Leapin’ & Hoppin’

While studying in 1 Peter this morning, I spent some time in the phrase “you are exulting in joy unspeakable and glorified”. The entire verse is wonderful, and I was captured with the Greek words translated into “exult”.

I love this. The word “exulting” is derived from “VERY-MUCH-LEAPING”. Haa, such joy one cannot contain oneself, and begins leaping, hopping, and like the lame man made well, praising God.

I’ve seen some people exulting, very few with “VERY-MUCH-LEAPING”, although I have seen some children, and lots of animals doing so. Dogs get very happy when their owners  come home. Squirrels, rabbits, goats and others play happily, leaping and hopping. So do calves.

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“Leapin’ & Hoppin’ ” – 30″x 15″ – Oil

These calves had been separated into a pen apart from their mothers, and being released to go their way, were filled with happiness and leaped and joyed in their freedom.

 

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Front Cover of “Everybunny Praise the Lord!” available at amazon.com

While watching rabbits interact with each other and with their surroundings, I was inspired in this book to portray, for smaller children, the joy of creation and praise of the Creator of all. Leapin’ and Hoppin’ indeed. Exulting in the Highest. Bunnies, birds, bees and even trees, praise God, exulting in His goodness.

And, according to God’s Word through Peter, the out-called chosen ones –  we exult in Jesus, in trials and testings, even when we cannot see or perceive Him through our sufferings. We believe, we exult in Him, in His unspeakable and glorified joy, in us, receiving the consummation of our belief – the salvation of our souls. I, personally, have not found myself leapin’ and hoppin’ over much during times of sufferings, but I do, by grace, believe Him.

It was fun to think about today.

Bring On the Cowboys

I have truly been inspired by “Cowboys for Trump”, their value of human life, their respect for the office of the presidency, their love for our America and their willingness to spend time and resources to support the cause they believe in. And the open declaration that God is the reason for all things…

But then, they are of an inspiring kind of folk, living a ways from town, working in the wide open without the “noise”. They care for the land and animals out of the same pool of respect that brings them to tears at the American flag passing by, and place their hats over their hearts during prayer.

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“Bring On the Boys” – 28″x 22″ – Oil

The cowboys I have met, call women, “Ma’am”, dress up to go to town or over to dinner, and come help each other out when needed for branding time or trouble.

I love painting cowboys. They were an iconic figure to me, an outstanding part of America’s heritage and history. I had wanted to know what they are about, having never been around too many cowboys before this time.

They taught me not to walk behind the horses (I was that green, having only ridden rental horses twice, and both horses knew how to get me off their saddles!); and how not to spook the cattle. I learned how they work together every way they could to get the job done. It was amazing to see only a few men move hundreds of cattle across vast spaces of land, herding them to the desired waterhole and corrals.

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“The Cow Whisperer” – 30″x 20″ – Oil

I saw them try to limit the separation time of the mama cows from their calves, make the necessary treatment as pain-free as possible to meet legal standards, employ masterful skills with ropes, horses and other “tools of the trade”. I am honored to have been invited several times to witness the different times of the year of working – rounding up the calves, branding, vaccinating, and marketing and other work that makes the ranch run smoothly.

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Branding On the Moon – 60″x 48″ – Oil

So, when you see these cowboys leaving their ranches, their work, their homes and families to support their cause, you know it is a valuable and just, necessary cause.

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Cowboys in Tandem – 60″x 48″ – Oil

 

For the Love of Ravens

Yesterday I found a facebook page group who love ravens. I like seeing everyone’s posts and photos, stories and art depicting the birds.  It is a lot of fun to post photos, especially when Jack is willing to be photographed.

Over the years, I have painted only a few works of ravens, but recently published a little book through amazon.com called “The Bunny Circle and the Raven Tree.” In the story, the raven watches the valley from the top of his tree, witnessing the bunnies and other wildlife of the southwest United States. It’s a cute little story, yet educational and interesting.

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A page from “The Bunny Circle and The Raven Tree”. ©Bohlender

Around our place, a raven couple has established their territory, much to our delight. I love watching them. Some of the images combined into this illustration are of the young bird, being trained. He knew little fear, liking to be near our house and windows. I must have several thousand photos of the ravens, with several being good.

