Fireplace Poppies

“FIREPLACE POPPIES” 37×48. After a long day of painting I have a much DEEPER RESPECT for all my painting friends who use acrylic paint. 😳  I learned that I have no love for acrylic paints…. nor am I fond of painting florals. I think I am a portrait purist or something… I love faces… eyes, noses, mouths, wrinkles, doucle chins, etc.. lol

Anyway, I don’t use my fireplace so 3 years ago I went to Home Depot and bought a piece of insulation foam board and cut it to fit the opening to control drafts. I got tired of looking at the silver blah so I decided to use some free acrylic paints someone gave me, plus a few more I had to buy (🙄) and paint something pretty. 

Oh my goodness!  I disliked it from the start but my 5 years of drawing has taught me that there is usually a “this is awful” stage that occurs at the beginning and to push through it. So I did and ended up with what you see here. 

Meh.🤷🏽‍♀️. It’s OK.  Never felt that exciting moment I get to with a “face” but at least it’s better than insulation board. Overall, a good learning and practice experience.


Grandpa’s Favorite

Portraits of little ones and their parents and grandparents are so special to me. As I have no children, each finished portrait becomes a part of my own family in some way, even as I hand it off to the client. My work may never grace the walls of art galleries around the world but I am completely happy knowing that several homes now have a part of my heart in a portrait that could last for generations to come. 💝3F5DD0AD-FA5D-41DF-94F8-E6A57CCEA875

Life is Precious

It’s a joyous time of the year for the most part …but for some it will be a difficult time. Many people have lost loved ones this year.

I know of a wonderful family who recently lost their father/son/husband, late 50s, diagnosed with a rare cancer just a few weeks ago. I was reminded again how life is so fragile and is but a vapor. Psalm 144:4 tells us this… “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”

I am often at a loss for words during difficult times; in spite of deep feelings I have. I am thankful for an outlet in art to express myself and share my heart.

I saw this sweet, special moment in a photo of the gentleman who passed with his only grandson and wanted to do something with it for his wife. As I studied it, I felt I wanted to convey the time, place, mood, feeling, and memory of this photo rather than the exact replication of the faces. So, I attempted to do a pen and watercolor wash to capture all the things the photo revealed to me. When I presented it to his wife, she immediately recalled the week the family was together at the time this photo was taken. It’s just a quick sketch, not my typical style, but I think it fulfilled what I’d hoped to accomplish.

Say a prayer for those who are hurting this season… and go hug your people! ❤️



ED76F24D-05E7-4C08-B1B4-6520C898C6A2Much of drawing portraits for me involves the overall feeling of a photo… including textures. When I was first commissioned to draw this one, I studied the textures as much as the face… how to draw the cottony feel of a shirt, the softness of a sweater, the coils in tightly coiled hair was a fun challenge.🤷🏽‍♀️ It worked out I think.✌🏽😎


Ms. Bee and Me 🐝

I was sitting around one day just thinking about the sheer number of people I’ve met in my lifetime. I’ve probably met and forgotten as many as I actually remember. Point is, I am old enough now to plainly see that people come and people go.  That’s life. 🤷🏽‍♀️

Then, there are people who come and stay. Thankfully, I have some friends like that … met them at different stages of my life and immediately knew they were for the long haul. More so, some are closer than blood relatives. That’s part of life too… people need people. The challenge is often knowing, and settling in your heart, the difference… who is there to stay and who is there for just a season of your life, so you learn and grow.

I believe God orchestrates my steps, and allows me to cross paths with people from all walks of life.  I love that… I have met, interacted with and befriended some of the most incredible people ever.

About a year ago, I visited a new church; just walked in alone and sat down. Just so happened I chose a seat in front of three people, who during the Meet & Greet time introduced themselves. The couple, Mary Ann & Corky were so friendly, and another woman sitting with them, Barbara, was as well, though she seemed a bit more reserved.  Mary Ann told me about the church and invited me back, so the next Sunday I went back.  Needless to say, I go all the time now.  They are some of my new “people”.

I’m giving all this back story because I find it fascinating that you never know how one small change that you make in your life opens a ton of new doors and adventures.

Over the weeks, I started hanging around with these three new friends…. loved it. We went out to eat after church on Sundays. Loved it. After a few weeks, I learned that Barbara was having memory issues but we continued our times together in the same manner for the most part.

However, within six or so months I, and others, started to notice a small change in Barbara. Basically, she just needed a bit more help with things at home, not anything drastic, just more help with things at home.  Her children made sure she had all she needed.

I lived pretty close to her so I started popping over to her place to mostly hang out with her…she was not able to drive anymore so my visits turned into dinners out a couple of times per week, and sitting on the her porch waiting for BunBun to show up (the bunny who nested in her mulch near the front door, whose name was changed to Harriet when Barbara discovered she was a, and walking the 1/3 mile loop in her neighborhood for exercise. We texted a lot too… I addressed her as ‘Ms. 🐝’ often in the texts.  Fun times!


Over the weeks it became clear that Ms. 🐝 was going to need a bit more care. She struggled with the idea of moving at first it but everyone reassured her that the new place would be perfect, and she’d have the help she needed.

I am an artist so she mentioned wanting me to draw a picture of her husband, who had passed a decade or so earlier. He was a Marine and from my time with her, I learned he was loved by all. During this transition I asked her to choose the photo she wanted to have drawn for her new home.  She chose this photo of her young Marine husband as he looked when she first met him.

Rip M.

Ms. 🐝 moved in last weekend.  She is doing great! Me, I am missing her company this week. I want her to give her time to acclimate and get used to the new space, new routine, new friends … but I’m missing my riding, shopping, dinner, porch-sitting partner a bit. Sort of a transition for me too. … but like I said in the beginning, that’s life.

I plan to visit her still but things are different now, so I am sure the structure and dynamic of this sweet friendship will change, not fade … but simply change.

God crossed our paths at a crucial time in her life and in mine; so for that, I am thankful.


Go hug your “people”.🤗💕


Blessed to Be A Blessing

I recently got a request to do a drawing of this gentleman who recently suddenly passed away. I learned that he loved his family dearly….and that he was recognized as a sharp dresser.  I wanted to capture that in this drawing. 

