What if your Christmas isn’t Merry and Bright?

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Feliz Navidad! Joyeaux Noel! Frohe Weinachten! It’s a festive time of year with holiday greetings everywhere you turn. Local radio stations are proclaiming that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” and Hallmark Christmas movies are trending high in the news.

But what if you find yourself a little distant from all the holiday cheer? Maybe this is your first Christmas with an empty chair at the table. Perhaps you find yourself away from family and friends, and not feeling much like celebrating this year. Maybe your home has been fractured by loss, illness, divorce. For any number of reasons, many folks find themselves on the outside looking in this Christmas season.

The Census at Bethlehem (The Numbering at Bethlehem), 1566
Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Oil paint on wood panel
115.5 x 164.5 cm
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
Brussels, Belgium

I know it can be hard to “get in the Christmas spirit” when your heart is broken. Can I suggest a helpful resource? I enjoy doing special devotions during the advent season and have happened upon a fabulous resource from Biola University . The Advent Project is a series of meditations on Scripture, accentuated with music, art, and poetry. I found have the daily emails to be a tremendous help in refocusing my attitude – both turning me towards gratitude for Christ’s first coming, and in creating a real longing for His second advent when He will put all that is wrong right. You can access all the devotions for the month here.

© Laura Gabel, “You Are His Masterpiece”. Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10. Private collection.
© Laura Gabel, “You Are His Masterpiece”. Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10. Private collection.

Two of my favorite websites also have helpful articles for those facing a deep sadness this Christmas. Celebrating Christmas with a Broken Heart suggests three strategies for walking through this season. What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas provides some useful insight and tips for those of us walking with you in this time.  Both those articles are well worth your time to read.

Nativity (2 views), 2006
Brian T. Kershisnik
Oil on canvas
17 x 7‘
Utah Museum of Fine Art

Laura and I will be taking some time off over the holidays, and we hope you will too. In the midst of all the busyness of the time, take time to stop, breathe, rest, and remember. He has come, and He will come again!

 

Go ahead...share the encouragement
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email

How to find your Christmas in the park

“Have you been to Christmas in the Park?” That may be the question I heard the most when people found out it was our first Christmas here in the Orlando area. In fact, as far back as September, I was already hearing that question and in fact had locked in plans to attend Christmas in the Park – before I even knew what (or when) it was!

While I may live in Orlando, my children attend school in Winter Park, where my husband teaches. And Winter Park is well known in the greater Orlando area for it’s fabulous downtown and active cultural scene.

For almost 40 years, the park in the center of Winter Park has hosted Christmas in the Park – a joint effort put on by the city, the Morse Museum and the Bach Festival Society.

One of the benefits to being in Florida is that we can happily enjoy outdoor activities at Christmas. Folks come early and stake out a place – chairs, tables, picnic baskets. I saw elaborate place settings, complete with tablecloths, napkins, candles and centerpieces. I also saw more modest preparations of picnic blankets and pizza boxes. While the event doesn’t officially kick off until 6:15 pm, most folks were there well in advance. We met our friends, set up our chairs and our food and settled in for an evening of unexpected delight.

christmas in the park 1

Ringing the park are nearly a dozen enormous Tiffany stained glass windows. Each window is accompanied by at least one docent/security guard (complete with communication earpiece).

christmas in the park 3

The windows are not on display at any other time. Just before 6:15, an introduction is made by the head of the Bach Society, and the music begins. Then just as darkness is settling in, the switch is flipped and the windows are aglow for all too see their radiant beauty.

christmas in the park 2

We spent the next two hours listening to Christmas music, singing along, enjoying time with friends, and getting in the Christmas spirit. Our children began to grow tired, so we went for a walk through the park to see the windows up close.

christmas in the park 4

The detail and intricacies of the designs were astonishing. The colors were so vibrant, it strains the bounds of credulity to think that no paint was used, it is all in how colors of glass are blended together.

christmas in the park 5

Taking pictures of briliiantly lit stained glass windows in a park at night is no easy task. So as incredible as these images are, in order to truly appreciate them, you’ll just have to make the trip to Winter Park next year and see them for yourself!

christmas in the park 6

Christmas in the Park was the perfect way to kick off the holiday season for me. After being introduced to the Morse Museum and the Back Society, I look forward to exploring the offerings of both those organizations in the future. And I’ll be ready on the first Thursday in December next year for another Christmas in the Park!

christmas in the park 7

What unique holiday event does your town (or neighboring town) host during the Christmas season? Get out there and explore – then share it with us here!

 

Go ahead...share the encouragement
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email

Who doesn’t love a happy ending?