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Then there was my lino block experience, I loved block printing for a short time in my life. I liked this raven a lot, using the prints both for sale, and thank you cards to purchasers of my paintings.

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Morning Conversation – 20″x 20″ – Oil

Morning Conversation is a friendly depiction. All the birds loved the pecan orchard, the moist soil and shade. This painting is in a private collection in Texas.

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Untitled – 12″x 14″ – Oil

Untitled used to have a title, but I cannot remember it. The painting has more of a jewel-toned violet, but this is the only photo of this painting I have. It is in a collection in Tucson.

Pelicans

Art is so extremely subjective, that bringing someone you don’t know much about a painting sight-unseen can be “risky business”.  Choosing one out of my collection that is of that person’s local environment seemed to be a safer course, as this would be a gift.

A family lost everything they had in a house fire, and I really wanted to help in any small way to restore their abode. In my life, books and art are at the forefront of activities and interest, so that is what I brought for them to sort through and choose from.

I was really blessed when the woman looked at the painting of pelicans and declared that would be perfect for her husband, because he loves the birds.

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“Morning Throw Bill” – 20″ x 30″ – Oil ©Bohlender

I enjoyed the pelicans along the gulf coast, their communal living and primeval appearance. Their fishing was exciting to watch, as they dive and catch.

Other pelican pieces painted include these two:

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“Lovely To See You Again” – 22″ x 28″ – Oil ©Bohlender

“Lovely to See You Again” was donated to an Air Force fund raising effort. I do not know who owns this piece, but I loved the “comedy” in their communion.

 

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“Friendly Gossip” – 16″x 16″ – Oil ©Bohlender

The comfortable fold of their webbed feet, the apparent interest of the one who is listening to the one joyfully divulging its treasured bit of juicy news.

This piece is a permanent part of my own collection.

 

San Antonio Sunshine

We went on a road trip recently, joining I-10 from El Paso, Texas all the way out to Alabama.

We drove as far as Ft. Stockton the first day. There we learned that there is a booming oil business happening, with “drilling going on all over the place”, and they just could not find enough help. There were plenty of new hotels there in Ft. Stockton, at a little higher than normal prices because of the demand.

Our goal was to make it to San Antonio the second day, without too strained of an effort.

It was cold, windy and overcast the three days we were there. It was cold, windy, raining and overcast the entire week I was there not too long ago. It was a little disappointing, but I did get to watch TV, which I don’t do all that often.

San Antonio is growing rapidly, with new housing going up everywhere. The city has two loops around it, and is said to be the 7th largest city in the USA now. I truly love the older part of San Antonio. I love the River Walk and the missions. I used to enjoy the Greenhouse Gallery, but they sold it years back and it is not there anymore.

This post is more about the memories of the sunshine, though I do plan a series of watercolors using the West Texas hill country, fog, scrubby trees projecting out of the fog, and ravens. In my mind, it seems Edgar Allen Poe-ish. But on to the sunshine.

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All God’s Creatures – 30″x 20″ – Oil

“All God’s Creatures” is one of my favorites, but it is a little busy for some people’s living rooms. I love the color and movement in this painting. I was impressed with three different cultures of people all forgetting everything and enjoying the family of ducks going by. They became happy, stopping to look, even glancing at each other occasionally with brief smiles. Sometimes we forget to look at other people, staying in our own world, but animals and babies seem to be a “protection umbrella” under which we feel safe enough to acknowledge other human beings. It was a sunny day at the River Walk.

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“Hot Dog” – About 24″x 18″ image area – Watercolor

Down toward the Alamo, there was a hot dog stand under the bright and happy umbrella. I was amused by the baggy drawers on the young man, and the man observing him cynically. Now in my cruder language, if someone is doing fancy deeds, showing off  or doing silly things, I might refer to them as a “hot dog”. So I thought this young man might be doing “silly things”. He is actually the Hot Dog, but the Hot Dog Stand deserved to be equally honored.

