THE BRAVE AND FREE

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Shock and Awe. At the time, we were singing Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue”, and our country was recuperating from 9-11-01. We were shaken, but we were proud of our men and women, who were keeping the war “over there”. I really didn’t have much of an idea of what they had to deal with then.

Recently, Tyler Vargas Andrews testified before congress of his experience at the Abbey Gate in the Afghanistan withdrawal.

To me, this man is a special kind of hero – along with those who have suffered for another and maybe on account of another… his tears reflect all the wounds of war and the weight of memory… so painful… yet he dares to stand in integrity and truth, like a lamp shining in a murky place, naturally exposing where darkness lies. To this man, and all the people represented thereby, there is much gratitude and respect. 

Where the present darkness may temporarily abide in a form of power, Light shines through the darkness and the darkness cannot overpower it…

Here is a link to his testimony: https://taskandpurpose.com/news/marine-wounded-abbey-gate-afghanistan-withdrawal/

I have known several precious people who served in the middle east and in Viet Nam and paid such a price, speaking little or nothing of their experiences, yet the shadows of that experience affected every nook and cranny of their lives. They didn’t all have songs sung when they came home, we didn’t understand so much what they experienced, but in our heart they are honored and respected as we came to understand.

I value every tear they shed.

When the U.S. Embassy was vacated, some photos came out through the news mediums, not all were identified by the photographers. There was one photo of a service member holding the folded flag from the embassy close to himself, in the helicopter or airplane he was being evacuated in. What a tragic day. From this photo, I took a painting in sharing in that day with them.

The painting may not do his experience justice, but it included my prayers for those people that did have to experience such things. I thought about all that was folded in that flag and in his embrace of it.

There are more paintings taken from their experience when they were “over there”, each one a prayer, trusting God that these very special people would be safe in body, mind and spirit… a connection where I could share in their lives, hold them close somehow. I thought about these who served with their whole hearts, and what they were fighting for:

For each other and for us, and for our America.

This has been in my heart since I saw Mr. Vargas-Andrews testify. God bless him, God bless and heal all our serving ones, and God bless and keep our America.

“Let Music swell the breeze And ring from all the trees

Sweet Freedom’s Song:

Let mortal tongues awake, Let all that breathe partake;

Let rocks their silence break, the Sound prolong!

Our fathers’ God, to Thee, Author of Liberty, of Thee we sing:

Long may our land be bright

With Freedom’s holy light;

Protect us by Thy Might, Great God our King!”

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Father God, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus Name, Heal our serving ones, heal our Land. Glorify Your Name in America and all through the earth and the universe. Amen.

“PECAN HARVEST”

I used to live where my kitchen window looked out onto a small grove of pecan trees. A metal shed was the backdrop to the grove.

I loved watching the birds through the seasons and times of wild fires or migrations. They’d flock to the trees and irrigation water. But the ravens would come exactly when the pecans were perfectly ripe. They are smart and diligent, able harvesters.

This painting is taken from a photo I took through my kitchen window during their happy harvest time. I have wanted to paint it for years, but I just now couldn’t resist the verticals supporting the swirl of the birds.

“Pecan Harvest” – 16″x 8″ – Oil – ©2023 Bohlender

Being a small piece, it went quickly, and using linseed makes it dry slower, but I loved the flowing of the paints.

I am hoping to do a series of verticals with a spattering of things like people, or other birds, or cows? Images must be consistent with those two elements.

Then again, landscapes are tempting as well. More relaxing work than portraits.

“GOOD OL’ BOY”

My daughter has a nice boy puppy, who’s been with her since he really was a puppy. He’s a big boy, a boxer, a protective dog and a brute if he doesn’t trust you. But he loves my husband and I.

He smiles when we come, and laughs and wags his whole body when we take him for a walk. We don’t get to see him often, once or twice a year since he was a little pup, but he remembers, and it is flattering really, to be liked so well by such a good ol’ boy.

“Good Ol’ Boy” – 20″x 20″ – Oil – ©2023

Recently he got sick, but he pulled through. We were almost as happy as my daughter and her boys!

I painted him because the boys will remember their good friend, who lets them climb on him, who always walks into the room where they are, who was there before they were born, who protects them. He is getting to be an old good boy. Even though his growl is a little raspier than it used to be, he means business to strangers… but mostly in the loving business with the boys.

A friend indeed. A noble fellow. A good ol’ boy.

He was also walking by in the painting “Eyes On The Pies”.

“EYES ON THE PIES”

The joys in life pile up daily, yet some spark love like lightning bolts.

When we went to visit the grandboys, I was able to bring a couple jars of my homemade apple pie filling. It sure made it easier to make the pies, and faster. I had pre-ground my flours for the crust as well, so all I had to do was add butter and water, mix and roll. I love my pie crust. So do the boys. I love those boys.

They were very interested in how to make an apple pie, and after this moment of filling, were happy to help spoon the apples into the crusts. And they sure do focus and take it all in. I hope I give them a good example of things.

My daughter took some photos of this time, and I based my painting from her photos. She has loving eyes.

