“Lord I cannot just paint any Christian paintings ...my longing is for You, to show me what you would have me paint...” This was my prayer a couple of months ago.
For weeks I tested various ideas of Jesus in different scenarios, but nothing worked in my spirit. But when the picture of Jesus hanging on the cross came to me one morning in stark detail and size, there was no question that this was from The Spirit, The Holy Spirit. He showed me that the painting was to be enormous in size, but also zoomed in: so that the image of the body of Christ would be chopped at the fore-arms and lower chest. Thus the focus would be on the upper torso, face and upper arms. It would be painted and hung in such a way that the viewer will literally be standing in the in the arms of Jesus as they search His face and His wounds…in the intimate place before Him.
How would we pay for such a huge stretched canvas right now? That was the first question, and many would follow, but the phone rang the very next morning.
It was a fellow artist in the area planning to downscale his studio. He asked if I would have use for two enormous stretched frames, (1.5 X 2 m each) complete with specially imported Belgium canvas stretched onto it. Gobsmacked…I mean GODsmacked I said “ sure, I was just looking for something like that” .. There and then the whole experience kicked into gear. Within that week we found a model that is just so perfect ( Thank YOU Abba! ) and my wife threw some things together in the kitchen on my request for “wounds”.
I did special effect make-up for the film industry for a short while many many moons ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Never would I have dreamt that you can make body putty and (very convincing!) fake blood from basic ingredients found around the house. Nothing is worse to a make-up artist than fake blood that looks fake, so I set out to find the exact hue and consistency that I thought would be right. But this was to be the start of the process of going into the wounds of Jesus… have you ever thought of how many times He was pierced, of how many times He bled, of what it would look like if a wound bled and the blood coagulated, got dust on it, bled again, got garments dragged over it, bled again…this was what we had to think about, and it changed the way we looked at Jesus on the cross forever.
The photo shoot was a fun experience with Janine helping with setting up lighting as well as doing the make-up. Chris, the model’s wife is a hairdresser and she helped us with the messing up of Chris’s hair. It was wonderful to hear her say every time she rubbed more dust and gel into his hair ” Love you!” What a blessing to have the wife that God prepared for you! Thanks Nini!
The images were stunning, but one stood out. Good! Now I just had to fit it to the size of the canvas that was given to us… It was prayer time again as I clearly understood that this was not my painting! Amazingly the Lord surprised us again with the image format fitting perfectly on the two given canvases with the split fitting perfectly at the most convenient place…
FINALLY BRUSH TO CANVAS:
All the preparation ran so smoothly that when I finally got the brushes in my hands I was surprised at the level of difficulty of this project. I was used to painting onto big canvasses, but this was still double the size I did before. The bigger an image gets, the more mistakes can be made exponentially… like a sliding scale…so all those mistakes I had to make and the learning curve grew and grew. Finally I had the composition in place, now I had to biggest hurdle to overcome:
The wounds took Janine and me on more than just a little journey spiritually. Emotionally I ended up entangled in the dread of it all, just journeying through the process. Not mentioning the fact that for the first time I was painting things that had absolutely no aesthetic value. Janine was constantly going “yuck!” as she saw the progression of the bloody mess that was so magnified in your face. Students and friends who came into the studio all displayed an array of reactions, and the most interesting was children’s reactions. They were not shocked or scarred as we expected, but rather looked comfortable with the painting. The aspect of large gaping wounds had me take the opportunity to literally write the sins and diseases that our Lord died for inside the wounds, giving the viewer an unforgettable experience. Keeping the work also in a very limited colour scale was important with red to be the most prominent.
RELEVENCE FOR OUR TIME
The painting couldn’t be more relevant for today! Early in this year I heard a pastor say that it is more important now than ever for us as believers to make use of Holy Communion. It is a blood covenant whereby we commemorate what Jesus did for us on the cross. Since the beheadings of Christians is a blood sacrifice against us, we must all use communion much more often to speak into the atmosphere the Truth about the Love Covenant of Jesus. This painting is a fresh and enormous 3 X 2 m artistic statement to everyone, a reminder of what Jesus did on the cross.
I am just left totally humbled by the experience. I never thought I would paint the crucifixion. It was a life changing experience with all the glory going to my Messiah Jesus Christ, praise His Holy Name!
