The Gift of Gold – I


IMG_9640Last year when I was about to begin a large commission called The Fisherman, I received an email from this sweet lady who had found my studio on the River Arts District website. She wrote, My father passed away a number of years ago and left from his tools of the trade – boxes of gold (as well as composition gold made from copper and zinc and aluminum and silver leaf as well as his daggers, burnishers, and brushes).  My brother was going to throw them out but I took them thinking that they would be of use for someone. . . . I went on the internet and googled for artists in the Asheville area.  Spotted a short description of the artwork you produce and with religious themes I felt this was the right avenue to pursue since my dad and grandfather did work in churches back in Ohio.






What perfect timing! I already had a specified 60 x 76 inch surface constructed — three panels bolted together vertically — like an altar piece with The Fisherman on the central panel. The commission was to be abstract with The Fisherman overseeing the scene below — his fishermen drawing in their nets. The clients were familiar with my work since they had purchased a painting called One Who Came On The Waters of Time / The Fisherman and had also commissioned a piece for their wine cellar, Water into Wine/The Wedding Feast Miracle . But they needed a large painting for their Florida residence — a focal point of faith in their home. We talked extensively.  I received relevant fabric swatches, which inspired me to order powdered mineral pigments like malachite, azurite, and chrysocolla to compliment their colors and the ocean near their Naples home.

However, I had not expected the divinely sent “gift of gold”! How would I best utilize it, since my painting method is a process of layering paint? Would I hide the gold beneath the layers of paint? This layering process did in fact influence my decision to save the 23K gold-leaf for surface application and I would use the composition gold, an alloy of copper and zinc, beneath the wax and oils. (Composition gold would tarnish to a brown-green over time, actually adding to the colors of the sea. But cold wax medium that I mix with my oils has damar resin in it, which acts as a protective varnish. Even cold wax medium alone can be used as a final layer. I tell my clients that for extra protection, after a piece has dried for about six months, an additional UV varnish can be applied if they choose to do so.)

In the ancient suitcase of leaf were other metals used by her father — metals like silver and aluminum leaf. Rather that using the supply of silver leaf  which tarnishes to black, I used the aluminum leaf as the ground surrounding the gold-leafed figure of the Fisherman. This foundational figure with resurrection arms raised would be calling and sending his fishermen. Also the fact that The Fisherman would be mostly hidden beneath the subsequent layers of  paint and wax became an appropriate metaphor for the sovereign Fisher-King who works his ways of effectual calling mysteriously “behind the scenes,”

aplying the aluminum leaf

I researched water-gilding, the process of applying leaf which is so fragile and hammered so thin that the slightest air movement makes application difficult.
IMG_0758The figure-ground would be painted with two different colors of bole, a clay based paint.
I chose a blue for the aluminum leaf and deep red for the gold. These colors would show through the unevenly applied leaf to become part of the overall composition. As the red bole appeared through the tears and rips in the leaf, it reminded me of  Christ’s sacrifice and the color of  grace.

IMG_0942   IMG_0862   IMG_0949

Then the layering of paint and wax could begin! I covered both figure and ground with colors of the sea and began to develop the fishermen at the bottom of the painting. I  allowed the gold and silver to become integral to the composition by scraping off the surface layers before they dried. I also inscribed lines that reminded me of my The Nets of God Series and the boat shape which was thematic in my Vessel Series. The large Fisherman held his nets in the heavens as the small fishermen drew nets into their vessel below.


The Fisherman bottom half Dec 2016

While the paint and wax were soft and pliable, I also made marks suggesting speech and Word of God. I incorporated automatic writing suggesting joy and song and later deliberate mark-making as in the Hebrew text  השיחה  (the call) under the face of The Fisherman inscribed when the paint and wax were drier.

Right arm  The Fisherman Hebrew text detail
Capturing the mystery of the face of God was a challenge. Nothing sentimental or trite would do for The Fisherman, whose sovereign rule spoke the world into existence and who dwells in unfathomable mystery. The Hebrew text הדייג in his diadem reads The Fisherman.

Detail of face of The Fisherman
Some of these details are difficult to see from far or if the light is not reflecting on the gold leaf. This mystery adds to the glory and transcendence of the GOD and Creator of all things including faith! “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2).

