New Cards by Elise and Why Gratitude Helps Us

Being thankful for everything and expressing gratitude is one way to improve how you feel about your life. I recently heard advocates of positive psychology explain why gratitude can be so helpful.


Making a daily practice of writing down one or more things you're thankful for in a journal helps not only in the moment but also in the future. 


In re-reading your thankful moments, your brain actually re-wires the good feelings you once had! This means your brain is then wired to focus on and look for the good. 


Your life can then become much more pleasant and enjoyable.


Gratitude doesn't have to be kept in a private journal! It can and should be expressed to God and others! 


Writing thank-you notes to my grandparents was how I personally began communicating on paper. I much preferred writing thank-you notes to doing book reports for school. Yet I still didn't enjoy having my thank-you notes edited and my grammar and punctuation corrected. Often, this meant re-writing the entire letter, slowly and carefully by hand. 


But as I look back, I am now grateful I had a parent who cared my English was correct. 


Writing thank you notes is still an important part of my life today. And, I now have a large collection of notecards on which to do it! =) 


These are twenty-nine of my latest watercolor painting card designs, in addition to those found on my first card blog: http://elisefineart.blogspot.com/2015/12/cards-by-elise.html



Bird Card Collection - also sold separately




 Botanical and Butterfly Cards




Building Cards





Cow Card Collection - also sold separately





Fantasy Cards

Healing the Soul (The Mushroom Fairy) 

Clarity & Hope (Autumn Oak Tree Swing)





Horse Cards




NYC at Work Card Collection




Stuffed Animal Card





The Supervisor at Work Card (Cat and Guitar)





Yellow Foliage Cards




These cards are great for Holidays, Sympathy Cards, Thank You Notes, Anniversaries, Weddings, Birthdays, Celebrations, or just to help you stay in touch with treasured Friends and Family.

With the other 83 cards I now have 112 card designs currently available!

I would be happy to take orders for sets or individual cards. You also may mix and match and tell me which specific cards you would like, and how many.  Please email me for payment details, to send your mail location and for my mail location. Send your card request emails to: elisefineart@gmail.com

Each 4-1/x 5-1/2 card is blank inside, and comes with an envelope.

These cards are affordable, collectible and frame-able miniature images of my fine watercolor artwork.

My current prices are:

$4 for one card. Or, if you buy five cards, the sixth card is FREE. This means you can purchase six cards for $20. Prices drop for larger quantities. Twenty cards are $3 each. Forty cards of the same design are $2 each. Please remember postage is an additional cost.


Love from your painting-friend,

Elise

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. ~ Colossians 3:15


In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~ I Thessalonians 5:18


Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; ~ Ephesians 5:20




Why I Started A YouTube Channel

There was a good deal of music in our home. My mother used to sing my siblings and I to sleep using old Lutheran hymns. She played records and I remember how we loved Mantovani's orchestra and Peter, Paul and Mary. We were big fans of Jim Croce, too. Those were the days.

My dad was a professionally trained accordionist and percussionist. He donned a long-haired wig to play the drums in rock gigs with different bands.

We grew up listening to him play Begin the Beguine and many, many other tunes on his large accordion. My dad was a fabulous accordionist. He also taught himself to play about five other instruments.

Mr. Nightingale's Moonsong, 5x7 watercolor by Elise, 2017. Private Collection.

I grew up sitting inside of my dad's base drum, while he played on his drum kit. He wouldn't strike the drum when I was inside it. My dad often practised with his drum sticks on our car dashboard. It was a form of relaxation for him, although it didn't do the dashboard any favors...he drummed holes in them!

When I was six, I remember asking my dad for a guitar for Christmas. “Dad, would you buy me a guitar for Christmas?” “You mean a play guitar,” he said. “No, I mean a real guitar,” I replied.

I must have seen someone playing guitar on TV, and thought if you strummed a guitar, the sounds you wanted would just automatically come out. Hahaha. Little did I know, it was slightly more complicated than that!

"You mean a play guitar,” my dad repeated what he'd said the first time. “No,” I insisted, “I want a real guitar.”

