Canine Skull Scratchboard

For Christmas I try to do at least one homemade item each year. Cameron, my husband, is fascinated by animal skulls. This sounds morbid until you know that he has a degree in zoology and is preparing to teach Biology. He loves the structure, how everything all fits together, the teeth, all of it. With that in mind, for 2014 I wanted my homemade gift to have something to do with skulls. While looking through ideas one day I happened on an incredible scratchboard of a canine skull by Lori Dunn.

Canine Skull by Lori Dunn

The detail is amazing. I don’t know what possessed me, but after looking at it for a while I thought, “I can do that!” I studied how she did the crosshatching lines, the shading, the texture, and jumped in.

It didn’t take me long once I actually got scratching until I realized my ego had gotten the better of me. This was way more detailed and skilled than I am currently at. I got frustrated and put it away. Finally, Christmas was approaching and I decided to pull it back out and keep working on it. I got it done just in time for Christmas.

I didn’t know if I was going to give it to him. When I compared it to the original, I just laughed. I wanted it to look like the original, with the careful detail, the texture of the bone apparent, and everything just right. I nearly didn’t give it to him, but decided to wrap it up anyway.

He loved it. He turned it around for the others to see and I swear it wasn’t the same scratchboard. It did look okay! I was even proud of it!

Marquette LaRee Canine Skull Scratchboard

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I’ve thought about that quote a number of times when I see my version of the scratchboard. I worked hard. This wasn’t an easy project. My lines aren’t as delicate, my details as refined, or my shading as subtle, but I accomplished something. I learned. I grew. I found a way to express creativity. I was letting my comparison of the two scratchboards rob me of my joy in the creative process and in the joy of gift giving.

Comparison doesn’t have to always tear down, it can build. Whatever we look for, we find. If we truly look for the positive, we will find it. That may be positive traits in others, things to be happy about with a finished project, life circumstances, or even finding the silver lining in a rough day. If we are looking for the negative, we will find that. Character flaws in others, places in projects where we didn’t match up to the ideal, gloominess in life.

I knew this scratchboard was a gift for Cameron, but I’ve found since Christmas that it has been a sort of gift for me as well. I think about Roosevelt’s quote when I see it and how I will find what I am looking for. It reminds me that I want to find good in the world and in life, but I’m not going to find it by focusing on the negative.

The Wonderful Work of Hannah Dunnett

A friend of mine was on holiday over the summer with her family. They were exploring a little village when they spotted a Christian book shop. They went in to have a look and found amid the stock a collection of beautiful greeting cards.

There were paintings and illustrations of all sorts of things; mountains, the sea, a house, a forest…all the kind of images I love, but when you look closer you see that each picture is embedded with scritpures. Every wave, every tree, every cloud contains a verse from the Bible and the verses all tie in together so that each card is not only a picture of a house or the sea but a picture of God’s truth.

When my friend told me about the cards I thought they sounded interesting but it wasn’t until she sent one my way that I saw how moving they are.

The card she sent me is called ‘Live at Peace’ and even now that I have looked up the artist and browsed her works online this is still my favourite.

Live at Peace

We are currently working towards finding our first house so this artwork is a lovely reminder that whilst we talk about locations, parking, built in wardrobes….that what we really want to build our home around is God’s word; His ways and His love.

The artist behind this work is Hannah Dunnett and you can see her work on her website www.benandhannahdunnett.com which she runs with her equally creative husband Ben.

Their whole collection is lovely. I am quite tempted to get the Live at Peace one as a print. Here are a few more of my favourites.

Lover and Beloved
Trust in God
Seasoned with Salt

The work comes in the form of greeting cards, art prints, poster prints and, most excitingly for a stationary geek like me; journals! My birthday is coming up soon so if anyone out there is in a present buying mood this is a good place to start! (I can dream right?)

