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Biblical Paintings

During my M.F.A., I felt the strong desire to create a series of Biblical paintings.  The series is probably the most difficult art project I have ever faced.  However, through the hard work I learned more about my art and more about my faith.

I could not have made it without the care and prayers of my friends and family.  I am grateful for the Pensacola Christian College staff, in particular Mr. Joseph Digangi’s encouragement in difficult times, and fine artist Brian Jekel’s and illustrator John Taylor’s skill and expertise that guided me through.  I am especially grateful for my family's help and encouragement through my months with very little sleep.  Also, I am ever more grateful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for His sustaining power.  Making a series of paintings is so insignificant compared with His incredible love and mercy.

For this massive digital project, I wanted to create the appearance of fine oil paintings.  I researched and sketched just like normal.  However, the paintings were ten times the size of anything that I had ever done on the computer.  How could I put ten times the amount of detail into a painting in the same amount of time as normal?  Practice, perseverance, and prayer.  I had never worked on anything over 100 megabytes, and for these projects the file sizes were easily 5 times that.  Some paintings took a half an hour to save.  Often I would wait too long before saving and would lose important work in a program crash.  This experience would help me in the future when I worked on a project 6+ gigabytes (that's 6000+ megabytes).

As challenging as the technical aspects proved, the real benefit of the project had nothing to do with gained knowledge or skill.  The real benefit lay in the viewers who drew inspiration and comfort from the messages within the paintings.

Enoch Translated shows the character hovering between physical existence and spiritual existence—a life after this current life.  From the very beginning of Genesis, the Bible shows that this life is not the only existence.  This illustration is a fanciful look at what the world and people might have looked like before Noah’s flood, and how a translation between worlds might have looked.


Unfortunately, like closed systems in the famous law of thermodynamics, men tend toward degeneration.  Noah’s flood is a harsh example of the results of evil in men’s hearts.  The Bible describes how the entire earth was flooded by God because of the detestable acts of humanity.  He allowed one man, Noah, to escape with a specially designed ship that floated above the devastation caused by the ravaging waves.  Deluge portrays how the powerful, destructive waves might look.


After the Flood, men degenerated again.  Humanity invented gods to worship instead of worshipping the great God.  They also twisted the practice of sacrificing animals to appease God to the practice of sacrificing their own children.

When God called Abraham audibly, the call was unusual.  Usually God works silently as men live their own lives.  When God promised Abraham a son at hundred years of age, that was unusual too.  But when God told Abraham to sacrifice that son, that was anything but unusual.  All the cultures around Abraham worshipped their wooden and stone idols by child sacrifice.  Child sacrifice, though a sad practice, was the norm at that time.

In Abraham and Isaac, I imagined the horror of the event as Abraham walked steadily to the altar where he would kill his son to appease his God.  However, God did not let Abraham touch Isaac.  By setting this example, God showed that He would never require child sacrifice.

Unfortunately, some cultures still practice child sacrifice even today.  They need to realize that their child’s death cannot pay for their guilt.


Isaac eventually grew up, married, and had kids, and eventually his descendants were known as the nation of Israel.  For several hundred years the Israelites lived in Egypt, but then they moved back to the same country Abraham and Isaac had originally lived in.

I try to find unusual moments to illustrate.  In Rahab's Vigil, I took an event that is not specifically mentioned in the Bible.  Rahab sheltered the spies from Israel, and in turn they promised protection in the future destruction of her city.  This shows Rahab waiting the return of the conquering Israelites.  The scarlet rope that she used to save the spies hangs out her window, a sign for the Israelite army to leave her alone.


In Return of the Ark, some Israelite harvesters hear the bawling of the Philistine cows bearing the Ark of the Covenant on a cart.  The Ark was the most precious item of worship between the Israelite’s and the God who made heaven and earth.  The Israelites had begun to think of the Ark as the object of power and worship and had carried it into battle to guarantee their victory.  The tactic did not work.  The Israelites had lost the battle, and the Ark had been captured by the Philistines.  However, the Philistines discovered that they were being punished by plagues and eventually sent the Ark back.

Really, the story illustrates how we humans try to manipulate God.  Just because we have a connection with God does not mean that He will obey our every beck and call.  If we harbor hate or evil in our hearts, He has no prerogative to save us.  However, He will redeem us, if we are willing.


As generations passed, the Israelites slowly left the God of Abraham and Isaac.  The Lord would send prophets, such as Elijah in this painting, to call the Israelites back to Himself.  In Fire From Heaven, Elijah has just prayed that God would ignite the bull sacrifice that he had just soaked with water.  Earlier in the day the priests of another god had tried to call down fire from their god.  Though they screamed and cut themselves all day, the skies had remained silent.  The moment Elijah prayed to God for fire, God let forth a dazzling display of the elements, and the fire entirely consumed the altar, sacrifice, and water.  Unfortunately, the Israelites did not turn back to God afterwards.


Signs and wonders only last a generation or two at most.  A prophet’s work rarely lasted longer than his short unpopular life.  However, one Israelite's work has changed the world in incredible ways.  Born to a poor couple in Bethlehem under the Roman occupation of Israel, Jesus would do more than show signs and wonders.  In fact, he claimed to be God’s son, and to be eternal.  Jesus’ unique attribute of being one with God is called the "Hypostatic Union."  Heaven in His Eyes tries to capture some of the wonder of that confluence of heaven and earth.


Hath Ears to Hear explores the reactions of the people to Jesus' teachings.  The people at Jesus' time did not really know what to think about him.  Some thought he was an ancient prophet come back alive.  Some thought he was a political leader who would deliver the Israelites from the Roman occupation.  The religious leaders in that day caught his steady references to his divinity within his teachings on moral living before God.  The tension between his healing miracles, his radical teaching, and his claims to Deity caused a lot of talk in the country.  Jesus attracted quite a crowd.  Some travelled great distances to see him.  Some followed him everywhere.  Many heard him, but none understood him.

In this painting, I painted the city of Jerusalem from the side of Golgotha.  I was unable to find any paintings or photographs of the city from this side.  From topographical maps and my study into Herod's temple, some photos of the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida, and other historical references, I created this view of the city.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem portrays the darkness that descended on the city as Jesus died for the sins of the city and for humanity at large.  The title for the painting comes from Jesus’ lament: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37)


The mission of Jesus did not end with his death.  Instead, historical records indicate that several hundred people saw him ressurrected and heard him teach for several weeks after his death.  Mystery at Emmaus explores the surprise of the two followers as they recognize their Savior just as he vanishes.  According to the Bible, he sent his Holy Spirit to do his work in each individual believer's heart.  Even though the believers long for his physical presence, his Spirit remains to comfort and guide us in our spiritual existence.