June 24, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Strength

Artists will normally work in an area of strength. It is only natural.  If someone wanted to commission me to create a painting of their classic car...I'd probably have to turn them down.  That is not an area of strength for me.  Could I do it?  Yes.  Would it be an amazing work of art?  Probably not.  Could I improve?  Sure, I believe you can grow in most areas with practice.  However, if someone was commissioning me to do the work....they probably expect something amazing.  If I was asked to create a work for an upcoming show, I probably would not try something I'd never done before....UNLESS....I had the time to practice, fail, practice some more, fail some more...so on & so forth.  With the added pressure of being in upcoming show, an artist would most likely create from their strength so they are producing their best work.  I feel most artists are excited to try new things & aren't afraid to fail if they are given an opportunity to grow.  Growth takes time though. Developing a strength as an artist is a process.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things- and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.  1 Corinthians 1: 26-29

There is an almost cliche phrase in Christian circles..."God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called."  Things don't usually hit  "cliche" status without having some truth to them.  So often we think about all that we can do for God.  We look at our gifts & talents and believe we have something special He needs.  The truth is God wants our hearts.  We can have the most extensive training, talents beyond compare, and experiences that provide us with unprecedented skill sets, but it is a heart yielded to Him that will make the greatest difference in our world.  I'm not saying God won't use what you see as your strength, but we must humbly go to Him and seek His will/plan for our life.  Once upon a time, I was a shy & extremely insecure person.  I felt I could best serve God behind the scenes. Notice I said "I felt".  That was not God's plan for me.  He desired for me to be upfront. He wanted me to be an initiator of conversations & relationships.  He wanted me to place myself in situations where I could not hide or be comfortable.  Why?  Because He knew that is where I'd stop trusting in myself...and start trusting in Him.  Was/Am I great at it...no!  There are times I'd rather be comfortable.  There are times I'd rather do what is easiest for me.   Growth takes time.  Strength is a process. God gives us grace to grow.  God gives us grace to develop strength to fulfill what He has called us to do. We don't have to be perfect at it.  We don't have to be gallery ready.  We just have to be available & willing.

June 16, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Frazzled

Quality paint brushes are a must for any painter.  Brush care is also of the utmost importance.  There is just no way you can create high quality works of art when hairs are frazzled, frayed, and falling out.  You will find yourself creating more of a mess trying to compensate for these issues.  It robs you of your joy of painting in the moment because you are too busy looking for lost hairs or checking to see if the frazzled hairs have placed paint where you do not wish.  You find yourself distracted and unable to focus on what is truly important. All of which can be avoided if you just make the right choices! 

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, "Lord don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!"   "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed- or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."    Luke 10:38-42

Oh Martha, how I connect with you and your ways! I wish I was a Mary, but I am not.  I find myself running around in a tizzy...frazzled and frayed by all that life has placed on my plate(or that I have placed on my own plate!).  I can be so busy with "life" that I miss opportunities for what God REALLY wants for me. I'm too distracted to see moments to sit at the feet of my Lord.  I'm too worried about things that don't really matter, and miss God given opportunities to speak truth, peace, love...JESUS...into othes' lives.  I'm too consumed with trying to make things perfect that I miss the beauty in the imperfections.  Lord, help me not to be a Martha(at least not all the time)...and let me be more like Mary & make the better choice. 

June 10, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr.E: Seeing Beyond

Art has the amazing ability to transport the viewer.  For some, they find themselves transported to the depicted image.  They are very literal (not going to knock anyone who wants to spend time looking at art...good on 'em!).   Others will find themselves making personal connections to a time and place they've experienced.  They feel the moment like a memory.  Others may experience something more metaphysical.  The work will take them to a place that goes beyond what is visible and beyond a memory experience.  It's as if the work is imbued with hope, inspiration, despair, desperation, or other secrets waiting to be unlocked by the onlooker.  There is a painting at a local art gallery that takes me to a place far beyond the beauty the artist masterfully created.  Though there are connections I could make with the work and past experiences....it is more than that.  I see the glow of the sun illuminating the landscape, and my mind & heart are transported to a place of hope.  No matter what is going on in my life....when I see this painting my heart is warmed, my spirit is refreshed, and my mind is reset.  Others may walk past it, but I know the power it holds.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4

