Early Works

I had always drawn or shown interest in creative endeavors, but I didn’t paint until I was 14 years old. After finding money on a sidewalk, I used it to buy my first Grumbacher oil paints; and copying from paintings in library books, learned a few things, painting on my bed. If you look closely at my very first piece (after a Vermeer painting) I used the pointed handle-end as much as the brush, but it turned out well for a first painting.

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I now possess this again, thanks to my aunt who kept it all these years. There were more paintings in between this and the painting shown below, but I have no records of them.

This work reflects the times, this being painted in my junior year of high school, while listening to Moody Blues, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Cat Stephens and others. I think it’s about 18″x 24″, oils, naive – but done in love.

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I gave the painting to a man who just came back from ‘Nam, and his wife and child. He is still my friend.

Although at that age our soul and passions are often misdirected, I am glad now that my art never left me. The Lord gave me art as an anchor, and later, a way to understand more of Him.

 

 

 

 

 

A Taste of Home

There are those things that happen every day in our lives that define who we are at the time.

Raising children was the happiest and most substantial of times in my life, the things we did together, and what we enjoyed together, how we lived.

We ate meals together, we read books while we were eating, or talked, but meal time was always good. Food was important, I thought I was making nutritional meals and healthy snacks simply by making them myself. Through the years, I discovered what was not healthy was sugars and white flours, things like that, but the transition of understanding and lifestyle was slow.

I was shopping at a sidewalk produce market, where a young Italian boy told me his grandmother did not use any sugars in their apple pies. It was a combination of apples that made it just right, along with few, but perfect, spices.

My crust was made with real butter and whole grain flour, my pie filling made with that little Italian boy’s grandma’s apple recipe… give or take a little of this or that.

I thought it was so healthy, we would eat them for breakfast, or supper, or whenever. I’d make 6 at a time.

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“A Taste of Home” – 18″x14″ – Oil

I haven’t been able to eat too many of any pies for some time now, but I savor the memories of eating together with my children. I love the bowl with the red stripe that was found at a yard sale, a hand cutting blender for the butter into the flour that I bought from Goodwill, a rolling pin from my husband’s aunt for our wedding gift.  The “salmon pink” counters (that came before I got there) tell a story of a house I once lived in, wanting to change the color of the counters yet never getting to it. Even the counters tell a happy tale now.

I still have this painting, will pass it on and not sell it. They can later if they desire. For me, it holds a representation of dear, dear times.

 

Wanting to Soar

In my 20’s, there was a constant aching for more – a longing to be free – to fly away. Always.

At the time I painted “Wanting to Soar”, I lived in a hotel designed to house recovering alcoholics. I was not one of the suffering ones, but my friend who managed it, was a Veteran of WWII, one of the American soldiers who helped in the liberating of a concentration camp. He was a recovering alcoholic, remembering the sights and smells and sounds… never forgetting. He was also an artist. He painted beautiful, peaceful pieces. He also empathized with me, a young woman making a living selling paintings and painting signs, designing a logo now and then.

So, I rented a room here, it was inexpensive and centered downtown across from a park, surrounded by the businesses I dealt with. I was making it as an artist, but longed for something, I didn’t know what. I was not a constant person in those days.

This painting was painted sometime in 1981-92. I had poor photographic records of art then, this has more neutraled blues in it.

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Longing to Soar – 18″x 24″ – Oil

A friend recently thought I should rename this to Isaiah 40:31:

“Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”

Indeed! He knew me before I knew Him, and He enables us to fly.

Another Hero

Jamie Fraser aside, my “more real”  hero was King Arthur. I loved King Arthur. My heart thrilled and sorrowed in his story.

While homeschooling my children in elementary school, we did study the dark ages, the iron and leather age, the Roman rule in Britain. Sometimes it would get so exciting while reading an adventure we could raise our sword arms, other times, we would weep, like in Mary MacLeod’s version that we read aloud together.

I still have nearly 20 books, including LeMorte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. Versions by Roger L. Green, Samuel Lowe, John Steinbeck, T.H. White, Antonia Fraser; the Usborn “Tales of King Arthur”, and the less fictional Geoffrey Ashe, John Matthews, Andrea Hopkins, Geoffrey of Monmouth and the King Arthur Illustrated Guide by R.J. Hutchings… and the Idylls of the King by Tennyson. Wonderful stuff.

We have our books about William Tell and Robin Hood, but King Arthur – he was my hero.

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“King Arthur” – 36″x48″ – Oil ©

This is one of my most favorite paintings ever that I painted, because I felt that I got him…

One of the houses I lived in had troubles with spiders and other things, I had hired a woman who did a wonderful job with insect control. She bought King Arthur while spraying the room the painting was hanging in.  That was one of the few paintings that I really missed when it was gone.

I think my whole heart went into painting this one, the plants and overcast sky, the movement in his horse and clothes, the confidence of a true-hearted man.

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.

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©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.

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“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.

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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.

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Buck – 18″ x 14″ – Oil

I painted two paintings from that day.

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Three Bucks – 36″ x 18″ – Oil

Truly a gift.