The clients are happy that The Fisherman will be overseeing the gathering of many friends and guests who visit their home! The “gift of gold” was indeed a timely gift of grace.

Installed Jan 2017

It has taken me all year to write about this first painting using my “gift of  gold.” I hope  to write about the rich metaphor and mystery in the commission that preceded this commission, The Wedding Feast / Jesus’ First Miracle. It will have to wait, as I am currently working on another miracle, The Miracle of the Five Loaves and Two Fish!
In 2017, I also painted  The Return of the Prodigal, and The Gardener, using gold leaf as the foundation.
Happy New year — 2018 — from Soli Deo Gloria Studio.





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Cherry Bounce/The American Elections: An Invitational Exhibit at the William King Museum

Last year, guest curator Eric Drummond Smith invited me to be part of the “historical” show Cherry Bounce/ The American Elections at the William King Museum in Abingdon, VA. It was historical in subject matter–its theme the history of the American elections from George Washington to Barack Obama, the 44th President. His well-chosen title Cherry Bounce, an Appalachian liquor, alluded to either hope or despair as we anticipated the yet undecided outcome of the November 2016 election. It was historical because Nixon. jpegI was assigned the Nixon/McGovern race of 1972 (the Nixon poster called for “a sense of history, not histrionics”), and historical also because my own Christian faith believes all of history is a story with a divine plot and the post-Fall battle for power.

I am a painter who is conscious of this “grand narrative” called history. My statement reads, “Bomer is concerned with the human condition surprised by the grace of God” (  This assumes the spiritual world and the God who is involved with history. In Psalm 2 God says, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and his Anointed” . . . but God in heaven laughs because his appointed Son rules and will judge the world in righteousness.

Christ’s birth happened in real history. His Incarnation is the focus of my work (see Abstract/Incarnation). Jesus, who is God made flesh, brings heaven and earth together. His death and resurrection ended the battle that began with Adam’s rejection of God’s authority, when God put enmity between those who follow Satan, the Father of Lies, and those chosen by God to be followers of Christ (Genesis 3:15).

This first piece is called Box of Lies. I used encaustic wax medium because it dries immediately as the beeswax and images are fused onto the surface with a torch–an important feature as I had an August deadline (and this was July).

Framed Box of Lies 18 x 24
Warrior King detail

At the top left of the painting, I positioned the image of Guido Reni’s, Saint Michelle the Archangel, a symbol of the promised Redeemer. His foot is on Satan’s neck, symbolizing who wins the battle while lips lie and cherries bounce.

The battle for power is further symbolized by the central Tower of Babel, which ironically looks like a large rat–its forked tail suggesting the infamous Watergate tapes.

The Tower of Babel painting by Pieter Bruegel (1563) has been an on-going motif of my Global City Babel Series. I find this Babel image particularly relevant to our culture and the postmodernist belief that language is power and necessary to create one’s own truth. Postmodernism is anti-foundational. It promotes relativistic language, where the meaning of words becomes merely a social construct and “the world is a text.” Lying is good if it promotes our cause. We design our image and construct “a name for ourselves.” Bill Clinton’s infamous phrase “It depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is,” marks him as our first postmodern president. God’s name “I AM” is the root of the verb “to be” or “is.” The God who is the author of language will judge every word we say. He is also called The Word of God.

I included text from John 1–“the Word became flesh and lived among us.” It is visible above the fiery tower of the second painting called Come HOME America, the title taken from McGovern’s anti-war poster in this 1972 election. I filled the central O with cherries. 

BOMER Come HOME America 18 x 24
I wanted the poster to become Christ’s call to “Come to Me (America) all you who are weary and I will give rest for your souls.” The red of the cherries is the color of God’s extravagant grace and the red apple (a motif found in both paintings) is a symbol of man’s fallen human condition.

The Nixon lapel button embedded in wax was from my husband’s political days and the “box of lies” image was taken from a story in the Asheville paper about a rigged 1964 election. In my process of arranging images, the shape of a large “Babel lizard” is rising out of the slime, its eye the burning civil war Henley submarine.

By combining text and image, both important aspects of my work as explained in my statement, the assigned challenge of combining history–the American elections with all its words and propaganda posters–into a coherent and meaningful work of art was challenging. Using beeswax and oils to embed images and words allowed me to create connections and metaphors that pointed to the mystery of the eternally relevant story–or history! Much of my work is more abstract, so this was a refreshing assignment in the midst of the contentious 2016 conflagration.

