemade pochade boxes. So, what's different from this one and the other two? Well, I'm an acrylic artist, and I get tired of my paint drying so fast and being wasted en plein air. Us acrylic artists have several things against us besides the fast drying qualities of acrylics...heat, wind, and transportation from one place to the next while our acrylics sit and dry in transport. The heat and wind I can't help...but the drying-during-transport problem...I can.

I finally bought a sealable palette from Hobby Lobby (40% off coupon, of course) to help with my wasting paint dilemma. So, I had to build a new pochade box to accommodate the 9.25" wide, 13.25" long, and 1.25" deep dimensions of the palette. I used the same materials as my second homemade pochade box...except for the friction hinges as found on my first box. The increase of weight, due to the increase in size of the box, caused me to incorporate some new features. Instead of mounting my water can on the box along with a brush holder, I decided to make a separate panel to mount to my tripod legs to hold that extra bit of weight. See below:

This little panel slips onto the front two legs of my tripod. With the large hole cut into the front center, it snugly holds my brush cleaner eliminating the weight that would have been hanging off one side of the box...causing more stress on the head of my tripod. A slot was cut on the right in order to slip my knotted cotton rag into for wiping brushes. My brushes stand comfortably upright in the holes drilled on the left. It also works well to rest things on top of...such as my spray bottle of slow drying medium/water...or, more palette space, if you needed it.

When I'm finished painting, I remove the panel and place it on top of my sealable palette, close the lid...and, voila! Now, I'm ready to travel again.

Even though the box is slightly larger than my first homemade pochade box, it still fits easily into my back pack. The canvas panels attach the same way as my other boxes, courtesy of the design of Jim Serrett.

Here's a pic of my sealable palette...notice the moist chamois cloth mounted in the lid:

The chamois cloth keeps moisture in the sealed palette to keep the paint from drying. It's attached to the lid by using velcro. You can buy sticky-sided velcro at your local hardware store by the foot. I bought one foot of this material for about $1.60 or so. The velcro is stuck to the lid with it's rough side facing up...Thanks to my wife, Crystal, the opposite piece was sown into the chamois cloth...the sticky side of the velcro wouldn't stick to the wet chamois material, so it had to be sown.

Notice the red and yellow paint on the lid? Yeah, that's my one critique of the Golden Open Acrylics...great paint and very slow drying...but a little runny. Hiking several miles in the mountains...with my palette inside my new homemade pochade box...while tucked inside my backpack in a vertical position...causes the paint to run all over the place making my palette look like a small Jackson Pollock painting. So...back to the drawing board on how to fix that problem.

It just never ends. But, it's all in good fun :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Woodmen Center Mural

Here's the progress on the mural I'm painting at the Woodmen Center, in Kinston, NC. The dimensions are approx. 37'x9.5'.

I drew in the sports figures and the flag background on the 1st day.

Day 2...I began painting.

I love this lift...the bounciness of it, however, does keep you on your toes.

Day 3...finished drawing off the left side of the mural

Day 4...more fill-in

I'll post more as the mural progresses. Lord willing, I'll have it completed in a couple of days...then, I'll document the whole process.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Someone Stole My Paintings!

"Behold A Sower Went Forth To Sow"
12x24 acrylic on canvas...Stolen!

"Bluegrass on the River"
20x24 acrylic on canvas...Stolen!

Psalm 29:11
9x12 acrylic on masonite...Stolen!

This is the 2nd time that I've ever had a painting stolen...interestingly enough, the first time was at a nursing home. I guess some little old lady just couldn't pass up that farm scene...reminded her of home, maybe. This time, however, someone stole not just one, but three! I have to admit, there's mixed emotions with this. I'm somewhat honored that someone liked my work, but for crying out loud...did they really like them so much that they're willing to risk the penalty of the law???

