Her hands, his work

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 19, 2005

By Geri McShane,Tribune Lifestyles Editor

Ann Lerkins had been doing crafts &045; baskets from paper bags, needlepoint, sewing and beadwork &045; when they stopped selling.

So she prayed. And God told her to paint barns.

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&8220;I’d never painted before,&8221; said Lerkins. &8220;I’d taken one tole painting class, but I didn’t even finish it.&8221;

But Lerkins didn’t question it, and began to paint.

&8220;The Lord has shown me that the barn represents the storehouse of our lives,&8221; she said, adding God will provide. She’s never seen these barns before she paints them, she added.

She also knew she had to include a split path &045; the wide and self-gratifying path and the road to Jesus and heaven &045; as well as three crosses. The black cross represents the unbelieving thief who was in darkness and following the path to hell. The white cross represents thte believing thief, who walked in light and followed the path to heaven. Jesus’ cross is red, representing the blood he shed for mankind’s forgiveness.

The resulting name for Lerkins’ work is CrossBarns. Lerkins’ paintings are on display at the Albert Lea City Center until Jan. 10.

Originally from West Bloomfield, N.Y., Lerkins moved to Wells last June, when her husband took at position as a draftsman at Wells Concrete Products.

&8220;The Lord said this is where we needed to come,&8221; she said.

And Lerkins continues to do the painting she began about three years ago.

Lerkins not only paints on canvases, but also canister jars, plaques, mirrors, Christmas stockings, ornaments and even rocks.

&8220;Anything I can paint on &045; different textures and mediums &045; I try it,&8221; she said.

She’s also illustrated a children’s book, &8220;Beautiful, Big & Bright: The Journey of Sunny Sunflower Seed,&8221; and hopes to do another related book.

For the first two years, she painted with acrylic paints, but about a year ago moved onto oils. She likes the colors oils provide much better, she said.

&8220;Our lives are not dark,&8221; Lerkins said. &8220;They’re colorful. The bright colors are kind of a trademark for me.&8221;

Lerkins enjoys working with children, and once a week paints with fourth-graders at St. Casimir Catholic School.

&8220;Kids all need to discover the creativity within themselves,&8221; she said.

She’s also been the catalyst for a reading partnersip program with second-graders at St. Casimir and senior citizens in Wells.

&8220;It’s opening things up, bringing people together,&8221; she said.

Lerkins said she never knows where her art will take her. &8220;It’s my hands, but it’s his work,&8221; she said of God. &8220;I’m always in prayer before I start, so it’s the Lord’s will, not mine.&8221;

To learn more about Lerkins’ work, visit ourchurch.com and type in &8220;CrossBarns,&8221; or e-mail Lerkins at crossbarns@yahoo.com.

(Contact Geri McShane at lifestyles@albertleatribune.com or 379-3436.)