This scripture gets used a lot!   There is a reason for that...it is a truth we all desperately need to hear, know(heart & head), and apply.   Fear, worry, pain, tragedy, and struggles can keep us from seeing beyond where we are....leaving us helpless...hopeless....stuck. However, this truth transports us.  This truth allows us to see beyond our circumstance. This truth allows us to move forward knowing that He is with us & that He loves us no matter what we are going through.  Is there something you are going through/experiencing that has left you feeling stuck?  Are you unable to get past the past?  Is the pain of today too much for you to bear?  Ask the Lord to allow you to see beyond your present situation.  Ask the Lord to allow you to see clearly the truth of His transforming love & grace.  He is with you always. 

June 03, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr.E: Hear Me

There are many people that picture artists as angsty, brooding, anti-establishment type personalities. There are some who fit this stereo-type.  However, as with all stereo-types it does not provide the whole picture.  For every angsty, brooding, anti-establishment artist that is out there.....just as many are producing positive, encouraging, and enlightening works of art.   So what is the commonality within the artistic community?  Artists have a deep desire to be heard through their creative endeavors.  The art gives an external voice to the internal dialog that the artist possesses.  It can be positive, negative, neutral, or all of them combined.


No matter what it is they are creating....
they want their work to be seen & their voice to be heard.

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me' turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.  Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.  Psalm 17:6-7

In a world with so much noise, sometimes we feel like our voice can't be heard.  What a lonely place to find ourselves.  Speaking, but with no one listening. Shouting, but with no one caring.  Sharing, but with no response.


God desires to hear from us.  He wants us to bring our praise, joy, pain, requests, questions, concerns, and our everything to him.  He hears us!  We have an audience with our Lord.  No matter where you are in your walk with God....know that he hears you.  Even if you don't feel like he hears you....HE HEARS YOU!  In your doubt...call out.  In your joy...shout.  He just wants to hear from you.

And when you are done.....listen.
 He also wants to speak to you!

May 31, 2018


My wonderful in-laws gave me money for my birthday this spring and told me...."DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF!!"  I knew that I wanted to use the money to go to our Middle Tennessee Summer Workshop, and I'm so glad I did!  It was such a wonderful time of connecting with art educators I have known for some time....and meeting some new peers!  The workshop itself was also wonderful.  I took 5 semesters of watercolor/watercolor mixed media...and never had a formal class in any other form of painting.  So the class I attended was painting texture & realism.  It was a no fear super encouraging time to try something new!  Here are some of the pictures from the day.  

Kicking off the workshop...our amazing 
Middle TN Chair on the TAEA Board

Melody (TAEA President Elect) gave an inspiring keynote!

There were three classes going on that were a "refresher" on painting.  They were abstraction, watercolor, and acrylic.  I took the acrylic class that focused on realism & texture.

Some people get too into their work! ha ha

This one AMAZED me!  
So many talented artists at this workshop.

Isn't it wonderful how different these are...though the same subject matter!

You know it was a great day when their is paint on your hands!!!

Nick Cave's show is presently at The Frist Art Museum...
AND IT IS AMAZING! It is pure eye candy.  I could have spent hours looking at the work on display. 

May 27, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: The End

Endings can be tough!  Sometimes we get so involved in creating a work or series of works that it is hard see it come to an end. We've spent so much time developing concepts, sketched out ideas, experimented with materials, and bringing our ideas to fruition.  The work is not just a product of our training, but a part of ourselves. It is no wonder so many of us struggle to call a work truly finished. This can be exasperated if there is not a clear direction of where we're going next. The end of many things can bring fear & uncertainty.  However, the end of a work of art can also bring freedom to begin anew.   It is truly in our perspective.  Endings are just beginnings on the other side of a problem.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.  Philippians 1:21-25

Paul knew that he had an eternity with Christ.  He knew that this was much better than the things the world had to offer.  However, he did not fixate on this to the point of losing perspective.  He knew that his life (by the grace of God) had impact.  He knew that his life made a difference.  Have you ever met those people who were "so heavenly minded that they were no earthly good"?  They are so focused on the reward of salvation that they forget the world around them.  There are also those who come to Christ, but struggle to give up the things they want to do.  They always had done XYZ in the past...and they don't want to give that up.  Salvation is not about self.  It is actually the end of self.  We must be able to "die to self".  The end of our own wants & desires...and considering what Christ has called us to do.  Sometimes we're afraid that we'll lose who we are if we go "all in" for the Lord.  The end of our old self is the beginning of a new adventure.  We will find out more of who we truly are than we ever imagined.  The end is the beginning of something new and wonderful.  We can only get there if we say we are finished with the old self.