“EYES ON THE PIES” – 22″x 28″ – Oil – ©2023 Bohlender

We all had great fun EATING the pies.

It was fun, too, that during that moment, their dog Onyx walked by in the background. I had to include Onyx. He has been in the family a long time. He’s a good boy, but he didn’t get any pie.

My greatest challenge in this piece was identifying the camera distortions in the resource photo, thereby straightening entryways and one of the boy’s heads was stretched and his body leaning too far, like he fell off the edge or something. I simplified a lot of things, and maximized the duo light source. The canvas used to have a desert landscape painted on it, and I left some of the nubbies from the mesquite scrub for interesting effects.

There might be a thing or two that might spring out at me that I will make minor adjustments to, but for now, I like this one as it is.

I just ordered more oil paint from Dick Blick’s. I’ve been shopping there for many years. Getting new paint is almost as good as apple pie.

Praise the Lord Jesus for His grace and love of mankind.

A BRIGHT OUTLOOK

Walking through a St. Charles neighborhood, there were few places where houses were not dense enough to block the view. However, we kept walking around, discovering a park that was nice, but the best view was a vacant lot on a hill, where one could see the city beneath, over the rooftops of communities. We loved the view from that spot, (although we did not go up to the hill because it was marked as privately owned). A space with a view. That background is suggested here …though not detailed, the feeling is there. Space. A clear space. I love the feeling of freedom in open spaces.

The raven, of course, is Jack. He has never been to St. Charles except in our hearts, and our son has only been here once, except in our hearts. He was standing in his kitchen when I took the photo, with his cell phone. A view of sorts. He also has a pleasant outlook in his life now, and I find he and Jack have a great degree of intelligence and basic joy in their lives.

And since our son and our Jack the raven are some of my favorites, I saw no problem bringing all those pleasant attributes together into one painting, titled “A Bright Outlook”.

“A Bright Outlook” – 24″x 30″ – Oil ©2023

The painting is on a canvas with 2 other paintings under it, so it has the added interest of varied textures. It seems most of my life I have painted with some sort of green underpainting before a portrait, but for this one, I began with warm colors and stayed warm to go with his red hair. I use several brands of paint, recently enjoying “blue black” from Rublev and a Mussini “juane brilliant” as well as others beautiful colors. It’s fun to try new paints. Sometimes in working these days, I might forget what I’m doing a little bit or things like that, but I don’t worry about it like I used to.

Also, I discovered I have a tendency to use brushes down to their nubs. I don’t think I want to do that any more. It’s fun to have a nice new brush or two. Live it up.

THE GUIDING HAND

Grandpa tried throughout the summer to start a new little grapevine for Nio from his Concord grape vine. He thought about the sweet purple taste of the grape and how Nio would like it. He thought about sharing some things that he enjoyed very much with his grandson – gardening, sunshine, eating grapes off the vine.

All of his efforts failed, all his little cuttings died – except this one.

It was time to go visit and his grapevine was still very small and vulnerable. Well, he promised a grapevine to Nio (and you never break your promise to a child). He had to bring it.

Those fellows dug and dug out there in the backyard dirt, in a space where dad’s lawnmower would not be impeded. In fact, they had so much fun digging, they first dug a big hole – knee deep on Nio, and filled it with water. There is much fun playing in mud and holes.

Grandpa loves his grandboys.

Then they got down to business just a little ways from the hole they filled back in, so little brother wouldn’t fall in head first. Little brother also likes to tap a little bit firmly or pull things out of holes, and Nio was quite careful to protect his grapevine.

“The Guiding Hand” – 28″ x 22″ – Oil ©2023

One may plant, one may water, but it is God who gives the increase… and miracles.

The Gift of a Crayon

My grandson sent me a brown crayon.

It is one of the most precious gifts I have ever been given. Those little hearts and hands share so richly…. especially a “slightly” used crayon.

He is an artist in his own right, and I wanted to share the value of a gift and a brown crayon.

My husband sharpened it a little bit for me, and I set up shop. I had to work very quickly before the sun came up, so my light source wouldn’t change much, quickly sketching for reference, then crayon.

I made a print out of this process, talking about the lights and darks of things. I hope I made his day as happy as he made mine.

A lot can happen with a brown crayon.

While I was working, I was thinking of the song, “Your steadfast love, oh Lord, never ceases, Your mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness, O God, Great is Your faithfulness.”

It’s true.

STAND.

“In times like these” we can do what we can, some can do more, some less, but we can pray, to and with the One Who rules the universes. My husband told me of his verse this morning, “and the God of Peace will swiftly crush satan under your feet… the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you…” Rom. 16:20. He said when He crushes satan, it will be swiftly done, not necessarily soon.

I had at some time wondered “why do we pray” if God already has everything predestined according to His plan and will. Prayer brings us into His Person, His mind and sharing in His working, and administration … the joy of His presence… We may also be aligned in warfare, in His arms wrapping around us, relationship, reality, salvation, and much more, at various times and occasions. We, as His children, serve Him in His Spirit, just as the angels.

I know His angels are here, and they come according to His bidding. Angels assist us, whether we know it or not … sometimes we see, sometimes in hindsight. Our Shepherd takes care of us.

