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The Largest Paintings I’ve Painted to Date

Last autumn a friend asked me to get involved with a very large project.  I worked on the two paintings for about a month. 

Before this, most of my professional work fell in the 50-100 megabytes range.  The illustrations measured about 2x4 to 9x12 inches.  During my master’s degree, I worked on some large digital paintings in the 300-600 mb range.  They measured from 18x30 to 24x36 inches.  At that point the sizes and the save times (10-15  minutes) blew me away.  I thought I would never really use the larger digital paintings ever again.  How many people actually make poster-size digital paintings? 

The banners measured 3 feet by 10 feet.  The master file used 6+ gigabytes (a gigabyte is 1024 megabytes) after a little crunching.  The largeness of the files created two major problems.

1.  The files took really, really long to save—up to 30 minutes.  With sizes like that, I can’t save every 5 minutes.  So I work for a significant amount of time, and then I save, and go write a philosophy paper while you are waiting.  Unfortunately, if Photoshop unexpectedly quit before I could save, I sometimes lost an hour’s work.

I had no way to solve that problem, except to treat my computer with kid gloves.  So I was very careful, and prayed a bit, and tried not to rush the computer if it was having issues.  Patience really makes a difference.

2.  The paintings were so large.  Because the paintings were so large and the objects in the paintings were so huge (imagine a crown that you could lay down in), I could lose myself in the painting and could forget how a brushstroke compared to the big picture.  I do not get the full effect of the whole paintings through my small laptop screen.  Nor can I see how one small brushstroke effects the whole painting.

To solve this, I would zoom out a lot.  This helped me remember how small details effected the big picture.  Also I would do a lot of my work at actual size.  That helped me remember how big something was in relationship to the whole.  Finally, as a last tactic to ensure a good final product, I began by painting the large shapes, and finished by painting the small shapes.  The painting really became cohesive by painting large shapes before detail.

The two banners hang as decoration in a friend’s church sanctuary.

Agnus Dei
Our worship revolves around a suffering Savior.  The first painting emphasizes the pain and the agony that Jesus experienced, by showing a crown of thorns like the one He wore 2000 years ago.  The guards in charge of His torture pounded a similar crown onto His head shortly before He was killed.  We realize that Jesus took the punishment for our sins by dying, so our worship reflects the pain and the relief at knowing that our evil is removed and that we no longer are slaves to that evil.

Christus Rex
Our worship also revolves around a King in Heaven.  The second painting emphasizes the glory and the honor that Jesus Christ deserves as Son of God.  While He will get that honor as ruling Lord of Heaven at the end of time, so He also is King now.  Three days after He died He arose from His grave to demonstrate His power over this natural life.  So in our worship, not only do we look back on a suffering Savior, but we look forward to a ruling Lord.  At the same time we recognize that His sacrifice covers our present sins and that His Authority extends to our current living.  We are not only set free from the power of sin, we are called to live holy lives before Him in love.



I can think of no other project that I would rather have had to cut my teeth on very large paintings.  It was very rewarding.  The creative director was Sarah Marina and the graphic designer was Sean Kent and together we did something that continues to encourage families at a modest church in California.


  1. Wow, those are huge.

    A way you might be able to speed up saving; try saving to a ramdisk (Does a Mac still have /dev/shm?), then writing a shell script to automatically copy it out to your hard drive. That way, you can save frequently and quickly to ram, and then it'll save it permanently while you can continue to work.

  2. Wow, and they really pop off the banner like 3D! They're awesome!