So, Christmas arrived. All the presents were opened and no guitar...my dad, grinning, disappeared into the hall and came back bearing a large gift, it had been hidden because of it's revealing shape...I had my real guitar for Christmas!

The Supervisor at Work, 5x7 watercolor over graphite by Elise, 2016. Private Collection.

My mother had also gotten me some real guitar lessons. I took lessons from age six to age nine. I think they may have been weekly, or every other week. I remember learning to play things like “Old MacDonald Had A Farm” and “Big Rock Candy Mountain”...I learned about measures, full and half notes in the treble clef, frets, how to tune the guitar and use a pick.

My teacher told my parents I was the best guitar student he had ever had, of any age! I was a very determined child. I practiced and was prepared for each lesson.

Then, we moved to Vermont when I was nine and I said goodbye to my first guitar teacher. I don't remember his name.

We had a piano then and I began to learn to play it a little. Reading the base clef was more difficult, as I had learned only treble clef for guitar.

Then my dad, who understood chord theory very well, the circle of fifths, augmented and diminished chords, arpeggios and scales of all kinds, gave me a few lessons. I would sit next to him while he played and watch his hands fly over the keys. He taught me about scales and corresponding chords.

It was dad who had us start singing for an audience. He would have us come forward and sing with him while he played the piano at church. “His Sheep Am I” was one of those early songs, when I was around ten years old. After my dad left, we continued to find unique songs to sing for our tiny church audience.

"The Christian Girls have a Special,” our pastor would happily announce. A “Special” meant music that was not necessarily in the regular church service. Sometimes we chose those songs after getting to church. Other times we would practice on our way to church, in the car. My mom would sometimes groan and tell us we sounded terrible, practicing. Then she was usually amazed when our songs would miraculously come together at the last minute for the presentation!

We had very kind, elderly church folks who would smile and nod, enjoying my sister's and I, as we tried to harmonize. We never outgrew the “Christian Girls” title either. Even in our thirties, we were known as “the Christian Girls.”

Healing the Soul, 5x7 watercolor and pen & ink by Elise, 2017. Private Collection.

Being extremely shy, I didn't like being in front of an audience. Only in my thirties would I finally become comfortable in front of people, after years of forcing myself to teach children. Early on, I would drop my head and try to hide behind my music or hymnal. My mother told me I needed to raise my head up, so my voice could be heard. So, then I would lift my music up in front of my face and hide behind it that way.

I don't know why I was so afraid to be seen, but I was. Filming myself now is a challenge, but I'm trusting the message is more important than the fear I have of what people might think.

My younger sister quickly became an excellent sight-reader and highly accomplished pianist after we began taking regular piano lessons. She has a huge musical gift. These lessons lasted two years, with our fun piano teacher, Miriam, coming to our home every two weeks.

I had glasses by then and really struggled to read sheet music. Memorizing music was easy, once I learned it, but sight-reading was very difficult for me. So my younger sister became our accompanist. She could sing alto, emphasize someone else's part, all while playing the piece! She went on to have a twenty-year piano teaching business. We are very proud of her musical accomplishments.

My older sister has a great high voice, and a fabulous talent for writing beautiful lyrics and song poetry.

Each of my sisters are professional musicians today.

I remember standing next to my older sister, singing hymns at church, and thinking her voice was my voice. She could sing tenor an octave high...but hearing anything besides the main melody was extremely difficult for me. I couldn't distinguish words in English songs on the radio, either, until I was around twenty-five years old. All I heard was the melody.

Hearing and seeing in great detail were not my strong points. So, to be painting and singing today is just a little funny. Our Father takes our weaknesses to show Himself strong.

My sisters and me, circa 2000, perhaps.

But back in our teens and twenties, my sisters and I would sing for funerals, weddings, churches and special occasions. This was before cameras could film, before social media...sadly, we don't have much footage of all the songs we sang, just our memories.

I have always had a BIG voice, but it wasn't always on key, and the tone was terrible. I was often reminded by my well-meaning family, “Elise, tone is more important than volume.” I listened to them, but then usually shrugged off this constant constructive criticism, because I didn't really understand what was meant by this comment. And I really didn't care too much, either! I sang to share a message. I also sang to make a joyful noise to the Lord, and the louder noise I made, the better I often felt. Dopamine.