Every time we take something that does not belong to us, our conscience bears witness that we have stolen. Stealing is breaking the 8th commandment...that righteous standard that God has proclaimed to show that every man comes very short. That law, which is engraved on every man's conscience, screams out every time we steal that we are breaking God's law and therefore we are thieves. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul declares to not be deceived...the thief will not inherit the kingdom of God,
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God"
 The fact is, we can not live up to God's righteous standard...and there is a penalty for this. However, the good news is that a Substitute has been provided. The just penalty and wrath that we deserve, God has placed on His Son, Jesus Christ. He willingly died on the cross to settle God's wrath for everyone who will believe in Him. Three days later, He rose from the dead and now offers us everlasting life and the power to live in Christ's righteousness. Without this "only Savior of the world", we would all perish. This "belief" is not merely an intellectual knowledge, but a full trusting in the promises of Christ...What does it look like? It is a repentant faith that is daily turning from sin and turning to God. It is treasuring Him above all things.

I, like everyone else, hate being stolen from...especially when it's something that I've invested countless hours in. But, I have to trust God that He has a plan in this and that He will be glorified. I pray that this person or persons will come to the knowledge of Christ and His ultimate work on the cross and find forgiveness...and therefore, return my paintings :)

These paintings were stolen from Pines and Needles Art Studio in Fancy Gap, Va. If you ever see these paintings or have any info., please contact me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kayaking and Plein Air...Blessing Defined

Kayaking, plein air painting, and a little daddy-daughter time...does it get any better than this? You know you're a recipient of God's grace and blessing when you can enjoy all these different passions all at the same time.

We often use the phrase "we're blessed". But what does it mean to be blessed and how do you measure it? Do we measure and define it by the annual income that you report to the IRS every year? By the popularity that a name may offer? By the awards or degrees that hang on your wall? These are all nice things to have I suppose. However, these things are temporary. They have no eternal value. Being blessed is not measured in the temporal materialism or fleeting emotions... being blessed is measured in our completeness in God...finding our all satisfaction in Him. 

To say that blessed simply means "happy" is to come short of a full biblical definition of that often used term "blessed". We usually think of happiness as that fleeting emotion that is dependent upon outside circumstances. When you itch all night due to the numerous chigger and mosquito bites from playing in the woods...your happiness will probably go south like mine did. Or, when your name gets called because you won some grand prize, your happiness will pick right back up. This is usually the typical definition of this roller-coaster ride that we call happiness. Blessedness is not that way.

 It's hard to be "happy" when you have to lug a kayak and painting gear through the woods while the mosquitos feast on your tender skin.

Blessedness does not depend on outer circumstances but depends on an inner satisfaction that only God can produce in you. When you read Matthew 5 and the infamous "beatitudes" of which Jesus spoke, you must understand that these character traits do not produce this blessedness...but this blessedness produces the character traits.

So, the question is, are you blessed? Has God performed a work in your heart so that that you produce the fruit of a satisfied, complete, blessed life which results not just in happiness, but true deep-rooted joy? Does your conduct prove your character

My nephew, Aaron learning to kayak.

Poppie assisting Ashleigh while Ellie and Aaron unpatiently wait their turn.

8x10 acrylic on masonite painted en plein air

Here's the plein air painting that I painted that day located on the Uwharrie River in Randolph County, NC .

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kinston Plein Air Competition

School Teacher's Garden
8x10 acrylic on masonite

What a great week to paint en plein air. The weather was beautiful. The skies were clear, the leaves were green, the flowers blooming and producing a sweet aroma. The temperature, however, was a little warmer than what I'm used to in early in May... The highs were in the mid 90's! So, shade was a must!

The event began Wednesday morning and ended Friday evening at 5pm. I think there were 20 or so artists in attendance which is a great number. The talent was very high at this paintout according to several who had attended before...and it showed. At the judging, which took place Friday evening, the talent was made apparent as everyone paraded their masterpieces into the gallery.

I met many wonderful artists. All were braving the heat...some in the shade, sitting, while others in full sun sweating it out. I hope they loaded up on sun-screen! I tried my best to stay in the shade as much as possible, sometimes having to break out my "shade-buddy" plein air umbrella to keep my painting and palette out of direct sun. Shade paintings turn out much nicer for me than sun-paintings...if I paint in full sun, the painting will be much darker in value and look horrible when hung in a gallery setting. So, I prefer painting in the shade when possible.

