Michele's Watercolors

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Release #10: “Emma’s Dancing Chucks”

Release #10: “Emma’s Dancing Chucks”

 

This painting is close to my heart as my oldest niece, Madelyn, took the photograph that I used as a reference. And her model…my other niece Emma and her dancing feet in the ballet step, sous-sus. I loved the photo so much that it was my inspiration for the first of 50 works of art I made when I challenged myself to create a new piece of art every week for a year.

“Emma’s Dancing Chucks” is a fun representation of Psalm 149:3a… “Let them praise his name with dancing…” Praising our God is to be far from solemn and somber, so let’s pull out our dancing chucks and get praising!

Details:
8 x 10” Print
Unframed
$35

Find it for your own collection or to gift this holiday season here.

 

Release #9: “Texas Longhorn”

Release #9: “Texas Longhorn”

 

It was three years ago this month that I painted, “Texas Longhorn”. I have such fun memories associated with creating it as I was down in Dallas at the time for a fundraising event that my work was a part of at the Museum of Biblical Art. The real fun though was visiting 6 of my friends while there! I took the photo I used as a reference for this piece while at a cattle drive in Fort Worth a couple years prior; however, I could not decipher in the picture one Longhorn from the other.  As a result, I was quite stumped sketching this one out before painting it. Thankfully, two of my buddies that I visited are very artistic, so let’s just say this one ‘should’ have three signatures.

 

 

Artist Statement: While doing research on the Texas Longhorn I learned that they have a high drought-stress tolerance. Immediately after reading that I thought of Jeremiah 17:7-8…

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

I have always loved that verse for the truth it communicates. At its core, trusting God means standing resolved in His character of love and faithfulness to see us through…no matter what adversity we face. Trusting Him enables us to endure trials, without fear of the outcome, because much like the Longhorn, we will have a high drought-stress tolerance.

 

Details:
8 x 10”
Unframed
$35

Find it here for your own collection or to gift this holiday season!

 

Release #8: “Pick One”

Release #8: “Pick One”

 

Here in the northeast it’s apple picking season!! …albeit, near the end. The latest print release in my creative challenge series, entitled “Pick One”, was inspired by one of my trips apple picking. So fun!

 

Artist Statement: As the branch of a tree must remain attached to its life source in order to bear fruit, so we must remain connected to God in order to be producing the things of Him.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;” – Jesus in John 15:5

In verse 2 we’re told “He cuts off every branch…that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Pruning can be painful and confusing, but as long as we remain standing in our faith, we will come through stronger and more fruitful than ever.

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB) We cannot produce that kind of fruit on our own, but through the Holy Spirit we are able to bear a harvest that strengthens the world around us.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” – Jesus in John 15:8

 

Details:
8 x 10”
Unframed
$35

Find it here for your own collection or to gift.  …it’d make a great Christmas present for a teacher!

 

Release #7: “Fresh Cherries”

Release #7:  “Fresh Cherries”

 

God’s mercies are new every morning…fresh for that day and its challenges. Lamentations 3:22-24 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’”

 

“Fresh Cherries” reminds me of God’s daily provision. I often look back on things in my life and wonder, “How did I ever get through that?” or I look ahead with fear and dread and wonder, “How will I ever get through that?” The answer: God’s grace and mercies. However, He hasn’t given me grace today for yesterday’s trials and He also hasn’t given me grace today for tomorrow’s challenges. All I have and all I need is grace for TODAY; and before my feet hit the floor this morning, He had already provided…like fresh cherries for the day!

 

Details:

This is the newest print released in my Creative Challenge series!
8 x 10”
Unframed
$35

Find it here for your own collection or to gift.

 

 

Warring Angels in High Altitude

Warring Angels in High Altitude

 

Sunday was one of the most meaningful days I’ve ever lived and I can’t keep it to myself any longer! If you haven’t read my previous post “Shadows and Roars”, please do as that sets the backdrop for this one. As I said there, I have damaged nerves in my spinal cord up in my neck that affect my breathing in high altitudes. My doctor said he had 2 of his patients with this same condition as me die in high altitudes, so it has always left me uneasy. Well, my sister (who I don’t get to see nearly enough) and her family live in a suburb of Denver, the city nicknamed the Mile High City as its official elevation is exactly one mile (5280 feet) above sea level. I have 3 nieces and a nephew who I refer to as “the loves of my life” who live out there. I haven’t been able to be at their births (except my first niece’s!) or any special occasions and milestones in their lives, but I always said I WOULD go to each of their weddings.

