Farewell Goaty-Goats

We have had goats for about 6 years now, and now the last of them has gone off to literally greener pastures. Having livestock is expensive as well as time consuming for the care giver.

It affected me quite a bit more than I had expected to say farewell to Skunky and Mocha. They were very good girls, great with their kids and milking, great friends to my husband. He loves his animals, and they love him.

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My involvement with the goats (and chickens) is more peripheral, romantic and not practical in the least. I liked to visit them, see their babies, watch Jeff play with them, and hear the stories of their antics. On occasion I pet them, help take care of birthing and new ones,  pet Skunky on her neck and back, and, if Mocha would allow, feed her little goodies now and then.

I did like to hug Henny Hen and Mr. Rooster, a.k.a. Rooster Blowhard, and Jr. Blowhard… but the roosters in real life get very ornery over time, and we just leave them to their hens at that point.

There are three books written about the goats, chickens and others who lived on our place. They are the Mr. Floppysocks series – Mr. Floppysocks is Loved!, Mr. Floppysocks is Happy!, and Mr. Floppysocks is Content.

Funny things happened along the way though. Buying Jeff his new socks eliminated the “floppy socks”, we ate or lost several of the heroes, roosters get mean and the billies get rowdy. I do fall in love with the critters, and it is hard to write fun stories about them when they are gone. And, amazing but true, I didn’t have more to say about Mr. Floppysocks’ adventures.

It’s like having a testimony to all of their lives. I love their stories, and it was an honor to know them.

Mr. Floppysocks series © Jean Bohlender. All books available at amazon.com, and type in jeanbohlender.

The books have stories in them, totally illustrated in watercolor or photographs. They include things like a southwestern American wildlife dictionary with photos, an American idiom dictionary, etc. Each book had unique features, and plenty to say. They are fun to read and were very fun to write. They all have a Christian flavor to them. Their cost is higher than some books on amazon.com, but they are around 70 pages, full color and an odd size and are independently published.

Originally, I thought I was writing for children, small children being read to by their parents. Well, now I would say the kids like the pictures and stories made up about them, and the adults are affected by the stories.

 

Following the Work

There are pieces that want to be painted. They literally show you what they are, and we become a servant to the work. This was one of those.

The vertical climb of the Hope above the flying seagulls lifts one’s soul from the earth, to a more beautiful place.

I loved spending time with the Lord in this piece, a reflection of a part of my time staying in a more primitive cabin next to a small lake, healing, learning, remembering.

Layer by layer, I followed the work, and then the seagulls began to fly.

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Rising, Like Hope  – 18″x 36″ – Oil

“Rising, Like Hope” was a piece in my first one man art show, along with Empty Nester and Earl’s painting – there were around 20 paintings there. Most were seeking Hope.

The painting went home with a man who purchased it from that show, we had our photo taken together in front of the painting. I was pleased it went home with someone who truly knew how to rise. It is a piece I hope I see again.

 

 

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.