Grief is a Strange Animal

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It has been Six months since my big sister/ best friend passed away. Six Months of grieving, six months of not being able to breath, six months with very little creativity and art; and Four months since I created my last piece titled A Time to Mourn. Though it may be my best to date. It expresses my grief more then I could ever express it with words.

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Grief is such a strange animal. I thought I knew this beast well, because I have met it on many occasions before.

This time somehow, it seams bigger and meaner. It seems to have backed me against a wall separating me from my creative side. It seems that with every attempt to vest this beast I am left feeling as though I have lost my artistic balance and I drop my brushes in defeat, frozen, temporarily paralyzed and unable to move my arms and mind into submission.

But I am not one to give up, I am brave, and bull headed. So I keep charging in and making myself go though the motions. Knowing that deep inside me creativity is alive and well and will eventually surface and be the victor. Each day I am desiring more and more to create again. I want to force myself past this dragon of grief and go to my favorite place to live, in the land of laughter, sunshine and creating things. Because I just want to be happy again.

I have to say though that It is not a scary monster, it’s just big and in my way and becoming very annoying. Like Rex from the movie Toy Story where he says “I’m going for fearsome here, but I just don’t feel it. I think I’m just coming off as annoying.”

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I know that this beast called grief is not my enemy, or an enemy to my art. He may even be there, larger then life, to protect me from something that would wound me deeper while my heart heals.  I need to let him stand there and do his job. In the end it will cause me to be a better artist, painting with more feeling and emotion.

For without the darkness, one can not truly enjoy the light. Without the tears and pain, one can not truly appreciate the laughter and Joy. Without the experience of devastation one can not truly appreciate the creative process.

Thank you all for being so understanding and supporting me during this painful time for me. May God richly bless you!

 

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A Time To Mourn

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Time to Mourn FB

As many of you know, I lost my sister/ best friend recently. It has left me unable and some times unwilling to express my emotions. Which is strange because this is what I do, I put my feelings onto words, whether in poetry, song or in some cute way to make us all laugh at our circumstances and feel better about them. But Now, I’ve got nothing! No words will come out, they will not even form in my mind, and even when they do they refuse to come out of my mouth in any coherent manner.

Being an artist, I turned to painting for my therapy, or processing of my emotions. My original thought was to just do something simple. I can’t concentrate long enough or even care enough to focus on doing a portrait and make sure that it looks like a specific person. I had painted a few dancers and thought I could continue in that series. After asking for help with reference photos from my friends on face book, I was overwhelmed with the out pouring of responses. Several photo were dramatically lighted and drew my attention and so I pulled one of them and started considering the composition.

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Original reference photo from Melodie Lauhan

That night as I was falling asleep I envisioned a dripping background to this piece and that I could do in monotone in sepia colors. So the next morning I started to paint.20180203_132423

Once the background was painted and dry I traced on my drawing of the dance just like in the photo. Then I started blocking in her form.

 

But the more I painted the more I felt the sadness of the piece, as if I was painting my pain. So instead of trying to fix it and make it brighter or happier, I decided to embrace the pain, crying with every brush stroke applied to the canvas. Soon I realized that this dancers pose was not expressive enough to show the depths of grief that I was feeling. So I decided to move the arms and make her holding her head.

 

 

 

I moved her hands several times before getting them exactly where I wanted them also changing the tilt of her head. I was even blessed to get my Photographer son Isaiah Miller to photograph my beautiful daughter in law in the hand pose I needed, and under the same lighting conditions as the original reference photo to make it easier for me to paint it correctly.The problem I had now was that  I could not repaint the background as I loved the feeling of the drips so I had to hide the painting of the hands on the floor in the hair. Since my daughter in law has such lovely long full hair, this was an easy transition.

 

 

Once the detail in the hands and body were complete I felt I needed to clothe her in black to finish the look of one who mourns. Once that was done I felt that I had achieved expressing my inner most emotions. I hope that you can feel what my heart is saying and I hope that it touches you deeply.

