Time Does NOT Always fly.

Have you ever worked on a project for five years?   Of course you have.

We didn’t get to where we are, wherever that is, without putting in the years.  So much of what we do is ongoing.  ON GOING can be discouraging.   Like feeding kids and pets.  You feed them and six or seven hours later they want to eat again!   So little of what we do is a done deal.   I try not to think about it.   Oh, you were trying not to think about it and now- ELEPHANT! – you are thinking about it, too.  Sorry.    

So, about ten-ish years ago I received a proposal for an art show with the word “liturgical” in the title and my experience (Southern Baptist and Bapticostal) led me to believe liturgical was a flow-y dance form with lots of wanna-be ballet moves.  I started researching.   A google search was followed by books.  (By the way, the word liturgy is summed up as “the work of the people.”)  

Scot McKnight’s “Praying with the Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today” was the first book I read. Before I finished that book, other books were speeding on the way to my house (I tried to buy local, but they were not available so I slipped back into my addiction and ordered off of Amazon.)  Phyllis Tickle’s “The Divine Hours Pocket Edition” quickly followed by her “The Divine Hours” volumes 1 through 3 (Prayers for Summertime:, Springtime, Autumn and Winter)  and  Christmastide: Prayers for Advent Through Epiphany from The Divine Hours.   

This was all new to me.  As the set prayers and rhythms became more familiar to me they began to remind me of the relationship my heart had with hymns growing up.  We would sing hymns again and again and we never labeled them “rote.”  Why did we call prepared prayers rote?  

I also noticed that having a prayer written out for me was particularly wonderful when life was particularly hard. Instead of praying “oh, God, oh, God, oh, God HELP!” A beautifully constructed prayer keeps the desperation of the moment in perspective.  

Life circumstances become part of the larger picture, not the center of it.  This changed my art, my approach to painting and my approach to life.
This became the SUBJECT of my abstract paintings.

Five years ago enter a new 9 x 12 spiral bound Strathmore Visual Journal and Bobby Gross’ “Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God.” This book did not offer prayers for the hours of each day, but four short prayers to be used during bible study and a collection of verses for the week. This was more akin to the traditions of my childhood.  

The blank art journal needed a subject and the book was right there so I started doodling the verses for the week.  I liked how it turned out (God nursing, plugging into heaven) so I challenged myself to doodle and draw through Advent. A single drawing for each week mashing all the verses together into one image. My goal was to keep up my bible study and prayers and have fun.     

A couple weeks into the project my illustrator daughter walked past and challenged me to do an entire year. WHAT?!  I had not purposefully ever taken on a project that long and intensive. Challenge accepted AND I FINISHED IT! I was thrilled and relieved until Ruth said,  “Make it a book.”   GASP!    Who raised this slave driver! Oh, yeah-me!

The second challenge was harder than the first so here we are in 2015 and, finally, Liturgical Sketches Journal & Coloring Book is available for purchase.
I set up Liturgical Sketches Facebook page where drawings and insights can be shared. 

While I am hoping the book will earn a profit, I do post the week’s drawing each Sunday on the Facebook page along with the verses. Anyone is welcome to print off the drawing and go for it. Some weeks have two drawings. I started again but could not keep up with the new drawings, my painting and getting the book out. Each drawing takes 15 to 20 hours including bible study and research and a tiny nib on the Sharpie Pens. (I don’t like rushing God unless I have to!) 

I had a grand time with this project. I utilized a mixture of traditional and contemporary images, a little snark and more than a couple of puns. Finding the connection between verse and image is akin to finding Waldo. I do hope that it is a fun project for everyone. 

God and I have a decent relationship. I heard a preacher once say, “God is the kindest person I know.” Well, good for you, Graham. My relationship with God includes lots of heavenly eye rolling followed by a divine sigh.  

 Hey!  Not that different from how my kids roll their eyes and groan, “Mommmaaaa!”

 You can find “Liturgical Sketches Journal & Coloring Book” here: http://drawneartogod.com/LiturgicalSketchesBook.asp

 It is a bible study. It is a journal. It is a puzzle. It is a coloring book.  A way to slow down and wait on God and your heart to sync. 


A childhood friend (from my neighborhood and Baptist church) is now a monk and he sent me an article saying coloring has the same benefits as meditation. Cool beans!  

I know this is a departure from the paintings, but like my paintings, my life is layered and I wanted to share. 

I saw a TED talk about polymaths, read an article about polymaths, heard a radio program about polymaths. I Tend towards polymath. Drawing and doodling has always been part of me since my toddler years. Thank you for all your encouragement and support.

Happy Coloring!

The Fat Free, Gluten Free & NO Processed Sugar Choice!

Too good to be true?
NO, and it is yours to discover!
What is this heart healthy, zero calorie find?
What indeed?  The answer:  beauty.   

Beauty comes in a myriad of expressions.  A couple ignoring their electronics and looking into each other’s eyes at a table in the mall food court.  Baby toes.  The memory of a shared secret.  A cool breeze after a long hot summer.   A warm breeze after an icy winter.  A blue feather on a gray sidewalk. Pink pebbles.  Books.  A well worn journal.  Grammies.  

The sky is not the limit but the beginning. 

Freely and often we label people, places and things beautiful.   Still, too often, we fail to recognize beauty.  We confuse pretty and beauty.   Pretty is wonderful in and of itself, but pretty can quickly slide into shallow.  

