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Painting America Review by Diane Whealer

Eastwind Publishing Services
How Great Thou Art Publications
Box 48 Dept. 18
McFarlan, NC 28102

Barry Stebbing is a familiar name among homeschoolers. His art classes have blessed tens of thousands of students all across the country and on into Canada and Mexico. Traveling across the country with his wife, Saundra, Barry brings with him his commitment to excellence and his belief that our creativity is part of being made in the image of God Himself, and he equips willing students to succeed in their art work. He urges hard work but offers great encouragement every step of the way.

Two years ago, I met Barry and Saundra. I was in the midst of a curriculum hall, and I was in desperate need of a break from the crowds. I sneaked into the back of their booth and saw Farm Journal written in large letters on the front of a large sketchbook. Curious, I opened it and found my way into one of Barry's art journals. On each page are Barry's sketches or paintings, and also his written thoughts, inspiration and prayers. These are writings that are seasoned with salt, as scripture speaks of, and words that are honest and uplifting. I was transported in that convention hall, and refreshed in a way I never imagined I could be.

Fortunately, I was able to attend one of Barry and Saundra's art classes with my children just a few weeks later. We learned a bunch, but more importantly, I learned about art journaling. Barry allowed me to borrow one of his journals overnight, and I hardly slept for the enjoying of it. I couldn't help but wish that everyone could see these journals, and learn about keeping one for themselves; they are inspiring.

Now, thanks to a new book published by How Great Thou Art Publications, everyone can have a look into one of Barry's journals. Painting America is the journal that Barry kept while traveling the country with his wife Saundra and his painting partner, Frank Van Latum. Starting in the summer of 1990, until August of 1991, they went around and about the lower forty-eight states, and each artist painted three paintings to represent each state. Stuffed into a van they named Hanibal, Barry, Saundra and Frank endured many a challenge; there was weather of every kind, car problems, tension building from living in such cramped quarters and on limited finances, and the difficulty of finding the right scene to paint. But, amidst such obstacles, they met their goal of reaching each state and capturing some bit of its beauty on the canvas. It was a life-changing experience for Barry, and his writing reflects the lessons that were learned.

Each state's pages include samples of writing from Barry's journals, samples of the paintings that were done, and pictures (taken by Saundra Stebbing) of the artists and their environment. It gives a nice overview of what they were able to accomplish. The beauty of the oil paintings, AND the photographs, makes this a stunning volume. Published in hardback, with 142 glossy pages, I have given this as gifts to family that love art or adventure, and I keep one on display for my own children and our friends.

Once you see Barry's Painting America journal, you may be tempted to join the Art Journal Team. I have previously reviewed Barry's teaching volume, The Student's Guide to Keeping An Art Journal. In this volume you will find some basic formatting ideas, and drawing, painting and color instruction. This is the perfect how-to manual to accompany the inspiration of Painting America.

Art journaling is a passion for Barry. If you choose to make it a part of your regular routine, drop Barry a note and let him know. He loves to spread the word about art journaling, and would be blessed to know that it has made a difference in your life.

To order, you can contact How Great Thou Art Publications at 1-800-982-DRAW.

-- Product Review by: Diane Wheeler, Senior Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC