“Sister Skies” {#100artworkschallenge}

#100artworkschallenge is underway! I’m really excited about it and thankful I stumbled upon it. It’s so neat to have a group of artists to “work with” from afar.

I’ve shared a little bit before about how I desire to paint more loosely, more freely, more intuitively and emotionally. In the past, I’ve painted based off of something I could see – a photograph, usually. I was re-creating a moment. But something about that was lacking for me. I want to paint to express what is IN me, how I see things, and how I feel things. I want to be inspired by what I see, but I don’t want to be led by it (Does that make sense?). With #100artworkschallenge I will be working out what exactly this means to me.

My subject will be landscapes, skyscapes, and seascapes because and I love how they can shape a mood and evoke emotion or feeling. I love how they can transport me to another place or another time. I love how full of life and universal they are. There are endless possibilities for how to create them with color combinations and styles.

For the first 25 or so of these 100 artworks, I’ll be doing a series called “Sister Skies.”

I don’t have any biological sisters. I do; however, have a lot of sisters in the Lord who I can not imagine life without. In Nashville, I am a part of a body of believers who meet organically in homes and share life together. I am VERY grateful for this group and I truly consider them my family. There are about 25 woman in the group who I call my sisters and these “Sister Skies” will be inspired by them.

For each painting, I will start by thinking about one of these ladies. I will then paint a scene that feels to me like they feel to me. I’ll do my best not to overthink or complicate the process. I’m just going to let these inspiring individuals… inspire me!

Each will be on a 4 x 4 x 1.5 inch gallery wrapped canvas. In the end, I believe that these paintings will be a collection that is better together than as separate pieces, because WE are.

Here is #1 in the series.


She is full of peace and rest,
is bright and inviting,
and has a softness to her that makes you want to
pull up a chair and stay a while.

Today, I painted the first layer of paint on 4 more canvases. I can’t wait to get to them and see how they turn out!  Stay tuned!

photo (2)


Friday Photo Dump

1 and 2) My most recent paint palettes. I’m especially delighted by the second, which is filled with some of my most favorite colors.

3) I love watching my little guy’s mind at work. He took all his books off this shelf and then put this toy on it, all of which is above his head. He’s got so many skills these days.

4) We finally had a day warm and dry enough to sit in the grass. Now, to get it green.

5) Evan’s first taste of lemon. Pucker face!

6) Instead of napping, Evan decided to get up and read the Bible.

7) Straws are great toys!


I set some goals at the beginning of the year and started really letting myself dream about making art. With a little guy at home, I decided a realistic goal would be to paint a minimum of once a week. For the most part, I’ve been doing that and it’s been amazing. I’m not loving everything that I produce, but I’m learning through the process about what it is that I want to create, and what it isn’t.

I feel like I have a significant learning curve, because all of my “training” was in a realism style (almost 20 years ago) and I’m wanting to move towards a more impressionist and/or slightly abstract style. So, I’m using what I know, while also trying to forget what I know. It’s slightly awkward feeling… like when you are first trying to grow your bangs out (Girls, you get me).

In the process, I’m looking for artists who inspire me and staring at their paintings trying to figure out what it is about them that I love and how I can learn from them. I’m hunting down artists on instagram, which is a great place to find amazing art, and admiringly stalking their accounts.

I stumbled across an artist, Kellee Wynne Conrad, who has invited other artists to join her in a #100artworkschallenge.  

The goal is to “find your voice as an artist” and, since that is my initial goal, I decided to join in. I’m really excited to now have a little online community with similar goals, encouraging each other along on social media. The challenge starts March 15th and there is no deadline for finishing, which is helpful for a mama of a little guy. I’ll be sharing my progress here as well as on a new instagram account I created specifically for art, ShandaKayPaints. I’m sure you’ll still see some art pop up on my personal account as well, but I figured this would be a good time to go ahead and separate.

I plan to explore impressionistic/abstract landscapes. I’ll be using 4 x 4 in canvas, at least for the first 25 or so, as I already had a plan for a series to do in this size. I’ll share more about that soon. Though she’s encouraging us to stick with one theme and size for the whole 100, she’s also reminded us that – in art – rules are made to be broken. I may increase my size by a couple inches later on.

Today, I picked up a few canvases and lined up all my paints by color, just for fun.


I’m excited to get started soon! Don’t forget to follow me at ShandaKayPaints to see pics along the way.

Friday Photo Dump

1. Last Friday, Evan saw a car drive by at 5pm. He got excited and said, “Dada!” I told him “Dada will be home soon! He’s coming!” and he went to the window and watched and waited. How is he this grown up?!

