Saturday, August 22, 2015

Why Have I Not Posted in So Long?.....

The answer to that question is a difficult thing to share.
Hard to put the tough times out there on display for others to see and form opinions about. 
But I'm going to share with you in spite of my fear of vulnerability....

School starts back up on Monday and I should be posting about upcoming art class time slots, lessons and workshops and sharing pictures of all the paintings I've been working on, but I can't do those things.
I can't because our contractor ripped my dream studio to shreds and created a nightmare in its place. 

The incomplete structure currently sits with construction debris all around. It is an unsafe shell of what was meant to be. Propped up on the inside with long planks of wood because the header beam is not structurally sound. I feel a knot in my stomach just looking at it. Sitting there. Payments on the loan I took out loom over my head. What do I do? 
We trusted him. 
We were excited about all the construction plans. It all sounded like things were going to be great.
We paid him in full because he pleaded with us to do so, saying he desperately needed the cash flow to get things back on track for his company. He sat in our home at our dining room table as we handed him the last payment check and told us and our family that our job was his number one priority. We believed it. He made grand gestures but left us only broken promises, lies, heartache, and a huge financial burden. 

We've been through the whole gamut of emotions: anger, frustration, pity, compassion, sadness, despair, hope, disappointment and and uneasy numbness.

All summer long we tried to believe the excuses and hope for the best. 
We waited.
We were patient.
But things have only gotten worse.

Is everything ruined beyond repair? 
To this I am going to say, "No".
No, I believe there will be a light at the end of this stressful, dimly lit, poorly constructed tunnel.

We are going to press on.
I don't want to feel depressed and stressed out over it any more. 
And I won't hide it as if it was a failure of my own making, my own stupidity. 
I can't think that way; so I fight against those thoughts. 
Bad things happen.
Sometimes we trust in the wrong people.
I will not let the weight of it hold me down.

When I told my husband that I had started job hunting on the internet, do you know what he did. He told me to stop. He said this Art Studio was my dream and we are not going to let it go down like this! Gosh I love that guy. How he lifts my heart and pushes me forward! I am so thankful. 
His parents and my mom and sister have also been a steady and constant source of support in the long drawn out day to day of it. And the way they have come alongside us and lifted the burden by being sounding boards and prayer support has meant so much. They've helped us reach out to obtain good legal council and advice on our options.

Then recently I opened up and shared with some close friends at church. Oh my heart for these ladies. I loved the fact that they did not get on a "contractor bashing binge" or lead me down the path of negativity which would be so easy to do. Instead, they gave me encouragement and hope, and they lifted the situation in prayer. They reminded me that in life, when we are pursuing a passion that has been laid on our heart, and we encounter obstacles and great difficulties, it does not mean that we should give up. It instead is an opportunity to pray forward and see how our God moves. Not that the "bad guy" will always do a complete turn around and do what's right, or we will get back all that was lost. My God is not a genie in a bottle. He is bigger than that and His ways are always better than what we would try to tell Him to do. Sometimes the answer is wrapped up in a change in our own perspective. Seeing the bigger picture and knowing that somehow, it's all going to be alright. We have just this one finite life, with so little we really control so why not loosen the grip a little and watch what happens when we let our Savior take over.

Please, dear friends I ask you that if you are a like minded believer would you lift this in prayer. Pray for wisdom and direction in our words and actions. Pray for our contractor and others he has worked with that are also facing difficulties right now. And then give praise to the Lord for He is good. He is good when our life is going great and He is good when we feel like all is falling apart. He is unchanging and ever worthy of praise.

I will open this Art Studio. I believe it will happen.

And the celebration will be BIG!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Studio slowly progressing....

That's what we've been doing a lot of lately.

Progress on the studio is coming along... s l o w l y....

