Painting is one of the most rewarding and frustrating things I’ve done. It’s more than a year now since I started my artistic journey. Over that year I’ve learned a lot and I think my paintings have been improving. Hopefully in another year I’ll be able to say that again.
My approach to painting has changed and adapted as I’ve tried new things and found inspiration from several different artists. The journey started with encouragement from my friend Chris. He paints scripture text and he convinced me to try the same. I found it wasn’t easy to do effectively. While I have abandoned attempts to paint nothing but scripture, my paintings are all inspired by it.
My first interest was abstract painting. I tended to look at nothing else when I visited galleries and I tried to apply myself to that approach. I came across a few artists that appealed to me more than others. I liked the work of Ian Fairweather and his style was an influence on what I see as my “breakthrough” painting: “Pierced”
With that painting I attempted a larger work for the first time, and I used a big sheet of cardboard (Fairweather’s prefered painting surface). I started to scrub paint onto the surface, blending colours as I went instead of trying to paint neatly and keeping colours totally separate.
This painting was a bridge between attempts at painting bible words and a move to more abstract work. The foundation of the painting was the word “PIERCED” – referring to the crucifixion and in particular the prophetic account of it found in Psalm 22 “They have pierced my hands and feet” – words that I incorporated into the painting. I also masked off the rough shape of a man with arms outstretched which is visible in the middle section of the canvas, over the top of the “Y“ , a common feature in most of my work.
When I finished this painting I immediately revisited the idea, using a slightly smaller canvas (instead of the cardboard). The result was a painting featured in a local art exhibition earlier this year.
Around this time I visited and exhibition of Fred William’s work at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. William’s main success came through his landscape paintings, many of which initially appear to be entirely abstract, but those with familiarity of the Australian bush and outback soon see how well he captures them in paint.
Those I find most effective portray the landscape as if seen from the air. Not long after seeing his work for the first time I saw a TV show in which a helicopter flew across the arid Australian inland, the ground below was exactly the same in effect as William’s paintings.
I tried to paint something similar, with an idea based on the people of Israel crossing the river Jordan to enter the land God had promised to them. My “aerial shot” depicts the people walking across the dry land between the parted sides of the river. The golden Ark of the Covenant stands on the now dry river bed.
In the distance is the city of Jericho, soon to be captured by the Israelites. From one window hangs a scarlet thread – the sign displayed by Rahab to give protection to herself and her family after she helped protect two Israelite spies who were sent to check out the city prior to the arrival of the rest of the people.