Thursday, March 4, 2021

True Love


I saw this photo on Instagram, posted by the Audubon Society and immediately felt... love.  The way the male cardinal sits so proudly and protective behind the female.  Did you know cardinals mate for life?

I couldn't help but think about this as how God feels about us!  

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in  his sight,  In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship thought Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Ephesians 1:4


Sunday, February 28, 2021

Shine your Light


I have always been fascinated with lighthouses.  I visit them whenever I get a chance, and have sketched a half dozen or so, with four being posted in my last four years of my Lenten series on my blog.  

This one, in San Pedro, California was built in 1926, following years of complaints from  shippers about the dangerous waters around the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  

For me, a lighthouse is representative of what God can be for us.  He will use his light to guide us into and out of the rough seas of our lives.  

"I am the light of the world.  
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, 
but will have the light of life."  
John 8:12

Likewise, as Christians, we have opportunities to shine our light for others to see God's love through us.  Who is watching you?  Children, Grandchildren, Co-workers, Neighbors?  

Reflecting on my first Lenten post on Ash Wednesday... by being present, I am more open to understanding why and where God has placed me, and by being still and listening to the voice of the holy spirit with in me, I am able to recognize what I am to do in this moment.

"Use me to shine your light into the darkest places of this world."
 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Spread your wings.. and fly!


Do you sometimes feel like you've been stuck in a cocoon?  This past week both literally and figuratively if you've been stuck in the deep freeze in Texas like me.   
When normal life stops like this, it gives me time to think about my "life" and to wonder if I am the person I'm meant to be? 

In the most recent newsletter from the Women's Ministries of TWUMC, my friend Grace Ono wrote this:

 

"During the season of Lent, we remember Jesus' journey to the cross.  We set this time aside to reflect upon Jesus’ sacrifice for the redemption of the World. Every winter, I look forward to the Lenten season. In this time, I invite God to continue shaping me in to the version of self He intended. Our relationship deepens and I find myself becoming even more dependent upon Him."
  
God loves us more than we can ever imagine.  
As Christians, we are created in Christ's image, we have been filled with the Holy Spirit and will have everlasting life.  What could be better than that?  
Our time has come to jump for joy, spread our wings and soar to new heights!  
And to share the love of Christ to the world together.

 

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  the old has gone, the new has come!" 
2 Corinthians 5:17 
 


 




Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Come to Me


 Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent 2021.  Our world has changed in this past year, but our Father in heaven has not.  Lent is a season of reflection and preparation for Easter Sunday and I feel blessed to be able to offer you my 5th Series of art, scripture along with a mini message to inspire you and hopefully brighten your days.

Some of my best ideas of what to include in this series come at 3 am, when my body is rested and my mind is quiet.  Rest is highly under-rated in our world today.  But, during the next six weeks I am going to strive to be less busy and to stay in the present.  

I hope you'll join me in this journey
___________

Please forward this e-mail to friends or family that you think would enjoy receiving this too.  I will be posting weekly-ish and they can sign up on my website to receive these blog posts directly via e-mail:
www.bjmcgregor.com
On the home page they can input their e-mail address into the box on the right side of the page just under my "Hello!"  They will receive a confirmation e-mail that they must reply to and that's it!

Monday, February 8, 2021

Texas Mission and a sneak peak!


San Francisco de La Espada,
founded in 1690



One of my favorite chapters in Michener's TEXAS was about the founding and the history of the Missions scattered across South Texas, particularly around San Antonio.  I haven't visited them in person yet, but when I do, I'm sure that will be followed by a new series of art.

This Mission, founded near Weches, TX as San Francisco de Los Tejas in 1690 by Spain was built to convert the Native Americans to Christianity with three priests and three soldiers assigned to the task.  It was moved to the San Antonio River in 1731 and renamed San Francisco de La Espada.  The church was completed in 1756 and is one of four Missions in the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. 

The shape of Espada's doorway is unique and over the years many theories have tried to explain it's distinctive shape:  Moorish-influenced design, a scaled back adaptation to budget changes during the work or mistaken assembly by masons who were not the original stonecutters.  I like #3 the best... can't you just imagine these masons trying to put this together like a puzzle without a plan?

I did this sketch last fall, but have adapted it a bit and added some color for my 2021 Lent Series starting next week! This will be my 5th year to post for Lent and I have all new artwork ready to go.  I am excited to share it with you!




