Willem van de Velde the Younger Ships in a Gale

In our last living room we cultivated what we call an Art Wall. I can’t remember how we came to the decision to cultivate an art wall, maybe it was a Pinterest thing? We decided on a theme for our decorating scheme and then slowly added pieces that fit. One year for Christmas we put Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh on our Christmas list. After we received this first print we decided we should design our wall. We picked out the frames at Michaels, designed an arrangement and went to work filling the frames. Now in our new apartment it’s going to be an art filled Portico. 

Ships in a Gale is one of the most thought provoking pieces I selected. It has such powerful imagery for me and reminds me that God is in charge of the wind and the seas. No matter my circumstances, no matter my storms, He is Creator and over all. With just the sound of His voice He can make this tumultuous scene be still.

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I set this painting as my background on my laptop and shared it with a coworker, she was shocked and appalled by it until I told her what it represented to me. You see, when she looked at it she saw imminent danger and destruction for the ships and an angry sky and sea. I look at it and am reminded that even in turbulent seas, my God is powerful enough to keep me safe, protected and at peace.

Psalm 107:28-31 

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
 He made the storm be still,
    and the waves of the sea were hushed.
 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.
 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!

Mark 4:35-39

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Matthew 7:24-27

 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

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A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat’s

My taste in art has changed so much over the years. For example: I used to hate impressionist paintings. I wanted clear lines, and strong definition. I’m sure art critics and other more knowledgeable artists and the like may fight me on whether or not all pointillism is impressionistic in nature, but to me, in my simple appreciation, and for the sake of my preferences and appetites, it is/was impressionist.

In High School, I remember seeing the works of my peers on the walls outside of the art classrooms. I remember thinking that some of the pointillism works were just incredible. I remember one particular piece that my friend Kara did of a cowboy. It was so incredible, more than 10 years later it still has an impact on my appreciation of art.

Over the years, I have developed a deep appreciation of pointillism (and impressionism, but that’s in different posts). I have enjoyed several pointillism pieces over the years now. I am especially drawn to the ones where each “pixel” is it’s own picture to make up a bigger image. I have developed an appreciation for the imagery and the message included in a piece of art that comes together as a big picture because of all the little pieces included therein. “The sum of all the parts…” and all that.

My proximity to the painting with a pointillism piece provides me with a variety of experiences. I love that the closer I get, the more I strain to see it up close, the less I can see clearly. I love that stepping further away brings the image into focus. Life application- the further I get from a situation/scenario the clearer I am able to see the lessons and the bigger picture. (Betcha knew that was coming!)

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This piece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” I love because: it’s french, it’s on/near the water, there are sailboats in the water, mountains in the background, elegantly dressed individuals and leisure.

Over the years I have created a tendency in my behavior where it takes a lot to slow me down, to make me pause or rest. I’m in a deep season of rest right now. I’ve been calling it sabbatical. A time to pause, to consider, to taste, enjoy and delight. I have been blessed recently with the opportunity to do a lot of traveling, reading, volunteering, building and cultivating friendships, developing new hobbies and devoting time to my health and fitness. Some of these components are “leisure” and this painting reflects these concepts to me.

This painting by Seurat calls to me deeply in the tones of rest, delight, enjoy, be still. Being near the water is very soothing to me. Ask me my favorite place to be on any given day/time and I’ll let you know it’s at, near or on the water. There’s something about the water that grounds me, centers me and causes me to be still. This painting reminds me to rest, to be still, to have my soul restored, to pursue delight.

Some of the verses that are brought to my mind by this painting:
Psalm 23: 1-3

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
     He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Psalm 46:10

 “Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

Isaiah 30:15

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”…

Nicole Mink by Hope Mink

I wish desperately that you could have the honor of meeting my mother-in-law/love. She was one of the most beautiful, godly, kind and strong women I’ve had the pleasure to know and love. She is in heaven now, dancing, singing and praising Jesus with a healthy body. 

