Apocalyptic storms

Ominous Storms Photographed in Black and White by Mitch Dobrowner


Photographer Mitch Dobrowner travels the U.S. and sets up his camera in front of apocalyptic storms that rise above rural fields in Oklahoma, Kansas, and North Dakota. Inspired by photographers like Minor White andAnsel Adams, he captures breathtaking landscapes that remind us of nature’s raw power by juxtaposing the endless flat plains of the southern and midwest states with dramatic weather formations. Lightning strikes and tornadoes feature heavily in Dobrowner’s black and white images that at times look like moments right out of the first few minutes of the Wizard of Oz.

Dobrowner has exhibited in galleries across the U.S. and internationally since 2005 and is represented by Photo-Eye Gallery in Santa Fe and Kopeikin Gallery in LA. You can see much more of his work on Facebook. (thnx, Laura!)

Peckham, Oklahoma

Peckham, Oklahoma

Bolton, Kansas

Syracuse, Kansas

Newkirk, Oklahoma

Syracuse, Kansas




O God, full of compassion

Sung at Ground Zero last year when Pope Francis visited.

O God, full of compassion, Who dwells on high, grant true rest upon the wings of the Shechinah, in the exalted spheres of the holy and pure, who shine as the resplendence of the firmament, to the souls of Victims of September 11th who [have] gone to their eternal home; may their place of rest be in Gan Eden. Therefore, may the All-Merciful One shelter them with the cover of His wings forever, and bind their souls in the bond of life. The Lord is their heritage; may they rest in peace; and let us say: Amen!

Catholic Artist Spotlight: Michelle Arnold Paine

Michelle at work - Image copyright Michelle Arnold Paine. Used with permission.

Michelle Arnold Paine is an artist whose faith plays an integral part of her work. I discovered Michelle’s magnificent work on a recent retreat and have enjoyed my frequent visits to her website since then to learn more about this gifted painter. Michelle began to explore the visual richness of Catholicism while studying in Italy during college. She was confirmed at Easter 2001 in the Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy.

Today, I invite you to learn more about Michelle’s work by enjoying our recent conversation and visiting her at www.michellepaine.com.

Michelle, thank you for sharing your gifts with us! Please briefly introduce yourself and your beautiful family to our readers.

I recently re-located to Ohio with my husband of seven years and two young daughters (3.5 and 1.5) after living in New England for fifteen years. I am thankful that we are finally settling in.  I grew up outside Chicago in a wonderful Evangelical Christian family and entered the Catholic church when I was 23, in 2001.  You can listen to the story of how I found the Catholic Church in my recent interview on The Journey Home:

How did you find your path to your work as an artist? Are the realities of working in a creative endeavor like this all that you expected they might be?

I have been an artist from the time I was small, taking art classes all through school and through college (when I thought I wanted to be an art historian). I studied abroad in Italy my Junior year of college, responding visually to the masterpieces there, and then returned to finish college by creating a Senior Thesis painting exhibit my senior year.  Through those experiences I came to realize I didn’t want to be writing about the pictures – I wanted to becreating them.

The realities of being a painter are every bit as difficult as I was led to believe – I had a mentor who repeatedly told me  “if you can do anything else, you should.” But I can’t do anything else: the impulse to create is too strong within me. There is a lot of non-creative work involved in the nitty-gritty of making myself seen in the world. And no one ever mentioned how much of being a painter is just moving stuff around – carrying materials in, carrying materials out to the show, moving them around the gallery, moving them back to the studio. It’s not glamorous — just a mess of bubble wrap and cardboard boxes!

Mary the Dawn, Oil on Canvas, 22” x 28” ©Michelle Arnold Paine 2009

I can’t help but ask this since you have a beautiful conversion story. How does your faith life impact upon your art?

Creating has always been a part of my yearning for God. Responding to beauty through painting and drawing has always been how I have tried to come closer to the transcendent. Beauty is one of the ways God reveals himself to us, along with truth and goodness, so my faith is integral to my art even when there may not be any overt reference in the subject matter. In my time spent living in Italy I experienced the narratives of Scripture in new and surprising ways through the masterpieces I viewed there. It made me desire to be a part of the “sacra conversazione” or sacred conversation which occurs across time among the saints and aided by the artists who represent them.

Much of your art is overtly sacred. Is this intentional?

This question is closely related to the previous question. I make art about what I find beautiful, which can be a landscape, architecture, figures, or the narratives and images my Catholic faith. I I didn’t  (and don’t) set out to make “sacred art” – I make art about what is important to me.

Fede: Faith, Oil on Canvas, 12” x 12” ©Michelle Arnold Paine 2012

A large portion of your portfolio highlights your magnificent figure work. How does your perception of the Divine impact upon the way in which you represent the human form?