 

Well, this past fall my niece, Emma, got engaged to a hardworking, God-fearing guy named Trevor. When they were all here at Christmas Emma asked me to be one of her bridesmaids. Each of my nieces and nephew hold incredibly special places in my heart, but for Emma, she was named after me (her middle name is Michele) and we are alike in many ways. We have a special bond for sure, so there “may have” been some tears of honor and happiness on my end when she asked me. 🙂

 

But 4 months later came such an onslaught of new neurological symptoms and episodes that led to so much fear, uncertainty and anxiety that I really didn’t know that I should be going out for the wedding. My nervous system was just so compromised and challenged, that it seemed putting myself in high-altitude could only worsen my condition. I waited to have my dress tailored, waited to buy plane tickets, waited for all sorts of test results, waited for an answer from my neurosurgeon, etc. There was such restlessness in my spirit. I had NO peace about going, but I also had NO peace about staying. I have felt robbed of the last 19 years of my Colorado family’s life. If I said no to Emma’s wedding, I knew I’d be saying no to all of their weddings, and I just could NOT bear the thought of signing on that dotted line.

 

A decision had to be made and I knew I had to wrestle this out with God alone. Only He knew what was going on in my body and only He knew what would happen if I went to Denver. While I am surrounded by those who would have given me wise and Godly counsel if I asked, I knew I needed to hear God’s voice ALONE on this one. One morning, as I was getting ready 7 weeks ago, out of nowhere God “released” my spirit to go to and be in their wedding; and immediately I was overwhelmed with peace. It was surreal, yet very, very real. Over the next 3 days God confirmed His release to me 3 different ways and I knew that I knew He had given me the green light. I was so EXCITED and at PEACE.

 

But a few weeks later when my resistance was incredibly low I entered 9 days of neurological flareups and intense anxiety that I knew was stemming from the fast approaching trip to Denver. I was bombarded with lies and questions birthed in fear. I thought, “While I would miss out immensely, at least I’d be safe if I stay home!” One night in bed, in the middle of this physical and mental battle, the Lord brought to my mind the story of when the Israelites were about to cross the Jordan River to enter into the Promised Land (Joshua 3). The priests were instructed to go first and “step into” the Jordan, THEN the waters would part and they would cross on dry ground. God associated this to Denver. I knew what He was showing me, but that anxious spirit within me would not quit. So, what was a girl to do? …walk in “risk” and trust in her God or walk in “safety” and fear?

 

Because the altitude coupled with length of time is the dangerous combo for me, the plan from the very beginning was for me to fly in and out on the same day. So, two days ago my uncle and I boarded a plane heading to Denver. My earbuds were in, filling my ears and spirit with worship music and specific scriptures were printed out and in my hands. Halfway through our flight the Lord gave me a vision. He showed me the places I’d be stepping foot that day and how He already had in place His warring guardian angels, waiting for me in each of those places. It was so powerful and brought me incredible peace, comfort and courage.

 

Once we landed I could feel myself getting more challenged. My parents picked us up and it was apparent I was struggling. I was back to that lifeless, non-verbal shell I spoke of in my previous post. The pressure behind my neck was AWFUL and the worst I’d ever remembered. I was thinking, “I should never have come.” “I will never do this again.” “We’re going to have to turn the car around and get me on the next flight home.” I put my earbuds in and music on to change the atmosphere in my head and began praying silently, “God I NEED You. You said You’d part the waters once I stepped in. I’m IN Denver now; I’m IN, but this is NOT dry ground! I don’t understand!!” My mom was in the backseat with me and reached for my leg and began interceding for me. About 5 minutes before we reached my sister’s place everything broke and I was FINE. I got to tour her and my brother-in-law’s beautiful home, got ready, did pictures, prayed over the bride with the other bridesmaids, got to the venue and took more pictures and all along I was FINE. I was walking on that dry ground God had promised me.

