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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Land Where My Fathers Died

Continuing the theme, celebrating the United States becoming an independent nation...under God, this is the fourth painting of six I did in the 1990's based on the first verse of the song America.

I ask the question here...Can true lasting peace be purchased? Can it be negotiated? Can it be forced by military conquest? Are peace and safety the rights of a nation? Do they have to be fought for or do they just happen?

George Washington said, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." Abraham Lincoln said, "Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it." Thomas Jefferson felt that peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy. Theodore Roosevelt more closely approached the truth when he said, "Peace is normally a great good, and normally it coincides with righteousness, but it is righteousness and not peace which should bind the conscience of a nation as it should bind the conscience of an individual; and neither a nation nor an individual can surrender conscience to another's keeping."

Our forefathers, because they abided in the light of Holy Scripture, made many decisions based on its truths that were good for this nation and its people. America prospered because of its strong character as a result of her trust in God. Once again the Scriptures were proven to be true: "You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind (both its inclination and character) is stayed on Thee...who commits himself to Thee, leans on Thee and hopes confidently in Thee."

Can a nation expect to continue to abide in peace and safety apart from God? Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the great Russian thinker and author, offers the following explanation for the great disasters that have befallen Russia and now the world including the United States: "Men have forgotten God."

Let us heed the voice of wisdom. Let not the sacrifices and blood shed by our fathers be in vain. Will our children dwell in peace and safety as we have? Only if we once again turn back to God can we have that assurance.

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety."


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sweet Land of Liberty

This painting, done in the early 1990's, is the second of four paintings I will be featuring in this blog. The series of six paintings were inspired by the first verse of the song America written in 1832 by Samuel F. Smith.

Sweet Land of Liberty celebrates the wonderful freedoms we have enjoyed for well over 200 years.

When the painting was created, my purpose was not only to do a beautiful painting and celebrate the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, but also to sound a warning that our freedoms are in jeopardy. Now, things have changed. The warning has become an alarm. Please consider the following comments I made back then concerning this painting.

Because many of the early colonists were concerned that the Constitution did not specifically assure them of certain rights, a Bill of Rights, generally recognized as the first ten amendments, was written to alleviate those concerns. It was ratified on November 3, 1791.

Sweet Land of Liberty gives thanks for our American heritage. The model of the Santa Maria recognizes the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus. The banner of the Statue of Liberty proclaims that we are a melting pot of many different nationalities free to immigrate to these shores and plant roots in American soil. The White House banner remembers 200 years since its construction.

The clock, its time approaching twelve, is a warning that the freedoms we have enjoyed and taken for granted are in great jeopardy. The Bill of Rights, written by our Founding Fathers, has been repeatedly reinterpreted by the Supreme Court until it has lost the intent of the original writers.

Patrick Henry said, "This nation was founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Those establishing this country took for granted that America was to be a Christian nation founded upon Christian principles. Freedom of religion was the freedom from one denomination ruling the nation. It did not mean a nation free from religion. Nor did it mean, as interpreted in Engel vs. Vitale, 1962 that the Church and state must be separate. Prayer now is discouraged in the schools and in 1980 the Ten Commandments started disappearing from the walls of the classrooms.

The Founding Fathers knew what would make and keep America strong but we have sadly cast off our moorings. James Madison wrote, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." Let us not forget. My Country, 'Tis of Thee.

Let us remember our precious country this Thanksgiving and give thanks to God for His bountiful blessings.


Monday, November 15, 2010

My Country, 'Tis of Thee

For most of the 1990's I did a series of paintings (one per year) celebrating the United States becoming an independent nation, one nation...under God. The series was based on the song "America", written in 1832 by Samuel F. Smith. The painting above, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", recalls probably the greatest truth of all, that America was founded, established, and is maintained by the hand of Almighty God.

Over the next few weeks, I will show several of these paintings.

The young boy, in the painting, is wrapped in an American flag declaring in a powerful way that America is indeed his country. With his mind filled with the adventures and hardships experienced by the founding fathers, he pauses from his model building for a moment to give thanks and to reflect on those experiences as expressed in the book, The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel.

The replica of the Mayflower being built by the young boy is a clear and present reminder of the separatists who bought passage on the merchant ship headed to the New World. They sought religious asylum after separating themselves from the corrupted Church of England.

From Christopher (Christ-bearer) Columbus, who was convinced that God had given him a special mission to take the light of Christ into the darkness of undiscovered heathen lands; to the separatists; to the signers of the Declaration of Independence on July 4,1776; to George Washington, who led us in our fight for independence - most realized that it was God's hand that protected us and raised us up as a nation.

As the modern aircraft, in the painting, hanging from a string with canopy, wing, landing gear and nose cone missing indicates - our hope as a nation is not in our technology, science or military hardware but in God alone. My country, truly is of Thee.

High quality prints from this series are available. To purchase, select "Prints" on this website.


Friday, November 5, 2010

A March School Day

"A March School Day" takes the Bronze Medal at the OPA Western Regional
(Juror: Albert Handell)
This 16"x16" oil painting depicts a scene in Wylie, TX, but it also represents small town America and those memorable days growing up when we rode the bus to school.
I chose a square format because I wanted to compress the scene somewhat and use the wet roadway as a strong, dark value shape leading to the focal point. The orange school bus became a natural complement to the wet asphalt.
The values for this painting were first established by doing a fairly refined raw umber block-in. Once dry, a palette using white, prussian blue, alizarin crimson, and cadmium yellow medium was selected to complete the piece.
My friend, Bernard Gieske, a writer and poet, captured the sentiment of this painting in the
following poem.
Bus Stop
our bus moved on
through the routine of life
across the tracks of time
pass the signs that told us
to live life cautiously
we think of Joe, Mary, and Judy
Margie, Jane and maybe Charles
those cold mornings
standing in the snow
waiting for our ride
along the worn streets
the shuttered houses
sending morning puffs of smoke
to waken the day
the nickel and dime store
where I bought a kite one summer
there's Meyer's Grocery Store
good for penny candy
we rode as if
fitted into our places
traveling the school route
with a handful of books
and homework done the night before
this was our world for now
the history of our making
our week parceled out day by day
our time separated into subjects
our hours programed by others
our places assigned and seated
all neatly arranged and scheduled
we welcomed the whistle of the train
going places we could only dream of
counting the cars as they passed by
and last of all - the red caboose
we followed it until it disappeared
down the tracks
how stoically we wore the days
like the mailmen in all kinds of weather
life is a constant path of learning
choosing destinations to many places
reading signs of where we want to go
riding with others along the way
wondering how we all got from there to here
remembering those early morning bus rides