Sunday, August 05, 2018

Give a man (or woman) a fish...

Over the past few years, I had the opportunity to work with a great group of youth in my church, and I’ve learned so much from each of them as they made difficult decisions in their lives and have moved forward with faith.  many of them have chosen to leave their homes for 18-24 months as a full-time missionary, in all parts of the world, to serve their neighbor.  Ive tried to send a little doodled envelope and letter to each one, and this week, the letter goes out to an amazing young woman serving her mission in Brazil (the same place I served my mission when her age!)
I decided on a fish, because I like fish!  But also because of the many inspiring stories including fish in the scriptures such as Jonah and the big fish, Christ and the loaves and fishes, a resurrected Christ preparing fishes for his weary apostles as he returns to give them needed direction (and nourishment) and many more.
Since she is out there serving in His name, I thought it appropriate to send her a fish as well!
 Here it is:  
Done in gouache.

Sunday, July 29, 2018


This week I returned to the doodling on envelopes/letters and my search for unsuspecting recipients. 

Recently a picture of a toad that is indigenous to Northwest Africa, the Berber toad, or Sclerophrys mauritanica, struck me with the bold colors and beautiful, wart-covered skin.  It got me thinking a lot about toads the past couple of weeks, and all of the things I remember hearing about them when I was young.  There were the warnings about not touching them because of the infamous warts that would surely be transferred to the one brave enough to poke and prod; or the stories which promised that if anyone licked any toad, they would start hallucinating.  Unforgettable was the lore or the famous courage it took a young maiden to kiss a disgusting toad in order to turn him back into a noble prince.  Something interesting to ponder.  All surrounding stories and tidbits surrounding toads, most of which had no shred of truth, were fun to think about.  Yet, I think there is another story about toads which could be had.

We have a tendency to shy away from things that appear "slimy" or "wart-laden" and we create ideas, false realities, to reinforce our disdain for things that are different or "ugly."  Often, we see ourselves as falling into the "toad" category, wondering if we are destined for a life of being perceived as untouchable, or "poisonous" based on some of the decisions we've made, or due to a less than hearty sense of self.  I see in the warty toad something noble, infused with a quiet dignity, not caring about the stories, fables, fears and perceptions of those around him.

This week, I decided to paint a toad or a person that, by many outside indicators, would fall into the less-valued, less-proper, or less-lovable classification.  Yet, I love him dearly for his example of dedication, of continued effort, despite challenging setbacks.  I've watched the way society feels the need to chasten those who have made similar choices that he has.  We lack humanity and understanding.  To me, he has ever been kind and supportive when I see myself as a "toad."  This act is noble to me because of how easy it would have been to be focused on himself with his particular set of problems.  Thank goodness there are those around us that are able to look outside of themselves, even when there appear to be every reason to be suffocating in self-concern.

Here is some good counsel, if we are feeling the urge to retreat inwards because of our many faults or struggles:

"This year, mend a quarrel.  Seek out a forgotten friend.  Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.  Write a letter. Give a soft answer.  Encourage youth.  Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.  Keep a promise.  Forgo a grudge.  Forgive an enemy.  Apologize.  Try to understand.  Examine your demands on others.  Think first of someone else.  Be kind.  Be gentle.  Laugh a little more.  Express your gratitude.  Welcome a stranger.  Gladden the heart of a child.  Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.  Speak your love and then speak it again."  --Howard W. Hunter

By doing these things, you may place the affection on a "toad" that helps them realize that they are kingly or queenly.  It may also help you realize that your ability to affect others for good brings out the nobility in yourself.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Doodles in the Sketchbook, Hoop Lake

For the past few weeks, my family has been on vacation.  Consequently, I haven't done any envelopes for the past little while.  However, it was refreshing to carry along the sketchbook while up in the mountains and doodle in the shade.  There is something intensely peaceful being surrounded only by wilderness, listening to the breeze rush through the pines and the aspen all around you, and doodling until your heart is content.
We spend a few days up in the Uintah Mountains at a place called Hoop Lake.  Although it was hotter than I expected, it was enjoyable to sit in the shade and look at all of the things around me.

Here are a couple of the sketches I was able to knock out while there:

This was a little doodle of the fire pit at our campsite, and you can see Sadie, our Beagle, waiting patiently for the rest of the family to come back from their hike on this particular afternoon.