Please leave a comment telling me how this piece makes you feel and what it tells you. I would love to hear from you.

 

Grief is So Strange!

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Have you ever walked around with your phone camera in front of you at a special event? You are trying to capture the special moments in your life, but you are watching it through a tiny screen instead of in living color. Your subconscious is worried about focusing, keeping things centered, and not tripping over your own two feet in the process. So many times, so focused on the video you are taking, that you become detached from what is actually going on around you. In doing so you capture the action, but miss the emotions of the moment. You wanted to capture this special moment so you could watch it over and over and get that same feeling. But since you were taking the video and were detached from the moment, you probably never will watch the video more then once.

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Strange set up, but it has been one month today that my sister passed away and oddly enough, I feel exactly like I’m walking behind that camera. I am aware of the special people that are around me; those that want to comfort me, and those I want to comfort. There are things I need to keep doing like going to birthday parties and my granddaughter’s basketball games… So I’m going through the motions of going to the special events and the ordinary ones, but it’s like I am watching them through the video camera screen. I want desperately to be present, to remember this time, this event, this precious person. But instead I am focusing on just putting one foot in front of the other without falling on my face. Trying to focus on faces and hear the words that are being said, but finding that I’ve forgotten to press the record button.

 

Grief is so strange! Even though I feel so detached, I am also feeling things way bigger, way stronger then usual. I cry at the drop of a hat, and I get angry the same way. I Cry louder, laugh harder, (embarrassingly loud actually) and I am annoyed much easier than I usually would be.

 

I have often said that I hate being depressed, because it depresses me. And I usually follow that with a big laugh! I love to laugh about things. I love to see the good in everything and everyone. And that is still my motto. But I know now that there is depression that comes that is not despair. I have hope and a secret joy in my heart that my savior has given me that no man and no circumstance can ever take away. Yet I am sad, blue, and want to hide myself away. I don’t want to cry anymore. It hurts too much. I don’t want to laugh anymore, it feels wrong. I don’t want to be angry with anyone, they love me beyond measure and I them.

 

I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve. I have never been able to disguise my feeling. But THIS, this is ridiculous.

 

My mind struggles to reconcile the joy of heaven that I have that is solid, and true and unmovable, with the grief that I bear which seems just as solid, true. But it is not unmovable! My grief will lesson as time goes by, my faith will only get bigger and stronger. Through this pain I am given a great gift. The gift of empathy and understanding, compassion and a deeper love then I ever had before.

 

So please be patient with me as I walk around in this disconnected state of grief. Please know that I love you all and thank you for all your prayers and support and loving hugs. They mean the world to me, even If I can’t remember whom it was that hugged me of prayed for me. I still remember that I am loved!

 

 

First and Final Breaths

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I’ve been called out in the middle of the night, to race to the bedside of a friend or family member, to help usher in new life many times. With the knowledge that the time was near, I would set out my clothing in a neat pile so that I could hastily put them on and be out the door within minutes of getting the call to action. Unable to fully give into sleep, afraid I might miss the call.  Anticipation filled my mind as I lay thinking about how this could be the night. Eventually, the awaited call would come and I would jump out of my bed and rush out the door.

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Hours would pass as my sister and I would bathe troubled brows, put pressure on lower backs, and talk women through each contraction; helping them to relax, easing their pain, whispering words of encouragement and love into the ear, and words of the life that was to soon come. Long painful minutes often stretched into back breaking hours of bending over beds with no thought of our comfort, only thoughts of helping to ease and comfort others.

How many time have I held a hand as life struggled to make its way into this world, to take it’s first breath? 50? 60? It’s a moment that takes your breath away, Unexplainable, sacred, and Holy. A moment celebrated with laughter, tears, and relief. And I was honored to be present for so many.

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As I sat by my sister’s bedside Christmas Eve 2017, I reflected on how much the last days and hours ushering life out was much the same as ushering life in.

