Tag Archives: artists incognito

Artists’ Incognito :: Shannon

I began this series with a goal in mind: to expose the creativity in people’s lives.  I saw women all around me with such talent and a passion for artistic things…and that inspired me.  I get that.  That’s who I am at my core, and there’s truly something special about finding people who march to the same beat of your drum.

The funny thing is, is that for so long I’ve thought, maybe I’m the only one?  Maybe it’s just me who views the world this way or who needs to express myself in this fashion?  But the older I get, the more I realize.  We all have creativity within us.  Some of us bottle it up.  Some of us let it overflow freely.  But it’s there.  And it takes its’ form in so many different ways.

I wanted to explore that.  I wanted to find out what creativity means for my real life friends and how they express that as stay-at-home moms, as career women, as jugglers of both.  I discovered a lot.  I’ve learned a lot.  And I’ve been so inspired.  I hope you have been too.

It is my hope and prayer that people’s perspectives are broadened through this series.  That you will take the time to notice what gets people’s eyes to light up when they talk about it.   And you will ask them about it.  There is a creative in all of us…we just have to find it.

Today is the last day of this artists’ incognito series.  And we couldn’t end on a better note.  Shannon is my mentor and a very dear friend who loves art and her family and our church.  She is one of the most merciful and loving people I know.  She makes me want to love more…


1.) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Shannon, and if you have artistic genes in your family tree?

I am a “mum” (as you would say on your awesome blog) to 3 “schooners” (again…).  Brodie is 9, and my two daughters, Sutton and Scout, are 7 and 4.  My husband Beau is a pastor, and we just launched a new church plant here in Tulsa.  This is keeping us REALLY busy.  He’s been a pastor for 12 years, and this is the first time he’s been the head guy, so I spend a lot of time trying to manage the kids, dinnertimes, homework, practice schedules, etc., and yet I still try to maintain some of my hobbies that help to keep me sane.  Hobbies like prayer time, Bible reading, painting and running are what keep me a halfway decent wife and mother.

My dad’s mother was an artist, but I wasn’t very old when she died, and we weren’t very close, so I’m not sure how into art she was. Other than that, as far as I know, I’m the only other artist on either side.  Maybe there is another artist just waiting to come out of their shell… we’ll have to wait and see!

2.) When did you first discover your love of art?

Brodie was 2 and Sutton was 1 at the time and we were living in Memphis, Tennessee.  One day while picking up my kids from the nursery at church, I met Emily Ozier.  I didn’t know it at the time, but we would soon become fast friends.  Her and her husband began helping with our college ministry and I got to know Emily really well.  I soon discovered she was a wonderful artist.  I was absolutely enthralled with her art and the creative process and she encouraged me to give it a try.

I decided to take her up on her suggestion, and picked out a painting I liked and wanted to copy from a Southern Living magazine.  By the time I was done with it, it looked nothing like the original, but Beau {my husband} loved it.   And I had loved the experience.  I’ve hung onto that painting and keep it hung in my art room.  It’s terrible, but I absolutely love it and it reminds me of when I first began this journey.


{Shannon’s first painting hangs in her art room.}

3.) Who gave you the confidence to keep discovering and growing with your art?

Beau.  Tommy Nelson, our old pastor, once told the young husbands of the church, “Always support your wife’s hobbies.  Make sure you give her the money and the time that she needs to pursue the things God has gifted her to do..” Beau has really taken that to heart and done that for me.  One Christmas, he surprised me by turning a spare storage room we had upstairs into an art room for me.  He hung wall sconces with candles and bought me an easel and paints and brushes.  He had it all set up for me and it was just the best moment to walk into that room he had so carefully put together for me.   He also proudly hangs one of the first paintings I ever did in his office…Yes.  He’s definitely been my biggest confidence booster.


4.) What are some of your favorite methods and tools you use?

Well, I started out buying 42-cent paints from Wal Mart and I still use them and love them.  They are cheaper because they’re watered down and not thick like pricier Windsor Newton paints I also like.   The thicker the paints are, the further they’ll go and when they dry, they harden with beautiful texture.


Here are my paints and my go-to supplies…


Windsor Newton


System 3


Gloss Varnish – for finishing and protecting.

