Posts Tagged ‘norman rockwell’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 192: The Wind of our soul… Part Two

June 2, 2019


The Spirit of the Creator
View Larger Image

Last time I wrote about the Star Wars aspect of the above image…
We are not ‘a long time ago’ nor ‘far away’.
We are here, and now. Governed by an American government that is every bit as corrupt as the Galactic Empire. The Rebel Alliance here seems to have trouble getting their stuff together.

A question raised by Season Four of Madame Secretary: why would one follow the Muslim path when the world hates you? The question in that story is brought about by the plight of the Rohingya People; and the plight of the Muslim people in Palestine; the Muslim people in China; the Muslim people in the Middle East and across the globe. The Muslim people in the United States of America. Here we celebrate ‘Freedom of Religion’ while our President wants to ban all Muslim people from our country.

This was the same question raised about the first followers of Jesus. Why would you believe, when to believe means that you will die as entertainment in the Roman Coliseum?

I believe there is one Creator of the entire Universe. The God that the Muslim people pray to, five times a day, is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the One God of the Jewish race; the One God of those who follow the Christian Way. I believe that anyone who worships the Eternal, who worships the Divine, worships the One God, worships with equal devotion, regardless of the name they pray to. The Jewish nation was taught that the Name of the Creator is unpronounceable. The Name of the Creator in Hebrew, if this Name was ever written, uses characters that are four ‘breath’ sounds, in Hebrew; the Name of our Creator is the sound of our breathing.

The Creator is within every person who has ever lived; the Gift given to all; but understood by so very few. When I asked the Creator into my life, there were no ‘tongues of fire’—not even a business card falling from the sky. Nothing entered me from the outside. I simply became ‘woke’. I experienced some of the ‘religious circus’ stuff in the years that followed, but nothing came into me from the outside.

The Creator gives us the power of Choice, Knowing the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up. The Creator gives us the Choice to see the world with new eyes [the actual meaning of the word translated as repent]. And yet, so many encounter a religion that divides people by rules.

Some Biblical language instruction:
In the Hebrew scriptures, aka The Tanakh, Creation happens by means of the Spirit of the Creator, who is described as ‘ruach,’ a wind…

Hebrew | ruach: breath, wind, spirit | Original Word: רוּחַ |Part of Speech: Noun Feminine
Transliteration: ruach | Phonetic Spelling: (roo’-akh) | Definition: breath, wind, spirit

The New Testament was written in Greek [or translated from the Aramaic, into Greek]. In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, the Spirit of God promised by Jesus arrives among the followers of Jesus in the sound of a rushing wind, with ‘tongues of fire’ [there are no mentions of fires being started, or people being injured by flames]. The Greek word for ‘wind’ is pneuma [from which we get the word ‘pneumatic’]…

Πνεῦμα
Greek | pneuma: wind, spirit | Original Word: πνεῦμα, ατος, τό | Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter
Transliteration: pneuma | Phonetic Spelling: (pnyoo’-mah) | Definition: wind, spirit, breath

In traditional Chinese culture, qi or ch’i is believed to be a vital force forming part of any living entity…

qi
Qi translates as “air” [wind] and figuratively as “material energy”, “life force“, or “energy flow“. Qi is the central underlying principle in Chinese traditional medicine and in Chinese martial arts. The practice of cultivating and balancing qi is called qigong.

If humans miraculously survive for another thousand years, Star Wars will have become a legend, as well as a fantasy. The Star Wars saga may become a fairy tale read to children [possibly Star Trek, as well…].
The stories found in Holy Books will become a thousand years older…
Here’s where I get in trouble, according to many:
While the Tanakh and the New Testament, are said to be ‘the Word of God’, it is important to realize that when the events described in these books occurred, there were no journalists, no voice recorders, no pencils for that matter, nor were there notepads.

   It was not unusual for ancient narratives, poetry and rules to have been transmitted orally for several generations before being committed to writing. Before the Aramaic-derived modern Hebrew alphabet was adopted circa the 5th century BCE, the Phoenician-derived Paleo-Hebrew script was used instead for writing, and a derivative of the script still survives to this day in the form of the Samaritan script…The oldest manuscripts discovered yet, including those of the Dead Sea Scrolls, date to about the 2nd century BCE. The common traditional dating of the Pentateuch suggests it was written between the 16th century and the 12th century BCE…
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Hebrew_writings

In short, men [probably] whose only job was memory, told stories around campfires; and it was believed that these stories told the histories of people of Faith. Eventually these stories were written down on various non-acid-free scrolls, parchments, scraps of leather; and none of the original documents exist. Scripture that exists today are copies of copies of copies of copies, translated from one language to another. The Hebrew and Greek texts were translated into Latin in the early centuries of Christian history; Martin Luther was the first person to translate scripture from Latin into his colloquial language: German. Martin Luther, with the help of Gutenberg, invented the first wall posters—illustrated passages of Scripture printed on large pieces of paper, to decorate houses. The King James version of the Bible was translated from Latin into the colloquial English of the time. At present there are MANY versions of the Bible:

The Bible has been translated into many languages from the biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. As of October 2018, the full Bible has been translated into 683 languages, the New Testament has been translated into an additional 1,534 languages and Bible portions or stories into 1,133 other languages. Thus at least some portion of the Bible has been translated into 3,350 languages.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_translations#Differences_in_Bible_translations

The Prophet Isaiah

The Point: The point is that good people, with the best intentions, do things poorly; because ‘poorly’ is the best they can do. From a lot of reading, I’ve learned that English is a crummy language for translating ideas. My usual example: Greek has four separate and distinct words for connections between people that get translated in the English version of the New Testament as ‘love’. My love for ice cream is entirely different than my love for my children.

