okay, so this is my first blog–please bear with me, i am really bad about remembering to capitalize pronouns and beginnings of sentences;)
evan has been on me about posting my thoughts on this new art pocket blog thing, and so i guess I’ll start by talking a little bit about 2 of the paintings in the photo he took yesterday morning. there are 4 in-progress paintings in the photo: left – a painting of the virgin mary, middle – a painting of angel wings, above on the mantle – a painting of the sun setting in my back yard after a storm, and right – a painting of eve.
(see photo below for reference).
About a year ago, God put it on my heart to begin painting scenes from the bible. Historically, the church has commissioned artists to do this, creating visualizations of characters and settings from biblical writings. And even though these days many churches aren’t into commissioning artists, it is my goal to continue in this art historical tradition any way, taking some of the popular stories from the bible and putting them into a contemporary visual context.
So I’ve started this biblical series of women of the bible, with Eve and Mary being amongst the first ones I’m depicting. I feel that one of the reasons I began with women is to help restore health and spirit to popular notions of femininity and beauty. Sometimes I think that the western world’s whole view of women has been formed out of some misconceptions about what these two women were like. i will ruminate more on this topic soon, i promise! but for now, i have quite enough to say about the painting of mary.
so the painting i’m working on in the photo is of mary pregnant with jesus. and yes, she’s naked.
i know that many folks, especially my christian brothers and sisters would be shocked or even find this scandalous. well, my response to these kinds of reactions would be this:
we come out of the womb naked. adam and eve before the fall were naked. god didn’t knit us in the womb with clothes on.
and by the way, i’m really not into making contreversial art. and i really don’t enjoy confrontation either. but as a figure drawing instructor, i perhaps see the human body through different perceptual lenses. to me, the human body is a miracle, evidence of god’s workmanship, artistry and beauty. and the fact that god came to this world, hung out in a womb, became a baby, a todler, a child, a teenager, and a grown man, all in a human body is absolutely amazing when you think about it!
i mean, how humble can you get? the almighty god who made the heavens and the subatomic particles, experienced the plight of his human creation!
so this is part of the reason that i wanted to paint mary in the fullness of her pregnancy–to show what a loving and beautiful thing it was for god to do, to become as weak and helpless as a babe in womb. and i also wanted to take mary out of the stained glass and show her humanity too. she was a woman with an incredible responsibility and honor. but yes, she was a WOMAN and no doubt looked like many pregnant women do, with a round belly and swollen ankles and the special ‘glow’ that only a mother-to-be can emanate.
over a year ago, my friend tiffany modeled for me in her 8th month of pregnancy. we did a photo session in my house and it was one of the coolest things i’ve ever experienced. i looked at her body in wonder. this tiny girl-woman i’ve known for over 10 years had all of a sudden stepped into this gorgeous mode of womanhood that left me awe-struck. she had a new strength and beauty i’d never seen before in her. and i thought “WOW, how cool is it that god lets us little human beings co-create with him! How amazing is it that he’s given woman the experience of carrying a life in her belly!”