Sunday, October 07, 2018

Sticking Your Neck Out

A few weeks ago I painted a turtle while exploring some of the fears and challenges that I am facing in my life. It was therapeutic, and helpful as I pondered the various triggers that can cause someone to want to just hide “inside the shell” or face the challenge head on.
Today, I returned to the turtle theme for a friend that I have at work.  A few weeks ago he found out that his wife has stage 3 breast cancer.  Without a doubt, they have been faced with the very real choice that comes with all the uncertainty of such a diagnosis.  Do they hide?  Do they run?  Do they revert to what is familiar? Or, do they move forward, trusting in the love that they have for each other and the growth that will happen during the journey?
I painted this little one for them, another reminder that we can put our necks out of the comfortable shell, we can trust that even thought the future looks uncertain and scary, that there will be growth as we move forward, even if slowly.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Feeling Blue.....Heron.

This week, I chose to paint a Blue Heron.

I wasn’t actually thinking about a specific individual to send the envelope to this week while doing this one, but was enamoured by the majesty and beauty of this type of a bird.  There is so much to marvel in the nature around us..

Done in Gouache and a little pen and ink.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


Recently, I was informed that a good friend tragically lost his 19 year old daughter.  While watching  the video montage of a lifetime of pictures of this individual, I was moved at what a beautiful person she is, and also felt such sadness for her parents who now are trying to determine how to move forward, to find hope and healing. I'm always at a loss as to what to say, or what to do.  You want so desperately to take away their pain, or to say something meaningful;something that would supply succor and encouragement, while at the same time you don't want to pry or be audacious enough to think that you are capable of reducing the pain.   So, I do what I can...I paint.  Their beautiful daughter loved insects, particularly spiders and tarantulas, with the hopes of becoming an entomologist.  So, while a tarantula is not normally an image that one expects on an an envelope containing a sympathy card, this is what I am sending to them with a few thoughts, and condolences.

Done completely in gouache.

Monday, September 03, 2018


These past few months I have been dealing with some circumstances in my life which have forced me to face things that bring fear, uncertainty, even panic.  In many ways I feel like the turtle that I painted this weekend.  We can often only see all of the things that potentially could go wrong, and favor shrinking into our shell, where we feel safe, unexposed, warm.  Yet, if we live inside of the shell all of the time, we miss the ability to move forward, even if slowly.  While I painted this, I kept thinking of a great quote that I heard the other day penned by Rudyard Kipling.  He said: "Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears."

Generally, I paint envelopes for others.  I guess this one was an envelope to self.

The other thing I learned while painting this is the fact that turtle legs look amazingly like two giant pine cones.

This is done entirely in Gouache.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

An Elixir for a Friend

There is a tradition that a good friend and I share, and that brings me a great deal of satisfaction.  A few years ago I bought a very large sketchbook, and in this sketchbook my friend and I write letters to one another, post pictures, share things that are going on in our lives, and we just ship the sketchbook back and forth to each other.  We are in different states, friends since our youth, but enjoy staying in touch in this manner.  The entries are made only every few months, if we are lucky.  But it's great fun.
It's nice to have the entire book to refer back to, and to read over the years of correspondence while making yet another contribution in the dialogue.
In our exchange, we often share what is happening in our lives, the good things, and the struggles.

After I finished this month's entry, I kept thinking about a quote that I heard that simply stated:
"Suffering is the Elixir of Nobility."  That is profound, and a timely reminder for some of the struggles that I've recently been facing.

So, as I wrapped up the sketchbook and prepared it to send off, I thought about elixirs and potions, and doodled this for my friend. (I deleted his address for privacy's sake..but you get the picture).

There's nothing better than getting something in the mail that can brighten your day.

Done in gouache and Pen and Ink.

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.