I love a happy ending, don’t you? Right now you may be thinking of a movie or a book that gives you a warm feeling that all is right and perfect in the universe. I call it the “TaDa” moment.

I’m fortunate, I get a “TaDa” moment when I finish a painting. But it’s not really a happy ending yet.

My ending is just the beginning of enjoyment for others! My true happy ending is watching a collector’s eyes sparkle with delight and wonder when they get their painting.

happy ending 1

Even though I may be commissioned to do a work, I am giving my whole heart to apply all my God given creative abilities in translating a flat photo into art that is alive with emotion so it jumps right off the canvas.

The Bible says that it is so much more blessed to give than to receive. Perhaps in this time of holiday frenzy the phrase is overused and misunderstood. Nevertheless, it is true that delight comes from a gift that is meaningful, original and thoughtful.

Over the years that I’ve been painting, I’ve had the privilege of doing many commissioned works. I love seeing the photographs that loved ones provide and hearing their stories of why they want that particular image painted. But even more, I love seeing the fantastic joy and delight when the painting is finally in the hands of the recipient.

happy ending 2

You can read the stories from these collectors and more on our website.

Perhaps you’d like to experience the joy of giving someone an original piece of art. It’s not too late for a Christmas gift certificate. I’d love to consult with you over what you might have in mind! Contact me to co-create with me a one of a kind gift that really is a happy ending for all involved.

 

Go ahead...share the encouragement
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email

O Come O Come Emmanuel!

Emmanuel  – God with us! What an incredible thought! It’s that time of year again when our schedules seem more crowded than ever, our bank accounts lower than ever, bills mounting, “to do” lists staggering, stress rising. I know many of you will hear “Jesus is the reason for the season” so often that you will tune it out. Please don’t. This post isn’t meant to be guilt inducing or full of trite platitudes to get you to spend less and worship more.

Instead, I just want to share my favorite Christmas song with you, give you some beautiful art to enjoy, and ask for God to come and be with us in the midst of everything else clamoring for our attention.

You probably guessed from the title of this post that my favorite Christmas song is O Come O Come Emmanuel. The hymn was originally written in Latin, with the first published edition in the year 1710. However, there are paraphrases of the lyrics in existence as early as the year 800.  The music we currently associate with the hymn originated in France during the 1600s. There are so many versions of this hymn and of all the verses, some with three verses, others with as many as eight.

When I was in college, our advent chapel services were each crafted around a verse of this hymn, and I found that practice so helpful for shaping my outlook on advent. While I enjoy writing, I am not even in the same universe as the ancients who crafted this hymn, so indulge me as we just take a look at the lyrics and allow them to sink into our hearts and minds.

O come, O come, Emmanuel

botticelli nativity emmanuel 1
“Mystic Nativity”, Sando Botticelli. 108.6 x 74.9 cm, oil on canvas, 1500. The National Gallery, London.

 

O come, O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

 

Rembrandt Moses Emmanuel 2
“Moses Smashing the Tablets of the Law”, Rembrandt, 168.5 x 136.5 cm, oil on canvas, 1659. Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

 

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud, and majesty, and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

 

chagall jesse tree emmanuel 3
“Tree of Jesse”, Marc Chagall. 81 x 130 cm, oil on canvas, 1975. Private collection.

 

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of hell They people save
And give them victory o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

 

“Adoration of the Shepherds”, El Greco. 319 x 180 cm, oil on canvas, 1614. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

 

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

 

GloriousForetaste emmanuel 5
© Laura Gabel, “Glorious Foretaste”. Pastel Private collection.

O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

wisdom of solomon emmanuel 5
“Dream of Solomon”, Luca Giordano. 245 x 361 cm, oil on canvas, 1693. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high
And order all things, far and nigh
To us the path of knowledge show
And cause us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

crucifixion messina emmanuel 6
“Crucifixion,” Antonello da Messina. 42.5 x 59.7 cm, oil on panel, 1475. National Gallery, London.

 

O come, desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

 

 

Be our King of peace, cause us to go in the ways of wisdom and knowledge. Bring cheer in the midst of misery and gloom by the remembrance of your first coming and the anticipation of your second coming. Show us your power and might as we stand in awe of your works. Bring salvation and freedom. O Come O Come, Emmanuel.

Go ahead...share the encouragement
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email

Peace on Earth isn’t just for Christmas

“Peace on Earth”…no, I’m not starting to sing Christmas songs already. I’m a strict “not until after Thanksgiving” kind of girl. But in light of recent events there has been a lot of clamoring for peace.

America seems more and more divided lately – republicans vs. democrats, trump supporters vs. never trumpers, black vs. white, standers vs. kneelers. There seems to be no end to the disunity that clutters my newsfeed. Is there no peace to be found?