I was blessed to have received 1st place for the above painting entitled "School Teacher's Garden" which is located beside an old schoolhouse behind Harmony Hall. This location was perfect for plein air painting. I was shaded by a nice overhanging tree, and the light was just right. I was drawn to this scene by the reflected light in the shadows of the white schoolhouse and picket fence. It's amazing how green shadows on white surfaces become when reflecting the grass and shrubbery... an average camera won't detect these subtle temperature changes in color. Even the judge, artist Mike Rooney, claimed to have gotten cold chills when he saw the painting. How cool of a critique is that!

Below are some other paintings that I painted during the competition.

8x10 acrylic on masonite

Neuse Sand
8x10 acrylic on masonite

This was an interesting piece...I was painting under the bridge of Hwy 11, when this huge water snake which was about 4.5 ft. long comes sliding out of the water right in front of me. He layed there for about 5 minutes just checking me out. So, I stood there for about 5 minutes just checking him out. Finally, he moved on his way to some nearby grass. Later that evening, a fisherman informed me that he was ran out of that same spot by 4 or 5 different snakes... not a comforting thought understanding that this area is well know for rattlesnakes and water moccasins.

Roots on the Neuse
12x9 acrylic on masonite
  Queen and North
12x9 acrylic on masonite
  City Lights
12x9 acrylic on masonite

Mike Rooney offered some good advice for this painting. He loved it, and so did I...except for the cars. I should've kept the edges much softer and took a little more time with them. I painted them the day after I actually painted the scene...20 minutes before "turn-in" time. And, it, if I get this painting back, rest assured the cars will be repainted!

Special thanks to the Varner family for their always generous hospitality! I can't wait to visit Kinston and all the good people there next year!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mooresville Artist Guild Plein Air Paintout

Liberty Park Falls
10x8 acrylic on masonite

The good people at the Mooresville Art Guild hosted a plein air painting competition on March 31. What a beautiful little town! The historic downtown area was packed full of great places to paint. If you enjoy urban scenes, you'd be in a painter's paradise. 

The morning started out drenched in rain. I think everyone who came out was a little hesitant to see if anyone else would brave the weather. Luckily, there were plenty of artists who didn't mind a little moisture in the air...especially when you've came equipped with your painting umbrella (a must-have for this time of year). Toward the middle of the day, the sun broke through and all these nice highlights popped out. What a beautiful day it turned out to be!

I was privileged to paint along side of fellow artists, Craig Franz and Scott Boyle. We chose Liberty Park to set up our gear and begin our painting process. It's always good to paint with other artists when possible. They tend to give fresh perspectives and constructive critiques in each other's paintings. Sometimes we get bogged down on particular parts of our paintings and we neglect other problem areas. Another artist's eye can help you spot these. It's also good to hear their tips and to bounce techniques off each other...iron sharpens iron.

 Craig Franz

Scott Boyle 
(check out the ez-up canopy he's painting that's being prepared!)

Thanks Shade-buddy for keeping me dry!

As for my painting of the day, I was honored to have received an honorable mention in the show. 

 Does adidas sponsor painters? Hmmm...I doubt it.

What could be better than salad, meatballs and pasta in the company of talented friends? Thanks Cheri for the great meal!

This particular show will be on display until the end of April. So, if you're in the area, come out and see the beautiful work. Visit Mooresville Artist Guild for more info and to see the other great paintings. 

My painting, Liberty Park Falls is for sale through the gallery for $320. If you're interested, feel free to contact me or contact the Mooresville Artist Guild.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Acrylic Landscape Demonstration with Video

 Red Barn in the Morning
18x24 acrylic on canvas

The painting above is the final product of an acrylic landscape demonstration that I gave Feb. 17th. at the Waterworks Visual Arts Center, in Salisbury, NC.