2. Here, he’d done several laps around the family room (a large space) and needed a moment to recharge before continuing. He cracks us up.

3. I do church life with some beautiful saints. We meet in homes, sometimes ours. Last Sunday in our family room, us ladies held a special feast to honor our brothers. It was such a life-giving night for all of us.

4. We’ve had a week of snow and ice. Jon has worked from home all week. I’ve taken advantage of having him home and had a little extra painting time.

5. Evan loves “helping Daddy” fix things around the house.

6. Here’s a shot of our house with just some of the snow and ice from the week. We’ve had more come since, in fact, even more is falling right now. I’ve seen more snow in my lifetime, but I’ve never seen ice like this. Jon scraped off pretty thick layers from our car, right before this picture.

7. Evan also does laps around our kitchen. All this exercise is really ramping up his appetite.

8. Because I want to remember the hard, “Why won’t you just sleep!!!???” moments too.

9. Let’s talk about how serious baby-proofing is now that he crawls and stands… SO SERIOUS!!!!

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

It’s Chinese New Year!

Ahhh, the memories. I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since I laid in bed, wondering if I’d ever feel warm again,  listening to what sounded like a war zone of fireworks and firecrackers galore. I traveled to the village of a friend of mine and spent a few days with her family. It was one of the most intense cross cultural weeks I’ve ever experienced, but it is full of memories I will forever treasure.

I couldn’t find any good pictures of that week, probably because I was too cold to think about my camera, so I will share a random non-CNY memory of my life in China with you instead. (I know I sound like a dork in this video, but that just kinda happens when you live and teach in China.)

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!!!! And enjoy my cute friends…

Friday Photo Dump

1. I’m really enjoying sharing food with my little buddy. We each had a snack of grapes and avocado this day.

2. I’ve been dabbling in and researching essential oils and brands and such for a while. I finally made a decision and signed up with Young Living. These little bottles arrived this week and I’ve been really enjoying trying them out.

3. Waking up is so cute! Messy hair and big yawns make it even cuter.

4. … and waking up happy is the cutest!

5. When things need to get done, I strap that baby on my back and magic (and work) happens!

6. There are moments that I think, “I don’t ever want to forget this…” so I soak it in with all my senses, and snap a picture. I took a nap with my baby boy the other day. It was one of the best naps ever. This was my view when I woke up.

7. Evan got his first Valentine from his Grandma.

to be made glad {the joy of the Lord}

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10

The word JOY, here, means “to make glad.”

To be made glad by the Lord is our strength. That is such a simple sentence but, as I take time to dwell on it, I’m enveloped in layer upon layer of truth. The world teaches us to search for gladness in a variety of self-serving and, let’s be honest, often self-harming ways; but the spiritual reality is that searching to be made glad by anything but the Life of Christ leads to weakness.

I’ve been randomly perusing through a book I read a few years ago and stumbled on this statement today, “Your strength is the joy of the Lord – not the truth of the Lord, or the knowledge of the Lord, or even the power of the Lord, but the joy. Your strength is not the rituals, not the religion, not the doctrine, and not the disciplines. The more you enjoy God and enjoy the life he calls you into, the stronger you will be. To enjoy life is a sacred act of worship.” {Erwin McManus, Wide Awake}

There have been seasons of my life that, what I like to call, “martyr syndrome” has found its way into my thinking. I have felt like to truly be living for the Lord, I needed to basically hate my life. That’s a big fat lie, my friends! And it’s a lie I still often fight against.

The Lord is great and beautiful and IN us. He has great dreams for us and has placed those dreams in our hearts to be chased after, to be His expression on the earth today… As an artist, as a mom, as a wife, as a traveler, as a wanna be foodie, as a coffee lover, as a dreamer… as a construction worker, as a software engineer, as a student, as an attorney, as a church planter, as an encourager, an administrator, a teacher, an entrepreneur, a librarian, an English teacher in a foreign land… Our Father, Our Friend, wants me and you to BE MADE GLAD in Him, by Him, and because of Him as we chase our dreams (His dreams in us) and do what we love, what He made us for!

No, it’s not always going to be easy. Don’t I know it!!! If it were so, the Scriptures would not say “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work so that you may become mature and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). Dreams come with cost, but through the cost, through the losses, and through the victories, to be made glad by the Lord is our strength.

So on this gloomy Monday, let’s worship Him with gladness, choose joy, and chase after dreams.