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Thursday, August 31, 2017

नहाने का समय (Bath Time)

"Nahanay ka samay." That is how this title is pronounced, which is Hindi for "Bath Time." The photo reference was taken by a friend of mine, Ember, who visited Chennai, India, and snapped this beautiful picture of a common woman bathing her child. I asked if I could paint it, and she gladly accepted. (Thank you, Ember!)

What I love about this painting is the sweetness of mother and child, but also simplicity of needs. There is no bath tub, no shower, no fresh white towels, no rubber ducky, no brand-name baby shampoo, no sink, no bathroom even! There is only the open air, water in a basin, and concrete beneath the child and mother. Grass sprigs are growing out of the cracks, and there is some sort of graffiti in the background. But still this little one comes forth clean reguardless, and the primitive surroundings matter not when it comes to his bath.

A closeup of the baby's face!
I love the smile on the mother's face, as her child wipes the water from his eyes. I also love that she is in a Sari, because wearing a dress while bathing a child is not just gorgeously accomplished, but also it's real life! I hope I was able to capture the wetness on baby's body, and the puddle at their feet, because I think this was the first time I ever painted water in a watercolor (the irony!!) If you look closely, you might also see some of the colors of Ember's own Sari reflected in the metal basin in front of the baby. Still-lifes are not my favorite thing to paint, but I did enjoy painting that little basin!

Music is always playing as I paint, to get the creative juices going! Here are two that were lovely as I painted this piece:

"Now is Forever"  by Kip Mazuy

"Sunset," by Peter Kater

I've always been fascinated by the colors and culture of India, and I know I will go there someday. Ember Hobi was visiting a place called "Rising Star Outreach," which is a school for the children of the leprosy colonies. They are vaccinated, fed, educated and cared for during their school year. Ember had the chance to visit the children at the school, and their families in the colonies where she helped clean and bandage the leper's wounds. When she returned she had moving stories to tell, and that was when I fell in love with their program. For more information about Rising Star Outreach, please visit:

This was the first time I was able to complete a painting in the summer. With three children, it's difficult to get anything done in the summer time! The only way I was able to complete this one was because a friend of mine, Karin, offered to watch my children on Fridays so I could paint. Thank you so much, Karin, for giving me the opportunity to bring this painting to life!

 prints are available in 11x14 and 16x20 at my Etsy store:

For every print I sell, I will donate 10% of all profits to Rising Star Outreach in India. 

Laura D'Onofrio

Friday, May 5, 2017


In 2016, I put the paints and brushes away, not knowing when I would be able to bring them out again. My third baby was so small, and there was no block of time available for me to paint. Such is the sacrifice many mothers make – we often have to set aside our dreams for our children. Painting is not like sewing, where I could easily stop and tend to the children and then because water has its own mind, and left alone while still wet, it can decide to go all sorts of directions! It is a delicate process, and requires all my focus. Putting my trade away was a painful thing to do, and whenever I thought about my Sacred Art series, I would have this pull in my heart. I’d tell myself that I cannot give up hope, I will paint again soon, and that God would provide a way for me somehow.
In December 2016, a friend of mine, Karin, who had seen me begin this series from its onset, offered me the best Christmas present any friend could give. She wanted me to drop my kids off Friday mornings, for the sole purpose of finishing the series I began. What a gift!!!! She is a gem, and I am so grateful for her and the gift she has given me. I look forward to my Fridays now. And so began painting #8.
I’ve had an image of “Remission” in my mind for some time. I knew that I needed a painting to touch on the true gravity of Christ’s atonement for each one of us personally, and that gravity to be fully realized by an individual coming face to face with Jesus. This is the most emotional piece I have ever created, and honestly I did not think I was skilled enough to be able to pull it off. It took me some time to find the right model, and I see now that God had a purpose for that, so I could refine my portraiture skills enough to accurately portray this particular individual.
This model had to be someone who had experienced some sort of difficulty in their life. I asked a woman first, going off her smart whit and her beauty, but she didn’t feel she could bring to this piece the emotions that it needed. Searching for another year, keeping my eyes and ears out, I finally found the perfect person. He was recommended to me by my sister in law, and knowing him myself, I couldn’t believe I didn’t think of him sooner!! His name is John Rice, and before coming to Christ in his life, he had experienced some dark roads with an addiction. He had to repent and feel a sorrow so deep, and was eventually lifted from the burden he carried for so long. John is now a changed man, and I’ve always seen him as someone who’s soul is on fire. He is always so happy to share his story with others, and about Jesus who had changed his entire life.
It’s daunting to ask someone, anyone, to model for a piece of this nature. But John took the offer with the kindest of hearts, and said that not only would he do it, but he felt honored to be the man. John brought what I think not many models could pull off in a photo shoot. He laid down his whole soul, and I could see it clearly in the images we took.

