HAPPY NEW YEAR from SOLI DEO GLORIA STUDIO
ADVENT Week 5 (December 29-January 6) EPIPHANY
We are still celebrating Advent.
This first week of
2014 2015, when our calendars remind us that time is passing, consider things eternal: Celebrate Epiphany, the feast that ends 40 days of Advent!
I’ve discovered that there is more to Advent than the anticipation and coming of “Emmanuel” (God with us) to Bethlehem. The climax of Advent is Epiphany, when The Babe was recognized by the wise men of the world. It is a celebration of the coming of Christ to the Gentiles, not just the Jewish people.
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).
But Epiphany also celebrates the Baptism of Jesus and his first miracle at The Wedding Feast at Cana. This manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles and the revealing of His divinity are important to the history of Redemption.
The Christian faith is historical. At its heart are historical events — the Creation, the Fall, the Incarnation, Christ’s death, and the Resurrection — events that happened. Here is a translated first source document written by Athanasius On the Incarnation: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/history/ath-inc.htm.
Last year, I was commissioned by my church to paint this historical biblical faith and its theme of Creation/Fall/Redemption, a theme emphasized by our pastor. I was honored but also challenged. How could I summarize this in one painting? I have painted realism (real events and historical facts recorded in a realistic manner — portraits of people, houses, and pets). I have also been working abstractly. Truly all art is an abstract view of reality. That is, it is an artist’s view of that reality, not the real thing. We humans like to “see in pictures.” But we also have imaginations. To paint Creation, the Fall, and Redemption, real events, realistically would be impossible. The mystery of spiritual and unseen reality invites abstraction. And to paint the concept of God becoming flesh (Incarnation) invites both abstraction and realism.
In my artist’s statement I say, “Christ brings all reality, Seen/Unseen together.” The Spirit of God illumines my mind, imagination, and my hands. It is only through His power that I am able to know Christ and see with new eyes. This challenging commission was in God’s hands as much as mine.
I have been studying the book of Revelation with its complex pictures and symbols. This book summarizes the story of salvation and human history. It reveals the unfolding of human history as a scroll with seven seals. I began the commission by preparing a panel and attaching three relevant texts. Some text would be hidden by the layers of paint.
The text at the top is the doxology from Jude 1:24. Below it I attached gold leaf. This V of glory from heaven references my earlier work. It also refers to Redemption which is from God and not from man. I began the painting using golden colored oil glazes and wax, referencing the glory of God’s CREATION proclaimed, “Good.”
I transferred patterns of lace . . . with intricate designs and various blues to suggest “the surface of the deep” at the beginning of Creation.
Next I mixed complementary wine-reds for darker values. The dark cross separating heaven and earth like a horizon or cross symbolize the FALL. In this band there is a crown of thorns. The color red is the color of grace / REDEMPTION.
Then Incarnation “happened!” I had not planned any image of Christ. But as I was layering the wax and oil paint with my palette scraper near the bottom of the panel, a figure emerged. I scraped out a bit of dark paint to form a shoulder. To the left of the figure I scraped away wax to allow some of the text to show. The result was the OPEN scroll! He alone is worthy to open the book and break the seventh seal. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of history.
(text detail in scroll on right is from Revelation 1)
I then mixed blue and greens and repeated the scroll motif in the heavens — rolled back as a scroll and more blues to the bottom of the panel. II Peter 3:5 — by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water.
The dark band of cross is broken by a descending shaft of light. Red, the color of life, appears beneath the gold leaf. Christ has come to redeem his bride. Resurrected and standing at her side, He wears a victor’s crown of laurel leaves. The Battle is over. He rules His-Story. The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever (Revelation 11: 15).
Scrolls Unfurled (Creation/Fall/ Redemption)
20 x 30 oil and cold wax and gold leaf on panel