This particular painting was the first in the 2003 body of work. The majority of the series from that year was centered on the mourning process I went through following the passing of my mother.
"Who Holds Who", was first sketched in August of 2001 on the day I learned that my mom needed a heart transplant. That day, as I contemplated my mother's circumstance and the fears that I had, I was overwhelmed and flooded with emotion. I got down on the floor of my studio and asked God: "How will I make it through this?"
Instantly, an image of a person holding a cross, with the cross holding them was flashed into my mind.
The only way I would ever be able to endure any hard situation would be if I held on to Christ, and let Him hold on to me and be my support. That realization hit me so hard and so deeply that night. It was a life changing moment. I felt the consolation of Christ in such a new and intimate way.
Now, when seemingly difficult situations arise, I know that I will make it through, as long as I do what I have been taught to do, which is to cast my care and hold on to Him. How does one hold on to Christ? Over the past few years, that definition has become clearer for me. Personally, it means that
I need to invest time studying and learning from others who have gone before me, and glean wisdom from them. My favorites are King David in the Old Testament, and Paul in the New Testament.
I need to study the life of Christ more and familiarize myself with the culture of His day, so that I can understand the gospels better.
I need to pray and offer up praise and thanksgiving daily. That helps me to take my eyes off this world, and the things that are wrong with it and keeps me focused. It helps me to stay pliable in His hands, so that He may use my life to advance His kingdom on earth.
How can one hold on to Christ, without Christ first taking hold of them? This thought process also swirled around in me, when I actually started working on the painting.
Jesus said in Revelation "Lo, I stand at the door and knock." He gives us the opportunity to open the door of our hearts, or to let it remain closed. When we open the door, we allow Him to come in. Then everything changes.
The lifetime of a Christian should be one of constant change and purification. Christians aren't perfect - we still make mistakes, but hopefully, we are striving for excellence in all things and trying to be a blessing to others. Personally, I have purposed to let Christ come into my heart more and more each day so that He can continue take hold of me, support me, teach me, change me and keep me on firm ground.
Who holds who? Surely, it is He that is embracing me much tighter than I could ever embrace Him.
The theme behind the Simple Series has to do with simple things being more complicated than they seem, thus giving the illusion that little effort was required to bring the desired result about.
In the Simple Series, basic shapes in the form of boxes and squares are used to convey the inherent complexity of simple things once other factors are considered, such as design, placement and color selection.
During my studies in early 2007, I re-read a short, simple sentence as if I were seeing it for the very first time - artistically speaking.
"Follow me." Two simple words. One directive. Numerous implications."Follow Me." That's what Jesus said to His future disciple in Gospel of Matthew.
Those two little words: "Follow Me" may be the most profound invitation ever extended to mankind. A simple sentence that is incredibly complicated.
To truly follow Him, and be a disciple of Christ, there are many things that we must experience and lay down along the way. Things such as pride, envy, slander, gossip, greediness and the like, have to be cast down and replaced with humility, thankfulness, obedience, etc.
The Christian experience can be difficult from time to time, but if we are diligent to pray, asking for wisdom and grace, we will change - little by little, day by day.
Matt 5: 27-28: "After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him."
The acrylic painting "Rest" was the final piece in my 2003 body of work.
In this particular series, I was using my artwork for cathartic purposes, mainly to work through mourning issues concerning the passing of my mother. Prior to starting the series, I was very concerned about being so transparent about that experience and the possible criticism that I would get from it, but the lessons I learned going through the mourning process were transformational, and well worth sharing with my viewers.
The painting "Rest" was a beautiful ending to the 2003 series. It visually communicates the emotional and spiritual destination I had reached. I had arrived at a place where I could rest, relax and just be.
The imagery in this particular work is intimately linked to several difficult experiences, namely the passing of my father in 2005, which carried over into the painting.
The symbolism in the painting is as follows:
The dawning of a new day. A new beginning after a long hard night. Huge mountains of trial, hardship or struggle are much smaller once we look at them from a distance.
They are no longer difficult, and what was once harsh and foreboding, is now recognized as a great lesson learned because of the sweet fruit that endurance has produced.
The tree symbolizes death.
The rocks are representational of Christ, the Rock of our faith. Strong, sturdy, and permanent. A foundation to stand and lean upon that provides shade & rest during times of scorching heat and extreme testing.
The cross in this piece stands for Jesus, taking the faith to the unsaved, carrying heavy burdens, the hope we have when we hold onto Jesus, and being led by Him. (In religious art, blue is symbolically used for depicting things in the heavenly realm.)
The face is at peace recollecting the blessing of God's goodness to His children, whom He loves. The bald head is representational of being naked in front of God. Nothing is hidden from His view.
The stature of the figure is dignified, strong and ready to move forward.
The hands are tenderly holding the cross. The grip is neither too tight, nor too relaxed. The arms are in mid movement of pulling the cross up to the chest, in order for it to rest there, as close to the heart as possible. Imagine the movement in your mind's eye.
If you are ascending a mountain and find your strength drying up, don't forget to drink in His living water, as often as you can. This will refresh your soul and soothe your heart.
As you climb, keep looking up to Him. What is below you is behind you. He's calling you upwards and onwards. Don't quit. Once you have reached the summit you will view your climb differently.
When you get further away from the mountain and look back at it, you will see how beautiful it was and is, because of what Father God did in you along the way.
Enjoy the journey to where you are going. Look for the Rock and rest in His shade. Always remember to carry your cross courageously. Pull it up to your chest and close to your heart.
Draw near to Him and let Him take hold of you. You will be changed and you will lack for no good thing. He will be your provision.