Here are some paintings to contemplate on this weekend as we approach Easter...
Crown of Thorns (above)
And they clothed Jesus in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”
Mark 15:17-20, 26
Take a close look at the Crown of Thorns (otherwise known as the Christ plant) that comes from Africa. If you look at its red flower you can see the hint of a cross and the blood red center – and the green leaves of life (and resurrection).
The Holy Place
watercolor, Lyra oil pencil
Framed original 16”x 20”
Jesus said to them (Peter, James and John), I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here and stay awake with me.”
And going a little farther, Jesus threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”
Then he came to his disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into a time of trial; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Matthew 26: 38- 42
The Blessing Cup
watercolor, colored pencil
Framed original 24” x 32”
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ... He leads me in right paths for his name sake...
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil: my cup overflows.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?
I Corinthians 10:16
watercolor, colored pencil
Framed original 24” x 32”
As the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat upon it, His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow...The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know you were looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.”
Mark 15:17-20, 26
Christ is Risen! Alleluia!!
We were in Victoria over Easter visiting with our grandchildren and their parents. On Easter morning, we rose early. As the dawn began to lighten the sky, my own anticipation grew within me. My heart welling up in joy. Christ is risen, Indeed! I love the song I first heard Sandi Patti sing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb1ayV5sTtM
Was it a morning like this?
When the sun still hid from Jerusalem,
And Mary rose from her bed
to tend the Lord she thought was dead…
Did the grass sing?
Did the earth rejoice to feel You again?
Over and over like a trumpet underground
Did the earth seem to pound, "He is risen!"
Over and over in a never-ending round
"He is risen, hallelujah, hallelujah!"
I sang most of the way on the 20-minute drive to the beach where several congregations gathered to share in greeting the sunrise with an Easter service of singing, praising God. It was a beautiful morning the clouds were a blushing rose hue. The Cascades across the Strait of Juan de Fuca were clear and bathed in pale pink. And as we sang the sun broke over the hills. Glorious!
The week before Easter, I reworked the painting: A New Covenant for a Painting Prayers session for Lent for a women’s group. I was never quite satisfied with the part of the painting where the light was exploding out of the Holy of Holies “as the curtain was torn from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51), so I fixed it. This moment in time is a glorious event - The curtain that separated us from the Holy of Holies, God’s presence, was torn as Jesus breathed his last. It signifies a New Covenant that the old testament passage in Jeremiah refers to:
31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
We can be known and loved by the God of the universe. He will write it on our hearts, we can belong to him, know him. “I will be their God and they shall be my people.” My heart sings glory and rejoices as it did on Easter morning.
Art is a work in progress. Is a painting ever finished? Maybe for a time. I put it in a mat, or get it framed and hang it on my wall, and I let it speak to me. I see things I didn’t before. I see connections, stories. And I sometimes see ways to repaint it, or ways to take it further to a new idea, or to improve it. Often, my paintings are my “windows to God.” Moments that I hear God speak to me in metaphor. I have shared some of that to you through my blogs and newsletters and in my book. Sometimes the same painting can speak to me differently than it did before. I may be done painting it, but the process continues with each person the painting connects with, like a story, that lives on with the retelling, with every person that it engages.
Like paintings, we are also works in progress.
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!
Spring is slow in coming this year. Well, I’m not sure it is any different than other years, but we had a teasing 20C day a week ago, which has made this past week feel even more cold with its sub-zero temps.
This wintry spring that doesn’t want to let go brings to my mind the last verse of the Easter hymn, Now the Green Blade Rises:
“When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain, your touch can call us back to life again,
fields of our hearts that bare and dead have been; love is come again like wheat arising green.”
(J. M. C. Crum 1872-1958, French Carol)
The beauty of flowers and the promise of spring lighten my heart. They bring the promise of new life, hope, and the renewal of love touching our wintry hearts and souls. A touch our world surely needs.
I contemplated these things as I sat in the Muttart Conservatory on Monday, delighting in the lovely scent of tulips and hyacinths and painting the fresh signs of spring while the cold wind blew outside.
I continued to work on the painting a little bit more this morning, but it is still in progress. It is at the long stage of pushing and pulling, deciding what details to keep and what to abstract or suggest. The process cannot be rushed. Although I refer to the photos now and then, I also listen to the painting and let it help me decide where to take it. The delicate fringe of the frilled tulips is delightful to paint, but whether I saved the frilly whites well enough with the masking fluid I will not know until it is ready to be removed.
12 students learned to see the flowers in new ways and paint their favorites during the Acrylic Flower Painting workshop last Saturday at the Muttart. Here are some of their results:
As people learn the creative process, regardless of the medium, I find I am always teaching them how to see this beautiful world in new ways and the nuances of light and contrast. It is all about seeing and trusting the process of painting as it unfolds.
Even winter has its beauty. I completed this painting of cross-country skiing at dawn amidst the hoarfrost. Title suggestion? I loved that crisp morning with the light of dawn coming through the trees as we skied the field and enjoyed the magical hoarfrost sparkling and lighting up the trees. Medium: Acrylic on canvas, size: 14 in x 17 in.