YES!, we’re doing it again.  In appreciation to our best fans we are giving away some of our most popular prints.  In order to enter this contest only two things are required…

First… Be a new or existing “FOLLOWER” on the MCNAUGHTON BLOG.  Be sure to leave a comment on this page telling me which is your favorite McNaughton painting and why, and include your real name (blog names can be hard to identify for purposes of naming a winner!)

Second…  Write me a note on my Facebook page telling me which print you would like to win.

This contest will run until Thursday the 26th and the winners will be announced Friday the 27th!

There will be a first and second prize awarded.  Each print will be personally signed by the artist!

***FIRST PRIZE:  Choose TWO of your favorite McNaughton 10X15 prints from the following list:  One Nation Under God, The Forgotten Man, Via Dolorosa, Peace is Coming, Parting the Veil, Awaiting the Command.

***SECOND PRIZE:  Choose ONE of your favorite McNaughton 10X15 prints from the same list as above. (To view images visit the photos on Facebook)



The Next Nineteen Months

I talk a lot about the Constitution and the importance of conservative values, but I rarely delve into the fray of politics.  Even my painting “The Forgotten Man” is more about principle than politics.  I watch what is happening and I hope with all my heart that someone will come along that will have what it takes to turn this country around…both economically and morally.  But that would be na├»ve to expect that a single person could do this.  The moral integrity required to save our country will not come from a single president.  Actually, I think the president we elect is a reflection of our country’s moral situation.  When Americans are apathetic about freedom and vote for a candidate by how much the government will give them; that is a dangerous road.  

What will the next couple of years bring us?  Although President Obama is now low in the polling numbers for popularity, he still has a fair chance to be reelected in 2012.  Clinton faced a similar problem as he prepared to run for his second term.  As you know, I lot of the outcome of the 2012 Election will be determined by how well the Republicans can rally behind a single candidate.  This candidate will have to speak to the heart and soul of the American people.  He must be a conservative, not a moderate like John McKane.  

As I look at the coming nineteen months leading up to this crucial election, I feel that my purpose as an artist will be to wake up as many people to our situation as possible.   Most people are visual learners and I want to express what I believe in a way that is clear and unmistakable.  As Americans, we must protect our liberties as defined in the Constitution and make the kind of responsible choices that will guarantee a future for our children and grandchildren. 

May God help us as we strive to rebuild this country.


McNaughton Responds to Questions Concerning Paintings

Yesterday I received a thoughtful post on my Facebook from a man who had sincere questions regarding the intentions of my paintings. I felt that I wanted to respond because I think his words reflect many who have opposing views to “One Nation Under God” and “The Forgotten man.” I think it is always a good thing to have a reasonable discussion without digressing to name calling which often occurs on both sides. I have written my responses in grey text :

Austin Baird

Jon - I appreciate your explanation. I don't at all believe that you're being racist by singling out Obama. I think that people who accuse others of disliking Obama for racist reasons are too lazy to come up with real arguments. I think it's insulting to accuse you of being racist. Let me make sure I understand you - your "ranking" of the presidents isn't based on constitutionality of their actions but instead on how their actions enlarged the government? If that's the case then I have three questions. 

1.) Do you believe that your ranking of the presidents is entirely accurate or fair? I mentioned earlier that it's not intellectually acceptable to espouse political opinions without having backed them up factually. I clearly show the information about each president on my website. http://www.mcnaughtonart.com/artwork/view_zoom/?artpiece_id=379National debt actually had its biggest increase under Reagan. I don't want to turn this into a debate, but if anyone would like those statistics I will gladly send them your way. The point of my question is that your rankings seem to be based more on what the perception of the presidents is (like that Reagan cut spending, which is not backed up by facts) than what the reality is. I never said I was ranking the presidents. My thoughts when I chose where to place the presidents was to put in a prominent place on the right side some of the presidents who had a significant part in expanding the role of the federal government, they would be clapping. I placed G.W. Bush next to Obama because he was guilty as well. I put Wilson between FDR and TR, but didn’t have room to show him clapping. There are a few others like LBJ and Nixon that I’m not crazy about. It’s not so cut and dry. Many people want to think I actually lined them all up based on politics. Not so. I put prominent presidents closer to the front. I wanted to paint the question, “If the presidents of the past could speak to us today, what would they say?”

