Working in More Heavenly Places

It is a very enjoyable attempt to know what God’s Word says, and what His heart’s desire might be. It is also a lot of work, but not the kind that is a burden, more the kind where you get enlivened to continue.

It is not a perfect work, it began as a personal Bible study for me, working from many versions of the Bible, to know what the Word says, understanding it and illustrating it. It is a very objective and subjective experience.

The materials are what I had around – block printing papers that I never used, Golden acrylic paint, Sakura micron pens and pencils. There are corrections on the pages, an occasional pencil mark that wasn’t caught, maybe some paint outside the lines.

What “it” is coming to be is an illustrated blended version of four of Paul’s letters while imprisoned in Rome in 63 a.d. And I love doing it. I loved learning the story by seeing the sequence of the letters and a little of the history behind them. The book “Revolutionary Bible Study” by G. Edwards helped me there.

watermarked copy

©2018 Jean Bohlender

The Word is good, and that is free to anyone who will listen. The illustrations are protected. (I always feel I must apologize for watermarks, but have found them necessary).

This is a sample page from Philippians. They are not all so ornate, but I did like the message on this page.

The camera work is next, along with a little editing, computer work and setting it up for publication. I do my books via independent publishing. My camera and tripod are just that – not all that fancy. I do my best to get the artwork squared up. My lighting is 5700k full spectrum florescent, my “vacuum plate” is a toy box (or sometimes I use an ironing board). Not a fancy operation, but it’s what I have to use until I get to heaven.

My current project is exciting to me. I still have a ways to go, and there is not a great deal of pressure to finish. What a joy.

The “Romance” of It

Once upon a time, I had my “romance novel” phase, with one particular author: Diana Gabaldon. Her Outlander series sparked an interest in me that no other in that genre has or had done.

I started reading the series from a used paperback copy of “Outlander” in 1993 or 4. I bought edition 4? and waited in line as she signed copies in Barnes and Noble, a line that wrapped around the store. For my purchased copies of the first 3 hardcovers, I have signed bookplates, ordered from her web site then. I gobbled up every available story in that series, through new editors and printers, the cover changes, the “Outlander Companion” scandal when the first companion book came out, rather than the new novel. I have read up to the current book, “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.” However, there became so many offshoots and parallel plots to Jamie and Claire’s own story, that my fervor cooled enormously. Then the tv movies they made just had a “little more color” than I’m used to that the love scenes lost their mystery and intimacy. I also hope I don’t die before I know the ending to Jamie and Claire’s own story.

But, back to the days before the Battle of Culloden, in her books, I could smell the heather, feel the tearing through the stones, and Jamie became my hero. Who could be more alluring? The history was magnetic, I had to find a way to be Scot. There must have been some in my dna, however I failed to find even one gene in that direction. I bought books on the war, the clans, the dirks, etc., and put out two paintings during the time of my ardent, early love.

The first painting was an attempt to paint Jamie. I missed it, but when you’re in love, what would that matter? I had bought a Gaelic Bible, and painted the verse from Micah, “Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise!” in Gaelic on the painting. A little corny, but when you’re in love, what would that matter?

I donated the painting to a fundraising auction, the auctioneer stole the painting and never put it up for bids. He, apparently, was Scot. He also was made to recompense me by providing one of his own art works, a silver tree, which reminds me of those days, even if the silver is as tarnished as my initial fervor.


“Do Not Rejoice Over Me When I Fall” –  24″x 48″ – Oil ©Jean Bohlender

The second painting was my response to the history of the Battle of Culloden, my dismay resulting from the Redcoat’s nastiness, Jack Randall’s in particular.

I painted the untrue outcome of the battle, where the Scot stole the horse, and killed the Redcoat. Indeed, the true history was dark and tragic.


A Different Ending – 60″x 48″ – Oil ©Jean Bohlender

Of course, it was a redhead Scot, in Fraser dress plaid, on a white horse, no less.

This painting is somewhere in Texas, I traded it years ago for a piano for my daughter.

These images are taken before I had a “real camera”, one day I hope to have better images. But for now, they tell the story, and a good story it is. Diana Gabaldon can tell an amazing story, that is a fact.



A Generous Buck

How wonderful it is when we get to see animals in the wild.

That surge of excitement overtakes me, the thrill of watching even a fleeting glimpse of a retreating deer, an eagle taking flight, or even tracks in the dried mud.

But one day, I stood still, and so did he. He posed for me. He knew he was terribly beautiful, even majestic.

