If you’ve been following along for awhile you will know that 5 years ago I started a journey to paint a piece that I knew would be one of my major works, a rendition of the Genesis Tree of Knowledge.
What I did not know was that it would take me 5 years to complete it and how it ended would forever change the way in which I painted. But such is life, full of wonders.
Let me tell you how this came to be.
Every year I have added an element, changed an aspect and at times completely painted over parts of this painting, so much has changed both in the art and the artist.
As some of you may know, I am a Christian and as such I bring to my Art elements that only a Christian artist can bring. I’m not talking about skill, imagery or style because anyone can do that, religious or secular alike but instead I mean Intent.
Everytime I create I try to focus on how I can make an impact in the community fitting of my faith and the gifts of artistic talent I have received from my Creator. So that when people look at something I’ve made they can see or feel God through it.
You see, as a Christian I fully believe that I have been blessed with a talent, a gift that is designed by God, entrusted to me to use to help spread the good news of Jesus love to others.
(I understand that if you aren’t from a similar worldview this will seem foreign to you but I believe and the Bible teaches that we are all uniquely created and loved by God to have a relationship with Him through his son Jesus Christ and to serve others by sharing God’s love and Salvation to a hurting and broken world)
Many in the Christian faith would question the validity of Art, and the value an artist can have in the faith; all too often citing biblical references of idolatry as one of the main downfalls of art. Believing that man should be the created not a creator.
They are all too quick to forget that in the Old and New Testament God placed value and trust in these artists. Who do you think he commissioned to sew and design the highly embroydered Priest robes, follow the design for the Ark of the covenant, paint, sculpt, carve, smelt the elements in the Temple. These were all preformed by artisans.
Try Re-reading Exodus or 1 & 2 Chronicles or 1 Kings if you don’t believe me. Artists were well established and present in the church community.
For many years I have struggled with my role as a Christian artist letting myself believe that the only way I could contribute was through donations from the sales of my creations but that the art itself was of little to no real value, just another perishable item.
But I was wrong. I let my talents be cheapened and undervalued, I drank the Kool aid, bought the lie and fell into a very narrow mindset of what value a Christian artist could have.
But then it clicked, the Holy Spirit came by snapped me back to the truth and I woke up. So let me share with you some of the things I’ve learned.
First, what I forgot was who’s image I am made in.
If we are made in God’s image, then by nature creation in itself is something that is intrinsic to mankind. God is not Anti Art or against humanity creating. We we’re given freewill which means we are free to create. Its what we do with that creation that matters.
If we raise our creation above us and above God, deifying it then we are missing the point and placing value and importance on something that is just something beautiful not the ultimate source of Beauty, God.
Now I know some of you will say, but we don’t worship art in today’s world.
Have you ever seen one of the “greats” art pieces sell at an auction. It becomes desired, sought after and coveted but it’s still just paint on canvas despite the degree of skill it’s created with. The artist was just a man(or woman) with an artistic gift. Just as blossoms on a tree are beautiful they will fade but hopefully they were intented to bare fruit.
Secondly, Since I was given this natural talent, this gift, it’s not inheritantly wrong it’s like anything else it’s the intent and purpose to which it is used. So if I paint intending to use it to edify myself, to seek public praise pump up my ego and fill my pockets with riches I am using my talent poorly.
But if I create with the intent to Glorify my creator, with the purpose of showing and sharing God’s love with others than I’m creating with purpose. Intent makes art go from paint on canvas to something with meaning. It opens a dialogue with the viewer and starts a conversation between souls.
Thirdly Art has value.
Yes you read that right. The things I create, you create have value. Not in that I plan to be this amazing artist and bless the world with my unique style and skill value. No. Though there’s is the value of skills shared and passed on from artist to artist.
But it has value in that the God of the Universe, the master Creator has blessed me with this ability and love to create.
So think of it this way.
Christian artists are in an apprenticeship with the Great Artist the Creator of all things.
Now am I greater than the master? No. But it’s not about Greatness, I would argue that it’s about Humility.
If I put my ego aside, then I can focus on the Master Artist and take advantage of this time I have in His apprenticeship to learn all I can. Artistically and Spiritually United as one. We are made whole in Christ not to compartmentalize aspects of us but to work smoothly as one whole entity.
I can use my Art as David the Psalmist did to praise and communicate with God. Each painting, each creation can be an offering, a dialogue like prayer, a way to worship my maker and a way to share that experience with the viewer.
So how did I finish this piece in one weekend after 5 years of trying? Simply put I prayed and asked God and the Holy Spirit to guide me and help me to work with purpose and just like turning on a light the Artist block I had was removed and I could see step by step where this piece was going, what materials to use and that it needed to be done now. So I followed the Master as he guided me through and I worked for 3 days straight finishing it.
I hope in someway it blesses you and helps you to draw closer to the greatest artist that ever was, is and forever will be.
I will be doing a separate post in the next few days giving the creative breakdown of this mixed media painting. But for now here is
“עֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע” –
(Etz ha-da’at tov va-ra)
Which is Hebrew for
“The Tree of Knowledge of good and evil”