There are a lot of religious people who believe that a particular version of the Bible is the only correct version [because they believe someone who told them this]. There are a lot of religious people who believe that because ‘the Bible is the Word of God,’ they can pick out any verse in the Bible, by itself, and expect other people to believe that the sentence is absolutely correct, and appropriate to any given situation—’a teaching from the mouth of God’. Language does not work that way. The fact that someone talking to me believes they are correct, does not make it so.

I believe that the Bible is entirely true, in the original languages, for the purpose that was intended; and the time for which it was written. I cannot think of a single instance today for which these verses are true [Psalm 137: 8,9]:

8 O Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, blessed is he who repays you as you have done to us.
9 Blessed is he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

And yet, they are in the Word of God. And there is probably someone in the world who takes these verses to heart; probably as they perform genocide. They are ‘excused by god’.

There are religious people who are cheerfully heading down the Road to Armageddon, because there are specific prophetic passages in Scripture that ‘state’ that at the Right Time, Jesus will return, and the entire world will be made new. And the Right Time is ‘very close’ [it was very close, forty years ago; and long before that]. There is nothing in Scripture that presents the idea that Jesus would be returning in 2000+ years from Jesus’ resurrection; the authors of the New Testament never expected that two millennia would pass before the prophecies take place. Many of the peoples of the New Testament had expected that Jesus would raise an army to kick the Romans out of Palestine.

There are people in Congress who believe that ‘there is no need to worry about Climate Change, because Jesus is going to fix everything at the second coming’. I heard the statement myself.

Religious people do tremendous harm by making verses from the Bible apply to current events in the Americas. No one east of the Pacific Ocean in Biblical times, had a clue that there was land on the west side of the Pacific Ocean. The Americas might have even seemed like Heaven; until the invaders showed up.

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #16: Self-Image

The hardest work that someone can do is to decide to change ‘who I am’ into ‘who I want to be.’ Frequently, the internal message is, ‘there must be something wrong with me, because I feel like I’m failing.’ In my opinion, you are too close to the problem to see it clearly. It is necessary to somehow ‘step back’ from the situation, so that you can gain perspective.

Remember/realize that everything that you struggle with/against is a construct of your brain; a construct of your mind. The fact that you are reading these words is a demonstration of the problem.
If you are like me, you are looking at this screen as if there is somehow a hole in the front of your brain, that is projecting these words onto the screen; and you are reading a projection.
There is no hole. Light enters your eyeballs; the lenses in your eyeballs flip the image of this screen upside down [the nature of lenses]; light shines on your retinas; light-sensitive ‘neurons’ turn the information about the light into electro-chemical signals to your brain; portions of your brain turn that electro-chemical information into a construction which appears to your mind as if you are seeing through your eyes—as if you were looking through binoculars. What you see, what you are reading, is constructed inside your brain. When you close your eyes, the light stops; the message isn’t retained for more than a moment, inside the mind associated with the closed eyes.

Because of the ‘magic’ of computers, you are probably reading something that doesn’t really look like what I’m typing. I’m typing in a specific font, with ‘black’ ‘ink,’ on ‘white’ ‘paper’. You may be bored with black on white, and instead have your computer set to show these words as dark green on beige ‘paper’ in some sort of font that looks like calligraphy.

Who you are, to a large degree, is a construction in your brain.

Commercial Art is very much like Performance Art. You create your work for an audience of some sort. The results of that performance [often measured in dollars] determine your sense of ‘success’.
I received another Award this last week. The third Award this year from the same organization. My Amazon KDP royalties for this month total… [drum roll]

$0.04

I can usually buy a cup of coffee with my royalties, as long as I don’t do it at Starbucks.

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, there was a clear distinction between Commercial Art and Fine Art. Art created for commerce was somehow beneath the ‘great’ artists. Norman Rockwell, easily one of the great illustrators in America, was always ashamed that he created Commercial Art. He was taught to be ashamed of his success. As time went on, the necessities of printed magazine art required him to use tools [like an opaque projector] and photographs, in order to meet deadlines. He loved his work; but always felt that he should be painting from life, as his heroes did.

When I ventured out on this Illustrator gig, I wanted to illustrate Adventure Stories. I studied the great illustrators of the 19th and 20th Centuries; and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I wanted to use realism to illustrate adventure stories. The sort of books one could find in libraries, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth.
I spent about 10 years, honing my skills, and learning to illustrate digitally. Sadly, the Children’s Illustration market left me behind. There are few illustration opportunities for Adventure illustration for children, using adult characters. There was a time when Children’s Books were just about the same as books for adults, but with illustrations and less gore.