Russian film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky said, “Art is born and takes hold wherever there is a timeless and insatiable longing for the spiritual.” This longing for spiritual meaning makes sense because we are body, mind, and spirit, created to worship–to give worth to–the God who created us. If  we do not give worth to God, we will worship something or someone else–yes, perhaps the zeitgist of the age and the belief that man can determine truth from falsehood without divine truth to guide him. The spiritual world is as real as the material world. And because there is a spiritual battle, the conflict of ideas and images will continue.  I want my work to be art that wrestles with and acknowledges the spiritual–work that illumines the invisible world. Babel is in the heart of every man, but God’s grace is bigger. God rules over history and elections. America Come Home to this God who rules in the heavens and rules the affairs of men. Return to truth and righteousness found in his Word.
We do not wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 6:12 ).


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Anatomy of a Painting / “The Fishermen” (2015)

Anatomy commonly relates to the dissection of an animal or plant in order to study its structure. But it is also defined as an analysis or minute examination. This is an analysis of a painting that came to be titled “The Fishermen.” My only regret: I wish I had photographed the process more methodically!  But perhaps the process (that miraculously came together as if I had orchestrated it) will help illuminate my painting process.

One Who Came On the Waters of Time Series

“Art is work and the making of things is about process—a ‘truthful activity,’ Makoto Fujimura calls it–-that which unveils the veiled truths of what it means to be human, to plumb the depths of reality”(Catherine Page). My work is about this process of revealing true reality. It includes experience, art practices, education, intuition, and a “liberated imagination“–liberated by faith in the Creator God who holds all reality together and is the wellspring of truth and light.

I had no pre-planned idea where this painting would take me. I had been reading  Island of the World by Michael O’Brien and his poetry at the back of the book (“Beneath the Waves,” p. 822-825) was an important influence. A 4′ x 5′ gessoed panel was ready for the application of oils and cold wax medium. My main tool, a yellow-handled dough scraper, was lying ready on the table.


I chose a warm Quinacridone Gold as the unifying base color (and a bit of red), hoping that fiery glory might show through later. Then I  layered these warms with cool blues to begin a watery theme.

1. beginning a new painting

The blues blended into the oranges while the paint was wet. I welcomed the subtle mixing of these compliments. I scumbled my scraper across the surface, allowing imperfections, scratch marks, and lines to add interest and texture. Scribbled words also enhanced the mystery and meaning in the layering process.

3. early on.

4 horizontal ABBA ideaThis Hebrew word, abba, was hidden in subsequent layers.

I began working horizontally but the darker blues on the right suggested ocean and “the one who came on the waters of time.” Then a “swimmer” appeared in my imagination, so I scraped off some of the darker blue to reveal his shape “beneath the waves.”

“To you, the one who came on the waters of time, like a swimmer, you passed in front of my eyes . . . . You were there a sudden presence, a form, a fire, slow silent fire . . .” (Michael O’Brien).


But “the swimmer” was hidden in the subsequent layers of blues and became “the form, finely wrought, fire upon the water” (ibid).

O Form Finely Wrought Upon the Waters,,,Fire Upon the Water 3 x 4 feet  oil and wax on panel.



Then I waited several weeks before returning to this painting. It was too monochromatic and lacked a strong focal point. Courageously I attacked it with red. Perhaps I was seeking Incarnation and “the one who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ; not by water only but by the water and the blood”(1 John 5:6). I allowed a figurative shape to appear in the negative shapes and added warm oranges and a lurid yellow around it. This layering would build the “history” of the piece, allowing glimpses of red and yellow to show through later. I also sprayed these warm colors with mineral spirits. They ran down the center of the painting to break up the space on the lower half.

I applied gold leaf above this figurative shape to suggest glory. I was thinking of the One who walks on water, but unfortunately controlling the miraculous is not possible. Instead of mystery my painting felt contrived. To unify it, I had to forgo any predetermined outcome. I had to release it and approach it as design. Then, perhaps a miracle could happen.

The colors were not right, so I added glazes of red and  greens and covered the distracting (and contrived) gold leaf. A large painting is more difficult partly because it is challenging to mix the correct amount of color needed for a large area.

thinking this was finished

(Sadly at this frenzied turning point, my process overshadowed my concern for taking photos!)