Requests for these ‘memorial’ type drawings have become a growing and important way that I am blessed to share my abilities.  Feeling grateful for the gift … and honored that I am trusted to share it with the others.💕


The Only Photo She Had

A few weeks ago I was commissioned to do a drawing of a client’s mother who had recently passed (see post on this page). This same client contacted me again to draw a picture of her father. She had only one photo of him and in the photo his head is leaning to the side in a somewhat awkward position. I used a bit of artistic leeway because the photo had many shadows and darkened areas. She asked me to draw it with his head straightened. I wanted to reposition the head but also I wanted to complete a drawing that would be an heirloom for her family since this was the client’s only photo of her dad. 💛



I love drawing portraits. This was a fun drawing! TWINS🤗. Double cuteness.❣️❣️

I often thought of drawing twins so when asked to do these two I couldn’t resist. To do a facing forward AND a profile of the same face but different people…. true happiness for a portrait artist.😎. Boy, do I love drawing portraits…. did I say that already? ✌🏽49ECC020-2ECC-4128-BE35-710D3A7FE5BB


This was sort of a personal challenge to learn more about watercolor; as you know, graphite is my gig. I drew this about 4 yrs ago in graphite (see it on this page) but wanted to try it in WC. Faces seem to be the only thing I can draw halfway decently. I wasn’t so concerned about the likeness this time as I was practicing layers, backgrounds, brushes, lifting, working on canvas, and basically learning about watercolor. I think this little boy had a bad cold when my friend took the photo so I named it “Fever” 😎. It did not turn out like I imagined at all… and no lie, I surely struggled with it … but it was a fun practice session, I learned a lot, and you’ve gotta start somewhere, right? BIG PROPS to all the real painters in the world – painting portraits is NOT easy I’m finding out…. but Im just getting started. Stay tuned for the next one. ⭐️
“FEVER” 16×20 on canvas.


Beginning & End

I take LOTS of photos during the drawing process to make sure I’m on target so I have to file photos constantly from my cell phone. I can see where I’m “off” more easily on a photo.
While filing away old photos I ran across one of my early WIP photos and also the final drawing. Wow! I still get amazed that I know how to do this. …and it’s so much fun. 😊 This was a good clear photo to start so it just flowed.


Happy Mother’s Day

🌸HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!🌸 …. If you don’t have children, fret not, Neither do I ….so…. 🌺HAPPY LADIES DAY🌺 to you. 😊. You are a wonderful, unique, and distinct creation of God!

This is my grandmother. My mom found and sent a very old photo that was a bit torn and worn. I knew I would have to guess at some areas but I wanted to draw it as a gift to my mom. She was so surprised! 😌 The look on her face when she received it told me that I must have done a pretty decent job. She loved it. Honoring my grandmother and blessing my mom❤️.IMG_0627

Italian Greyhounds

A happy family of pooches (Italian Greyhounds)…actually, one of them is no longer with us, however still is considered a part of the family. 🐶

The challenge here was drawing them so they looked as if they were all in one original photo, when in reality the client provided 3 separate photos. Fortunately the dogs were all looking in the same general direction so I was able to pull it off.



How Deep the Father’s Love

I love photos that evoke emotion and thought. The photo used for this drawing made me think of rest, peace, calm, protection, security… so opposite of the ‘climate’ around us today.

While working on this sweet babe asleep on his father’s arm, the words to a song by Stuart Townend came to mind…

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure.
That He should give His only Son,
And make a wretch His treasure. ❤

[Photo Credit: Katie Walls]


Farewell President Obama

I thought I’d revisit this familiar face. The first real portrait I ever drew, 3 years ago, was from a photo of Obama back in the early days of the presidency. It’s always fun to compare old drawings to recent ones.

It’s so funny – people asked me, “Why’d you choose him to draw?”  When I did a recent drawing of Trump (see previous post)’ people asked me, “Why’d you draw him?”  Haha!  Can’t please everyone… ‘ain’t even trying to’.

Humanity … its beauty, love, sorrow, joy, and all things associated with life as we experience it; that is what I try to capture in my drawings… that is why I drew ‘him‘.

Peace and Love to you.💛



CAUGHT! Who’s bringing the fries!?! Ha!

Saw this photo of my cousin and thought, “Have I drawn fish yet?….Good for the portfolio.” 🐟🐟🐟. I’m on vacation so I’ve had time to sketch/practice all kinds of things. Hope you all aren’t weary of these drawings yet.😉

P.S. I’ve been fishing only once in my life; about 40 years ago. Caught one fish about the size of my hand. The End. 😏


Happy New Year!

Three years ago this week, I decided to start this page after discovering I had a little knack (and sole interest in) for drawing people portraits. To my surprise, my first two commissions was for ‘doggy’ portraits. I remember thinking, “Well, if it has a face I can probably do it.” 😊.

This portrait of ‘Lola and Bella’ was one of those commissions. I love this drawing because it represents a sort of ‘open door’ to an area of drawing I hadn’t considered. They gave me confidence. Since drawing these two, I’ve completed several animal drawings and I love doing them! Expressing the soul of an animal via pencil is just as exciting to me as it is for people.

To have discovered this gift at such a late time in my life is one of my greatest blessings… and in our crazy world, I hope a quick scroll through my page brings all kinds of smiles and warmth to your day.

☮️ 💖 and HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎉


Trump & Hillary

So, I decided to make my little artistic contribution to the 2016 presidential election madness featuring the two most unpopular candidates ever (so I hear). Trump’s hair gave me fits. It looked so fake as I was drawing, but then I remembered that it looks fake in real life too 🤔 so I just quit working on it. 👀…. and … Hillary, well, she just ought to thank me for not drawing all of what I saw on her photo. (You’re welcome, girl) 😌.

Anyway, it’s all good (and needed) practice. 😎


First Day Home

Every time I work on a mother/child drawing, I admit, for a fleeting few moments, I think about the fact that I never had children. Then, typically, my next thought is how each of these drawings is a new artistic creation, and so very satisfying to me. 🙂. I am thankful for the ability to draw for several reasons, but being able to express the tenderness of a parent/child on paper like this is near the top. I have done a few of these and each brings such joy to my heart. Hope you enjoy it as well. img_0253

Homegrown Memories

Many memories are tied to one’s home(s). I can remember specific details about each of the homes I’ve lived in; the colors, rooms, fragrances, family, joys, pains…many things. I think of this when I am drawing a home; of the people who lived there. I don’t think in terms of architectural drawings or blueprints. As a good artist friend told me, “keep it loose”. In my mind that meant, ‘draw the feeling of the house’.

In many ways, the process is like drawing faces. My goal is to bring life to the structures – and to reflect the lives within. 🏡

This particular house had an obstruction 👀. The customer wanted the big tree out of the drawing. It was difficult to get a good photo but with the help of a couple side-view, distorted angled photos I was able to come up with this. 😎


All Faces Matter

All Faces Matter….to God and to me.

