Saturday, September 8, 2012

52 Portraits

     So it is with a bit of relief and a bit of sadness that I bring you this post.  I have FINISHED with the portraits for my ArtPrize piece, and none too soon.  In three days I will move my piece into it's home for the next few months, The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel!  It has been an amazing journey thus far, and I believe that I have stayed true to the idea behind this piece.  I have learned a few things on this journey that I would like to share with you.

1.  There is so much more need out there than I could have imagined!  When we set out on that rainy afternoon with the Blessing Bags, we had no idea that we would be able to hand them all out at one time, much less in two hours.  But hand them out we did, and we could have given out SO MANY more.  My hope is that people will see this piece and be moved to act!  Just imagine how BIG this could be if everyone chose to do something.

2.  It is amazing to step out of your comfort zone!  I have learned this twofold with this undertaking.  First, I have never shown my work publicly before.  Sure, I show it to family and friends, but nothing like this.  The real test will come while I am down there with it during the show, but so far so good :)  Secondly, I wasn't comfortable around the Homeless before this.  Since I started to volunteer at Heartside and interact with them, I have come to realize that they are just like me.  They long for compassion, and to be heard.  I will not continue to walk on by and ignore them just because they have fallen on hard times.  To be honest, I am ashamed of how I behaved before!  I have met some awesome people that I never would have taken the time to know before, and it is absolutely to my benefit to know them!

3.  My family and friends are amazingly supportive!  O.K. I already knew this, but it just really needed to be acknowledged publicly.  There is no way that this could have happened without the love and support of those around me.  THANK YOU ALL!

4.  I am an artist!  I have always been shy to admit that I am an artist.  I have loved art all of my life, but when I put labels on myself they have always included wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, etc. I have never really labeled myself an artist.  That changes now.  I have been given this talent by a God that I am in awe of, and I am meant to use it!  I intend to do just that!

5.  God is Awesome!  This talent that I have was indeed given to me.  I also believe that the idea for this piece was given to me.  I am just glad that I had the courage to listen.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Moving right along

Today's post is short and sweet.  I am moving right along with the portraits....just fourteen left to go :)  I am getting more and more excited by the day and am starting to envision what the end product is going to look like!  Seeing these one by one is awesome, but take my word for it....when you see them next to each other it is VERY powerful!  I am still debating the background, and I need to make the decision soon!  Anyway, here are Brian and Eugene.  I see Brian frequently at Heartside and cannot wait to show him his portrait!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Thank You All!

I want to say thank you to everyone who is suppporting me in this endeavor!  Wow, what a time consuming project it has turned out to be :)  Each portrait is done in three steps.  I start by preparing two  sheets of watercolor paper at a time.  They are taped onto a board, and then wet down to stretch the paper.  After waiting for it to dry, I then draw each portrait lightly onto the paper.  When this is done, I can begin to paint them.  From this point, I have to paint them in one sitting or they end up having weird lines in them from where the paint dries.  They take between two to three hours to paint once I have them to the painting stage.  As you can imagine, this has taken LOTS of time from my normal day  to day stuff, and my family has definitely picked up the slack!  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
I also want to thank my mom for stepping up and helping out with the next phase, and my sisters for their unwavering support from the concept stage!  My kids put up with me making them see each one as it is finished, and being excited (even if they are bored).  My amazing hubby has also let me bounce ideas off of him every step of the way, and everyone I speak to is absolutely encouraging!!!!  So, thank you all for the part you are playing in this!
With each painting I finish, I am getting more and more excited to see the finished product!  16 more paintings to go and the first step is done, then it is on to the next stage of putting it all together.  Keep checking in, and I will do my best to try and keep updating!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