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation? ” Heb. 1:14

“And He says to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, from now on you will see Heaven opened, and the messengers (angels) of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man.” John 1:51

“He who went down is the same who also went up far above all the heavens, that He may fill all things—” Eph. 4:10

He is full-filling all things, He is the Ladder, His will is being fulfilled, His angels are His servants… His warriors (hosts), His messengers, He is their Course… their King.

I wanted to paint the angels, what I saw, but didn’t quite know quite how to position the angels, their attitude, their arms. I had photographed a wonderfully clouded day, part of which reminded me of a stairway or ladder. I began by painting that cloud scene, and it was the beginning, the base layer. Everything else is coming a step at a time. It looks some different now from the image shown here.

It seemed interesting to me that a previous time I had painted angels, they were pressing against the curve of our atmosphere, watching, protecting, but not entering. (This is a portion of a large painting done a couple of years ago).

After that, another painting with angels, and our prayers, shows our praying pushing back, entrapping the darkness from our side, the angels working from heaven, and all the power and directives and power coming from the Throne. The angels are in the heavenlies, more interactive.

“Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power….Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.  Stand therefore….” Eph. 6

STAND.

We are to stand as well. Pray. Be ready…

In the new painting, the angels are entering. They are standing.

I will show more of the new painting when I progress… in the “opening” of the portals from heaven to earth in praying, in the Lord’s timing. The angels ascend and descend on that ladder, and they are awaiting their appointed time. They are watching, waiting, ready, standing. How marvelous. The Son of Man in the Heaven and in His Body on earth, and He filling all things…preparing for us to go to Him.

There is another one, an Angel, or Messenger, in Revelation 10, in the future, when Jesus is in the process of claiming His earthly kingdom, one foot on land, one foot in the ocean.

Stand. He is doing all the rest.

It is nice to share in thought and deed, progress or lack of it… my work space I am fortunate to have, an easel that my husband made for me… some time ago, and the beginning of my present work. Hope I don’t screw it up. I’ve also been working in the book of Acts, now on chapter 10.

The “featured image” is from a book I did, from a series in a personal Bible study, from 1 Peter. I love doing the studies.

Goings On

I have been painting, slowly on a painting of horses I saw up on the mesa. I think it might turn out quite nice, if I don’t mess it up at this point.

What I have been working diligently on is building up my website with a lot of the art work I have done in my life, separating it into categories, organizing files, resizing images (I just learned about optimization, but I don’t know if I actually got it right yet). I think it all re-started when I posted about cowboy paintings. I also re-added my old domain name to the site, so I have two names that go to the same place.

It seemed like a good time to show you a doll that recently introduced himself to me as I was making him. Originally, I thought a sweet Waldorf type doll would be nice, but this doll took on his own personality as we worked along. I discovered a new way to make a nose, and he wanted to be mostly bald with a mustache. The clothes were like a simple woodsman or something. I was liking him. Everything is of soft fabrics – flannels, fleece and fuzzies, and a little yarn.

Then I asked my young grandson to name him, and he immediately announced his name to be “Judah”. Interesting and surprising, but he was certain of his choice. Well, I thought if his name is Judah, he needs a little cap and prayer shawl, which I learned are called yarmulke and tallit, ( I hope I got that right, sometimes I am not accurate in my searches).

Judah’s personality wanted to be, so here he is.

“Judah”

I really like this doll, and added him to my other dolls in the guest room, just for fun.

Also still working on the Book of Acts, but haven’t illustrated the pages for chapter 7 yet. That is a project that is calling as well.

Nice to visit with you.

Remembering the Cowboys

I had a good friend named Junior. He is passed on now, but a few years back he taught me a lot about cowboys and their work. I didn’t know much before these times, but I came to respect them, their care for the animals and the land, their working together when round-up times came.

Junior took me back into the places where they did the work, where they brought the cattle in from vast spaces into small holding pens or near watering holes, usually a ways from the highways, sometimes over rough terrain.

It was enjoyable then to paint the horses, the men and the cattle. It was a time of transition for me and an adventure, good painting times. I was showing at a couple galleries and had a few one-artist shows. It was a lot of work, but I got it done.

I didn’t romanticize any of it, and painted the men as they are today, and the work as they do it. They each have their own ways, but all were skillful and work together.

“Cowboys in Tandem” – ©2022 – 60″ x 48″ – Oil

I don’t know where these fellows are today, two are passed on. But I will remember their hands and their ropes, the way their horses respond to the cattle and the man on their back. It’s like poetry at times. It was an experience I treasure. I didn’t know before this that some horses can talk to you if you listen.

I don’t remember how many paintings all together I did of the cowboys, but it was many.

There were four different ranches I went to. Each was unique and well managed. I am forever grateful for them letting me be there, taking hundreds and hundreds of photos to work from.

I was reminiscing about my friend Junior today, remembering him. He was a fine man, his wife equally as wonderful. But I miss him. He was one of the good men on the earth.

God is good. It’s amazing the places we go and people we get to know in a lifetime.

I have added a new tab on the home page menu, “Western Art”.