Hope was a phenomenally gifted artist. I have a few hand drawn cards from her that I treasure dearly. She was gifted in creating art in several mediums. As Jeremy and I contemplated the pieces of art we wanted on our wall(s), we considered the pieces we were drawn to and somehow we stumbled on the idea to ask Momma Hope to make an original piece for our home. 

Jeremy and I asked her to make a drawing for us. We took a few photos, sent them to her and asked her to do her version of Head of a Woman, Leonardo da Vinci .

When we went to see her during her last days she was very insistent that we take with us this treasured piece. (Forgive the glare, I’ll eventually improve the photo to better represent this beautiful gift.)

  
We are so grateful to have this beautiful reminder of her love and influence in our lives.

Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh

This piece was the first one we obtained for our collection. It was a sweet gift from Tim/Dad and Hope/Mom.

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To me, this piece is about romance, travel and wonder.

I’ve always enjoyed looking up at the night sky. I like to think about the words from Psalm 8:

Psalm 8:3-6 (ESV)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,

My favorite constellation is Orion. I quickly search the night sky to find Orion’s belt every time I’m outside and can see the stars. I’m encouraged to wonder and dream while looking at this painting.

I’d love to take a walk by the Rhone with Jeremy under a star lit sky. Additionally, my husband is incredibly romantic. He loves me well. He loves me deeply. This painting reminds me that I am well loved.

A fun discovery happened after we acquired this piece. Our piece is a canvas reproduction. After receiving this and placing it into our frame we realized that truly we want prints on paper unless we are buying the real thing.

The Houses of Parliament, Sunset Claude Monet

The Houses of Parliament at sunset is one of a set of scenes that Claude Monet painted. I don’t know if it was a personal challenge to him, if he just really enjoyed this view or if it was a task given to him by an instructor, whatever the case this is the one I like best.

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I’ve always been a fan of watching sunsets and sunrises. Growing up in Michigan I got to see some incredible sunsets over Lake Michigan. In college out my dorm window I was also able to see breathtaking sunsets over the Blue Ridge Mountains. One year I lived in Jacksonville, FL and made a point to drive out to the ocean to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean- beautiful. While Jeremy and I were in Hawaii we watched both the sun set and rise over the island of Oahu and the Pacific Ocean- so serene.

London is definitely on my list of places I must enjoy, so this piece is a reminder to travel! Also, I love this piece because there’s an individual on a boat in the water enjoying the same scene the artist can see. I love the shadows and the light. This is a very peaceful scene to me. The closing of the day, the world at rest.

Again, here’s another impressionist piece that snuck into my preferences! I love the reflection on the water of the building, and the setting sun. I love the colors that light up the sky. God’s the master artist in this scene and Monet is catching a glimmer of the majesty.

Roses; Vincent van Gogh

Jeremy buys me roses, okay, flowers of any kind, and I like them. A lot.

I like him, A LOT.

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One of the first presents he bought me was a bouquet of roses. He hid them and had me go find them. That was a sweet surprise, a birthday surprise. They were a peachy, pink color.

When he told me he wanted to marry me he presented me with a single long stemmed red rose.

When I was sick one time he gave me lots of petite yellow roses.

On our wedding day I carried a bouquet of white roses. We were married in a rose garden.

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He has sent me roses on multiple occasions, and other flowers too, and I like them all.

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One time, our anniversary fell on Mother’s day. He surprised me by having roses delivered to my office. The delivery guy handed them to me and said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” I replied, “For me, it’s Happy Anniversary, and thank you!”

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We like having flowers in our home.

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This year for my birthday he surprised me with two dozen pink roses from Ecuador. They were supposed to be delivered Thursday, and then the snowpocalypse2016 hit. So they were delivered on Tuesday. They’re still beautiful.
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We like having flowers in our home. This print by Van Gogh (you kind of have to growl and get all throaty when you say that) reminds me of the bouquet I carried on our wedding day and the many other times he’s given me flowers. It also makes me think of having a beautiful home, with Jeremy.

