One of the women expressing herself through painting.
I had heard about how the imagination is the last part of the brain to die. Today I saw with my own eyes the miracle of that truth. I held a Creative Expression Class for three elderly women in a retirement home this morning. They could hardly talk or hear and were wheelchair bound. Two of them kept falling asleep in their chairs. I placed a paper in front of them and asked them to choose the watercolors they wanted to use in their paintings. That’s when they woke up and pointed to the various colored watercolor tubes. I squeezed them out onto their paper plates. I drew a large circle on their papers and told them they could paint whatever they wanted inside the circle. Once they chose the color they wanted to start with, I prepared a paint-filled paintbrush for them.
I was not prepared for what followed. Once I placed the paintbrush in their hand, they came to life. They scooted closer to their paper and began applying the paint to the paper. For about 25 minutes they were focused and alert… they were painting. They decided where to put the paint, what colors to use and they created a painting.
Something clicked for them as they felt that paintbrush in their hands. That creative part of their brain turned on and they utilized their imagination.
Being creative is natural to all of us because we are made in God’s image and He is The Creator. It’s in our DNA to be creative. But this morning I saw that reality unfold before me.
When each woman finished their painting, they sighed and signed their work. Their paintings will be laminated by the staff so they can look at their creations.
I look forward to the next class with them. They may not even remember painting today but when I place that paintbrush in their hand again, the paint will flow once more and their creativity will come alive again. That watercolor brush is truly amazing!
To see some of my paintings go to www.etsy.com/shop/expressivepaintings or
“Break Every Chain” 12 x 16 acrylic on canvas
Last night I painted an acrylic painting on canvas which resonated with many people on facebook. It’s called “Break Every Chain” and you can see it here on this blog.
In this painting I broke the rules of some of my patterns of painting. I normally don’t paint on canvas because I prefer painting on Yupo paper. I don’t normally begin a painting knowing that I will have to stop in 30 minutes. I did so with this painting. Eighty Five Percent of the painting was finished in 30 minutes. This painting surprised me because it has a feel and energy that is literally bursting off the canvas.
I believe that in all of us there is so much more of us than we allow others to see. We are held captive by fear, and judgements that have been made over us and that we have made ourselves. We fear failure, rejection and ridicule. How many times have we told ourselves, “I’ll never do that again!” When we try something new and we feel inadequate we may not want to try it again. It’s safer to feel competent in our world where we know the rules and can function almost without thinking about it. But the price we pay for safety stifles our creativity and freedom.
So what are some of the chains you carry with you? Chains are anything that hold you bound to something or someone. That something can be the way others see you. It may be your past. It may be an addiction or unhealthy relationship. It may be just plain fear.
The first step in breaking free of the chains is to admit that the chains are there. Sometimes that’s the hardest step. Once that step is taken, see if someone has spoken judgement over you as “stupid”, “fat”, “ugly”, “incompetent”. Have you agreed with their judgement? If so, you need to forgive yourself for agreeing with a lie. You also need to forgive the person who hurt you by saying such things or treating you badly. You only hurt yourself if you don’t forgive. That other person is not suffering because you don’t forgive them.
Ultimately true forgiveness comes from the One who took every judgement upon Himself so we would not have to carry that judgement any longer. His gift of forgiveness is free and leads to true freedom. If you have not met Him yet or have forgotten about Him. His name is Jesus and He is in the business of breaking off your chains. “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain… to break every chain.”
Some concepts cannot adequately be expressed through words alone. Some things are better said with an image or picture. I think that’s why first impressions are so important. It’s a visual image we see and it speaks volumes.
As I’ve been painting a painting a day since January 1st, I’ve found myself digging deeper for subject matter. Images that normally wouldn’t find their way into my work are appearing. Yesterday I painted a painting entitled “Out Of The Shadows”
I’ve been facilitating a bible study/class/support group for victims of domestic abuse for the last three weeks. My eyes are being opened to the reality of a woman’s journey out of a silent suffering that occurs behind closed doors. As I was preparing for the lesson yesterday I painted “Out Of The Shadows” I was deeply feeling the sense of hiddenness that so many women feel when they hide in the shadows of abuse. Many times the hardest thing to do is admit that emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse is taking place. If they admit that this is happening then they will have to admit that their dream of a happy, successful marriage or relationship is nonexistent. But admitting the truth does set one free. And coming out of the shadows does begin the process of freedom from abuse. One of the tools that the abuser uses to keep his victim bound is the tool of silence. If the victim remains silent, the abuser has won and she is the one who continues to suffer.