I have an improbable goal of bringing it back.

Artie Shaw [his anglicized name] was one of the most popular musicians in the ‘Swing Era’ of the 1930s.

   Well, the minute you became a big, big, smash hit, it became very confusing. Nothing in life can prepare you for stardom. Success is a very, big problem. Bigger than failure. You can deal with failure; it’s tough, it’s hard, you fight like Hell to get going. But success is an opiate. You get very confused.
Things happen that you have no preparation for. Money comes in, and popularity, and people throw themselves at you. You don’t know what you’re in to. I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t know what to do with it.
The basic truth is that popular music has very little to do with musical value at all. I still wanted to play music. And the audience was saying ‘play what you’ve been playing. Play the same thing over and over. We like that.’ They could never get it through their heads that what they liked was what I was playing on my way to getting better. That record that they liked, “Begin the Beguine,” was like an albatross. It became a millstone around my neck.
The overwhelming success of “Begin the Beguine” would eventually propel Artie Shaw past Benny Goodman in popularity. But in 1939, Shaw disbanded his orchestra in frustration. “I’m unhappy in the music business,” he said. “I like the music; love and live it, in fact. But for me, the business part plain stinks.”
Artie Shaw, “Ken Burns’ Jazz”

During World War II, Shaw re-formed his band and toured Army and Navy bases throughout Europe. The reactions of the soldiers and sailors, as they heard swing music from home, stunned Shaw. He had no idea what he had created.

Vincent van Gogh, one of my heroes, was a total failure as a painter. He sold only one painting in his lifetime. He started his career as an evangelist; he found that he identified so closely with the people working to survive, that he could no longer see a path out of that life. He thought he could capture the life of the people in his paintings and show the world what he saw. The world wasn’t ready to see what he saw.

“Prices realised for just his nine paintings listed below, when adjusted for inflation to 2017, add up to over US $900 million.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_paintings

Portrait of Dr. Gachet This painting is the first version of this motif Portrait of Dr. Gachet was painted in June 1890 at Auvers-sur-Oise, during the last months of van Gogh’s life, before his suicide. He made two versions of the painting, which differ in color. Both are oil-on-canvas and measure 67 by 56 cm (26″ by 22″) in size. The first (this picture) was sold to a private collector in 1990 for $82.5 million; the second painting is currently on display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.
This is one of the most expensive paintings created by
Vincent van Gogh.

We mostly do not know the importance of our lives. Your importance is not measured in money. Your importance is measured in the quality of your living. Your importance is measured in what you bring into existence.

A message to the President of our country; one he will not read; and may not even be able to understand:

“Tonight, there will be few Americans who will go to bed without carrying with them the sense that somehow they have failed.
“If in the search of our conscience we find a new dedication to the American concepts that brook no political, sectional, religious or racial divisions, then maybe it may yet be possible to say that John Fitzgerald Kennedy did not die in vain.”
“That’s the way it is, Monday Nov. 25, 1963. This is Walter Cronkite, good night.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 158: Do not abandon the work

July 8, 2018

IMMIGRATION SHAME 2_bw
Mama! [2]

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said Friday that Trump administration officials have told him and his staff that they view placing separated migrant children in foster care as an equivalent to reuniting them with their families.
“The secretary told us on a conference call they do not have an intention to reunify these children with their parents,” Inslee said on MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes,” appearing to refer to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
“They’re going to call it good if they can find anybody else who can serve as a foster parent or anybody else who can serve as familial relationship, and these kids don’t even know these strangers,” he continued.
Inslee claimed that the Trump administration doesn’t plan on complying with a court order requiring that officials reunify all of the immigrant children separated from their families at the border under a since-ended Trump policy.
“It’s clear they do not intend to be humane and it’s clear they will continue on this course until he is removed from office,” the governor said, referring to Trump.
http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/395912-washington-governor-trump-admin-views-placing-immigrant-kids-in

What isn’t being said is that the children cannot be reunited with their parents because when the children were being removed from their parents, no one was keeping track of parents and children. There is no record. No one bothered to take notes. This has been pointed out in the Immigration process, to the outrage of Federal Immigration Judges.
I think we now know why the Nazis tattooed their prisoners. Better record-keeping.

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.
—The Talmud

To be honest, I am daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. I feel that my role, at this point in my life, is to be a Creative. To Create. I find it incredibly difficult to create something worthwhile when horror is being done in my name.

Do not be fooled; do not take this lightly: this work is being done in your name.