One of my best buddies (Hey Ann!) visited me last month and we rolled on over to IKEA to roam …. and eat. While we sat at a little table chatting and catching up I felt eyes on me. Sure enough, I turned around and directly behind me was ‘Baby Wan’! *happy heart*

I started speaking with his mom, we introduced ourselves, connected on FB and she allowed me to photograph him. Of course, I wanted to draw his sweet face. You all know by now that I love drawing faces….and the lives expressed through them…. Yep…All Faces Matter! 😉


A Happy Heart 💕

I have been so blessed with, and by, this late-in-life ability (gift) to draw … it still leaves me in awe of an Awesome God. I have also been blessed with commissions (that will hopefully last for generations) from awesome and encouraging customers.  Thank you to ALL OF YOU!

Every now and again I get a chance to do an original drawing for my own portfolio. This time I chose to draw another sweet baby-face. The photo evoked so many thoughts and feelings: the joy in her eyes, her happy spirit, naps (haha!), the safety of knowing mom would soon lift her into loving, engulfing arms…. and on and on.

Could I possibly capture it all in a drawing??  … I certainly tried. 🌸









A Horse is a Horse..

I never thought about drawing any thing but people portraits when I started doing portraits, however I received several pet (dog) commissions. Today I decided to try my hand at drawing a horse.



Each time I am commissioned to do a dog portrait, by the time I am finished I want to run out and buy the breed. 😋. It’s a wonder I don’t have a Great Dane, German Shepherd, or Boxer sitting here at my feet…or one of these little cuties sitting here on my lap.
Say Hi to Zoey! I had a few photos to choose from but this one really caught my eye. Such personality. ‘Woof!”


‘SATISFACTION’ is the word that I kept thinking of as I was drawing. I don’t know the story behind the photo but I imagined experiencing the satisfaction of reaping a harvest after months of labor, care and much patience.  This might be a type of satisfaction that is slowly slipping away in our culture, which made it all the more important that I try to capture it in the drawing. Enjoy!


My Dear Aunt Rosie Mae

I have spent the last few evenings (and late nights) working on this drawing of my Aunt Rosie Mae; my dad’s oldest brother’s wife. She passed away last year at the age of 98. Aunt Rosie loved her family and she loved church. Her daughter, my cousin, sent me a very old photo of her mom from when she was young asking if I could do anything with it. As you can see the photo was torn and faded.

I wasn’t sure if I could do anything with it.  It looked like it might have been a wedding photo, which would have placed the timing in the 1930’s possibly. I researched vintage hats and found one that would seem to fit that time period and the photo. The challenge was putting this all together and developing a nice drawing.  I enjoyed re-creating this photo through a drawing. It made me feel like I was leaving a mark in history. 🌺


Simon of Cyrene

Happy Resurrection Day! This is the first time drawing faces from my mind rather than from a photo. I was given the opportunity to participate in an Easter Art Show, which had a theme of “Lifted Up”.  I had the idea of drawing Simon  a few months for another project but this theme fit perfectly. It was also an opportunity to determine if I could pursue creating drawings from my imagination.  I was pleased with this first attempt. I was also either very brave or I have an exaggerated idea of my actual skill level for entering a first attempt into an art show. However, my goal was to portray the emotion of the entire scene; I believe much of that came through in the final piece.

And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. ~Matthew 27:31-32

Simon 3-25We know of Christ’s dreadful yet crucial journey to the Cross; however I was likewise captured by the man Simon from Cyrene. He was ‘compelled’ by government authorities to carry the Cross.

Imagine, being on the sideline of this historic event only to be singled out to support a man who had been beaten, maligned, and otherwise wronged and on his way to death.

What could Simon be thinking? This was the crux of the drawing. As an artist I created a mental scenario: Simon had travelled from North Africa to witness this event. Physically, he must have been a large man to be asked to carry the Cross, and he might have been of darker complexion living nearer to the equator.

What about spiritually? Did Simon believe in this Jesus of Nazareth as he was compelled? Was he a skeptic and not wanting to be seen with Jesus? Did he fear his own life, now associated with Jesus, was in danger? How did seeing the physical pain and demeanor of Jesus affect him? Was this a life changing experience for Simon?

These questions helped to formulate the facial expressions of the men in the artistic rendition. I wanted to show the fear, doubt, strength and possible ultimate transformation of Simon. Some commentaries say that Simon later went on to become a follower of Christ. Did this one act of being compelled to carry the Cross forever change Simon? Did he see his own pain, his own eternal loss in the face of Jesus as they moved toward Golgotha?


One of the reasons I enjoy drawing portraits is because each face holds ‘history’ and tells a story; some a short history and some a very long and honorable history, like the face of 94 year old Granpa, a World War II Veteran. I initially wanted to write a detailed blog story about Granpa’s life/history to post with this drawing but then I realized there was so much to say … and he really deserved more than a quick mention hear So, I decided to just post the drawing.  Hopefully you can feel the history of Grandpa’s life through the texture, lines, lighting, shading and composition of the drawing.image

Wheel of Fortune!

Wheel of Fortune!

Team Jan:  We Were Contestants on the Wheel of Fortune


If I had any idea that a producer from the Wheel of Fortune would have ever contacted me, I’m not sure I would have applied online all those times. Their website says millions apply each year, ten thousand get to audition and only 600 actually make it to the Wheel! So, what were the chances they would contact me? None, I thought.

Jan's calendar


Well, three years ago I received an email stating “You’re receiving this email because at one time you filled out an on-line application to be a contestant (on our website The email went on to say that they were holding auditions in Atlanta and that the first step was to send a picture and a video. I set up my little iPhone 4 on a tiny phone tripod and proceeded to make about 50 video clips until I one finally met my approval. I sent it, still not believing that I would be selected for the audition. The email said if they liked it, I would get invited to the audition.

I didn’t think much more of it until I actually received an email invitation to the audition, which included a lot of instructions. I read through it carefully, not really sure if I wanted to do it because even though I liked words and puzzles, I didn’t think I was a particularly good puzzle/game player. I had watched the game for years but probably not as consistently as some players, simply because I am not an avid TV watcher. I can go for days without turning on the TV at all. I thought about it seriously, because one of the things they said in the email was to ask yourself, *Do you think you can solve puzzles under pressure on national television? (Everyone is a good Wheel of Fortune player in the comfort of his/her living room!).   That one phrase almost caused me to delete the email because even on my sofa I was mediocre at best at the game (with a few good nights here and there), and I’m not one who wants to have the ‘attention’ on me … but then I thought about how many people would LOVE to have received that email.

