Faces & Places!

In recent years, I have received commissions from friends near and far to paint and draw the beautiful faces and places in their lives.

 Daughters and sons, homes and land…all are special to the individuals who ask me to honor these things in paint, pastel, or charcoal.

I am always honored and humbled to be asked to paint a person or place that means so much to someone.

Do you have a home or place that holds a special spot in your memory?

Does the face of a loved one evoke your love and appreciation for who that individual is?

I would be honored to paint the beauty you have in your life.

The above are only a few examples of the commissioned work I’ve had the privilege of creating.   I will be expanding this page in the near future, offering commissioned work for folks near and far.  Please contact me if you would like to talk further about a commissioned portrait of a loved one or place.

Multi-Colored Pens!

I recently went through a phase. Ha! One of many I tend to move in and out of.  It keeps things fresh.  It keeps me on my toes.  Different ways to view and then capture a place or a person.

All of my Flexi-Sketch drawings are done with multi-colored pens and Neocolor II crayons added in.  I used both of these in the first drawing,  as I sat downtown Kernersville at the Factory.  You get a whole different feel when you switch up your mediums.  The above portrait drawing was done at Barnhill’s Bookstore where I sometimes draw with other artists who love drawing people.

My teens are fond of a phrase I will use here:  Pens, watercolor, crayons, pastels, whatever…”It’s All Good!”

Portrait #16: The Gentleman Farmer

To attempt to paint a portrait of Mr. Leo Whicker, born September 3, 1927, is like trying to harness (with paint and paper) the wisdom of years and experience, coupled with an effortless joy that is surely hard-won through life’s ups and downs.  I have had the privilege of getting to know Mr. Whicker through numerous conversations with him over the past 8 years.  I think I could write a book about him.  Here are a few things I have learned:

The land on which he lives and farms (and which is directly next door to my house and neighborhood), was his grandfather’s land.  At some point, his grandfather sold the land to send a son to law school.  And then, at some point after that, Mr. Whicker (pictured above) bought the land back.  This land encompasses acres and acres and is sprawled in many directions throughout the southern part of Kernersville, in an area known as Sedge Garden.

Mr. Whicker and his wife Martha, had a son and daughter.  Up the hill from where I live, is a small house (now a rental home) where he and his family started out.  As the children grew, he built a larger home for them just yards away, perched on a small rise in the land.  You can see the house here in the charcoal, just a bit of the porch, complete with rocking chairs.

Mr. Whicker’s wife Martha died young, of cancer.  When he speaks of her, you can hear a love and affection for her that leaves you aching and thinking he must still ache and miss his dear wife. Both his son and daughter live in Kernersville and have families of their own. Mr. Whicker is blessed with grandchildren and extended family who live in the area.

In fact, as I’ve been able to gather from Mrs. Gail Smith Love, another neighbor whom I’ve had the privilege of getting to know, Mr. Whicker is considered an Uncle to many from the Smith clan.  She recounts that growing up with Smith land and farms right next to Whicker land, the two families’ children all called the other dads “Uncle”.  So he was Uncle Leo to her and many others.

Mr. Whicker has memories of his grandmother telling him that soldiers used to hide out in caves on their land during the Civil War.  I have a feeling if I could sit for a while with him, I’d hear many stories of historical interest that are tucked away in Mr. Whicker’s vibrant mind.

Mr. Whicker has many barns beside his home.  The barn you see here, and in the above charcoal, can be seen from the road, Silver Dapple Lane. It stores his baled hay on one side, and keeps farm equipment on the other.  You can see a glimpse into the back side of this particular barn in the above portrait of him.  Sitting atop the tractors and equipment are various, huge stuffed animals, such as Kermit the Frog (seen above) and Scooby Doo.  These are here, says Mr. Whicker, to chase away the birds.  Apparently, birds have a bad habit of nesting in the tractor’s engines.  And when he goes to start one of these tractors, the poor birds are lost, and they can cause damage to the equipment.  I wish you could’ve seen the twinkle in his eye as he explained why he had these unexpected furry friends in the barn!

That twinkle in his eye is rooted in his faith.  Leo Whicker is a faithful congregant at Sedge Garden Chapel, just a stone’s throw from his home and farm.  He is, and I suspect has been for most of his life, devoted to worshipping his Creator with the folks in this small and humble church.  Hardly a conversation goes by without him asking me to pray for something on his mind, after inquiring how my husband and children are doing.

