The Presentation 36 x 36 oil and charcoal on canvas
This week my painting titled The Presentation found a home in Arlington, Tennessee. Dallas and Stefanie visited my studio in the River Arts District of Asheville earlier in the month and called to tell me they wanted to purchase it. This blog is especially for them. It is a brief statement about the painting but also why it came to have poignant significance for me this year.
First a bit about my initial process. I began abstractly using oils and charcoal to make marks. I had no definite plan in mind. When I smeared the charcoal at the top of the painting, an image of a lamb “appeared.” Since it was at the top of the painting, it looked to be overseeing or ruling the scene below. This is paradoxical — a lamb that rules.
The lamb that rules is of course the baby Jesus, The Lamb of God, who was born in Bethlehem. To reference this Incarnation or “taking on flesh,” I needed an image of a baby. My friend Mary (really) obliged me and gave me several old photographs of her baby daughter, Anna.
I sketched this “little lamb” into my piece.
The painting remained in this unfinished state for several months. I named it Immanuel — God With Us but it was not finished. Although the babe was descending into time and space, the lamb was too dark and there was no hint of the anticipated sacrifice — the sacrifice of God’s only lamb.
The Old Testament foreshadowed this coming necessary blood redemption. (Leviticus 17:11 — For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.) God’s people were commanded to sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on the doors of their homes when the Angel of Death came to take the first born from their Egyptian captors the night of the Passover. And until The Lamb of God came, millions of lambs were slaughtered as sin offerings
I began adding white to the lamb and adding a hint of red to suggest the coming sacrifice and death. I integrated and subdued the golden background to greys so the lamb and the baby would be focal point in the painting. It was then that I saw the
large golden shape around the lamb emerge. It was the glorious figure of The Father or a Shepherd standing behind his lamb. He was presenting “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Unanticipated, on January 18th, we began the journey of leaning heavily upon this sacrificial loving Father, who did not withhold his only Son, but sacrificed his “little lamb” to rescue us dying ones. Death is the enemy we all face and fear.
Our son and wife’s baby daughter, Piper Jane, our first beautiful granddaughter, was PRESENTED into her heavenly Father’s presence. Her death completely unexpected and her “home-coming” a terrible departure before she opened her eyes to this world. It has been particularly hard. We weep with our children in hope that the God who is “the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” knows and understands sacrifice and sadness, our God who PRESENTED his ONLY SON.
Dallas and Stefanie, thank you. Only after you committed to purchasing The Presentation did I discover that you are fellow believers and are now praying for our son and daughter in their grieving for Piper Jane. And in God’s providence, we are praying for your friends, David and Christina, who are suffering the same tragedy this very week. God’s ways are so above our ways. We rest in Him. Thank you for praying.
The Presentation (photo: January 18, 2015) of Piper Jane Bomer