For weeks I lay in my bed at night, phone by my side, a pile of clothes ready to be put on at a moments notice. But this time instead of waiting with great excitement and anticipation, there was anxiety, my chest tight with sorrow and worry. Tears wet my pillow, as I would see my sister in my mind, wasting away. I was haunted by the thought of losing her. I needed to be there with her, with all my heart. You see, she had been by my side since I was born. She was there for every major and minor event of my life and my children’s lives. I had to be able to care for her, yet I was afraid that I wouldn’t be called in time to rush to her side.

My sister loved Christmas and last wish was to be home for Christmas Eve (The night of their annual Christmas party. She wanted to be with her family. It was a very subdued and quiet party in the living room that night. We all took turns going into her bedroom where there were several chair by her bedside and soft Christmas music playing. Some came in to say their good byes, others crying, some just sitting in silent vigil.

When the hour was getting late, reluctantly, her grandchildren were taken home and tucked into their beds. Christmas music was turned off and we whispered into Sherry’s ear that she had made it through Christmas with the family. All the kids were home in their beds and that it was Ok for her to go to her new home to her eternal life with Jesus.

I was blessed to be able to stay, with a few other family members, to spend one last night with my sister. To tend to her needs, to make sure she was comfortable. I bathed her brow with my tears, Knowing that her pain would soon be over. Whispered words of encouragement and love into her ear, words of the life that was soon to come with Jesus. I held her hand for long emotionally painful minutes that silently slipped into back breaking hours of bending over her bed with no thought of my own comfort, just wanting, needing to do anything and everything I could to ease the last hours of this precious Woman, that had done so very much for me, and that I loved more then life itself !

How many time have I held a hand as life struggled to make its way out of this world, to take it’s final breath? One!  It was a moment that took my breath away, Unexplainable, sacred, and Holy. A moment celebrated with tears, sorrow and yet relief. And I was honored to be present for her birthing into Heaven.

My heart aches now, more then I ever thought possible. I have never hurt this bad or this deeply before. Speechless and sometimes breathless, but never hopeless, and maybe even a little jealous. WHY?

Because: I know My Redeemer lives, and I know that my sister is with Him in heaven today, seeing Him face to face. Oh, How I envy her that. For it is what I long for most in life. I long to see my Jesus and thank him for all that he has done in my life! To thank him for giving me such an amazing sister and family, and allowing me to love others as He has loved me for as long as He has planed for me to do so!

Beautiful things rarely happen in our lives without pain being present. Pain is part of life. I don’t fully understand that, or even like it, to be honest. But I know that without darkness we would not know what light is. With out sickness we do not appreciate health, and without pain we could not truly experience joy. I do not understand God and why he chooses to do what He does. I argue with Him quite often, thinking I know better then He does. I also know that He is big enough to handle my little temper tantrums.

His ways are not my ways. I have learned to trust and respect that, surrendering every aspect of my life to Him! Because I know the plans He has for me, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give me a future and a hope! (Jer 29: 11)

Mother’s Day

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Photos by Kellie Trenkle 2012

 

This mother’s day is a special one for me. You see this will be my last mother’s day with one of my children living at home. In July our youngest son gets married and will move out to start a family of his own. After 37 years of marriage, this will be the first time in 36 years that my husband and I will be on our own.

ALONE!

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I know that I will go through a short time of drastic mood changes as I will rejoice with our son one minute then realize I won’t see his cheerful face everyday. When my granddaughter, now 14, walks down the isle as a brides maid looking like a beautiful young woman, I will wonder where the time has gone. My Eldest grandson is serving a Best Man, How cool is that? I know that is going to make me loose it, and I’ll cry for sure when my eldest son leaves with his beautiful wife and my new grandson to head back to Florida after the wedding. But I am so Looking forward to so very much as well! Like my time ALONE with my husband. A second Honey moon so to speak!

We have known so many couples over our years of marriage that focused so much on their children that once the children were gone the marriage fell apart. So we have worked hard over the years to keep our love fresh and growing, and very much alive!

