A friend of mine met Tim Steward at the Kings Way Conference a couple of weeks ago and, being a very useful type of person, got hold of his card for me. This made me happy. I think this is one of my favorite pictures of the crucifixion, it’s simple yet very striking.
So we can feel like we know him a little better, here’s a nice quote from him…
‘My focus seems to revolve around expressing those moments where one is taken onto a higher plane away from the mundane – where the line between what we experience on earth and that which is of a more heavenly nature is blurred…The interface is mysterious and engaging and the moments more abundant than I first imagined.’
Recently on facebook I met an artist called Cas Smith. Cas is a teacher as well as an artist who uses her gift to worship God and share the gospel. I asked Cas to write a little bit about herself and about her work.
I doodle and paint because I have to, it’s a compulsion, it’s something I do because I can’t not do it. Everything I create is an expression of my relationship with God, it’s ups and downs, frustrations and submissions, the reality of faith. I tend to paint figuratively but not in a realistic sense, the figures can become highly simplistic and distorted, often with a focus on the hands. With hands we can hurt or heal, it’s a choice much like faith. A lot of my images are highly personal and mark my walk with him, but relevant to so many who are on that journey with Christ as well. I’m constantly aware that sometimes we dress Christianity up in sugary sweetness and an “everything will be wonderful if you just believe” attitude rather than being real about the messiness of life. Supporting and walking with each other through that messiness.
The scariest and most liberating way of painting is during worship and ‘live’ art sessions. During a gathering, I’m led by the Holy Spirit to put an image to canvas, or doodle in a book in that space where he’s already at work, leading worshipers/seekers to a place where they meet with him, it’s immediate and of the moment. Generally when I do paint during worship, I tend not to talk to the speaker before the meeting, this would influence the image and would become contrived and forced. Instead it’s about giving the Holy Spirit free reign to move and work. This can make things sound ‘airey fairey’ but I’m constantly amazed by the way this turns out, how God works through an image and meets with people and draws them closer to him.
I doubt that my work would ever be displayed in the RA, but that’s not what it’s about, it’s about ministering to other people and leading them on in their walk with Jesus. The ‘live’ art sessions are also pretty much on the same lines but a lot more low-key, it’s really subtle, quietly ministering to people in the modern day meeting places, entering into the spiritual conversation of life. Taking Jesus out of the 4 walls of church into the streets, or in my case the coffee shops.
To see some more of Cas’s work, check out her Flickr.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me”. – Revelation 3:20
We have been thinking recently about art that would transcend the spiritual-secular divide to touch the hearts of those outside of the church. Here, my friends, is a fine example. Holman Hunt’s “The Light of the World” had people flocking from all across the country, and the painting even went on a tour across the world. It now stands today both in Keble College Chapel, Oxford (a few minutes away from me) and St Paul’s Cathedral (a second version made later in Hunt’s life). If you ever get the chance to see it for yourself then do not miss the opportunity.
For those of you who may be wondering why it was quite so popular, have a think about all of the imagery that Hunt has packed into this painting about who Jesus is and how he relates to us. Firstly, notice that the door has no outside handle – it can only be opened from within: Christ knocks on each of our hearts, but only we may open up to him. Notice too that it has become overgrown with weeds: this door has not been opened for some length of time.
The lights in the scene are full of meaning too. Whilst the rising lights in the background provide some illumination, the main illumination is through Jesus’ lamp (“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” – Psalm 119:105). And look at the rich orchard and beauty of the world that awaits they who open to Jesus! Remember too that the crown of the one who knocks is composed of thorns.
This is excellent artistry: beautifully painted, rich in symbolism and simple enough that everyone who sees it can take something away from it.
I am a huge fan of fantasy, so when I saw Frank Wu’s art work I was immediatly interested in what he produced and had to say about christians working in the fantasy media. The following text is part of an interview that Frank gave to Artist Interviews magazine and really highlights his passion for Jesus and the work that he produces:
“I am a Christian. Sometimes this is a problem in a field where a lot of the writers and editors – and fans – are atheists. Sometimes. Not always. I don’t preach, I don’t harp on people’s lifestyle choices. I don’t pick fights or judge people. They are my friends, and I try to work with them and be their friends. Are we not put on this planet to love each other?