The picture below shows the painting at the end of the 1.5 hr. painting demo.

When I got back home, I made quite a few changes to the final painting. Here's a list of corrections I made:
  • reworked the sky to be more of a warmer morning feel rather than the overcast look (the pics here may not show the truest color of the actual painting).
  • broke up the tree formation on the mountain tops to get rid of "the big bird" look.
  • minimized the window on the barn
  • added some rust on the roof
  • adjusted the background trees going into the valley
  • detailed the foreground grass with more variety of mass, textures, values, and temperature changes (cool shadows, warm midtones and high-lights)
  • added a farmer walking toward the barn, to help give it some life.
It always helps to get away from your painting for a while so that when you return to it, you'll have a fresh perspective and will be able to see what needs to be changed or added.

Here's a video that fellow acrylic artist, Rex White made for me during the demonstration:

Thanks to Plein air Carolina and Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, NC for allowing me the opportunity to demonstrate. Thanks also to Rex White for taking his time and tech-saviness to make the video.

Contact me if you're interested in purchasing the painting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Painting A Self Portrait

 Self Portrait
11x14 acrylic on canvas

Painting a self portrait doesn't mean you're egotistical. Trust me, there's nothing more humbling than staring at your flaws in the mirror and trying to be honest enough to capture long as it's capturing them and not caricaturizing them. Believe me, that's a struggle in itself!
The main purpose, for me at least, in painting a self portrait is to learn.
  •  Learning to paint correct values in certain lights.
  •  Learning proportions and relationships of facial features.
  •  Learning to simplify the scene according to shapes and not get distracted by the details.
  •  Learning to compare adjacent values ( lighter or darker) and color temperature (warmer or cooler)
  •  Learning to draw negative space more accurately
This painting was started by massing in a mid-tone flesh color in a large area that would later be shaped to form the face. After the mid-tone was applied, I then began mapping out the features of my face. It's good to start with an anchor point (a physical feature to work off of in determining distance between the facial features). I used the corner of my eye for this point. 
After you have determined your anchor point, began measuring what you see in the mirror the distance between each feature. Sometimes, depending on the model, you can divide the face into 3rds...from the hair line to the top of the eye brow...eye brow to the bottom of the nose...bottom of the nose to the bottom of the chin. Or, sometimes, it works out that the corner of the eye is half way between the top of the head and bottom of the chin. However, these are just guides and aren't always exact.

I always use a series of plumb lines and horizontal lines to see how the features line up to each other. This will help in placement.
My next step would be to establish my darkest darks as an anchor value to key in the rest of the painting. If your darkest dark is too light, the overall painting will be too light. It's also a good idea to start with your sharpest edge as give you an edge to compare all other edges to. For example, on the right side of my face is my sharpest edge. I can now look at the edge of anything else, whether nose, lips, etc... to see if those edges are as sharp as my first edge or are they softer.

The last thing to be painted are the highlights...just be sure not to make them bright white...otherwise your face will look oily or plastic.

The hard part of self portraits is trying not to move your head while you paint or clean your brushes. It's also a challenge to measure distances between the features while looking in a mirror...your reflection of your hand or brush will hide the feature you're trying to measure...pretty irritating...but it can be overcome if you simply paint a life size portrait, and just measure on your face rather than the mirror's image.
Some problem areas are:
  • making the skin too light
  • making the whites too white
  • not using cool or warm shadows accurately
  • making the lips too red
  • making the nostrils too dark
  • making the edges too hard
All in all, it's great practice and you'll learn so much in the process. The main point to learn is to compare, compare, compare.

Did I capture a likeness? I think it resembles me...but there are some areas I can already see that need don't judge me too harshly. The major problem with this painting is the subject matter :)

By the way, I'm not mad...just concentrating.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thanks Dr. John Piper

How cool is this...a picture of Dr. John Piper of Desiring God Ministries holding a print of my painting, "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)". Dr. Piper and his ministry have been such an encouragement to my family and I, especially over the past year.