There is so much more I could write here.  The description in this post is merely the tip of the iceberg.  Talking with Mr. Whicker (as with other persons of mature years), makes me think I’m in the presence of a stately oak tree.  That tree has seen many years, all kinds of weather, lots of history.  It has withstood storms, change, seasons, “progress”.  It has been rooted in something far more enduring than this world, and its roots are deep and far-reaching.  At first you may only see a trunk and its weathered bark.  But as you get to know the tree, the expanse of the branches and canopy, the gnarled sections leading out to youthful buds and leaves, you realize there is something grand going on here which is very difficult to describe, much less to paint.

Mr. Whicker would never think of himself in this grand manner.  He was indeed a bit reticent about having his picture taken so that I could create a portrait (or two) of him. I just feel that his story needs to be remembered, and that his family would enjoy a painted portrait.

He is indeed, a gentleman farmer.

Portrait #15: Mr. Leo Whicker


Last Monday, September 3rd, I was walking in my neighborhood, up near The Field, and I was stopped by my friend and neighbor, Mr. Leo Whicker.

“Jennifah”, he said in his lovely southern accent, “you won’t believe what just happened! You know I love donkeys, right?”

“Well, yes sir, I do remember that! How many do you have now?” I replied.

“Well, I had four, and one of them I have over at my son’s place.  He just now called me to tell me that the donkey has given birth! And today is my birthday! I’m 85 years old today!” he said as his eyes danced like a young boy who had just been to the candy store.

We talked for a bit longer about this treat he had received on his birthday and I walked home to grab my camera.

You see, for some time now, I’ve wanted to paint Mr. Whicker’s portrait.  This is actually one of two portraits of him I am working on.  I knew he was in his 80’s, but didn’t know his exact age.  You would never be able to tell by his appearance or how vigorously he works his farms.  Yes, I said FARMS, plural.  He has at least three different parcels of land on which he raises his cows. But I’ll tell you more about that when I post the next portrait of him.

I loved working from my photo of him with his wonderful smile! I have only slightly exaggerated the blue of his eyes, which truly twinkle when he smiles.  To be 85 years old and still finding such delight in life is indeed remarkable.

Portrait #14: Moi


I can see!!!!  Really! I got a new pair of glasses last week, and I can see so much I couldn’t before!! This is my first pair of “progressive lenses”.

Hmmm…  Progressive?  Well, if growing older means I’m progressing, then so be it! It took a couple of days before the fishbowl feel went away, but now I can see clear as a bell far away, mid-distances, AND up close!!  That last one is the key, since for over a year now, I’ve been playing the on-again-off-again game with my glasses.  Or peering over or under them to see something up close.  Now I’m trying to break that habit!! Because I can see perfectly well from the bottom portion of my new glasses!

Oh, and I looovee the style too!  They are red, rectangular, and have a lovely scrollwork along the sides which you can’t see here.  Perhaps I’ll paint a profile portrait so you can see the ivy scrollwork.  And the VERY BEST part of it is that the frames cost me ONLY $40!!  Can you believe it?? Here in K’Vegas, we have a place called the Eyeglass Supermart where all designer frames are $40, with the exception of a few that are $80.  Mine were the first pair I tried on and came back to after trying on many others.  They were my favorites!  If you’re a local, be sure to check out the Eyeglass Supermart at Kernersville Eye Associates.  Bill West, the optometrist, and his wife Patty will fix you up right! I got my eyes checked and everything there for a very reasonable price! You don’t have to have your eyes checked there…you can just bring in your prescription and they will take care of it from there!

It really does give you a new look on life! 🙂

Fè: Portrait #13

Persons of mature age seem to embody a single-pointed purpose.  I often wonder if I will be that way in 30 years. My life now seems so fractured into a zillion purposes: parenting my three kids, nurturing a good marriage, teaching and working, caring for my Type 1 daughter, being available to family and friends, and the ever-elusive desire to pursue an art career.

The widowed women I have known, seem to stand, however feebly, with a solidity that perhaps only the years of living so many different lives has afforded them.  Each white-haired woman has been a child, a teenager, a young adult, a newlywed, a mother, a career woman, and then a widow.  They have served the people in their lives with huge generosity of heart, with ache and concern for others’ well-being, and with dignity in the small things.

Fè Arasmo, born March 20, 1924, was just such a woman.  I met her in her final years when, before her first stroke, she crafted beautiful beaded necklaces for every woman in our church.  She just gave them to us.  She lived with her loving daughter, Helen, and found ways to light up the lives of every one she met.  Her infectious smile, her lovely Filipino accent, her laughter…all belied her small stature and left you with a sense of largesse and joie-de-vivre.

How she continued to live her last year with that beautiful smile, I do not know.  She fought to regain strength and mobility after the first stroke, only to have another one, as well as other health issues, land her in the hospital numerous times.  I cannot imagine what it must be like to have your mind as spry and quick as ever, yet not be able to tell your body to get up and walk.

