Sunday, April 30, 2006

Beginnings of Two Still-life Paintings

My FMS has been a little exhausting lately, so I've stopped doing commissions until I have more energy, but I'm still trying to do a little painting here and there when I have the time and energy. Here are a couple of still life paintings I've started this weekend. (To those of you paying attention - I still haven't finished Emily or Malachy, I'll post when I get further with those.)

Rather than arranging the subject and then trying to figure out how to keep the cats away in between sessions I've opted to use reference photos from One is a bowl of lemons, the other is a glass platter of lemons and limes. The first is on a 16x20 canvas and the second is on a 16x20 illustration board. The underpainting is done in black and white acrylic, but I plan to finish them in oil (something I've seen in Helen Van Wyk videos but never done myself!)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Most Amazing Blog

Came across the most amazing blog today - beautiful to look at it, beautiful to read. Check it out, you will be glad you did!

Trevor Romain

Thursday, April 27, 2006

New Community and The Da Vinci Code

Our old teaching pastor, Lee Strobel, was back at Willow Creek Community Church last night to rev us up for the four part series we are starting Sunday on The DaVinci Code. I have to admit, I was in need of some revving. I haven't been looking forward to this series. The book is fiction, everybody knows what fiction means, so why spend four weeks debunking self-acknowledged fiction?

Apparently, not everyone knows what fiction means. says about the Code, "the most amazing thing about this novel is that it's based on fact." According to one survey, 1/3 of Canadian Code readers report that they now believe Christ fathered a child and His descendents still walk the earth today. And 53% of American's who have read the book, the plot of which is built on the assertion that the gospels are lies and the church suppresses the truth, claim the novel has helped them spiritually. Bizarre world we live in.

So now my interest is piqued and I'm looking forward to the series. Steph and I decided that we are finally going to jump on the bandwagon and read The DaVinci Code, along with Strobel and Poole's book, Exploring the DaVinci Code.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

An Afternoon in the City

Malachy was a very good boy at the Art Institute. He was unimpressed by Monet and Degas, but he loved seeing his Great Aunt Dee Dee, the big lion statues, and the pigeons.
Have you guys seen these bad boys? Twin glass towers, water streaming down all sides, moving images projected on the opposing walls from within, and a reflective pond in between. The images seemed to usually be different faces staring silently across at each other, sometimes smiling, sometimes frowning, blinking...weird. Our photos don't do it justice, you have to check it out.

The skyline looking north from the fountain-face-tower-thingys in Millenium Park.
The famous bean! Way bigger and cooler than I thought it would be! The reflection is so seamless and huge that it fills your field of vision and you feel like you are looking through it into a strange alternative-universe Chicago.
Steph and I in the belly of the bean. Try walking through there looking up and your likely to land on your face! A carnival fun house has nothing on the bean! Inside it curves upward into a dome. I tried to count my reflection inside of it but I started getting sea-sick and had to leave!
Not your granddaddy's Chicago.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Christian Conservationists"

Nancy Ortberg has a great article in the most recent issue of Today's Christian Woman answering this question; "The earth is not our home, so should believers actively try to preserve it?"

Monday, April 24, 2006

Malachy Oil Painting WIP

I made some more progress on that oil painting of Malachy that I started on the last day of class. Believe it or not, the underlying flesh tone is exactly the same - I didn't touch it. The difference is that I photographed the first one in a dark basement and the second one in natural light.
The most noticeable change is the background. The subject photo has a blue background, but I don't care. In my opinion blue looks okay in a landscape and crappy everywhere else. (And for the record, my blog is most certainly not blue!)

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Monday is a big day for Emily. Early (really early) in the morning she's going to the hospital for her second surgery to remove the rest of the cancer. Please remember her in your prayers today. Click here for the latest Emily news or here to take a slot on Amy's prayer schedule.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

rose painting

I rarely paint flowers, but when I do I love how un-cat-like they are. Totally different textures, totally different colors. Fun to paint, but not as fun to look at, unless it is Spring and you are in the mood for some flowers. This is one I did in watercolors last year. It measures 8"x8".