After losing my son, Zion in March 2011, I contacted Desiring God to inquire about a book on God's sovereignty and the issue of suffering. I spoke to a young man on the phone, and for the life of me, I can't recall his name. This young man was so kind in offering a listening ear to my situation. He then took the time to pray with me over the phone...a prayer that you could tell was sincere and heartfelt. He also informed me about the book I was calling about..."Suffering and the Sovereignty of God" edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor (contains writings on God's sovereignty and our suffering by people like Joni Eareckson Tada, Stephen Saint, Mark Talbot, and others). I highly recommend this book to anyone who is experiencing trials or any kind of suffering. It really helps you view these events through the eyes of God and not through the eyes of humanistic philosophies (which most merely portray God as a weak, impotent god who knows about your suffering but is too helpless to prevent it).  I asked the young man how much the book would cost and he completely surprised me by saying, "I'm going to send it to you free of charge."

Now, how many ministries out there would do that for some stranger who just randomly calls them up? Probably, not many. However, anyone who's familiar with Desiring God knows that they're not money motivated...they have a passion for treasuring Christ and helping others, even if it means they get nothing in return.

The print was just a token of our appreciation to Dr. Piper and Desiring God for their commitment to the supremacy of Christ and making Him known to the world. I once heard one of Dr. Piper's messages where he speaks of getting a "footnote" in one of, athiest and philosopher, Ayn Rand's biographies...all because he sent her a letter of critique and gave her the gospel...who knows, maybe one day, I'll get a footnote in one of Piper's books :)

Thanks Dr. Piper!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Loving People Who Don't Love You Back

Difficult situations are sometimes put into our lives to help us climb the spiritual ladders toward being conformed to Christ's image. The bad thing is these are never easy climbs...hence the "difficult" part.

Ironically, I'm studying John 13:31-35 for this week's lesson in Sunday school, specifically John 13:34. And, honestly, it's kicking my rear end.

Love...sounds easy doesn't it?...especially at this time of year. But, it's certainly not that simple. When Jesus says, "Love one another...", it definitely gets complicated. It's easy for me to love's easy for me to love those who treat me the way I want to be treated. But, to love one another... even when they're unlovable, or for them to love me when I'm unlovable...this command takes something supernatural in order to fulfill it

The scenario goes something like this: 2 parties...both were offended. One party admits their wrong, apologizes, and seeks forgiveness. The other party accepts their apology but fails to recognize their own guilt in the matter. So, what is the first party to do?

This is a tough situation and it's compounded when it's someone close to you such as friends or family.

So, we have to ask, "What is the Christian thing to do?" I hear the old cliche "what would Jesus do?" ringing in my ears.

Let's look at John 13 for some answers. John 13:34 says:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."
 Notice the bold part...when we examine its immediate context, we see that He gave us an example in the beginning of the chapter...the washing of the disciples' feet, John 13:1-20. Jesus, Lord and Master, humbles Himself to the place of a slave by performing a "low status" task. If anyone shouldv'e had their feet washed, we, of course know, Jesus would've been the One qualified. Yet, He is the very one who removes His outer garments, and lowers Himself to wash those who were, in every way, beneath Him.

Our reaction is usually one of, "Ohhhh...look at the humble Jesus. Isn't He amazing!" But, the real kicker here is that He expects the same from us. If that's not a high expectation, it only gets worse...Guess who was in the midst of these disciples and got his feet washed? Judas Iscariot. it does get sticky.

Can you imagine washing the feet of one you knew would betray you to die? Man, that is hardcore. That is hardcore humility. That is hardcore love. My flesh detests this teaching. My carnal nature wants to spit some beechnut in Judas' eye, like Hank Williams Jr. in the Country Boy can Survive song. But, Jesus, in His perfect love, loved those who were unlovable and loved and served those who He knew would never return the fact, He loved and ministered to those who boldly hated Him.

Notice John 13:17,
 "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
This verse tells us that our blessedness...our most complete joy...stems not from the knowledge of this humiliating service...but from doing it.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:43-48,
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
 Again, it's easy to love those who reciprocate the love...but anyone can do this...even the publicans. But, the greater reward is found in loving those and doing for those who you know will never pay you back.