The other thing that caught my attention was a little note in the email saying they were looking for TEAMS! Hmmm, I thought if I went with a friend who was a good puzzle/word person that would be a for-sure fun time. I also thought, if they actually stated they were looking for teams, then that would increase our chances of getting to the Wheel. A list of friends went through my head but my friend Jan M’s name always seemed to pop up. We’d been friends for about 8 years at that point (we became fast friends when we first met in church choir); she is fun, lively, smart, a WORD person, and I knew she was good at puzzles.

I called her and told her I had received the email. I wanted to see what her reaction would be with that news first.  She was over-the-top excited. So then I told her about the WOF looking for TEAMS, and asked if she wanted to try out at the auditions with me as a team. I held the phone away from my ear as she screamed into the phone with joy. I emailed the producer back and gave her Jan M’s information and things worked out great from there. Jan M. and her husband Gary happened to have an appointment that morning in Atlanta and were able to scoot over to the audition at the hotel before our appointed audition time.



The audition was at a large hotel in downtown Atlanta. There were several teams that would be auditioning all day long over a three-day period. It was intense! As the time for our group of people auditioning came, there were several people lingering around waiting for the doors to open. I was so nervous, and questioned my decision to audition at all… too late at that point though. When the doors opened, each team signed in and we sat in chairs on either side of a center aisle.   Up front there were long tables where producers of the show were seated on one side, and on the other side a big ‘makeshift’ paper replica of the Wheel. The puzzles were projected on a PowerPoint up on a screen. Not the real deal but a good way to audition.

They went through each team and we stated our names, how we knew each other, etc. Of course, when they got to us, with both our names being Jan, ‘Team Jan’ was born; a plus for us. From there, we played mock games where they watched how we played the game, how we played as a team, our voice levels, pronunciation, etc.   You really do have to scream the letters. Those who couldn’t went home. We played several rounds of the game. About 60 teams (120 people) were in our audition. After all the rounds, I think there were 4 teams (8 people) left: Team Jan was one of the teams! We left that audition somewhat in disbelief, and ecstatic. We had made it through the auditions.   Our excitement was tempered by the fact that although we made it through, we had no idea if we would actually get an invite to a taping. It was strictly up to the Producers. The audition was in June 2013, so we went home and continued on with life; hopeful.

Jans at audition

On January 15th, 2014, we received an email from a show producer stating that we were invited to a taping on January 30, 2014. We couldn’t believe it! It was so exciting to see that email. We started preparing; playing puzzles online, practicing strategies, learning about the game, Wheel History, etc. Jan’s husband, Gary booked our flights and hotel; we were ready to go to Culver City, California.



Wait! What? … I do live in the South, right? The day before we were to fly out to California to tape, I went to work that morning, met a friend for lunch, then I decided to go back to work about two miles away to get my laptop and work the rest of the day from home. Between the time I left the restaurant (dry outside) and the time I left work to go home (about 20 minutes later), the snow started flying and the ice fell hard and fast! Atlanta was under sudden attack of winter weather, better known as Atlanta’s ‘Snowpocalypse’!

I live about six miles from work, an excellent commute considering Atlanta traffic. I got about halfway home and the side roads were bumper to bumper with summer-time drivers. I crept along as the snowflakes got larger and the street become icier and more slippery until a police officer started turning people around on my route home because cars were sliding down a hill and crashing into each other at the bottom. By the time I did a u-turn and was then headed away from home I drove about 1/10 of a mile and found myself in a complete snow/ice jam; couldn’t go anywhere. I ended up inching toward a bank and parking my car in the bank lot. I tiptoed across four lanes of cars in my summer shoes (you can typically wear summer flats in Atlanta in the winter) to a hotel I saw in the distance. My biggest fear then was being hit by a sliding car and not being able to gain traction to jump out of the way. By then, cars where stopped everywhere; a complete mess. I made it to the hotel and entered through the back door near the banquet hall and pool area. I soon learned that the entire city was in a jam and the hotel was completely filled because those who were to check-out, couldn’t. People were stranded everywhere. I saw cars and trucks sitting in front of the hotel on the road in the same spot for 6+ hours that evening.

Of course, I was thinking about The Wheel; how in the world I was going to get to the shuttle to take me to the airport?!? I called the shuttle company and asked them if they were still able to drive me. The guy on the other end simply said, “Can you drive out there?”   Ha! No one was going anywhere in Atlanta. For about two days the city was out of commission, and clean up was even longer. The airport was at a standstill. I found out our flight was cancelled. We were basically stuck. I ended up sleeping on the floor by the hotel pool along with a group of six other girls who were stranded as well. Embassy Suites was awesome! Gave us blankets, pillows, and breakfast in the morning.

I found out Jan and Gary had made it to a hotel near the airport and once it was determined that our flights were cancelled, they made the slow slippery drive back home 90 miles south of the city. Unbelievable, we had done all that preparation, just to be grounded by a freak snow/ice storm. The next day (the day I should have been in CA taping) I left the hotel around 11am to an ice-covered outside. I drove about 5 miles per hour on ice and hills all the way home. It took about 45 minutes to drive a very short distance. When I got to my subdivision, which is elevated, a row vehicles was parked along the road at the subdivision entrance. No one could drive up into the subdivision, so my last mile home was by foot…. in summer shoes, up a slippery hill. Needless to say, I was somewhat traumatized by the experience.

We contacted the producer and she said that Team Jan would remain on the list for the next time they had a Best Friends theme week. We had no clue when that would be, or if it would really ever be.



I don’t know if I just tried to put the whole experience out of my mind or what. I moved on with life. Jan M., on the other hand, was on top of things… she continued to stay in contact with the producer, etc. I am sure her persistence got us another chance to tape on January 8, 2016, two years later.

Jan texted me a few days before Christmas 2015 and said check your email. I immediately knew the WOF had contacted us. I started having flashbacks (what I now refer to as WOF PTSD). The entire ordeal I had gone through two years previously flooded my mind. Jan could hear it in my response to her. I told her I’d call her after I read the email. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on the Wheel anymore. I had such bad memories of the previous attempt. It took a few hours for me to process everything, but then it clicked. I was ready to do it! We responded to the producer, and once again, we were prepping for the game.

We discussed the game, rules, puzzle themes, etc. There was so much to remember. Jan and I both agreed we would be okay except if the puzzle theme was music or movies: neither of us were pop music/movie people. As I said before, I don’t watch much TV, I might go to two movies per year if that, and I have never been one to listen to pop music (unless I was in a store or something).

