Digital photo, dimensions vary
Artistic practice is an exercise in perception. Working from life requires keen observation and working in abstraction shifts one's focus to subtlety of material. In both approaches, contemplation is key.
“Be still and know that I AM God.” (Psalm 46:10)
This command to stillness and knowledge is a call to contemplative living, an invitation to active silence in which being is united with doing.
Mother Teresa in her book, In The Heart of the World: Thoughts, Words and Prayers writes:
“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”
A productive artist must both be and do. For the Christian, faith and works are inseparable; the one expresses itself through the other.
Man is both ethereal and eternal. Our lives are but a breath, a vapor that is fleeting, yet we are made in God’s image, having reasonable souls and bodies that will be resurrected to eternal existence.
We are all born His offspring in terms of our image-bearing humanity, but God calls us to bear His likeness, into which we are not born but must be formed.
God is not far off from any of us,
“For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.”
-St Paul (Acts of the Apostles Ch. 17)
He breathes into us His Spirit of Life so that we may be changed by His power into His likeness. Man is both ethereal and eternal, soul and flesh, a substantive shadow.
Black and White Show
Gallery on the Square
Alpine, TX 2023
An archival print version of the painting Non Passe Peccare (center) is on display this month at a local, downtown gallery highlighting monochromatic works of art in all media. I find it amusing that it appears to be one of the two pieces that have a blue tinge. Tell a painter that they are limited to black and white and they are apt to ask, "Which ones?"
Non Passe Peccare
24" x 30" Oil on Canvas
I recently took a course called Man, Sin and Salvation that outlined the doctrines of Anthropology, Hamartiology and Soteriology. St. Augustine of Hippo described the four states of man: Pre-Fall (able to sin, able to not sin), Post-Fall (able to sin, not able to not sin) Reborn (able to sin, able to not sin) and Glorified (not able to sin). This painting is an analogy for these concepts and how I conceived of them visually.
The "blank page" on the left is man in the state of original righteousness, not developed into all he could be but still fresh with potential for good and evil. He is unsullied.
The next image (counter-clockwise) represents man's Fall from original righteousness into sin. The fold has irreparably changed man's nature and marred him from his original state. Anyone who has folded a paper plane or made origami will appreciate how folds matter and also affect all folds going forward.
The third image is of the second fold and represents reborn man in a state of Grace. There is a mirror fold to the first, which is meant to suggest the empowering of man to obey God in his vivified nature. I especially like how this incorporates man's Fall, reflecting God's sovereign foreknowledge that allowed man free will, knowing that he would Fall and yet having an ultimate plan for redemption in spite of that frailty. It has been said, "Sin is therefore against God's will but never outside of or beyond God's will. God permitted the Fall to occur because in his omnipotence he could bring good even out of evil."*
The final image of the completed paper airplane suggests man's final state of sinless perfection. It is not a return to original righteousness (Adam's state, the original unmarred page with the possibility to obey or disobey) but something better. Man is transformed, deified-being made a partaker of the divine nature. We are caught up into Christ in a state of perfection to be eternally united to Him and Non Passe Peccare (not able to sin). This is well pictured by the transformed paper, now capable of flight, designed with intent and able to be lifted to the heavens.
*(Hoekema, Anthony A. Created In God’s Image. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (Grand Rapids, MI), 1986. p. 132)
This is a constructed painting in the Polychrome Mechanic Series entitled Potential Momentum. It's a three-dimensional painting with bas-relief components. I approach this as a combination of painting and small-scale model-building and think of these works as objects/spaces.
Polychrome Mechanic Series - Potential Momentum
Watercolor, Graphite, Plastic and Glue on Paper
10" x 14"
Thank you to Kiowa Gallery for having me as a guest artist along with well-known regional artist Lindy Cook-Severns. It was a pleasure to meet locals and visitors during this annual two-day event. Turnout was great despite the wintry mix of snow and rain on Saturday.