I love the lighting at the Hot Dog stand, the shadows – equally in All God’s Creatures. The sun was warm, then, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

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“Lady in Red” – about 10″x 16″ image area – Watercolor

So much goes on at the River Walk, people moving happily about, light and shadows, lots of color… even purple table cloths. Pigeons sometimes land on tables to clean up left-overs, but I didn’t notice any at this place. What I did notice was this graceful woman in a red dress. She may have been a hostess, or just there breathing, and I found her enchanting. She stood out in many ways besides the color of her dress, but her grace affected me.

This was a happy one to paint, layers and layers of light and color, a lot of activity and varying lines. And the lady in red.

So there truly are sunny days in San Antonio, they just didn’t happen this time through. I will make it to these wonderful places again, in the sunshine.

I loved painting some of the missions as well, the light and shadows, lines and textures. But that is for another time.

This painting is in a private collection in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

 

Being Loved at Annie’s Place

So the goats are gone, the socks don’t flop and it seemed it was the end of the Floppysocks era, the book-writing era. My books are not on the New York Times best-seller list, and are somewhere in the 8 milllionth ranking on amazon ….Which is fine in most ways, the Lord being in charge of all things and such.

Yet sometimes they are being read in the neatest of places… Like Annie’s place.

Annie’s Place is a safe place for children to be, baking cookies, painting their own outdoor area with happy colors, reading books. Annie’s Place is a warm place, with a porch swing, hummingbird feeders, a new juicer and a loving, listening hostess. She gives love to these children, in a most sincere way. God made her able to do that, making her (in my view), a very special vessel.

And He made a couple of other very special “vessels” who came recently into my life through Annie’s love and those very rare books at Annie’s Place.

 

 

 

I was truly blessed to receive this gift through these young men’s willingness to be photographed with books I had been part of. It was very good to hear that they read them together with a friend, talked about them and that they meant something to them. They said, “We love your books.” I wanted them to know that at that moment for me, this was a great encouragement.

Why did these boys run into these unknown books?… except the Lord is in charge of all things and such.

Annie told me what fine young men these boys are. They have a future and hope. It is wonderful to see what God has made in each child, who He has made them to be and become. I love how He brings a special friend at the right time that we can trust, who gives us an open door to know Jesus, and mayhaps, some very rare books.

Thank you for these pictures.

 

 

Another’s Seasons of Passing Through

Lately I questioned creating without showing the work. It was a retirement experience, yet art does not retire. I am grateful. Every day there is still the work to listen to and work on.

It is a happy gift to realize when someone tells you your art has affected their life, that the Lord has – through His grace – worked through the work to touch another human being. Either as creating artists or sharers in viewing, there is a quiet sweetness knowing that we have listened, and we are heard.

This is most of a message received recently:  “I am familiar with your work… I purchased a painting of a chair facing a fence. You said it was part of a series painted when you had faced several personal losses. This email is in reference to two other pieces in this series depicting a woman sitting in a rocker and a second one where the woman is standing holding one arm – …

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The Empty Chair – Oils

Currently in my life there seem to be lot of things going nowhere and I remembered these paintings. I told you at the time that what I saw in those pictures was hope; a person who was tired, even very sad. Someone who just had to stop for a while and let the feelings of sadness, loss, despair, weariness pass over – but someone who would pick up and move on. Life was not over, just a season that must be lived through. A place all of us experience at least once in our lives.

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Title – 36″x 48″- Oil

Today, during a time of prayer, those two pictures came vividly to my mind. They ministered hope and encouragement that brought tears to my eyes and a joy to my heart. I was hoping to find pictures of them online. Failing that, I found a way to contact you and let you know just how much they ministered to me. I love my picture of the chair. When I look at it I see hope, faith, expectation. Thank you Jean for sharing your life in your art.”

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“The Empty Nester” – 24″x 48″ – Oil

I thank you for your letter – it is a very encouraging blessing to me – a reminder that we really are “passing through” a place that is not our home …. and difficult times that build “an eternal weight of glory.” That we have our expectation in Christ.

It seems that all three paintings were prepared for my first one man show, entitled “Passing Through – Seasons of Mid-Life.” Amen. Passing seasons…

“The Empty Chair” is in a private collection in Arizona, Sadness is in Washington State, and “The Empty Nester” is in a private collection in Arizona.