 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Austin: Bridges, Bats and Buildings

Texas Landmarks and Legends

The South Congress Bridge in Austin was completed in 1910, crossing at that time the Colorado River.  In 1960 the dam was built and created Lady Bird Lake.    In 2006 the bridge was renamed the Ann W. Richards Congress Bridge for the 45th Governor of Texas.  

What you'll find tucked under the bridge is what makes it so special!  There, you'll find the home to 1.5 million Mexican Free Tailed Bats.  The worlds largest bat colony.  Between March and November they put on quite a show for about an hour at dusk!  You can watch them take off toward their "night job" of consuming 20-30,000 insects each evening where they fly up to 60 mph and can go two miles high.  
 
____________________________________________________________________


Did you know that the Texas State Capitol is the largest state capitol in the USA?
Of course it is.... Everything's Bigger in Texas!!

The Goddess of Liberty sits at the top and because of this extension, it makes it even taller than the US Capitol.

This was the third Capitol of Texas:

The first elected government of Texas was in 1836 as The Republic of Texas.  Several different towns served as the capitol until finally settling in Austin in 1844.   Texas was admitted into the Union in December of 1849 and plans were made for a bigger and better seat of government.

The second, built in 1853 was destroyed by fire in 1881.

The "new" Capitol building was completed in 1888.  Because the State was financially broke during the construction, the builders, recruited from Iowa, were paid with what was considered to be the largest "barter transaction" at the time.   Those 3 million acres of land are now home to the largest cattle ranch in the world.   Legend has it that a nearby track of land that was not donated to them, but instead to University of Texas and it became the largest oil field in Texas.


Replica of the 1836 capitol in West Columbia, TX

Monday, January 25, 2021

Introducing "Texas Landmarks and Legends"


I love historical fiction!  The books I read, and the movies I like to watch.  I was never a big student of history in my younger years, but now that I'm older I appreciate and am "literally" starving to learn more!  Especially now, during these "challenging" times, because....  

What I get from it is... perspective.  

They remind me that we've lived through really challenging times before: A Pandemic a century ago...the Civil and 2 World Wars, and then there's "the 60's" ... and we can be assured that we will have challenging times again in the future.    Looking back at those difficult times, with new perspective, we can know that we don't just survive, we become smarter and stronger on the other side.  That's hard to see right now, but we must believe that once again, our American spirit and faith will overcome the challenges we face today!

For Christmas in 2019 my daughter gave me the epic book TEXAS by James Michener!  All 1429 pages of Texas history sat on a shelf waiting for me to pick it up, which I finally started last summer with plenty of extra time on my hands!  I moved to Texas in 1980 and sadly, know very little about it's history or have traveled to many places in the state, so when opportunity knocks...  Now, with my husband about to retire, we are looking forward to traveling this great State of Texas!

This has inspired me to create a block of artwork that I'm calling "Texas Landmarks and Legends."  It stands to reason that with 4 UT graduates in our family, I'd start there!  

In the next few months I'm excited to sketch and share with you some of these iconic Texas images.  We will travel from the Mountains of Big Bend to the Missions in San Antonio and some fun places in between!   If you have a favorite Texas "Landmark or Legend," let me know!!



Happy Birthday to Bevo XV
BEVO has been the mascot for University of Texas since 1916, but originally was named "BO" for the Burnt Orange, the color of the Longhorns.   Legend has it that during the traditional Thanksgiving Football Game against the Texas A&M Aggies, they "kidnapped" the new Longhorn and branded him 13 - 0 commemorating their victory in 1915.  The Longhorns responded by making the 13 into a B, adding a few more dashes to the -, adding a V, and leaving the 0.... and that's how B E V O got his name!


When my daughters went to UT, they'd let me know they were back in Austin when they went over the flyover from Hwy. 290 to I-35 by calling and saying "I see the Tower!"

Completed in 1937, with 27 floors it "towers" over the UT Campus and downtown Austin.  Famously known for the mass shooting in 1966, where a deranged young man indiscriminately fired from the top killing 14 people and injuring 31 over a 96 minute shooting spree.  At that time it was the deadliest mass shooting in the US history.
I prefer to remember those special moments watching graduation ceremonies, strolling the campus with baby Ellis, and looking forward to it being lit-up orange after a UT victory!  
"Hook 'Em Horns!!!"

 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Proverbs 22:6





One of my favorite Christmas gift requests this year was for these!

My longtime friend, Susan wanted to give her grandchildren something very personal and special so she asked me to do something with these two scripture verses for her to give to them.  She gave me "creative liberty" with both and I tried to make them appropriate for Connor, age 11 and Annie, age 7.  