“Remission” depicts a man who when He meets Jesus, realizes He indeed exists, and is overcome with remorse. He falls to the floor and sobs at Christ’s feet and tells his Lord “Had I known this was all true, I would have been a different person in my lifetime!” Jesus is surrounding this man in his arms, and offering his grace to him, trying to lift the intense sadness that this man feels. I know that the Savior wants to forgive us of our trespasses.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Here are some pieces of music that inspired me while I was painting this piece:
"Immensities" by Craig Armstrong and AR Rahman
"This Place is a Shelter" by Olafur Arnalds
"Sanctuary," By Assassin's Creed 2

I hope that when we look at “Remission,” something might stir within ourselves. Perhaps we will remember a time where we made a grave decision, and felt a sorrow so deep, and guilt within ourselves for that decision. Or perhaps we would feel the pain in our hearts what we inflicted upon someone else by our actions. I hope we will know that there is someone we can go to, someone who can lift us from our guilt and sorrows, and has indeed felt every infliction we have made. It is the ultimate sacrifice Jesus chose to make for us, and because of that we can all be given the sacred gift of the remission of our sins.
A special thank you to Brent Alvord, who is my Jesus hands, to John Rice for bringing an extremely personal piece to this series, to Christine Simmons who helped me capture this image I had inside my head, and to Karin Guynn for watching my children so I could share this message. I could not have done it unless all of you were there, and I thank you so much for your help and support.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Love's Reunion

This painting is a very tender piece for me, and essential in my art series, and I would like to tell you why. I grew up in a divorced family, where arguments and disagreements of my parents shook my house when I was little. I deeply craved peace and stability wherever I could find it from a very early age. When I reached my teen years, I often wondered if there really was a man that was just right for me, if I would make the right choice, and how would I know that the choice I made with someone would truly last? Marriage was a very serious decision for me. I didn't want to marry on a whim or feel like I could not give my everything.

There was a man whom I considered like a grandfather to me, and his name was Gordon Bitner Hinckley. I knew his name from the time I was small, and was present in my life until his passing shortly after I graduated college. His words saw me through all of my growing up years. He was funny, yet poignant. I heard many of his speeches, and some of them have touched me so deeply that it has transformed me as a human being. I am so grateful today I had this sweet elderly man to look up to. 
My senior year of high school, I saw this picture of him and his wife, Marjorie, in a magazine, They were walking arm in arm through a beautiful garden.

When I saw that picture, that was when I knew, THIS was what I wanted in my life and in my marriage, more than anything else in the world. I wanted a man not just to hold my hand on our wedding day, but a man that turning age 90 would still be holding my hand and would still walk with me, side by side. I didn't want just young love, I wanted OLD love, because old love is rare, and old love would have weathered all storms of time. I ripped the page out, had it laminated, and if you ever come over to my house you will still see it on my fridge to this day! 

Here is a little bit of their background together, take a moment to watch it:

I think most of us in some way believe in or hope for lasting love and companionship in our lives. I believe marriage can be an eternal progression of increasing love, not just a "happily ever after, the end" kind of love. Love in marriage has the ability to grow deeper and stronger if we but nurture it, take the time for it, to listen genuinely with love, to be patient, and care selflessly for the other person. I had decided in my teen years to try with all my might to strive for the greatest symbol of eternal love that I knew of, which was to one day marry in a temple and make a promise to my spouse to be with him forever. I am so thankful that I did find the man I was searching for, and that I did make that promise of forever to him. There were many nights of praying and pondering and listening to God about my future companion. I know God had led me to the person who is perfect for me, and met me at a time in my life when I most needed to find him. 

This painting is called "Love's Reunion." It is of a couple that are reunited in heaven, after death had previously separated them. I love the sweetness of their faces, how devoted they are to each other. This couple is an example to me of what forever love looks like. We all meet Christ in heaven, and I feel we will reunite with our spouses again as well.

When I visit the temple today, there is a part where I walk into what is called the Celestial Room, which is a room that represents the closest to heaven that we can feel here on earth. It is very bright and beautiful, and that is the place where we can meet up with our spouses and/or loved ones who came with us when a session is completed. When I reach the celestial room, I search for my husband if he came with me, and when I reach him, I always embrace him and cry. I cry because I feel an intense feeling of love for him at that moment, and I think it would probably be what I would feel when I saw him again in Heaven. We usually hold each other for a very long time, then eventually sit and meditate in that beautiful room. I can't think of any feeling more heavenly than embracing my spouse for a very, very long time.

John 4:7 "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God."

I hope that you are as touched as I was with this piece, and I hope that maybe I can one day be able to paint many more visions of love that are your own. Here are some lovely pieces of music that inspired me as I painted this particular painting, often late in the night or early in the morning before my children awoke:

Adagio for Strings, by Edward Elgar

Road to Perdition Film Score (please forgive the title, but the music is breathtaking)

Dream Ten, by Liquid Mind

I'd like to give special thanks to Steve and Jeanne Whiting, who graciously allowed me to have them be my models for this special piece. I remember talking to Steve, and telling him I was in need of a couple who looks...older...seasoned...,and he warned me to be careful, that I may be digging myself into a ditch! Hahaha! I needed two people who symbolized old love, and the withstanding of time. They have definitely done that, and I am truly thankful for them and their example of marriage in my life. I know there are many people who would say the same thing about them.

