Wondering while Wandering…an artist’s limp toward finding ‘Radiance Through the Rain’

‘May the Rain of Suffering Soften Our Hearts, Seeping Radiance to Our Thirsty Places.’

J. Douglas Thompson© 2022


Inspiration: Broken Brush Meditations…

The artist protects the broken brush knowing its usefulness! Though well used, it garners wisdom with age. Like a candle, almost dead cold with but an ember left in its bent, broken smoldering life, it is renewed as the artist comes in care, stirring it again to life. In all our pain, when our lamp flickers low, he promises comfort and eventually to be the ultimate arbiter of justice.  Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20, 21…paraphrase JDT*

Why indeed yet another voice?

As the title of this blog insists, I am a wanderer with the brain of a wonderer. I have a mind that loves clarity and yet insists probing questions deep. I’ve found that with ‘the Majesty of the Most High,’ clarity is often slid into an uneasy envelope, leaving the fog of mystery and silence. Therefore the use of the word, ‘Wondering’ in my title.

I recently was listening to a podcast where author Philip Yancey spoke to his early years where he wondered the value of ‘yet another voice.’ His response was that indeed he, as an individual with his own unique point of view had therefore a good reason to write to the one or many individuals who may read and or listen. In his case we know that the one melded into millions.

J. Douglas Thompson, the early days…always sketching.

Based on that brief spoken encouragement, I too choose to believe that as an established artist, I have at least a single unique point of view as I look at life through these eyes from my studio and wanderings beyond.

Reflections are seldom mirror images. Occasionally we see them with 20/20 clarity, but in most cases, reflection comes to us in disjointed, abstract images of the original. Even the source of the reflection seldom is lined up like soldiers on parade grounds. Rather there is shimmering beauty in the randomness of what nature lifts up its curtain to show us. A Monet lily garden pond would have been of little interest if the artist had lined up all the lilies, attaching them somehow with mini-anchors. No, the randomness and the constant motion of floating sources are what bring us reflected wonder. That also includes the tangles beneath the surface.

And so, instead of a traditional reflective ‘journal or devotional thought’ for a certain date, with prescribed references to send us ‘joyfully’ on our daily way, my thought here is more abstract, random, conversational and yes, ADHD run-on thoughts. It’s like visits to my studio where, we are again, as in my first book, ‘Radiance through the Rain’* having coffee or a glass of wine, early morning or late at night, listening to bent smoky jazz waves curl and embrace our conversation about life, love and even Jesus. Those few clear reflections and the many seemingly unanchored abstract wonderings that often leave us in mystery and pain are what will possibly become our spiritual companionship through these days together.

I am a water media artist. I have painted for nearly 6 decades. Not only do I use water, but various mediums and types of paint to express my soul through art.

Some of my best brushes are not the clean, pristine, untried, pre-formed undisciplined brushes just purchased. They instead are found bent, shafts broken, duct taped, many of their hairs long since combined with paint and left on other paintings. Many are lip split, cracked, and crooked. They bleed! They have been used in different ways throughout their lives of service. They have been held with early care making strokes of specific forethought. These marks were delineated and predictable. Those marks were important in their growth of their servanthood. They produced both style and care within certain parameters.

Then, over years of mark making, abusive scrubbing and constant water boarding they are now a triangle of tangle. Gone is the fine point or the round clean sharped line edge. Now they are uneven, unruly, outside the box, fully lived, with the scars, right out there, to prove their journey.

But useable?

Oh yes!

As their master, I often prefer them. They are kept for years, never considered passé or past their prime. The more mature I become as an artist, I learn that, in reflecting certain parts of a painting, an unruly, unpredictable mark brings a flourish and most clarity in representing exactly what I was desiring to say. Recently I have migrated to using rags and paper towels to paint with, adding to the ‘brush strokes.’

Brushes and rags, like our lives and gifts come in all sizes and shapes. Some, now old and wizened, dry or damp, misshaped, uneven and warped, bring with their losses and scarred strokes, allowing the ‘ultimate’ maestro something of lasting value.