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Peter Paul Reubens Daniel in the Lions Den

This might be one of my most favorite paintings, ever. Have you seen this in person? It’s huge. The canvas plus frame: 105 1/2 inches x 147 1/2 inches x 6 in (8.75 feet x 12.25 feet). The ferocity displayed in this painting is incredible. The massive stature of the lions, Daniel’s petitionary posture, gah, it gets me deeply.

I did a bit of research on lions as a result of admiring this painting. Did you know? The average male lion measures 3.9 feet at the shoulder and weights approx 420 lbs, and on average are 6 feet in length. They can jump out distances up to 10 meters in length or up about 10 feet high (according to various internet resources, sources not cited because it can all be easily checked and the approximations are mostly for effect, but mostly wikipedia).

So when I read stories from the Bible, it’s easy for me to quickly read a passage of scripture and miss the length of time encompassed in a passage, a page, a sentence, but this painting causes me to stop and ponder and rethink the passages in scripture that a) this painting depicts and b) include lions elsewhere in the Bible.

Daniel was in the lion’s den, OVERNIGHT. All night. From sometime after the sun went down to sometime after the early dawn when the sun came up. We’re not exactly sure what time he was placed in the den. We do know the king tried to come up with a way out until the sun went down, but then Daniel was brought before the king for sentencing and punishment, and we do know on the following day “at the break of day” the king “went in haste to the lions’ den”. For those hours in between we’re left without most of the details. The main point of the story is that Daniel’s life was spared by the one true God. In the morning Daniel said to the king, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me,”…”because he had trusted in his God.”

As Daniel was placed into the den, the king himself confidently said, “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.” And then Daniel was closed in with the lions. The painting depicts a well lit area where Daniel can see each of the lions, but scripture says a “stone was laid over the mouth of the den” so we have no idea how dark it was for the time Daniel was in this potential tomb.

We have no idea what his experience was like, if the lions prowled around him(?), were the lions asleep (?), did they sniff him(?), lick him(?), play with him? I have to wonder about Daniel’s prayer life that night. Was he awake the whole time, pleading with God for his life? Did the angel tell him what was going on? Was he able to confidently rest in this insanely scary environment? The Bible says Daniel’s life was spared because he trusted in God. I’m so curious what this trust looked like played out during those hours in the den. Was he shaking? Trembling? He trusted God with his life, but was this a quiet, calm confidence? Or was it messy, with pleading? Shouting? Was he prepared to die? But he trusted that God would be glorified if he were dead or alive? I’ve wondered through these questions as I’ve stood in front of this incredible painting.

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Remember what I said earlier about how high lions can jump? Daniel 6:24 describes the gruesome scene later that day when the men who accused Daniel were cast, along with their children and wives into the lions’ den and were overpowered by the lions before they reached the bottom of the den. God was merciful to Daniel even as he was being lowered into the den and then pulled back out!!!

Daniel’s experience serves as a reminder to me to trust God in all of my circumstances. He will either provide a means of escape or he will bring me home to be with Him in heaven and either way, He is still good. Ultimately, this painting says to me, trust God Nicole. He has a plan that is bigger than you can imagine, power beyond your wildest dreams and creative solutions you would never imagine. Even when it’s scary, even when you can’t see the way, trust God.

Daniel 6 (ESV)

It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom;  and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss.  Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.  Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.  Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement[a] to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever!  All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.  Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.”  Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.  Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God.  Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.”  Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”  And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.

Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions.  As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”  Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!  My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.  Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.  And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you.  I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,

for he is the living God,
    enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
    and his dominion shall be to the end.
He delivers and rescues;
    he works signs and wonders
    in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
    from the power of the lions.”

So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian

*My quotes above are from NASB, just to keep it interesting.