Friday, December 19, 2014

The Wise Man and the Baby Jesus

With the lack of snow this year I have really been struggling to get into the Christmas Spirit. We have our tree set up and we have been practising Christmas hymns with our church choir since Thanksgiving, but it just hasn't felt like Christmas. On top of this we have been trying to sell our house so the majority of our decorations are all boxed up and inaccessible.

As a family we finally decided to go ahead and set up some of our decorations, so I took the kids with me and we dug out a box of nativity sets that my mother-in-law had given us last year.

We brought them home and began unwrapping the tissue paper that each piece had been carefully stored in and started to assemble the different nativities. It took us a minute to separate each set from the others, and when we were finished I realized that there were a couple of odd pieces that didn't match any of the others. It was then I remembered that I had given her an incomplete set I found on my mission.

Incomplete is probably too generous a word, the set was all but gone! It consisted of two pieces, namely the Baby Jesus and a Wise Man. As we set up the nativities on top of the piano, the thought struck me at the significance of this odd set. Of all the pieces to survive it was a wise man and the Savior.

Mary and Joseph were important and the angels and shepherds played their part, but in today's commercial society it is the wise men (and women) who continue to seek the Savior. Even when all else is lost, even when their situation is less than ideal they are the ones who continue to seek Him. Isn't that really what it is all about? Each of us individually choosing to swallow our pride and political affiliations to seek the Savior?

If you think about it carefully the journey of the wise men makes absolutely no sense. They were wealthy men who lived a comfortable life nowhere near Jerusalem, and yet they still chose to make the arduous journey through various lands and countries with their entourage to find the lowly babe.

How many of us today would be willing to make that same commitment of time, energy, and money just to find a little infant residing in humble circumstances? How many of us are willing to set aside our idyllic lives filled with smartphones, tablets, and streaming entertainment to find the simple ways taught by the man called Jesus?

Perhaps I am making too much of an incomplete nativity, but as I set these pieces alongside the complete sets on the piano I felt a deep stirring in my soul and felt impressed to share my feelings with those of you willing to listen. I want to hear your thoughts and feelings about this, please share in the comments below.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Human Eye

Date: March 10, 2014
Medium: Pencil
Description: The human eye has always fascinated me as a drawing subject. Over the years I have taken several lessons on how to draw the human eye, however I still struggle with eyelashes!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mark Crilley Landscape

Date: December 14, 2013
Medium: Pencil
Description: Mark Crilley has an excellent YouTube channel. While most of his work is in Manga, he has done several "How to draw" tutorials in other areas as well. This drawing is based on one of his mixed-medium tutorials.

Friday, May 30, 2014


Date: August 28, 2013
Medium: Watercolor
Description: I have always struggled with watercolor as a medium. I was able to scrape this seascape from a tutorial and it turned out pretty well.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Simple Hand

Date: July 21, 2013
Medium: Pencil
Description: I am always doing something artistic on or around my wife's birthday! I am awful at drawing hands, this one turned out fairly well after much study, pain, and agony.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Digital Portrait

Date: April 2013
Medium: Digital
Description: Again, with my Android tablet. My first real shot at drawing a human head in color as well. I learned a lot from this drawing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Taylor Mountian- Charity Auction Piece

Date: May 13, 2014
Medium: Acrylic
Description: I painted this picture for a fundraiser my church was doing for the youth programs. I painted it in 6 hours, partially from a picture reference, partially from my mind. Taylor Mountain is just south of Idaho Falls, ID, and is the namesake for the Taylor Mountain Stake that my ward is part of. It ended up selling for $25 in the silent auction.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Digital Landscape

Date: April 13, 2013
Medium: Digital
Description: My first attempt at a serious drawing on my Android Tablet using a free app called Sketchbook Mobile Express.

Friday, May 2, 2014


Date: February 27, 2013
Medium: Pencil
Description: This started as an exercise from a landscape book, but I soon realized I had more page than there was picture, so I added my own touches here and there around the outer edges.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Update: Voyages of the MS Rodent

I am now three chapters away from finishing the first draft of my next eBook: Voyages of the MS Rodent! To celebrate this moment, I thought I would share my inspiration for this fun little tale.