When I was nineteen, we found a new classical guitar teacher. Peter was wonderful. He taught us for two years. We had lessons every two weeks and I practiced HARD, a couple hours every day. I remember telling my mother that I didn't know WHY I wanted to learn to play the classical guitar so badly, when the songs didn't even have words, but I just HAD to do it. She told me it was okay. I put words to some of the classical pieces, to give them more meaning.

After awhile Peter told me I could become a professional classical guitarist. He said I had both the technique and memorization ability. I considered this idea, but didn't want to HAVE to practice five hours a day. I felt this would turn music into work, and ruin the sheer joy playing music always gave me.

So I chose to become a visual artist instead. My music became the place I went for fun, for a brain break when I'd hit the wall, painting.

If I had worked until I could no longer focus, I'd go downstairs and play either the piano or guitar, and when I felt better, I'd return to my painting. Music has been a HUGE help in the work I do as an artist.

Yellow Rose Impression, 5x7 watercolor by Elise, 2017. Private Collection.

There were times when I was very injured. I couldn't play the guitar when my wrists or shoulders were sprained...but eventually those injuries would heal. When my knees and ankles were sprained, I'd play music all the more. The piano and guitar became my friends. I would play when everyone else has gone out, making as much noise as I wanted. There was no one home to complain.

After five years of doing many other things and not playing piano, I went back to this instrument around age twenty-two. I felt strongly there was music inside me and even if I never played as well as my younger sister, I needed to play again.

This time I tried to play without reading music, using what I knew of scales and arpeggios. And eight years after working diligently on this method, I felt I went through a sort of “wall.” I began to gain more unconscious fluidity and sense of my own style. It was special, to feel I had been given a musical gift, after all those years of just tagging along, behind my highly talented sisters.

When I was in my early thirties, I did a gallbladder cleanse. We had been studying the gallbladder and I figured I'd experiment on myself. I was shocked to learn I had gallstones. During this lemon juice and olive oil cleanse, I felt both the eustacian tubes in my ears drain. Who would think the ears are connected to the gallbladder? This was news. But after this cleanse, I was much more able to hear tone and stay on key while singing.

Just recently I learned the gallbladder is connected to stored emotional issues surrounding your dad. Wow, funny thing, I have had a lot of issues in this regard.

When I was thirty-six, in New Zealand, I was staying with a family who was singing in a large choir of 600 people. I joined them, and choir members at practices sitting around me started saying, “you have such a beautiful voice, can I sit next to you?” I was shocked! Me, have a beautiful voice? My family had always said I had a voice that sounded like a cow bellowing!

So, it was a long time before I learned others thought I had a nice-sounding voice. That was nice. But it didn't change the fact that I sang for God, to praise Him. I've never really been interested in singing pop music, or in performing per say. I sing to share a positive message. My desire is to use my voice to praise God “with my whole heart, to be glad and rejoice in Him, and sing praise to His name,” as David said he would do in Psalm 9:1-2.

I remember attending many free local university bands and singing groups, and some symphonies for the Fourth of July, too. But we didn't have a lot of money to attend big concerts.

My sisters and me, aka "The Christian Girls" =)

Our family used to have a large eclectic collection of beautiful musical CDs in styles from around the world. This was before the days of iTunes and downloading music to your iPod or computer. I don't think I've personally purchased more than half a dozen CDs in my lifetime.

Making music was more important and more affordable than going to listen to someone else's music. Same with art. While I really enjoy art museums and my Facebook feed of beautiful artwork today, I grew up creating art, not studying art history.

Clarity and Hope - Revealed by His Spirit, 5x7 watercolor and pen & ink by Elise, 2017. Private Collection.

Today I'm in a bit of a rut. I play my memorized classical pieces. I can play and sing worship songs continuously for around two hours...and these are what I am hoping to record.

I had another head injury last November, hitting the top of my head very hard on a ceiling while moving...after this injury, I had some brain fog and playing became difficult – I felt fuzzy. It came to me that I may not be able to play for ever, and so I am trying to have a memory of the songs I love.