I mixed bolder colors — a huge amount of the complimentary color — a dark purple. I covered the intrusive figures (now there were two “water-walkers”) and courageously lost the entire top half of the painting, using rollers. It was an ominous dark, but I left a bit of white to the left side and scraped away an arch shape.

I do not recall how the two figures emerged from the grey blue that I layered over the purple. But to break up this dark expanse I loaded my brush with mineral spirits and began making automatic marks, the music of the spheres or perhaps God singing His Creation into being. Then I immediately subtracted the dissolved color with a sponge roller to reveal the very first blue layers underneath. The miracle was beginning to happen!

In releasing or “giving up control, “mystery and beauty began to emerge. The random large “speech marks” became God’s voice on the surface of the deep as He spoke creation into existence.

Finally, I worked the central figurative focal point by incising the painted layers down to the first layers of paint. The Nets of God “emerged” next to the figures referencing my Nets of God Series. I removed some of the paint around the two figures, but the tiny cross between them was unplanned! The crux of history showed itself miraculously. It subtly joined the two figures — God the Father and God the Son (The Fishermen), who were coming to gather the elect from every nation. They were standing at the gates of heaven.

detail One Who Came

I am always amazed how the wrestling and work that is painting is a miracle — a miracle given to us as creators by The Creator which allows us to reveal the God who created the visible and invisible world. Painting is indeed a process of working and waiting on God to direct my heart, soul, mind, as well as my hand.

“For in Him we live and move and have our being, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are his children.’” Paul is explaining the divine to the Athenians at the Areopagus in Acts 17. Life is sacramental. We are created in the image of God to give him glory.

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Epiphany: “a showing forth” of Jesus


Epiphany is a Christian festival observed on January 6th. It commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi or Wise men; the Twelfth-day of the Christmas celebration which ends the last of the five weeks or forty days of Advent (December 29-January 6).

After forty days of awaiting the birth of “Emmanuel” (God with us) at Bethlehem, we celebrate the climax of Advent, Epiphany, when Jesus Christ is recognized as King by the wise men of the world. Christ Jesus is shown forth not just to the Jewish people but to the Gentile world.

Yes, the 40 days of Advent are over. The King of Kings is here! Wise men still seek him.
And we wait during our “40 years of tribulation” for the final Epiphany when every eye will see him, and every knee will bow and confess that Jesus Christ is King.

The Magi were members of the religious hierarchy of ancient Persia and Media (the region corresponding to modern Iran). They were scholars and practitioners of astrology and the first Gentiles, men of renown, to come and worship Jesus, the King (Matthew 2:1-12). Hieronymus Bosch painted an account of this historical event in 1495 (detail left — now in Madrid’s Prado).

To “show forth” Jesus to the world, Epiphany also celebrates The Baptism of Jesus  and  The Wedding Feast at Cana as depicted in these two modern day icons. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River is seen as Jesus’ manifestation to the world as the Son of God. 



The Wedding Feast at Cana shows forth his divinity as he performs his first miracle. This wedding was performed in a Gentile town in Galilee, not Judea. It is a fitting anticipation of Jesus’ own Wedding Feast in eternity celebrating with all nations tribes and tongues the Wedding Feast of the Lamb!

The Marriage at Cana
My recent commission (below) about the joy at the taste of new wine at the wedding feast in Cana or Jesus’ first miracle could be named Epiphany! An epiphany is also “a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.”


Water Into Wine / The Wedding Feast   40 x 52 inches oil and wax                 grace carol bomer

It was a revelation of “awe and wonder” when the wine Jesus made from water was first tasted. This amazing wine was and is a picture or foretaste of the awe and wonder of heaven itself and the celebration of The Wedding Feast of the Lamb in eternity.

In the lower part of the painting are the six water jars for Jewish purification. The  wedding celebration is happening! The central jar is the crucible of the cross, “the still point where the dance is” (T.S. Eliot), and the miracle truly happens. Jesus, the God-man, mediates between heaven and earth and out of his pierced side blood and water flow.

water-into-wine-the-miiracle the-crux-of-the-miracle-woman-my-time-is-not-yetThis crux of the first miracle is Jesus’ own blood sacrificed for sin that makes celebration in heaven possible. You may be able to see his thorn-crowned head in the red central stem of a chalice connecting heaven and earth. Christ is looking down on his mother Mary’s face in the base of the chalice.

the-bride-meets-her-loverthe-lamb-of-godAt the top of the chalice (the top of the painting) is the figure of the Bride dressed in embroidered garments meeting her Lover, and on the left side The Lamb of God stands on a golden throne.