Water Bottle – for aging and smudging.

Rags – for smudging and distressing.



 5.) Who or what inspires you?

I love coming into my art room with a blank slate and having no other objective than to create.  Not painting a certain look for a specific bedroom or fulfilling orders.  Just being inspired by simple things…like the color combinations on my paint palette.  That’s my favorite!  I also love pinning art on pinterest and copying some of my favorites.  I even came across one quote from Pablo Picasso on pinterest and it expressed exactly how I feel about art…


Isn’t that great?

6.) How do you find the time to fit art into your life with 3 kiddos and a church plant under your belt?

I’ve learned to just not be in a hurry.  It will take months for me to finish a piece, typically, and I only have bits and pieces of time that I can sit down and put into it.  But I enjoy it, so I find time to make it happen.

7.) Who is your favorite artist?

Emily Ozier.  My friend who first encouraged me to try my hand at art.  She is absolutely amazing!  You can view her art here:  http://www.emyoart.com/#

8.) How do you think God uses art to touch people’s lives?  Do you have any firsthand experiences?

God is the ultimate artist.  That’s what Genesis 1 and 2 is all about, right?  God created… and saw that is was good.  This happened over and over again.  I believe that God wants all of us to have child-like wonder and awe at the things he has made, and He has put creativity into all of us… this is why I love your blog so much- you’re searching for the creativity in the everyday!  I believe that art- whether it be music, paintings, sculptures, poetry, music, writing, or whatever… all of it makes us see the world a little differently.  It causes the world to have color and grandeur and tapestries and layers that we would otherwise never see…. So when we experience art, I believe we are drawn in to who God is and what He is all about, and we can appreciate Him more.


9.) Where would you like to see art taking you in the future?

Like I said earlier, I like to paint because it is fun, and because it is good for my soul.  I’ve sold paintings, and I’ve done comission-type work for people, and what I’ve found is that when I am trying to finish a painting because I have a deadline, it doesn’t satisfy the craving in my soul to simply create out of sheer joy. Therefore, I probably will never be a famous artist, and I’ll probably never make much money doing it, because I don’t want my work to be forced, and I don’t want it to stop feeding the craving of my heart to create out of love.  And you know what?  That’s OK with me.  God gives us enough.  And when I am in His will, and doing what He wants me to do, it is there that my satisfaction and joy culminate in contentment.  And I believe that if I pursue my joy in Him above all things, He is most glorified, and my purpose in life becomes more real.  And it is then that my paintings take on the depth and the richness that I’m looking for, whether other people see it or not.

10.) If people could take away one thing from viewing your pieces, what would you want it to be?

That the abstractness of the pieces lends itself to wonder… I don’t like naming my pieces or even describing what it is I see, because to me, my art is like looking at the clouds in the sky- I think that each person is going to see something different.   And what is that I want people to see?  One thing, and one thing only.  That God is a wonderful, creative, awesome God who loves His people, and He wants His people to be filled with joy and wonder at the good things He has given to us.  In a word, I just want people to be blessed by my work.  If they are filled with a sense of awe at the great Creator, then He has used me for His glory.  That’s all I want.







artists incognito :: elizabeth


















This is Elizabeth.  She is my dear friend, a kindred spirit {to use an Anne Shirley term :)}.  We met through a bible study at church and as soon as I heard her say the word “actress”, I was enthralled.  “I’ve got to meet this girl!”  So we met over coffee.  We got to know each other and she was kind enough to answer all my questions about the acting world.  I don’t really know how to explain it, other than it was like a breath of fresh air for me.   Talking to her.  Some people just get it.  Get you.  And it’s nice when God puts people like that in your life.  I asked Elizabeth if I could interview her later for our series and she said yes.  And here she is!  So proud to introduce her…

Thanks for joining our series, Elizabeth!  Can you tell us all about yourself? 

 I was born in Madisonville, Texas, but I grew up in Austin, Texas {which is a really artsy town}.  It’s the live music capital of the world and downtown has a big art scene with the acting program at UT.  I lived in the same house from the time I was 4 until college.  I went to school with the same kids all through elementary school and high school.  I had a very great support system and I don’t think I realized that until I went to college and missed it.  

