joyflower_600 px

 “Joyflower,” Oil on canvas, 2003

The stock market crash of 2000-2002 caused the loss of $5 trillion in the market value of companies. When the economic “bubble” burst, the start-up company I worked for failed to get it’s next round of funding and I lost my management position along with about a third of the employees who were also laid off. The company ultimately failed.

With the loss of my job, Joy and I sold our home in Oceanside, California, and moved to the Houston area. As a result of all the changes in our lives — moving away from three of our grown children and their families, finding a new neighborhood, home, friends, shopping, church, and with no jobs — we were under a great deal of stress.

I wanted to do something special for Joy that would show my love, so I decided to try to paint her portrait. I had no idea, of course, how difficult an undertaking it would be. If, for example, you decide to paint a landscape, no one will probably know or care if you place a tree a few feet off center, or even discard it entirely. If, however, you paint a portrait, and you bend someone’s nose a tenth of an inch out of line, look out!

So I spent several prayer-filled weeks trying to learn how to paint. On one occasion, I was so frustrated that I wiped the paint off the entire canvas. That proved a big mistake! I had to start over.

The portrait above was taken from a snapshot I had taken of Joy. I snapped it at about two in the morning on a July day in 1994. We were crossing the North Sea from England to Belgium on a ferry. There was no place to lie down, so Joy tried to sleep while sitting up on a straight-back chair.

This portrait is my first effort. It took many hours over several months to get this far along. Let me offer a suggestion: if you decide that you want to show your wife how much you love her . . . perhaps you should forgo attempting to paint her portrait, and just buy her a dozen roses. You can’t improve on God’s creation. Not on the roses, and certainly not your wife’s beauty.


Frank’s First Four Portraits, clockwise from upper left: Joyflower, Bliss, May, and Patience

Pont du Gard, from river

Pont du Gard (Owned by Jamieson & Jennifer Becker)




Sunflowers for Sandy


Lady Amory

Lady Frances Louise Heathcote-Amory, Devon, 2005

le-pont-du-Gard copy

Pont du Gard, France (Owned by Dr. Gayle Bradshaw)


Valley of Decision, 1972 (Joel 3:14)




Sir Ian Mark Heathcote-Amory, Devon, 2005

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