The chalice suggests Holy Communion, one of the sacraments that Jesus instituted for his “Bride” while she awaits full and perfect communion in heaven. Blues, reds, and golds symbolize the colors of water, blood, and Spirit — the three that bear witness to this first miracle that “shows forth” who Jesus is, the God who came to redeem a people (his Bride) for himself, the God who celebrates and loves his bride in the splendor of holiness and beauty.

The joy and anticipation of eating and drinking with Jesus Christ at his table with all nations tribes and tongues is part of the celebration of Epiphany.

This manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles and the revealing of His divinity are critical in the history of Redemption.

Advent has ended and we await the Second Advent with anticipation!
Happy New Year.

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Moving to Warehouse Studios #6 in Asheville’s River Arts District

10369175_10203160628748997_2697038602531871524_nI will miss the artists at The Pink Dog Creative, owners Hedy Fisher and Randy Shull, and the space there that David Holt shared so graciously with me since January 2016. Glass Sky Enterprises purchased my former studio at 140 Roberts Street Studio, so I have been thankful for this interim at Pink Dog.

David is leaving at the end of August as well. He is being inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in October, so has been very busy with little time to paint. I do own this small piece of history though! Wish you continued success David!


January 1 moving in; quite a downsize from 140 D! By August (below), I was crowding David out!


Pink Dog Creative July 2016

Fortunately, I found a large space on the second floor #6 of  The Warehouse Studiosjust across the railroad tracks. (right or wrong side of the tracks?)  It is a huge luxury with library space, wifi,  and my sixty-dollar sofa for napping and artists’ gatherings! Can’t wait to get it organized!


Best of all, it has lots of room to paint and teach! I am excited to begin work on several large commissions I received recently. This will be a private place to work. (Pink Dog was open to a common room with less privacy.) Please come visit when my door is open at The Warehouse Studio or call me for an appointment. (828..545.2451)

So far, no messy tarps or paint cover the floor, but a gessoed triptych panel (60 x 76) awaits!
My next post — The Anatomy of a Painting — is about my work process and why a commission is difficult, because the left brain has a tendency to analyze and follow consigned plans. It gets in the way of the right brain and the spontaneity of the spirit. I hope to document it along the way!

Painting is work and wrestling. The making of things  is about process — the process of unveiling veiled truths / revealing true reality, discovering what makes us human. This takes both sides of the brain and the help of the Creator God and Holy Spirit. My work process includes my experience, my intuition, my education, my art practices, and my faith in a God who holds all reality together and is truth and light. I am looking forward to getting to work!



The wall to the left  is a gallery wall and paintings lined up are waiting to be hung.

fan needed for the month of August!

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Advent / Incarnation II


 Advent Celebration
The Account of Christ’s birth

Variations on the same theme S

My painting Variations on a Theme / The Four Evangelists (12 x 12)  seems a fitting image to reference the four gospel accounts of the birth and life and death of Christ Jesus – Emmanuel – God With Us. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each present a uniquely inspired picture of Jesus’ birth and life. Take time to read them.

Matthew’s gospel is to the Jewish people and presents the authority of Jesus as The King of the Jews, The Lion of Judah. He begins with the historical records, “The record of the genealogy of the Messiah . . .

Mark’s gospel presents Jesus as the Lord who serves and proclaims with immediacy the good news of this miracle-working Savior who comes to be a sacrifice. He begins, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Luke, the physician, writes his gospel with precision and detail for the Gentile nations and shows a human Savior, The Savior who brings liberation to the poor and neglected. Dedicating his book to the Greek, Theophilus, he begins, “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses . . . .”

And John’s gospel presents Jesus as the incarnate God, who created the world and comes in flesh as the Word of God, “who is the true light that enlightens everyone.” He begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God . . . .”

The four gospels are variations on the unified theme. They tell us who God is in all his power and glory. Like the four living creatures around the throne of God in the book of Revelation, who proclaim continuously, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come,” the four evangelists share the same “good news!”

