VBS 2016

The crew tidying up a bit
Main stage for ‘Cave Quest’

Once again this year I was part of the design team to create the stage for our church’s Vacation Bible School program.  Grace Chapel, in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, is known for it’s strong music, drama, and visual arts community.  I am very fortunate to be a part of that!  This year we had over 600 kids and 220+ volunteers attend the week long program.

So, come along for a short journey in pictures and see our interpretation of ‘Cave Quest’!

We have an area on a landing that is great for unique visuals, so we put together a mock cave entrance in the woods.  The theme is ‘Jesus, light of the World’, so we put a cross just inside with colored lighting.  All of these styrofoam pieces were reused from last year’s Mt. Everest VBS.  With a little tweaking with a hot knife, and a bit of paint, we were ready to roll!

Another cave entrance
Mock cave entrance for landing
Entrance closeup
Close up of ‘cave entrance’

Next, we had to create the check in caves (two 10′ x 10′ canopies with paper over them) and paper the long hallway to resemble a cave.

Check in cave
Check in caves beside the entrance to the cave hallway.
Preparing to hang the 'cave walls'
Team member Link wondering where to start for hanging paper.
Entrance to Cave Hall
Cave hallway entrance, that leads to the stage.
Cave Hall
Back of hallway.

We also needed to create 65 stanchion formations, 50 that the children would gather around during certain functions, and the rest to set around as decoration.  Team member Maria came up with the idea to have ‘crystals’ coming out of the rocks.  Sounds good, lets get to work!  6 colors, 65 pieces each, got it…

completed stanchion
Finished stanchion, atop extra white foam discs.

Now to retool and repaint the stage pieces from last year.  This year we were able to get a little more height to the ends of the background pieces, and it really added another dimension to it.

Pre paint 8 ft h and 8 ft wide
This is an 8′ high x 4′ wide x 2″ thick piece of the styrofoam mountain from last year.  I re-cut it with a hot knife, added a bit of spray foam for texture, then added an 8′ long base to it.  Ready for paint!
Maria with some of the stage pieces
Team member Maria with a few of the stalagtite and stalagmite formations we created.
Putting up back drop
Youth Pastor Bill and team member Maria starting to hang the background drape amidst the caverns.


Closeup of main stage
Some of the characters already hanging around.
Cave Quest in action
Cave Quest attendees in action!


Surf Shop Mural

Surfing, beach painting, murals, latex house paint
Detail of Surf Shop Mural, left end

I have been updating my website over at Martindale Artworks lately and decided to add a category of my mural paintings.  This mural was done at our church, Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, Tennessee.  They have one of the most outstanding youth programs I have ever seen in a church.

Surfing, latex house paint, beach mural, murals
Detail of Surf Shop Mural, right end

When construction began on the second phase of the building, Donna from the church staff contacted me about the Junior High room.  They were thinking about a  surf theme, and wondered what we could do with the enormous wall that would hold the projection screen.  I will put the exact length in later, but to give you an idea on size, in order to paint the top section I was nearing the top of the largest step ladder we could find.  There are thatched hut roofs on either end, and she asked what we could do to expand on that idea.  We came up with surf shops along the beach and the theme was ‘Glide’, which is projected on the screen in the bottom photo.

Surfing, latex house paint, murals, beach mural
Surf board detail on Surf Shop Mural

I had not done anything like this before, and thoroughly enjoyed the process.  One of the main issues was the projection screen:  it was already mounted and was in a fixed position.  How do we incorporate that into the mural?  We decided to make it appear as a large sign on the front of one of the shops.  I painted this while the building was still under construction, and the crews are always a pleasure to work with.  It must have turned out alright as the children in the class absolutely love to come to church to learn how to ‘glide’ with Jesus!

surfing, beach mural, murals, latex house paint
Finished Surf Shop Mural (ends are cropped off as I could only go back so far)

Taking a hiatus, or, molding the clay

I am taking a hiatus of sorts from my art.  It’s not that I want to, but I want to, need to, because if the project we are working on works, then it will be soooo worth it.  Confusing, I know.  I am doing a few small things, but not so much.  One of the things I hate when I have a break like this is all the inspiration.  Or maybe I love that part.  When I do go back to painting after a break, I find I have learned and gleaned much more than first imagined.  I find I was studying things I really didn’t realize I was studying.  I know, still confused.

A break is always good for the soul, as it makes one reflect on what you are taking the break from.  In this instance, my art, may take a bit of a different direction one day down the road.  Or not.  I feel as though I am at a really big crossroads and am waiting for the light to change to signal me with where it is I am headed.  While I am waiting for the signal, I also feel as though I am a piece of clay, being molded for the next vessel of use.  I always look to God as my light, my signal, and He is very good at molding us into what He needs next.  I do love His signals, and am looking to see where He takes me next.  Sometimes it seems as though He has fogged over the intersection, and you can’t really see where you are going.  Other times, the signals are blaring in your face, waiting for you to put it in drive!  Meanwhile, I will contemplate, learn, and be shaped by the Creator who created first.  I can see He is giving me more inspiration again, and I think I should get out the sketch book to start corralling His ideas, while He keeps molding, prodding and poking.  I pray you are being molded as well!  Happy creating!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  As we gather together with family and friends, I pray for a safe holiday for everyone, and a stress-free one as well.  Sometimes I think we bring a lot of the stress upon ourselves, thinking we need to have everything perfect.  Well, there is only one place I know of where perfect happens:   Heaven!!  So, let’s enjoy the laughter, love others, and live our lives thanking God for giving us the blessings and mercy He has bestowed on us!


