Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Least of These

Nancy Ortberg (former teaching pastor at Willow) has a great little article TCW answering the question, "In Matthew 26, Jesus says the poor will always be with us. Does that mean efforts to wipe out poverty are pointless?"

Throughout the gospels, Jesus speaks more about serving the poor than he does about what it means to be born again. He talks more about our response to the poor than he does about prayer. Jesus' reference to the poor in Matthew 26:11 comes on the heels of his final sermon in Matthew 25. He finishes his discourse with the story of how the King separates the sheep (believers) from the goats (unbelievers); his criteria is how well they cared for him when he was poor and needy.
For the rest, check out the link in the title.

Monday, January 30, 2006

New Sketches

I've been sketching Sargent portraits for practice.

Ellen Terry as Lady MacBeth

Elizabeth Winthrop Channing

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Back to the Future!!!!

On January 3rd Variety reported that talks were in the works at 20th Century Fox to put critically acclaimed, prematurely cancelled Futurama back into production.

Then, on January 19th, Billy West announced on a fan message board that the talks were completed and the cast would be reuniting in late summer to begin recording four new, feature length movie DVDs!

Okay, you can all do a little dance now.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Jon Stewart Defends Mega-Churches?

Bernard-Henri Levy (the author of the hot new book, American Vertigo) appeared on The Daily Show last night. Stewart asked him if, upon meeting Americans during his travels, he'd found that the cliches about Americans were true. Levy appeared delighted to be able to inform The Daily Show's viewers that no, the cliches were not true! He then went on to describe mega-churches as "the laboratories of the extreme right wing." Jon Stewart stopped him - "isn't that a cliche?" he asked. Stewart, who appeared embarrased to be contradicting the great BHL, quickly explained that, in his view, most Americans are reasonable people that can sit down and have discussion about their differences, and that includes the people in the mega-churches.

Levy, in an attempt at diplomacy, offered that Bono seemed to like some of them. However, this generous concession was the best he could do. Still grinning, he went on to explain that the heads of mega-churches are crooks. Why? Because they are proponents of intelligent design. I'm not kidding, go to The Daily Show and watch it yourself. By this point Stewart is nodding idiotically and cheering Levy on along with the rest of the crowd. Apparently a big smile and a cool accent can make anything sound true.

(Thanks to Chad for pointing this interview out.)

Willow Creek Community Church and Casa de Luz in the News

“God’s community isn’t all one color and doesn’t just speak English. No matter what language people speak or what they look like, we want them to feel welcome at Willow Creek,” says Mark Ashton, director of Spiritual Discovery. “We want to become a church that reflects the ethnic diversity of our community.” -from Willowcreek.org

Tonight is a milestone in Willow's pursuit of that mission, the Maria del Sol concert celebrating Casa de Luz's launch of it's weekly church services. The Chicago Tribune covers the story in their article, Reaching Out in a New Direction.

The service included a rockin' five-piece band, lyrics projected on a large screen and a casual conversation on stage about spiritual growth between the pastor and a member of Willow Creek Community Church.

It may look like just another Sunday at the South Barrington megachurch, but the 150 or so people gathered inside this intimate chapel were singing and praying in Spanish. And unlike the so-called "unchurched" who traditionally have flocked to Willow Creek's big auditorium down the hall, most everyone grew up with religion, usually Catholicism.

Church leaders started to reach out to the area's growing Hispanic community several years ago by forming a small prayer group on New Year's Eve 1999. They later found that the 2000 census had counted about 112,000 Hispanics within 20 minutes of the church...

But the church's Hispanic neighbors have gradually begun to find their way to Willow Creek, where that small prayer group has evolved into a separate church called Casa de Luz, or House of Light. The church, which draws a consistent crowd of 150 to 200 people, will begin offering two weekly Sunday services this weekend.

At the onset of a recent service, Pastor Hector Hermosillo, clad in jeans and an oversized suede shirt, stood in a second-row pew, singing and clapping to the band's beat. Hermosillo, who joined the church in July, is a former lead guitarist for Luis Miguel, one of Mexico's most popular singers and heartthrobs.

Those rooting for this church say his journey from Mexican rocker to suburban Chicago pastor is another reason to believe that Latinos will find a home at Willow Creek.