I know that Reagan raised the debt considerably. Under Reagan the United States borrowed heavily both domestically and abroad, raising the national debt from $900 billion to $3 trillion. Reagan described the new debt as the "greatest disappointment" of his presidency. But much of the federal deficit increases were due to military spending, which eventually led to the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Many of Reagan’s fiscal policies led to American prosperity well into the next century. Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute stated that "no act in the last quarter century had a more profound impact on the US economy of the eighties and nineties than the Reagan tax cut of 1981. … The American economy grew by more than a third in size, producing a $15 trillion increase in American wealth. Every income group, from the richest, middle class and poorest in this country, grew its income.” This doesn’t mean I think Reagan was perfect. He also unconstitutionally ratified the Salt II Treaty before having Congressional approval. As for as the debt, remember G. W. Bush raised the debt more than Reagan, and Obama is on track to outdo them all! My painting never made the statement that the other presidents were not guilty. Many have made poor decisions.

2.) The above question stems from the one I ask now, which is the question that I would most like to hear your response to. In some of your other writing (notably on the BYU Bookstore issue) you make much of the fact that "liberal ideas" have led to your painting being taken down and you mention several times that these liberal ideas are problems that need to be dealt with. As I said above, I have no interest in debating with you and so I won't bring up the numerous General Authorities who have been Democrats or had liberal ideas. Your work (meaning all of your paintings and everything that you have said about them) is taken as a whole by your fans and so the ideas espoused in one work (how customarily "liberal" professions are in the darkness in "One Nation Under God") or written by you directly (your blog post on the Bookstore issue) are inseparable from your other works (The Forgotten Man). Do you intend for the viewers to take away from your painting that liberal = bad? That's an idea you've shared numerous times and if it's not one that you intend to convey in this painting, how do you suggest that your fans separate the concepts? I have stated countless times that I don’t want to class “liberals” as bad simply because its not my place to say what is in their heart. What I have repeatedly said is that they are “confused.” There are many definitions of liberal. I am speaking of those who believe that the definition of what is good or bad depends on what is acceptable by society. Liberals see things usually not as black and white, but as a moving grey target and believe they are on the higher ground because they are watching out for the oppressed and down trodden. It is a different paradigm than the conservative American who often sees things as black and white. In my painting I take issue with abortion, the secularization of the schools, the moral denigration of the entertainment business, the liberal bias of the media, the corrupted politician to name a few. These figures represent metaphors for certain types that I believe have weakened our country. They do not represent a sweeping judgment of everyone. In the painting I have people divided to represent the division that is taking place in our country. How can anyone deny that the country is divided on these issues? On the right side the judge feels remorse and the pregnant woman has decided to keep her baby, which shows that they have a change of heart. The patriots in the background are pleading from the dust to the living Americans to change their ways and support the Constitution, which defines a limited federal government. The only people offended by this painting are those that believe in “liberal” ideologies: Never speak of God and government in the same breath, abortion is a choice, Darwinism is supreme, don’t ever judge people, don’t shove your conservative idealogy on me! They are immediately offended because they identify with the right side of the painting and feel I am judging them. Only God will judge. By the way, the painting is not political. I do not speak for Republican or Democrat. JFK stands in the painting a few heads to the left of Reagan. There are liberals and conservatives on both sides of the political aisle. Fifty years ago this painting would have hardly raised an eyebrow because liberalism was almost nonexistent in America. Today, this painting is divisive. Twenty years from now will it be offensive to show a painting that represents a traditional family with a man and woman? Just because society tolerates change should we bend on principle? My fans know what liberalism stands for and they don’t need an explanation. Only liberals need an explanation.

3.) Before I ask this last question - I should clarify that I'm a staunch libertarian. I promise you that any sort of beliefs you hold on the desirability of small government, low taxes, etc. are shared by me. My question isn't about your beliefs, but instead about the way that they're shared. The USA is fairly unique among western, industrialized societies in our libertarian leanings. Most other countries believe in a strong social safety net, often strong enough to constitute a quasi-socialist state. In these countries, most of the citizens believe in these safety nets and are the type of people who you would call liberals or socialists. Among these people are many strong LDS members. Running through your work is the implication that the type of government that God and Jesus approve of includes low taxes and as small of a government as possible. What do you say to the millions of LDS members worldwide who share your religious beliefs but who completely disagree with you politically? Do you only intend for your American fans to take away these inferences? Do you really intend for your viewers to take away what I've said, that political beliefs in big government are antithetical to the sort of government that God intends? 