I have sung worship songs to God in private for many, many years. He has seen and heard me. Now I feel it is important to expand the width and breadth of my listening audience, so many others might hear and perhaps be encouraged, too, that the King of Glory might be praised.

This is my new You Tube channel: Elise at Painting Glory

With gratitude for the great gift of musical expression,

I remain your artist-friend,

Elise

I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. ~ Psalm 9:1-2


Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. ~ Psalm 86:6-13



Trees of Righteousness...That He Might Be Glorified - Part IV - The Real Reason I Am An Artist

Anybody know what a “ram of righteousness” is? Well, I wondered, too. In this last post on the subject of WHY I am thinking I became an artist, the verse in Isaiah 61:3 finishes with these words:

that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

So in the process of asking myself why I do what I do, I now see that God tells us His “Why”. He desires that our healed lives bring Him glory.

Across Frozen Fields, 10x13 watercolor by Elise, March 2017, available

The word for “tree” here, in Hebrew, can also mean “ram”. What in the world is a “Ram of righteousness?!” My concordance goes on to explain it's like a twisted rams horn, for a twisted horn is stronger than a straight one.

In battle, the strength of a ram's horn is probably important for coming out on the other side in one piece and winning the battleground.

The Jerusalem Bible version says, “They are to be called 'terebinths of integrity', planted by Yahweh to glorify him.

terebinth is an old word for an oak tree. Old oak trees are often twisted and battle-scarred, having weathered and stood through many, many storms.

The Snow Swing - 5x7, watercolor by Elise, 2017, of the old oak tree outside my studio window, Private Collection

The word for “righteousness” here can mean integrity or prosperity.

So, I'm thinking someone who has suffered greatly, and then experienced healing from their losses, grief and despondency can come out of the fires shining like gold!

They can go from sorrowful weakness to great strength and “strong prosperity”!

Such a hope-filled passage!

Top of the Hill, 17x22 watercolor by Elise, March 2017, available
I'm reminded of the “coup-fourré” card in the game, Milles Bornes. Where you are under great strain but suddenly, you have the protection you need and the tables are turned!

I am reminded of the testimonies of Joseph, Job, David, and many others.

This passage goes on to say in verse four, “And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.”

Light Splayed Out watercolor by Elise, March 2017 Private Collection

Build, raise, repair. Verbs which connote taking action!

It takes skill, strength, vision, courage, resources and perhaps even funds to do these “reparations”.

And so, loss in life often leads to our gain. Sorrow to joy. Ugliness to great beauty.

Spring Thaw, 14x22 watercolor from March 2017 by Elise, available

I desire that the work of my hands and heart would inspire our present-day culture to go in the direction of repairing broken places, shattered hearts, and ruined lives. May it be so!

With love, your faith-full painting-friend,
Elise

One Little Tree with Lowering Clouds, 1/2-sheet watercolor (15x22) by Elise, March 2017, available

Isaiah 61:1-7 from The Message:

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
    because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
    pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
    a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
    and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
    give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
    a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness”
    planted by God to display his glory.
They’ll rebuild the old ruins,
    raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They’ll start over on the ruined cities,
    take the rubble left behind and make it new.
You’ll hire outsiders to herd your flocks
    and foreigners to work your fields,
But you’ll have the title “Priests of God,”
    honored as ministers of our God.
You’ll feast on the bounty of nations,
    you’ll bask in their glory.
Because you got a double dose of trouble
    and more than your share of contempt,
Your inheritance in the land will be doubled
    and your joy go on forever. 

The Garment of Praise for the Spirit of Heaviness - Part III - The Real Reason I Am An Artist

A garment is something you wear. You carry it around. It's outside of you, but part of you at the same time. Other people can see it, feel it and recognize you by it.

Brightly colored or drab, garments often define you. I believe it was C.S. Lewis who said a person is more themselves clothed than unclothed, because clothing reveals a lot about who you are.

An early Hunt Scene by Elise - not sure what year and I don't think it has survived
The Hebrew word for “praise” in Isaiah 61:3 means a song or hymn of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving paid to God.

