Directions and Paths

This summer, between graduating from AmeriCorps*NCCC – FEMA Corps, Class XIX in Vicksburg, spending a week in Scotland with family, looking after my twin niece and nephew (the beebops), helping my parents around the house, and heading to Edisto Island, SC before making my way out to St. Louis to start AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team (ERT), I made an attempt at building up my portfolio for the possibility of applying to graduate school.  I created almost 20 stretcher bars and found myself staying up late at night to find time to get ideas onto canvas.

For several years now, I have focused my artwork on my journey of faith, diving into the small details and struggles of living out a faith that calls me not to be comfortable.  My work has never been about pleasing anyone but myself and sharing what God has put on my heart, but I always seem to struggle with trying to seek approval from others, when I know the paintings are not for them, but for the relationship between God and myself.

While I painted, I jammed out to theBlast.fm and the Bastille station on Pandora, sat back and sketched while family watched the news and Ink Master (and Tattoo Nightmares), and read Art & Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland, when inspiration was lacking.

While a couple paintings are not completely finished at this time (and definitely when the following images were taken), I am satisfied with the progress that I made this summer.

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Above is one of the first paintings that I completed, titled “Behind the Mask.”  The idea behind it is that we rarely are the person whom everyone interacts with.  For myself, I have a ‘darker’ side that many people no longer recognize because the stoic mask that I put on.  I believe that all of us, to some extent, are someone else when nobody is around.  And while it is easy to slip behind the mask, it is much harder to reveal who we truly are by pealing away the layers that others see.

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The story of St. Scholastica and St. Benedict is one that made me think of my niece and nephew.  As St. Benedict began to head out to establish the monasteries that bear his name, his sister urged him to stay and talk with her.  When he went to leave, St. Scholastica prayed to God and a massive storm prevented St. Benedict from leaving.  He turned to his sister and asked why, her response was that God listened to her prayers, even though her own brother wouldn’t and that God wanted them to talk.  That background frames this portrait of my God-daughter and nephew.

NOTE: This is one of the few paintings left that I am still currently working on.

IMG_0548The drawings and sketches in my sketchbook have always been darker in nature to the paintings that have come to fill my studio space and bedroom.  This started out as something different (along the lines of a Day of the Dead painting) and it kind of morphed into its present state of being.  For me, this was one of the funnest paintings of the summer, mostly because it reveals a darker side of who I am and the demons that we face within ourselves.

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This image comes from a sketch that I drew several months ago that I kept on going back to.  The three images within the painting are thumbnails of the pieces I created the last semester of college that made up my senior show.  The idea behind this is the fact that so many times I base my works off of those three images and that has come to consume who I am as both an artist and follower of Christ.  This was a painting that allowed me to release myself from those ties and move on with my works of art.  And while many of my current works share the same theme, I do not want my work to be held back in any way, shape or fashion.

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The five paintings above make up the first half of my work this summer.  They are a range of ideas and methods, but they all reflect some aspect of who I am.  One of my most successful pieces (IMHO) is the image of the figure ripping open his chest and revealing the darkness within.  That image can be found throughout several sketchbooks and was one of the pieces that I  wanted to paint while in school, but never had the time to complete it for my Senior Showcase.

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Upon my return from Scotland, I started the largest piece of the summer.  I’ve come to refer this painting as my ‘Stained Glass’ piece, but the title I’ve come to settle on is “Through the Broken Windows.”  I have enjoyed painting this, mostly because it is so different from all the other works that I have created over the years.

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After I decided that I was just going to focus on completing the pieces I had already started, I got a moment of inspirations and started a spur-of-the-moment piece that carries the most meaning and symbolism this summer.  Almost two months ago, 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot Crew, including an individual that I had worked in Crown King during my time with AmeriCorps*NCCC and had come to respect, were killed by the flames of the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona.  This painting has become a dedication to those young men who passed away, and those that have survived them and continue to fight.  “Walking on Hollowed Ground” is for all the Wildland Firefighters and their friends and families.

My paintings have evolved into a life of their own, and while this summer is coming to an end, I still have several blank canvases that I will be taking with me to St. Louis, along with my sketchbook and camera.

I hope you all have enjoyed a look behind the curtain of my art.

God Bless and PEACE

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1 Comment »

  1. painting give some horror and suspense thought. nice anyway 🙂


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