Just past our tent in a little grove of trees, I parked the camp chair and sketched the surroundings.  There were lots of deer, lots of beautiful trees, and plenty of sun too.

Now that I'm back in town, I thought I would scan and post a couple of the doodles.

These were done in pen and ink, and some watercolor.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Birds

Our little family moved into our current neighborhood a few years ago, and it was a new neighborhood, so we got to see all of the other houses go up about the same time as ours.  Shortly after we moved in, the neighbors to the back began to build their home, and since our house is a two story house, we could sit and watch out the back window everything that was going on. 
An older couple moved into the house and proceeded to turn their backyard into a very beautiful place to sit and enjoy the cool evenings. 
To add more life, they added bird feeders.  And then more bird feeders, and after that, they added a few more.
Consequently, this corner of the neighborhood seems like a set from an Alfred Hitchcock movie because of the many avian visitors.  At first, I was kind of perturbed, because of all of the droppings, etc. everywhere.  But, I have to admit that due to the crowd of birds that they have brought in, I am always fascinated with just watching all the life in our own backyard.  We also have birds nesting in our front yard each year which is so interesting to watch from my office window.  So much can be learned from just watching nature.
Nevertheless, even though I don't know my back neighbors well, I decided to paint them this envelope with a note tucked inside to thank them for the birds they have brought into the neighborhood.  It's funny the positive impact you can make on others as you try to make your own little corner of the world a pleasant place.

This was done in gouache and a little pen and ink:

Here's one of the little guys that hatched on our front porch nest and this is the first time that he "flew the coop" and began exploring his little world alone:

Saturday, June 16, 2018


There is a young man in my church who has been on my mind.  He often blesses and administers the Sacrament, something that has become vey important for me each week, and I’m grateful for the way he pronounces each word of the prayer, unrushed and sincere.  I painted this envelope to thank him for his service and for his goodness.   


Saturday, June 02, 2018

Wart Biter ...any takers?

This week I read an article about an insect, a cricket, that is on the endangered species list.  The name of this little beauty was what caught me.  It is commonly known as a "wart-biter."  Interestingly, back in the day, people actually would catch these insects and allow them to chew off their warts...WHAT?  The scientific name Verrucivorus derives from the Latin, 'verruca' meaning 'wart" and 'vorous' 'to devour."  NO JOKE, it is able to do this as it has very strong mouthparts.  Nevertheless, as I looked up various pictures of this insect, I was struck by how fascinating the creature appeared.  So ornate and armored!  Awesome.  

Consequently, this week's envelope was one of pure self-interest...not really intended to mean signify anything in particular.  Rather, I just wanted to doodle this guy and try my hand at painting this bug I don't have anyone in mind to which I will send this envelope, so, for fun, I thought I would offer it up to the person that can tell me, via comment, the most interesting cricket story that they have.  I'll read through those comments, post the one that I find most fascinating, and send this envelope out to them with a fun little letter.

Happy Story Telling!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Tortoise and Hare

Recently, a very courageous friend of mine, made a choice that showed a deep amount of bravery, despite how he may have been perceived by those around him that didn't know all the circumstances.  This friend had been working towards accomplishing something, a mission that would take two years of his time wherein he would be serving others.  However, as he entered into that task, he realized that in order for him to accomplish what he needed to accomplish, he would need more preparation.  On his own, he went to those that had helped him get there and expressed his need to return home.

It would have been easy for him to just give up on the dream, give up on the expectation that he had placed upon himself, but has continued to work towards getting back to where he could serve in a capacity that he has looked forward to serving.

I've thought a lot about him this week, and how his diligence, despite barricades and obstacles, has inspired me to stick to the task at hand regardless of the challenges.  My mind kept going back to the story of the tortoise and the hare, and how, despite challenges that seemed to doom the tortoises success, were overcome because of diligence, tenacity, and long-suffering.  I don't remember all of the details about the story...whether or not the onlookers of the race laughed at the tortoise for thinking he could win, or whether the hare, in belching self-confidence also made fun of the seeming unfit contender, but I remember that the tortoise won.

I'm grateful for my friend's example of continuity towards goals despite potential feelings of inadequacy.  Onto victory for him.

Here is the envelope that I painted for him this week, which carried a note of thanks for his inspiring race.

Done in gouache and pen and ink.