In 1614, the painter, Peter Paul Rubens painted The Four Evangelists. It was common in Medieval art to describe the gospel writers using animal characteristics – in reference to Revelation’s vision of God himself in His various attributes by four living creatures. We see a lion lying at Matthew’s feet, Mark rests on the ox, an eagle hovers over John, and a human face like an angel hovers over Luke.

File:Peter Paul Rubens-Die Vier Evangelisten.jpg

The four figures in Ezekiel’s vision also reference the four living creatures in Revelation. They surround the throne of God and proclaim His glory.

Ezekiel 1:5-14 . . . Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form. Each of them had four faces and four wings. . . as for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right, and a face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle.

Ezekiel’s Vision shows my painting of the four creatures proclaiming glory to God .

Ezekiels vision300 dpi

The final revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 4: 6-11) shows us this glorious God.  “And around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first creature was like a lion and the second was like a calf, and the third creature had a face like a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures each of them having six wings are full of eyes around and within, and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”

The mosaic below is over a thousand years old. It shows Christ with the four creatures around him.
The Four living creatures

Plaque with Agnus Dei on a Cross between Emblems of the Four Evangelists


The gospel or good news of Jesus Christ told by four inspired writers is central to salvation. To the right is a Medieval ivory plaque which shows winged evangelists or tellers of good news surrounding The Lamb of God.



Albrecht Durer painted The Four Apostles rather than The Four Evangelists(1526). He painted them for the town hall (not a church) of his hometown of Nuremberg. And instead of three panels, he omitted the prescribed center panel with Christ or Mary. The two panels are larger-than-life-sized portraits of the apostles. He painted John in red in the foreground pointing to the verse in his gospel which reads, “In the beginning was the Word . . . . ” The spread of The Word was important to Durer. He was a contemporary of Guttenberg who had just invented the printing press. Durer illustrated many copies of newly printed Bibles which were finally available to the common man.

File:Albrecht Dürer 026.jpg                              File:Albrecht Dürer 027.jpg


May we continue to celebrate the eternal story told in four uniquely and perfectly told narratives by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The Scepter Shall Not Depart from Judah Until Shiloh Comes 300 E
  The Scepter Shall Not Depart from Judah     UNTIL SHILOH COMES  
48 x 48

In Anticipation of Christmas!

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“Babel and The Babe”

This is the title of a small study that sums up my Global City Babel Series about the antithetical war between the words of men (Babel) and the Word of God (The Babe of Bethlehem). I mentioned following up on this painting in a previous post called Word/Image.


Babel and the Babe   7″ x 7″ graphite, watercolor, text on paper

This painting and the one following are featured on the covers of Issue 8.1 and 8.2 of  Relief Journal. Babel and The Babe is on the Spring cover. (It was incorrectly titled Babel Baby, suggesting instead a human baby or our human condition, not the intended “Incarnate Word of God made flesh,” the baby born in Bethlehem.)

The City of God / The City of Man, 36 x 36 inches mixed media on canvas will be featured on the Fall issue.

Global City Babel City of God City of Man

This encaustic mixed media painting, divided into two parts, is also about the antithetical war between Babel and The Babe. The bottom half includes black and white photographs I took in New York City and images of the 1999 war in Kosovo and the Balkans. The top half includes church architectural drawings, Arabic text — the Word became flesh descending on the tower, biblical texts and the large text — I AM. It is covered with golden beeswax.

The City of God / The City of Man
takes its title from Saint Augustine’s book De Civitates Dei, in which he presents human history as being “a conflict between the Earthly City (The City of Man) and the City of God, a conflict that will end in victory for the latter. The City of God is marked by people who realize the transience of the earthly city with its concern for power and pleasures. They dedicate themselves to the eternal truths of God revealed in the Word of God. The Earthly City consists of people who celebrate the pleasures and cares of the present world and who believe the ever-changing words that promote power, peace  and comfort on earth.

The basic thesis of Augustine’s book is the history of the world as the universal warfare between these two cities and between God and Satan — the theme of my Global City Babel Series. This biblical warfare began when man sinned. God told Satan in the Garden of Eden, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). This conflict is also summarized in the final prophetic drama of the book of Revelation (The Unveiling).