Not only do I use water as the foundation with the actual paint, but the theme of my paintings also expresses how water and light interact in all of their forms. This could include grand cumulous clouds, waterfalls, seascapes, a quiet stream or a dewdrop on a leaf. There are unending possibilities.

Much of what I’ll write is about choosing; ‘to live,’ despite the challenges!’

Depression has stalked my path, as the blue-black dog slinks nightfall. It growls corners when I thought a morning’s safety was ensured. It snarls afternoons and howls midnight. It is a monster! Some of you know it, while others paint or skip in sunnier climes, unaware! It however, nips at the heels of my life and wants to shut me down. I have to ‘choose life’ daily even when it seems the opposite to be preferable.

Now, quickly let me assure you, I’m blessed and thankful. In fact gratitude keeps the blue dog at bay. I don’t wish to dwell on the dark side, but also want to be more than authentic that we as followers of ‘The Way’ are not immune to those and other dark snarls. If you feel the need to spiritualize it away as one of my many peccadilloes, then I’m afraid this isn’t the blog for you. Some of our greatest thinkers, biblical characters and leaders in our movement have had similar challenges! They wrestled, they tripped, and yes some fell! For them there was and is grace, even though many of their fellow travellers didn’t afford it them!

This is not a blog about depression, but rather on what may seem to be random watershed or shimmering moments that help to remind me to claw higher ground, and pull away from the sucking quicksand. Maybe you will find a rim of light of encouragement too!

J. Douglas Thompson, Artist,
Prince Edward County, Canada, 2022

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…” Isaiah 42:3 (NIV)*

“In his name the nations will put their hope.” Matthew 12:20, 21 (NIV)*

* Excerpt from ‘Portrait of the Painter,’ ‘‘Radiance through the Rain’ Copyright 2020, J. Douglas Thompson

My previous book ‘Radiance through the Rain’ is a hard-cover limited edition coffee table book showing more than 100 images of my paintings. Alongside of the paintings are sixty-one essays on how the act of painting is a metaphor for doing life and relationships. Much of that thinking will bleed into this blog, but here, this is just you and I quietly pondering our devotional lives. For those of you who purchased ‘Radiance Through the Rain,’ maybe you think some of my wandering thoughts are worth sharing. This blog is the venue!


‘The gift of your book, Doug, represents art at its best: beauty stopped in time that strikes a chord of resonance across time and space.’

Philip Yancey, Best Selling Author


‘What a wonderful gift!!…the art is a gift, the poetry is a gift, the story and prose is a gift…’

Wm. Paul Young, Author, The Shack


‘Your poem flows like a musical visual documentary. It needs a solo saxophone…You are costly Cabernet Sauvignon to first breathe and then sip and savour. That is how I read your printed masterpiece.’

Dr. Benjamin Hegeman, Academic Dean of The Lilias Trotter Center


‘Today I celebrate my Dad. Over his life he has taught me wisdom, serving, faith, why doubt is not dangerous, beauty, a love for the world, intellectual engagement and long obedience in the same direction…’

Dr. Jonathan Thompson, Minister, Sanctus Church, Ajax, Ontario, Canada


‘…You certainly paint for us a picture of hope. As I read your reflection this morning, I thought of the patient from John George Psychiatric Pavilion who sat with me in the chapel and asked, “Will I never be healed?” I sat in silence. I felt the deepness of her sorrow. I recognized the physical healing that comes from a doctor’s care is absent from that which chained her in darkness. “Perhaps not now,” were my inadequate words. “Some day, Jesus,” were my thoughts and prayer.


And so come your words,

born in the suffering of darkness

when the human soul

struggles for light

while drowning in the liquid of despair.


One who paints on canvas

with a brush filled with beauty

now paints on crumpled spirits

with words of hope

formed from the liquid of truth,

the moisture of experience.


Drawings are hung

on walls for display,

while words are slowly embedded,




within the soul

for now and forever, Amen.


Out of darkness,


out of hopelessness,


Kay Landers, Chaplain, John George Psychiatric Pavilion, California






Old Warriors…Constant Companions