"Hark! He is Earnestly Calling" | BFA Work No. 1


In June of last year I hung my senior exhibit, also known as a BFA show, at the Harris Fine Arts Center at Brigham Young University. It was a wonderful experience and I still feel so grateful for all the support and help I recieved in preparation for that show. The theme was "Variations on the Hymns." 

I've always loved singing from the Hymn book. I have some of my most tender memories associated with singing the hymns in different settings. When I think back on my experiences with the hymns, I know there is a power in that music that can bring the spirit into our lives and bring us closer to our Savior. 

When I first purposed the theme of my show to the faculty I thought I would illustrate the literal meanings and stories the hymns told, but the more I planned out compositions and thought of ideas for the paintings, the more I wanted to leave room for viewers' interpretations. 

The more I thought about it and studied the words and history of each hymn, the more I realized that sometimes it is just one phrase from a hymn that stands out to me; one phrase that really hits me. 

Because of that, all the paintings were titled after a phrase in the hymn, and not after the hymn title; for instance, this painting is titled Hark! He is Earnestly Calling which is a phrase from the hymn Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd. 

I loved that phrase because to me it meant Listen! He is always, always calling and reaching out for you.

I will post more of my work from the show throughout the next couple of months, along with a bit of history. I hope you enjoy. 

Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd

Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are the sheep of his fold;
Dear is the love that he gives them,
Dearer than silver or gold.
Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are his "other" lost sheep;
Over the mountains he follows,
Over the waters so deep.

Out in the desert they wander,
Hungry and helpless and cold;
Off to the rescue he hastens,
Bringing them back to the fold.

2. Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are the lambs of his fold;
Some from the pastures are straying,
Hungry and helpless and cold.
See, the Good Shepherd is seeking,
Seeking the lambs that are lost,
Bringing them in with rejoicing,
Saved at such infinite cost.

3. Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are the "ninety and nine";
Dear are the sheep that have wandered
Out in the desert to pine.
Hark! he is earnestly calling,
Tenderly pleading today:
"Will you not seek for my lost ones,
Off from my shelter astray?"

4. Green are the pastures inviting;
Sweet are the waters and still.
Lord, we will answer thee gladly,
"Yes, blessed Master, we will!
Make us thy true under-shepherds;
Give us a love that is deep.
Send us out into the desert,
Seeking thy wandering sheep."

Text: Mary B. Wingate, 1899-1933. 

Music: William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921.

Anemone No. 1 - A Floral Portrait


It is 1:41am. I should be in bed sound asleep getting my beauty rest; I am turning 23 years old today though! I really wanted to paint one more painting before I turn 23, and tonight I was just really feeling a good rhythm for it. Why I am blogging about it, I have no idea. (Maybe it's because I decided to have a Coca-Cola at 10pm... hmm. I never ever do that usually.)

Alex took me out for steak dinner tonight–my favorite–at a very fun, fancy, takes-you-back-in-time  sort of steak house. We got dressed up, drove the few miles to downtown which was a treat for me because we usually take public transport when we go downtown to save on parking(bleh!), and I was sure that Mr. Gatsby was going to come join our celebration dinner at any moment. The food was amazing; the company even better; the evening was wonderful; and I'm still feeling fancy from it all.

When we got home (10:30pm) I told Alex I wanted to paint for "just another hour" (ha!) and I had these anemones set up from earlier in afternoon. They were just begging to be painted, because, you see, they are fancy flowers, and it's been a fancy evening. And so, in silence (city silence,) terrible lighting, and a fancy feeling, I present to you, Anemones No. 1. I think no. 2 will be painted tomorrow... There's something sort of poetic about painting anemones at midnight the eve of a birthday though, don't you think?

Good night!

"Winter Is Departing" - A Landscape


I've been starting this post over and over again this morning. I begin writing, and after a sentence or ten, a paragraph or four, I hold backspace on my keyboard. It's been one of those strange mornings were my to-do list is unreasonable, and yet, for the first time in too long, the sun is shining bright into my usually dark, garden-level home (glorified almost-basement;) so I feel like everything is right in the world, and I feel pretty good about not being able to tackle all my responsibilities for today. It's certainly a day to be grateful for.

I painted this piece over the weekend and finished it this morning; I call it "Winter Is Departing"* because it doesn't quite feel like spring, and it doesn't quite look like spring, but it's getting there and that change is beautiful, both in the painting and my reality. After finishing it, it reminded me of a poem by Robert Frost. I studied poetry for a couple years before high school (and maybe in high school too? The timeline is kind of fuzzy in my mind.) Once in a while, one of those poems will come back to me and I relish on it. This is one of those poems and one of those times. If you aren't sure of the metaphor to this poem, do a little studying--it's beautiful!

