Thanks to all!

The Art Helping Mountain Gorillas auction came to a close last night! I’m grateful to everyone who participated! We had a great time, and were able to raise something to help this worthy cause. My fellow artists and I are eager to continue to support the rangers of the Congo in their work protecting the endangered mountain gorillas…so I may be creating more gorilla themed artwork soon.

It’s been an exciting and rewarding experience, and I’m happy to have been included!

Today is the Day! PART 5

'A Cup of Tea' by Sally

To complete our group of family artists participating in the Art Helping Mountain Gorillas charity auction, I am happy to introduce my aunt, Sally Pointer.

As she lives in Oregon, and I grew up in the Midwest, visits among our family were not as frequent as we’d like. However, Aunt Sally was always present through her loving communication. No matter which holiday was near, my siblings and I knew we could expect a package from Aunt Sally and Uncle Harry, filled with craft supplies and project ideas—stickers, decorations, confetti, you name it, the packages were stuffed with it. We would dive into the cache of treasures and commence with an afternoon of creativity. Soon our home would be draped with our construction-paper constructions. (Just ask my dad, who is very tall…and had to deal with decorations hung by very short individuals.)

Aunt Sally always decorated her packages with colorful, cheerful drawings—which I always cut out and saved. As a cartoon enthusiast, I was awed by her caricatures. Yet another mentor in my art life.

When I see her artwork today, I think of the mental picture I have from one of our visits: Aunt Sally, relaxing outdoors, with a sketchbook in her lap and a box of colored pencils in her hand. A depiction of a delicate, flowering branch was the product of that day’s work…and her recent art gives another glimpse into the surroundings that she has made lovely.

'Pansies and Forget-Me-Nots' by Sally

Today is the Day! PART 4

Next in line…is me.

The rangers’ unselfish devotion to the rare creatures they protect has struck a chord within my heart. Through this Art Helping Mountain Gorillas charity auction, my world view has been expanded. Suddenly I feel like I am a part of what’s happening on the other side of the globe. I have learned of people, relationships, and crises that I never before knew existed. The amazing part if it all is that I suddenly know that I can make a difference.

Every day, the news brings us heart-wrenching stories of hardships happening all over—from right down the block, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I couldn’t help asking myself, how can I justify worrying about the problems on the other side of the planet, when there are plenty in my own neighborhood that require action?

Here’s the answer I’ve discovered: While it’s very true that I still may be able to help worthy causes locally, it’s also a fact that I am an individual with unique talents and abilities. And it’s possible that those abilities are needed to help improve a situation on the other side of the world.

Everyone is blessed with talents. Where might yours make a difference?


Today is the Day!

'Strength' by Stacy J-M Taylor

Today is the day!

The Art Helping Mountain Gorillas charity auction is going, going…nearly gone! Incredible examples of original artwork are ending throughout the day, with a storm of activity coming this evening.

Many artists have created moving tributes to the family of gorillas that was slaughtered in July. Robin Andreae, the artist who was inspired to put together this auction, has taken it upon herself to paint a portrait of each of the gorillas that was lost. She has succeeded, beautifully—her paintings are poignant, yet joyful.

There is art for many tastes in this auction, just as there are many different artsts contributing. I wish I could wallpaper my blog with their work, but I won’t do that without permission. In the meantime, I can display what my family has contributed. Throughout the day, I’ll highlight individual artists—starting with StacyJMT:

For this auction, the fine-art photography of my 19-year-old sister, Stacy J-M Taylor, focuses on inspiring mountain scenes that she has captured across the US. Stacy has a talented eye and unique perspective. Her goal is to bring the beauty of nature to others through her photographs:

Through Stacy’s photography, one’s spirit soars, as the viewer feels the connection between humankind and nature.

 There is more to see and much more to experience by taking a tour through this online gallery display.  I welcome everyone to stop by and take a look…but it’s best to hurry, because these offerings will soon fade into the mist. 

A Second Look

Thanks to Leola, one of my fellow artists (whose lovely blog is on my blogroll), I took a second look today at my painting, “Hidden Within.” I had photographed it under my art lamp, since I had completed it at night. Well, I now looked at it in the daylight, and was horrified to see the color change between natural light and indoor lighting! Well, not horrified in the sense that it’s bad—it’s actually really cool. But not when it looks different from the listing!

