Monday, August 4, 2014

Praise What You Want to Flourish

About a year or so ago, my dear friend Stephanie asked me to paint over a canvas she had in her living room.  She wanted something that had significant meaning to her family because it would hang in a central part of her home.

Months went by, before she called me one day and said, "I've got it! I know exactly what I want you to paint!"  She told me the phrase, "Praise what you want to Flourish".  

I loved it.

It's so true, short, and a perfect guide for anyone.  Later she decided it had to be an olive tree.

I began to transform the red canvas painting to something entirely different.  I collaged these bible verses on the background about praise:

But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
 all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
 and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
 and heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit
 and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
 so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

I wrote special prayers of protection and peace to her and her family.  I knew most of this would be covered, but I firmly believe in writing hidden messages in my art.

I sketched out the olive tree and added a color wash.  I wanted knotted tree limbs that looked thousands of years old.

I stared at it for a looooooong time in this stage. I wasn't sure how to make it look like an old olive tree with all the deep divots and pits and twisty limbs.

Then it hit the awkward teenager stage.  I think my husband was a little worried if I could pull it off at this stage (and frankly so was I!).  I dreamt about this painting...and not in a good way.

I woke up with a daring attitude that you can only have when you feel you have hit rock bottom.  I decided to transform the shape and paint out some of the tree area to make it look better.  What did I have to lose?

And it was about this time, I knew I was going to be okay.  The tree was starting to actually look like a tree.  I cut several hundred tiny leaves out of paper I hand painted in different shades of green to help the tree gain dimension and texture.

And a couple hundred more leaves.... lots and lots of leaves!!

I added the phrase and some finishing touches.

And voila! It was done! I then fretted over the whole "what if she doesn't like it??" thought process.

She drove in town one weekend and picked it up ~ she loved it!

Hope you enjoyed watching my process on a commissioned project! Let me know your thoughts below, I love to hear from you and I read every comment!


  1. What a Fabulous canvas and a most wonderful phrase!!! Very well done Kirsten!

  2. Whoa..that's big. I love how it all involved. It's beautiful. Reminds me the vineyards.

    1. Yes, it was a large piece and took some time ~ but well worth it!

  3. Wow, what a wonderful canvas! I love all the hidden prayers and verses.