Robert Frost (1874–1963). North of Boston. 1915.

The Pasture

I’m going out to clean the pasture spring; 
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away 
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may): 
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too. 

I’m going out to fetch the little calf 
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young, 
It totters when she licks it with her tongue. 
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

*"Winter Is Departing" Oil on Canvas Panel - 9x12in. (Available - Please email sarahnightingaleart@gmail.com for details.)

A Moose! A Moose! And Choosing The Right Medium For Your Work


I have to admit that every time I see a moose of any sorts I sing that silly camp song "A moose, a moose, swimming in the water!" in my head. And sometimes not in my head. It's a nostalgic melody that plays the rest of the day, and despite me trying to convey the nostalgia to my husband as I hum that crazy song, I am alone in the sentiment. He has no idea what song I am talking about, and I've forgotten all the words expect for that one line.

Moose songs aside, I found a book recently that I want to share. It's called How To Draw Anything - A Complete Guide by Angela Gair. I only found it right as we were checking out at a used book store, but with a $10 price tag I just plopped it on the checkout counter without cracking it open and it came home with me. I am so happy it did. It turns out that the book is an old favorite of mine that I didn't recognize because of an older cover!

As I was reading through it again, I was impressed by the section on drawing materials. It said, "keep an open mind about what to use for different types of drawings, and experiment with a variety of materials to see what they feel like to use and what effects they can produce." No brainer, right? Well, I love how simple things like that can teach any level of artist, because it made me think how that applies to all aspects of drawing and painting! 

Try to imagine your favorite pieces of art in a different medium. What changes about them? Is it better, is it worse? Does the medium in which the art was made affect why you love that piece so much? My first thought was, "wow, Rembrandt's most powerful work in oil surely would not be so powerful in watercolor." (Although, on second thought with Rembrandt, maybe it would!) 

When considering a composition to paint, always consider not just how to paint it, but also, with what to "paint" it in. Maybe that composition would be better drawn, or more powerful in oils, but maybe, it needs to feel fresh and airy, and so watercolor it is! I'm trying to implement this into my own work, and not just work in oil paint as much as I love it. The moose shown above I painted in watercolor to give a more free, earthy, open feeling, versus a cabin-like, rich, strong feeling. With so many different varieties of mediums, why not experiment and change it up every now and then! What are your thoughts? Do you think an artist should stick to one medium for every piece?

Shown above: (Top Left) Mary Cassatt, pastel, Sleepy Baby. (Top Right) John Singer Sargent, watercolor and wax, Simplon Pass - The Tease, (Bottom Left) Nicolai Fechin, charcoal, Lady, Side. (Bottom Right) Vincent Van Gogh, oil on canvas, Irises.

Art Books - Old Masters List


I feel like I am in a stage with my art right now where my works are definitely my own, but I'm feeling ready to embark on a grand journey of change and I can't decide which of the roads to take. These changes happen to an artist work during their life I've found. Unconsciously or not. Sometimes I like to be aware of the change, sometimes not; sometimes it's for the better, sometimes it's not necessarily for the better, but it all works out eventually.

I've been pouring over lots of other artists' work lately, both from the old masters and my contemporaries, because if I am ever in a slump, not knowing what to paint, or not fully appreciating what art can be, or, like I mentioned earlier, looking for a bit of a change, I always open my art books. I love the ones that are primarily "picture books" with a little bit of history or interpretation; you know, the books with the BIG pictures in full color from the masters that tempt you to take the picture from the book and hang it on your wall (which I have yet to do! But I'm tempted daily.)

Recently, Mr. Nightingale and I have been into this thing where the best idea of a date is a cheap drive through (dollar menus are extraordinary!) and a used book store, because Chicago has a pretty great number of them. I'd been hunting for two books in particular, a Mary Cassatt book and a John Singer Sargent book. In the end, Chicago's used book stores delivered(!) and now I'm ready to order more copies because these books are worth more than gold to me!

I want to share not only those two books I was hunting for, but a few of my other favorites, too! I don't own them all personally . . . yet, but my birthday is coming up! but I have explored their beautiful pages a few times in other artist's studios. They are definitely on my to-buy list, and should be on yours too! These books are eye candy to artist and non-artist alike! They will not disappoint!

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