The article mentions the Maria del Sol concert tonight (which Steph is going to be working at - and I'm sure she'd appreciate your prayers for the event!) and includes a little of Hector's story. If you live in the area, the concert tonight is free and open to everyone.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Malachy Portrait WIP V

I've been working on the hair because I'm tired of the face. Still have some work to do, including highlights, so it will look a little softer and lighter than this at the end.

I think it's nuts how long this is taking me, but it's worth remembering that this is one big baby! The canvas itself is 20" tall and Malchy's head is 17.5" from the chip up!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"My Name is Pride" by Beth Moore

My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
I cheat you of your God-given destiny…
because you demand your own way.
I cheat you of contentment…
because you “deserve better than this.”
I cheat you of knowledge…
because you already know it all.
I cheat you of healing…
because you are too full of you to forgive.
I cheat you of holiness…
because you refuse to admit when you are wrong.
I cheat you of vision…
because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.
I cheat you of genuine friendship…
because nobody’s going to know the real you.
I cheat you of love…
because real romance demands sacrifice.
I cheat you of greatness in heaven…
because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.
I cheat you of God’s glory…
because I convinced you to seek your own.
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.
I’m looking to make a fool of you.
God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…
If you stick with me you’ll never know.

I've come across this poem twice this year and I think the thoughts expressed in it are incredibly insightful so I thought I'd post it here for everybody to enjoy. This is copied out of Beth Moore's book, Praying God's Word.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Rick Warren Reminds us of the Legacy of the American Church

There is a great interview with Rick Warren (of Saddleback Church and Purpose Driven) in the Washington Post. Check it out here.

"The New Testament says the church is the body of Christ, but for the last 100 years, the hands and feet have been amputated, and the church has just been a mouth. And mostly, it's been known for what it's against," Warren said during a break between services at his Orange County church campus. "I'm so tired of Christians being known for what they're against."

"One of my goals is to take evangelicals back a century, to the 19th century," said Warren, 51, shifting painfully in his chair because of a back sprain suffered during an all-terrain-vehicle romp with his 20-year-old son, Matthew. "That was a time of muscular Christianity that cared about every aspect of life."

Not just personal salvation, but social action. Abolishing slavery. Ending child labor. Winning the right for women to vote.

It's time for modern evangelicals to trade words for deeds and get similarly involved, Warren contends.

The more I hear about this guy the more I like him! For years the only thing I knew about Rick Warren was that he and his Purpose Driven model were about as despised as Bill Hybels and the seeker sensitive approach, so I figured he was probably alright. But in the last couple of years, between his media appearances, his AIDS work, and his visit to Willow, I've grown to really love his optimism, honesty, genorosity, and humor. I hope that one day the things he does will be bigger news than the things Pat Robertson does!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Malachy Portraint WIP IV

So this is what Malachy's painting looked like when I got to work on it this afternoon. This photo was taken using some of our finest winter daylight, which is why it looks a bit bluish.

This is what the painting looks like right now after hours of pain-in-the-ass work. And except for the fact that the light source is a yellow lightbulb instead of some daylight, it hardly looks any different! I spent almost the entire time working on the shadow on his left cheek and now he looks like he's got a sunburn! Oh well, there is always tomorrow.

Here's a close-up of my problem area. I had to completely overhaul this area, not once, but twice! The first time I was almost finished when I noticed a spot of water on the canvas and when I went to wipe it away it took of all the new paint underneath it. So I scrambled to patch the little hole of paint, but the work was still so wet that my brush just made the hole even bigger! So I had to take a break and then come back and start over from scratch! I'm hoping that tomorrow I can tone down some of the redness, fix that jowely thing and get to work on the hair.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Something to Look Forward To

I joined North Light Book Club. (I'm a sucker for book and music clubs.) The deal was buy one for a reduced price and get three free. Sounds good to me! So in a couple of weeks I should have these and I'm so excited!

Animals! I love animals! And there is an entire section of little animals! Little animals are the best!

This book is to help me sell my art so that I can make some money and buy a new easel and and pay off my car and get a cool artist's loft and take some art classes downtown and...the possibilities are endless!

This book is gonna help me A LOT! I'm terrible at clothes - they always turn out stiff and bumpy and very unconvincing. And you can never get too much practice drawing people.