I want to introduce (or perhaps reacquaint) you with an artist who is famous for his depictions both of war and of peace.

peace and picasso 1

Peace and War

Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881. His father was an artist, who happened to like painting pigeons or doves. Picasso’s early paintings were not necessarily political in nature, and he gained quite a following rather quickly. He is frequently referred to as the father of cubism.

Picasso’s approach to art began to change radically in 1937, when he painted one of his most famous paintings:

peace and picasso 2
“Guernica,” by Pablo Picasso. (1937)

This painting was in direct response to the Italian and German carpet bombing of the Spanish city of Guernica. Picasso began to see his art as more than just a unique decoration. He had a message and wasn’t afraid to speak it through his art.

“What do you think an artist is? …he is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.” Picasso

Guernica came to symbolize the abject horrors of war and was used as a rallying cry for the Peace Movement of the 1940s. Picasso himself became an active participant in the movement and in speaking out against totalitarian regimes.

Peace and Picasso

In 1949, Picasso painted another watershed work.

peace and picasso 3
“La Colombe” (The Dove) by Picasso, 1949

Entitled simply “La Calombe” (the Dove), the lithograph was featured on posters celebrating the Paris Peace Conference. Picasso’s daughter was born that same year and he gave her the name Paloma, which is the Spanish word for dove. She is in her father’s arms in the family photograph above.

Since then, Picasso’s dove has been modified numerous times and used as personification of peace.

peace and picasso 4

Lasting Peace

For centuries, many different cultures have used a dove to symbolize peace.  Art and images have great power to shape the way in which we think. Sadly, true and lasting peace will require more than a lovely painting, a change in one’s profile picture, or a serene bird.

The Scriptures speak of a King who is coming who will “speak peace to the nations”. At His very birth, the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” His peace did not come with political unity, but with His brutal death in the place of sinners.

There is a day coming when wars and divisions will cease. There is a time approaching when reports of mass shootings and natural disasters will not grace the news headlines. True peace will reign when our Prince of Peace returns. And oh what a glorious day that will be:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,

the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and might,

the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,

or decide disputes by what his ears hear,

but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,

and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,

and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,

and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,

and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,

and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;

and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze;

their young shall lie down together;

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,

and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.

They shall not hurt or destroy

in all my holy mountain;

for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD

as the waters cover the sea.

Amen. Come and bring your peace, Lord Jesus.

 

Go ahead...share the encouragement
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email

Give a man a fish….paint a man a fish?

There’s an oft-quoted saying that says “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” But what happens if you paint a man a fish?

My daughters attend a classical school where we talk a lot about Truth, Goodness and Beauty. So when Christmas rolls around and I’m thinking about teacher gifts, I try to think along those lines. Food, candles, and lotion seem to be hot teacher gifts every year, and this year I wanted to think “outside the box” and look for gifts that were true, good and beautiful.

My oldest daughter is in fourth grade and this year in science, they are studying sea creatures. Laura’s first acrylic painting was a jellyfish.

© Laura Gabel, “Jellyfish Dance”. Acrylic on canvas, 13.5 x 16.5. Private collection.
© Laura Gabel, “Jellyfish Dance”. Acrylic on canvas, 13.5 x 16.5. Private collection.

I thought it would be fantastic if we were able to purchase that painting for her teacher. I first spoke with my daughter to see if she liked the idea. She was exuberant in her approval. So we contacted the other parents, who were also enthusiastic and quickly donated towards the purchase.

We were all amazed when Laura surprised us by painting a companion painting to our jellyfish. This incredible Austin Blue Crab:

© Laura Gabel, “Austin Blue Crab”. Acrylic on canvas, 13.5 x 16.5. Private collection.
© Laura Gabel, “Austin Blue Crab”. Acrylic on canvas, 13.5 x 16.5. Private collection.

When the paintings arrived, I contacted the parents and we arranged a private art viewing from the back of my car after school one afternoon. It was difficult to tell who was more excited – the parents or the students. I spoke with our art teacher, who has guest blogged for us previously, and she agreed to take some time during the students’s art class to allow the students to sign the backs of the paintings for their teacher. They were thrilled!

give a fish

Finally, the last day of school before Christmas arrived. When I walked in the classroom during the party with a large wrapped present, the students all started jumping up and down in excitement and grabbed their teacher to open the present. They crowded around her so much that it was difficult to get a picture. She was astounded at the gift.

give a fish

The students are so proud our “their” paintings and take great pride in having real art, real personal art in their classroom. Not only do they have something beautiful adorning their classroom, they have a visual representation of the truth of what they are studying in science, and they experience the joy of giving a good gift to their teacher.

paint a fish

What will you give?