I can't imagine a more heart felt gift and reminder of God's perfect love for all of us!

 

So.... it is that time again.  Lent begins in one month and I am deep into scriptures and sketching in preparation.  If you have a favorite verse, please let me know and I'll try and incorporate it into this years series.    

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Love is in the air!





LOVE IS IN THE AIR!

We've hardly packed up our Christmas decor and I'm already talking about Valentines Day!
I'm just so excited about this news that I wanted to share it with you first!  For the past couple years I've wanted to start offering prints of some of my work and this is my first! 

If you're looking for something special, this is a great way to celebrate love with your special someone, or for friends and family!  And what could make it more personal than carving your initials into that old oak tree!   It's also a great, one-of-a-kind gift for an anniversary, engagement or wedding present!

For now, personalization is included in this introductory price.   Just $35 (plus shipping if outside The Woodlands) for an 8.5 x 11, ready to frame.   I have a limited number available for this first run of prints, so let me know ASAP if you're interested, before I release it on Facebook and Instagram.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Puppy Passion

Okay, is this a cuteness overload or what???



I've always shy'd away from sketching people and puppies.... there's something so personal about capturing "that" look, but I faced my fear this past summer and gave it a go!!  The first two or three I tried over and over again.  Pen and ink, watercolor, colored pencil and combinations of these mediums and .... I had so much fun!!  I've still got a way to go, but I am hooked!!

These two above I did for a friend, as a Christmas gift to her daughter and I must say I giggled the whole time I was working on them.  
"That face, those eyes".... I kept saying to myself.

But then just before Christmas, another friend asked if I did pet portraits so I showed her these and she asked if I would do one for her son-in-law whose precious companion "Parker" of 15 years crossed over the "Rainbow Bridge" just a few weeks before Christmas.  Like the previous two, I kept saying to myself "That face, those eyes" but with such a different emotion, my heart was breaking.  



I love what I do!  
For me, it's so much more than doing a sketch of a house or a dog.  It's the memories, it's the hopes and dreams for the future, it's LOVE! 
Whether it's found in the walls of your home or in the eyes of our beloved furry friends, I am blessed beyond words to be able to share these things with you!  

 


Friday, January 8, 2021

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Friends!

It seems like forever since I've shared a sampling of the sketches I've been working on, so I thought I'd drop a few of these in your in-box and the stories behind them!  

It's such a joy for me to capture the love of our homes and their memories on paper!  I wasn't surprised with the number of sketches requested this year as Christmas gifts as our home was where we spent most of our time in 2020!  Instead of sharing those that meant something to someone else, I thought I'd share these three that meant the most to me!

 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Those of you that know me, know that I've spent more summers in Jackson Hole in the past 40 years than anyplace else.  It was my "home away from home."   It started with a 3-week time share my parents purchased in 1980 and grew and changed over the years to this full time residence of my brother, Chip and his wife Ginger for the past 10 years or so.  It was bittersweet that with the development of Chips ALS over the last few years that they would have to sell and move to Chattanooga so I decided to sketch this for them to "capture the memories."  I had planned to bring it to them when I travelled to Chattanooga in November to help them settle in their new home, but sadly Chip didn't make it that far.  He died at peace in the place he loved the most on Oct. 25th.  
I did bring the sketch with me when I visited Ginger and we all had a good cry and remembered the best of days in Jackson Hole.  This is the back of the house, facing the Teton mountains where there were countless parties on the patio.  Where the elk stampede through the yard on the way to the Elk Refuge in the winter and indeed... the buffalo roam!  A neighborhood favorite was fondly called "Old Bill" and delighted in stopping traffic to sign autographs!!  


Crawfordville, Florida

My other brother, Doug and his wife Jane live in this ranch styled home in the midst of the woods in Crawfordville, Florida.  The peace and tranquility shines though.  I did this sketch for them and since they had recently painted this pretty blue, I thought it would be nice to add some color for the house, and highlight the landscaping that surrounds.  This has been their refuge during the pandemic and I am so happy I could sketch it for them to remember the blessings of home!


Manzanita, Oregon

On a different note, my daughter Katie and her husband live in a 3 story condo in Seattle and both work from home.   So.... it's great when good friends have a "getaway" place in Manzanita, Oregon just a block away from the Pacific Coast.  They met up with their friends, and their combined three Golden Retrievers for some much needed time for friends and fresh air!   I did this sketch as a thank you gift for them to give to their friends during their most recent get-together over New Years.


2020 will be written in the history books.... what's your story??

Coming up next time.... I have found a new love in the art department!