by Lori Roberts & Dale Russell

As you know, Visions of Hope (VOH) has about 75 inmate artists scattered all over Oregon that provide a continual flow of art.  We are now into our 11th year of creations from this unusual source.

art grp 2

I learn a lot about a person observing how these artists work and think. Are they afraid to begin for fear of failure or not being good enough? Do they dive in without giving it much thought, only to finish a piece that has no substance? I see both extremes and everything in between
with the VOH Art Group at Deer Ridge Correctional in Madras.

My favorite artists to observe are the in-betweens. Some are very talented and others not so much, but they pour their hearts into their work and their personalities come out through it. Some are confident and some are not, but regardless, they proceed.

Frog World

Some second guess themselves and become reluctant to proceed until a fellow artist adds encouragement. The frog sat on the branch for weeks before its territory was decided by Antonie after a five-minute collaboration. He can’t help but smile each time he looks at it.

Wild Flower 2

A variety of art supplies are provided by VOH, but what if you had never considered the lowly ink pen as a potential tool. Peter discovered the power to change the future of his creations. He is smiling because his supplies can now be carried in a pocket.


Creating correct proportions and shadows can be very elusive. Would you be discouraged if you had tried multiple times before you were satisfied?  As an inmate artist you may find the schedule for art group pushes out the time to work on a piece to weeks or months. Gabriel almost lost interest. Fortunately, he was open to suggestions from me and others. His smile is easily recalled by me.


David thought he had everything right.  A fellow artist taught him how to create the exact mixed colors needed and he now had new-found confidence.  But something was missing. A shadow? Hmmm…haven’t done that one before. Call on your confidants. Try three times and almost give up, before one more opinion is added from across the room. “Look at it from 10 ft. away.”  Yep, nailed it!  Pursed lipped concern quickly gave way to relief – and a smile.

OTW kids 6

All of the artists have a purpose that energizes their work.  Everything they do in this room is for the Otino Waa kids.  For many, it is the first time in their lives they can say they really have a purpose. As I glance across the room I can detect smiles in spite of artistic challenges.


He gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior,

and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions.   Titus 2:14


I believe God enjoys watching this process, not only in these situations, but also in our day to day living. Are we standing back, afraid to move forward because we won’t be good enough?

Are we just going about our lives not trying at all, but just to get another task done? How wonderful it would be to take our talents, gifts and personalities, no matter how big or small and pursue our lives in front of us with passion! It doesn’t have to be perfect but let us give it our best, then stand back and smile.

Your smile can be the result of knowing quality art supplies helped create these stories. VOH provides each art group with a budget for quality supplies. You can help us meet the budget goal of $3000 for 2020!

Your smile reflects on the fact that you can be the encourager in the lives of these artists.

Our smile comes from observing both of you.

Your next steps to help with art supplies starts HERE.

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