Playground Dedication

This past Father's Day was incredibly special for our family. After church, we had a dedication ceremony for the playground that was filled with much love, prayer, gratitude, laughter... and of course cake and punch. :)

I had thought for a while about what I would want to share on that day that would really communicate all that Isaac's Playground means to us... not just as a memorial of our son's life, but also as a testimony to who God is. Prior to church that morning, I was imagining all of the squeals of laughter that would be heard later that day as kids got to play on Isaac's Playground for the first time, and I was reminded of how several times in His word, God promises to restore joy, and to replace sorrow with gladness.

The end of Isaiah 35:10 reads, "Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."

Jeremiah 31:13 contains a similar promise: "Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. "

It is our sincerest hope that as parents play with their kids on Isaac's Playground and hear them laugh with joy, that they would be reminded of this truth: God is so faithful to restore joy and gladness. We deeply desire that Isaac's Playground would be symbolic of that. Each one of us will at some point experience sorrow; every one of us will face loss. Yet God is faithful, even in the most unthinkable circumstances, to restore gladness and joy... simply because of who He is and what we have in Him.

I am so thankful for that promise.

And with that... here are a few pictures from the dedication ceremony!

Animal Alphabet: M is for Moloch

This week's Animal Alphabet entry goes by a few different names. I have a couple of other things I'm considering for T, though, so I won't be calling this a "thorny dragon" or a "thorny devil." Instead, I will give this little lizard its most awesome monicker, which it shares with one of Satan's fallen angels: it's the moloch, also known as Moloch horridus.

Seriously, I'm sort of a collector of scientific binomials—among my favorites are Gorilla gorilla and Bison bison—and Moloch horridus is about as cool as they get. Extra points for the etymological joke about the word "horrid" (which used to mean something closer to "horripilating," as you know, and seems to refer to the hundreds of thorny spikes sticking out from the moloch's hide).

The moloch is not related to the horned frog familiar to me from my Texas youth. Rather, the moloch lives in the Australian desert and is actually a lot spinier than the horny toad. Its spines are all keratin (not bone), and the texture of its skin gives the moloch the bizarre ability to wick water up from its feet to its face by capillary action. (Here's a link to a video that shows this miracle in action.)

What my drawing really doesn't capture is the weird jerky gait that the moloch uses, perhaps to confuse predators. For that, you have to refer to a different video or my preliminary doodles for this week.

"Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!"

Anyway, I have a couple of creatures in mind for next week, and I'm having trouble choosing between them. Do you have a preference? I have a poll for you; you'll have to click through to vote if you're reading this by RSS.

What critter should I draw for the letter N?

T-shirt for NIemand

Making of this nice tshirt designed by Diplomatas,
printed at Galeria do rock in Sao Paulo.

Ode to Fire!

The virgin firing of the new kiln took place ten days ago. It was a bisque firing. That was followed two days later with another bisque firing. Today, I completed my sixth firing and my fourth glaze firings and to my great relief, it is firing amazingly well. The glazes look great. The pots are turning out beautifully. I have fire again, and it is wonderful.
I went a whole 6 weeks without electricity in the studio. It has made me appreciate the little things in life. This remodel thing has been anything but convenient, but I have enjoyed nearly every aspect of it. It has been a long time since I have worked less than 14 hours in a day, except Sundays, which are always a welcome relief from the week's work. The house is really beginning to take shape. I was promised shingles would be on the roof by Friday. We won't make it. But we do have 3 walls on the third floor and it is beginning to be a little easier to imagine what this is going to look like when it is all done. Already I am a bit in shock by how tall it is, but the finishes and the roofing will hopefully make it look a little squattier. is that a word?
Normally, this week every year, I am stressed out of my mind, frantically trying to get ready for the Utah Arts Festival. This year, I decided to do the best I could and let things happen. I just returned from setting up for this years show and I am feeling calm, easy and peaceful. I have done my best and I can't stress over what I don't have. This house project has forced me to find times of meditation among the chaos, and it has been good medicine. Who knew that sweeping the floor could be such great meditation? I have sought and found a spiritual aspect of all my daily activities and that feels good.
This Sunday, we stopped by the house after church to check on the house and were shocked to find our basement full of water and the the ceiling leaking badly from all the rain. We had covered the floors with tarps, but that doesn't mean much when you receive a months worth of rain in 16 hours. We made a couple of calls and within a half hours had nearly two dozen people come to help clean up the mess and throw a makeshift roof on our house. So the drywall ceiling was a total loss, but we got most of our stuff out of harms way and all was well. And now we have easier access to the stuff in the ceiling. This has been a blessing in many ways and all is well.
So, the Arts Festival runs all weekend downtown Salt Lake City at Library Square. I am in booth 126. Hours are from noon to 11pm, starting tomorrow. Hope to see you this weekend. Keep your chin up-- above the clouds, the sun is always shining.

