Saturday, October 4, 2014

First Look at Mason's Senior Portrait

Happy October everyone!

Well, that is especially true if you are a Kansas City Royals fan right now.  Wow, as of right now (10/4/14), they are 2-0 in the post-season ALDS against the Angels.  Apparently, they've been using live chickens (a Major League reference, for those who don't watch good movies).


So I can't believe it, but it's only been a week since I began painting Mason, a senior in high school this year who decided he wasn't going to have any senior photo sessions.  So his parents (his mom mainly) asked me if I would paint his portrait as an alternative to that, and of course it was my pleasure!  So last Friday, September 26, I went over to their home and had a near 4-hour painting session with Mason, with his mom, brother, and sister occasionally peeking over my shoulder and taking in-progress pictures.  It was so much fun!

Here's Mason taking a break after the first 20-minutes, in which I sketched out a quick drawing with raw umber.
The lighting was actually a lot more challenging than I thought it would be at first.  I ended up using natural light through their window, but then also a lamp that I brought with me that gives off a warm light.  So I had both the cool light from the window and the warm light from my lamp, giving me dual light sources competing with each other.  But it worked out great in the end.

This is maybe an hour into the painting.  The early stages of color were pretty tough, given the dualing lights.  Part of his face was being lit by a strong cool light, and the other part by a moderate warm light.  So basically I had a lot of strong reds and pinks, particularly on his nose and forehead, and then some immediate bright blue-whites highlighting his cheek, neck and ear.

And like I said, I decided to end Mason's torture after about 4 hours.  I came to a good stopping point where I could get a picture of Mason in the pose, and finish the portrait back at the studio.  I worked on it a little bit each day, doing some glazes and re-working a few areas, and managed to finish it yesterday, one week after the life painting session.  Above is the first look at the finished piece.  Mason's mom has already seen the full painting via cell phone picture.  As soon as the painting is in their hands, I will post the full painting for all to enjoy!  But don't hold your breath, that's still about a month away.  But I hope you all enjoy what you see for now.  And once again, if you have a high school senior (or soon-to-be senior) in your family, please contact me about doing their senior portrait!  I would love to do it!  Message me at for details!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain

In 1980, Ronald Reagan ended his candidacy speech at the RNC with this:

"I'm more afraid not to..."  The thing that is so striking about this clip, and that I love so much is that it is evident that even then this country was plagued with political correctness, and yet Reagan did not give in to it.  Obviously, Reagan had a moment of apprehension that he might offend someone... by praying.  But he did it anyway, because by not praying he knew he would be offending a much higher power.

For me, inspiration for painting can come from anywhere.  Sometimes from music, sometimes from what's going on in the world, and often it comes from my desire to silence the noise of the world.  But lately, I've wanted to speak a little louder in my work.  Recently, I saw a facebook post by the frontman of one of my favorite bands Seventh Day Slumber.  He boldly said that he felt the Christian music industry was "lost" because so many bands have bowed down to the gods of political correctness and have become afraid to speak the name of Jesus in their music.  And he's right.  But I mentioned my very favorite band Disciple before, and how they've refused to bow down to that god by going independent and literally screaming the name of Jesus in their music.

This death of political correctness is just one of the things that has inspired this painting.  That and what we've seen recently overseas in Israel and the Christian persecution in Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and beyond.  The apostle Paul says that "when one member (of the body of Christ) suffers, all members suffer with it."  It sickens me to see these satanists under the name of the "Islamic State" continue to murder in the name of their god, and not a thing being done about it.

But blessed is the one who is not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16).  The truth is that no one can take Christ away from us (Romans 8:35-38) because as long as we are alive, Christ is with us.  And when we die, we are with Christ.  This is what Paul means when he says, from his prison cell awaiting execution, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).  We lose nothing.  Nothing is taken away from us.  The sword is weak against God's righteousness.

To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
oil on canvas
30x24 inches

Until now, the only thing I've posted of this painting is the symbol hanging from the figure's neck that looks like a U with a dot in the middle.  It is actually the Arabic letter nun, which would be the equivalent of the English N.  This letter was used as a marker by ISIS on Christian homes in Iraq, and stands for "Nazarene."  Lately, it has become a symbol of unity among all Christians around the world, to say that this is us too.  We have not all been through the suffering that other Christians have been through, but we are still the one body of Christ.  Some have forgotten their suffering.  Some have ignored it.  But not us.

I don't particularly see this painting being shown in very many shows or galleries anytime soon.  As much as I would love to show it, I'm assuming it would get turned down outright.  But who knows.  This is one of those paintings that I just did with no thought or reservation about how others would think or feel about it.  My Lord, my Savior, Jesus Christ is the reason I painted it.  I am not ashamed of his name, or his gospel.  I am not afraid to speak it with conviction.  I hope this painting speaks that loudly, and honors him.