I am honored to assist these courageous women begin to find their way out of darkness and into the light of truth and love. In the painting, a woman is covered by dark long material. She is breaking out of the silence and away from the identity of a victim. She is coming out into the light. In the background you see her abuser. As she steps forward, he is exposed. This is something he does not want and he turns away from the light.
This painting is symbolic of anyone who is stepping out of any kind of darkness of lies and into the truth. May it give you courage and understanding of the many women who suffer daily from abuse. God is making a way for women of all backgrounds and faiths to come out of the shadows and get the help they need to find freedom. If you are one of those women I urge you to contact your local YWCA and talk to someone there. The group I facilitate is Christian based and its founder lives in Oregon. God is moving heaven and earth to make a way for women to find their way out of the shadows and into the light. Let Him help you for He so loves you and He will never leave you. There is nothing, nothing, nothing that can separate you from Him.
“Out Of The Shadows” Acrylic Ink and Acrylic Paint on Yupo paper
How important is it to create and be creative? isn’t being creative a luxury? Isn’t it a non essential? After all, there are more important things to do like work at a job to pay for food, shelter and the necessities of life.
As children, we never thought about questions like this, we just were kids who knew how to play and have fun. Much of that fun had to do with creating games and skits and putting things together. Children are by nature creative. They can spend hours playing with wooden blocks or legos. To create is to imagine something in your mind and then give it form and life in the physical world. Any inventor can tell you that before they invented something, they imagined it.
I would venture to say that creating is really essential for happiness and emotional health. Not just for children but for people of all ages. One clue to validate the importance of creating is found in the bible.
In the beginning God CREATED the heavens and the earth. That is the first sentence in the bible. It tells us the very first thing that God ever did. The bible also tells us that we are made in His image. So if we are made in the Creator’s image… we were meant to create. It’s what He did in the beginning and continues to do each time a new baby is born.
If you find yourself feeling frustrated with life and feeling insignificant, perhaps you need to create. It might mean you need to express yourself through song, dance, a drawing. a painting, or the written word. The wonderful thing is that it won’t cost you tons of money. All you need is a desire to try. Do you have paper and pen? Do you have paper and some markers or crayons? Just begin. Write down your thoughts. Draw that image in your imagination. Get out your instrument and begin to play. Put on your dancing shoes. What have you got to lose? You were meant to create. It’s in your DNA. I’ll venture to say you’ll feel like a child again and that’s always a good thing.
Throughout the years that I’ve been painting I’ve often contemplated how we ourselves are like a painting. Our lives sometimes don’t make any sense… just like a painting when an artist is first starting. The dark shadows in a painting as well as the dark times in our lives give the light and the joyful times a place to burst forth with clarity and beauty. It is always comforting to remember that God is not finished with painting us… we are a work in progress. As I was praying about what to post today on my blog, the Lord reminded me of a piece I wrote a several years ago. So here it is….
“You Are A Masterpiece”
IMAGINE…that you are a canvas. You are blank. Nothing has touched you until now. You are lying on a table in the Master Painter’s art studio. He comes over to you and picks you up and you feel His touch. He places you securely on his easel. He has been thinking about what He is going to paint on you for a long time. His thoughts and feelings about you have been stirring in His heart since the beginning of time. He is now ready to begin His masterpiece. He opens his paint box and takes out his brushes. Now He begins to mix His paints. you smell the turpentine and the linseed oil. With a charcoal stick He sketches the drawing for His painting with precision and skill. He steps back to take a look at His work. He smiles and says, “It is good”.
