Jeremy Sams Art Blog

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.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mixing Your Greens...For Desert!

Most people already know yellow and blue make green. But how does it taste? The only acrylic paint I ever tasted was by accident, and it wasn't an experience I'd like to repeat. However, I have concocted some greens that are absolutely delicious!...and I've been repeating the experience for several days now.

By adding more blue, you can make a cooler green. If you're looking for a warmer, more earthy green, try adding more yellow and just a touch of red...these are the greens you're most likely to see in the more natural colored sunny landscapes. But before you start licking your palette, let me inform you that the drinkable greens I'm referring to are not acrylic paints.

The greens we've been drinking in the Sams' household as of late consist of apples, oranges, carrots and spinach. Spinach??? Yes! and it's delicious! Tonight's juice mix contained 2 apples, 1 orange, 2 carrots, and 3 large handfuls of spinach...all total about the size of one monstrous salad. The cost for a full 12 or so oz. cup of this delicious green brew was approximately $1.40. However, I think we can go cheaper if we buy our fruits and veggies in bulk.

My wife, Crystal, and I decided to start our new year off trying to eat healthier. We watched a couple of really good documentaries to get us motivated, and I highly recommend them. They are "Forks Over Knives" and "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead".

Forks Over Knives (trailer)

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (extended trailer)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Randolph Art Guild Drawing Sessions

11x14 acrylic on canvas

Every first and third Thursday of the month, the Randolph Arts Guild hosts a drawing session. The cost is $10 per session, or you can pay $30 for 6 sessions and runs from 6-8pm. The Guild will hire models to model for the class or they'll set up a still life or, if weather is permitting, go outside for some plein air sketching/painting.

The sessions usually start off with some 1 minute quick sketching...these exercises are basically just to capture the gesture and for warm up. With only one minute, details are just not an option. After the 1 minute sketches, you might move up to a 2-5 minute pose.

The painting above is of our model for the night, Joe. It's a 20 minute quick-sketch...or quick-paint in this case.

Another 20 minute quick sketch in charcoal with Joe wearing a toboggan. 
He also brought  a machete and a sombrero.

The last 20 minute quick sketch of the night in charcoal.

For more information about the drawing sessions, feel free to contact the Randolph Arts Guild.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Living In Sin...In God's Will

Divorce is the social norm of today. Marriage vows are simply sweet words and a marriage license is just a piece of paper. According to a recent study, the divorce rate among evangelical Christians is 42%. That's a pretty high number for those professing Jesus as Lord and Savior and claiming the authority of the Scriptures.

After becoming a Facebook user this past year, I've been appalled at some of the statuses that "Christians" put up. People claiming to be "right where God wants me", "in God's will", or "in God's plan" while living in open sin and rebellion to God is just plain disgusting. I've seen spouses who've walked out of their marriage (for un-biblical reasons) post these kinds of phrases while all their carnal friends condone and praise their rebellious situation and refusal to submit to God's Word. Sorry ladies, your husband's failure to send flowers or give you compliments is not a biblical cause for divorce...and, fellas, your wife's refusal to wear lingerie and lack of cleaning and cooking skills is not a reason either.

Sadly, unbiblical divorce is not the only issue faced in people claiming to be in God's see the pics of people partying it up, then the next day claiming they're glad they're in God's will. Are you kidding me???

Now, let me remind you...I'm all about God's sovereignty. I try to live according to it and have experienced it in my life, especially this past year. But, here's where it gets tricky. If we believe in a God who is in control of all aspects of our life: birth, health, finances, weather, salvation, sanctification, death, etc... does this mean that God is in control of our sin as well? I've had several people, while contemplating God's sovereignty, ask me, "If God is sovereign and He has planned for everything that's ever going to happen...this must mean that it's ok for me to sin, because ultimately, God is the One who planned it...right?"

First of all, those who claim God's grace or His sovereignty as a license to sin have a twisted mentality and their "damnation is just" according to Romans 3:8.

Second, let's again consult the Scriptures to make sense of this dilemma by examining the prophecy of Peter's denial in Luke 22:31-32. In this passage we'll see God's sovereignty over our temptations:

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

Satan is definitely at work here, but he is not sovereign in it, nor is Peter...Notice that the temptation comes from Satan, not from God, for God tempts no man to sin (James 1:13). Notice also, that Jesus, after proclaiming His intercessory prayer, says "when you are converted"...he doesn't say, "if you're converted"...No, He says "when". In essence, He's saying, "Peter, Satan wants you and you will fail miserably,  but I have prayed for you and WHEN you repent and turn back, strengthen your brothers. You will fail, but I've made sure your failure will not be final."

