I am currently working on a new series of paintings called Light Up The Darkness, and I thought I'd give you all a little information about its background and where I'm headed with it.
I was so excited about getting into this new series that I made the short teaser for it above. And unlike many teaser videos that you might watch for a movie or TV show, this one actually says quite a bit about this series without any misleading images or editing. But I didn't want to share too much with it, because I have ideas and images still in my head that I am hoping will be powerful once they're revealed in the paintings. So let me get to the premise of the series.
It started as something that came right out of my previous series God Breathed. I did one particular painting for that series called The Crusader, which seemed to stand out from the rest of the paintings in the series for a couple of reasons. First was that I used a broader color palette that included colors not used in any of the other paintings. But it was the figure in that painting that intrigued me. I know, sounds strange that a figment of my imagination (with exception to the photo-referenced pose) would somehow intrigue me. But the mystery of the figure is what did it for me, and what I created him (or her?) to be in the painting. It is simply a figure wearing a blue hoodie and a pair of gray cargos and gloves. There is literally nothing revealed about the figure's identity except that which I created myself - the chi rho symbol on the figure's back. It is a monogram combining the first two letters of the Greek word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, or Kristos (Christ), and signifies that this is a person of faith in Jesus Christ.
I thought to myself that the visual, scriptural, and narrative elements of the painting were enough to create a whole series in itself. I briefly considered it, but set it aside in order to finish the rest of God Breathed (the joys of a creative mind... we can't stay focused on just one thing at a time).
But of course I went back and considered the idea some more. And in May, I began doing some drawing studies, which is what you see me working on in the teaser video. The biggest challenge, however, is how I would pursue this series without merely making it a God Breathed part 2 sort of thing. I knew then, and know now that this series will have to be something completely different, but just as bold and provocative as God Breathed if not more so. How do I do that?
The answer to that goes back to the visual, scriptural, and narrative elements of The Crusader, and where I can take each of those in this new series. Scripturally, I already know. As it shows in the beginning of the teaser, Ephesians 5: 8-11 is where the main inspiration for this series comes from. There are other passages that will come into play later on, but the Ephesians passage gives the overall scriptural foundation for the series.
In Ephesians 5, Paul gets into the idea of spiritual battle between the light and the darkness. This is something I touched on in an abstract way in the God Breathed paintings, but now it is going to come front and center for LUTD. In verses 8-11, Paul is boldly saying that not only are we to avoid participating in the acts of darkness, but as people of faith we are to shine our light and expose the darkness. To call it out for what it is and attack it head on. To make it flee from us.
Paul also mentions how we were once darkness ourselves. This is going to be an interesting idea to play with in this series, and I've already thought about how to do that. I wanted to create a tangible representation of "darkness" in this series that was more than mere abstraction as it was in God Breathed. So there are going to be two versions of the crusader figure appearing in this series. One to represent the light, and the other to represent the darkness.
In addition to the thematic elements, I am also going to have a literal, visual play between light and dark that will hopefully show the influence of the Old Masters and their tenebrist/chiaroscuro techniques. So I will be going back to the techniques of my heroes Caravaggio, Titian and Velázquez to give each painting in this series a bold visual punch that will hopefully catch the eye of every viewer who walks in the gallery once they are displayed.
Let me conclude by saying why I am painting this series.
Now, more than ever in my lifetime, there is a battle set out right before us against darkness. For as long as I can remember, the world has never been in as much jeopardy as it is now. I remember visiting Egypt in October 2010, and little did I know how much tension that country was in at the time, and that it was on the brink of exploding. Sure enough, it did just a few months later in January 2011. Now I feel like the entire planet is in that same tension, with the Christian persecution and genocide happening overseas, refugees being chaotically spread out everywhere, Islamic terrorism striking Europe and the U.S., police officers being shot and killed while cities burn to the ground as a twisted statement of whose lives really matter. And the current political circus in the U.S. that is dividing the country more and more on a daily basis, and is frankly leaving me frightened for what's to become of us after November elections.
But you see, none of these things is the problem. They are only symptoms of the greater problem - That the darkness is winning. It is winning us over and making us believe that its way is the right way. It uses political correctness to make people of faith water down the questions and answers of its existence. Or worse yet, to make us ignore and avoid those questions and answers altogether. It's at that point that we simply deny that the enemy even exists at all. And that is his greatest weapon. It is time to stop fooling ourselves, and to confront the enemy with the kind of faith that makes him cower before us. The only way to defeat the darkness is simply to light it up.