     The last few weeks have been FULL of heart wrenching drama!  Deciding on a venue has been a much more difficult process than I could have predicted.  From the start, I have had my eyes and heart set on two very different places and they collided when both venues accepted the piece.  I had the most difficult decision I have had to make since the start of this process!  I am very honored to have been in this situation, and beyond humbled!
     Degage Ministries was the first to accept the piece, and after meeting with the marketing director, I felt that my heart was telling me that this was the place for the piece.  I went through the various ways of reconfiguring the piece to fit the space they had available, and could envision it.  I could see the actual people that the piece is about seeing themselves and filling with pride.
     The very same day, I heard back from the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel that they were interested as well! This is when my mind started to speak up!  I feel that the piece will be seen by so many more people here, and ultimately that is what it is about....bringing awareness to how prevalent Homelessness is right here in Grand Rapids, and how each of these people are an INDIVIDUAL, to the people who are able to actually make a difference!
     It is on that note that I am VERY PROUD to announce that the Amway will be hosting my piece for ArtPrize 2012!!!!!!!  In the next few days I hope to have the finalized details, my voting number, etc....WOW!  This is really happening! :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

     So it has been almost two months since I have updated my progress, but a lot has been going on!  I have done quite a few more are two to tease you with.  I have also signed up as an artist with ArtPrize, so it is really official now :)  I have applied to a few venues, and am VERY impatiently awaiting responses!  I had started to get a little worried, until I realized that out of the over 900 entries so far, only 60 or so have connected with a venue.  Prayers are absolutely appreciated during this placement period.  I know deep in my heart that this piece will end up where it is meant to, it is really just a matter of quieting the doubting fears of my heart.  I think that this is at the center of every artist...with each piece that we make, we put another piece of ourselves out into the world.  It is always a bit terrifying awaiting a response from others, as it is not just a picture that they are critiquing, but a piece of the artist themselves!  
     On a brighter note, I was able to show one of the men his portrait!  If you remember in the last post, I mentioned that I had seen Torrin at Heartside and was hoping to be able to show him his portrait.....well, he was and I did!  IT WAS AMAZING!  I introduced myself and asked if he remembered last fall when we came downtown to take the pictures.  He vaguely did.  I asked if he wanted to see his picture and of course he did :)  When he saw it, his whole face lit up!  He spent the rest of the afternoon literally strutting around the studio!!!  Before that point, he hadn't spoken with me at all, but now everytime we see each other there is joking and kidding around.....I have made a great friend!  And did I mention, he is a pretty great artist also!  He is currently working on mini wishing wells that are made out of old boxes and should check them out at the gallery!  I cannot begin to express what this ENTIRE experience has been for me!  The people that I have met, and the change in my heart is amazing :)  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Are You A Follower?

So it has been awhile since I have posted!  Even though I am a little behind on the portraits, I haven't been doing nothing.....the letters to gain permission to use the lyrics have been written and mailed.....PLEASE PRAY FOR A QUICK RESPONSE!  I am really nervous about getting the permission.  I do have a back-up plan just in case.  There is another song, also called "Beautiful", by Mercy Me, a christian music group.  It also captures the meaning that I am trying to convey with this project.  So, now it is a waiting game......did I mention I am not really good at waiting?!

This week also marks the start of sign-ups for venues!  I have two or three in mind that I would love to get into, so your prayers are welcome for this part of the venture also!  I have started to work on the layout and thinking about the actual putting together of the pieces.  It is going to have to be done in pieces so that we can transport it safely, so we are thinking panels.

Now I would love to introduce you to Miciah and Torrin.  Miciah is the youngest of the people we met.  Torrin has actually shown up at Heartside while I was there one week.  I am really hoping that I run into him again so that I can show him his portrait!  How cool would that be!?  I am hoping to get two more done yet this week, so we will see how that goes!  Thank you to everyone who has signed up as a goal is to reach 100 by the time I sign up as an artist.  I have just over a month to reach that goal!  I really think that it will help me to secure a venue by showing the support that I already have for the piece!  Please please please, if you haven't already, please sign up as a follower!  It would mean a lot to me!