I am looking forward to evenings where we can have a lovely candle light dinner and not have to send the kids away first or worry that they might come home early and mess up our plans for the evening.

I’m looking forward to hot baths where I can completely relax without having anyone stand outside the bathroom door saying “Mom, do you know where my cell phone charger is?” Or outside the locked bedroom door with the same question. LOL! You mom’s know what I am talking about!

I am so blessed to have Four wonderful adult children that love the Lord first and then love us accordingly! Three Beautiful grandchildren, with hopes of more, or as my Dear Friend Thomas Suchy (my daughter in law’s father) says “MANY MORE!”

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all My Mother friends! Those with children of their own and those who are mothers of the heart! May God richly bless you and may you truly saturate yourselves in the love of your children while they are still at home! The time will come soon enough, and sooner then you think, when there are no more little heads to kiss good night, sleeping in the room beside yours!

 

 

Is it Break Time Yet?

1-14650210_10205737911167379_4653442431967828716_n  I know she’s getting nervous about trying something new when I hear the words

“Is It Break time Yet?”

I would love to introduce to you one of my favorite people on the world, Artist Bobi Reinhart. I have been blessed to know Bobi for a little over 2 years now. We met when I started being an art instructor at Ye Olde Art Shoppe in my home town. It didn’t take long to see that we were kindred spirits and to become quick friends. I just love spending time with Bobi because She is like a light when she walks into a room. She is also an amazing artist. Although she would say to that statement, “Really?”

Bobi has one of those rare gifts of being able to paint a knife painting that up close loses definition, but when you step away from it, it becomes crystal clear and stunning.  She has worked on pretty much a smaller scaled canvas for years. But since her style lends to standing back, A fellow artist gifted her with a larger canvas measuring 18″ x 36″. After having a mild panic attach about painting something that big, she came up with the plan to start the concept small, then enlarge it.

She began working through the composition on a small canvas like she was used to using. I have to say as she was painting the first waterfall on the small canvas board (above on the left ) I was struck with very strong emotions, I nearly started crying as it stuck me as so beautiful a place, that I wanted to go there. Before she was even done with it I offered to buy it; and I couldn’t wait to see her full size piece.

Once she completed the first she did another on a slightly larger canvas the same ratio of the larger canvas she would be painting the final piece onto.

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Since it was a long tall canvas she had to stretch the middle of the falls more to get her focal points where she wanted them. But this was easily done and moved rather quickly.

Now I have seen much of Bobi’s work from over the years and know what she is capable of, so I wanted to challenge her to stretch a little further then her comfort zone. I suggested that she do something in all blues instead of the realistic colors from her reference photo. I showed her a few abstract paintings in the blues to give her the idea of what I was talking about. This added a level of difficulty to the painting because not only was she trying to look at her reference photo but also at an abstract blue painting to remind herself to use only blues. So once more she did a small paintings in the blues to use as a reference for the larger painting.

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Finally the day came for her to start on the big canvas. She was asking for break before class even started, but we all encouraged her that she was going to do great. She decided to start by painting the whole canvas a thin layer of blue then started with her knife work.

She only had time to work on this project once a seek during class time so it took her a while to finish up. I invited her to my studio a couple of times to give her more painting time between classes. I really just wanted more time visiting with her because she is so fun to be with!

For a while she struggled with wanting to add yellow to the painting as the original reference photo shows warm sunlight on the leaves of the trees and the bright green moss on the rocks. In the end she did leave some of the yellow in the trees but replaced most of the yellow in the moss area with lovely shades of teal green. Making the shaded areas of the painting in purple/blues and the sunlit areas in the green/blues.

Bobi is such a caricature. I know she’s getting nervous about trying something new when I hear the words “Is It Break time Yet?”

We all love her so much, that It has even gotten to the point that if she misses coming to class, we all jokingly say, “how will we know when it’s break time without Bobi here?”  

Bobi is such a caricature. I know she’s getting nervous about trying something new when I hear the words “Is It Break time Yet?”