If you are one of my Norwegian relatives, reading this at home on your island, the inhumane efforts of the present American Administration to ‘protect our borders’ isn’t being done in your name. But it is being done in the name of your relatives who left Norway in the 1920s to find a new life in America. I know almost nothing about my Norwegian heritage—”the Old Country”. I never heard much about my family’s life in Norway [it’s possible that I didn’t listen]. There was a small Norwegian flag on my grandparents’ mantle; we had Norwegian cookies and lefse at Christmas. I heard Norwegian being spoken between Martinus and Esther; I watched Martinus shuffle around the floor of our family cabin, hands behind his back, listening to Norwegian folk songs. There were photographs of Norway on the walls of the cabin. There’s been a photo of the family house on our wall for a very long time.
Is it possible that when they arrived in America, my Mom and her sisters would have been locked in a cage, while my grandmother was locked in a different cage, somewhere else in the country? Is this only happening to people with skin that is brown, instead of skin that is pink?
How can this be happening at all?
The Greatest Generation fought a world war to ensure that this kind of behavior could not happen again.
The President, on his campaign tours is lying to the thousands of supporters who show up, telling them about all of the rapists, drug mules, thieves and murderers that are showing up at our Southern border; and that he is defending the country from this infestation… And the thousands cheer…

Medicine Bottle
Medicine Bottle, scheduled to be hanged
for the crime of being non-white [1800s]

I always start these thoughts-on-digital-paper with an illustration. I search through my files to find something that matches my thoughts. The most appropriate illustration tonight was the one below, a pencil copy of a Norman Rockwell painting. But I could not start there. Not tonight.

I am a democrat [i.e. a believer in democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. Whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure. I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. Nor do most people — all the people who believe advertisements and think in catchwords and spread rumors. The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows.

C.S. Lewis

Freedom of Worship-dwg

I believe in prayer.
Do I believe that prayers will enable all of the locked cages become unlocked; and that that those who are imprisoned simply because they, and/or their parents were looking for a better life, will be able to escape? It happened in the Book of Acts.

No, I don’t believe prayer will open the locks.

“It’s clear they do not intend to be humane and it’s clear they will continue on this course until he is removed from office,” the governor [of the State of Washington] said, referring to Trump.

Prayer can rouse a people from their slumber and cause them to speak up on the behalf of those who simply want their children to live in a land where they won’t be shot for the simple act of opening their door. Parents travel thousands of miles with their children and little else, because they believe they will be welcomed in America. Immigrants have been welcomed in America for generations.

Not any more, not in America today. America is closed.

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 144: Yet, still I persist…

February 27, 2018

valley of the shadow_crop

Today [Monday, when I started writing this] is my birthday; at least the one that really counts—the day I realized that I had been born again. Not in some crazy religious way; not the kind of being born again that makes for really bad headlines and bizarre comments from the ‘religious right’. Instead, the kind of being born again that Jesus talked to Nicodemus about [third chapter of John’s Gospel—BTW, verses 16 and following are not usually printed in red ink, for those who understand the jargon]. Seeing the world in a new way—the real meaning of that poorly-used word, “repent”—not some word to use for beating others; a word that simply means, ‘change the way you see’.
I find it difficult to write without images. At present, my life is largely about struggle—not only my own, but also the struggles of the people who are part of my life at this time. One died recently. People struggling with that awful C-word; and the even more awful treatment for that word. People who hate their life; people who fear the results of the life they’ve made for themselves. I created the image above for someone I’m close to, and also for myself. I feel as though I’m picking myself up, all of the time; lately I’m even more aware of the ‘wolves’ that are hounding me; and the ‘Fear Not and Behold’ angels that follow me. I know that they are the reason the wolves stay out of reach. Metaphor.

I never expected to be living in this world. This world is very different from the world we lived in a year or so ago, when we actually had a President, rather than some guy who only knows how to run a business [bankrupt six times, called, “smart business decisions” [http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/21/hillary-clinton/yep-donald-trumps-companies-have-declared-bankrupt/]; and giving enormous tax breaks to billionaires while cutting off the ‘safety nets’ for the poor. A guy who only understands ‘zero-sum’ business decisions. A guy who has shredded most of the protections that his predecessor managed to put in place, so that the country could be closer to that which we’ve advertised in movies for decades…

A Civilization that Spends More Money on Warhttps://me.me/i/a-civilization-that-spends-more-money-on-war-than-education-13669421
Must be some sort of ‘sh**hole kind of country’…

Image2

However, these aren’t the images I like to be known for [I did not create the above two images; part of me wishes I had].

This is the kind of image I want to be known for:

greentree3

One of my favorites—a tribute to Vermeer; and the client didn’t like it. Too often, the story of my professional life as an illustrator. I found it amusing that I was contacted a few days ago about being part of a listing of “Top Artists To Watch in 2018” or something like that… I told them that while I appreciated the compliment of their interest, I didn’t consider 40 years as a ‘starving artist’ as qualifying me for their list. Fortunately, in 1984 [the other 1984], I was led into a job that I didn’t really want; one that has provided me with an income for the last 34 years. Life is full of surprises.

My intention was to become a full-time Children’s Book illustrator. I grew up with Classics Illustrated, and magazines illustrated by such artists as N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Frank E. Schoonover, and my hero, Norman Rockwell. They were ‘merely’ illustrators at the time they created their images.  [http://www.artcyclopedia.com/history/golden-age.html]  Life is full of surprises. Rockwell never considered himself as an Artist. Commercial art was always the bane of Fine Art.