Thank you for your continued support and prayers!  I cannot believe how fast the time is moving now!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Two More Pics :)

The latest two people I painted are named Ock W. and Lazarro.  I love how the red just seems to pop off of the page :)  I spent my Friday afternoon down at Heartside again, and had a wonderful time!  I started to read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo this week, and was reading it while I was down there.  One of the young men was pretty interested in reading it, so after I finish it, I am going to lend it to him.  I also spoke to the director of the Art Program, Sara, and have found out that they can use the extra items that I had donated at the start of this project, so next week I will be taking down a large tote of things....further blessings! :)  Thanks for looking, and don't forget to pray for these men and the many others that are our neighbors!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Newest Portraits

     So today I bring to you Stan and Walter.......look at the joy in their faces :)  Stan is another that I just simply cannot look at without smiling, and Walter has that slow smile going on!  I am so very thankful that it has been such a mild winter in comparison to recent ones.  Last week as I walked the two blocks from my car to Heartside, I was reminded of just how mild it has been!
     I am up to sixteen portraits done, and while that seems like A LOT, I then realize that means I have 36 left to go!  WOW!  It has been a really great experience so far, and I still have so far to go.  The thing that is so amazing is that I am not tired of it yet!  Me, who is borderline ADD, isn't tired of this at all!  I will be working on two more yet this week, and also start drafting the letters to secure the rights to use the song lyrics and to start approaching venues.  Please keep me in your prayers as I start this next phase of the piece.....these are two VERY important steps to getting this to it's final stage of showing it!  Wow, when I think of actually seeing this done, and seeing others able to see and take something from this it is quite overwhelming!  Please pray for Stan and Walter, and if you think about it, say a small prayer for my next steps going as smoothly as the rest has so far!  Thanks for being a part of this!!!!

Monday, February 6, 2012


     So last Friday I went down to Heartside again!  I almost didn't get to go, due to car issues, but boy am I sure glad that I did!!!!  I had so much fun!  There is a CD player that was playing a jazzy cd, and each time that it started back up, there was a man who would just start to dance!!!  He started out just dancing by himself, but after a few minutes he must have decided it better to dance with a partner, because he asked me to dance with him.  Of course I accepted :)  So there we were, dancing around the art studio :)       It really could not have been a better day!
     I also got to know a wonderful woman who has a very similar style to mine.  She is currently making vintage collages on blocks of wood.  I showed her my copy of Somerset Studios magazine, and that was all it took to break the ice.  We chatted for about an hour, and I am looking forward to seeing her again this week!
     Anyway, here is Scott!  He has really pretty blue eyes, hence the color I chose for him :)  I will be back later this week with a few more pictures!  Until then, keep Scott in your thoughts and prayers!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

This is Mark.  He looks sad to me, and while most of the others whom I photographed were happy and silly, Mark's expression looks honest to me.  It looks like he has seen much more in this life than I have.  But you know what?  He is still here to tell about it.  The question is, is anyone listening?  One thing that is really telling to me is that as I sit in the Art Studio at Heartside, people don't need me to get them supplies, they need fellowship.  They need someone to talk to, and to listen to them....really listen.  I don't have much money, but I do have a great ear for listening :)  I am really glad that I am seeing the value in that simple act!  If you think about it, say a prayer for Mark tonight!  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Short and Sweet

We had an amazing speaker at our church today!  His name is Todd Burpo, and he has been the NY Times Bestselling author for the past 62 weeks.  He and his wife almost lost their then 3 year old son, and instead, when he came back to them he told them all about Heaven!  What an amazing testimony he shared with us today!
The thing that struck me most, was when he said that we need to start praying for God to use us instead of being selfish in our prayers.  He then went on to say that if we pray this prayer, we need to be ready for when He answers it...and He will!  I have, in fact, prayed this exact prayer two times.  The first time landed me in Africa, and the most recent led me downtown to bless and take photos of the Homeless right here in Grand Rapids.
I am ready for where God is leading me in this, for I truly believe that this is from Him.  I also pray that I can be humble in my talents, the ones that He has given me, and do everything in my power to make this about these amazing people whom I am honoring with these paintings.  ArtPrize is merely the venue that I get to use to make this statement.  I am merely God's instrument in speaking to both the homeless and to the rest of us to notice them!  God, keep me humble!  Use my hand to speak your message!
I hope that you will be brave and pray this ready for where He will lead you....and DO NOT FEAR, for wherever He leads you, He will be with you!

