Beauty for Ashes

Today I want to share a very meaningful project with you. This morning my hubby is speaking at church on the same subject as this painting! I’ll link up the message as soon as I can. (HERE it is.)

I call this painting ‘Beauty for Ashes’. It was inspired by Isaiah 61:3 – “…[He will] bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

I wanted to show in a painting how God wants to take our ‘ashes’ (the terrible, sad, challenging things in our lives) and turn them into something beautiful. I’m sure that everyone has a few examples from their own lives about a crappy circumstance winding up beautiful- even if the circumstance wasn’t necessarily taken away. I know we have gone through a lot of challenges with several miscarriages and my son’s special needs, and I have seen ashes traded for beauty so many times.

I actually used ashes to paint the tree- it created such a neat effect- I will definitely be using ashes to add texture to my art again! I used an oak leaf punch to create the leaves using an assortment of papers that usually have negative connotations- unpaid bills, pages out of the Alcoholics Anonymous handbook, prescriptions, medication info, and even divorce papers (Charlie Sheen’s thanks to google images!) I was really trying to hit home the idea of the nasty stuff in our lives being used to create something beautiful.

The symbolism of this tree popped into my head a few weeks ago and I knew there would be a perfect time to share it. I hope you are encouraged and inspired too 🙂

WELL enough about that seriousness! Let me show you how I painted this! I used a lot of different techniques to add texture to the background, so I hope this tutorial can give you some ideas!

So this was a massive canvas- around 40 inches x 34 inches. See- it took up most of my table! I wanted the background to be stormy, but beautiful, and full of texture.

The first texture I added was some hot glue- I put it on in diagonal stripes in the same direction I was planning on painting the background.

Next I mixed my chosen background colors (acrylic paint) with some thick gel medium.

I also kept some of the same colors plain, because I wanted the different textures.

I started painting with my thicker paint, and then I finished with my thinner paint. Check out this transformation:

(After I painted the stripes, I went over the sloppy areas with a thiner version of the same color of paint- I didn’t want any white showing through.)

Voila! Pretty cool background, huh? It took a lot longer than my usual backgrounds, but it was worth it!

Next I took some of the darkest color I used for the background and roughly painted along the sides of the canvas to give it a more finished look.

For the tree of ash I started by quickly painting a white silhouette.

Then I got a can of ashes from my friend Hilary (of Wild Food Family) and mixed it with some Mod Podge:

Once it was a paintable consistency, I started to layer it on to my white tree, following the silhouette.

It wound up being a pretty cool color too!

Next came the leaves…

Like I said, I used dramatic paperwork for the effect I was going for, but I have used this awesome punch that also embellishes veins onto the paper for a lot of projects! Here is a crummy photo of one that is hanging in my bedroom- it is so easy to find designer scrapbooking paper to coordinate with any color scheme you’ve got going on in a particular room! I used plain old white glue to glue these leaves on- I bent the edges up first and only glued the middle of the leaf to keep a nifty 3-D effect.

For the verse I used some scrapbooking stickers. I kind of eyeballed the placement so they aren’t perfect…but I do not have the patience to try too hard with that kind of thing LOL 😉

Fini! I can’t wait to share the message that goes along with this painting! It was pretty cool to be able to collaborate with the hubby like this! And it was also just fun to paint and test out new techniques!

Well have a happy Sunday – and I hope you can think of some ashes in your life that were turned into beauty 🙂 I’d love to hear about them if you feel like sharing!



About Busted Button

Where Creativity and A.D.D. meet…on a blind date…under a bridge…and make a baby.
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5 Responses to Beauty for Ashes

  1. Heather Friesen says:

    Wow Dot. This is very powerful. I love how you used different papers for the leaves that are normally associated as bad things. It’s beautiful. God is using you to speak to others through your art…so cool!

  2. dalrie says:

    Really loved this painting and the message behind it. It’s so true. I have learned so much from each of my struggles and from my ashes a better person was born! I would not be who I am today without the bad, without the knowledge and faith that something better would come tomorrow!

    Awesome and insipiring!

  3. dalrie says:

    bahaha. I knew what you meant! NO worries!

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