We can also see God's sovereignty over man's sin in Acts 2:23:

"Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"

Notice first, that it was God's determined purpose and prearranged plan that Jesus would be crucified and this predetermined plan was the involvement of man's sin. But notice secondly, their predetermined sinful actions were not condoned. Acts 2:36-37 shows that they were completely responsible and we see their reaction.

So, is God schizophrenic? Does He plan for us to sin then punish us for doing what He planned? How do we understand these things? Again, let's consult the Scriptures.

In Deuteronomy 29:29, we see the two wills of God. We see His will of Decree and His will of  Precept.

"The secret [things belong] unto the LORD our God: but those [things which are] revealed [belong] unto us and to our children for ever, that [we] may do all the words of this law." 
 "The secret things" are God's will of decree. These are the things God has predetermined such as Peter's temptation and the crucifixion of Jesus...Basically, this is God's business and not meant for us to know. He is:
"Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times [the things] that are not [yet] done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" Isaiah 46:10. 
He also tells us 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?"
His ways are higher than our ways for sure, and wouldn't it be sad if He left us in the dark as to what His will is? However, when we read the rest of Deut. 29:29, we see that He doesn't leave us clueless as to how we should live: "but those [things which are] revealed [belong] unto us and to our children for ever, that [we] may do all the words of this law."

What are those things which are revealed?  These are His commandments, His Words, His precepts. When God says, "Thou shalt" or "Thou shall not", He is revealing His preceptive will to us. These are not suggestions, but commands. So, if we ignore what God tells us or rebel against His revealed commands, then we are NOT living according to God's will. Oh, you may be in His "plan", but you are rebelling against His revealed preceptive will.

This is a terrifying place to be..."in His plan" but rebelling against His will. Consider Pharoah in Romans 9:17-18,
"For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth."
 When you read the story of Pharoah in Exodus, we see that Pharoah was definitely in God's will of decree, but he was certainly not acting according to God's preceptive will...and we see the purpose was that God's power be made manifest...even in Pharoah's destruction.

In closing, be warned if you're living against God's revealed will. He may be raising you up to crush you and magnify His glory in giving you justice. If this concerns you at all, be like Peter and be converted so you can show God's glory in giving you grace and mercy. If you feel that you've failed in remaining in God's preceptive will, know that your failure doesn't have to be final. Turn from your sin and find mercy in Christ. For those who love God and are the called according to His purpose, He's working all things for good...even your failures. But, if your mentality is to do evil that good may come, your damnation is just (Romans 3:8).

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Homemade Pochade Box

What's more enjoyable than plein air painting?... Of course! making your own gear for plein air painting! This is my newest home made pochade box. It measures 9.25x11.5" and the palette area is 1.5" deep. I went with a smaller box because I needed a box that catered to my smaller plein air pieces and takes up less space in a backpack. This box will hold, at the largest, an 8x10" horizontally, and probably a 9x12" vertically. The new feature is my hinged flip-out brush holder (the little rectangular piece of wood with holes on the left). Now, instead of having to insert my brush holder, while carrying it as a separate piece, I just open the box and flip it out.

Here is the hinged brush holder in its closed position. The lid of the box closes down while leaving a little space in case you want to keep your canvas panel attached to the pochade box lid. Because of the deepness of the box (1.5"), your wet paint remains untouched on the bottom.

In the side view, you can see what keeps the box locked in the open painting position...just a friction lid support with a threaded knob instead of the tightening screw. You can purchase these at your local hardware store for just a few dollars. The hanger that will hold my portable brush cleaner/water is a wire hanger loop that holds the wire on the back of picture frames.

Here you can see my glass palette in place. I paint on glass because it's just easier to work and clean my acrylic paints. You'll notice 2 brass shelf pins inserted in 5 mil. holes that are holding the palette down. With the deepness of the tray, I can now leave my canvas panel attached to the lid, close it, and use it as its own wet panel carrier and not be worried about the glass palette hitting my wet painting. When I'm done painting, I just remove the shelf pins, then remove the glass and wash it.

closed and locked position...ready to stuff into a backpack.

Several people have asked me about how I mount the box to my tripod. This is it. It's a wood insert nut (this one is brass which is a softer metal...I broke the first one attempting to screw it into the hard wood. I think I used a different metal on my last pochade box which has given me no trouble for the past year of use). You simply drill a hole smaller than the threads of the insert, and screw it into a .5" block of oak. This block measures 3.5x4". After you drill your hole and screw in your insert (making sure to screw it into the wood from the opposite side that you'll attach your tripod), attach the block on the underside of your box about 1" from the back and in the center of the box using wood glue, and some brads or screws, nailed or screwed from the inside of the box. It's very important that you get a good bond here.

To see more details on how to build a box like this, visit Jim Serrett's site (this box is an alteration of Jim's unique and easy to build design) or my other blogs concerning pochade boxes: Homemade Pochade Box and Pochade Box Updates.

Happy building and happy painting!