We all love her so much, that It has even gotten to the point that if she misses coming to class, we all jokingly say, “how will we know when it’s break time without Bobi here?” Lets just say we had a lot of break time on this painting!

Yakso Falls    18″ x 36″ x 1″ gallery wrapped canvas $450.00

This piece came together so beautiful. The reflections of the water, the beautiful glowing in the trees. I love the sparkle of the water as it cascades down in to the pool. It is all so peaceful and calming. You should come check it out as it will be hanging at Ye Olde Art Shoppe in Myrtle Creek Oregon for several months or until sold which ever comes first!

 

Grey in Gray

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I have been absolutely slammed with wedding prep for my youngest son’s up coming marriage since returning from Florida to witness the birth of my eldest son’s first baby. Since I was there during the photo shoot (which included this amazing photo) I was quick to ask the photographer for permission to paint any of the photos she was about to take. With delight I was glad to hear her say “I was hoping you would ask that! Yes!”

View More: http://naomilynnphotography.pass.us/grey-thomas-miller

Photo by permission of naomilynn.com

Even as I sat on the sofa in my son’s home looking at the photos that the baby’s aunt Naomi took, I have been anticipating painting this photo. My son’s mother in law even offered to get me some art supplies so I could get started. But I chose to put aside my painting and just hold the baby for as long as I was able, before I had to head home to Oregon. SO even though I am slammed with wedding prep, I still snuck in a few hours here and there to paint this piece entitled Grey in Gray.

My students had asked me if I would teach a class on values once I returned home. So I thought what would be more appropriate then a gray values painting of baby Grey. (Even though I would have painting him for any excuse and will be for a long time I’m sure.)

So like always I started by taking my photo into photoshop and turning it into a black and white. Then I had a nice 8 x 10 glossy printed up and printed out a b&w photo copy as well.

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Using my values chart on the photo I then use the photo copy to write the corresponding value on the areas I had just checked. I did this twice as the photo was dark then I wanted the painting to be. The colored photo looked light and fresh but once I transferred it to b&w it was a little darker and I wanted a lighter feeling to the painting. So once all my basic values were charted I stepped them up 2 or 3 values and re-wrote out the corrected numbers on another photo copy.

To avoid any mistakes I then threw away the first photo copy with the original numbers on it. I did not want to take the chance of picking up the wrong copy and getting the values all mixed up on the painting. So then I blocked in the basic values on the different areas of the painting.

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Being that this was a painting of a very soft baby, I wanted the canvas to be very soft as well without a lot of grain to the canvas left. So I primed it again with a layer of gray gesso before beginning the actual painting, then sanded it smooth. This was one of the smoothest paintings I have ever done. I really like having a smooth canvas and it gave the affect I wanted it to have. I did find myself painting and then taking a dry brush and dabbing at it to smooth out and blend colors. I really haven’t done that much before but it gave the skin a very natural soft texture that looks and feels very much like baby skin.

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Once I got all the areas of the painting blocked in, I let the painting dry for a couple of days. Then when I was able to squeeze in a little more time on him I started to put more detail and more subtle value changes in. This was so much fun as I saw with every stroke that my grandson’s face was taking shape. My daughter in Law’s face came together just as quickly and beautifuly. I love this part of the painting as you really do start getting a 3 D affect as you put in more and more values.

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So again, it was time to let the painting rest and dry.

NOTE: I used Golden Open white titanium paint for this painting and mixed it with the regular Golden brand acrylic paint. Acrylic paints dry very fast, but the new Golden OPEN paint will keep the dry time open for a much longer time, giving me the time I need to blend subtle value changes! Which I love.

But unfortunately, this paint reactivates up to and past 3 weeks. Which means that this morning when I went to put on the finishing touches like adding final highlights, instead of adding, it actually lifted the dry color off, creating and very blotchy look, Which I, well, lets put it this way “Hate is a strong word, but I really really , really don’t like you! ” I can’t help myself!  I burst into song lyrics at random points all the time. LOL! i would always rather laugh then cry and that was my option now. So I decided to sing!