After all the trouble I've had with blending acrylics I'm ready for oils. This is supposed to be a great book for folks that aren't new to painting, but are new to oils. It also has lots of pretty pictures and I love the colors - I'm ready to get away from all the gray and brown I've been using lately.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Willow Creek Community Church: Vision Night 2006

At Willow Creek we do a Vision Night once a year to discuss what's gone on in the last twelve months and what we are praying for the following twelve months. It's always one of my favorite services because it tells the story of the latest chapter of this really exciting journey we are on as a church. Sometimes the information is sobering and sometimes it is exhilerating...this year we got some really great news - our year end fund drive raised 1.8 million dollars for three great causes! Here's how it's going to be used:

  • $300,000 will be distributed to the launch of Casa de Luz, Willow Creek’s ministry to the local Hispanic community.
  • $400,000 will be set aside for disaster relief so when disaster strikes, Willow can respond quickly.
  • $1.1 million will be directed toward alleviating Global Poverty and AIDS.

(I got this excerpt from Willow News and you can check it out, along with video of the service, at this link.)


I've resolved to practice drawing every day. Folks in the know say it is the best thing you can do for your painting skills. Here are a couple of recent ones.

This is a sketch of one of the Misses Vickers from the painting, The Misses Vickers by Sargent. She's the bookish one. I only finished her face and her hair. Her outfit is black velvet and satin with flowers and feathers...way more than I have the skills or the patience for. I should try to finish her hands though, they are both at very odd angles and would make good practice.

Here's a closeup. My Miss Vicker's eyebrows are more tame than the original, and my Miss Vicker's mouth looks a little too tight, I don't know why. I also drew her neckline too low. This is based on Scott Burdick's Wild Grass Near Everst, Tibet. (I wish I were better at drawing clothes! I ordered a book called Drawing the Clothed Figure. That should help.) I love the artwork of Scott Burdick and his wife, Susan Lyon. To see some of their beautiful, inspiring work check out their website.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Malachy Portrait: WIP III

Hi guys! Sorry it's been so long since I updated my blog! My FMS has got me all stiff and achy this winter, which makes sitting in front of a computer pretty uncomfortable. However, I have managed to get a little painting done. This has been my most difficult painting to date, mostly because accuracy is so important, but also because of the size. Even though I still have a lot of work to do, the painting is starting to come together and that makes it more fun to work on.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Corrected Dog, New Sketches

Turns out I got the dog harness wrong. I can't tell from the photo (it's pretty grainy) but Kathy told me it isn't solid like that (scroll down to see the original.) I hope this works okay.
This sketch of a little girl with pigtails is based on a painting by Tom Ross called Sonita.
This sketch of a dancer is based on a great painting by Scott Burdick (husband of Susan Lyon!) called Timeless. His painting is much more interesting and you can see it in the latest issue of Art of the West or at Lyon and Burdick's web site (it's with his 2004 paintings.)

Friday, January 06, 2006

Friday's Random Ten: Nano-style

  1. Come On! Feel the Illinoise!: The World's Columbian Exposition/Carl Sandburg Visits me in a Dream - Sufjan Stevens (Illinois)
  2. Wide River to Cross - Buddy Miller (Universal United House of Prayer)
  3. Rachel - Buddy and Julie Miller (Buddy and Julie Miller)
  4. Vet- Vigilantes of Love (Welcome to Struggleville)
  5. Everything's Not Lost - Coldplay (Live 2003)
  6. I Don't Want to Lose You Yet - Steve Earle (Transcendental Blues)
  7. You Are Mine - Third Day (Wire)
  8. Thank You - Dido (No Angel)
  9. Karma Police - Radiohead (OK Computer)
  10. Lipstick Sunset - John Hiatt (Bring the Family)

This is a great list but if I had to pick a favorite it would be #1. I love this CD and this song is unlike anything I've ever heard. It's got Chicago, it's got history, it's even got a bit of The Cure stuck in the middle for good measure. Crazy.

Chicago, in fashion,
the soft drinks, expansion,
Oh Columbia!
From Paris, incentive,
Like Cream of Wheat invented,
the Ferris Wheel!
Ancient hieroglyphic, or the South Pacific,
Typically terrific, busy and prolific.
Classical devotion, architect promotion,
Lacking an emotion. Think about it now.
Chicago, the New Age,
But what would Frank Lloyd Wright say?
Oh Columbia!
Amusement or treasure,
these optimistic plesures,
Like the Ferris Wheel?