Christmas paintings usually feature exhaustively explored, familiar events surrounding the birth of Jesus—in short, the stuff of popular Christmas cards. To challenge the familiar, Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas invited artists to submit their art for an exhibit titled "The Manger, The Magi and The Majesty".
Startled from apathy one mundane night
To sounds yet unheard, an ethereal sight
Of divine trumpets, and music of tongues
Beyond description, a hymn yet unsung
In jubilant praise, a birth was proclaimed
To needy humanity, so lost and maimed
Sin-ridden, hopeless, no lamb could suffice
A baby now born to pay that dear price.
© 2010, Sara Joseph
Artists were instructed to create their works of art from the inspirational content in the following Scriptures: Luke 2: 6-20 and Mat 2: 1-12 Infusing the truths in these chapters with a contemporary twist, in either media or content, was to be the objective of participating artists. I love a challenge and I'm certain that the rest of the art community does as well! It forms the very fiber of who we are as artists.
The Proclamation, based on Luke: 2:13, is my Christmas painting for the show. Painted on a 30x40" canvas, in acrylic, it attempts to explore what that moment might have felt like to humble shepherds when their eyes were opened to the spiritual world. Were they cold, afraid, or just awestruck?
Perhaps the animals grazed unperturbed. I imagine that there could have been nothing alarming about the event for them. After all, does their Creator not care for them daily? Animals seem more spiritually astute than their human owners (remember Balaam's donkey?) I could not resist including the abstract pattern of the cross, etched on the rocks in the foreground, hinting at events to come!
It is thrilling to see how effectively a theme-based show, combined with healthy competitiveness, stimulates the creation of a broad range of Christian art. This show will feature more than the Christmas card variety of Christmas paintings! I plan to enter two works for the exhibit; whether one, or both, will be juried into the show, will be the decision of the jurors. Mulling over the themes and finally creating the works above was immensely satisfying. It is also fun to share the work here!
If you want to learn how to draw from the Bible inspiration for your destiny as a Christian artist, then sign up for some free or paid courses at the Palm & Pen School for Christian Artists. Gaining a Biblical basis for your creativity is essential for your artistic future.
My other "Christmas painting" is not a painting at all, but rather a polymer clay relief sculpture that is significantly smaller than the acrylic—only 12x24".
The Gifts for the King is about the gold, frankincense and myrrh that were presented as offerings to Jesus by the Magi. I used polymer clay and gold foil on a multi-media board.
I imagined that brief fragment of time when the Magi, with their humble gifts, acknowledged the presence of the King of Kings in their midst. Perhaps, the scene shone with a divine light transforming the ordinary, for just an instant. Then like a common play, the lights were turned off and the stage went black once more. The rest of the story unfolded then, with blunt brutality, in the ordinary light of the dusty earth, culminating in the harsh eventuality of the cross.
Oh, that men were as wise today as the Magi to see in that divine light, the truth of Jesus' authority over all creation!