So to fix this paint problem, I had to spray the painting with a clear spray varnish to seal off the underpainting, so that nothing would move once I started to put on the highlights and hair details. This worked great. I hope you like it! 😀

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Thank you for taking your time to read about my work process. If you would like to check out my other pieces please click jackielittlemiller.com or check out my Etsy shop by clicking the icon below!

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In Great Hands

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My Son Leigh with his new son Grey- my photo

I just spent two of the loveliest weeks of my life in Florida! No, I didn’t go for the fun in the sun, or to get a great tan. I didn’t even go to Disney World I barely went out of the house. I went and sat in a little house with a lovely family. My Daughter in Law’s parents home to be exact, and just held my new grandson in my hands! It doesn’t get better then that!

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Photo By Leigh Miller

I was invited to come for the birth of my grand son Grey Thomas Miller, who was very accommodating by arriving the day after I arrived in Florida. I was able to help coach mom through the birthing process and was there to see my grandson make his grand entrance into this world.

I have been privileged to coach many a woman through labor. I have seen probably 50 baby’s be born. But it is always more special when it is your own grandchild being born. But to make it even more special, Little Grey Thomas came into this world born in the caul. That is with the water bag in tack. The first thing the midwives said was “Ah, we have ourselves a prophet!” For it is an old wives tale that baby’s born in the caul are prophets!

True or not true, it was a cool thing to be said over my newborn grandson. For we are a family of believers and our prayers have covered and will continue to cover this child knowing our God will bless him through out his life!

 

My time in Florida with Grey was short as I only was able to stay for 2 weeks. I had expected it to be hard to leave him. Which it was! But it was not as hard as it could have been. Let me explain.

Emily’s parents were such gracious hosts. In fact they made me feel right at home from the first moment. Their home was very much like my home. Small but filled with love and laughter.

Lynn (Emily’s mom) apologized that she was not a fancy cook, more then once. What she didn’t know was that I am not a fancy cool either. In fact I am very limited in what I can make, food wise. So something she was embarrassed by was actually a comfort to me, as her cooking was much like my own. LOL! God is so very good.

She also told me “please make yourself at home and go to the kitchen and get something to eat when ever you are hungry! It will bless me to see you going through my cupboards and getting food out of the fridge. I mean it!” I giggled and said “I know you do, and I will do just that Is that is the same speech I give my guests!”

But the most precious part of this trip was that Thomas and Lynn were blessed to have another pair of hands to help with the arrival and care of their first grandchild. That may sound simplistic, but I have seen so many grandparents treat grandchildren as something to fight over and compete for. So not knowing the Suchy’s well before this trip I didn’t know what to expect in that area.But there was none of that in this home, and I was so blessed to share grand parenting duty with them both! I have never felt in competition with any of my children’s in laws. In Fact, I feel that their new family is our new family too.

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Photo by NAOMI LYNN PHOTOGRAPHY

 

My husband and I are glad to share the honor of helping to raise our new grandson with the Suchy family. We are thankful that they are God fearing, God loving people. That is why it was not as hard for me to leave baby grey in Florida and return to my family In Oregon as it could have been. As I told them, I have no worries to take home with me! What a blessing it is to be able to say that.

Yes I cried! Poor little Grey was wet with tears, but then it was over. I know Grey is in great hands, surrounded by people/ family who love him dearly! Thank you Lord for allowing me to be a part of the birth of little Grey Thomas. And thank you for allowing me to be a part of the Suchy family as well! God Bless them richly!

 

 

Zebra Hearts

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It’s valentines week! So I decided you post a blog featuring my most recent piece titled Zebra Hearts. This piece was done on scratch board and the painting with water color to give a little more detention.

This was a really fun project! I felt like a little kid again. I remember making our own scratch boards in 5th grade art class. This Scratch Board is a piece of masonite with a special ceramic coating and then a black ink scratch layer.