May 23, 2018


Did you know the artist Robert Indiana died May 19, 2018(Saturday)?  I totally missed this until yesterday.  He was a very interesting individual, and if you don't know much about his life & art career....you need to look him up.  All I use to know about him was a few of the "major" works he was known for creating.  

Today is WORLD TURTLE DAY!!!!!!
  I love turtles & wanted you all to know it was their day!! 

May 20, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr.E: It Takes Time

Clay is all about the process.  It is not an art of immediacy.  You create & wait days for it to dry.  You place it in the kiln to fire & wait (usually close to 8 hrs plus time to cool down before opening the kiln).  You glaze the work, place it back into the kiln, fire it, & wait (another 8 hrs plus time to cool down before opening the kiln).  If you are all about instant gratification, clay is probably not for you.  If you try to fire the clay too soon it might explode.  If you open the kiln too quickly after firing the clay could crack from rapid cooling.  If you don't place enough coats of glaze on the clay before firing it again, the color could be less vibrant or the glaze will not fire to a beautiful glassy finish.  There are many things that could go wrong if you rush the process.  It takes time....and that's ok!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

Our journey as believers is just that....a journey.  It is not something to be rushed.  You are where you are....and that's ok.  I've seen many become frustrated when they feel they should be "further" in their walk with God.  When they struggle with doubt, temptation, lack of knowledge, lack of experience....they beat themselves up over it. The fact that one is aware of these things shows that the Holy Spirit is at work.  The process we go through as we mature in our faith is one that takes time.  We cannot fall into the "microwave" mentality of our society.  Talk with those you see who are mature in their faith.  Allow them to share their experiences with you.  Most will tell you they are still on that journey.  It takes time...and that's ok!  Embrace the journey God has given you.  It is uniquely yours.  Know Him & Make Him Known!  

May 16, 2018

1st Grade Self Portraits

I love going through my students' work for the nine weeks...and thinking about how much they've grown!  The first graders have done such a great job on their self portraits(using mirrors).  To think where they were at first of the year...mind blowing!  This is why I love elementary so much......you see jumps in skill that are simply awe inspiring!  

May 14, 2018


Do you have a student(s) that encourages your heart on pretty much every project they attempt!  I have a 2nd grader that puts 100% in each & every project.  She works hard, takes risks, and always seeks ways to better herself!! I'm so impressed with this young lady.....she's awesome!!  

On this project we did a close up landscape that could have a fairy/gnome theme if they wanted(or it could just be a nature picture).  The narrative she created within this work is just stunning!  I hope she sticks with me through 4th grade...because I really want to watch her artwork continue to grow!!!

May 13, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Getting Perspective

I truly enjoy teaching one point perspective to my students. Making sure that EVERYTHING is lined up with that point can be challenging.  Even one line that does not line up with the point can visually throw the whole thing off.  However, once they get that "THE POINT OF THE POINT IS TO GO TO THE POINT" they are able to draw with great success. They gain a new perspective in learning perspective as well.  They begin to push their other drawings further.  They want to show depth & 3-D "ness" in all their work.  I believe one point perspective is a turning point artistically for many students.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.   Ephesians 4: 1-6

Our lives are very much like one point perspective.  We must line EVERYTHING up with the Lord.  Anything not in alignment with the Lord & His Word will throw things off. We allow selfishness, anger, greed, apathy...or a host of other things to take our focus off of God, and our lives will not look as they should.  Ephesians 4:1-6 feels like perspective to me.  We are reminded of our calling, to be humble, loving, and united in Him. If we have those things in perspective, then our lives will operate as God intended.  For those of us who know the Lord, we should pray that God will make us aware when our lives begin losing focus on Him.  We should also strive to have brothers & sisters in the Lord that will hold us accountable that know us well enough to call us out when they see our perspective is off.   

The Point of the Point is to Go to the Point!  
In this crazy world where distractions are 

May 10, 2018


 It is coming up on the end of the year for those of us in Nashville, TN & surrounding areas.  I know that most of the country may have a few more weeks left.