Monday, January 23, 2012

I realize this pic is larger than most, but I really wanted to highlight the love love how they turned out!  This is Dimmarowe, when we took the photos, he was a little hesitant to have his taken, but after we explained in more detail what it was for, he decided to be a part of this...and am I ever glad, because his face is awesome!  I have seen him once since starting at Heartside, but haven't had the chance to talk to him yet.  I am loving going down there though.  Last week I took a journal and did some sketching while I was there.  I also chatted with a man, James, who looks JUST LIKE Snoop Dogg....I am not even kidding!!  He was working on drawing portraits.  I also met a very gifted seamstress who was working on these adorable stuffed animals that she does quite well selling!  If anyone is interested in finding a unique gift, check out the studio at Heartside....not only will you score some one of a kind artwork, but you will be helping a wonderful artist more than you know!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Really Cool People!

     So last week Friday I was finally able to start volunteering at Heartside, in the art studio.  I LOVED IT!!!  I cannot wait to go back this week :)  At first I was feeling a little awkward, I didn't really know what to do or what I was meant to be doing.  After about an hour I just started to wander among the artists and chat with them....that was when it really started to become great!  There was a woman sitting next to me all afternoon, named Kathy.  She wasn't feeling too well and seemed stuck in her artwork....and she didn't seem to want to talk at all.  She left for a few minutes, and when she returned she had some mail (apparently they can have their mail delivered there).  She opened it and spent some time reading it and all of a sudden, without a word, she handed over her new Driver's License for me to see.  I admired her picture on it and asked to see her old one.  She showed it to me, and I commented on her different hairstyle between the two.  Then I noticed there was a watermark on her new one.....right under her lip.  So I said if she tilted it just right, it looked like she had a mustache.....SHE BUSTED UP LAUGHING!!!  That was all it took, the next two hours she and I talked like we were old friends :) :) :)  Love, love, love!  I also met a man named David and heard his really has been his healing!  I also met Walter....Walter was something else :)  He told me about a ton of different documentaries he has seen, what a great guy!  Our conversation was very informative...I learned quite a bit!  Like I said, I cannot wait to go back this week :)
     Anyway, here is Yakie.  He was a little shy about having his photo taken, he was even biting his lip :)  I know just how he feels....I, too, hate having my picture taken!  Thank you Yakie, for letting me share your image with everyone....I am praying that you have a warm place to sleep sure is cold out there!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Isn't he beautiful!?
When I took this picture, he was so full of joy I couldn't catch him with his eyes open :)  I tried a few times, and each one caught his smile so big that his eyes were closed :)  Cleveland, you make me smile!
I will pray for you tonight, pray that you are still smiling, even as our weather starts to get colder.  I will pray that you have a place to keep warm and safe tonight.  I will pray that you have food to eat, and someone who notices your wonderful smile!  Thank you Cleveland, for sharing your joy with me :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

     Happy New Year!  Here I am, back at it....painting away :)  I have a new person for you to meet today.  His name is Larry.  When we went to take the photos, Larry and Robert insisted on being photographed together.  This made me smile!  It was good to see that even in the bad circumstances that life throws at us, friends still stick together :)
     What resolutions did you make for the New Year?  My biggest resolution is to continue on with this project and let it wash over my life.  I am looking forward to going down to Heartside and learning more about the people that have allowed me to highlight them with this project.  I have also started to think about the next step in this process....the Venue.  This one is HUGE!  I want this piece to be seen by many so that these people will open the eyes of the average person.  Hmmmm....this is going to take some thought.....