 

It was finally showtime. It was an outdoor ceremony and the walk for the bridal party to get behind the guests was long and behind the scenes. I told the coordinator that I’d need a head start to get to where the bridal party would enter. So, for a good 5 minutes it was just me walking along the path and through greenhouses to get to our starting point. Along this walk the Lord reminded me of the vision He gave me earlier that day and immediately I felt surrounded by those warring angels He had assigned to me. I could almost see and hear them as they walked in front of me, next to me and behind me. I have no words except to say that I felt so safe. And to my right was Jesus walking by my side. I was overwhelmed by this Presence that surrounded me. Even now I am moved to tears thinking about it all. They were priceless and powerful moments that I will have the rest of my life. During that walk I was able to be fully present and take in the miracle of the moment. I was surrounded by Jesus and His heavenly host. I was in Denver. I was about to stand with my beautiful niece and witness her marry the love of her life. And I was FINE. Actually, I was doing GREAT. I just kept saying to Jesus, “Thank You”.

 

My nephew walked my youngest niece and me down the aisle together. Does it get any better? I used only one crutch and we were walking in tall grass, so of course I had to walk slow, but I didn’t care. It allowed me to take in the most beautiful and meaningful moments playing out. I can’t believe all I would have missed out on (spiritually and in the natural) if I let fear and anxiety have the final say. And I can’t fathom how I would have grieved my Heavenly Father’s heart if I shrunk back from the faith He was calling me to walk in. This trip was a huge “mountain” (no pun intended) in my life, but one of the verses God used to confirm His release to go was Isaiah 45:2-3… “I will go before you and will level the mountains.” THAT HE DID!!! Our God is FAITHFUL to the core…even when His ways look different than ours. The rest of the day was perfectly beautiful in every way, I gained a nephew and I did not have ANY more issues with the altitude. I was fully present and alive…more than the past 3 ½ months put together.

 

Are you standing at the edge of your own “Jordan River”, needing to get to the other side? I hope my story inspires courage within you to step in and wait for your Deliverer. If He has spoken, He WILL come and the waters WILL part beyond what you can imagine. He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19). The price for staying on the water’s edge is far too costly. It may feel safe there, but it’s NOT the full life God has for you. Your promised land is waiting, but your faith is needed to enter. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells us even faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. Here’s to parting waters and moving mountains to God’s glory!!! God will show up every time faith is activated…and sometimes He’ll even bring His angelic army with Him.

 

God sends angels with special orders to protect you wherever you go, defending you from all harm. If you walk into a trap, they’ll be there for you and keep you from stumbling. You’ll even walk unharmed among the fiercest powers of darkness, trampling every one of them beneath your feet! For here is what the Lord has spoken to me: “Because you have delighted in me as my great lover, I will greatly protect you. I will set you in a high place, safe and secure before my face. I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast. You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you. For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation!” Psalm 91:11-16 The Passion Translation

 

*Thank you to the ARMY of family and friends that so faithfully were interceding HARD for me on Sunday and the many days leading up to it. This praise report is because of your faith and our faithful God.  I love and appreciate you all so much!!!

**Painting entitled “Wings” was created by Lindsay Rapp.

 

Shadows and Roars

Shadows and Roars

 

Ahh, where to begin? Thirteen weeks ago came an upheaval of sorts in my life after taking a single dose of cold medication. An adverse reaction sent me to the ER (while my parents were traveling) with consistent neurological episodes. Long story short, ever since then I have battled all sorts of neurological symptoms and seizure-like “episodes” due to an already compromised nervous system undergoing trauma that night. As I write this I am in the middle of a 72 hour video EEG with my head looking rather mummy-like. Underneath there are 24 electrodes and two heart monitors on my chest that are prayerfully picking up some of the irregularities. I already have damaged nerves in my spinal cord (which is why I walk with crutches and have challenged breathing at times), so separating all this gray into black and white has been a bit tricky and scary.

