As a public speaker and author, Jonalyn Fincher has drawn thousands to listen to her healthy perspectives on culture, sexuality, and religion. Curly-haired, Mexican-Polish, California-raised, Southern-educated, Jonalyn blends uncommon ingredients into a diverse and cultured perspective. Drawing from her degrees in History, English, and Philosophy of Religion, Jonalyn speaks with an intuitive understanding of people’s struggles. With 15 years as a pastor and 10 as a painter, she now works as a Pastor-Painter. 

When asked about her past, Jonalyn says, “I was raised in a very respectable, but restrictive community. Kinda like a cult but without the Kool-Aid. I learned to blindly trust others at the expense of myself. Healing required I relearn what trust meant by looking for better mentors.  I was considered dangerous because I disagreed with ‘The. Only. Way.’ I did reject the cult’s idols, but I never gave up on God. He kept shining a light that led me out of that suffocating life.”

Jonalyn credits those challenging years for shaping her clear-headed approach today. “Because of those struggles, I developed new strengths in my recovery tools—friendship, grief, and careful thinking about worldviews. As a bonus I also notice abusive authority swifter than most.”

“Saving Lives” was Jonalyn’s first solo show in New Hampshire. A year in the making, Jonalyn painted watercolor portraits, scenes and still-life that capture the untold stories of the COVID years. She invited people to enter into the memories with beauty and gentleness.  Invitations for written and drawn response concluded the exhibition along with Jonalyn’s watercolor landscapes of the Seacoast where she lives.

When interviewed about her painting journey, Jonalyn says, “Having my first son awakened me to this gift that was just sitting there, untouched.  Though I painted in my teens, I only dabbled. Once I had a toddler tugging at my shoelaces, I decided to jump into a formal watercolor class. The birth of my second son, however, helped me finally unpack and confront my past. His little life fueled up my courage to protect my boys better. I stopped navigating disruptive people and suddenly found buckets of emotional energy to pour into painting.”

You can find her paintings displayed at art galleries, boutiques, and shops across the country. Her online shop and articles on beauty, healing, and friendship can be found at her blog. When not painting, Jonalyn enjoys planting perennials and yanking weeds in her garden. She’s often spotted deep in conversation with her husband and sons as they walk along the tidal river.

Jonalyn Explains Watercolors

I laugh when people say, “Oh, watercolors! Must be so relaxing.”

Painting watercolor is much like a chess match, you need to think way ahead before you begin. The whites are the sparkle, vital to keep the life in each painting. So when you see white or lighter colors in watercolor, this is the paper left untouched, or painted around, not typically white paint added afterwards. So, before any paint touches the paper, I’ve already thought through the lights and darks. I typically paint a value study (black and white painting) as a road map to show me how to connect big shapes and reserve my lights. This means that any successful painting, one that moves me and has a sporting chance to move you, is the last move of a long game.

Often I paint outside to capture the true color and values of a scene. Taking those “field notes” and my value studies, I work on the final piece. I paint standing, usually with moving scores of music (no lyrics unless it’s in another language). Painting is most like facing a worthy opponent. Rewarding and exhausting and good, but not relaxing.

Timing is everything in watercolor. I have to know how wet or dry my paper, paint and brush are, every time they touch. I don’t tape my paper down. Instead, I begin each painting with a wet sponge, wetting down the back and front of the paper, this keeps me fluid and playful. It also means my paintings can be float mounted with the raw edge exposed, a nice feature unique to watercolors. And then I paint with large brushes for the first wash, running interference, protecting certain areas from the next wash.

I’m creating something for others to get to know, something they’ll want to live with and return to study. So I try many ideas, rip up sometimes, and start again. Watercolor is always teaching me how to harness passion with planning. Err on one side or the other, you can always tell. I don’t want sheer emotion or rigid planning, I want a dance of both. That’s why some paintings end up tossed out, but the successful ones, those are the ones you’ll find here in my Shop.

In our souls, I imagine a switchboard of all the faculties we have been given by God to use for awakening others. More than any other activity, watercolor painting flipped more switches into the “on” position. Nothing else activates so many gifts at once. Consequently, painting brings me life, helping me see the real world better, showing me connections I didn’t know existed, pointing me back to the God who made this marvelous world.


Blog Posts

All is Calm

Painting a Garden

One Painting with All Your Ski Memories

Spiritual Conversations

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Commissioned Artwork



Still Life

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