I was ready though. I actually started having a good feeling about it, like we would win. However, I’m sure every team had that feeling. I was a bit nervous though: I remembered that I’m not THAT good of a player, I don’t like hearing and seeing myself on TV (for crying out loud, I’d stopped coloring my hair a year ago…I’d be representing the silver heads on the show), I thought about how cruel people on social media can be, a boatload of things went through my mind but then I thought again about how many people would love to be in my shoes. I remembered hearing Joyce Meyers say, “If you are afraid, then do it afraid.” … And I most of all thought about how excited and supportive my closest friends were for me for even being on the show.

We decided not to broadcast our second chance to tape on social media, or to share it with many people. The first time was just too overwhelming. We completely understood our friends’ excitement for us but the questions literally overwhelmed me the first time as my mind was trying to prepare for the flight, and then with the snow/ice situation, I repeated our sad story hundreds of times, replaying it in my mind each time. So we kept it close until after the taping. I needed to keep my sanity.

I am so thankful that Jan’s husband Gary handled all the flight and hotel reservations; just doing that is a stress factor to me; as I’m not a traveler. My manager at work made a parking reservation for me at the airport, which made the parking situation much easier! [Thanks Todd P.]. I hadn’t flown in 10 years and the whole airport process was a big stress factor. The day before the taping this time, we met up at the airport early in the morning, everything had gone smoothly and before I knew it we were in the air. The Delta flight was perfect…kudos to the pilot! We all had seats next to each other so Jan and I were able to discuss game strategies etc. while Gary shared his plane snacks with us.

flt data map


We arrived on Thursday afternoon, went to the hotel, then to dinner. We decided to eat food that we were used to as to now freak out our tummies before the big day.Culver City

The next day the shuttle arrived at 6:30 am and we were off to the studio along with several other teams who were also staying in the hotel. These ladies arrived from across the country. They were all so fun to train with!  Instant comraderies were formed; we were all in the same situation: going to tape a segment of the Wheel of Fortune.

Once arriving, we were led into the Jeopardy studio. Before entering the building however, Jan and I got a quick photo in front of the Wheel of Fortune sign outside. Little did we know that this photo would become as popular as it has become.

As we entered the studio, I panicked a bit at first because I know my brain is NOT wired for Jeopardy at all – thankfully we were just going through our prepping there). Once seated, the rigorous, intense, orderly training/prepping process began. Let me stop right here and say, the Wheel of Fortune staff is incredible!! They are the most professional, detailed, incredibly nice group of people ever. I literally would have applied for a job there if they were on the east coast. That whole creative/productive environment felt like I was in my element! No plans to move to LA though.


OK, let me know say here for you and all the public to read. For every contestant I ever talked about or wondered why they did seemingly crazy things while playing the Wheel of Fortune, please forgive me, I’m sorry. I was once clueless to the process that contestants had to endure prior to taping. I now watch the Wheel with a completely different attitude, a much more humble heart and new camaraderie with all contestants.


We were instructed on everything, different game rules, how/when to clap, had makeup/hair done (and were instructed to pay attention to the training while getting that done), an attorney went line-by-line over legal papers and we initialed each paragraph, etc. We had to determine which day of the week we were taping for, our position at the wheel; we practiced spinning and calling out letters. Jan and I had to change our strategy because she was not able to spin the wheel. It is 2,400 lbs! I’m a big girl so I was able to do it. So, she covered the Used Letter board/timer and focused on solving.   I have no idea how single-player contestants keep track of everything. I know I couldn’t have done it.

By the time we were ready to tape, about six hours later, my brain literally felt like Jello©. I’m a ‘rule-follower’ so I had all of our new rules rolling around in my head. I won’t lie, it was challenging for me to keep all the pieces of playing the game together. I’m so glad I chose to go as a team. I got the invite and the option to go as a team but I couldn’t have done it without my friend Jan M.! Shout out to ya’ girl!


My heart was racing a mile a minute when we stood at that Wheel. We were about to tape a real show. I had this mix of trying to stay focused and trying to solve the puzzle, but I think I blanked out a few times. It was so overwhelming and exciting. I stumbled through my Pat-Chat. I’m not really sure what I said, although I had practiced it a million times. Ha!

Somehow, once it started, I didn’t even think about the television aspect of it all, which probably wasn’t the smartest thing, because I just spoke what popped in my head like I was sitting around the kitchen table playing the game with friends, not playing in front of millions. Ha!

We started out pretty rough I think, we were out of sync with each other, and it literally felt to me like we were a team playing separately. There was a situation that happened just prior to us taping our segment that seriously caused us both to lose our game groove for a bit. We laughed about it in the end but at the time it was a seriously tense matter.



So, it was in this frame of mind, all worked up, that we started taping our segment. I was, admittedly, out of sorts… and we could both tell we were not on the same game page. It was a wonder I even remembered my name at that point. I told Jan, “I’m glad we have the same so I can look at your name tag to see who I am.”

After the first round, during the commercial break, we both knew we were out of sync with each other, so we stopped, held hands and prayed right at the Wheel…. we recognized that we needed some help getting back on track – quickly!. During breaks, makeup/hair/audio people, and producers came out with water, tips and encouragement for us. That helped a lot too. Again, they were awesome!

We entered the second round ready to play, a bit more in sync that round. We won the second round, which gave us a trip to Belize! Before we knew it we had won the most money at the end of the game and were headed to the Final Round. I was literally in shock. We could see the running total of each round but I didn’t even pay attention to that while playing.

During the next commercial break, we were led to the smaller wheel where we got further instruction on where to stand, how to spin wheel, etc.

The Final Round was incredible. During the commercial break, Jan and I held hands and prayed one more time. It was Him who had gotten us that far and we prayed again for clarity, peace and a sound mind. Then it was time.

I was next to Pat, and chose the card after Jan spun the wheel. As soon as she spun, I told her to choose the letters. Thankfully, she just did it and didn’t question my asking her to do it (I’ll explain this later). She chose the best letters ever! As soon as they all came up we could see what it was. My heart was racing like crazy. I wanted to scream it out but I didn’t – I remembered one of the rules they told us was that only ONE person should say the answer because if for some reason we said different answers and the clock ran out (15 seconds) to correct ourselves we would lose. No way was I going to blow that…. So she said it loudly and I said it softly.  My knees got weak when Pat showed us what we’d won and our total for the evening. Even with all the faux pas this was our night! You know why, because what God has for YOU is for YOU! Believe it!



Game regrets. NONE!.