 

With this onset also came an uproar of an anxious spirit. Overall, anxiety is not one of my battle grounds in life, so this has been new territory for me. This rush would surge through me at expected times and very unexpected times…RIDICULOUS times. For example, I was stopped in traffic on Rt. 78 in PA between a median and a tractor trailer when panic filled me with claustrophobic feelings. WHAT??? It was completely irrational, yet totally real. It was the face of anxiety. Anxiety is real, but it’s a LIAR.

 

I actually started writing this post three weeks ago, so the EEG results came back “normal”, extensive bloodwork “perfect” and brain MRI “unremarkable” (that one makes me laugh). That is all great news except that I am still extremely symptomatic with numbness, tingling, tightness, trouble breathing, swallowing and talking, to name a few. It is extremely scary and life-sucking at times. There have been many evenings that I have come to the dinner table completely empty and lifeless; void of “Michele”. I don’t talk, just stare. It’s one of the most overwhelming symptoms of them all as it makes me feel like I’m losing myself.

 

Nonetheless, I am intentionally writing this on this side of the ending…BEFORE there is clarity and BEFORE God answers my prayers for freedom from this. I am a huge fan of testimonies shared from the valley. It is easy to testify to God’s goodness and faithfulness once we’re safely on the other side, but it is a totally different thing to give Him praise when we are still in the heat of the battle. Revelation 12:11 says, “They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. God has ordained that there is POWER to overcome by sharing our testimonies.

 

Over these past 3 months, the enemy of my soul has had his hand up in my face so close that I’ve struggled to see past it. I couldn’t see “tomorrow”. I couldn’t see God’s promises. He’s tried to make me believe that this is my new normal. But John 8:44 tells us “there is no truth in him”. NONE. “The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10)…period.

 

This story takes far more dips and soars than any of you would care to read, but God’s fingerprints have been EVERYWHERE throughout this season in answer to my prayer, “Make Yourself known in the midst of the unknown”. One of those fingerprints was seen through a dream He gave me a few weeks back. In my dream, I was in my bedroom and saw a shadow of the front half of a handgun on my open door, indicating that someone was right outside my door with a pointed gun, ready to enter. In my dream, I called out for my dad several times, but my voice got weaker each time I called out and he never heard me. So, I then began calling out “Jesus” over and over again. Each time I said His name my voice got stronger and stronger until I said it with such authority, conviction and power that the Holy Spirit blew a violent wind through my voice, forcing out of my room not only the shadow, but the fear it was inciting.

 

When I woke up, the Lord showed me that the “shadows” in my life are only threats of the enemy; they’re his lies. In my dream, there never was anyone in the hallway with a gun; the enemy of my soul just wanted me to think that there was. God reminded me that there is so much more power in His Son’s Name than there will ever be in all of Satan’s lies. That said, I knew I needed to declare the Name of Jesus with authority, conviction and power over my circumstances.

 

As I mentioned above though, one of the things that has been greatly affected these last few months has been my ability to talk. Along with many other things, the enemy has been trying to take my voice. As a result, there are many days when my powerful “roar” against the enemy is barely a whisper, and I feel so weak against all the threats. But last weekend my “Aunt” Judy reminded me of a scene in the Lion King that perfectly illustrates that when my roar is weak, my Father’s roar is strong, powerful and effective.

 

 

There are still a lot of unanswered questions where my health is concerned, but two days ago I began praying with each symptom, struggle and flare up, “Use this for Your glory, Lord”. Our God wastes NOTHING friends. Every challenge and every arrow are only strengthening me in the end. I am only passing through this season and strongly believe I am nearing the end of this battle (even though last week was one of my worst weeks yet). Psalm 23 says, “Even though I pass THROUGH the darkest valley (many versions say, “the valley of the shadow of death”)…” God does not intend for me to set up camp here…and He doesn’t intend for you to set up camp on your battleground either. Don’t give up!!

 

While I do NOT think all our struggles in life are an attack of the enemy, I have known from day ONE that much of my story right now is wrapped up in a spiritual battle. It has taken all of me to stand somedays. The enemy’s lies have worn me down. At times I am completely scared, discouraged and lifeless. But the secret to defeating our enemy is perseverance. Not giving up. Not giving in. Not entertaining the lies. Believing what we know, not what we feel. And walking in the power and authority Jesus Himself gave us in Luke 10:19 when He said, “I have given you authority…to overcome all the power of the enemy.” And on the days when our roar seems weak, let’s remember that the Lion of Judah has our backs. He is always, ALWAYS mighty and present, ROARING over His children. May we never believe any lie that hints to anything different.