Dr. Datis Kharrazian, who studies and really understands the brain, encourages people to either gargle or sing, stimulating the uvula in the rear of the throat. This will stimulate the brain, keeping dementia away. Over 400 times in the Bible we're told to sing to God! And a friend of mine told me “praise” appears more times in scripture than we are told to pray!

It was my mother who first taught me to observe God's wonders and to praise Him for them. She would sit with us by the window during thunder storms and marvel with us as the lightning flashed. She stopped the car and climbed a hill to show us the beauty of a rainbow. She took us to the tops of many mountains and set up tents in the wilderness on many family hiking, backpacking and camping trips.

Hiking with Mom and Dad, I'm on the far left
My mom would also sing my siblings and I to sleep at night with hymns from her childhood. And she modeled many times how to praise God in the midst of suffering.

Life is often very tragic and very hard. It's easy to feel down and heavy about things. God still asks of us praise, even when it hurts. He wants to know our level of trust, our faith in His unseen plan.

I have been learning recently about plasma, and how the electrical field around our body can store trauma. I wonder if the “garment of praise” relates to this. Whether it does or not, I believe our Father gives us the Garment of Praise to wear as a special gift of Love.

Praising the One who sees the End of Life's Story


I remember the old cassette tapes my family listened to, many years ago.

Joni Eareckson Tada was young, an unmarried woman at this time. She used her voice to sing praises to God after being confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic, through breaking her neck in a swimming accident.

I could relate to her strongly because of my many back problems. She was also a former horsewoman before her accident, and had become a good artist using just her mouth to hold a paintbrush.

Joni sang a wonderful song called Spirit Wings . We sang along with her as we traveled in the car together as a family.

Spirit Wings!/You lift me over all the earthbound things/and like a bird my heart is flying free/I'm soaring on the song your Spirit brings/Oh Lord of All/You've let me see/A vision of Your majesty/You lift me up/You carry me/On your Spirit Wings.

Now when my life confines me/I just look to you/And soon my heart is soaring high above/Troubles look much smaller/From Your point of view/Lifted up on Spirit Wings of Love...”

She also sang a song she had written. In part, it went like this:

I have a piece of China, a pretty porcelain vase -
It holds such lovely flowers; captures everybody's gaze.
But fragile things do slip and fall, as everybody knows
And when my life came crashing down, those tears began to flow

Cause don't we all cry, when pretty things get broken?
Don't we all sigh, at such an awful loss
But Jesus will dry your tears as He has spoken
Cause He was the One broken on the Cross.

Now Jesus is no porcelain Prince, His promises won't break
His Holy Word holds fast and sure, His Love no one can shake
So if your Life is shattered by sorrow, pain or sin
His healing love will reach right down and make you whole again.”

We sang our friend Judy Peatfield's scripture songs, too. One of them went like this:

I have loved you with an everlasting love/I have loved you til you're whiter than snow/I have wiped all the tears from your eyes/I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

We sang Psalm 25:1-7 often, and we sang I Timothy 1:17, too. We sang a lot as a family, going places in the car. They are wonderful memories!

I remember God taking my shattered heart during my teen-age years and making it sing praises to Him, in faith and trust that He saw and knew all about the little details. Praise was connected to gratitude and to seeing and depicting beauty. 


Early Goals and Desires in Life


You have to be careful of what you place in front of a child, for it will change their life.

I first sat on a horse when I was around six months old. She was Red Roses, my mom's 16.3 hand Thoroughbred, raised off the track from a two-year-old. You can see the smile on my face, I was so happy! There was never any fear in riding a horse.

My mother's Red Roses, with one of her foals
I wanted to be a jockey and win the Kentucky Derby after reading The Black Stallion books at age six.

I drew horses in school all the time. I would often go around to my generous friends and classmates in first and second grade, and ask them if they thought my drawings looked like real horses or not...they were kind and encouraged me.

I told my mom I just wanted to draw and paint horses, nothing else. My mom told me I would need to learn to paint sky and backgrounds, too. She was right. But for years, I loved drawing horses at every opportunity. Graphite horse heads decorate the edges of all my school papers.

By age ten, I knew I would become too heavy to be a jockey, so the life plan switched to riding horses in the Olympics. Now it was Eventing I pursued. I studied hard for many years. I read Dressage and CT, Horseplay and any other horse magazine I could get my hands on. I read books on equitation, dressage, training horses, jumping, and many other topics. I rode all the time, in my mind.

