Do you find it hard to be grateful at times? Does the popular practice of “gratitude” grate on your nerves especially with Oprah tells us we should do it? Yeah, I know, but I now admit she’s right. Not because she’s right or I’m right, but because God’s word is true and right, and especially practical.
The Bible has so much to say about the practice of being thankful and how it changes our lives by changing our perspective.
When a person has a lot, or more than enough, they tend to think they deserve even more. I thought I deserved to drive an expensive luxury automobile and I did. The more expensive it became the more unhappy I was with it. Suddenly its sleek beauty became dull and even a bit frightening when contemplating my next bill to maintain it.
Isn’t that how it goes? We think we want something. We buy it. We use it. It becomes less shiny and attractive then we replace it or throw it out with hardly a thought. I’m guilty.
I learned a valuable lesson and it’s no secret. Practicing gratitude is a discipline worth acquiring because my life is happier and more satisfied with what I have. I no longer clammer for more. I don’t engage in “retail therapy,” because I now know that whatever I buy won’t make me more fulfilled.
Make no mistake – I don’t deny myself something that will delight my heart, or is beautiful for the sake of just being beautiful. I consider buying something wonderful and artistic as an act of appreciation – an act of gratitude for the maker of that work of art, or innovative design.
What I’ve learned is that if I want to live in fulfillment and satisfaction that only comes from God, then I must practice thanking Him for the blessings He provides. I look for them. I seek them out. I am in a perpetual state of discovery. And more important, I write them down. That way I can refer back to what God has done that only He could do. It gives me confidence that He will continue to bless and provide. I have no doubt because I have evidence of His hand in my life.
OK, now I’m gonna go all retail on you. This print is available as wall art and other products at my store on Society6. Hope you like it.
More and more the world is angry and chaotic. People are defensive, even outright aggressive, when threatened or offended. Rude and vulgar language is no longer surprising whether on the road, in places of business, or on TV. Have you noticed the increase in videos of people brawling over the least little provocation? Aggression has become the subject of entertainment.
The truth is kindness is not my natural inclination. I wish it was. However, I have learned to embrace and practice kindness like the necessity of exercise. The results are kind of amazing. The kinder I am to complete strangers, the less stress I feel. But when I go the way of the world and lash out at someone’s insult, ignorance, or poor service, I’m the one who feels terrible afterwards. I am painfully aware by experience how unkind words destroy the spirit.
Each of us is a victim of someone’s unkindness. Each of us has also been a perpetrator. The upsurge in bullying may not be on the rise at all. Maybe we’re finally noticing the long term effect it has on the human spirit.
I have the freedom to criticize, bully or make a sarcastic remark. Everyone does it so it’s easy to fall in step with the culture. Choosing to be kind in spite of how I’m treated is just that – a choice that God instilled in me.
When I choose kindness instead of my natural inclination, it produces joy. I’m less stressed. Like any exercise, the benefits are worth the effort.
I made this latest print to remind me that I can’t be neutral on this issue. I have been given freedom of choice by a loving God who has been amazingly gracious and kind to me. Shouldn’t I do likewise?
The print above is available as a hand signed giclee or on various other products at Society6 and Fine Art America.
In my daily practice as an artist I’ve started pieces I haven’t finished. I’ve made sketches that don’t seem destined for anything special.
You may feel that way sometimes, even throwing your work in the trash without another thought. You hope tomorrow you’ll make something better.
But I challenge you not to give in to that impulse because you’ve just spent time making something of value. Maybe you think you’ll never sell it or it’s incomplete but it still has value to you, as an artist. Something inside you inspired you to start that piece in the first place. It must have meant something.
Those unsuccessful pieces serve show you how far you’ve progressed as an artist and what skills you’ve acquired. I hesitate to even call them unsuccessful. I tend to recycle work that doesn’t please me into something better suited to the next phase of art I’m working on now.
Every brush, pencil, pen applied to paper or canvas is something brand new that never existed before. Keep that in mind before you toss something you’ve created in the trash bin. It deserves more respect because it’s as unique as you are.
Put it aside for further exploration and deeper inspiration. Eventually it will reveal its purpose.
Isn’t there something so satisfying about drawing lines? It’s basic. Primal. The first art work we drew as children were simple lines – all different kinds and shapes and weights and with different implements – crayons, chalk, pens, pencils.
I still love primitive lines and looks. It reminds me of living in a tribe in we each have our own markings that distinguish who we are. Maybe that’s why tattoo art is so popular. It’s a marking that tells the world something about the person who carries it around. (Sometimes I want to stop a person with an intriguing tattoo and ask how it all came about.)
The patterns I create with lines appeal to people who resonate with the childhood memories of just making simple art. The above pattern was inspired by chocolate and coffee house colors. The one below is the same pattern, but inspired by hours at the chalkboard.
This chalkboard version is available as a print and for a variety of products at my stores on Society 6.
I painted this story awhile back using Procreate on my iPad. I liked it then. Now, it seems so primitive.
So I decided to revisit the blue coyotes theme because they are such a part of my life. Each night and early morning darkness coyotes, although not necessarily blue ones, do what they do best – hunt and howl. My neighbor has a beautiful Alaskan husky who howls along with them. Sometimes a 3 am, 2 am, I am dreaming of coyotes because I’m subconsciously hearing them. They run in the empty fields and shallow canyons around my home. Sometimes they even boldly venture onto my driveway and use it as a highway to wherever they’re running to.
I don’t fear them. I welcome them in all their beauty. Some times when I’ve been out walking early in the morning, I have encountered a solitary coyote. I stop and stand very still, watching him in the distance. He sees me too. He stops and stares at me. Does he wonder what I am, why I’m looking in his direction, if I mean him harm? It may sound a bit neurotic, but I kind of think we’re communicating.
The above painting is a placement print, suitable for products or hanging on the wall. Below is a repeat print version, for wallpaper, gift wrap, fabric, etc.
Hope you enjoy the print and the story behind it. You can see more of this print and others on products at my store on Society 6.