I’ve never told you guys that I’m a model.

(I’m in between jobs right now.)

(Like, 22 years in between.)

But still.

It all started with a family portrait when I was a toddler.

William Hallmark First Painting

William Hallmark was a friend of a friend of my parents. He was a teenager at the time, and quickly becoming a painting prodigy.

After admiring the dozens of canvases he’d painted in his basement, my parents paid him to paint our portrait – it was, I’ve been told, his first paid work.

So he painted us, but he didn’t like how my face turned out. I looked too grumpy or something – not surprising because I probably was.

(I did always hate it when my mom made me wear pigtails. And frilly socks. With sandals even.)

So he repainted the me portion of that painting.

Then he wanted to paint me again on a separate painting, and I distinctly remember being on display at a First Alabama Bank branch.

(Perhaps my earliest memory? Being a toddler model sticks with a girl.)

A few years later, William was all famous and stuff. He’d released prints of a beautiful collection of Christian paintings that were all the rage – I was pretty proud to have been in two of his paintings, even if one was owned by my parents and one had been in a bank.

And then.

When I was ten, he called up and asked if I would pose for another painting – a real one this time – to be made into prints and added to his collection.

Oh and also – he wanted me to be holding a baby lamb in the painting, so I’d need to do that for the photographs. Basically, a tween’s dream job.

So my Mom dressed me in my most recent Easter Dress (thankfully post-Smock) and we met William at a local farm.

I posed, he took pictures, I got to feed the lamb, he took more pictures, and it was a glorious day.

William Hallmark Lamb Painting Pictures

(The Lamb might have disagreed considering the rather violent grip I had on his jaw.)

A few months later, William had turned those photographs into a painting called “Blessed are the Pure in Heart,” and all of a sudden I was thrust into the super-fame that is being in every Joshua Christian Bookstore.

(I would say Lifeway too but they were still The Baptist Bookstore back then and I’m not sure they were liberal enough to carry something so scandalous as art yet.)

To this day I hang in our living room, my parent’s living room, and my grandmother’s dining room. It’s a lot of pressure, but I try to live up to it.

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

(I have no idea who the little boy was. But I bought him after Chris and I got married because he was the brother piece in the collection.)

Twenty-two years later and the picture does still crop up every now and then, like a few months ago when a friend tipped me off that I was for sale on a local Facebook trade group…


And when I mentioned the picture on Instagram, and it turned out that I was hanging in one of my blog reader’s dining rooms, and she didn’t even know it was me…

(She bought the painting pre-owned in Germany, which I find extraordinarily curious.)

And then last weekend, when my Mom ran across me…



The Rusty Rooster. Is this what the bottom of the barrel looks like?

I didn’t ask what my price was. Or if she found me in that Miller Lite box.

Although I have no idea what happened to the second picture (the one that hung in the bank,) the other two paintings are also cool forbearers of my children… the first has pieces of Noah (minus the pigtails,)


And the third has Ali.


Although I’ve made eye contact with his art daily nearly my entire life, I hadn’t seen William hardly at all in the past 20 years. But when I realized Ali was old enough to take art lessons from him, I knew it had to happen.


She has his spirit. His artist’s sensibilities. And although she’s no prodigy, she’s determined, as noted with her continuous introduction of herself as “I’m Ali and I’m an artist.”

She started at the beginning of March, first being tasked to learn how to sketch, then William gave her the assignment of finding something she wanted to paint, so she chose a butterfly.



The next week, she was thrilled to start using oil paints for the first time in her life.



Each week she got to start a new aspect of her painting, and she took her work extraordinarily seriously, especially considering she was the youngest in her class by many years.


She wasn’t too sure about having a male teacher at first (she’s a bit on the shy side with men), but after just a couple of weeks, she adored William – as I knew she would.



She worked on her butterfly diligently for six weeks, every week excited to show me her progress, and every week adopting more of an artist’s glow.

Art Process

And in the last photo, the day she finished, she’s pointing to her signature, because she didn’t want me to miss it. Or you, either.


And I must admit – her talent of painting is far greater than my talent of being still and holding a lamb.


22 thoughts on “The Circle of Art.

  1. Wow, Ali’s painting is awesome! Especially for her age. I think the “artist” label she has given herself definitely fits. :)

    I would have agreed to pose for just about anything when I was little if I had gotten to hold a lamb. What am I saying…I would do just about anything that involved holding a lamb NOW.

  2. In another 22 years, you will be writing a blog about your famous artist daughter Ali, at her first gallery opening, and you can link back to this story about her beginnings. :-)

  3. Since I’ve learned all about internet stalking from you, I decided to look around for the original painting. Although you may be a cheap antique in some places, on the internet, you’re still high priced!
    $95-$379 here: http://christcenteredmall.com/stores/art/hallmark/blessed_are_the_pure_in_heart.htm
    $84.95 here: http://www.lordsart.com/blarepuinhe1.html
    $349 here: http://www.william-hallmark.com/The-Pure-at-Heart-by-William-Hallmark-p/phdgle.htm
    Alas! I couldn’t find you on eBay or Amazon. :-(

  4. I love everything about this story. I can totally tell that was you in the painting with the lamb! And the picture of you in pigtails is so stinking adorable!

    Ali’s painting is great! It’s wonderful you are nurturing her love of art at such a young age.

    Now, I am a happily married lady…but wow….William is quite good looking! AND he has artistic talent and is good with kids?? I hope someone snapped him up!

  5. Such a neat story! It’s cool that you have come full circle with the artist. Ali is really talented. I don’t think I could ever paint that well, especially not in elementary school.

  6. Ali’s painting is beautiful! Where will it be hung? I wonder how long it will be before William asks to use your kids as models?

  7. Great story! Ali is quite the artist. I especially love her tenacious declaration, the “I am” statement that defines her life. This will bring her success! I heard a sermon on the Elevation church podcast recently on the power of those two words, the creator God who is “I am” and says “I am.” I could hear that coming through here. What a great girl! And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you hanging somewhere in the halls of my life. It looks so familiar. If I find you in a miller lite box somewhere thrifting I’ll be sure to smile!

  8. Too funny! When I first saw the photo of you, I totally saw Ali! Then when you posted the side by side with Nathan I see that too. They are clones! Love that she’s taking an art class from a real painter. i will have to look for something like that for my daughter. She LOVES art but needs some direction. You know… as all 5 yr olds do!

  9. Wow, I’m really impressed with Ali’s butterfly! Very nice. And I totally saw that first picture and thought, “Noah with pigtails!!” And I’ve always thought it was uncanny how closely Ali resembles you in the lamb picture. Very cool that she gets to take lessons with the artist who painted it!

  10. As I scrolled down and the photo of you holding the lamb came into view, I thought it was Ali until I read the text. She’s so like you.

  11. I love this entire story. Ali is quite the artist!! She definitely looks like you. And William Hallmark IS one buff artist!!!

  12. My 9 yo also wants to be an artist. She inherited some talent from my Grandmother (sadly not me). My Mom insisted that I finally put her in a real art class. We’re trying out a local camp this summer for it! Maybe your daughter and mine will grow up to be best friend artists and share galleries! (I like to make up lives for people!)

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