But the day came, on July 20, 2012, when Someone came to her and said, “Talitha koum…dear little one, get up and walk.”  And so she got up and walked out of this life into the next… happy, whole, bright, and probably not just walking.  The twinkle I often saw in her eye suggested to me that she probably skipped and twirled when no one was looking.  And so I imagine her leaving in this way.

I have a feeling that if Fè could whisper something to me from the other side of the Veil, she might tell me: “Jen, it’s not about the art exactly. It’s about the Faces of all you see, all whom you come into contact with, all the loved ones, the friends, the people who live and work and leave this world.”

And so, with this in mind, I’m wanting to return to my 100 Portraits Project, which only made it to #12 I think.  It may only go on for another 12.  So be it.  This seems to be how my “art career” unfolds: with fits and starts, with courses altered, plans redirected.  Mine is not so single-pointed as I imagine these women of mature years to have.

Perhaps this single-pointed purpose…hard-won as husband and loved ones have passed away and left them outside the mothering years, the marriage years, the youth years…perhaps the thing to which they signal for us is that one day, we too will have a Hand stretch out to us, beckoning us to “get up and walk” out of this life.  How do I live this now?  Am I able to have this single-pointed purpose now at age 47? Is it only possible in the years following the stripping away of all we have held dear?

I do not have the answers for this. I don’t really need to.  I just need to live today.  And to peer into the faces of others to see glimpses of the Face I will one day see face-to-face…alongside Fè Arasmo, a dear lady, friend, mother, and teacher, who is skipping and twirling right now.

A Big Day!

Today we take our oldest child to college. A small truck and a van are packed full of her things. And I’m wondering if it will all fit into her dorm room at Wingate! A host of emotions have been flurrying around our house and in my heart lately.  But this morning, I’m thankful.

Thankful for this beautiful daughter that we were given the privilege of parenting and watching her grow up into a young lady.

Thankful for the incredible opportunity she has to study the beauty of Music at Wingate University.

Thankful for family and friends who will be supporting her in their thoughts and prayers.

Thankful for all the new friends and “family” at Wingate she will meet, and who will become her lifelong friends.

Thankful for the unbelievable miracle of provision for her to go to this marvelous school.

Thankful for endings…and for Beginnings.

We love you Catie!

Goofy Guy

Here’s my guy being goofy! What’s that you say? Randy being Goofy? Yep. His inner middle-school-child loves to joke around with unsuspecting people! So here’s the story:

We have a restaurant here in Kernersville (K’Vegas to locals) called Terri’s Deli. Randy loves this restaurant and eats there frequently, lingering with his laptop to “work”.  In summer, the owner’s young son helps out in various ways.  This young man was the recipient of Randy’s goofiness this day.

While making his order, Randy picked up a fridge magnet with Terri’s Deli logo on it .  Randy says to the young fella,”If I place this magnet on my head, do you think it will stick?”

Boy responds, “Not unless you have metal in your head.”

Randy proceeds to place the magnet on his forehead, and amazingly, it sticks! The boys jaw drops.

Randy’s surprised too, “Well, I guess I do have metal in my head…and that would explain a lot!”

A lot…indeed! 🙂

Super Dads

Happy Father’s Day to a couple of terrific dads in my life…my own dear father (above)…

…and  my wonderful husband.  Unfortunately, I have no drawing or painting of my father-in-law, another awesome dad.  I need to do something about that!

Thick & Thin

I love to play around with the thickness (and thinness) of pen lines.  I like to see how changing the pen line thickness within the same drawing adds a sense of depth or highlights the main subject or….

It’s totally fun! Try this:  Choose a thick line pen (I like a size 08 fineliner) for your main subject OR for the objects that are in the foreground.  Then choose a much smaller pen thickness (I use 01 fineliner, or 03) for all the stuff that surrounds your main subject, or for the items in the background.

THEN…switch it up!  Reverse that order and choose a tiny fineliner (01) for the main subject and the thicker pen (08) for the rest of it, or the background stuff.  Either way, you get this cool way of indicating depth and focus…ALL WITH LINE!!!!  Whheeeeee!!!!!!

P.S. Oh wait…is this a mini-lesson? Nah.  Just a tip to try.  You might like it!

P.P.S.  Oh, and this is more work play from the drawing group that meets at Barnhill’s Bookstore.  Too fun!

P.P.P.S.  Tune in Friday for Drawing Your Life Mini Lesson #4!!!  More stuff to fuel the fire for drawing.  I hope.:)