March 17, 2017

New Charcoal Figure Series ⎯ "Imprisoned"

I've been working on a new figure series called "Imprisoned".  These pieces are a lot more raw and honest than what I've done in the past.  I'm trying through gesture to illuminate shame and arrogance and hopelessness and all those walls the Enemy helps us build that separate us from God. Each piece is a mirror of when I was my own barrier to joy because of believing lies about my worth and my brokenness. Times when I forgot (and sometimes still forget) that these chains that bind me were broken long ago.  The idea behind these pieces is that many of the prisons that hold us are false ones ⎯ the chains are more like ribbons and have no power. We have only to stand up and claim what has been offered. Mercy. Freedom. Grace. 

I've named this piece "Matthew 11:28" (Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.)  It's a cry for renewal when we have lost our strength. 

© Shannon M. Wilson /

My inspiration for this piece is an original sculpture by Suzie Zamit, an internationally-recognized sculptor based in London, who generously gave me permission to use her work as a reference for this series. I started with charcoal on paper and then added the "ribbons", text, and other finishes with digital brushes before having it printed on archival, fine art paper. I'm excited to announce that original prints of the series will soon be available online! 

January 1, 2017

Trust. Surrender. Act.

"Purpose", watercolor and ink on paper.
Shannon M. Wilson / 2016

I've been thinking about 2017 and the new chance it offers for risk or safety, growth or comfort, stretching or shrinking.  This quote by John Shedd sums it up.  If I believe I was designed for greatness, I have to trust it.  If I believe I've been called to something higher, I have to surrender to the unknown.  If I want 2017 to look different, I have to act.  Trust. Surrender. Act. Maybe I should organize my New Year's Resolutions under those new categories this year.

Trust --  that my God-given talents are enough to live a life of significance.
Surrender -- to an outcome that may look different than what I envisioned.
Act -- walk through every door that God opens, boldly.

May God inspire all of us in the coming year to let go of images of ourselves that are way too small.

"As it is written: 'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived' -- the things God has prepared for those who love him."  1 Corinthians 2:9.

November 17, 2016

Remember Where the Power Lies

Lettering by Shannon M. Wilson, 2016

I don't know how other calligraphers choose their warmup words, but for me, when I sit down to practice, many times I just free-associate and see what comes.  The quick brown fox isn't often seen jumping over the lazy dog's back, if you know what I mean.  Oftentimes, I sense God's whispers in these moments and I wonder who is actually choosing the words on the pages before me.

The pre- and post-election mania has been something to behold, hasn't it?  It has affected my appetite, my sleep, my sense of well-being.  It has left me tongue-tied when speaking to my children. And when I take it too far (and arrogantly make predictions), it quickly moves me from a place of peace.  In the midst of all this unrest, and all of this fear and uncertainty, it's easy to get pulled under with it. Until I get out my ink and the words that come are: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."  -- Revelation 22:13.  Try writing that fifty times slowly and your breath will return, and hope will fill you, and you will remember that this is not the end of the story.

[I wrote the above on a Borden & Riley marker layout pad with a Zig Brushables brush pen.]

November 2, 2016

DIY King Headboard from Textured Art Panels

This is one of those "I wonder if this would work" projects that had no inspiration file or how-to video to accompany it. (I have learned since then that those are very helpful.)   I wanted a massive, interesting headboard for my massive, uninteresting bed.  So six years ago (yes, six) I saw these art panels (minus the chalk paint and distressed finish) at Tuesday Morning and said, "Yes!  These could work!"  Unfortunately, I don't have any before pictures of the panels but they had mahogany-stained wood around the perimeter and a patterned relief in the center in dark browns and gold.  With a little chalk paint and distressing they started to resemble tin and that was the look I was after for my mostly-white bedroom.  I lined them up behind my bed and didn't think about them again.  Fast forward six years.  "Hmmm...I wonder if I should actually turn these panels into the headboard for which they were intended?"  

Using a Kreg Jig I built a simple frame that matched the height of my bed frame and was low enough to clear the window above our bed.  With my staple gun I attached the panels to the frame.  Then I trimmed it out with 1x3's stained in Dark Walnut. Distressed the stain job with my sander and got my men to carry it upstairs.


I never actually attached the headboard to the bed frame because the weight of our bed is pinning it pretty securely against the wall.  (I would never be satisfied with that if I had young children sleeping in our bed with us, but that ship sailed a long time ago.)  Keeping it freestanding makes it a lot easier to move when I want to change our room around.  (You all do that too, right?)

My tip to all you home-decor bargain hunters out there -- keep an eye out for unique items on clearance that could serve a much different purpose!  If you get them cheap enough, you won't feel guilty ripping them apart, distressing them, stapling them...and then, voila, you now have a one-of-kind piece for your very interesting home!  This really is fun....

October 27, 2016

DIY Planked Platform Bed (Pottery Barn Knockoff)

As mothers, we serve our children in endless ways, a lot of which goes unnoticed. They only know that by sheer magic they aren't hungry or dirty or cold or lonely for long. Until you build them a bed. That, they notice.  My youngest son had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for more than a year as I worked on every project except his. (Someday he will learn that the squeaky wheel gets the grease around here.)  But now, a year later,  he is off the ground and sleeping in the "coolest bed in the house" according to my two teenagers who chose to purchase theirs instead of letting mom make them. (Cough, cough, told you so, cough.)

The project was a bit cumbersome because of its size, but it was a pretty easy build. The cost was reasonable as well (excluding my chiropractor visit) since I used select pine to go with the rest of his rustic decor.  I'll post the sliding barn doors separately so you can see what I mean.   I figure I saved at least $500 by building my own and it is a far cry sturdier than the poorly made pieces my teenagers chose, which is the very reason I started woodworking in the first place. I wanted "real" furniture but didn't want to pay real furniture prices.

The bed is platform style with just enough room underneath for sliding storage and enough slats for a memory foam mattress.  I found the plans on Ana White's website. The only change I made was slightly taller "feet" so he had some more room underneath.

I found some pulleys and cages and cloth-covered cords for his reading lights and attached the switches to the side of the bed frame so he could roll over and turn off the light with minimal effort.  Because life is hard.

A built-in desk and storage under the attic stairs is next, but that may take another year because I'm heading to the next room... I can't stay in one place too long or the inspiration starts to wane.  And we don't want that.

Sleep well, my baby.

[For those of you who love details, the bedding is Izod from Kohl's and the wall mural is from Pottery Barn Teen.]