poo happened

being the moon

Accepted into the Artfair

I have officially been accepted into the 17th annual Telfair Art Fair in Savannah, Ga. The event is hosted by the Telfair Museum in Savannah and will take place Nov. 12-13, 2011. I hope to see you there.

Animal Alphabet: L is for Lungfish

A quick "Animal Alphabet" post this week, mostly because I don't have a lot to say.

You see, in my mental zoo, L has to be for Lungfish. Such has it always been.

Besides, it's been a while since I drew a weird fish.

I have always thought these guys are cool, since I was maybe three years old. When their ponds and pools dry up, they can hibernate under the mud, or they can slither off through the air looking for a deeper hole. I think if you grow up knowing about the existence of oddball animals like these, you're much more likely to appreciate Darwin's insights.

I realize that by doing a semi-amphibious fish this week, I'm pretty much robbing myself of "mudskipper" for next week, but I have something else planned (a lizard with an awesome name).

Animal Alphabet: K is for Kaka, Kea, and Kakapo

This week's Animal Alphabet entry is a threefer, because I couldn't decide between the three living members of the Strigopidae family.

That's right, antipodean parrot fans: this week, K is for Kaka, Kea, and Kakapo.

While I was picking a critter for this week's post, I started noticing how many of the iconic animals of Australia and New Zealand start with k. As of the point when I'm writing this, we already have Animal Alphabet entries for the kookaburra and the kiwi, and there's no reason we couldn't see the kangaroo or the koala.

I'm not sure why there are so many K-creatures down under, although I imagine it must have to do with both the prominence of the hard C in the native languages and the historical ascent of K as a way to spell that sound in English, perhaps as part of a general drift away from Latinate spellings for the things of the larger world. (After all, English had names for none of these critters before Captain Cook and Joseph Banks hit the Southern Hemisphere in 1769. That's pretty recent, in terms of the history of the language.)

Anyway, since I had decided to focus on three of the parrots peculiar to New Zealand, and since I can't think of New Zealand without thinking of its greatest cartoonist, I decided to include a local character of his (who also starts with "K") as an appropriate tour guide to the parrots.

It Is {Finally} Finished!

Well, almost. We still need to install the safety fence, add some lovely shrubs, and plant some pretty flowers at the base of the memorial sign. But otherwise, Isaac's Playground is finished!

On the first Saturday this month, several men went out to the playground site and prepped the ground by digging lots of very deep holes. This past Saturday, over 25 people including family, friends, and folks from church came out in nearly 100 degree temperatures and worked tirelessly to install the playground. And it looks amazing!

We are so thankful for the kindness of numerous people who gave so generously of their time, talent, and treasure to make this happen. We are in awe of the fact that what started out as a vision nearly three years ago has finally taken shape. God's provision has been amazing. And while we would much rather have Isaac with here with us, we are grateful for the opportunity to remember him, to allow his life to continue to do good, and to glorify God in the process.

So to those of you who in some way helped this playground come to fruition... THANK YOU! Though, truly, those two simple words don't feel like nearly enough.

Enjoy the pictures...

Portrait Drawing Series

Multimedia Sketches

 Each mark is a breath of consciousness. This act of energetic union through feeling is an act of pure presence. It is honest, raw, untainted, and eternal.  Yet, the mark of pigment left behind is like fleeting sand in a breath of wind.  It will transcend beyond the whiteness in the page to the void where our ancestors came from and where we are going.