Monday, October 17, 2011

Edible Color

I love the colors of produce! These orange and yellow bell peppers at the local farmer’s market caught my eye.

Monday, May 16, 2011


A close-up look after the church service. I like his style. I like to get up close to paintings too. Once, my college painting class toured a Monet exhibit in Baltimore. We knew better than to touch but we all gathered about an inch away. The shocked docent admonished us that Impressionism is best seen from a distance. "Oh yes, we know, we assured her, we're art students and want to see how he did it."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Whole Picture

And now, here’s the whole painting!

I “told” the parable from right to left instead of the usual left to right pattern that we westerners usually follow because I wanted the good example to be the one closest to the viewer.

Next time, I’ll post some pictures from its presentation.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Deep Understanding

According to Jesus’ parable, the difference between the person who has the Word of God choked out of him or her by the “worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things” and the one whose life is characterized by strong growth is understanding and acceptance of the Word. The Greek word translated as acceptance means “acceptance that it is correct”, which I have rendered as, “Yes, it’s true and right.” Though it’s common for people to airily say, “Oh, we’re not supposed to understand,” the Bible is filled with exhortations to “Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”(Proverbs 4:7) It occurs to me that if we really understood who God is and what he is offering us, there’s no way the “worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things” would be able to capture our attention.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Seed for the Sower

The seeds of the black mustard plant that Jesus so often talked about are “dark red-brown” so I painted a sheet of scriptures about the Kingdom of God, balancing the literal color of the actual seeds with a need to be able to read the text through the paint.

I then punched out the seeds with a very old hole punch, lining up as much as possible, each one with a significant word or a recognizable portion of a word. Picking up each “seed” with my childhood stamp tongs (see, you can use all kinds of tools!) I glued them to the canvas with an archival paste, and then dotted each one with acrylic varnish for protection. I didn’t realize when I was doing it that there are at least 300 of them! I thought it was taking quite a while!

The method of seed sowing in Jesus’ day was that of “broadcast” sowing; the sower would reach into a bag or basket, grab a handful of seed and fling it through the air. The seed would fall where it would fall. We so often get caught up in “targeting our market” with demographics and such that we forget that the gospel must go everywhere; yes, so that as many as possible would be saved but also so that everyone will have had the opportunity to have heard—whether they accept it or not, so they are without excuse.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Not a Chance

In case you’ve wondered, I’m posting these portions of my Parable of the Sower painting/collage in the order that I painted/collaged it since I worked in layers.

The beak of a giant (crow-like) bird devours the seed before they get a chance to sprout--the devil steals the word from some people’s hearts before it has an effect.

I rubbed a charcoal “willow” over the bright yellow beak before I collaged it—giving it a more sinister look.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Can’t Take the Heat

There was a seed, Jesus said, that sprang up quickly. The person was happy to hear the gospel—after all, it is good news. However, the plant (person) didn’t have much of a root or way to get nutrients—no maturity that comes from understanding, to sustain the person (plant) when the heat of persecution came. Persecution for Jesus’ name sake is a very real issue throughout the world today. It often starts (and thankfully, sometimes goes no further) with insults such as I’ve painted here, “You don’t really believe that stuff do you?”, “Jesus didn’t mean that.” “What an idiot!” When insults don’t sway a person, jealousy often goes beyond taunts to threats such as we’ll “disown you” and in fact many new followers of Jesus are disowned by their families but Jesus told us it would be this way. (Matthew 10:21) Christians all over the world are being threatened, arrested, beaten—even killed because they dare to follow Jesus. Yet, when others talk about praying for them that the persecution will stop, they often surprisingly counter, “Oh no don’t pray that, pray that we will have strength to stand up under it.”

Hebrews 10:32-35

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:2-4

The words I’ve painted here in hot yellow are from top to bottom are: disown you; deny or your family (…bad things will happen to them); Jesus didn’t really mean that; arrest; out of house and home; you’ve gotta live in the real world; what an idiot; you don’t really believe this stuff?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What’s the Point?

For my Parable of the Sower painting, I filled the thorns with collaged words representing “worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things”. On the left are some of the many anxieties of today’s life: terror, taxes, “pat-downs”, tremors, pink slip, “used to”, and “what now?” Since I’m also a writer, I’ve chosen expressions which give the meaning in a more condensed or even poetic way; instead of "lay-offs", I’ve used the term "pink slip", one that is infused with more personal emotion—that of finding the telltale “pink slip” in your pay envelope, which announces that you no longer have a job. “Used to”, speaks of aging and “what now?” of anything from job loss to retirement or graduation, to loss of a loved one.