Thank you to to my dear friend, Christine Simmons, for being my eyes and photographing such a beautiful reference for me, and to Karin Guynn who offered to watch my kiddos for some desperate painting time. And of course, thank you to James Cunningham, my forever friend and companion, who helps me see what lasting love really looks like every day of my life.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Kindly visit the new website at: 

Winter Red

Many people love red barns. It is a classic symbol of Americana. But why are barns always painted red? In the 1700's farmers painted barns not for the beauty, but for necessity. The first barn-red color was created using Skimmed milk, linseed oil, lime, and red iron oxide. In the wintertime, the red color would absorb the sunlight, keeping the inside warm for the animals. Talk about resourceful!

This particular barn can be found on Laurel Road in New Canaan, CT. It's a lovely sight to see as you round the bend. I got a little creative with the trees, and painted them a bit foggy, just as the snow does when it is evaporating after a fall. I also added a little bit of salt to the road, because I wanted to be sure it was freshly salted for the drivers! When I was finally finished, I realized I had made a huge paint splotch in the upper left hand corner of my sky. This happens when I forget to put down a paper towel on my painting, close to the water cup. I will dip and splash water out of excitement, and am not careful. It had dried, so I could not get to it in time to remove it completely. Watercolor is so unforgiving - you can lighten, but you can't often remove it! So what's a girl to do? Well let's paint a tree over it, of course! Now that the tree is in, I like that the tree is there, it balances the painting. So glad it worked out!

A toast to a lovely watercolor barn, and to classic Americana!


Special thanks to Kayleigh Pace, who is a fantastic photographer (as I am not!), and let me use her photo as reference for this painting. Also thank you Alan Pace for the commission.

Prints are available for sale, and can be found here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

どなたでしょうか (Who Art Thou?)

After two months of looking and dreaming and painting and hoping, my sixth painting is finally finished! I was so pleased and bubbling with pride, that I didn’t even TELL anybody, I just ran and put it up at my church for the whole entire Sabbath day! This painting marks the halfway point of this sacred art series. Only six more to go!

In my series I wanted to paint a portrait of an atheist - someone who does not believe in the idea of a God, or believes if a God did exist, He wouldn’t be concerned about something as unimportant as us in the universe.

What would happen if someone who does not believe in a God, passed on and got to meet Jesus Christ? What would be that man’s reaction? In heaven the word “atheist” would cease to exist, for there in front of him is the king of all creations, and on his hands and feet are markings. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”- John 14:6. The man’s reaction would most likely be confusion and shock. He obviously can feel a power and tender love radiating from this eternal being who calls him by name, and we as human beings are drawn toward that kind of love.

The title of this piece is called “どなたでしょうか (Who Art Thou?)” I made the title this way because this man would be speaking his own language to the Savior. The model is a friend of mine now living in Japan, and he represents the Japanese and Chinese cultures in Asia. Around 1% of the Japanese are Christian, and so are about 2.4% of the Chinese.

I personally believe that God looks directly at our hearts. He doesn’t look at what particular church we go to, exactly how much we tithed, or what positions we held. We can all choose to be a good person no matter what background we come from, and God loves us ALL. If I did not have an atheist in my series, the series would be incomplete, for I feel they are so important and so loved by Him.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” -

Pope Francis explained himself, "The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart, do good and do not do evil. All of us. 'But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.' Yes, he can... "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ, all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! 'Father, the atheists?' Even the atheists. Everyone!" We must meet one another doing good. 'But I don't believe, Father, I am an atheist!' But do good: we will meet one another there."

It is my hope that we do not have to wait until we die to know that God is real, that we are significant in this universe made by God, and that what is important to us is important to Him. I hope that we can ask God this question now while we are alive: “Who Art Thou?,” and look for Him. God is in the details of our personal lives, and He is especially in yours.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11: 28-30

Throughout the two months I worked on this piece, I had constantly playing Chinese traditional music, to keep the spirit of this person alive in my heart. Here are some pieces of music that particularly touched me while I was carried away painting…and two of them just happened to be beautiful film scores! 

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Silk Road
Memoirs of a Geisha: Confluence

Yo Yo Ma Plays Ennio: The Mission

I would like to sincerely thank the people that helped make this painting possible:

Christine Simmons, my photographer and close friend.

Brent Alvord who has the best Jesus hands ever.

Elders Yuta Ishikawa and Spencer Lee –Thank you so much Yuta for you offering yourself, and for you and Spencer giving me thought and inspiration to step inside this man’s mind.

And thank you to all of the people who helped me in watching my son Caleb, so I could paint longer hours: Katie G., Jennifer E., Erica G., and Lisa K - my angels!!