 

I ‘Might’ Be a Little Excited

I ‘Might’ Be a Little Excited

 

The countdown is on for the upcoming Women’s Cycle taking place next Thursday, Friday and Sunday in NYC! This event will be giving a platform to female creatives, including me! I will be joining an amazing team comprised of 2 producers, 2 play writers/actresses and a chef! At each showcase, there will be two new plays that will highlight women’s issues. Both shows are comedic in nature with poignant moments along the way. Sara, one of the playwrights defined The Women’s Cycle as “a beautiful, redemptive and empowering showcase of womanhood”. Complimentary desserts by a head chef/NYC restaurant owner and wine will be available during the intermission. Here is another promo video for the event where I share the meaning behind my painting “Little Mother”.

 

With only 5 days left until the showcase begins, the preparations are in full swing and my excitement is high!! I have finalized the design of and layout for my installation and all its details. 32 pieces of my art will fill the walls of The Cell theater in NYC!! I ‘might’ be a little excited. 😉 This is not a Christian event, so please pray with me that my work will bring light to darkness.

 

I have honestly been blown away by how many of you are coming from far and wide to support me and God’s work through me…THANK YOU. Your support has fueled my soul. There are still tickets left, but the theater is small and seats are extremely limited. For more information and to purchase tickets, please click here.

 

Release #6: “Freedom is Not Free”

Release #6:  “Freedom is Not Free”

 

Our national anthem proclaims our country as “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Those words were well penned by Francis Scott Key, but as I’ve heard it said, the USA is the land of the free because of the brave. In their valiant pursuit, way too many paid for our freedom with their lives, health, limbs and even their own freedom. While the United States is far from perfect, may we never lose sight of our patriotism and always remember the men and women who paid so very much for our country’s freedom.

 

Add “Freedom is Not Free” as a statement piece to your 4th of July celebration!

 

Details:
This entire series of prints mimics the original watercolors themselves in their look and feel.
8 x 10”
Unframed
$35
Find it here for your own collection or to gift.

 

The Women’s Cycle – An Art Showcase

The Women’s Cycle – An Art Showcase

 

I’m excited to share with you that this adorable theater, The Cell, in Chelsea, NYC will be the home of The Women’s Cycle this summer!  The Women’s Cycle is a showcase about women supporting women in the arts.  I am honored and excited to be a part of this event along with two writers/performers and a chef!  As guests enter the theater my paintings will fill the walls and hopefully breathe hope and inspiration.  There will be two readings, “Girl Talk” and “In Search of Finding Maria Teresa” with an intermission in between where complimentary desserts and wines will be served.  And after the Friday and Sunday shows there will be a “talk back” that I will be a part of!

 

If you click here you can watch the first of two promo videos capturing my story for The Women’s Cycle!

 

My dream has been to do a solo exhibit in one of the galleries in Chelsea (the art capitol of the US) someday, so this opportunity that my friend and producer, Ebony, gave me is a step closer to my dream’s fulfillment as this will be at a theater in Chelsea!!  I’m so excited and would love to see you at one of the showcases, so grab a girlfriend or two and join the fun!!  Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here.

 

Release #5: “A Pop of Color”

Release #5:  “A Pop of Color”

 

The Poppy is one of my favorite flowers for its bold pop of color and delicate pleated petals. I sure follow in my Creator’s footsteps, loving detail as much as He does. Sometimes we can wonder if God is aware of all that is playing out in and around us, but if He is intricately pleating the petals of Poppies then we can be sure He is intricately working on the details of our lives too.

 

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27

 

“A Pop of Color” is one of the watercolors I painted during my yearlong creative challenge and has just been released in print! Use it as a reminder, for you or someone you love, that long before you can see the beauty, God is working on the details that will unfold in your life!

 

Details:
This entire series of prints mimics the original watercolors themselves in their look and feel.
8 x 10”
Unframed
$35
Find it here for your own collection or to gift.