The thorn plant on the right is filled with words of allurement to get more: “I want it all”, “why stop there?”, “keep up”, “chance to win”. Then there are the many distractions—“the desires for other things” that are, though often pleasant, still distractions: “third quarter”, “tweet”, “out of the park”, “call this number on your screen” (this one can be anything from infomercial buying to voting for your favorite idol…hmm) And at the base of it all is “This offer expires”, as none of these things will deliver what they promise or last.

Painting and collaging the thorns was depressing as I was confronted by just how much worries, wealth and wants keep us from maturing in following Jesus. Jesus said they choke out his word and us! I found myself wondering if I had, like the little boy in The Little Prince, made my drawing scary enough. Were my thorns sharp enough or would people say as they did to the boy when he presented a drawing of a boa constrictor that had swallowed an elephant, “Why should I be afraid of a hat?”

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just Fine, Until…

The seed that “fell among thorns” sprouted okay and grew for awhile but it wasn’t long before it was choked out by the “worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things”.

I modeled the thorns on thorn plants—often used today to make “crowns of thorns” reminiscent of the one pressed onto Jesus’ head. However, I imagined the roots as spidery things.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Growth

I did a lot of preplanning for this painting—as is my way. The perennial question asked of artists is “How long did that painting take you?” We artists are at a loss to know why that would be so important. The stock answer--and a true one is, “All my life.” We’re always learning, observing, pushing ourselves to try new things—and researching. In this case, I have seventeen sketchbook pages of research.

Life as a follower of Jesus also takes time and attention to develop and mature.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Root of the Matter

While there doesn’t seem to be much difference in the soils Jesus described in his parable of the sower but rather the amount, the plant produced by the soil in each case was very different. Remember—each group heard the gospel, the same gospel, and there’s no indication that one group heard it any less than another.

But the seed sown in rocky soil “sprang up quickly”, not putting down any roots of spiritual maturity. I’ve used sewing thread to represent the barely there root.

The Root of the Matter 2

Another seed seemed to have pretty good soil with the root beginning to develop well but its growth was stifled by thorns growing around it. (more on the thorns in the future)

The Root of the Matter 3

But the fourth seed landed in really good soil, putting down deep roots to take in all the necessary nourishment. I’ve illustrated the parable with the black mustard plant (the one Jesus refers to in other parables), which has a tap root—if you’ve ever gardened, you know how hard it is to pull up one of those!

Friday, February 11, 2011

From the Ground Up

I’m using some new techniques to build layer upon layer of “soil” for my Parable of the Sower project. It has taken more time than I expected but I’m pleased with the results.

In the parable, there doesn’t seem to be that much difference between the different soils but rather how much soil there is and what else (rocks,thorn plants) is there to derail growth. (Mark 4:2-20; Matthew 13:1-23; Luke 8:5-15)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Preparing the Ground

I do a lot of preliminary planning for my collage paintings. For example, artist paint comes in different pigments and each mixes differently—green isn’t just green.

Yesterday I studied images of broadcast sowing of seeds for the Parable of the Sower project—the kind of seed planting Jesus referred to.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Seeds of a Project

I’m working on a painting/collage for a local church's 46-part sermon series (!), a survey of the Bible. My part is the “parable of the sower”. As an avid gardener, Jesus’ agricultural illustrations have always resonated with me.

I’ve been enjoying the background research and Bible study that I always do for my collages.

Here is one of my preliminary drawings.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I often do worship painting at church—painting as worship during worship music. The Lord always gives me a teaching as interpretation of what I’ve painted but last Sunday, he took me further--into a prophetic act with each stage in the process having meaning.

A lovely red and a beautiful green.

Mixed together they make black—representing good things in life put together in an unholy way.

I added some Mars Black and Ochre to make it really dark. I rarely use black paint since black doesn't reflect light.

Then I scribbled over the painting and chomped it with my pliers.

Most of us had made a mess of our lives in going our own way.

But when we become followers of Jesus, we die to our old life and its ways—represented outwardly by the waters of baptism and here by washing the brush.

Jesus took our old life and reduced it to nothing.

Replacing our old life of sin, selfishness and destruction with a new life—a new start.

Instead of following in the ways of death and destruction, we turn around (repent) and live our lives in obedience to Jesus and for his glory.

I will walk about in freedom for I have sought out your precepts. Psalm 119:45 (they are) the theme of my song He has brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (out of the dominion of darkness!) Colossians 1:13