The Fear of the Lord

In October 2006 I was renting a small attic room in Bradford West Yorkshire after finishing a degree in Leeds. Out of my skylight I looked out over a typical view over the industrial city chimneys. Wondering what to do, I decided to pick up the pencils again (after a long drawing pause since school!) Drawing something would certainly help pass the time in the winter months and something that would take my mind off of the city smog and noise! Being a lover of the great outdoors and to help take my mind away from the city I decided to draw an Eagle. Back home in North Wales growing up I used to enjoy taking to binoculars out to watch the Buzzards circling high above the woods, so a bird of prey like an eagle would do!

eagle-small

I began an A5 sized drawing and was making progress and about half way through the drawing I thought I wonder if I can give it as a Christmas present to someone! (I was pretty short on cash at the time and Christmas was quickly coming so a quickly drawn gift would suffice!) Who can this be for? I made a point of not telling anyone about the drawing, as I wanted it to be a surprise for someone.

A few days later I had a call from my Dad back in Wales, who asked me to come home for the night as they had a special guest staying with them, an old family friend. And apparently he wanted to meet me. I drove home after work that evening and met our guest, he was an older gentleman in his eighty’s and there was something different about him. We sat around the dinner table and later on during our fun conversation this man eyeballed me with a knowing look and a twinkle in his eye, and said “You’re drawing an Eagle!” Totally dumbfounded and shocked I was taken back as I had not told anyone about this, how could he have known I was drawing an Eagle? Yet almost instantly after he said this I surprised myself with a sudden statement “I know who I am giving the Eagle to now!” He laughed, I laughed, and then others around the table laughed! Drawn into a longer discussion with this gentleman I found he was indeed a man of God who had had over 45 years of experience in ministry. I was completely engaged and amazed by his exciting stories of ministry throughout his life so I questioned him more.

eagle-wing

I also found myself on the receiving end of many personal corrections as this man had an uncanny way of identifying and picking out un-confessed things I had done in the past! But again how did he know these things? These were hidden secrets! By the end of the evening taking myself to bed I felt challenged and inspired, I didn’t sleep much but decided to do two things. The first was to finally and fully rededicate my own life back to the Lord as I had once known Him years earlier, yet had since drifted away from Him. The second thing was to restart the drawing of the Eagle and make it larger and more detailed, and then to give it as a gift to this man as a thank you to him for helping to re-direct my life back to God. Furthermore after these decisions I had a great and renewed sense of the Fear of the Lord. God had personally chosen to speak through this man to me. The Lord revealed Himself to me as very real, very close and very personal, He had been with me knowing all these things about me all of my life. I began to really feel a very tangible, very Holy and fearful presence of God, suddenly He was real to me, and I knew that He knew me.

eagle-beak

Returning the next day to my attic amongst the chimneys in Bradford I scrapped the A5 drawing and began afresh on an A2 sized drawing. I tried to collect as many bird feathers as I could for observation. One day I was driving past the Yorkshire Falconry Centre and quickly pulled in on the off chance of possibly getting a few feathers to help with the drawing. I explained about the drawing to the manager and he allowed me into a £180 ‘Eagle Day Experience’ for free and a walk around the birds cages to collect as many feathers as I wanted! Following this amongst the business of life I tried to take every opportunity to draw some more of the eagle sometimes I would only get one feather a week done, yet at other times I managed to get time to complete large sections of the bird in a weekend. As I drew there was always an ease to pray even very late into the night as I slowly took the time over detailing each feather. At that time the Lord highlighted to me many encouraging scriptures that taught on the Fear of the Lord. And so it is named “The Fear of the Lord.”

eagle

By November 2007 eleven months later the drawing was complete and after framing it I took it to the man in the south of England and gave it as a present. The first thing he said when looking at it was; “A lot of prayer has gone into this!” We had a very blessed and memorable time together. Since then we have remained in contact and met many times.

I will never forget drawing this Eagle as it is intertwined in part into my personal testimony and a little look into a time where God helped me return to Him and to Fear Him. I pray that it may also be a reminder to you to renew your sense of the Fear of the Lord.

God Bless

Jonny Thelwell