I live one mile away from the office where I work and for the first year I walked to work everyday. I had to cross the Snake River as part of my commute, and I noticed this little island out in the middle of the river which got me thinking. What would it be like to live on that island? What kind of animal would choose such a home? What would drive him or her to live there? How would they get out to the island? How would they survive there?

I started by writing several scenes back in 2010, and after publishing two other eBooks on Amazon (and trying out a half dozen outlines) I finally shaped the story into something I knew would work. Now here I am, three chapters away from a complete first draft! Once the first draft is finished I will work on a cover and other illustrations while the manuscript "cools." Stay tuned for further updates on this and other exciting eBooks!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Brownstone Church

Date:  July 21, 2012
Medium: Watercolor
Description: This is an exercise from a book on watercolors I did during a family reunion at Green Canyon Hot Springs near Rexburg, Idaho. (This also happened to be on my wife's birthday.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lehi's Vision of The Tree of Life

Date: March 31, 2012
Medium: Acrylic
Description: This is my depiction of Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life found in 2 Nephi chapters 8, and 11.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Scenes From Rose Hill, KS

Date: February 14, 2012
Medium: Watercolor
Description: Scenes from my wife's hometown of Rose Hill, Kansas. The water tower, high school, Apple Market, railroad crossing, and the new town hall that was build shortly after we were married.

I used a standard set of $.99 Crayola watercolors and a small round brush. Not only was this a Valentine gift for my wife, it was also a proof of concept that you don't need super fancy equipment to paint something decent.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Taylor Mountain

Date: July 8, 2011
Medium: Acrylic
Description: Taylor Mountain is just south of Idaho Falls, unfortunately that is the only real part of this painting, the rest is made up.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Mountain Pond

Date: June 25, 2011
Medium: Acrylic
Description: This was my first painting without reference material.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Taylor's Bridge, Idaho Falls, ID

Date: October 14, 2009
Medium: Acrylic
Description: Based on the Taylor's Bridge replica found in downtown Idaho Falls, ID. This bridge is the reason Idaho Falls is where it is today. If this bridge had not been built, the city most likely would have grown up around the ferry site about nine miles upstream.

Friday, March 14, 2014

First Acrylic- Bob Ross Style

Date: September 2009
Medium: Acrylic
Description: This is my first real attempt at an acrylic painting, based on an oil painting by Bob Ross as part of this "Joy of Painting" series on PBS.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lessons learned from a point-and-shoot camera

Ever since I knew they existed, I have wanted a Digital SLR camera. I just have. Nothing against compact point-and-shoot cameras, but they just don't give me the control that I want when taking pictures or shooting video.

I am a third generation amateur photographer. My grandfather shot black and white film and developed it himself late at night for the want of a dark room. My father bridged the gap to color film, and finally to digital. My interests (which are primarily in video) rely heavily on that foundation of photography for training in light, exposure, and composition.

About a year ago my wife and I went shopping to get a camera for me to shoot videos with, knowing our budget wouldn't permit a DSLR I found what I thought was a suitable replacement. While I was able to shoot video and make a few short films, it didn't give me nearly the control I was looking for. I wanted to stylize my video, but the camera wouldn't allow me to do so. It was then that I came to a startling realization.

I wanted a camera that would let me take "bad" pictures.

This took me back for a moment, but I soon realized that camera companies want every shot to look good so that they will sell more cameras. They are more interested in making a profit than they are educating the general public how to use aperture and focal length. While this lets more people take good pictures, it does limit the agency of the photographer to make important stylized choices.

Blurry doesn't always mean bad. Some of the best pictures I have ever seen have the majority of the picture out of focus. In videography controlling depth of field is paramount to a professional look. Maybe I do want to underexpose a shot for a more gothic look, or overexpose it for a more heavenly one. This doesn't mean that every shot I take will be "perfect," but it does mean that the ones I get right will be fantastic rather than just good!

I am not saying that point-and-shoot cameras are bad, in fact if you read the manual over and over a dozen times and fiddle with the settings enough you can still achieve similar results. However I am adamant that in order to take fantastic pictures, you need a camera that gives you enough control (or agency) that you can also take really "bad" pictures. I would even go so far as to tout the mantra that in this instance "Good" really is the enemy of "Great."