I’m married to Chris.  We moved to Tulsa from New York over a year ago and I work at Starbucks in the wee morning hours and act in local theater in the evenings.  Right now, we’re performing The Christmas Carol.

When you went to college, did you know that you loved acting and wanted to pursue it?

Yes. Acting has been funny for me.  I’ve always felt like I’m on the outside looking in.  Even now that I’m a lead in a musical, I still feel that way.  It’s been a spiritual process for me to find my worth in Christ and not “making it” as an actress.   I think a lot of actors go into it looking for attention that they didn’t feel like they got.  For me, it’s been trying to express things I want to express.

 I went to Texas A & M as an International Studies major and minored in German.  I wanted to switch from International Studies and kept looking at Theater as an alternative, but kept telling myself it was impractical {which has been the biggest barrier in my adult life} and ended up graduating with a Communications degree.

What things would you have learned differently with a Theater degree in comparison to your Communications degree?

Communications is sort of like a practical psychology degree and taught me a lot of the theory of relationships.  It taught me to read people in real life, which has actually helped me with acting and playing people. If I had pursued a Theater degree, I would have learned more of the “craft of” acting.  Like how to use your voice on stage, movement, yoga, stage combat, acting techniques, theater history, theater criticism, playwriting, directing.  I did take one theater class in college and even played the lead in a german play and I really liked it! 

Can you describe the defining moment for you when you decided you wanted to act?

 I had just graduated and I remember distinctly walking down the sidewalk and being hit with a ton of bricks, “What am I going to do?”  My life had been planned up until that point, and suddenly I didn’t have homework or commitments and my life was my own.  It was then I decided, “I want to act.” I asked Chris if I could spend $500 on an acting class and that was the beginning of this journey.


Elizabeth performs in 2 very different roles: “A Christmas Carol” here in Tulsa.  And a web cast series in New York as a character who co-owned a dating service.

What do you think it takes to be a really good actress?

 Humility.  Honesty.  Vulnerability. Commitment.  Preparation.  Interpersonal intelligence.  Empathy.

 Why do you act?

 That’s where I see God working.  It’s something I have to get out of me.  I think that some of my most profound moments with the Lord have been when I was touched by performances.  That’s the language of my soul and how I understand God and people.  I think acting, theater, film, performing arts, and songs, communicate truth and get past all the layers people put on themselves and get straight to the heart.  And I believe God can use that.  As a Christian, I know the truth and therefore I want to communicate that.  Jesus said, I am the truth.  And that hits me really hard. 

Why do you think we don’t have a lot of actors who are Christians?

 They’re scared.  

 And it’s a legitimate fear.  I don’t think everyone should be an actor and I don’t think everyone makes the right choices in the acting world.  Acting is all about longing and it would be really easy to fill that up with anything and everything but God.  I’ve seen how tempting sex, drugs, adultery, selfishness, and getting attention can be in this culture that I’m in.  However, I feel a strong sense of calling to be a bridge between the church and the acting world. 

Neither understand each other.  Neither really want any part to do with the other.

Trying to be a Christian who loves acting and actors is lonely and beautiful and scary.  The last 8 years have definitely been a process and a muddling through, but I have seen the Lord at work.  And that’s worth it.

Who do you feel like has been your biggest support in the acting culture?

Chris and my parents.  My dad has been such a counselor for me.  We’ve had really hard conversations, but he’s been there to listen and tell me he loves me.  When Chris and I moved to New York for me to pursue acting, I asked my dad about it and he told me, Elizabeth, it’s not the path I would have chosen for you, but we are here for you.  Knowing that was huge.  Also, my friend Virginia,who is in the acting world, has been a huge support.  She knows me really well and it’s nice to have someone who get’s this acting thing.

What is your goal with acting in the future and what would be your dream come true?

If I could God ask anything, I would want to just act for the rest of my life.  Not have to worry about money and play roles that were meaningful and truthful and would advance His kingdom.  Of course I would love to play big roles and star on Broadway, but when I really get down to it, I mostly want to be a part of His story.  I want the theater I do to stir up people’s longing for Him.  We’re all made for Him and to see His love stirred in somebody is pretty cool.


artists incognito :: laura



I’m super excited to have you “meet” my friend, Laura, today!  We met through our church almost 2 years ago and bonded immediately on our first family picnic together last spring after the church service. We swapped our birth stories and discovered my Keller and her Luke were only 5 days apart.  They’ve been nursery buddies ever since!