When I decided to ‘get serious’ about becoming a Children’s Book Illustrator, I started collecting images [pre-digital] that I wanted my work to be like. I metaphorically put my head down and focused on my illustrations for about 10 years, when my health caused me to make a new career choice. I had been involved with SCBWI for most of that time, and considered the ‘rejections’ at Conferences to be the particular tastes of the editors who were looking at my work. Eventually I looked up from my work and discovered the illustration world had changed— Children’s Book illustrators were becoming cartoonists, and photographers were becoming illustrators like those found in ‘the Golden Age’. I have a pile of rejections that basically say, ‘we really like your work, but it’s not what we’re looking for’. Somewhat soothing to the ego, but hard on the checkbook. Sometimes I feel like I’ve specialized in illustrating Edsels…

Another image that I’d like to be known for:

tattoo

Due to my particular personality [INTJ for those who understand the jargon], ‘whimsy’ is something I lack in my work. I can copy ‘whimsy’ but I don’t find myself creating it. This is about as close to whimsy that I create—the tattoo above is on her back:

woman_with_the_dragon_tattoo

I consider my Doctor Who obsession to be a form of whimsy…

Doctor images

A friend of mine described science fiction as helping him to believe that the impossible is really possible.

However, Children’s Book editors have a different understanding of whimsy…

Yet, still I persist.

Different context from Elizabeth Warren’s.

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 65: The Unexpected Journey

February 20, 2015

 

valley of the shadow_crop
More marketing: my new gallery at Artistically Social:
https://www.artisticallysocial.com/users/mjartscom/gallery/

When I started working for the Bureau of Buildings, in Portland, I still thought of myself as a contractor. I discovered that when someone asked the question, “how do I build this?” and I gave them my opinion as a contractor, they treated the information as “the City says I need to do it this way.” Some of that advice I gave was pure guesswork—‘if I was doing this, I’d start by doing…’ I learned it was very important to not give advice unless I was positive that the advice was sound, in a variety of situations; sometimes I didn’t really have the complete story. This awareness helped me to understand why Bureaucrats exist—if they don’t provide you with any useful information, they aren’t likely to be responsible for giving out bad information. Fourteen years after I started my gig with the City, I learned that my body could no longer stand the strain of ‘being responsible’ for all of the things that I chose to make my responsibility.

A long introduction to the idea that I don’t like to give random advice unless I know that the advice is accurate in most situations. When I started writing these blogs, it was as much for therapy as anything else. “Public Journaling”—journaling can be a good method of finding out how I think about my life. The Unexpected Journey is the subject of the illustration above. Larger versions can be seen at this link, and at this link.

Pain is something I know too much about; and at the same time, don’t know enough about. I’ve thought of creating a public ‘pain journal’ in hopes of providing some useful information for those who deal with chronic pain. The idea also seems very much like hubris—an arrogance that seems like extreme pride or self-confidence—the American problem, looking at the concept from a political perspective. Consequently, I haven’t started that blog page. I feel as though writing about pain is some sort of strange way of drawing attention to myself/feeling sorry for myself. Feeling sorry for oneself can be a deadly pastime.

40+ years of chronic pain, which apparently has no real diagnosis. It’s getting worse; and I’m getting weaker. Lots of doctors are clueless.

The myelin sheathing on my nerve fibers is disintegrating—sort of like the insulation on electrical wiring falling apart—as happens with old wiring. Lots of my nerve cells have shorted-out and no longer send out signals; it also appears that having no myelin sheathing on a nerve fiber creates pain. So, I have lots of pain and no visible injury. It’s important to learn the difference between pain and injury. Pain happens when your body doesn’t like what you are doing; it doesn’t necessarily mean something is injured. If something’s injured, it needs attention. If something hurts, and doesn’t get worse by activity, it becomes a ‘statement’ your body is making. You have a choice as to how you are going to acknowledge the ‘statement.’

Took a nap today; second nap this week. Feels wrong. I’m not the guy that takes naps. Another thing to add to my growing list of “I’m not the guy who…” Apparently I’m becoming that guy in spite of my best efforts.

Pain Management. I’ve tried lots of methods, some better than others. My goal has always been ‘feeling better to the point where I can ignore the pain,’ rather than self-medicating to point of feeling good. Soaking in a hot tub of water is a pretty effective method of creating “feel good”—however it has some practical difficulties for one who lives most of his life in a world of electricity and paper—the major physical components of my life…

Being creative on demand can be tough. I tend to feel exhausted most of the time; my most creative hours are late in the evening by DVD light. While being creative isn’t necessarily complementary to pain, the process of creating can be a good way to shove pain into the corners of my mind. I find that writing has become a way to find the mood for illustrations.

Judi Dench wanted to be a designer until she watched a particular production of a Shakespearean play—the stage was open, and the only ‘backdrop’ was a column in the center—as it rotated around it became a rock, or a throne, etc. She realized that she could never be that creative as a designer, and turned to acting.

My daughter-in-law manages A Children’s Place Bookstore and they are in the process of relocating. One of the posters on their wall is a drawing by Chris Van Allsburg; when I started this illustration gig, I wanted to be another Chris Van Allsburg. I have the technical skill; I lack the imagination. Hard to admit, but it’s about time that I do.