Next He picks up a paint brush and saturates it with paint. He paints the first stroke. You feel His touch through the brush. More brush strokes – each one strategically placed. Back and forth, up and down. You feel the cool paint brushed upon you. Pigments of color, bright yellow, blues and burnt umber begin to fill your surface. The Master Painter begins to sing as He paints. He sings over you. All He sees is you… His emerging creation. you look into the Master Painter’s eyes. He is focused. His gaze is locked onto you. From deep within Him you emerge. You cannot see yet what you look like, but you see the pleasure in His eyes. After days of painting you, He is finally finished. He signs His name on you. He steps back and sighs deeply. You, His masterpiece are finished. He smiles and says, “This is good. This is very good.”
You are God’s masterpiece. You reflect a part of the beauty of God, for you have been made in His image (Genesis 1:26). There is no other person exactly like you on the face of the earth. You are one of a kind, an original. God loves you deeply.
I Give You My Heart $145
“Good Ground” $125
So I’ve made a 2014 resolution to paint 30 paintings in 30 days. I’ve read about other artists doing this but have never attempted this before. Basically I’ve never had the time before. Until recently I was working part-time as a therapist with foster children. That job was very rewarding but took a toll on my energy reserves. I don’t think I realized how taxing it was to me until my job ended December 2nd 2013. The ending of that job was mutually agreeable. I gave a 3 month notice and then two weeks later was informed that our program was closing in two months.
While everyone around me was lamenting about our closing, I was actually glad. Children would be placed in other programs and I would get a small severance package. And the most important thing would be that I could devote myself to my art full time.
Something happens when you make that full time commitment to create. You see yourself as a professional artist and not just someone who paints. When your livelihood depends on your art, you have to take yourself seriously. So when the idea came to paint 30 paintings in 30 days… it made sense to give it a try.
So here are my first three paintings for 2014 painted in three days. The first painting is a collage painting. I incorporated a previous painting from 2008 and a print of a recent painting. It’s called “Good Ground”. It is secured on stretched canvas and measures 20″ x 16″. The second painting is painted on Yupo paper with watercolors and acrylic ink. It is called “I Give You My Heart” and measures 10″ x 13″. I purposely started with darker colors and then went back and removed paint to make room for the light. It came quickly and I was pleased with the result. The third painting which I painted today is called “Enchanted” It is painted on Yupo paper with gouache and acrylic ink. When I showed my daughter, she liked it a lot. We both thought of the name “Enchanted” at the same time…. That’s not a coincidence.
Paintings and prints of these paintings can be purchased at:
This is an example of my work on Yupo paper painted in 2012
For the last seven years I’ve been painting almost exclusively on Yupo paper. “Yupo” prounounced “you poe” with the emphasis on the “you”, is a slick, synthetic white paper that lends itself to lots of experimentation. The paint is not absorbed into the paper like most papers, instead it evaporates. That’s how it dries. And the wonderful thing is that while the paint is wet, you can move it around and manipulate it. Probably even more amazing is that the paint will do unexpected things completely on its own. Due to the slick surface, the paint tends to move and not stay where you’ve placed it.
Now, I love that part about Yupo paper. But there are some artists that really don’t like that unpredictability. As an artist painting on Yupo, I have to give up a great amount of control and just see what the paint is going to do. For that reason I never know what I’m going to paint when I start a painting. I choose some colors, turn on my CD player and start listening to worship music and begin applying the paint to the paper. Over the years I’ve learned various techniques and have come up with a few of my own. As I “play” with the paint I eventually see an image and then further define it. If the image doesn’t work out, it’s not a problem. I just wipe it off and start over.
I first learned about Yupo paper from an abstract artist named Paul Kirby who is a member at Hanover Area Art Guild in Hanover, PA. He was demonstrating how he blew acrylic ink with an atomizer onto Yupo paper.
This is an example of a painting of how I used to paint before Yupo paper.