Slowly, I raised my camera, capturing him. He stood, his two mates gathering closer to him. They were so beautiful, so grand. But he was giving himself to me in that space of time, in the beauty of the moment. I felt so grateful.


Buck – 18″ x 14″ – Oil

I painted two paintings from that day.


Three Bucks – 36″ x 18″ – Oil

Truly a gift.



A Tribute to Veterans

Veteran’s Day provokes a sense of gratitude, and pride, in my heart.

I have seen the varying costs to some families and their family members who are serving our America in the military.

My experience has been that no matter what our political leaders may be doing, the veterans serve from the heart, for America, the people, their people.

After 9-11 our whole world changed, as did our own Nation. Some of the people serving allowed me access to their resources from their experience to paint a tribute from. It is a gentled tribute, they do not speak of the things that are not. Nor do they normally show photos of the things that haunt their own minds. You can view other paintings in the series on the page Military Tribute.

While painting these paintings, I prayed for them, seeking to understand the world they were now a part of and what were the changes happening in them.

C130 – 60″x30″ – Oil — C17 – 60″x30″ – Oil — Going Home – 14″x18″ – Oil —

Title – 28″x22″ – Oil

Featured are Air Force, Marines and Army, but I give a very great thank you to all of our serving and retired veterans.

I wish you a peaceful Veteran’s Day.

Out a Side of the Boat

The morning after an election brought me to think about the quiet, peaceful place in the middle of a hurricane; and then to Jesus walking on the water. The disciples were afraid of Him for a bit, seeing Him as a phantom or ghost. It was dark, and the storm was raging, their boat was battered by the waves. I remembered, when my husband was talking, that Jesus comes sometimes in unrecognizable form in the darkness and the storms… sometimes it is the storms that cause us to need and see Him. Even the storms are controlled by Him, He is Lord.

Hence, I decided to share this painting, painted earlier this year.

Which Side of the Boat

Which Side of the Boat – 48″x 48″ – ©2018 All Rights Reserved

One morning I looked out the window at the sunrise, and all of time stretched out in the sun rays into an ocean, where Peter was stepping out of the boat, pressing toward the mark,  to go to Jesus. The time of Jesus on the water and His returning are separated by the shadow of the cross – nearly imperceptible now – painted small as a narrow gate, but huge and substantial in God’s plan. Peter walked on water, just as all believers do in belief until the return of our King.

Where Peter was with Jesus physically on this earth, we, on this side of His crucifixion and resurrection, chosen and called, walk to Him, look to Him, hope in Him…. being transformed through His working, as we are to be like Him, see Him as He is and know Him as fully as we are known by Him.

The holy ones clothing becomes the white linen, becoming the army of Christ coming with Him to Armageddon, ruling with Jesus in the heavens during the 1000 year kingdom promised to the true Jews.

Jesus is depicted coming on a cloud, on a standing horse rather than charging, until all the people that are called and chosen “get out of the boat” – resurrected in unending indestructible Life. Death is under His feet.

This scene depicts a passing of “time” as well as a “moment”…

Now the people who are getting out of the boat not facing Jesus, are swallowed up in death’s waters, then burning in fire. I painted them to actually embody the fire.

The birds in the painting: Doves represent the Holy Spirit, Seagulls represent the earthly and the vultures in the death waters I omitted for now.

The angels are seen, pressing against the arc of the earth’s atmosphere watching, waiting, witnessing, pressing – not yet released to deal out vengeance on those against Christ.

This painting came a stroke at a time. I was led through it, piece by piece. Being unsure of where I was headed with it, I used a very small brush most of the time until it presented itself to me.



Nio Sleeping


Nio Sleeping. His little cheek squishes into the mattress below him, his nursing-lips satisfied into fullness, and there is peace and total trusting rest. The sleep of the innocent. The sleep of a well-loved baby.

Nio Sleeping is my latest work, completed just a week or so ago. He is drying, before I send him off to his mother. I loved painting him, trying to capture the baby folds and chubbies. It took a few days to get the squished cheeky just right, and the light defining the curve of the nose shaped for nursing.

Nio’s skin tones are a fine blend of cultures, his hair a soft, yet vigorous, curl, his satisfaction complete. His bedcover was really full of big green frogs and lily pads, originally casting a greenish light onto his skin. I felt a long term portrait would be more enjoyable without all the activities behind him, and his actual mood would be better presented in the neutral blues and grays.  He’s all snuggled in and safe.

Time passes too quickly, this time of chubby folds, soft snuggles  and total trust in shared existence with mother. The closeness is precious, treasured and always kept in a mother’s heart.