Last week, the painting Foundation/Global City Babel that began this series was purchased by collector Dona Spaan for the Permanent Collection at  Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a collection that includes  artwork by Gerhard Richter and contemporary Dutch photographer Henrik Kerstens (1965).


IMG_4520Global City Babel FOUNDATION for Radix Mag

The Tower of Babel  (right) by Pieter Bruegel (1563) is my central motif. It references the biblical tower (Genesis 11) where God intervened to confound man’s words and his desire “to reach  the heavens” and “make a name for himself.” This Dutch artist had a biblical view of reality. His visit to Rome inspired this Babel tower styled after the Roman Coliseum.
Christians of his day equated Rome with the Biblical, Babylon the Harlot, the antithesis of the Bride of Christ. Babylon was the seducer of man’s heart.
Babel and Babylon symbolized all that is opposed to God’s Word and his glory.

The hand-made frame of this painting includes the all-seeing eye of God at top center and small pilgrims in the wood on either side. The incised text is the stylized acronym for the Tanakh or the Hebrew Scriptures.

vertical detail Power IssueThis series describes our postmodern culture where meaning and words are confused and manipulated for power. Breugel’s Tower is an apt symbol 500 years later as this cosmic battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is revealed. It will continue until The Word of God, who is Faithful and True, returns to claim his kingdom already won by his sacrificial death.

Babel’s Child I (below) is also about this conflict. The figure is bowed with a Babel tower on his back. A snake skin, a symbol of The Fall, is embedded in the beeswax at his feet and the sacrificial death of Christ is alluded to by the snake on the pole.

Babel's Child I for Seeds LA

In  Purified Lips (below) God’s Word descends from the sky. The title is taken from Zephaniah 3:9 — For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, and all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder.The Tower of Babel is situated on deconstructionist texts and city plans, while the text from the sky in the French language is from John 1:1 — In the beginning was the WORD and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

Purified Lips unframed P


Babel Grace Reactor

Shoulder to Shoulder 12 x 12 inches                      Babel Grace   24 x 24  (Hebrews 12:18ff)
The two paintings above were also inspired by this text from Zephaniah 3:9.

In Babel Overturned the Tower of Babel is upside-down in a turning sea. The cross, the means of Satan’s conquest, is referenced by the incised grid of red lines (the Nets of God).

c. Babel Down
Babel Overturned   2006 encaustic on panel  24″ x 24″

The Babe of Bethlehem pronounced Satan’s mortal wound and defeat as he approached the cross. He said, Now shall the prince of this world be cast out (John 12:31)And in his last discourse Jesus proclaims as if it were already an accomplished fact, The prince of this world has been judged (John 16:11). In the painting below you can see the plumb line and the tent or tabernacle over the Tower of Babel. This suggests judgment, when all shall be justified or made straight by the God who “pitched his tent” or tabernacled with us (John 1:20)

c. Global City Series He Tabernacled Among UsTabernacle  (2005)   24 x 34  (New Canaan, CT collection)

Global City Babel text encaustic S        A Day of Clouds  S 12 x 12 inches
A City that Cannot Be Shaken 12 x 12 inches       “State Protection” . . . 12 x 12

As this battle between Babel and the Babe wages, we wait. Until Christ has taken captive all His captives, we are “strangers and aliens on earth,” captives in a foreign land. As C.S. Lewis writes, “We are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of he door. . . . But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in (The Weight of Glory).

Finally, two recent paintings on “Ikea photographs” of cities — New York’s Brooklyn Bridge is turned upside-down, the city is burning.  It references Revelation 17  about the doom of Babylon, the Great Prostitute (aka the Harlot) — all that is opposed to the Bride of Christ. They (those who follow the Beast) will make her (Babylon the Harlot) desolate and naked and devour her flesh and burn her with fire . . . and the woman that you saw is the great city.

Global City Babel  New York I
New York City – Brooklyn Bridge /Global City Babel  54″ x 32″ oil and wax on archival Ikea photograph.

And London is turned sideways, painted in whites, suggesting the purified bride where the unrighteous deeds are covered by the God who came to take the judgment and wrath of God on himself. This  Vessel makes sins of scarlet “as white as snow.”

Vessel Series  London Yo 38 x 5u are the VesselLondon /Global City Babel  32″ x 54″ oil and wax on B&W Ikea photograph with red bus

Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away (Matthew 24:35), Josh Garrels  sings in  Words Remain.

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