Thursday, April 16, 2015


Several months ago, I got this idea for a new painting project as I was browsing online.  By means I can't recall, I found myself looking through a gallery of quite humorous mugshots.  While I was scrolling through these rather amusing faces, I couldn't help but think what great paintings some of them would make.

I've always loved doing portraits of people with expressive faces.  It doesn't matter whether it's happy, sad, or angry.  As long as it shows personality.  I love facial expressions that remind us of people in our own families, or our friends, or other acquaintances.  I love how a certain facial expression can stir up our emotions.  And depending on the face, a mugshot can be a great example of those expressive qualities.

How amazing is it that we can sense a very particular mood or emotion simply by looking at a picture of a facial expression?  We can just know what the person is thinking or feeling in that moment by the way their brow furrows, by how their eyes look, or by the way they've positioned their mouth.

I have to admit, this series started out as an idea for something kind of amusing.  It was just going to be something lighthearted where I'd use mugshots as the portrait references against some kind of fun, juxtaposed background.  But something just wasn't right about it.  Honestly, I almost scrapped the whole mugshot idea altogether.  I thought it was beneath me and my purpose as an artist.  It may have been entertaining for a while, but would have gotten old quickly.  But most of all, God would have no glory in it.

So then it hit me... What if I took this in a whole different direction?  Is it possible to see these individuals with the same eyes that God sees them?  They are perhaps at their lowest point in life, and I certainly don't condone the crimes they've been charged with... Especially if a victim is directly involved.  Guilty or not, they are in a place where their lives have been tarnished by something.  They have sinned.  And I believe that God has a message for each and every one of them.

I believe, in the words of my pastor, that God loves us just as we are, but He never intends for us to remain just as we are.  Some of the subjects I've chosen for this series have been charged with some serious offenses... from assault to drug trafficking, and from prostitution to first degree murder.  The challenge for me personally with this series is simply this:  Can I see them as God sees them?  If they are guilty of victimizing another person, can I sincerely pray for them to be transformed by God?  It's so easy to look at their faces and read the charges they've been brought up on, and to decide at that point what I think of them.  But what would God say to them if they were standing face to face with Him?

I know only three things about each of these individuals:  The crimes they've been charged with, what their mugshots look like, and the fact that they are all the works of God's hand.  I believe a drug addict can be convicted and transformed by God because I know one personally that has.  I believe a prostitute can be convicted and transformed by God because I've heard testimony by those that have.  I believe a murderer can be convicted and transformed by God because I've read about those that have.

Perhaps we're all familiar with such a testimony of someone who was once lost, and then was found.  Each painting in this series is the "before" of what may one day, God willing, become an "after."  But I make no attempt at sugarcoating their charges, or making their faces prettier.  In some cases, the realism of the series presents itself as, quite literally, the ugly truth.  Some will be a little funny, a little sad, or perhaps a little scary.  I'm hoping that they will evoke different feelings for you, the viewer.  You may be angered by some.  You may feel empathy for others.  You may pity others.

My hope for every painting in the series is that they may be visual prayers for the subjects, their victims if there were any, and for God's complete transformation in their lives.  Prayers that they may one day be profoundly convicted.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

News from the Studio 4/2/15


Well, a lot's happened in the past month, so let's get to it...

March began with the Blue Springs Fine Art Show, and a fine one it was.  As usual, I had two paintings in the show, as did everyone.  And to my surprise and delight, both pieces won awards.  Abbey's portrait took home the 2nd place award for the Portrait category, and my other painting called Intermission was awarded 3rd Place Best of Show, and went on to hang at Blue Springs City Hall for a few weeks.  No complaints here, I had a great year at Blue Springs!

But really, that's gotta be one of my favorite pictures of Abbey.. glad you could make it to the show, little Sis!
And speaking of Abbey's portrait, it has also now been officially accepted into the Images Gallery 11th Annual Juried Exhibition coming up this month!  That along with two smaller nature paintings of mine.  This will be my third year doing the Images show, and hopefully 3rd time will be a charm.  It's a tough show to win any of the main awards, and I have yet to do so.  We'll see what happens.  The Images show opens Friday, April 17th with the reception at 6:00pm.  The awards announcement comes at 7:00pm.  Hope to see some of you there!

As for current shows happening, I am the featured artist at Got Art Gallery in Lee's Summit right now for the figurative and portrait exhibition Head to Toe:  Art of the Human Form.  The show opened on March 27th for 2015's first official Fourth Friday in Downtown Lee's Summit.  I am also honored to be accompanied by two other great artists in the Lee's Summit area for this show - Teddy Jackson and John Ulett.  I hope you all will have the opportunity to check out this show before it comes down April 20th.  You won't want to miss it!  Here's a little sneak peek:

I am also looking forward to First Friday in May when I'll be heading out to the Crossroads Art District in Downtown Kansas City for my first Crossroads show at David Jones Gallery.  It's sneaking up on me, but hopefully I'll be able to show a few new pieces at that show.  I'm anxious to see how a new, non-Lee's Summit/Blue Springs audience will respond to my work.  Let's hope with money, ahem ahem.

There is still plenty of room for anyone wanting to sign up for my workshop!!  I cannot promise that I will offer another one through Summit Art after this.  At least not for quite awhile.  It depends on how this one goes.  You might want to jump on this one if you're able.  Please sign up at or call 816-600-5932.  Don't miss out on this!

So in other news, a week after the Blue Springs show, I had the wonderful opportunity to join a small group of students from my church for a Spring Break mission trip to a beautiful place called Chablekal, Yucatán, México.  I had heard the stories from last year's trip, and I found myself saying the exact same things when I got home from this year's trip.  The best way I can describe the experience is to say that it's like meeting long lost family that you never knew you had.  I regret to say I wasn't very good at taking pictures on the trip.  It seemed like we were always busy doing something, so taking out my phone for pictures didn't happen much.  I hardly got to do any sketching either.  But one thing is for sure, it's an experience fresh in my mind, and I sincerely hope to return again next year.

Well, as for new work, I had to take a break during and after Mexico for a bit.  But I am back to work now.  I've considered the idea of doing some Chablekal-inspired work.  But if I do, it will probably not be happening for several months.  Right now, I'm working on a couple of projects.  One of them being the largest nature painting I've ever done.  And the way it's progressing, I should have it finished by 2016.  No, seriously.

Finally, I began a new painting series just this week.  I won't say much about it except that it features real people, raw and unfiltered.  I don't know them nor have I met any of them.  But it taps into the heart of what I believe is true realism.  Here is a glimpse of the first piece of the series:

And with that, hope you'll stay tuned for more!