On a Journey to Bethlehem – Nativity Paintings for Christmas

        After struggling with how to come up with a nativity-themed painting this Christmas and “make it my own style,” I went through several sketchbook pages until this idea evolved.     

 While many nativities emphasize the faces of the Holy Family, the beautiful colors of their clothes, and the cute barn animals surrounding them, I wondered, “What would Mary’s perspective be?”  
       So I imagined them from the backside of a donkey…  And I thought about how very uncomfortable the mother of Jesus had to have been… how rough the trip would have been for a pregnant woman…how long the road seemed for both of them…  

 Imagine Joseph comes in one day and says, “Mary, you won’t believe what the government has come up with now!  We have to travel to my hometown this week to be registered and taxed!”  And the trip he referenced was going to be about 90 miles.  They couldn’t even make the journey in one day!  There is no mention of a donkey in the Bible, but we can only HOPE that Mary had one in her advanced stage of pregnancy.  

      As I painted on multiple canvases,  I realized that once again I had ROADS in my compositions.  Back roads, curving roads, leading roads, roads that aren’t always comfortable, roads that take one on new adventures…The theme of Roads seems to show up without me planning it.


I can only imagine the fear, anxiety, hopeful trust, boiling in Mary’s heart.  It was a rough road she was on.  It was going to get even rougher as she watched her son live and die.  But with God’s help, she is a model for humble servitude, and such an important piece in the bigger picture for us all.  She followed the road to Bethlehem that night in obedience, in trust, in anticipation.

May the roads ahead lead us on our journey in the bigger picture!  May we take the time to feel the bumps, smell the scents, look beyond, and listen to the quietness of our souls.

These 6×6 and 12×12 original paintings will be available during the 2017 Christmas season.  You may order them from me and find them at Sacred Heart Cultural Center Gift Shop in Augusta, GA or MAC on Main Art Gallery in Thomson.

Elementary Art for GrownUps

FOR THOSE WHO LIKE TO PLAN AHEAD…

I know February seems like a long way away.  But, tuck this away in your mind for “after Christmas.”  This will be something to look forward to in the winter.  AND, it is a great idea for a Christmas gift for Mom, Grandma, Granddad, …or Self!

The $140 tuition fee covers all four classes and supplies.

Signup Deadline – January 15

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Is November 9 on your calendar?

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melaniestokesart.com

November 9 is circled on my calendar!  I’m finishing up some new paintings by day and thinking over show details by night!  I am still not over the excitement that Sacred Heart Cultural Center is hosting an Exhibition of my paintings, beginning November 9 with an Opening Reception from 5 pm to 7 pm.  Pictured here is the invitation to be sent to 1100 people in the Augusta Area!  The Exhibit will be open during their business hours through December 22.  If you can’t make it to the reception, I  hope you can drop in to see while in Augusta, GA.

The theme, “Back Roads…Back Yards…Back Home” is one I’ve used previously.   Many of the new paintings are still leaning toward the rural, nature setting, and ‘homes of the past’ images that I’ve been developing.  There will be some Back Home-Christmas Nostalgia images added for the season, also.

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If you’ve not been to Sacred Heart at 1301 Greene Street, enter through the back gate, by the sign that says Gift Shop (Ellis and 13th Street Gate).  The paintings will be hanging in the back halls, which weave around under the cathedral, making me think of the Catacombs of the early Christians.  It’s a wonderful setting for an art show!

Hope to see you November 9!   5 p.m. to 7 p.m.  And as always, everything is for sale!

“Sheltered”

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Sheltered
9×12 Oil
$125

Today was a day I got out early to paint en plein air! (For all my South GA friends, that means “outside”).  I had already scoped out some settings, thinking of the angle of the morning sun.  I had already marked some places off my list, thinking of the solitude of painting and personal safety issues.  So this morning,  I got in my little car and drove around the neighborhood, looking for vistas on the golf course.  After exploring a few,  it always came back around to the issue of flying golf balls.  Did I really want to put myself through that risk?  Not to be defeated, I drove back home, hiked around my backyard and just could not find anything that caught my eye.  As I rounded the corner of my home, the sunlight on the front porch seemed to say, “Here I am.  Welcome home!  Why not just set up right here in the safety and shelter of your own front door?”  It felt good to be home.

Now, I’ve said before that God speaks to me when I paint.  He seems to use the metaphors of my subject matter.  That front porch looked so sheltered and comfortable, nestled against the strong trees and surrounded by firm ground.  And, the best part was I could stand under some shade trees while I painted. (Even so, my glasses were fogging up in the GA humidity!  I’m trying to paint outside for this 30 day challenge and the weather is the biggest obstacle.)

But, as I painted, I thought about Shelter and how important it is for all to have.    I thought about what Shelter looks like to many different people.   I thought about my own sheltered life:  parents who did their best to shelter me from grownup problems,  a lifestyle of ease and provision, a husband who would go to combat for me, and a God who always, somehow, makes all things work together for good.  I’ve been sheltered.  Not in the sense that I’m not aware of all that is unjust, and sad, and evil about this world.  Not that I haven’t had disappointments and difficult times.  But, I’ve been sheltered and fed and loved.  And for that I am grateful and content.  May generosity grow from gratefulness!

This is Day 27!  Only three more days of this 30 Day Challenge!

“September Skies”

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September Skies
26×30 oil
$400

Day 21 of 30 – This was a FULL day and I never picked up a paintbrush.  But I did present a program about my paintings.  And I did observe the “September Skies” as I came and went, thinking about how I would paint them.    This, one of my favorites, was painted several years ago.   I always notice clouds in September.  There is something about the way that the shadows get longer and crisper in September, something about the billowy look of the clouds as they float by, changing shapes as quickly as one realizes that summer is gone!    The change in the clouds and atmosphere each September reminds me of a day, thirty seven years ago today, when we stood in a hot cemetery for my mother’s funeral.  It was a sad season, with beautiful clouds overhead, clouds that surrounded me with comfort.   They still do, today.

Day 13 of 30 paintings: Once Upon A Time…

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Once Upon A Time…
24×30 Oil

Once Upon A Time… (you complete the rest.)  Don’t you just love a Once Upon A Time story?  I used a photo from a trip in Mississippi to paint this.  There is just something surreal-looking about the landscape.  As I painted, I remembered being there on that summer day, breathing fresh air and feeling the warmth of the sun.  But now that it is finished, I can imagine the rest of the story… Once Upon A Time…

Standing in the Storm

melaniestokesart.com
Three Palms
9×12 oil

As I post Day 10 of the 30 Day Challenge, I’m pulling out a painting from last May.  All thoughts and prayers are directed to everyone in the path of Hurricane Irma.   And just as these palms stand strong in the Florida landscape, we pray that the spirits of Floridians and Georgians will stand strong during this storm.

Labor Day!

Melanie Stokes Art
“Labor Day”
11×14 Oil

Day Four of 30 paintings in 30 days –

“Labor Day”
11×14 Oil

I painted this one from a photo over several days.  (photo credit: Luke Stokes Photography)  During my 30 day challenge, my goal is to paint en plein air as much as possible.  But today, I’m taking a Labor Day Holiday!   I love the work ethic of these two munchkins.  Fall is in the air!

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