Easy preaching, but hard living. I know...I've been there and still go there. I've had a person in my past who I loved dearly, hurt me badly. Being falsely accused of plagiarism, not only to yourself, but to your peers as well is a hurtful thing for me. The person who did this probably has no idea of the pain it's caused me. I have forgiven this person and there is no bitterness between either of us...however, I never received an apology, and probably never this person's eyes, I'm sure they truly believe they were right. So, I often have to practice Jesus' words to forgive 7 times 70...every time the root of bitterness starts to spring up, I have to deal with it. Forgiving others is not for their benefit, but for ours.

I'm learning that this love that Christ commands us to do is supernatural and certainly doesn't stem from ourselves. This fruit of the Spirit comes from us abiding in the Vine...abiding in Christ, and Him in us..."for without me ye can do nothing" John 15:5.

Being conformed to Christ's image is not an easy task...and it surely isn't always fun. But, it certainly will be rewarding. May God give us grace in loving and serving others even when we know it won't be reciprocated.


Strawberries in Still Life

11x14 acrylic on canvas

Here's another still life I painted for the upcoming "Red Show" to be held at Rail Walk Studios and Gallery in Salisbury, NC. I began this painting by first, arranging my items. I knew I wanted to paint these delicious strawberries...for one, they're red...two, it's almost Valentine's Day, and I always think of my wife's chocolate covered strawberries that she makes. Plus, I get to eat them when I'm done painting. Ellie, my 4 year old daughter thought that eating them after the painting was done was just too long to, after my numerous warnings not to touch the objects, and while I wasn't looking, she swiped a couple of juicy strawberries. Needless to say, I just about turned into Mr. Hyde.

I also needed another element in the still life so, I found this little cup and saucer in the china cabinet. It would make a nice contrast with my dark fabric I had draped.

The painting began with a painted sketch of the scene using cadmium red medium...just to lay out the composition and key in the values...the darkest areas will be straight red from the tube, and the lightest areas were a red wash...just to get rid of the white canvas.

Then, it was just a matter of painting my darkest darks first, working my way to the light colors and highlights last. Within a few hours, it's done!

The art displayed in the show will be used to raise funds for the American Red Cross. The show will start Feb.2 and run until March 31.

For more information on the Red Show, contact Rail Walk Studios at .

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Gospel In Noah's Ark

Noah's Ark
16x20 acrylic on canvas, painted at Carolina Memorial Baptist Church, Thomasville, NC

Is Noah's ark a myth, a fairy tale, or is it a factual account recorded in the bible? Our children are being bombarded with the notion that the earth is millions of years old and the geologic structure of the earth is the result of millions of years worth of erosion. However, the bible states the contrary. So, which set of lenses will we look at the evidence with...will we examine the evidence with a secular worldview or with a biblical worldview?

The picture above is a view of the Grand Canyon located in Arizona. Notice the winding Colorado River at the bottom. According to secular evolutionists, this river, given millions of years, is the cause of the Grand Canyon. They propose that a little water with long periods of time can carve this massive canyon. However, the picture below will testify that canyons can be formed over very short periods of time with
lots of water.
This is a picture of a place called the Little Grand Canyon, located near Mt. Saint Helens in the state of Washington. Notice also the little river running through the bottom. Most secularists would automatically assume that this little river is the cause of this 100, or so, feet deep canyon. Notice also the rock layers...surely this is the result of long periods of time, right? Actually this canyon was formed in one day...May 18, 1980. The canyon is the result of a mud flow after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Interestingly, there is a 25 ft. rock layer consisting of hundreds of smaller layers which was not formed in millions of years, but in a single day...possibly a few hours. This event has caused even many secular scientists and geologists to reevaluate their theories on the formation of the Grand Canyon.

So, with this little God given illustration, we can see the devastating effects that a lot of water can have on the structure of the earth...which brings us back to Noah.

