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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Business

Ranchers. Cowboys. There aren’t too many of those around most places. They are a unique breed of people. Like farmers, they have to know a lot about a lot of things, from machinery, animals, feed values, accounting, commodity markets, on and on. There is no specialized area of their occupation. But it is a specialized occupation all together. Under that unique type of hat that most cowboys and ranchers wear, they have to “wear many hats”.

A lot of farms and ranches are still family businesses, working together, learning what the other family members know to keep the business possible in today’s economy. I have discovered also that each family operation is uniquely run from all similar operations, varying skills employed and philosophies about their business.

Every one that I have witnessed seems to be the same, however, in their love, obligation and responsibility to the land and to the animals. They also seem to be very willing to help each other in any way when it is needed.

I thought I might write a few stories about the times I was invited into some of these ranches, camera in tow. This is the first “installment”, featuring a father and son. I was blessed with the generosity of the the ranch owners, the hands and friends who allowed me into their work and personal space. Some even had fun with it.

The rancher in this series has been featured in other artist’s work before. He has a natural personality that tells tales and whoppers without a word being spoken. Yet, his skill level is not a tale or whopper. He seems to know what he is about pretty well.

Before Picasso painted abstracts and distortions, he painted realism quite well. I think before a cowboy can be relaxed and play, he has to excel in his trade. I think that because of this man, with the rope and also painted leading the horse.

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The Roper – 36″ x 12″ – Oil

“The Roper” was taken from the ground, looking up on the cowboy seated on his horse. He swings his rope, placing the lasso under the back feet of a running calf. Cowboys catch the animals, treat them as humanely as possible while vaccinating them etc., and quickly return the calves to the mother cows.

“The Roper” is in Colorado now, private collection.

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Happy Trails – 20″x 20″ – Oil

“Happy Trails” depicts the rancher’s son, riding the periphery of the herd after the cows were herded towards the fences, being held in a group until moving further, or until the strays were gathered. He and his horse seemed more actively inclined that day, than the cowboys and horses that calmly rode into the herd to cull.

“Happy Trails” is in a private collection in New Mexico.

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“Jim” – watercolor

This simple little watercolor caught the joy and spirit of Jim pretty well, I thought. He had a good time in his work, here shown leading his horse.

The background of the watercolor is white, but the only photo I have of this painting was taken under a lightbulb which showed yellow. Ah, I don’t know why I did that when I know better. However, I do have a record of the work, and that is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

Farrier & His Horse Named Finn

Remember I talked about my friend’s coffee shop? Always interesting folks would show up there, anyone from travelers from foreign lands to Border Patrol Agents to cowboys, farmers and businessmen, and a farrier.

The farrier’s wife worked at a national park, and one of his jobs was shoeing horses.

(I wondered where the word “farrier” came from. According to The New Oxford American Dictionary, it is from a mid-16th century, Old French word “ferrier”, which, from the Latin ferrarius, from ferrum ‘iron, horseshoe’.”) It interested me to know that.

This farrier was gracious enough to let me photograph him shoeing his horse, “Finn.” Finn is a beauty, quite patient. So is the farrier with his craft.

After driving out to their place, I was able to get an entire memory card full of the photos of them working. I was happy to see the healthy feet of the horse and the wonderful work of the craftsman. The shoes fit well.  (I thought it would hurt my back dreadfully to bend over like that for very long.)

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Finn & the Farrier – 18″x 22″ – Oil ©Bohlender

I love painting horses, their textures, their well defined personalities and forms. I also have loved painting skilled workmen, their tools and clothing.

Mr. Farrier has this painting, wherever they are now. I am happy it is theirs.

 

Steel Sharpens Steel

This morning I received an email saying, “The living and true God makes every one and every thing exactly what they and it are at any given moment, and He is the way to navigate every situation at all times.”

It is in harmony with the several other quotes I keep by my kitchen sink, reminding us that everything is from the wisdom and love of God.

“Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.” – C. Spurgeon

G. Edwards wrote, “Again, I am awed by the number of Christians who find it utterly impossible to take this experience as from the hand of God… something that He meted out to them because He loved them, that this experience had divine purpose.”

God’s word: ” …for from Him, through Him and to Him are all things.”

Knowing these things doesn’t make suffering any easier… nor does it make the sword pleasant. Suffering is by its nature very unpleasant, yes? Yet, it IS meted out by the hand of God to those He loves… whom He loves…. and even more, we forget what we know in the midst of suffering, until He gives grace… until we all are surrendered to His will… until He transforms us into the image of His Son….

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Sufferings – 16″x 12″ – Oil

Husbands and wives, workers and friends, things in the world… He uses all things to produce a suffering which produces refinement, sharpening, dependence. It is humbling to be the spur or channel through which another suffers. Every time. Still, I seem to “do better” at causing pain than receiving pain. God have mercy. I would that I did not cause another pain, yet God gives this and may use this to produce “a weight of glory.”

The Spirit of Jesus living through us is “the way to navigate every situation.” We die to our self not by our own will.

 

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.

 

 

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.