Laura loves the Lord and her family; fixes really good salads; teaches her kiddos sign language; and loves instilling music in their home.  Yep.  She’s pretty amazing.  Even though Laura is busy with her 4 kiddos, she agreed to share and be apart of this series and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

From one artists to another, here’s Laura…

Thanks for joining our series, Laura! Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from, your family, where you went to school?

I grew up as a PK (pastor’s kid), so we moved around a few times. Growing up we lived in South Dakota, New York, Michigan, and I went to middle school and high school in South Florida. My parents are now in Washington state, but I wouldn’t really say I’m from there. I have two older sisters who live in Tennessee and New Jersey, so we are all over the country! I went to college at Georgetown in DC, where I met my hubs Joe. He is from here, so after he got out of active duty Navy, we moved here to be near his wonderful family.

Is your family musical?

 Yes, mine is very musical! My mom played the organ and piano all of her life since she was a child, and always played the organ at our church. She has composed several songs and is probably the most musically talented person I know! My dad has a great singing voice and also played the tuba as a kid. He and my mom would sing duets in church sometimes, and my mom taught piano to my sisters and me. The three of us also had a little singing gig. We even all harmonized! I think we were about 4, 6, and 8. We would sing at weddings and special occasions around our small town in Michigan when we were little, until my oldest sister thought it was cheesy :).


Laura’s mom on the right, playing with the grandkids.

Describe the first moment you can remember listening to music and falling in love with it.

 I can’t even remember the first moment, since it was always a big part of our life. My mom would play the piano all the time when we were little, and we would dance and run around in our diapers while she played :). Music was always a part of our home!

What’s the first instrument you learned to play?

I think my mom started teaching me piano when I was about 6, and I liked it, but I never got very good at it. I’ve continued to play the piano, but not in public! I think it is just a really good base instrument to start on because it gave me a good foundation and an understanding of music theory and the basics. When I was 9, I started taking violin, and after that, it was all violin from there!


 Were you a perfectionist when it came to practicing and lessons, or did you have a more laid back approach?

 No, I know I struggled with not wanting to practice, or at times showing up to my violin lessons and not having practiced! But my parents gently encouraged me to keep it up, and I think seeing my mom enjoy the piano so much made me want to keep at it. Initially I was in a school orchestra, and then we moved to Florida so I started private violin lessons. One of my biggest motivations was my recitals. Preparing for those really helped me stay focused on practicing. I also played a lot of violin/piano duets with my mom at church, so I loved preparing for that. In high school, I joined a local college orchestra, which was a lot of fun also. Then, as I got better, I played for some friends’ weddings. I think the key was just keeping it fun, so it didn’t seem so much like a chore.

 What would you say is your favorite style of music?

I have to say I do love classical music, although that isn’t what you would most likely find me listening to on a regular basis now that I have 4 little ones! But if I ever have a chance to go hear live classical music (or anything live, really), I don’t pass it up! I really enjoy a variety of different styles, from country (yes I gotta’ love Taylor Swift) to pop (my four-year-old’s most requested song is Call Me Maybe), to folk, and I get bored easily listening to the same kind over and over. So Pandora is a big hit around here! Some of my favorite Christian artists are Keith and Kristyn Getty, like this album.  I think modern hymns are amazing, and I love that they can bring true worship to a whole new level. And recently my kids and I have been listening to the Seeds Family Worship series.  I love that it takes actual Bible verses and puts them to music that isn’t annoying! My kids (and I) have learned so much scripture this way!

Did you know before you had kids that you wanted them to be involved in something musical?

 Of course you always hope your kids will enjoy the same things you do, and I see now that they definitely do have music in their blood! I have a hard time sometimes finding the line between encouraging them to be musical, and forcing it on them. I definitely want to keep it fun, but I also want them to see the value of music on more than just an entertaining level. I think music can be such a blessing to others, and I hope that they can see that and use their gifts to bless others too.