However, after we taped and I was home, I started to have minor anxiety attacks.  My mind replayed every aspect of the game days after, including the faux pas.  Then I remembered… “Wait girl! WE WON!!!!”   Remembering that alleviated much of my anxiety… most of the time. 🙂



pat and vanna posters

I’ve watched the Wheel off and on for years. I was always struck by how much fun it looked like Pat and Vanna were having and how they seemed so genuine and kind. Pat is always so great with people who have bad times at the Wheel. During the show, Pat was so nice and friendly; he cracked jokes, and made us feel so comfortable. Before taping Vanna answered questions for the audience. Such nice people, I was glad to see that.

Well, after we won, at the end we were led to where Pat and Vanna were standing to talk with them. For the guys who wanted me to check it out, yes, Vanna is as beautiful as she appears on TV. Pat looks great too! It’s like they’ve halted time or something. I would guess their workplace stress level is probably pretty low. Hee-hee!



I had a question about whether this was a God-thing from the get go. I even asked the Lord if He could be found anywhere in the Wheel of Fortune or am I totally off-base doing this. My heart is to honor the Lord in all I do. If this was not of Him then I was more than okay with walking away from it.   A friend of mine even said, isn’t the Wheel like gambling? I hadn’t thought of it like that but I guess it could be considered to be some form of gambling. I totally thought of it as a word game, but I took it to the Lord anyway, fully expecting either a check in my spirit or a sense of peace. Over the following days, I had a complete peace and excitement about it, and I was reminded in my spirit that God owns it all and even this will be to his glory.

From the beginning of this journey, I had a sense that we would win but as I said before, I’m sure everyone has that sense. Jan M. and I hadn’t publically announced our second chance to tape again but we did tell those who we knew would pray for our safety, clarity, peace, love, and a sound mind. There were several people praying for us.

My friend Tish brought me a goody bag and some Scriptures to ponder and take with me. The friends in my Bible study group also did the most awesome thing. Each of them had written a letter to me to open after I got on the plane. My friend Monica actually wrote several cards and notes with Scripture and encouragement to be opened at different times during our journey (before the flight, on the plane, before the taping, after the taping, flying home, etc.) It was awesome food for our souls. The notes and letters were such a blessing for both Jan and me. Since we are both ‘rule-followers’ we opened the envelopes ONLY when they were supposed to be opened. It was such a wonderful thing for us to look forward to each day.

Another amazing thing was the voice message that Jan’s friend Beth Moore left for us. In her message she said she would call it the Wheel of Favor and pray for God’s blessing on us. I thought that was absolutely awesome. From then on, we referred to ourselves as the Women of Faith at the Wheel of Favor! … And I have NO doubt that God was in every bit of the journey.

When we got on the plane to fly there, I sat in my seat and this is what I saw on the little video screen: Winner Takes All!


Winner Takes All

This ad was totally not about the WOF but when I saw Winner Takes All I KNEW it was for us. It immediately struck me as another confirmation that we’d win. I said to Jan M., “Look! This is for US!” We believed it! We believed we would win, but who goes into the show thinking otherwise, right?

While we were at the final wheel, and about to choose letters, I literally felt I heard a small voice instruct me to tell Jan M. to choose the letters, so I did, and was completely fine with it. She chose excellent letters! I believe that was God’s direction as well. I am not sure what letters I would have called, and who knows now if they would have been good choices or not. I just knew I needed to ask her to select them.

Prior to the game, both Jan and I said we wanted to win but we also wanted everyone to win something. Neither of us liked the shows where one person got a big win and the others were sent home with minimum or nothing. It worked out that everyone on our segment won something. It was great! I think some of our faux pas actually helped others to win some money; I am so okay with that. It would have been a great experience even if we hadn’t won, but to have everyone win something makes it all the better.

Gary told us at dinner that night that while Jan and I were praying before the final round, the people in the audience around him whispering and saying, “Hey, look, they are praying.” It was during the chaos of the production staff changing scenes, etc. when we prayed so we didn’t consider that anyone would have their eyes on us, however, we always wanted to be a light wherever we were, so it seems that God honored our desire.

The most amazing thing to me was how the game ended. Even with the faux pas

it seemed the wheel ended up back in our favor. People might not believe it but I believe we really did have God’s favor on us the entire time. It was somewhat a metaphor for life. No matter how we mess up in life, make wrong turns, do things that might not be optimal, take calculated risks etc., there is a God in heaven who is on our side and orchestrates things for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose [Romans 8:28]. So, yes it does have something to do with us but there is no expectation of perfection, only trusting in Him, Jesus Christ, who is the perfect One. This is not about using the Lord for gain, but trusting the Lord for all the details of life.

I had a zillion questions from friends and family so I posted the top ones here:

Questions and Answers

  1. Why do contestants scream the letters? 

Because we are instructed to do so. We spent a good amount of time practicing yelling out letters. If you weren’t loud enough you were asked to do it again. Those who were not able to yell out letters even in the audition went home

2.  Why didn’t you tell anyone if you won or not prior to the airing?

So many people asked me if we’d won. Remember that legal component I wrote about prior to the taping? Well, part of that was not to reveal the outcome of the show or you risked losing any winnings you might have gotten on the show. Our silence was hard for some to swallow, but again, after you gain some insight about the entire Wheel operation/process (a.k.a. been there yourself), you can more accurately judge what happens during and after the show/taping. I have some friends who know the game show process so they told me they would not ask me about the outcome.

3.  How would the people at the WOF find out if you told?

First, I desire to be a woman of my word. If I say I will do something, I do my best to keep my word. Part of the deal on the Wheel was to not tell the outcome of the show. I told absolutely no one, not even my own mother. In today’s world of technology and social media, my guess is that it would take all of a few hours before it got back to the show that the outcome was disclosed, and likely just few more minutes before they found the source of the leak. Second, I desire to be a person of integrity.

4.  Why did you choose to go as a team when you could have gone alone and won everything yourself? 

When I got the email asking me to audition, I remembered I was a good player (sometimes) but not a strong player. Plus, in the email they said they were looking for teams. So, I thought, give them what they are asking for, it might increase our chances. Also, I thought if I did make it to the audition, it would be so much more fun if I had a good friend with me who was also an excellent player. I’m not sure I would have made it through the auditions as a single contestant. Jan M. is an exciting animated person in addition to being a smart word person. I knew that would work well on the Wheel. We were definitely a team. She was at the Wheel because I asked her to go with me and I was at the wheel because I asked her to go with me. Mostly, I was gladly willing to split any winnings to have someone to share the experience with.

5.  Do they pay for your trip out to tape the show; do they wine-and-dine you?

Um, No. However, you notice on the show, even those who win no rounds get $1,000 for being on the show, so unless you booked first class flights and a penthouse the $1K should cover any expenses you might incur.