Wow!  We just saw the movie, Secretariat, directed by Randall Wallace.  What an awesome picture!  Finally, we have a great family friendly movie.  The scenes are terrific, and the horse racing action is amazing.  It is definitely a must see!

It is a movie of faith, love, hope, and fortitude and hard work.  It is a wonderful demonstration of what persistence and determination (as well as a positive attitude) can get you. 

Mr. Wallace and the cast and crew brought back some exciting memories.  I was 11 years old when Secretariat raced in the Triple Crown.  To say I was horse crazy was an understatement.  (I was actually banned in Jr. high from writing any more book reports that had horses in them!  And you think you have been censored!)  I loved watching the greatest two minutes in sports, aka the Kentucky Derby, and actually entertained the idea of becoming a jockey, until I literally grew up.  But I also remember the other three races, and I could not belive how nervous my Mom and I were getting in the theater every time Secretariat was loaded in the starting gate.  And we knew the outcome of the races already!  (I am really trying hard not to spoil it for those that have not seen it) 

Mr. Wallace has done a wonderful job of catching the viewer in the excitement and action of horse racing, and especially in the inner horse of one of the greatest (if not the greatest) race horse to ever walk the earth.  I also loved, loved, loved the way he tied in the Truth of the Word of Who created the horse, gave him his spirit, and made him to run like the wind.  The cinematography is breathtaking.

No, I am not getting paid to push this movie.  I just think it is probably the best film I have seen in a long, long time.  I rarely go to the cinema anymore because of the crap (pardon the expression, just being truthful) that is shown and is being pushed in our faces (especially teenagers).    If you have morals, (or would at least like to see some) and want to see a great true story come to life, then I would recommend Secretariat!  I want to go out and jump on my own horse right now!  Oh Happy Day!

It’s a God nod!

Even though I am an artist, my day job is as a server in a restaurant.  The other night, a man left me a $5 bill, as crumpled and wadded up as his jacket was wrinkled.  I stuffed it into my apron pocket but it stayed floating at the top of the other tips I had neatly folded up.  As I entered the kitchen with a load of dishes, the manager shoved a radio into my tip pocket since the host was leaving for the evening.  After dropping off the dishes in the dish room, I proceeded to put on the radio to keep abreast of any guests that might come in during the last hour of the shift.

As we closed for the night, I pulled out my tips and counted them.  Wait, I had that wadded up $5.  But where was it?  I looked in every pocket I had, and four of us were looking in, around, and under everything.  No wadded up $5 or any other $5 for that matter.  “That must really be disappointing,” said the manager as we discussed the possibility of who might have found it and picked it up.  “Well, I am disappointed I didn’t take care of it like I should have,” I replied.  “I am hoping that whoever did find it needs it more than I did,” I said.  “That is a positive way of looking at it,” she exclaimed.  “It will come around again,” I said.  I went home and re-checked all of my pockets.  Nothing.  Oh well.

The next day, I washed and ironed all of my uniforms and aprons.  I was a little bummed that day as I had set aside most of that day to paint, hoping to finish a portrait.  However, I never did get to do any artwork whatsoever.  I just ended up with a bunch of things that needed my immediate attention.  I returned to work the next day, and put on the apron I had just brought from home.  Just as I was clocking in, a coworker gave me a wrapped piece of candy which I placed in my tip pocket to eat later.  As I placed it in the pocket, I felt a piece of paper.  That’s strange, I thought, I just washed and ironed this yesterday.  I always check all of the pockets of everything that has pockets, as there is always an ink pen, candy, or something that does not belong in the washing machine.  No one else had even handled the apron.  As I pulled out the “paper”, I was in awe to find a crisp, new $5 bill inside!  I had not even waited on a table yet, so it was not a tip from that day.  The others that were present when I had ‘lost’ it to begin with were blown away.

I told a good friend of mine, and she said she loves to hear about God nods.  Yes, I believe God does “nod” to us that, yes, He is always with us, and His blessings are always near.  I love it when He shows His greatness, even if it is only in a $5 bill!


In the zone

Out there, in deep, really into it, in the zone.   This is the time when you are so into whatever it is you are doing.  It is a state when you just blend in, you don’t fight it, and things happen.  Maybe you are running, training a horse, playing music, dancing or painting a picture.  It is a wonderful feeling.  Many people say it is a release, letting go of the built up stress, similar to meditation.  I say it is something different.

I go to this place nearly every time I paint.  It is as though the rest of the world does not exist.  One thing I find fascinating is that it is as if something (or someone) else is moving my hand.  I get so lost in painting that it can turn dark outside and I have no idea.  I believe I am actually connecting with God, that He has created this other worldly plane and has invited me to visit.  I am aware of what I am painting, but it suddenly starts to come together, almost as if it is progressing without my help.  It is a most wonderful feeling to suddenly sit back and think, “Oh, that is where we are with this”.   Even sound is not the same.  I never tire of it, and it is always new and refreshing.  Call it intense concentration, or maybe a passion.  I still say it is the invitation of God to spend time with Him using one of the gifts He has supplied.  It is just an amazing place! 

However, there is just one problem with it.  Time seems as though it stands still, but it really doesn’t.  The next thing you know, you are late for an appointment.  I must set a timer of some sort that will jar me back to reality if I have to tend to something else at an appointed time.  I usually don’t like this part, but it is a must.  Besides, you can’t live there permanently.  I thoroughly enjoy my time with God.  While it is not the only way by any means to spend time with Him, it is a good way.  I hope you can find your “passion” and spend some time with Him in this fashion also.