The end of the school year can bring a lot of stress. I have to admit...I'm feeling it!  Part of it is of my own making.  I'm on a lot of "teams" for the district, and we are trying to get a ton done in a short period of time.  That is in addition to the regular end of the year craziness.  

So how do you avoid/reduce this issue?!
I wish I could tell you I had it all figured out. I'm the king of over-committing. I love to be on the teams that are having impact in our district on art education. I want my say/place in the decisions being made. I also tend to procrastinate more than I should.  In addition....I've got horrible sleeping habits!  So I'm not one to see advice from on this topic!!! ha ha  I can tell you what not to do!

How do you manage the stress?  Is it working?
Share in the comments!  

May 06, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr.E : ALIKE

I love the look that can be achieved with oil & chalk pastels.  Part of their appeal is that they are incredibly soft and easily manipulated. The very thing that makes them so appealing can also be considered their "issue".  No matter the brand or price point.....they are challenging to keep clean.  They easily pick up color from the other pastels around them.  Many times I've opened brand new boxes of pastels only to find they are far from pristine.  I teach my students to clean their pastels before using them to avoid contaminating their colors with something they may not want.  However, they will enevidably smear an unwanted color into their work from an unseen crumb or spot of color.  It doesn't matter if I store them in their original packaging with trays or if they are placed in a box together.  It doesn't matter if they are the most expensive or least expensive.  The issues are the same. They are alike. 

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.  
Isaiah 64:6

It is amazing the finger pointing, gossiping, and head shaking that goes on in the church.  We see the "BIG SIN" in others' lives, and somehow feel we're better than them because their struggles are not our struggles.  Their "BIG SIN" is not like our "little sin".  We justify our own inadequacies by categorizing sin into least acceptable to most acceptable (our sin clearly falling in the "most acceptable" category).  The truth is sin is sin.  There is no BIG SIN or little sin.  The word "sin" comes from an archers term meaning "TO MISS THE MARK".  We have all missed the mark.  We are more alike than we want to admit.  Our issues impact the things we do.  Like the unwanted crumb of oil pastel color that smears into your work....our sin impacts every area of our life.  We need to go before the Lord & deal with our issues.  We need to be real, humble, and honest with ourselves & others.  This is what the world is looking for.....loving, authentic(non-hypocritical), and non-judgemental people that claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  

May 05, 2018

My Kindergarten Students Know Me So Well!!

My sweet ELL Kindergarten students told their teacher that I would enjoy this video & that maybe I could play it in my classroom while they were working!!
 SO SWEET!  (and they were totally right!! ha ha) 

Hawksbill Sea Turtles and The Best Relax Music

May 04, 2018

4th Grade Weaving

My 4th graders are a couple weeks in to their weavings....and it is going great with most classes.  It is amazing how there seems to be "THAT" class that struggles every year?  Is it group think?  Is it the placement of certain kids together?  Is it the end of the year hitting harder in some rooms than others? I love weaving, and am very excited to teach it...and to help kids that are struggling.  However, with "THAT" class...I feel like I need to clone myself once or twice?!!?  How are the rest of you doing?  Do you have the same experience?

I personally do feel that there are "classes" that don't mesh, that are heavy on children that struggle in mental, emotional, or behavioral ways, or that have a classroom teacher that can be inconsistent.  All of which can greatly impact how the group responds to other teachers & other subjects.  


I do believe that we have the power/ability to change the direction they are going.  I do believe that they can learn, grow, get along, and create amazing works of art!  I do believe it takes different strategies, different ways of encouraging, different levels of patience & grace.  I do believe expectations should be reexamined without lowering!  

Sorry....I think I was just giving myself a pep talk right there.  Maybe you needed it too? 

Just because...

Sorry if ya'll can't sleep tonight after seeing this!! ha ha

May 03, 2018


It is coming to the end of another school year(officially the end of my 20th), and we are faced with 4th grade awards once more.  It has changed over the years, but it is still something we wrestle with as a related arts team.  There are many students that are deserving for many reasons, and there are times where a class does not necessary deserve that kind of distinction. Originally we had to select one girl & one boy from each class of 4th graders.  We also could not "overlap" between related arts.  This was a huge challenge most of the time.  We eventually talked to our administration & they agreed to allow us to select whoever we wanted from the classes(two boys, two girls, or a boy and a girl), and that we could over lap in special situations were there was just a super start student that was deserving.  What does your school do?  Do you have specific criteria?  What are your thoughts/feelings on this topic?  