One of the weird things about doing commissioned art is that you accept the commission before you read the story. An editor asks if I have time to do an illo for an upcoming issue. I say yes. Then he sends me the story. I hate turning down commissions, because book and magazine illustration is sometime I’ve dreamt of my whole life. But sometimes I get stories that make me tingle, and not in a good way.
“Cloning Jesus” was weird, because it was about the attempt to clone Jesus from chips of blood in the Shroud of Turin (we assume for the story’s sake that the Shroud is authentic). It would have been an interested conceit, if a similar idea hadn’t been done in a Star Trek episode years ago. Anyway… This is the only piece of art I’ve ever gotten hate mail for. I think the letter-writer was offended by the whole idea. It was sacrilege. Part of the problem I think is that people don’t really go deep enough into the theology. Who was Jesus? He was God, who put on human form and came to earth. So He was fully God and fully human. Human in that He had blood and ate food and it must have really hurt when they put the nails in His hands. Why did He come to earth? Well, partially to tell us that we should love God and love our neighbor. But also, and most importantly, He came to earth specifically to die on the cross, a sacrifice for our sins, a payment for our transgressions. For we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. His sacrifice meant that we did not need to be sacrificed ourselves. Our sin no longer separated us from God, and we were forgiven. Jesus took our place on the cross. But Jesus only had to pay that price once.
So what would be the point of forcing a second coming of Jesus by cloning Him? So He could die on the cross a second time? That doesn’t seem necessary. So He could announce the end of the world and bring down the new heaven and the new earth, because the old ones were used up? Seems premature, not quite God’s timing yet. I think the writer’s point is that the world is a less than perfect and peaceful place. But rather than having God see the wickedness and destroy the world, as He did with a flood so long ago, perhaps there might be a more pleasant alternative. Maybe if Jesus could return, we would hear the message “Love God and Love Your Neighbor As Yourself”. And maybe we would do this, and the world would be a better place. For me and you. If we put a little love in our hearts.
And I think that’s what the story is about. And that’s not a bad message.”
If you would like to find out more about Frank Wu please click here
Just found Yisehak while surfing the internets, and he’s making the sort of stuff I love to see. Check him out here. It’s also worth having a read of his biography, which will only take a moment, but is inspiring as he’s focused on art and faith since he was 7! He describes his work saying,
“The way I paint is not realist in the conventional sense. Although it has realistic elements, it conveys matters beyond the reality we see in nature into the spiritual, in the realm of faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. The Source of my inspiration is the word of God (the Holy Bible,) and the guiding principle, the creative force is the Spirit of God, Which lives in me by faith. His glorious gift…to God (in Jesus Christ) be all the Glory!”
I found Rick Alonso whilst surfing the net, he combines artistic skill and athletic ability to illustrate the gospel in a fresh, visual way. the following statement is taken from his website:
“Movements throughout the program demonstrates the power and grace inherent in God’s word. Rick’s athleticism is a challenge to his audience to use their energy, talent and physical attributes for the Glory of Jesus Christ.”
For myself, I found the video’s on his website to be very exciting and moving. I am always on the look for artists who are not affraid to step out and try new forms of expression, which Rick has clearly done. If you would like to find out more please visit Rick’s website.
The paintings above are all painted by a man named Andrew Page. Andrew contacted us recently and has an amazing and very inspiring portfolio of work which can be seen on his website. About his artwork Andrew says “Art is a powerful tool to reach people with and portray a message where other ministries can’t go.”
If your interested in using art to enable worship check out Artworship, founded by Jeremy and Jamie Wells, two artists in Houston who are commissioned by churches to paint during their worship, often over many sessions. All profit generated by artwork and events goes to global mission, which is brilliant.
To look at more paintings like the above click here.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7: 24-27
Rodney Matthew’s is a christian fantasy illustrator who has worked extensively amongst the music and literary industry, creating vivid cover designs for numerous musicians and fantasy authors. Rodney has been known to refuse work that contravenes his Christian morals. He feels very strongly that art should be inspirational and bringing the words of the scriptures to life in vivid images is part of that belief.
As a strong reader of fantasy I have seen much of Matthew’s work [which adorns may of my favourite novels!]. His creative and imaginative take on biblical themes are inspirational and are well worth a look, if you would like to find out more please click here.