I started by tracing my sketch onto the solid black board with a white tracing paper. Since it was stripes I actually filled in the spaces with scribbled white so that I could keep the black and white stripes separated. It may not seem like it bout working with black and white stripes can get very confusing at times. This is the first scratch board I have done since 5th grade but I guess it is like riding a bike, because I never really forgot. I started by taking my x-acto knife and making hair like scratches on the surface of the white marked areas. I made sure to go in the direction of the hairs in my reference photo that I was granted permission to use by Photographer Sheilah Swanson who works at Wild Life Safari in Winston Oregon.

I made sure to make very light and fine lines in the areas where I wanted it to be lighter but not white. the zebra’s muzzle is one of those places. Hear I did directional scratches and some cross hatching.muzzle

The ears had longer hairs in them, and so I simply made longer intentional scratches so that the hair would look natural and lot like fence posts.ear

Adding a reflection in the eye was a little tricky as I really didn’t want a high light just a little bit of a haze to show the reflection of the sky. here again I did very fine scratches and cross hatching.eyes

When I had everything scratched in place I slowly used the flat of the x-acto knife and scraped the back ground away. I think it leaves a cool natural looking background. once that back ground was established I used water color paints to the white surface to give detention. I wasn’t sure it would accept the paint but it soaked right in and wouldn’t life out. so if you do this, build up your colors slowly as you wouldn’t get a second chance to lighten it  back up. Once the paint was dry, which was with in minutes, I scratched out the very white white highlights. As for signing it, well I simply scratched that isn too!signature

Final result is as 8″x 10″ Piece titled “Zebra Love” ready for framing. $250.00.

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If you are interested in purchasing this or any of my art just contact me at Jackielittlemiller.com

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Check out my other creations at

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Looking Back

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Have you ever just stopped and looked back on your life to see how far you have come? Do you take time so reflect on what the Lord has done in your life and how you have changed through the years? I love glance back to see where I have been. This helps me envision all the possibilities I could still lie ahead.

I find that I get so frustrated with myself in my art sometimes . For instance this painting above on the right. It is one of my latest pieces. You will remember my struggles to get her face just right. I repainted her face a million times it seemed, before I got it to a place where I was totally pleased with it. Why was this so frustrating to me? Of course my thought process was that I just wasn’t good at painting anymore. Which isn’t true, but it felt true. The actual problem is actually just the opposite. You see, the longer you do something, the clearer you see things. This is actually what drives us to continue on the path of improvement.

It’s kind of like when a person needs glasses. Before I got my glasses I really didn’t know how much I wasn’t seeing. I probably needed glasses years before I got them, but it was a slow process of loosing the ability to see things clearly. Once I got my glasses I was amazed how much detail was in the world that I had been missing before and didn’t even realize it.

In the same way as a beginner artist we look at our original first attempts at art and are pretty darn pleased with our selves. Which we should be! But as we progressed in our skills we start to see colors and details in things that we never noticed before. It’s like we put on a new pair of glasses.  The funny thing is, that when I got my new glasses I didn’t beat myself up for seeing better, I was excited! This is where LOOKING BACK can really help to encourage us. It’s like taking the glasses off for a minute and seeing the blur again.

SO the first picture above was one of the first attempts I made at portraiture. I had just been gifted the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Which I highly recommend. Anyway, the first exercise they want you to do (before you read the book) is to try and draw a portrait. This first portrait is dated 1994, so it’s been a while. This is that same daughter that I drew back then, that I just painted. Of course she was a little girl then and is a grown woman now. I don’t know about you , but I see a huge improvement over the years.

At the time I was a young mother of 4 and didn’t have a lot of time to devote to drawing. If I had been able to work on my art everyday, Like I do now, I could have progressed much quicker. This encourages me because I know that as I spend more time devoted to my art today, the faster I improve. This is very exciting to me.

I hope you will spend some time looking back to see how far you have come in life. Let it challenge you to move forward with expectation and anticipation.