So I took a scan. It doesn’t all fit on the scanner bed, but here’s an example:



This picture more closely captures the look of the painting in natural daylight. The colors of the picture below look closer to indoor lighting conditions. The contrast (lightness/darkness of the colors) are also closer to reality in that one.

There we have it. I guess it was too easy the first time.

When I wrote of this painting earlier, I said that some things need a second look. I guess that’s true! JJ

A Friend in the Arts

One of my fellow eBay artists, Ann Ranlett, has just had the exciting experience of being featured in a newspaper article. Ann is an amazing artist—I have a link to her great blog on my blogroll.

Seeing Ann’s mountain gorilla portrait in the article really makes me feel like I need to head back to that drawing board and practice!

Congrats, Ann!!

The Excitement Mounts…

So here is my artwork for today: “Hidden Within”


Inspired by the dignity in the gaze of a silverback’s eyes, I set out to create a piece that somehow expressed the blending between a gorilla and the territory he inhabits. Looking into the Virunga forest, one may just see underbrush—or suddenly catch sight of the form of a mountain gorilla.

The power in this animal’s body, even when he sits at rest, was stunning to my thoughts. One can feel every muscular curve in the vision, and sense the strength within.

How to depict that with my art! Well, I may explore the subject further, until it satisfies me; but for the time being, this is a good start. Working with watercolor pencil, I drew out my composition, filling in blocks of color in certain areas. Watercolor pencil will blossom into deep shades when wet; so for other areas of the drawing, I chose wax-based pencils. This helped me preserve linework and certain colors and values. Finally, I took out my watercolors, and dashed into the work with rapid brush strokes.

If this were acrylic or oil paint, it would be called “impasto”! That’s a heavy technique marked by bold brush strokes and thick layers of paint. I really should pull out those mediums for a few works, or get out the gouache (opaque watercolor with a thicker texture). I’ve caught myself painting impasto with my watercolors too often lately!

As the last strokes stood drying on this work, I rushed to organize my eBay listings for the evening. In addition to my own art, I manage the sale of my sister’s fine-art photographs; and recently, I have been managing the artwork listings of other family members, also. It’s been wonderfully fun, but hectic!!

Today marks three more days left in the Art Helping Mountain Gorillas charity auction! On eBay, the available listing durations are 10, 7, 5, 3, and 1-day. For this auction, so far I’ve listed original artwork for each of those, except for the 1-day listing. (Not yet—that one is in the pencil drawing stage!) This is amazingly exciting. Around 7pm Pacific time, as I get ready to list my offerings for the day—sending them out into the world like ships out to sea—I feel a shimmer of anticipation, wondering what other art will be appearing at the same time. It’s like waiting for the fireworks to start on the Fourth of July…a couple explode on the scene to start, then a spectacular display follows!

By searching “WDGP” on eBay, one is treated to an exhibit of beautiful art. Thoughtful, inspiring, compassionate, filled with feeling. I’m very proud to be a member of this group, helping this worthy cause.



After God created human beings, He gave them a powerful command: “Fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Yet some have abused this duty.

In his famous poem “To a Mouse,” Robbie Burns wrote:

“I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!…”

It’s truly a shame that a few people have misused their abilities, and in so doing, brought pain to others.

And yet, there are many “earth-born companions” who are using their strengths for good. It was human beings who slaughtered the gorillas of the Congo without mercy; yet other human beings are risking their lives to treat these creatures with compassion.

Many others are giving of their personal gifts to aid the cause—whether in a monetary sense, in their talents, or in simply sharing a kind word, their compassion is evident.

Every so often, it’s good for us to remind ourselves of our duty as stewards on this planet. And in doing so, we may also remember that this responsibility of dominion, by its very nature, requires compassion.

A Crying Need

It was the cruel execution of endangered mountain gorillas that first caught my attention, less than a month ago, when I first became involved in the Art Helping Mountain Gorillas charity auction. In the Virunga Park Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the wildlife has suffered at the hands of rebel soldiers and illegal charcoal merchants. This is an inexcusable treatment of the creatures of the earth—the actions are unconscionable.

