As Pastor Keith Moore and his wife Debbie get settled into their new church in Pekin, a congregation member is helping with the finishing touches with her wall murals.

Lori Sea, 52, of Pekin, has been a member of what is now Central Life Church for five years. Keith Moore and his wife moved to their new location at 1100 Hamilton in the spring. Moore said he and his wife purchased the building from Emmanuel Community Church, which disbanded. Keith said he chose the location because he likes the “neighborhood feel.”

Knowing of Sea’s artistic talents, Keith Moore approached her about helping to decorate the church with her paintings. Sea said she was happy to help. She based the mural in the main sanctuary on her favorite scripture — Mark 15:34, which according to the New International Version is “At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lemasabachthani?’” Translated, that reads as, “‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’” The mural shows the three crosses at the time of Jesus’ Crucifixion. Sea said she did research to make details accurate, such as the types of trees depicted. It took her about a week to finish and required her to be on a scaffold on her knees to do the ceiling painting.

She has had a creative streak since she was a child, she said.

“Mom and dad had a huge chest freezer, and I would take markers and draw on it and mom would take Clorox and clean it off. I’d get home from school and have a clean slate to draw on again,” she said. “It’s all a God-given talent.”

Sea said she wakes up in the middle of the night with an idea that she has to paint before going back to sleep. 

“I see it in my head then I just paint it,” she said, adding that she does her work freehand with no sketch work prior to putting the brush on her template. “He told me what he wanted, so I saw it in my head and painted it.”

Sea also did some painting in the main entrance and a “VeggieTales” theme in the nursery. Sea has done many paintings in other churches, but she said the “VeggieTales” was one of her most unique jobs. It is challenging, she said. She was not familiar with “VeggieTales,” and it is very detailed, which means more time.

In addition to painting, Sea does pottery, cake decorating, drawings for Ducks Unlimited and even donated artwork for Ted Nugent’s Kamp For Kids program. But Sea’s favorite creative outlet is painting murals. She said her first mural was in 2005 when she overheard some people talking at a bowling alley. They were looking for someone to paint a mural, so Sea pitched her offer. 

“I had never done a mural in my life,” she said. 

Sea painted a southwestern theme in the woman’s home for $500.

One of her biggest and most challenging pieces was on a 43-foot wall at a church on Route 29. 

“I never painted anything that big. … It’s like a Thomas Kincaid,” Sea said.

Keith Moore said he is amazed with the mural in his church’s sanctuary. 

“When I saw it, I was like, ‘Wow, it’s gorgeous,’” he said.

Debbie Moore said Sea is too critical of her work. Sea did not disagree.

“We look at it and say, ‘That’s beautiful, and she says, ‘That ain’t right,’” Debbie Moore said.

Sea said, “If I notice a mistake, I usually have to do the whole wall all over again. I did a painting of the Starship Enterprise for (a doctor), and he knows the Enterprise, and there was one window I had that was off kilter, and he did recognize it. He didn’t notice it, but I knew it was there, so I painted the whole thing over again.”

It is likely this attention to detail that has helped Sea win awards throughout her life. She placed second in state for cake decorating in 4H, and she has earned awards from Ducks Unlimited.

“I’m very passionate about my artwork, the talent that I have,” she said. “I don’t take it lightly, and I won’t paint just anything.”