Friday, April 21, 2006

Praying God's Word by Beth Moore - Chapter 8

This chapter is about food-related strongholds ("strongholds" is a term used here the way Paul uses in 2 Corinthians 10:4.) I'm going to add a new prayer everyday to this post, so if you are interested you can check back. The prayers are taken right out of scripture, so they apply to all sorts of situations, not just the "stronghold" of the week.

Day One:
Lord God, I acknowledge that it is for freedom that Christ has set me free. Your desire is for me to stand firm, then, and not let myself be burdened again by the yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)

Day Two:
Help me, Lord, to take Your yoke upon me and learn from You, for You are gentle and humble in heart, and I will find rest for my soul. (Matt. 11:29)

Day Three:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalm 139:23-24)

Day Four:
God, I am so thankfull that there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. If you do not condemn me, I have no right or place to condemn myself. Help me not to get caught up in a defeating cycle of self-condemnation. (Romans 8:1)

Day Five:

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not where he was going. Lord, help me to be willing to follow You in obedience even when I'm not sure where I'm heading. (Heb. 11:8)

Day Six:
Father God, help me not to grieve, for your joy is my strength. (Neh. 8:10)

Day Seven:
Lord, I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I want to learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through You, Lord, for You give me strength. (Phil 4:12-13)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter pictures

Stephanie, Mark, Malachy, Dad and I went to the 8am Easter service at church (the one with free Krispy Kreme and coffee!)
As a painter, it is pretty inspiring to walk into the auditorium and see 15 giant paintings hanging from the ceiling!
The service opened up with Mark Demel (the creator of the comics I posted a while ago) doing sand art on a light box. He would graceful wave his hand this way and that and, as if by magic, an image would appear. The another wave and the image would fade under another handful of sand. A few more waves and, without even realizing it another image has emerged. I could have watched him do that all day! I hope he'll do that at the arts conference because more people should get to see it! Steph, Dad and I.
We tried to get a Stanger family photo in front of some of the art in front of the stage but Malachy was ready to go see Mommo.

Here we are at Steph's eating the wonderful brunch Mommo prepared.
One of the highlights of Malachy's Easter was walking my cat, Piper.
One of Piper's highlights was nibbling on the fresh Spring grass.
Malachy's mama and dada got him an Elmo's head Easter basket. Does anybody else get the heeby-jeebies looking at that thing?
In the afternoon Lauren came over with flowers for Mom, and Steph made a sign for our little soldier, Noah.

"Lent" - Buechner

Of course it would be the day after Easter that I would come across these thopughts on Lent by Frederick Buechner.

In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year's income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year's days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.

If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn't, which side would get your money and why?

When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?

If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?

Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you the happiest to remember?

Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?

If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?

To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sack cloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter!

The Catholic Church is Born Again

This is such a great story! I used to pass this church on my way to work and was impressed by how busy it always looked, weekday or weekend
On Easter Sunday, two huge video screens will project praise hymns in this Catholic church as the rock 'n' roll choir leads the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. The priest will consecrate the Eucharist from a lowered altar that brings him closer to his people. Flowering dogwood branches will encircle the church's baptismal font, now an immersion pool in the center aisle surrounded by four gurgling fountains..

Holy Family Catholic Parish Community in Inverness is marking its own rebirth this weekend, opening a $1.4 million renovated sanctuary to its 12,000 parishioners that embraces many elements of the Protestant evangelical movement.

The changes might seem unusual to old-school Catholics. They have raised eyebrows among more orthodox leaders in the archdiocese. But the pastor and parishioners say they are carving the model for the future American Catholic Church.

In contrast to many other Catholic churches where attendance has dropped, Holy Family Parish is booming, even winning back Catholics who were attending Willow Creek, the nondenominational megachurch 3 miles away. Holy Family, with more than 3,700 families, is one of the largest congregations in the archdiocese.

The secret to the 22-year-old church's success has been replicating what growing churches are doing, but in a Catholic way. The result is an innovative congregation that bills itself as "an evangelical church in the Roman Catholic tradition."

"I think what happened to the Catholic Church is we became a little comfortable with ourselves and forgot some of what made us Catholic. We forgot what made us passionate," said Holy Family's pastor, Rev. Pat Brennan. "So I've just taken the best that I've seen of Catholic parishes and evangelical churches and put them together to make Holy Family. In doing that, I think we've rediscovered the heart of Catholicism."