I was fascinated. When he said he was giving a class, I immediately signed up. I took two classes from him and fell in love with this amazing paper. My brain is always looking for images. I see images in clouds and trees and random things. It’s not something I have much control over. There is no doubt in my mind that the use of Yupo paper opened up a whole new world and expression for my creativity. My style completely changed when I started painting on Yupo. Prior to Yupo, my work was comprised of realistic portraits painted from photos. I painted on canvas with acrylics and sometimes oils. Now my work is comprised of people, but mostly women. And their faces tend not to have features at all. If I don’t see the features of the face, I don’t put them in. Unintentionally, I developed a style that is unique and recognizable by most people. That was a nice benefit of painting on Yupo.
What is Yupo paper? It is the vehicle that God has used to allow my imagination to fly and be seen. What previously was only in my mind is now painted with acrylic inks, acrylic paints and gouache on hundreds of paintings. If you haven’t tried Yupo paper, I would highly recommend you try. If you live near Hanover, PA, I will be teaching two workshops on Feb 22, and March 1st at Hanover Area Art Guild. Contact HAAG to register. Their website is www.hanoverareaarts.com Their number is 717 632-2521 No previous art experience is necessary, just the ability to “see”.
- Artist and Maker: Elly MacKay (munrosheadesigns.com)
- Part 1: Direction (junerollins.wordpress.com)
In 2007 I was working at a health food store in South Central PA and loving it. I was learning about nutrition and working on a certificate in Nutritional Counseling. But in the course of a weekend the direction of my life took a dramatic turn. Some amazing things happened that weekend. I fell on my tail bone, visited a chiropractor, had an art booth at a wine tasting event, had a vivid dream and the direction of my life went from nutrition to painting for God. And I’ve been painting ever since. What started with a dream has turned into a full time career.
It was raining when I came home from work with an arm full of groceries. I slipped and fell hard on my tail bone. My daughter Sophia heard me scream in pain from our house. She came running to see if I was ok. I could get up but I was in pain. The next day I went to see a chiropractor. On a whim I had registered to display some artwork of mine at a wine tasting event in Hanover, PA where I lived. As I filled out the paperwork in her office I wrote down my concern about sitting for hours at my art booth. She was intrigued with my “being an artist”. I explained that I wasn’t a professional artist and that I was just doing it for fun. But she planted a seed that grew over that weekend. I was surprised how well received my art was at the event. Several people paid for pencil portraits I drew for them. I sold several prints and a $250 acrylic original. And then I had the dream. In my dream I was with my father and my Aunt Elisa. We were in some kind of retail place where there was a glass case with jewelry in it. Another women started talking to me. In real life this woman had given me a hair analysis to let me know what nutrients my body was needing. She said to me, “You have the ability to fly.” “Oh, I don’t think I can fly.” My father said, “Oh, you can’t fly.” My Aunt said, “Oh, you can’t fly.” But the woman said to me, “Yes you can. The way that a fish swims in the ocean, you can fly in the air.” I said, “Well, I’ll give it a try.” So I stretched my arms out like wings and jumped up. To my great surprise, I was flying above my Dad and Aunt. There was no ceiling. I looked down at them and shouted, “I can fly!” And then I woke up. I knew exactly what this dream was about. It was about my ability to fly with my art. All my life I had loved to draw and paint but lacked the confidence to pursue it seriously. The reason…. I never thought I was good enough. After this dream, which I knew came from God, I began to pray. As I prayed, I sensed God telling me that He wanted me to paint. But from now on, He wanted me to paint for Him. He didn’t want me to paint to please anyone else but Him. So, I said yes to God because I knew I could paint for Him. It wasn’t about being successful or good enough. It was about fulfilling the dream He had given me. It was about flying. And according to God, flying came naturally for me. Over the years I have pondered this dream in my heart. And I have seen God open doors for me that no one else could open up. This painting called “Dream Come True” speaks of me taking off with my art and painting and flying for God. It has been an amazing journey. And in so many ways the journey is just beginning. On December 2, 2013 I said goodbye to my part-time job as a counselor for four years and am now working full-time as an artist. Since 2007 I have painted over 230 paintings and sold about 80 original paintings, several hundred cards and prints. In this blog I will share the stories that go with my paintings. I will talk about the process I use when I paint. And yes, I do paint while listening to music.
“Dream Come True”