Suspended Animation, 1996 14 x 22 watercolor by Elise, an Eventing photo taken by my dad, at an Olympic trials
For my thirteenth birthday, my mother gave me the best present ever – a week of riding horses at the camp where she had once learned to ride! I was on cloud nine. It was shortly after my dad had left us, and my time with horses were a large part of how I survived my dad's absence.

I heard someone from the Boston Trauma Center explain on a webinar how it used to be thought that talking was the only way to help heal trauma. This is how psychotherapy and couches became so popular. Now, after more study, they find that trauma is also helped through movement and touch. Horses provide both movement and touch! 



Dedicating my Life to God


There were other things going on in my heart and life, too. Earlier that same year I turned thirteen, a month after my dad departed and basically disappeared from our lives, my mom had taken us to three evenings of talks at a local fellowship.

The speaker only came to Vermont once. His name was Otto Konig, and he told The Pineapple Story to us. At the end of the three nights, Otto asked everyone in the audience to consider dedicating their lives to Christ, as Romans 12:1-2 beseeches us.

I had prayed to receive Christ as my Savior when I was five years old, and had no more fears about my eternal destiny at that time. I had attended church services three times each week for years and years. I loved God and felt His presence in my life, but I was strongly and consciously resisting giving my whole life to Him...I didn't trust Him fully. My faith was small. I figured, rightly, if I gave my entire life to God, I would then have to do what He wanted, for life.

And I really doubted riding in the Olympics would be acceptable. I wanted to retain “control” of my own life and future. I didn't realize at that time how beautiful His plans are, in the end. I didn't know how little I was really “in control” either.

But, that night, after hearing Otto Konig's personal and very humorous story of yielding all his rights to God, a battle raged inside my heart and soul. I heard a voice in my head saying, “if you give your life to God, you'll have to go to Africa as a missionary.” Leave my family! This was a horrible thought at that time.

Yet I knew I really needed a father.

When my dad had left, my mother had sat my siblings and I on the couch and told us, “You are not fatherless, God will be your Father!” She showed us Psalm 68:5. I had taken this rather literally.

And now, grace overcame my fear. I remember yielding my will and saying with true sincerity, “Okay God, you can have my life.”

Instantly, an enormous sense of Peace flooded my heart and I thought “Satan, you lied!”

So, when given an opportunity to ride horses on my thirteenth birthday, I was overjoyed.

I've said previously how disobedient I once was, as a small child. Now there began to be some transformation, some desire to obey both God and my mother. I wanted to please them. I wanted to live my life to glorify our Father in all the ways I could. 


Early Awards for my Watercolor Art and Loving Horses


When you are young, your interests are endless, the possibilities and curiosity in life and learning immense.

With my first art teacher's encouragement, I entered the local University art show a couple times, at twelve and then thirteen, with framed charcoal drawings of animals – specifically an running Elephant and a grazing Horse.

When fourteen, I won the children's section of this large local exhibition with a watercolor painting of a Vermont barn. It was a perfect copy of a photograph from Vermont Life, which I had not taken, and I've learned a lot since about not using other's reference material without permission...but I was told the jurors had considered my painting good enough to win the adult “best Vermont scene” competition. They decided I was “too young.” I've never liked the constriction of age groups since then.

I remember hoping my dad would show up at the awards ceremony, but he didn't come to share my accomplishment. I was very disappointed, but had to continue on without his loved presence in my life.

I had prayed for a horse of my own for many years. We had the blessing of little Shetland or Welsh-type ponies who were broken to drive. We rode them, too, bareback with halter and leadropes, as best we could. This pony team had come as an answer to my sister's and my prayer, but I now wanted a larger horse to ride.

One day when I was fifteen years old, coming home from church, I was praising God in my heart. I was very happy and told Him while looking out the window, “if I never have a horse, it's okay, because I have You.”

