Tuesday, March 31, 2020

dancing daffodils

“March brings breezes loud and shrill,
Stirs the dancing daffodil.”
~Sara Coleridge (1802–1852), “The Months,”

Monday, March 30, 2020


Stay Home
I will wait here in the fields
to see how well the rain
brings on the grass.
In the labor of the fields
longer than a man's life
I am at home. Don't come with me.
from Wendell Berry "Stay Home"1980 collection 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

studio church

This is my studio at 10:00 AM last Sunday. I am a regular church go-er. I belong to Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. Due to the world-wide crisis of deadly illness spreading we don't go to church now, or anywhere else. Yet along with many others I am worshipping with my fellow Christians. I am fortunate to have an internet connection. While I worshipped and listened to the Word of God I was painting. This is the art I was creating last week commissioned by my church to use for the Holy Week service printed materials.  It represents Jesus Christ risen from death, victorious and joyful. He is literally kicking the gravestones out of his way!
Christ Victorious by Janice Skivington for Church of the Resurrection Easter Sunday 2020
A few side notes about the art, it is painted with acrylic on panel. I intentionally wanted Christ to be a man of dark skin. And most likely this will not be used as intended to be part of our joyous Easter services with many people to share.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

magic early spring

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”― Roald Dahl

Friday, March 27, 2020


har·bin·ger  noun
  1. a person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another.
example; A robin is a harbinger of spring.
Robins are hopping all over the landscape out my window these days. We are confined to our house as we wait out this season of tragic events but it is comforting to know that the season of springtime will not change its timely appearance. I sketched this bird as I watched him perching on a little tree by my front door. To my disappointment I found that I had used a pen that is not waterproof, giving my sketch a gray blurry wash that I did not intend. However, as I look at it again, I am satisfied because the weather is gray and rainy matching the quality of the drawing. These gray days do make this bright chested bird stand out even more.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020


Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Rainy day

We woke up today to a grey foggy rainy morning and the news reports that it is the first day of spring! It's a grim spring this year. I painted these daffodils several years ago from life and feeling such a rainy day as today.

Friday, March 6, 2020

interest or passion

I am not sure where this new interest of mine is going but I have become passionate about painting water!
Waves and the sea, or waves breaking on the shore of Lake Michigan (which is an inland sea). Every chance I get I park myself and my painting supplies on the beach and try to catch that moment, that color and motion.
I have pursued this on a rocky shore of the South China Sea in the Philippines. I have painted on the beach in Cancun, Mexico while sipping a margarita.
I have painted after escaping near drowning on the coast of South Carolina. I have spent days while visiting the Gulf coast of Florida sitting in the sand painting the same set of waves breaking over and over.
I live in a land-locked suburb of Chicago with only a few small ponds nearby and right now they are all frozen solid. I'm planning another trip to Florida, time to get away and paint the sea again!
My best immersion effort, not to make an obvious pun, was a week in October last year when I spent every day painting waves by Lake Michigan. I was visiting St. Joseph, a small beach town on the southwest corner of Michigan. Every day I packed up my oil painting kit and headed out. I never quite finished a canvas but have a good start on several that hope to finish inside during this winter.
All the other efforts I mentioned were with watercolor and quicker studies, mostly in a sketchbook. These canvases are in oil and I was struggling to make it happen the way I envisioned the day. Oils are a different matter, I found it hard going. I have since spent some time reading and educating myself on oil technique. Also, lots of visits to the Art Institute of Chicago for some thoughtful looking at Winslow Homer and Monet among others.
Here's my studio today with canvases and studies of Lake Michigan stacked and waiting. The beach near St. Joseph has a very recognizable lighthouse and pier. Anyone who has been there will know it.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

careful observation

"The picture is painted fifteen minutes after sunset – not one minute before... You can see that it took many days of careful observation to get this... with a high sea and tide just right."  Winslow Homer

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

motions of water

In order to arrive at knowledge of the motions of birds in the air, it is first necessary to acquire knowledge of the winds, which we will prove by the motions of water in itself, and this knowledge will be a step enabling us to arrive at the knowledge of beings that fly between the air and the wind. Leonardo da Vinci

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Ash Wednesday singing about bright sadness

This past Wednesday was celebrated all over the Christian world as the holy day of Ash Wednesday beginning the forty days of Lent and a season of contemplation, prayer, and self-reflection. Most people see it as a day when Christians worldwide have a smudge of black on their forehead.
I sketched during the service as our priest sang a song of his own; "Bright Sadness". Here is the link to the lyrics and a download of the song if you are interested.
Written by Randy York and Steve Williamson, performed by Randy York.

Bright sadness is a term, an oxymoron, used to describe the penitence of Lent combined with the closeness of God's presence and joy.

“Sad brightness as the sadness of my exile, of the waste I have made of my life; the brightness of God’s presence and forgiveness, the joy of the recovered desire for God, the peace of the recovered home.” 

Great Lent, Fr Alexander Schmemann