Bringing Me to My Knees

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I can't find it.  I've made two attempts.  The second attempted was more thorough. I was looking under the couch. I looked under the storage trunk and cabinets of my art supplies.  I pulled up my drop cloth I use for painting.  I am on my knees crawling and looking and I can't find it.  I can't find my plastic pallet knife.  I was very happy with that plastic pallet knife because it performed the way I wanted.  The size of the knife end was practically perfect and the flexibility of the handle made it easy to use.  It would hold the right amount of paint for me to swipe a path on the canvas to get the stucco look that I wanted.  This was important for the effect I was trying to accomplish on the flags I'm painting for the next series, SIGNALS.  But... its gone.  I have other pallet knives and some that are better made.  I guess I can use another and I have tried.  It just doesn't feel right or the same.  I have become emotionally attached to my plastic pallet knife.  A couple of days ago I went to buy another.  this plastic pallet knife came in a pack of six and cost 3 bucks.  So, it cost about .25 cents to make?  But I couldn't do it.  It was on principle, loyalty, and being cheap that I didn't buy the pack.  I know it is still in the area where I paint. "I will find you my plastic pallet knife!".

In all seriousness, loosing the knife did make me think about the things that bring me to my knees.  Good things and not so good.  Here's what I came up with that have a place in my life:

My surgeries; push ups; sit ups; watching a comedy like Jack Black in Nacho Libra (one of my favorites); playing with my dog Mistletoe; weeding in my garden; picking fresh tomatoes off my vines;  fixing my sink; praying.  I end up down on my knees more often then I think.  a necessary humble position to live and get things done.  I just need to be willing to get down when getting down is needed.  I will find you my plastic pallet knife, I will find you.


How Can I Help

  Circle of Friends by Alice Beasley

Circle of Friends by Alice Beasley

“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” Romans‬ ‭15:1-2‬ ‭

There are times when I sit down at the computer to read or watch the news and I see stories that are disheartening.  It can be tragic, broken, and scary.  Wondering what I could and would do sometimes has left me immobilized to action and shying away from the world around me.  I'm left with only prayer and that action seems empty in the face of having positive effect on my surroundings.  

Recently I came across two things.  One is the tapestry called Circle of Friends by Alice Beasley and the verses in Romans.  Alice Beasley is a textile artist that uses fabric to tell a story.  She says that "I find color, light, shadow, line and value in the pattern of ordinary household fabrics. From these I snip small pieces that I arrange and fuse into a figurative composition".  Once it is laid out in a picture story she will "fuse and sew it together to make it complete".  The first tells me I don't have to have it all.  I don't have to bring total healing or reconciliation to the situation.  I just need to bring my color, my light, my shadows, my lines, and my values.  My ordinary fabric.  What I don't have, someone else will probably be there to bring theirs.  If I'm a red, I don't need to be a green, I just bring the red that I am.  If a green is needed,  they may show up at anytime.  This seems to give an opportunity for others to be involved with the task at hand.  

The second thing were the verses in Romans which talk of having a personal strength to be used, given, or to serve another in need.  A strength that cares, teaches, corrects, and lifts up those who falter.  It is a strength not to be hoarded, but to ask "How can I help".  I have had opportunities in the past with shoveling someones snowy sidewalk, helping feed the homeless at a shelter, and to weeping with a father who lost his daughter to cancer.  Lately it has come out of and through my paintings.  To create and express beauty, fond family memories, and hope for something greater with the reds and greens in my hands. I think that everyone does have a strength to bring no matter how small they may think their strength is.  Both these things help me see situations and people in a different light.

So I have to ask myself on a regular basis, how can I help?  Am I willing to be there for someone?  Am I looking for those places where my strength can serve? I know I have a strength and color to give to the one who has faltered.  How can I help.

Dancing to a Song

This morning I was taking my daughter Brittany to school.  She goes to a private school and my wife Diane or I drive her since there isn't a bus to ride in our area.  When I do it, I hope traffic is light without any accidents to hinder the drive.  A normal drive takes the beltway around Baltimore and exits to some winding country roads that are single lane but very scenic.  On the way there on one of these country roads we became 'stuck' behind a garbage truck picking up the trash.  Normally its a bummer, but this day it was a treat.  The truck would stop and the two guys on the back quickly jumped off and did their job.  When they leaped back to the positions of holding on while the vehicle moved, the guy on the right started to wiggle and sway his hips to some song he was hearing. At one point he had "a hand in the air like he didn't care".  Not a safe thing to do, but he was enjoying himself while working.  This went on for several stops until the garbage truck turned off another road to continue their daily route.   I asked Brittany " have you ever had a song in your head do that for you"?  We both agreed that has happened to us to the point it didn't matter what people thought while watching us wiggle and sway to the beat.  I continued to tell her it reminded me of a time in the Bible where a king was so happy with joy that he started to dance while clothed with just his under garment; his underwear in today's lingo.  In the same story, his wife looked down on him because it didn't appear proper, right, and dignified.  

So I have to ask myself, how do I want to do the work that is before me?  Is it going to be with a wiggle and hand in the air with happiness and joy or am I going to be concern on how someone may be looking at me?  The garbage man was having fun doing his job removing trash form the road.  Not a job I would first choose for myself.  I would have to say its not about his circumstance but his perspective on hanging off the back of that truck.  Its that song you hear in your head and in ones heart that helps the ride you are taking. Through smooth and bumpy rides in your life. Seeing scenic winding roads or potholes the song helps lift you up and after watching the garbage man, his song lifted me up for the work I have today. 


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A New Year and New Path


The 2017 year is quickly coming to an end at a time when I have had feelings of joy and apprehension.  The joy was because the holiday season that brought out the decorations, foods, family time, and the celebration of my faith in the birth of the Savior.  The apprehension was from the work of delivering package upon package as a driver for UPS. The normal road, or story, that I have taken did change in circumstance and direction.  Early this year an injury through work lead me to therapy, surgery, and more therapy.  During the time off I was able to take a moment to rethink what was next for me, especially in the terms of my time, family, and vocation.  

In the past, as some of you know, I have done fine art painting and my art was something that I called a “business” but only dabbled in when I had time.  Now I found desires to have my creative gifts play a more prominent role.  I joined art organizations locally and nationally for mentoring and community.  Slowly I developed a greater perspective for making my artwork into a fruitful business.  Part of that change was to retire from UPS after 29 years this past November. Working for ‘Brown’ provided well for me and my family, but it did take away time from the other things that I value.

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part of my new 'Sail' Series

As the new year approaches, I am going into it with a new perspective and direction. I have a new job with a painting company that has opportunity for advancement and growth as well as clocking out at a reasonable time.  This new job hopefully will give me time for C Irwin Design to become the fruitful business I desire and envision.  The 2018 year will bring a new website to sell my art directly to the public, three series of paintings, and new venues for showing my paintings locally in Maryland.

I hope this part of my story has enticed you to start or continue following my creative path in painting through my social media and website in the coming future.  Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and may it be blessed.