Pretty requires Photoshop and airbrushes. Beauty glories in imperfection.   Pretty is fleeting.   Beauty endures.   Pretty is skin deep.  Beauty comes from a deep core. 

Both inspire tears.

I aspire to create beautiful paintings.  The process tends towards intimidating because the blank paper itself is quite beautiful.   My mark disrupts the perfection of the pristine paper, the well stretched canvas, the birch panel.  It is uphill from the first mark. 

I changed my diet. No more processed, sugar-coated lies about the frivolity of beauty.   

Beauty is not extraneous.
Beauty is not dessert.
Beauty is the main course.
Beauty feeds the soul.    

Watch for your pink pebble.
Smile at the couple in the food-court.  

Sit with a painting.  Be well fed. 

Next time I will share some of my process and some of my painting vocabulary.  Thank you for sharing your time with me.  


I have two horses.  My horse and my horse’s brother.  We love our stables (Will’s Ranch on Hwy 377 in Benbrook, Texas) and we love our stable director, Cherie.   Over the past three years our families, mine and Cherie’s, have intertwined and we have come to care for each other and we do what we can to be mutually supportive.  Cherie has ceaselessly encouraged me to get my art out into the world.   I have a tendency (HA!) to be more passionate about making art than pushing it out the door.  All artists need Cheries in their lives.

This week I chose to shovel horse pooh.  Our lead worker is leaving to care for a family emergency.   My help this week freed him to finish up specialty jobs before leaving.  (Confession:  I don’t think I would have jumped in if the temperatures were still at Texas summer heights, but Fall is in the air and the breeze is beginning to cool.)

Shoveling horse pooh might sound awful job, but yesterday it was freedom!  My mind took the morning off and my body was the boss.  (Is this why runners run?  I ran once.  Shoveling is better!)  I was so busy trying to keep that stray ball of pooh from falling through the space in my rake with the missing tine that my mind completely forgot to stress over social media, likes, hashtags, or followers.  FREEDOM!

When I paint or write my head takes over and I forget I have a body.   Inside my head, when I am in the zone, hours pass without any awareness of time.  When nature’s call gets too loud to ignore and I am forced to stop painting, I am shocked that my body refuses to comply.  My joints get stiff when my head forgets we are a team.

Presence is a hot topic these days.   Cleaning the horse runs and stalls forced my mind to acknowledge my body and let it lead.  The dance reversed.  I remembered that I am physically strong.  I can’t handle the wheel barrow, but I have wicked rake skills: ambidextrous raking!  The young folks work with headphones.  For me, it was a relief to think about nothing but the task in front of me.  I was present in body and mind.

I had forgotten why I am an artist.   Caught up learning the business side of being a professional artist, I forgot I was an artist.   (My business skills are- um – lackluster.)  Yesterday I remembered that I am and always have been an artist.  I noticed that pooh comes in a wide array of colors.   (Storm’s dropping were the most glorious green.)  Rocks, dirt, feathers, a raccoon skull, shavings, a sprig of grass defying the odds by growing in a dark corner, the blue sky with glorious clouds, the fat chickens, the peacocks and Lobo, the tabby cat, with his yellow belly and paws recharged my observation batteries.  I rediscovered beauty.  For four hours I was immersed in beauty: sans electronic screens.

At home I showered, ate almonds and an apple, slathered aloe vera on my sun kissed arms, took two naproxen and a nap.  Refreshed, and very aware of my forearms, I finished and photographed ten small paintings and started four new ones.   When I did check my computer I realized I had missed two online webinars.  OOPS!  But the important stuff happened.

Is there a moral to the story?  Why yes, yes there is.  All work and no play makes Gwen a dull, creaky, crabby artist.

This week I re-discovered truths I had forgotten.  The body and mind make a great team.  Presence is best served when they work together.  Balance is a requirement not an option.  If you are like me and balance has left the building, stop now and reintroduce your mind to your body.   It works both ways.   Physically demanding jobs (moms with young children, I am talking to you) require you to spend a little time inside your head.  Reading or journaling versus television, computer or radio.  Find your old flute and play your high school fight song.   If you have a head oriented job channel your mom and, “go outside!”  Take a walk.  (Shovel pooh.)  Plant something.  Play with your pet.  Go to the animal shelter and volunteer to love on the critters.

Five years ago, before the horses, I could barely manage stairs because of the pain in my back and knees.  The horses saved my life and transformed my art.  They forced me out of my head and into my body.   www.GwenMeharg.com is a result of that mind/body connection.  I forgot the lessons I learned five years ago when I committed to learn and do the business side of art (master social media) earlier this year.  This week I remembered.

The little paintings are for a project, but if you would like one just let me know.   I am nothing if not prolific and I have three weeks before the deadline.   The original large small paintings (5×5 ish, 5×7 ish) are $75 and the small small paintings (2.5×2.5 ish) are $25.  The ones in this newsletter are free as e-cards and available as prints.  It is easiest to see them on my Instagram account.  I creatively named my account GwenMeharg.  https://instagram.com/gwenmeharg/

Thanks for hanging with me and enduring the mommy lecture.  Surely all of you lead lives with a healthy body/mind balance, but just in case you don’t…see lecture above.