That was enough to get me interested, and I enthusiastically joined in trying to raise awareness and funds to help protect the gorillas. But there was more to the situation than I knew.

Next, I heard about the rangers. Brave, intelligent, caring men, who do the work of soldiers and scientists as they track, observe, and protect the remaining families of mountain gorillas in their forest habitat. The rangers are people just like anyone else in the world—they have homes and families. They marry and have children of their own, and go to work every day. The difference is that they continue to work even though they may not be paid for it—and their job may require their lives.

As I began reading the rangers’ blogs, I felt an amazing connection with people whom I had never met, across the globe. My heart was moved beyond description. Never have I more clearly felt the fact that we are all brothers and sisters in God’s world. Suddenly the cause went from a ten-day auction I would be participating in, to a lifetime purpose. From now on, I would always be involved in finding a way to help these men do their work.

But it’s interesting how the Lord works sometimes. He gets your attention…then says, “But wait—I have more I need to show you.”

Right now, the Congo is afire with battles being fought between government troops and rebel factions. The rangers are unable to have access to the mountain gorilla sector—those who tried barely escaped with their lives. The gorillas have been driven out of the forest by the fighting, and have set up camp in the fields of the surrounding villages.

As I read of this, suddenly the spotlight was on the local villagers. At first I heard that they may be angry with the gorillas for eating their crops.  Then I discovered why.  These farmers hardly have anything to eat.  The food they raise in their fields is the only thing protecting their families from starvation. There are no resources for them to “buy” food, even if the funds were donated to them—there simply isn’t any. These people live in extreme poverty, with little access to clean water. In addition, they—like the gorillas and rangers—are caught in the midst of the war raging around them.

The scope had suddenly broadened. From the gorillas to the rangers to the villagers…the world is connected, and I’m part of it.

But that isn’t all.

In those villages, uniformed troops have been committing unheard-of brutality against women. Members of the Congolese army and insurgents alike have swept across the Congo with acts of gang rape and sexual violence that defy description.  A Washington Post article states, “The intensity and frequency is worse than anywhere else in the world.” The numbers of reported cases are inhumane. The thought of unreported cases staggers the soul.

I came away from reading the news, and looked at the artwork I had created for the auction—beautiful faces of proud, strong women…faces that I had felt inspired to depict in my art. But as I looked at those faces now, my heart cried within me.

Donations from charities will help do the work that needs to be done. But real change will never occur unless the political situation is first improved. The one thing that can help make this happen is to raise awareness of the crying need.

And this we can do.

Art as Inspiration

'Flowers of the Forest' by mousewords

I’ve found a new calling, I think—I have never before had such a feeling that my art could actually help something. Please a viewer, yes; make someone feel happy, even inspire a person—always felt that; but to actually help make a life better with my art…!

I’m finding that’s exactly what I’m doing by auctioning my work along with other incredible artists’ offerings, all to benefit the cause of Wildlife Direct. My art is helping to aid the rangers of the Congo in their goal to protect the rare Mountain Gorillas. This means salaries so the rangers can support their families; clean water so they can be healthy and comfortable while they work; fresh supplies such as clothing and tools that they need greatly to do their jobs; many other things.

The Mountain Gorillas are amazing and powerful creatures, with a spirit-filled gaze that goes right to the heart of a person. Yet, it’s possible that my grandchildren will only hear about them through my stories, if matters don’t change. The rangers are working as well as they can to protect this species and help it to flourish; but they’re struggling against an abominable political situation. Humankind and animal life alike are suffering right now in the Congo.

One of the best ways to inspire change is to raise awareness of an issue. Art is a powerful tool of communication—it can speak across miles and language barriers, bringing attention to the unnoticed, shining a light into darkness. For the first time in my life, I feel my art is important. And not to discount decades’ worth if work; but now, I finally feel that my art is worthwhile. I received a calling long ago, and found my work in life. Now I suddenly feel as if my art has received its calling: to make the world a better place.

This is one matter. One cause. One issue. There are many suffering people in the world.

But there are also many who are able to help.

Out of all those issues, let’s each take one. There’s no telling what we can accomplish.

As for my art—I feel like it’s saying: Who can I paint for next???