But I am happy to report that we have gorgeous windows and doors installed.
 There are lots of beams and wood supports going on in the carport area....
 The loft boards are in place for my canvas storage area.
I will have an exterior door to the bathroom so that we will have an easy access outdoor bathroom for gatherings. The great thing is I can lock the interior bathroom door and not even worry about curious children going from the bathroom into the studio and messing with things they aren't suppose to. Perfect.
You can see it here in this photo. The walkway goes from the back patio to the driveway/garage.
 Here you can see where the bathroom is framed out on one side under the loft.
 Looking at the opposite side I will also have a smaller loft area for storage (great idea our contractor had to use a couple of feet into the roof space of the carport).
 Here is a closer picture of where the roof lines connect and where the small loft is located.

 Love my doors and windows.

So ready to continue this process and see it completed....hopefully soon, very soon.
Please, please, pretty please.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Framing the Studio

Framing on the studio began a week ago. It was a great feeling to see it start to take shape.

There were a few setbacks and delays...and some rain. But our contractor is the best and we are very excited to see all of the finishing touches in the coming weeks.

Jeremy is just a little bit excited about how big the carport is going to be....I'm sensing he's having visions of a grand outdoor workshop area. ;)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Building an Art Studio

So many titles could have been used for this post...."a dream come true" being one of the top choices, but I decided to keep it right to the point.

My Art Studio is officially under construction!

This has certainly been a dream for me for many years, and now it is almost surreal seeing it come to life. I am so grateful for the most supportive husband and family. Thankful for my sister drawing up design specifications based on my "completely not to scale" sketches. Thankful for my father in law's input and calculations that helped us know what we were getting into. And thankful for the contractor that the Lord blessed us with. He has made this so much more than I ever dreamed it could be by going above and beyond on all aspects of design and construction.

my studio dream board
(the other bigger dream board is actually on my Pinterest)

Here 's the "before" shot....

breaking ground

Our back yard slopes down a hill so all of the concrete that was poured also included some serious deep and wide footers and retaining wall. Gotta have a firm foundation.

We all placed our hand prints and names in the concrete. It will be covered by flooring but I took pictures and we will know it is there. :)

This one will show. It's on the corner edge of the new extended driveway....under the new carport that the hubby is so excited about. ;-)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Artworks

I am happy to share two new artworks with you. They are both large, heavily textured acrylic paintings on canvas. Each artwork has a special meaning to me and I've shared a little about each under the images.

P.S In case you might have name is just a watermark on these digital images....I didn't sign it that big. ha, ha!

faith: it does not make things easy, it makes them possible

"For with God nothing shall be impossible."  - Luke 1:37

This painting was birthed in one of the times that I had the chance to turn my worship music up loud and let it fill the room around me as I let my praise flow forth in the form of colors and movement across the canvas. I cannot tell you how these experiences of praise through art feed my soul. What a gift it is to praise the God of all creation in whatever way we are able. I cannot sing worth anything but I feel my heartbeat in the sounds my colors make as they cry out from these artworks to the One who makes all things possible.

close ups of the textures including the gold mica flakes I used:

Lotus Blossoms: inspired by photographs I took of the beautiful flowers in Cambodia when we were there on a mission trip a couple of summers ago.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what He has done from beginning to end." - Ecclesiastes 3:11

This artwork brings back beautiful and hopeful memories. Memories of a land and a people I came to love and a missionary named Mandi who serves there.  As she and others make their home across this world in foreign lands sharing the gospel of Christ with others for the first time, we lift them up in prayer. We have hope for the light of Christ to bring redemption and freedom and to fill hearts and minds with the joyful promise of eternity in heaven. 

close ups of the texture on flower petals:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Beijing Part 3 The International Children's Art Festival

The post we've all been waiting for is finally here!
After hours of going through photos, editing and making collages I think I finally have a good collection of images to make a well rounded "picture book" of this wonderful 5 day artistic event.

I wish I could have published so many more full size images but you would have been scrolling through it all forever!!!

The morning of opening ceremonies a group of artists were asked to do a live painting demonstration creating a banner of popular fairy tale characters from different countries.
Silvia, Lindsey, Jackie, Quinton

Some very talented local Chinese artists also created a couple of banner paintings depicting traditional landscapes.

It was almost overwhelming how many photographers and film crews were there!