Judi Dench is losing her eyesight, and has no desire to stop acting. She’ll make it work.

One of my new favorite songs is “The Glorious Unfolding” by Stephen Curtis Chapman, and has the following lyric:

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart

‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true

There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold
And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding…

I’m watching.

River Boat PilotUnfinished copy of Norman Rockwell’s “River Pilot” left unfinished many years ago.

Thank you, David, for the Rockwell book.

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 63: Small Town America

January 26, 2015

Freedom of Worship-dwg

My version of Norman Rockwell’s
“Freedom of Worship”

   I don’t know a lot about Small Town America; I’ve lived nearly all of my life in Portland, Oregon. Portland used to be much more like Small Town America; the site of my uncle’s farm is now 5 miles from a major shopping center, and a mile away from suburban housing. When I was a kid, the fruit and vegetable guy drove his truck through the neighborhood; milk got delivered to the houses in the neighborhood. My grandmother lived in a small town in Eastern Oregon, we went there frequently. If my father had had his plans for his life, he would have been a wheat rancher. Economics and human greed stole that dream from him. I was shipped out to Eastern Oregon on two occasions, in order to learn farm life.
I didn’t learn much.
I grew up a city kid.

Much of my time is invested in watching a lot of DVDs—background sounds while I draw; it used to be VHS videos. I’m back in a “West Wing” phase. The fictional characters are heroes of mine. One of their shortcomings is that they, too, are city kids. They don’t comprehend Small Town American life; and a large part of our country is Small Town America. I watched a faith-based movie tonight that reminded me of my past; and at the same time, our present. The faith-based lifestyle is much like Small Town Life. Churches are communities; the expectations for life and living are very similar.

I sometimes fear that urban America and Small Town America will never understand each other—the mindsets are so different. Ultimately the goals are very similar—life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness; how one achieves these things are very different, depending upon one’s perspective. I know that the faith-based way of life is a place where those differences can be met; it’s hard to communicate this when the urban world thinks that religion is the problem. I am able to see the difference between faith and religion; apparently others can’t see that as clearly.

I have adult children that apparently think I’m delusional. That I see something that doesn’t exist. This is the only explanation that makes any sense to me; I’m not annoyed by the notion, more a frustration that my life hasn’t been the example I’ve wanted it to be. I’m not done yet.

How do I effectively communicate the fact that there is a Creator, an Infinite, Eternal Creator who loves His Creation enough that He would enter time and space in order to show us how to live. A statement more than a question. Free Will and Arrogance have prevented that message from making any comprehensive headway in life for very long. But the Message keeps growing and expanding, in spite of our incomprehension.

I was a witness to a joyous event this weekend; the retirement from public service, of the man who is probably the most influential person in my life. He led me to Jesus. He didn’t drag, or push; he simply was himself, a person of integrity and caring. He believed something I found to be preposterous, and he shared that belief in me. His friendship was enough for me to follow him down a Path from which I have never left. Brad led me to a ‘burning bush’ [I often wonder how many people before Moses passed by that bush? Or was it lit for Moses alone?]; he led me to a “Damascus Road” where I got knocked of my horse… Some sort of metaphor. It wasn’t Brad alone; Brad had friends, his friends were sincere.

The Path hasn’t been fun in these last years. I don’t know what ‘last’ really means; I can’t remember this Path ever feeling ‘fun’ for very long. But I’m thankful, Brad, that you gave me the opportunity; even if you don’t know what you did.

 

More marketing: my new gallery at Artistically Social:
https://www.artisticallysocial.com/users/mjartscom/gallery/

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 40: Advent- the time of waiting

December 4, 2013

AdorationAdaptation of Norman Rockwell’s “Adoration of the Magi”
Acrylic/Colored Pencil 27 X 17
The inspiration for this painting comes from a painting created by my Illustrator hero, Norman Rockwell. – See more at: http://www.mjarts.com/port_1a.htm

I don’t create many of specifically “religious” images. There are two, at present. One for Christmas, one for Easter. I’m not entirely sure why I don’t create more “religious” images. Probably because I’m not very religious, in spite of the fact that I gave my life to the Creator in 1973…forty years ago. This isn’t entirely accurate; in fact I’ve given my life to my Creator several times, as I’ve grown in my understanding of what a Christ-centered life means. Mostly it’s not about religion.

Advent. The word had no meaning for me until my 4th year of college. I came to the realization that Christmas mostly isn’t about what Americans seem to believe Christmas is about.  It’s not about giving presents, and more importantly, it’s not about receiving presents. It’s not about supporting the American economy by shopping, since there seems to be so little of the American economy that isn’t dependent upon shopping.

Christmas is about Grace. “Unmerited Favor.”  For a moment in time [thirty plus years is less than an eyeblink, compared to Eternity], the Eternal and Infinite Creator entered time and space and lived in the form of a human being; starting as a totally helpless infant born to an unwed mother, sheltered in a barn. One really can’t get much further away from “modern American Christmas” than that image.