In every model, old or young, large or small, male or female, I see one God’s amazing creations. In the process of drawing and painting I am trying to capture just one small portion of the magnificence, delicacy, and beauty of what He made.

The human figure is the most beautiful, most complex, and most difficult subject there is. While everyone’s proportions are very nearly the same, yet every individual is unique. The human body’s proportions are so ingrained in our visual brain that even non-artists can easily say “that looks just like him” or “Not at all!”.

To engage in the process of drawing is an act of love. The dedication required to spend hours drawing is humble at its core. Even for the most talented of draughtsmen, drawing is a process of creation and correction, establishing relationships and then refining them. All art fall short of God’s original creation.

How has motherhood impacted upon your career as an artist both practically and creatively?

A great deal of my work centers around the Virgin Mary and the Annunciation. (You can view paintings paintings here http://www.michellepaine.com/art_categories/paintings-mary/ and monoprints here: http://www.michellepaine.com/art_categories/monoprints-mary/ ). I used to see the Annunciation as a metaphor for how we open ourselves to God, and, as an artist, to the Holy Spirit in the act of creativity. Now that I am a mother I see Mary differently then before, her life AFTER the Annunciation comes more to the forefront. As I am still in the midst of toddler-dom this has not yet filtered out into my paintings, but I am sure that it will.

Practically speaking, the few hours a week I manage to have a babysitter come so that I can paint or write are very precious to me. I love what I do, so this is my beautiful alone time, as well as a time to manage to press forward in this career as an artist which I have pursued for more than a decade.

Capella: Convergence, Oil on Panel, 12” x 12” ©Michelle Arnold Paine 2012

What are your dreams for your art?

I pray that I may continue to share the beauty of God’s creation with many people through selling original works of art and through teaching. I am so blessed to be many years into this dream already with my work in many private collections and in several college and university collections as well. Selling my work allows me to continue making it – purchasing materials, paying studio rent, not to mention compensating the many hours I spend developing ideas and compositions.

How can our readers bring a piece of your work into their homes?

I love when my art goes to someone’s home to be loved and looked at! After I have made it I don’t have the space to enjoy it myself – it is meant to go to a new home! I have original drawings, paintings and prints available at my website www.michellepaine.com. I also have work available at Sloane Merrill Gallery in Boston as well as occasionally at other exhibition venues.

Are there any additional thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers.

If you enjoyed viewing my work and would like to hear more about my series on Mary, my thoughts about sacred art, or my exhibition schedule, I invite you to visit my websitewww.michellepaine.com and sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Connect with Michelle Arnold Paine:

Copyright Lisa M. Hendey

Images copyright Michelle Arnold Paine, used with permission

Originally posted at catholicmom.com 

Little yellow canaries

Norwegian Grandmother’s Song

Little yellow canaries sing to me,
sing to me.

Do you remember Stavanger
where the cold seas shook their sheets?

A rocking ship made me empty
my stomach into a pail over and again.

By water I came to this country,
by train I went to its prairie.

Oh, my husband, a beautiful Swede
who learned to lay bricks

for our living, was a tower
to my cottage. I clung to him

like a vine of pole beans to a stake.
Daughters we had, sons we had:

Ingrid and Kristin, Fredrik and Lars.
The Red River ran behind the house.

Giant cottonwood trees stood
at the banks like thirsty animals.

Little yellow canaries in your cage
sing to me in the warm kitchen.

“Norwegian Grandmother’s Song” by Margaret Hasse from Earth’s Appetite. © Nodin Press, 2013. Reprinted with permission.  (buy now)

Originally posted on Writer’s Almanac.

The ArtPrize dating game

I know this guy, and this is well worth the read.  Originally published here.

Artist monk survives ArtPrize dating game

Jamie Treadwell gives a behind the scenes story of how a newly arrived local artist figured out the ArtPrize connection process for artists and venues.

Jamie Treadwell in his studio

Jamie Treadwell in his studio


Cluster of Light /Jamie Treadwell

I haven’t done online dating, and probably shouldn’t anyways. I’m known as the Urban Monk. Monks don’t date; they shouldn’t anyways.

Lack of experience in that whole dating game business may have put me at a disadvantage for getting into ArtPrize 2016. I almost blew it my first time around.

I’m new to Grand Rapids. I arrived in October 2015, on the last day of ArtPrize. I rushed to get over here from London, England. Spent the whole day touring the exhibitions and even got into the civic theatre for the award presentations. I loved what I saw. Some wonderful art for sure. But also the sheer magnitude of the innovative concept won me over. I knew I had to get into ArtPrize 2016.