Get in the boat boys, the crick's a swellin!
Due to man's wickedness and corruption of the earth, God warned Noah of a coming judgment. He instructed Noah on how to escape His a boat.

One reason why so many children, even adults, find the concept of all these animals, along with Noah and 7 of his family members, being able to fit on the ark is due to the misconceptions we have of the ark. Most art or representations of the ark look like this: wonder people have a hard time believing.

If we go by the bible's description and use a little common sense, we can see that Noah's ark is very believable.

The ark's dimensions are 300 cubits long (approx. 450'), 50 cubits wide (75') and 30 cubits tall (45'), Genesis 6:15. It was to be 3 stories tall and have a window finished above the ark, 1 cubit (it doesn't give the length of the window, so we can assume it ran the length of the ark's a modern day ridge vent). The space of the ark is big enough to hold 522 railroad boxcars.

What about all the animals?
Another misconception is that Noah would've had to take thousands and thousands of large animals. 2 German shepherds, 2 chiwawas, 2 golden retrievers, etc... This is not the case, though. He took 2 of every kind, 7 of the clean animal kinds. He only had to take 2 of a generic canine kind...probably something like a wolf. We get all of our different types of dogs from inbreeding and selective breeding.
Something else to consider, seeing that Noah was 600 years old (I imagine he was a pretty smart guy), he most likely didn't take full grown adult animals. He probably took young animals...old enough to keep themselves, but small enough not to take up much room. And, since young animals sleep a lot, especially when in a confined space, they probably weren't much to keep up. Given this, the average size animal is the size of a sheep. You can fit 240 sheep on one railroad boxcar, which means you could fit 50,000 animals on 209 boxcars...which is not even half of the ark.

What does the flood teach us, today?
First, it teaches us that God is good and He's a God of justice. Because God is good, He must punish sin. For instance, if someone hurt your family member, and you took the criminal to court...if the judge let them go free, he would not be a good judge. A good judge upholds justice.

This was the case in the flood. Mankind had corrupted his ways on the earth. So God had to punish the wickedness. However, the good news is that God showed a man named Noah, grace. He gave Noah some undeserved favor by showing him a way of escape...through the ark.

In the same way, Jesus Christ has provided a way of escape from God's wrath. There is a coming judgment day, but all who are in Christ will be spared. To be in Christ is to fully trust find your all satisfaction in Him...not just believing in Him as a historical figure. Salvation is not found in any "repeated prayer" or the fact that you "asked Jesus into your heart" at whatever age, or any other religious activity you might have done. Salvation is in a Person...Jesus Christ. All who were on the ark were saved, as all who are IN CHRIST will also be saved. Find your refuge IN HIM.

We'd like to give a special thanks to Carolina Memorial Baptist Church in Thomasville, NC for allowing us the opportunity to minister. The painting at the top is my 15-20 minute rendition of Noah's ark that I completed while the children sang. Below is another painting of Noah's ark I completed several years ago...prints are available, just visit my website:

For more info on Noah's ark, visit Answers in Genesis.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oranges In Still Life

11x14 acrylic on canvas

I think this was the first time I had ever seen an orange with the leaves still attached. Can you tell I don't get to the tropical states much? All the oranges I ever see come packaged in a red mesh bag. But when Crystal brought this little beauty home, I knew I had to paint it. Besides, that's why she bought it...just for me to paint. What a great wife! The unique wine bottle is from Zimmerman Vineyards. They were kind enough to give me several of their empty bottles just for still life paintings. I decided on this particular bottle due to it's unique shape and its brilliant blue color, which I thought would be a nice contrast with the oranges.

I haven't painted a still life for some time now but, when I first started painting, as a teen, I would set up a small scene of fruit, pottery, or whatever else I could find of some interest. It was great practice, learning to paint what was right in front of you. I began learning a lot of foundational principles back then such as: composition, values, form, etc... It's also a great way to hone your drawing skills, which, I believe, is the foundation of any good painting. You really can't beat painting from life.