There’s a Roman Catholic radio station here in Portland that does not play Christmas music until Christmas Day; in spite of the fact that the rest of the media world has been ‘celebrating’ Christmas since a few days before Thanksgiving. The station does play Advent music, along with it’s regular playlist; but not Christmas music. “Advent” to me is best described by the unwritten journey of the Wise Men coming West to find the newly born Messiah–the Savior of Mankind. Jesus apparently wasn’t born in December; He was probably born in the Spring [another good symbol, if one wanted to use it]. The Wise Men probably didn’t show up at the manger. If memory serves, one thought is that Jesus was about two years old when they arrived. Unfortunately, no one thought to write this stuff down at the time; it would have saved a lot of arguments. Surprisingly, no seems to have kept any of the gold, myrrh and frankincense the Wise Men brought. Would have been great souvenirs…

Advent is a period of anticipatory waiting. Probably ‘anticipatory journey’ is a better description. Joseph and Mary journeyed in to Egypt, because they’d been warned that Israel wasn’t a safe place for them to birth Jesus. So they journeyed to an inn that had no vacancies, and Jesus was born on the floor of a barn, and was placed in a feeding trough for the shepherds and angels to see. In theory, there was a pile of smelly stuff that Joseph probably moved, about 6ft away from Jesus’ bed… that’s what happens in barns.

My wife and I journeyed rapidly in our car, to the hospital, early one morning on a 9th of January. I was prayerfully ignoring red lights and was determined that our second kid was not going to be born in the car. Our new son was admitted to the hospital 4 minutes after Judy was admitted [Rob was born in the ER, on a gurney, on his mother’s bathrobe…]. The ‘no-frills,’ 2-door, 1979 Blazer does not have a sliding passenger seat; the seat is connected to a stationary hinge, allowing it to tilt forward to allow passengers access to the middle seat. It does not move backwards to allow birthing mothers to exit gracefully. The medical staff had to lift Judy up to the ceiling of the car, and bring her out head-first, since she couldn’t put her legs together… Rob is still driving the Blazer he was almost born in.

While I am not very ‘religious’ [kind of depends on one’s definition of the word], I hang around with people who are. After 40 years, I’m not as perplexed about religious behavior as I used to be; but there are aspects of this season that are mystifying to me. My understanding is that the religious leaders of the day decided to turn the pagan mid-winter holiday into something “Christian” and consequently, we have Christmas Trees. I don’t have a problem with that; “A Mighty Fortress”, Martin Luther’s famous hymn, uses the tune of a beer-drinking song from the taverns of his day. I taught my kids about Saint Nicholas [Sant-a _Claus], the bishop who would leave gifts at the houses of the poor in his parish. However, the birth of Jesus has nothing to do with evergreen trees and packages and jolly old fat men in red suits.

I recently watched a Dr. Who episode in which an “earthologist” tour guide was explaining to the interplanetary tourists about the Earth celebration of Christmas… a celebration of war, where the inhabitants of UK went to war with the inhabitants of Turkey, and the people of UK ate the dead Turks…  I wonder if the Followers of the Way [of Jesus], from the First Century would be just as mystified at how  skewed our practices of Advent and Christmas have become.

Jesus was a Jew, and he was raised in the Jewish tradition. Most of his followers were Jews. One of His statements was that He did not intend to change one letter or punctuation mark of Torah; and yet.. somehow we Christians have the Church traditions [in their almost endless variety] of today. We have starving fellow citizens of our planet, brothers and sisters in Faith, living in boxes and typhoon-tossed shacks, across the world; while we “First World” citizens spend hundreds of millions [billions?] of dollars on toys. “Jesus wept;” and I think He’s still weeping. Yes; I realize that when I point my finger at others, there are three more pointing back at me.

Jesus came to earth as an infant human, and lived the same sort of life that so many of us have led, to let us know that He knows what it’s like to be human. He was arrested and convicted of a crime He didn’t commit; He was brutalized in prison; and was spiked to a wooden pole with a crossbeam, hung out to die. He knows about Indignity and faithlessness. He also showed the world that this wasn’t the end of the story. He came back.  He left again, so He wouldn’t be hampered by human limitations; and left us His Spirit; that Spirit that enables us to occasionally recognize Grace, when He shows us that there is better stuff ahead.

Remember the victims during these holiday days. All of the victims. Perhaps especially those victims that we have helped to create, in the name of Peace.

Ashes of Hiroshima

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 19: The Power of Story

August 25, 2012

Last night I finished the last, and 100th episode of Stargate:Atlantis; not without a measure of sadness. The Story is over.  Prior to that I watched the 213 episodes of Stargate: SG-1. The better part of the sadness is the realization that I was working on my laptop during most of the episodes, so I can watch them again and still have the story be fresh.

I saw some of the SG-1 episodes when they were first aired; this was back in the time when we didn’t have a television in the house. We borrowed my Mom’s portable TV on occasion; and watched TV at her house on Sundays. Back in the early ’80’s, when I was self-employed as a building contractor, I used to watch “Cheers” and “Hill Street Blues” every Thursday night. At some point I finally realized that NBC wasn’t paying me to watch their shows; and I was turning down opportunities to bid on remodeling jobs, fearing that I might not return on time… So, the television went into the closet. When we moved to a different house, the TV did not accompany us. Our children grew up having television as a special event. They read a lot of books.