How have you taught them what music is, how to interpret it, and where to go with it?

I guess I’ve modeled a lot of what I do with them after what my mom did with us, which was just having fun with it! Their favorite thing is still just to run around the house while I play “The Running Song” and the “Tiptoe song.” I do Classical Conversations (a homeschool program) with my 4 and 6 year olds, and a lot of what we do with that is memorizing facts through fun songs. To keep it fun, we did a “program” for their grandparents where we had a little “stage” and they performed all their songs. They had so much fun with it and they were so proud! They even harmonized on a few of the songs, which was truly music to my ears!


Claire runs in the house while mommy plays one of their favorites: The Running Song.

My 8-year-old has a couple of friends from school who play violin, and once a month they go to a nursing home and perform for the residents. We were invited to go along last month and my two daughters joined in by singing. It was just a joy to see those precious children making sweet music! And I think we were all blessed by the residents as well.


 I am not the type of mom that enforces practicing 60 minutes a day, although sometimes I wonder if I should be a little more strict in that area. Especially for the little ones, it is all about fun, but I started teaching piano lessons to my 8 -year-old last year, and so I have had to be a little stricter sometimes with her. She doesn’t want to play the violin, which makes me a little sad, but I don’t want to make her do anything if she doesn’t want to. I would rather focus on what they are really interested in and go with that.. My 6-year-old son wants to play the trumpet someday, so I hope we can pursue that! And my 4-year-old Mommy’s Girl says she wants to play the violin, so I still have hope! And who knows what my 2-year-old will be up for. He may just want to play the “armpit” like his Daddy :).

Since kids have their own personalities and their own learning styles, have you had to be flexible in your teaching approach with each one of them?

I am sure that if I end up teaching all of them beginning piano, I will, but so far each one of them has really picked up their own specific interests in music, and they aren’t even really that old yet! For example, my 6-year-old son already loves to harmonize when we sing, and my 8-year-old loves to make up her own variations of songs on the piano. I do notice that when teaching her piano, she is like me (and most others probably) in that she does so much better if she is working towards a recital. Last summer we had her first ever recital. She made up and decorated her own little program to give to her “guests,” and played about 8 songs. We finished with a piano duet and then a piano and violin duet. Fun memories!

What would you say is your driving motivation for teaching the love of music to your children?

I think as I said before, I see how much it has been a blessing to me, and also I hope my music is a blessing to others. I like to think it is my own little ministry for God. And I am far from professional, but just using the simple gifts I have for his glory keeps me wanting them to have that ministry too. I remember after we moved here a couple of years ago, I hadn’t started playing violin in our new church yet, and my then 5 ½ year-old asked me, “Mommy, how come you never play your violin in church here?” I loved that she even thought to ask, and it convicted me to start playing again.


Have you had opportunities to use music outside of your home?

Like I mentioned, I sang a lot as a child with my sisters, and then I was in our high school’s choir ensemble “Jubilate” in which we traveled around and performed for various events. I loved that!

 I played violin in a community/college orchestra when I was in high school. Then, I started playing in the Georgetown orchestra in college, but I really found my favorite thing was playing in my InterVarsity Christian Fellowship praise band. I love to just improvise while I play! I’ve loved playing at all the churches we have attended since then, which has been fun considering all 3 worship bands have had different styles. And, since I don’t have a lot of time to practice now with 4 little ones, I love that I can just play as I go.

I also have often sung in church choirs and praise bands, and I am so excited that our church here is just beginning a choir too!


What would be your dream musical piece to master?

 I don’t know that I can think of a specific piece, but I would love to take some fiddle lessons someday and “master” that style! We lived in Pensacola, Florida before here, and our church worship leader down there, who was also the leader of another band that performed locally, was constantly challenging me to “fiddle” (the fiddle and violin are essentially the same instrument, just played in a different way). I don’t think I ever really got good at it, but I was definitely stretched musically and it was so fun :). I would also love to be in a string quartet someday, maybe even with my very own little virtuosos!

Wasn’t that wonderful?!  Laura is such an inspiration to me and a good reminder that I need to be intentional about training and teaching my children.  I get good ideas every time we get together!

Thank you, Laura, for sharing and giving back to us in this way!  It was truly a joy.