Literally three or four hours later, that same afternoon, we received an unexpected phone call from a horse owner who said, “If you can raise your offer to $1,400, you can have the horse, I must make a truck payment.” My mom had gone to see a mare with her filly a month earlier, and made a $1,000 offer on the horse. The owner's asking price was $2,500 for the mare. She was a gorgeous papered Morgan, well worth the money. He now dropped his price over $1,000.

Her name was Skyview Coriander. I called her my Manna from Heaven. I knew God had heard my prayer and given me the desire of my heart. Corrie was an incredibly athletic and gifted mare, green-broke and five years old when we got her. She taught me so much during the next six years.

Riding my Manna from Heaven, Corrie, at sixteen
I was also fifteen when my mother again invested all her extra funds in my future. She gave me the very special gift of painting for two weeks with Zoltan Zsabo, the now-deceased but then nationally-recognized former Hungarian watercolorist.

I was the youngest attendee in the workshop by about thirty years. Zoltan recognized my early skills, for I had been painting with watercolor for four years by then. He told me, “you will be my competition in three years.”

The next Spring, I was able to take another week-long workshop with an artist on the coast of Maine. He told me, “I'll bet people have only praised you, and I am going to critisize you.” This wasn't true, but he was convinced I needed his “help.”

You have no eye for composition,” he declared quite firmly. I was quite discouraged following those workshops. I tried to copy these master's styles, which were quick and large. I just mixed up a great deal of mud and wasted much expensive paper and paint.

As I am not someone who responds well to verbal negatives, this second instructor really discouraged me. While I did take a pen & ink course that year, and also a plein air watercolor course, I stopped painting with watercolor for the next four-five years.

During the next five years, I really didn't paint much at all besides the walls inside our house and the clapboard outside it. I did about one pen & ink or pastel painting each year, as gifts for friends and relatives.

I was learning so many other things – how to cook, garden, hay, sew clothing, make baskets and bread, paint the inside and outside of our house, practice classical guitar, help my mother in her many projects, serve local people, horsemanship and animal husbandry. We had cats, goats, chickens, geese and turkeys, plus five horses to care for.

The Boys - photo of our Bronze Turkeys - how they loved attention!
I had also begun to read my Bible on a daily basis, to memorize and meditate on long passages. I had many schoolwork assignments to complete.

There wasn't much time for my artistic development on paper, even though I was still noticing color and light. Had some inexplicable things not happened, I may never have really painted again. 


More Tragedy


I used to read “Drama in Real Life,” a section in the Reader's Digest magazine. I no longer feel a need for an adrenaline rush...there have been so many trials in my real life.

In the Spring of 2001, several major life changes occurred.

Roxie and Dixie, with our Toulouse Geese - early watercolor by Elise
First we lost Roxie, our dark brown Morgan/Percheron mare, half-sister and teammate to Dixie. Roxie had a shiny coat and was perfectly fine one day. The next day she was sick and off her feed. We immediately called our vet. He came and took blood samples. We thought she may have been poisoned. Her sickness was in her nervous system. The samples came back negative for everything we tested.

Roxie was trembling all over, had no saliva, and would not drink water. She died the next morning, after her heart rate went over 100 bpm.

Our experienced vet remembered a case in veterinary school where a horse having no saliva had had rabies. So he came back, cut off Roxie's head, leaving her body headless in our driveway, and took the head to test her brain for rabies. This test also came back negative, thankfully. But seeing our headless horse whom we loved lying dead was very horrible.

Our carpenter had a very serious accident that Spring too, requiring months of plastic surgery. A story too long to tell here.

And then, our Morgan mare Corrie, who had become such a dear friend to me, also died very tragically one summer night.

We had to put her down after a hit-and-run motorcyclist broke her hind leg. I remember the pain she was in, the beads of sweat on her coat and the look in her eyes, pleading for our help. But we couldn't fix her compound fracture.

I remember questioning how all these horrible events could be occurring, one after the other. But I knew God had given us Corrie, and now He allowed her to be taken away. 


Sorting Priorities


The reason I returned to painting was probably due to several coinciding factors:

  • The shock of Corrie's death – I no longer had a horse to take care of and ride.

  • My own physical  breakdown and near-death illness - my digestive organs began shutting down. I had painful pancreatitis caused by over-work, not forgiving myself, trying to be perfect in my own strength, and over-exposure to toxic chemicals.'