I got into this illustration gig to be a storyteller.

children's book jacket: Oregon At Last

Oregon At Last by Lillian Foreman, Scholastic Press, digitally colored graphite drawing

This is the cover of my first illustrated children’s book; one might think that people here in Oregon might be familiar with it. However, it was part of a 5th grade curriculum package for Scholastic, and they never bothered to market it in Oregon…

Back in the days when the world was in black and white, before color had been invented, I went to the bookmobile every week, and returned with a stack of books; mostly science fiction, if memory serves. The bookmobile was a mobile library. A converted bus with library shelves instead of seats, the bookmobile was used as a supplement to regional libraries. It had a regular route, and helped me get through my elementary school years. I had a small portable television in my bedroom, but there were only 5[?] channels available, and the selections weren’t necessarily interesting.

I grew up with the illustrations of Howard Pyle and NC Wyeth as well as several of their contemporaries. When I decided to do this illustration gig in the 1990’s, I envisioned following in the footsteps of Norman Rockwell. As big as my feet are, I knew I would never fill those footprints.

I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to enter the world of one of my childhood heroes, Sherlock Holmes…

A Scandal in Bohemia

A Scandal in Bohemia by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Digitally-colored graphite drawing; copyright Steiner Korea

I continue to hope that this will be followed by another Holmes opportunity in the future, but it seems unlikely, at this point.

Stories teach us to dream; they show us what and who we can be. Music, movies, books, stories around the campfire… these are the elements that can shape our lives. Stories can lift us beyond our circumstances.

Would we have cell phones today, if not for Star Trek and Dick Tracy?

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 6: Passages

October 13, 2011

I’m not sure that Lydia was into gospel, being a life-long Lutheran.  These lyrics remind me of Lydia:

Your name is written in the book of life
Keep walking in dominion and his might
You serve the Son you serve the One
Who knew you long ‘fore you begun
And you are worthy, and you are worthy
Go ahead, encourage yourself
Look inside and draw from the well
The water flows and heaven knows
That you can’t make it on your own
He said you’re worthy so lets be worthy

So as a man thinketh so does he believe
Faith is not about what you see
It doesn’t matter how you feel
His word is right His love is real
He said you’re worthy, so lets be worthy
Don’t worry; be happy and just say
The light is going to lead me all the way

Lydia was a survivor: she endured the death of her father at an early age; survived being fostered into abusive situations; was a cancer survivor [two mastectomies]; a recover[ed-at last] alcoholic;  had endured twenty or so years living in and raising four children in somewhat primitive conditions in various parts of the world [her husband, Wayne, was a dam engineer]; she endured a number of surgeries, losing some normally-vital parts; and yet, served God in her own way, most of her life. At her funeral, her pastor/friend of 30+ years listed some of  her quiet accomplishments that I’d never heard about, and yet they were not surprising to me–that was what Lydia was about.

I will miss her. I lost my Mom years ago, first to dementia and then in death; Lydia has been my Mom-at-a-distance for a long time. And, I of course, wonder if I ever let her know how important she was to me. Something else to do, when I get Home.
And now she is Home, where there is no more pain, no more suffering.

I created this image several years ago; it’s inspired by an obscure Norman Rockwell illustration for a magazine; an image from his vast collection of art.


In a way, the image represents my daughter’s life [symbolically, the one in the middle]. Kat is now 9 years old; I don’t know that she roller-blades. If I were being literal, the one on the left would be my wife, but she’s not there, yet. The woman is closer to Lydia than to Judy; but again, it’s symbolic, today. So, Kat, Jen and GrammaGreat.

Home.
I read “The Shack” during the week we were in Colorado. I’ve avoided the book since I first heard of it–lots of Church people were reading it. I knew the book was controversial, and that should have been my clue to pick it up. I discovered that Wm. Paul Young and I have many of the same ideas. I’m a heretic, in terms of contemporary Evangelical Christianity, so I don’t share a lot about my real understandings of God and my place in the world.

Today’s church world is so anthropomorphic. Taking literally all of the Truth in the Bible, and expecting, to some degree, literal streets of Gold. Believing in a literal bodily resurrection, when most of our bodies are really emptiness.
I believe that our presence with God will be at more of a quantum level; our energy returning to the source of all energy; with, somehow, our personalities intact. We’ll still be us, but without these annoying bodies…
An atom expanded to the size of a football stadium would have a grain of sand in the middle of the 50 yard line; that grain of sand would be the nucleus of the atom. Somewhere orbiting the stadium would be a few more grains of sand, representing the electrons in the atom. The rest would be emptiness. We are composed of millions of atoms, millions of emptiness.

Lydia felt that emptiness at one point, details I won’t get into. And she knew that she needed to turn her life around. AA was a major part of that turning. The emptiness became full; more love for her family, more love for the people in her world, and for the people beyond her world. Love is what fills the emptiness; for God is Love. She didn’t preach, she did get bossy. Her bossiness in my life was an encouragement to become a better person.

God, I will miss Lydia’s presence in my life; I’m glad I’ll see her when I get Home.

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