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 Studio Diary

People ask me if I ever paint anything other than portraits. I have in the past and I can definitely appreciate paintings of other subject matter, but I feel called to paint portraits because they are reflections of the eternal. We are made in the image and likeness of God! (Gen. 1:26)

I see this so clearly in the open, wide eyed gaze of a child with face unmarred by the cares of this world. I strive to portray the dignity of children because it is innate to every child.

Martin Luther King Jr. said “The whole concept of the “image of God ” is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected. .. . And this gives [man] a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity. And we must never forget this. . . there are no gradations in the image of God.”

I strongly believe in the dignity of all human life.

But there is more, much more!

I see the reflection of God in the gentle look of fondness on the face of siblings or in the expression of a child who is looking lovingly outside the boundaries of the canvas towards their mother. One of my favorite portraits of my oldest daughter is of her holding out a daffodil towards someone unseen. To me, it will forever be a portrait of Hali and my grandmother and a memory of a beautiful early spring day when Hali was 18 months old and of my grandmother picking flowers with her and putting them in an old egg basket.

Another aspect of reflecting the image of God is joy! Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God takes great delight in us and rejoices over us with singing. I Iove to portray a thoughtful, wide eyed expression but sometimes a person is overflowing with joy that just has to be expressed!

I am certainly aware that the subjects of my portraits are not perfect, but I take to heart what John Calvin said: “We are not to reflect on the wickedness of men but to look to the image of God in them, an image which, covering and obliterating their faults, an image which, by its beauty and dignity, should allure us to love and embrace them.”

My goal to is capture my subject at their best, so that the response of the viewer is not “What a well executed portrait!” but “Oh, they are so precious to me!” or "This is a person worthy of respect!".

We can see God’s glory on display in all of creation; the crashing of waves, the vastness of the night sky, the breathtaking beauty of the mountains - everywhere we look, nature displays His majesty. There is limitless inspiration to be found there, but it is mankind who is made in His image!

I don't mind winter, but today I am dreaming of spring. If it was sunny and just a little warmer, I would entertain thoughts of how satisfying it will be to wrestle the garden back to order after the messiness that winter always brings. But it's cold and gray and spitting snow

and I want to move on to spring! This painting by the naturalist painter, Gari Melchers, has such a wonderful feel of a day so perfect that the doors and windows could be open to bring the outside in. This is my dream for today as I get back to work in my cold studio!

This week I delivered two portraits to a gorgeous home in Knoxville,TN. One was of a wonderfully precocious boy who divides his time between Knoxville and Asheville, NC. The second was of his two beautiful cousins sitting on rocks surrounded by hydrangeas. I

wasn't able to photograph Aaron in the same setting as his cousins, but I was inspired by a portrait hanging in Biltmore in Asheville of the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted painted by John Singer Sargent.

When possible, a final sitting is wonderful for checking eye color and making any necessary minor adjustments. And it's always fun to see my portrait subjects again! Little M.C. put her own little brush strokes on her rock!

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