I’m also known as Coach/Artist www.jamietreadwell.com. My work as a personal performance coach and professional artist has been centered over in Europe. I’ve been living over there for about 30 years. However, I’m from Michigan, born and bred here, University of Michigan School of Art graduate. But 30 years overseas is a long time. I’m a foreigner as far as ArtPrize is concerned.

ArtPrize is organized through its website. The genius of ArtPrize is that the website serves as a sort of online dating agency. Artists and venues each sign up. The venues go first, qualifying to be a host and registering in the system. Once they are in place the artists register. They post their artwork and various information about themselves, their art, and their ArtPrize project on the website. This part kicks off in April.

Then the dating game happens. There’s a two-month window for the speed dating to take place in which the artists and venues find their perfect match.

I can see where this can be a nerve wracking process. It caught me by surprise.

In a dating scenario, I was thinking that one should be wary of the first girl that grabs you as you walk in the door. It’s too soon to commit, one needs time to check out the options. In my case, I had no idea of who grabbed me so fast, and I had thought I wasn’t even in the game yet.

Registration for ArtPrize artists opened on April 18 and ran to June 9. I figured there wasn’t a big rush, but I did want to get started. On April 20 I went to the website just to check out what was needed. I noticed that I had to get some information together: post my intended artwork, write an artist’s biography, describe my project and put in all the details about size and medium and such.

I was travelling at the time, so I decided to just get started late one night and work on all this over the following few days. So I posted my name and put in a picture of my painting ‘Cluster of Light’. Nothing else. I clicked the ‘save’ button thinking that this was not yet made public. I could fill out the rest of the information later.

I was wrong.

The next morning I got an email from Jane Lovett. Her email started with “We’d love to have you consider Peaches as your ArtPrize venue.  We are very impressed with your piece “Cluster of Light” and think Peaches would be a good match for it.”

The email was long and very impressive. But I was caught totally by surprise. A B&B in Grand Rapids? The B&B near my house in London came to mind. A small place. Run by an elderly couple. My painting would be hung on the door to the loo. There would be two visitors during the entire ArtPrize. I had no idea what Peaches was. I had no idea that it is one of the most exciting venues in ArtPrize. I had no idea that I had hit gold on my first attempt.

I balked.

I wrote back an email to Jane, essentially to say “Let’s keep in touch.”

The following day I did some research, and it was like discovering too late that the best girl in the place was the one who grabbed me at the door. I retraced my steps. You can guess what happened next. At least those familiar with the dating game can guess.

I was sent packing.

I called Jane directly. She had thought I wasn’t interested. Sorry. She was inundated with requests from artists. She had filled up her place with over 20 artists. In just a day or two she was fully booked.

Ouch. I blew it and I knew it. I’m not the only one who realizes that this is a great venue. But I had turned it down. Unbelievable.

But then that fire flared inside me; that fire that sets a man walking 500 miles to win back the girl. Being a sort of Monk I didn’t exactly know this experience firsthand, but that primal instinct of Man winning Girl took over anyway. There was now one consuming goal in my sights, and that was to get into the Peaches B&B for ArtPrize 2016.

When I got back to Grand Rapids I arranged to meet with Jane. I arrived early, waited, and then knocked on the door. “Oh Jamie, I’m so sorry we’re full this year. I’ve never had this happen before. So many artists so fast’.

I said that’s fine. I understand. We walked and talked, looking at the stunningly beautiful rooms. I couldn’t help pointing out a couple places where my painting would look great, if only I had got in touch sooner. At that point I would have been happy to get a place on the loo door. I just wanted to be part of the Peaches party.

Then Jane surprised me. She said, ‘You know, I just might have one space that might work for you.’  I restrained myself from giving her a massive bear hug.

“It’s over here in the alcove by the front door. It’s a small space, but it could be a nice welcome for people as they arrive to the house.’

There was no hesitation this time. “Yes, great idea. That would be perfect for my piece.”

An alcove in a B&B entryway? You’ve got to be kidding. But I was in. I knew Peaches will be the most happening and fun venue at ArtPrize. The key is that I’m in the front door and now part of that team.

Jane is getting all the artists involved in making Peaches B&B a distinctive venue: Food and refreshments on the weekends, live painting demonstrations, a place to relax in a beautiful venue and comfortable couches. I just sent her my idea to do something fun for visitors. Essentially it’s an invitation to get involved in the art making directly, working in collaboration with the artist.

That would be fun. I love that interaction with people. I love the challenge of art making. I’m looking forward to the adventure that is ArtPrize. Come to http://peachesinn.com/ and join the party!