I know we are past the gift giving season of the year. How many of us received gifts that were true, good and beautiful? How many of us gave such gifts? Or did we, on occasion, buy a gift because we felt “obligated” or we rushed and grabbed something that was just available in our budget? Did you receive gifts that felt a bit like the giver didn’t really put much effort into the gift?

Let me encourage you to think about truth, goodness and beauty when you give a gift. Give some art! Yes, it can be expensive; can you perhaps give a group gift? What about you and your siblings getting a portrait of the grandchildren painted for your parents?

Let’s give gifts that nourish both the giver and the receiver. Painting a fish may not feed the stomach of my daughter’s teacher, but it is feeding her mind and soul for a lifetime. And her students will be fed as well.

Go ahead...share the encouragement
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email

Do you need an Epiphany?

“Happy Epiphany!” “Have a joyous Epiphany!” “Wishing you a blessed Epiphany” I’m guessing you’ve neither given nor received any such greetings this holiday season. It’s entirely possible you have no idea that January 6th is Epiphany. It’s also possible that you may not even know what Epiphany is, or why I’d be writing a blog post on it….

Epiphany is traditionally observed 12 days after Christmas to commemorate the arrival of the Magi to adore the Christ child. Now, the Bible provides scant details on their visit, but Christians throughout history have added in their own details, celebrations and observations.

In our home, about the only celebration we do for Epiphany is that we un-decorate from Christmas. Not actually on January 6th, but the closest Saturday to it. I like to run the Christmas season all the way through until then. So clearly, it’s not my grand observance of this event that spurs my blogging.

No, it’s actually a painting (convenient for an art related blog…) that spurs me to write this time. When I was in college, I was required to take an art appreciation class. I had never considered myself much of an appreciator of art, so I was more than bit intimidated.

I remember having to choose a painting and write a paper about it, specifically about what the artist might be trying to convey through their work. For reasons I do not remember I chose this painting by Sandro Botticelli.

 

 

epiphany

As I began studying the painting, called the Adoration of the Magi, I discovered that Botticelli had painted several different Adorations and as I studied them, I saw some interesting differences. The older paintings of the Magi seemed more formal, the Christ child more distant. The newer paintings were much more intimate. Seriously doubting myself, I timidly wrote a paper positing that Botticelli had undergone some type of spiritual journey as he painted.

I was pleasantly surprised when my professor returned my paper and validated my conclusions. For the first time, I felt like I “got” an artist – that I could look at someone’s art and really understand what was going on in the work; it was more than just “oh, that’s a nice painting.” In a way, it was my own personal “epiphany”.

Epiphany
Do you need an Epiphany?

Now, I’m not writing to encourage you to go take an art appreciation class, or hang a Botticellli print on your wall – though both of those would enrich your life, I’m sure. It’s the beginning of a new year, the time for reflecting on the year that is ending and making resolutions for the new year. What are those things that intimidate you? Are there topics/subjects that seem beyond your comprehension? Is there a skill that continually eludes you? Why not make this year the year to conquer those fears? What step can you take this week to climb that mountain? Share in the comments and we can all encourage each other!

Oh, and Happy Epiphany 🙂

Go ahead...share the encouragement
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email

Driftwood and adoration

I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love a surprise gift. I have had very few gifts that have left me speechless. But for Ken and I last Friday, this one was an eye popper! This handcrafted driftwood sculpture stands about 19 inches high. Stunning, like nothing we have ever seen. See what you think:

driftwood and adoration

This was truly a heart gift from our friends Jo & Bill and everything about it resonates with our personalities, our decor (simple) and our love for the Creator.

Driftwood is called “marine debris,” the remains of trees that have been washed into the ocean. To be used properly it must be brushed and bleached. It doesn’t sound very inspiring, yet for ages, man has created art from driftwood.

As I pondered the uniqueness of this gift. I felt the simplicity and elegance of taking such dead, weathered wood and with tiny little nails making a thing of beauty. 

driftwood and adoration

While it is a striking “thing,” the real beauty is that it calls us to the most marvelous act of sacrifice. God, the author of all things, stepping out of His heavenly home and suiting up in flesh, as a baby in a simple stable, laid in a simple manger, made from wood. Simple, yet totally incomprehensible in many ways.

Some people worship great art; some folks worship icons. But God is Spirit and He alone is meant to be adored and worshiped in spirit and in truth

driftwood and adoration

You may not be able to craft a driftwood sculpture, but you can create an atmosphere of adoration in the simplest of ways. Here are a couple of ways I have found:

  • Sing to Him
  • Speak in your heart to Him
  • Love others like He loves

You will be creating if you do those three things, creating a life pleasing to him, a life of being more like Him.