I apologize for writing you such a novel, but these are questions that I've wanted to ask you for some time. If you don't feel like answering all of them, the second and third questions are the ones that I'm the most interested in. No rush on the response; I imagine that you're busy. I appreciate your participation and civility. This question seems to have more to do with political liberalism (socialism) and not the moral issues of liberalism. America is unique in that we have our Constitution, which clearly defines the extent of government’s involvement in its citizen’s lives. Over time our “republic” has morphed into a democratic socialist model and the Constitution is the only thing between us and a European form of government. As far as liberals who are Christian living in foreign countries, sure they may have a different perspective. People in different parts of the world have less freedom than us and may be perfectly fine with that. I am an American, and do not want to give away a single freedom I have. When the founders created the Constitution and the Bill of Rights they were embarking on something new to the world. A government of the people, and they believed they were endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights. Not the rights or privileges bestowed on them by Kings and Nobles. Many countries since have adopted parts of our Constitution, but it is difficult for people to remain free. Too many want to be taken care of by their government at the cost of their liberties.

I believe that the Constitution was inspired and countless Americans have believed this since our country’s inception. As LDS, we believe the words written in D&C 101:80, “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” But this is not limited to an LDS perspective. Many Christian denominations see that God has had a hand in the founding of this nation. Everyone can make their own choice as to whether that is true, but for an LDS person to deny it is to deny the doctrine of the church and that has nothing to do with politics. In my mind God’s plan is about freedom, Satan is for slavery. The more we cut away at the original intent of the Constitution the less freedom we have. In my painting “One Nation Under God” the painting makes the point that the Constitution is divinely inspired and that Americans need to make a choice. If you feel it is wrong for me to say liberalism is the source of the problem, then we cannot agree. I find it interesting that you refer to yourself as Libertarian. What kind of Libertarian are you? I will consider your points and I hope you will consider mine.


Shake You to the Core

My journey as an artist has been anything but what I expected it to be. From the time I was little I knew I wanted to paint pictures. After many years of painting only landscape paintings I had the itch to start doing more religious images. These were very satisfying to me because I could communicate through my art how I felt about Jesus Christ. When I painted “One Nation Under God”, little did I know I was about to embark on a journey that would shake me to the core.

It all started in 2008 when I decided to pray when feeling discouraged concerning what was happening in the election. I asked, “What can I do, I’m just an artist?” At that moment I saw the image in my mind for the "One Nation Under God" painting. Later I felt impressed to paint “The Forgotten Man.” This painting came after I prayed regarding the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I think that the Lord often waits for us to simply come to Him and ask the question...what should I do?

I know that these paintings can be very divisive. Some people have been angry that I would use my art to speak this way. I can't think of any person who has ever stood up for what was right that did not offend others. This life is not a popularity contest.

As an artist, I feel that I have no stronger medium to communicate my thoughts and feelings about what is happening in this country than my paintings. Right now our country is divided on many issues and I imagine this will continue to become more profound over time. May we remember to pray and ask the Lord to inspire us as to what we can do. But remember, sometimes the answer will shake you to the very core!


My Reflections Regarding BYU Removing "One Nation Under God"

The last few weeks have been both emotional and contemplative for me as I have watched the public respond to the removal of all my artwork from the BYU Bookstore. I want to take a few moments and walk through my emotions in regards to going public with this issue.

When I made the decision to pull the rest of my art from the BYU Bookstore, I felt like I was about to say goodbye to an old friend. I figured that I could either remove the rest of my art and say nothing, or I could let the public know why they would no longer see me at Women’s Conference, BYU Education Week, etc. I prayerfully considered what I was doing and felt good about the decision.

I began by posting on my blog and Facebook about what happened at BYU and it didn’t take long before many began to react to the news. Many of the major papers in Utah weighed in on the story. Soon, the news grew outside of our state as many expressed astonishment at BYU for rejecting a “conservative” image such as this.

When I made my decision to go public I knew that I would pay a heavy price. Even without the One Nation Under God, I sell a significant amount of art at BYU. I expect to lose thousands of dollars in annual sales for this decision. I knew that BYU would probably be praised by the rest of the country for rejecting my painting. (If you read any of the comments from the Salt Lake Tribune or Huffington Post article you can see that.) In short, I knew I would be a very unpopular guy for drawing attention to this issue. (But when has popularity ever been a factor in doing the right thing.)

My only regret over the last two weeks is the number of people that have taken this issue out of context. Some have condemned BYU as a whole, and I don’t feel this way. My issue is with only a couple of individuals.

I hope people will remember that even if BYU feels a need to remain politically neutral, they must stand firm on conservative principles that make us a moral and righteous people. The painting, “One Nation Under God” is not meant to be politically correct. It does not endorse a political party. It only asks the viewer to consider what is at stake in our country. Every American should decide whether they will support our Constitution which defines a limited federal government. As John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” If anything good comes from all this I hope it will be to draw attention to the question…will you STAND FOR TRUTH or be caught up in the tide of political correctness that is sweeping over this nation?