6.  How’d you get on the show?

I started applying years ago on a whim; I mean while in my 30s. Sometimes when I watched, I thought, “Maybe I could be on there.” So, I applied. Again, if I thought I’d actually get called to audition, I’m not so sure I would have applied. I can be rather introverted at times, but I do play a good extroverted personality game when needed.

7.  Why do people make sure goofy mistakes on the show?

Like I said, you have a completely different frame of reference after you have gone through this process. It’s one thing to sit on your comfy sofa, wiggling your toes, eating popcorn and solving puzzles, disparaging people for making errors. It’s a completely different situation when you are taping a show after hours of intense preparation in front of cameras, lights, etc. I’m still amazed how calm people look on the show. My stomach was in knots. I think Pat’s easy-going demeanor helps a lot. He really does try to make contestants feel at ease. [Again, I’m sorry to all former contestants who I commented about on past episodes. Amazing what a little knowledge and insight can do for your intelligence and compassion level].

8.  Wont’ you be nervous and embarrassed with millions of people l watching?

Nervous and embarrassed doesn’t even explain the half of it. I felt I would get physically ill every time I thought about being watched on national television. I lost sleep for several nights after I got back home thinking about it all. I kept trying to remember if I made a fool of myself and if I did, who would make a point of pointing it out to me. Then I thought, there are some who will, it’s just part of the package though…. and it doesn’t matter, because we won! J

9. Would I do it again knowing what I know now?

YES! It was an experience of a lifetime! I don’t think you can be on the show more than once in a lifetime, but if I could I certainly would. It is a once in a lifetime experience. Millions apply to be on the wheel each year, more than 10,000 actually get called to audition, and only 600 per year actually make it to the wheel! Jan M. and I are Two in a Million!

10.  What did you learn the most about your experience? 

Well, I learned a lot including: 1) The thought of flying was much worse in my head than in actuality. I still don’t’ like it though. 2) Life experiences are so much more fun when there is someone to share it with. 3) Playing the game is way harder in real life. 4) California has beautiful skies, and 5) I have no desire to be a person in the public eye – I like my privacy too much.

However, the most important thing for me was the reconfirmation that the Lord Jesus is interested in every detail of our lives. I didn’t approach The Wheel as a spiritual thing to do, it was just a fun thing. I didn’t think there was anything spiritual about it. I even prayed that if it was not God’s will for my life to just close the door, and I would have been fine with that. From the beginning though, we could see God’s hand providing for us in every way, the flight, the people we met, the opportunities we had, the way the game went in the end in spite of where the Wheel landed, he opened certain doors and closed others for us. He allowed us to be a ‘light’ right on the Wheel of Fortune [Favor] stage when we didn’t even know we were being a light. I am grateful for that most of all because my heart is primarily to do the will of the Father.

 In the words of C.T. Studd’s well-known poem, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

View from hotel
View from my hotel room in Culver city, California

More Siblings…More Fun!

This drawing was created from two separate photos. This isn’t always the easiest thing for me to do… positioning/direction can be challenging. However, I think I worked it out so they look as if these siblings were actually photographed together. This was a Christmas commission. Enjoy!



The first of several Christmas orders has been delivered.
Lexi lived 16 years with her ‘mom’. The main feature I wanted to capture was her ‘smile’. Pets, like people, do have a personality that I can often see and bring forth on paper as I draw. I love it that I am able to give a bit of joy and happy memories via a drawing to a pet owner during the days after the loss of a fur-family member. 🐾


Coloring My World

After a couple years of drawing only in graphite I decided to venture into  the world of color…via color pencil. I chose to use a photo I had previously done in graphite but this time my goal was not so much the likeness, although important, but the selection of colors to use (I used way more than I thought I would, the pencil strokes (linear or circular), pencil pressure used, the tooth on the paper, blending techniques, and overall just how to get the colors and final effect I envisioned is what I focused on.

I initially thought a lot about blending techniques; getting that smooth texture I could achieve with graphite.  I started to blend a bit at first but I soon realized that I sort of liked the roughness and texture acheieved with the strokes on the coarse paper I was using without doing much blending.  Afterall, my goal was not to achieve a photo-perfect replication (a camera can do that) but to create a piece of art that represented my style (which I am currently in search of…😉)

I learned a lot using color and can easily see I need a lot more practice. I can see many things I would do differently and could have changed here but decided to let this first attempt at color be a foundation to grow on.

Final assessment… It was fun and I will continue to explore working with color pencil  👍🏽


New Levels

When I received the reference photo of this little girl I was intrigued because she looked so ethereal …. and so difficult to draw, but the challenge is one of the reasons I like to draw. This one up’d my game too….while working on it I, for the first time, felt I wanted to try my hand with color pencil (stay tuned). My motto: You’re never too old to learn something new. 😌.


Go ahead, try not to SMILE…

Freckles, lollipops, and tie-dye t-shirts: How could I resist adding this drawing to my portfolio?

Although I now have a couple years of portfolio drawing under my belt, I still do not have a descriptive, or full, personal portfolio because, surprisingly, much of my work has been commissioned requests. So when I see a photo posted online that gives me the itch to grab my pencils, I am quick to contact the owner (person who posted it), and save a copy of it to my “Gotta Draw This” folder.  The photo I saw online was one of those photos. Besides bringing thoughts of summer, fun, youth, joy, laughter, ice cream, lollipops, and all things happy, the photo was in addition very professional-looking, crisp, and close-up showing a lot of details; a dream photo for me to use.

So, go ahead… try not to smile…


A Heart for Orphans

The biggest blessing for me in drawing portraits is that each one feels like I have partnered with the Creator of the universe and he allowed me to enjoy a small taste of his creative power through my little pencils.

Well, this child stole my heart right from my initial sketch onto the paper. His face was sort of what I imagined a child of mine whould have looked like. 😊. Tom is an orphan in Zimbabwe. My longtime friend, Marsha C. is involved in missions ministry at her church and she told me of this little boy. He is about 3 years old now but was younger in the photo I used. I am told that he is a happy little guy. I could tell in the photo I had that he was likely a bundle of joy…and energy!

I’ve had a big heart for orphans. A goal I have for my drawings is to somehow turn them into a way to raise money for orphanages and the children living in them. So far, I haven’t been able to formulate the best way to do that but I trust this will come to fruition some day soon. Maybe by simply putting this desire out there in this blog can help get the wheels turning in some way.