Oh, and I'm so super excited to post this list of children's artworks that went with me to China!!!
Check them out. So proud of these kids. Some artworks were from friends and family and others from our local elementary schools and middle school. They were on display in a special gallery in the park where the Art Festival was held in combination with an International Reading & Book Festival. These artworks stayed in China with ICAF and will travel again in September/October to another Art Festival  in a different city in China to be on display once more before they return home to Texas.

Here are some photos of the gallery space:
Each day at the festival I taught three workshops and in the time between each workshop Jeremy and I could walk around and observe or take part in the multitude of interesting activities available. We also had time for a nice lunch break, resting in the shade under the trees or grabbing some ice cream treats (which are very popular in Beijing, yummy!)

Look at these adorable little ones getting creative.
Oh, I especially adore the little girl practicing her Chinese characters with the giant brush!
Here are some of my favorite people! The ICAF staff, volunteers, and awesome international artists at work. The friendships made on this trip are my most treasured thing of all. Love you guys!
Thank you Hattie, Sean, Sasha, and Grace and everyone!

Here are some photos from my Tie Dye T-Shirt making workshops. So FUN!

Here we are on our last morning all together at our hotel before walking to the festival with our superstar guide, Sean. 
Sean, Nina, Jackie, Quinton, Lindsey, Silvia, Martina 

A quick note my friends if you get to read this post:
Nina, my girls want you to come do glittery face and arm paintings for them someday.
And Quinton, they want to make elaborate princess hats with you...or maybe a princess dragon hat combination, lol.
Lindsey, my girls and all my nieces loved the bracelets I braided for them from your fabric scraps, thank you.
Silvia and Martina my girls and I LOVE the children's books we got from each of you and we are going to look online for more of your books for our collection. 
Hugs to each of you. Hope to see you at the next art festival. xo

And now,
a few more images for you from the festival park....

Yay! ICAF China!!! 
Been there. Done that. 
Looking forward to going back for the next one!

*P.S. thanks Lindsey for providing this super cool colorful installation art as background for my celebration pic! ;-) Wahoo!!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Beijing Part 2

It was a good thing we wore our walking shoes because they got a good workout this day from sun up to sun down (even though you really couldn't actually see the sun in the sky in Beijing because of the haze of smog in the air).

example of morning smog from our hotel room window:

We explored the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and had Peking Duck for dinner in a very fancy restaurant. Then we visited a place referred to as the Times Square of China in downtown Beijing, and a popular Hutong where they served the most unusual and quite unappealing fried things on a will see what I mean when you scroll down through this post. Beware of the video. It might make you squirm a bit. seriously, it made me squirm

 Notice the enclosed motor scooter in the bottom corner of the collage....well, we were so weary of walking that Jeremy, Sasha and I all squeezed in the back of that thing and paid him to drive us the three or four miles we would have had to walk at the end of the day to our restaurant. Squished and cramped together weaving in and out of traffic perilously close to other bikes, motorcycles and full size cars - yep, it was still totally worth it.

Having traditional Peking Duck in Beijing (where it originated during the imperial era) was more than a meal. It was an experience.

This was the "Times Square" area of Beijing. A mix of some of the most expensive stores, hotels, and restaurants right alongside street vendors, souvenir shops and a very interesting Hutong serving up delicacies you couldn't pay me to try. 
In case you didn't see those fried scorpions, seahorses, and starfish well enough in the collage you go.


A rare find:
Beijing's oldest Protestant Church, Gangwashi Christian Church (also called St. Joseph's cathedral) recently celebrated the 150th anniversary of it's founding. The architecture is a beautiful example of early 20th century Romanesque revival and stands starkly amidst the modern bustling city that closely surrounds it.

One interesting thing we observed throughout our visit was the groups of seemingly random people who would gather together in various places around the city (usually in the evening) to do synchronized dances. Some looked like country line dancing and others were more like a mix of yoga and ballroom dance. They were all set to music and completely mesmerizing to watch. There was one going on in the church courtyard when we were there.