We seem to be awash with lovely blessings this year, our handmade quilt,  this sculpture, the support of my sister, brother, brothers in law, our family, friends, church family. Truly our Father gives us all things richly to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). How have you been made rich in your heart and life? How determined are you to create an atmosphere of adoration this season?

 

Go ahead...share the encouragement
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email

Tidings of Chaos and Noise

Does it feel like your world is too full of chaos and noise instead of comfort and joy this season? Too often lately, I’ve felt more like this picture:

chaos and noise

My calendar is too full. I’ve forgotten yet another appointment; I’ve missed another friend who said she wanted to get together. A different family has said “maybe after the holidays” when I’ve tried to schedule something. Not criticisms, just reality. I’m busy. You’re busy.

My “to do” list has overflowed my calendar and endless “post-it” notes are scattered around to vainly try to cut through the noise of obligations and remind me of the endless tasks that need to be done. Everything seems “urgent” these days.

There are gifts to buy and wrap, packages to send, cards to address, cookies to bake. And that’s just this week! Christmas carols remind me that the reason for the season is the Prince of Peace, but my world feels at odds with that at the moment.

Can you relate? Does life feel a bit out of control for you? Do you want to cover your ears and scream – if only to blot out the external noise for just a moment?

As I was rushing home the other day from a bevy of errands, I was convicted by hearing the song “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” on the radio. I know that song, I’ve heard it many times before. But a line grabbed my attention “O Hush the noise, ye men of strife/and hear the angels sing.”

Did you catch that? “Hush”, hush the noise? I don’t remember that being in the song…. And as it turns out, that line is in a 3rd verse that is often not included in hymnals. The story behind the hymn is fascinating, so do have a read over at that link.

What I need is not more time or less stuff to do. I need to HUSH. I need to stop striving, stop rushing and just HUSH. Can I hear the angels singing? Have we missed the message of that first Christmas in all the noise of our “preparations”? Take a minute – or several – and just stop what you’re doing. I know, you have too much to do. Stop anyway.

Take a listen.

He has come, He is coming again and that day will bring real and lasting peace. Let’s not miss that promise of peace in all the noise of our day.

Merry Christmas!!

Go ahead...share the encouragement
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email

Joy for the Sad

There are some paintings you just can’t part with. The painting below, “I’ll Fly Away” was really my first pastel painting. 

© Laura Gabel, "I'll Fly Away". Pastel on art.
© Laura Gabel, “I’ll Fly Away”. Pastel on art.

I didn’t like pastel, I thought it was messy, dusty and difficult. I persevered somewhat, but my teacher Laurie McKelvie was so passionate and so encouraging I just had to plod on. Kudos to her; I ended up loving pastel, learned about the amazing history and longevity of pastel, and developed as a pastel painter. But this blog isn’t about that story, as wonderful as it is.

I wouldn’t sell this painting, not because it’s my first, but because it is somewhat autobiographical. It’s really about the story of how I saw myself.  I was determined to compose and design a painting that portrayed the old me. My art was born out of some very raw pain, sadness and hurt. If you are not familiar with how I came to art very late in my life, please do read my story

When you look at the painting you see a young, unhappy girl gazing at the bluebird, wishing and hoping she could fly away. Believing that beauty was somehow in her future, that freedom was right around the corner. Sadness and pain is on her face but the bluebird is her hope of transformation. 

Finding True Joy

We hear so much about “Joy to the World” during this season and the joy of our Savior’s arrival is real. But as the light of His birth grows brighter and brighter, as we draw nearer to Christmas day there are others, for whom the days grow darker. Sadness overtakes them, loneliness beckons, darkness tries to overtake the light. 

But a prophet (Isaiah 61:1-3) promised that Jesus would come to comfort all who mourn, to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. That promise is real! In fact often when people see this painting they can’t possibly believe that this was me! But it was.

Here are some things I learned during this transforming time:

  • Misery loves company and it’s usually the wrong kind of company! Choose to be with those that will feed your soul with joy, not your sadness.
  • Practice looking for beauty in nature. Peace can be found in the quiet contemplation of His creation.
  • Concentrate on what you have rather than what you don’t have. This is important! All advertising points to what you must have in order to make you happy. But as we all know, the happiness of a new phone, car, dress doesn’t last long. So as my good friend Pam says, “turn your wanter off!”
  • Focus on the Light of the world. 

joy to the world

I’d love to know what you think of my first painting. How have you learned to repaint your life?

 

Go ahead...share the encouragement
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email