If you think of this drawing of Tom, say a little prayer for him, that in spite of his beginnings that he grows up to be all that God has purposed for his life. 💛


Casting Your Cares

I’ve been wanting to draw a daddy/daughter portrait for some time. I love drawing moms/grandmoms with their babes so I wanted to do one of a new daddy too. Dad’s are an important part of the equation. When I was commissioned to draw this, I couldn’t wait to get started. As I was drawing, I was constantly reminded of how we can rest in our Heavenly Father’s arms.  Psalm 55:22 says “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved (or he will never allow the righteous to be shaken).”

I saw in this drawing a picture of a daddy who was preparing his daughter to know the rest and peace of being dependent on an Almighty God!  image

The Ones Far Away

As you can probably tell by now, some of my favorite subjects to draw are those showing relationship; grandmother/mother child, siblings, working on a daddy-daughter drawing. I love the challenge of reflecting the intimacy of a photo using a simple pencil. So glad the customer liked it as much as I enjoyed drawing it.

This customer’s first grandchild lives hundreds of miles away. The photo was taken when this first-time grandma was leaving to return home after the visiting the babe for the first time. I could instantly see the tenderness and the longing the grandma would feel as she would have to leave the babe until the next visit. She said, “That was my goodbye kiss for her when I left for home right after she was born.”  I can only imagine how she felt. This feeling is what I wanted to capture.

… But that HAIR!

A ‘seasoned’artist once told me that drawing a subject’s hair will often take longer than drawing the the face. In the beginning I really shyed away from drawing subjects who had a lot of hair. Scroll through the photos of my drawings and you will see, Obama, Meryl, Bill O’Reilly, all  had no to short hair. 😉  i eventually faced my fears and gradually hair was not so intimidating.

This drawing was a new challenge… long wavy hair.  It was fun to draw  and it helped to bring this adorable face to life on paper. image

Mother’s Day: Legacies and Milestones

I was out purchasing art supplies a few weeks ago and when I cashed out the young girl handed me a flyer and said, “We are having a Mother’s Day Art Show. Here’s how you can enter.”  I took the flyer but didn’t think much of it.  I still consider myself to be a newbie so to enter an art show seemed sorely premature. However, on the drive home, I strongly started to consider entering the show. In my mind, I thought it would be a great way to get over the ‘first art show’ jitters, after all, the show was at a local art store, not at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Right?

OK, that relieved me a bit.  So, then I remembered a picture I saw on Facebook that I’d seen months early and at the time thought I’d like to draw it one day.  I mostly remembered the tenderness I saw between the two subjects (a grandmother and first grandchild) and wanted to try to portray that on paper with graphite.

I contacted the the friend who posted the photo.  I explained how I wanted to draw the photo and enter it into the art show. She gave permission so I started drawing.  Last week I entered the drawing into the art show and on May 9th there will be a reception and prizes.

Honestly, the reception and prizes part is not my primary reason for submitting. I just wanted to have this ‘step’, this milestone, behind me. I can now say I have entered an art show having works submitted from multiple artists around the city. :).  Don’t get me wrong, if I happen to win a prize that would be terrific … and a great motivator to continue improving my skill and blessing as many people as possible.

This is my legacy.  I’ve never had the opportunity to be a mom. As I’ve gotten older I began to wonder what legacy I could leave.  Over the past two years, I’ve discovered that each of my drawings, in the many homes they now in, both in the States and overseas, will be a perfect legacy.  Each of my drawings carries within each stroke a piece of me.

So here is the piece that I submitted. It is called ‘Grand Love‘.

Grand Love
Grand Love

Steve and Annie Chapman

So, what do you get for the person who has everything? Well, if you are a portrait artist – problem solved. . Chances are, every gift I every give from now on might be a drawing. Ha!

A few years ago I met one of the most wonderful, Godly couples I’ve ever known and through them I have met a whole new family of people who are near and dear to my heart. I have the fondest of memories of hanging out with them and their family/friends over the past decade. Steve and Annie Chapman ( have ministered throughout the country for the past 30 years blessing families and sharing the Gospel through their music, books, and lives.

A few weeks ago I attended their 40th wedding anniversary and, of course, they received a drawing. I actually drew a pair of portraits: ‘Then and Now’. The only challenge was the limited time in which I had to draw it. They were quite happy with the results.

S&A for wordpress

Who is Kitchen?

Last year I met a new artist friend, Kim Napier, in Nashville and over lunch we talked about painting, drawing, art supplies, the discovery and journey of it all … all the things that tickle my insides. During our conversation she told me the story of a man named Kitchen who she met while he was relocated to Tennessee during Hurricane Katrina.  The story was compelling and unforgettable. She had completed a beautiful oil painting of him and she graciously asked me to try my hand at drawing his portrait in graphite from a photo she had taken of him while he was relocated to Tennessee facility in Franklin. Well, I finally gave it a try… a first for drawing dreads and grey hair… not bad for a first attempt. 😉2015-02-26 19.41.28 I realized during the process,  that I thrive on drawing ‘feelings and emotions’ in addition to eyes, noses, ears, teeth, etc.  I am in constant search of how the feeling of the portrait is reflected on paper. This is exactly what happened with Kitchen’s portrait.  As I completed the drawing, I felt like Kitchen and I were old friends.  I want to know more about him, where he is, and what he’s doing … make sure he is doing OK. You know?

Rather than me telling you Kitchen’s story, I asked my friend Kim to allow me to post an excerpt from her personal notes about her time with Kitchen. Keep reading, I promise you will be blessed!

An excerpt from Kim Napier:

This is ‘Kitchen’ who arrived in Franklin, TN with many others who were displaced by Katrina in 2005.

His given name is Hillary Preston; a Vietnam veteran who never quite recovered from the annihilation of war. Besides his Bohemian appearance, he quit speaking, which provoked even more fear as he roamed the streets of home State of Louisiana. Towns-people were wary of him and children ran away when they saw him coming. His countenance was powerful.

On arrival at the TN facility [after the storm], one of those children who once feared him in Louisiana, now a thirty-something year old young man, spotted him. He called Kitchen’s family who were also dispersed throughout the South East. “You’ll never guess who is here!”

Kitchen had once saved this young man’s life by yanking him out of a truck’s path many years ago. The young man was now determined to be Kitchen’s unrelenting servant. When his ‘savior’ finished a cup, he poured another, he bought and lit cigarettes and showered such servitude that Kitchen’s silence was finally shattered one day with a simple,

“Why you so good to me?”

The young man reeled with amazement that Kitchen could speak. When he recovered, he retold the truck story, which Kitchen neither remembered nor believed.

~Kim Napier (
[Edited with permission from author]