A HOUSE ON A HILL
This work has a house in the painting that is right at the end of the peninsula across the water from our house. It stands alone and away from all the others.When trying to find out who lives there we learned that the home owners are members of a church close-by that we visit from time to time. And to top it the man was the harmonica-player that I saw and admired for his playing!
Not too many people really play that little thing properly and since I happen to be one of them, it was rather peculiar to find this in our small village. So I like to imagine the one harmonica player outside his place, painting the house of the other harmonica player across the water, but in the same village; ha! it sounds like a children’s novel! What fun!
House on a hill 2 800 x 1200 mm
This collection of paintings grew out from my easel, one I must say, that I did not expect. That is the stimulating part of this kind of life. Nobody knows what tomorrow brings…
Living in Betty’s bays area the last 7 years has been a blessing. In all this time living by the coast I had the pleasure of seafront views every day. Looking out first thing in the morning through large windows down to the ocean, working a full day with that view on my right, leaving the studio at the end of that day to walk along this beautiful beach has been such a special feature of my life! What sets Silver sands beach apart from just any other beach is the mountain with its mysterious charm. Also the fact that the beach is mostly desolate…entirely yours, so wild and free.
This had me often whipping out my Blackberry, shooting from the hip, a fun shot or two to remember the walk.
Being amazed at what I found from a few happy snaps, left me looking at these “snapshots" again and again. Painting seascapes is not easy and I was not going to step towards it lightly. But I finally did, and “afternoon walk’ was born. The excitement that it created spurred me on to paint more seascapes… and soon I realized that the sea is where my creative heart and life IS right now. It is down here by the coast that my whole life was transformed! This is where I found Jesus Christ transforming my mundane life into an exciting radiant spiritual path! It was during a beach walk with Janine on her first visit that my ( no OUR ) lives got transformed with a prophesy from a stranger and started blossoming into more than a friendship. Now I am blessed with a marriage with an incredible gift of a woman, and gone are the days of lonely walks, the seaside has become a place of working and laughing together, taking literally thousands of photographs, and many many prayers.
I love the fact that I am not formulating ‘products’ that coldly stand alone and apart from my life. My work is inseparable from my life; my work in fact speaks of my life.
Did I mention the word exciting already?
A little interesting story about two of the paintings - A HOUSE ON A HILL 1 & 2
When I was a young boy, I walked around in galleries often, because my father is a sculptor. Sometimes there would be paintings that just so absolutely lifted my soul,
I would stare at it for hours, and for a whole while I would not be able to get that particular work out of my thoughts. Often I would find myself returning to the same gallery to enjoy it yet again and get my soul fed. The thing that crossed my mind was this…
If I could one day produce work that touches people’s souls, something that would lift and invigorate them, I would be ecstatic. That has become my mission.
I do not paint simply paint to be creative or to have a creative “ job”,
I paint because this lifting of the soul is a passion and a calling.
Very much like a physician comes full circle when he blesses a patient by resolving an ailment.
Today I still walk into galleries and just feel the work with my soul. Letting the unspoken conversations flow. Light, colour, texture, movement, expression, rhythm…. The instruments that touch the inner core is there on the walls of the gallery… but does it move me?
Does it reach the spirit?
Does it tell a story and what is that story? Can I live with this work of art every day if it was in my house? What is the eternal quality of this work? While contemplating these questions I do not look at my watch or at the price tags… I go into the world of pictures and shapes… and read the story of the artists combined with my own memory bank …what music does that create in my soul?
Or a noise?
It is with this challenge that I stand in front of my canvasses every day.
A childhood drive and an adult dream is the brush that I carve every work with.
Thrilled with painting light and nature I chase after the beauty that will uplift the soul of the painter and viewer…
Like all people creating something, I partake, even if it is in a minuscule way, in in the work of our Creator God…singing the song of beauty in this world… therefore aesthetics is a prominent factor in my work, and it always will be.
Aaa but such high standards calls for dedication and sweat…. Sometimes blood and tears…
( just a joke…no blood in my work people )
It calls for many hours of mistakes and corrections, catching the light.. then losing it… finding the color… but not the second time… and oh the tedious work of pleasing my wife… a very harsh critic… thank God!
I ask myself often how the difficult subject matter and the rendering thereof comes to me…
it seems a mystery….until I see again THE LIGHT…the balance ..the rhythm…the EMOTION…THE STORY…
and I suppose I am fired on by the challenge to conquer every work for my own pleasure. Hoping that the world will see what I see…
and be able to share the joy!