  • My desire to obey my Father in Heaven, as well as make good on my promise to my mother, to use the artistic gift I've been given by God.


I had asked God for a present when I turned twenty. “I don't have a dad, but you're my Father, would you give me a present?” I asked in prayer. 

Faithfully, He gave me Psalm 9:1-2. It seemed to stand off the page when I read it:

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all they marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.”

For several years in my early twenties, I had become sicker and sicker, to the point I nearly died. A lot of it was my stuffed emotional issues. My mother spoke to me and reminded me I was taking on responsibilities she had not delegated to me. She told me she wanted me to stop doing all the other things on my enormous daily to-do lists, and return to my painting. I had become a workaholic.

But by then, I didn't think I wanted to return to painting. It took so much discipline and patience to sit still and concentrate!

People gave me their “advice” and most of it was anti-mom. “You can do what you want to do,” they'd tell me. What did I want to do? I didn't know anymore. I was over-tired and felt very ill. But it was my mother and God who knew me best of all. They knew the delight I had after finishing a good painting.

I was very upset with myself for so much time off, realizing I'd perhaps lost years of artistic growth...and was also at the age when I would have graduated from university, had I attended. An artist-in-debt doesn't stay an artist long, so I had chosen not to attend art school. I felt after prayer that I needed to stay home and help my family.

After considering my options, I determined to re-learn the painting skills I once had. I told myself internally that I would be obedient to God and my mother if it killed me.

Yet after trying to paint for just an hour, my hand began shaking - I couldn't hold it still!

 Day After Doe Season, 16 x 20 watercolor, my first serious attempt after deciding to regain my skills. I was twenty-two. This was a three-color study, using only Antwerp Blue, Burnt Sienna and Sepia.
So, I set a goal of painting just six hours each week. I asked a dear older artist friend who I saw weekly at church to keep me accountable. She would ask me if I had painted that week.

Once I told her I'd only painted two hours, making the excuse of how little time I had had that week. She told me firmly, “you will add the four hours on to this coming week.” Sitting for TEN HOURS! I thought this was terrible. But I did it.

And I didn't forget to paint six hours each week from then on. 


God Desires Praise More Than Sacrifice


I've been thinking a lot on this third phrase from Isaiah 61:3 – the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. About the importance of praise, and how it must come from our heart and spirit. I've surely felt the spirit of heaviness competing for supremacy in my mind over the years. But, by grace and faith, I was given many opportunities to paint and through my work, praise the King of Heaven, the Ruler of the Universe, the Sovereign who controls all things, from the immensely huge to the infinitely small.

He is the Great Potter who molds and shapes us. Who are we to fight against His plan?

And so, I am His servant.

Our Father in Heaven took my broken dreams, my feeble eyes and injured body, the tragedies over which I had very little control, and used them to shape me into an artist.

It is my continued goal to bring Him glory through the work of my hands. He has continued to strengthen my eyesight, give me time, space and painting tools.

While I've never owned a car, nor married, often live a very secluded life and am alone a lot, yet I feel blessed to have been given a very unique life journey.

I feel very grateful for my mom, who first taught me to sing hymns of praise to God and who has always seen my artist-heart. I would not have become and continued as an artist without her help and support. It was she who encouraged me to stay home and paint instead of going out to get a 9-to-5 job and focus on gaining money.

I am also very thankful for the encouragement each of my artist mentors have given me.

Without my collectors and those who have commissioned my work, I wouldn't be an artist today. Thank you, friends!

With gratitude, I remain your painting-friend - with many other interests!

Elise

Praise ye the Lord the Almighty, the King of Creation! O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation! All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near; Join me in glad adoration!


Praise ye the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth, Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth! Hast thou not seen, how thy desires e'er have been Granted in what He ordaineth?


Praise ye the Lord, who with marvellous wisdom hath made thee! Decked thee with health, and with loving hand guided and stayed thee; How oft in grief, hath not He brought thee relief, Spreading His wings for to shade thee! 


Joachim Neader 1650-1680; Translated by Catherine Winkworth


Blogger Template by Clairvo