I will say....I'm so excited about the awards this year.  They have always been very traditional metal medals in the past.  I've always wanted something fun & colorful!
 Our new book keeper allowed me to  pick what I wanted!!!  

April 30, 2018


I'm getting excited as the school year starts wrapping up & my summer workshop planning kicks into high gear!  My wife and I were out shopping this weekend for supplies & give away items!!  

 I've received confirmation that we will have at least 4 different TN counties represented &  3 states(if you include TN....but there could be up to 6 states if some others that inquired end up coming!!)!!!  We are about half way to the max number of participants...so if you are thinking about coming....LET ME KNOW ASAP!!!  Just email and I'll send you the registration form!   

April 29, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Can You Even Imagine?

Van Gogh potty training, Picasso learning to walk, Warhol speaking his first words, O'Keeffe falling off her bike, da Vinci dealing with acne.... CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE?!?   It is challenging to consider that world renowned artists experienced the very same things we did.  I believe when we see their work in the galleries, art history books, and reproduced treasures and trinkets that we place them upon an untouchable pedestal that is removed from time & space. Though we may know some of the facts about their story....we romanticize their lives, their art, and their methods as we gaze upon their elevated & celebrated work.   We praise the moment, but fail to acknowledge the path that led to it. The struggles were real.  Just like the struggles we face.  I'm sure if we could have an audience with these men & women, they would share the problems & the pain that were as numerous as the brush strokes on their canvas.  From Van Gogh's mental issues to Kahlo's physical struggles...life happens to everyone.  How we handle those things we face make all the difference!  

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin.  Hebrews 4:15

Many wrestle with trying to be "good enough" for God.  They feel/believe they have to have their acts together, their lives cleaned up, and look the part.  This mentality either keeps them from drawing close to the Lord, perpetuates wearing masks, or causes them to completely giving up and walk away.  They forget that God knows their struggles, he knows their pain, and understands their doubts and fears.  "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weakness.." CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE?!?!  EMMANUEL....GOD WITH US!  Our God came to earth as a baby!  He lived his life among us.  He faced the same struggles, but did not sin.  He lived his life as an example to us all.  When you are having a bad day...he gets it!  When you mess up....nothing he hasn't seen before.  When you struggle with doubt....he is not shocked.  He loves you no matter.  He understands....and wants to hold you close.  He wants to help take you from trials to testimonies!  And you know what....he can! 

April 25, 2018

Time for Review: Kindergarten

So we have a month left of school, and I'm wanting to start reviewing some skills/concepts with my kindergarten before summer break.  I knew that they had their kindergarten graduation coming up....so I asked the kindergarten team if they had a theme or an idea of something to help fill up the background of the stage for their performance.  They suggested flowers.  I like to try to help/connect with classroom teachers where I can...and where appropriate in my curriculum.  This was an easy fit!!

I wanted to have a project where I could review painting procedures, work on filling up their page, and practice our lines.  This did that for me!!!  They are doing great with painting & lines, but filling up their page is a challenge for many of them. 

Oil Pastels With 2nd Grade

I admit it...I'm not a fan of messy stuff!!  Oil Pastels fit in that category for me.  However, I love the color...love what can be done with them...so I "deal" with the mess.  This 2nd Grader blew me away with her work today!!

April 24, 2018

Kindergarten is Sleeping!

This week I read "RUSSELL THE SHEEP".   In it, Russell is having trouble going to sleep, and tries sleeping in different places..a pillow..and counting different things.  This is my jumping off point for the lesson.  I don't like having my students copy illustrators' images.  I wanted them to create a  self portrait while sleeping.  We've not worked much with interior spaces, so I thought that this was a great opportunity to practice.  We looked at many images of bedrooms.  We talked about perspective & the need for things to be on the floor.  Many wrestled with this, but I loved the results no matter!!! When you introduce more complex ideas like these at young ages, really your just giving them opportunity to attempt something outside of their "comfort zone".  There is no "failing"....it is only a chance to try something new!