Like several other parishioners, Mary Whiteside said she was on the verge of abandoning her Catholic faith when she found Holy Family. On her first visit, Whiteside said she was hooked by the music and the pastor's riveting homilies. Her husband, Phil, who was raised a Baptist, was so moved that he converted to Catholicism.

"Great things are happening in this church. We're just very alive," said Whiteside, who is on the parish leadership council. "We're sharing some elements of the evangelical church, but I don't think we're trading any part of our Catholic identity."

Holy Family was started two decades ago when Cardinal Joseph Bernardin became concerned about the large numbers of Catholics in the northern suburbs leaving their churches to become members of Willow Creek Community Church. In 1984, the former archbishop purchased 16 acres of farmland in Inverness and founded a new parish community, Holy Family.

For more about this vibrant church, read the Tribune's article. Their website is also really intersting.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Willow Creek Community Church in the News

  • The Christian Post covers the Good Friday experience here.

  • CBS 2 reported on the Good Friday events hosted by Willow Creek and Mision San Juan Diego Church of Arlington Heights. You can watch the report or read the transcript here.

  • This article by the OC Register isn't about Willow, but it is about our homeboy, Lee Strobel, who will be visiting us very soon. Check it out here.

New Malachy Painting and Old Cat Painting

I started this portrait of Malachy in class on Wednesday. It's 16x20. I'll update as I go.

You guys might remember this one...I started it months ago in acrylic and just lost my steam and it's been sitting around my room ever since. So last week I brought it into class and painted over the acrylic with oil and finally got somewhere with it. There is still a little tweaking to do (like the shadows and sun spots on the deck) but I'm going to wait for it to dry a little more before I finish it off. It's 9x12.

Gallery at Willow

This wall of Jesus portraits is part of the Good Friday side of the exhibit.Here is my blue Jesus.
Here's my landscape in the Easter side of the exhibit.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

70,000 Leaders, 160 Locations, 1 Worldwide Event (Mu-ha-ha-ha-ha!)

A trailer with a dramatic voice over, special effects, and some jaw dropping boom shots...but this ads not for MI3 - it's for the Leadership Summit '06. It ain't subtle, and the slick voice over is a little much, but I think the production value is amazing, and the editing in the three minute promo is inspired.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

If you're local, consider checking out the Good Friday experience at Willow. The "experience" will be available Thursday night and all day Friday and will feature an art exhibit (with one of my paintings), worship, "fx" for kids, and more.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Monday, April 03, 2006

My Cat's Got Knees

The strange folks at rathergood have a new, kid-friendly creation. Malachy loves it! Click on the picture to watch.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Willow Creek Community Church Proverbs

I've been trying to make heads or tails of my papers lately and tonight I found something funny from the Willow Creek Monthly, Feb. 1998. It's called Willow Creek Proverbs.

There are six things that vex the preacher; yea seven that are an abomination to him: A screaming child, a ringing cell phone, men that line up for hugs, expensive microphones that fail to work, feet that flee during closing prayer, watches that beep on every hour, and the mother who nurses in the front row.
-Scott and Laurie Pederson

Few are the ways, but many are the words Willow Creek uses to explain that visitors don't have to clean out their wallets during the offering.
-Leslie Devine

Mightier is he who finds a legitimate first-row parking space than he who sneaks into single-parent parking without a permit.
-Paul Froehlich

Trust in the traffic team completely and do not attempt to go your own way. Obey their instructions and they will make your paths straight.
-Nils Peterson

Here are a couple that are a little dated, but still cute.

The waiting place of the righteous is a tree in the main lobby, for he who invites seeking friends is wise.
-Bruce Goehmann

Do not look with disdain on those with tattoos and many piercings, for they are the Axis on which the future of the church will turn.
-Tom Frost

Wasn't the Monthly great? Remember Mr. Newsletter person? And the comics? Those were the days. Heck, I've got nothing to do, I'll scan a couple of the comics for you. The first one is from December '95 and the second one is from May '96.