20 March 2009

Prayers Rise As Incense.

Last January, I went to liturgy on the morning of my Name Day, January 7, for St. John the Forerunner, as I try to do every year. Afterwards, when I was about to leave, I was rounded up by some people I had never met to get coffee and koulourakia in the Fireside room. I had no where to go, so, I joined them. Usually, I'm pretty quiet about what I do and prefer to hear other people's stories but the day before I had just made the first post for this blog. And it was my special day. I was so excited, I couldn't stop blathering about myself and the blog. Luckily, they were interested (Or humored me).
This painting is for the Myerly Family,,who I am pleased to have met that day. They are members of St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, as am I, and are kind and observant Eastern Orthodox Christians who travel a very long way to go to church. God bless them.
They gave me a couple of requests last week and this is the first. Though on this one, I deviated some from their request.
Their request was one simple word, Eucharist. (or, rather, a complex word). No elaboration. I didn't really know what to do with it. I took it and meditated on it hoping I would be handed the beautiful gift of an idea. It didn't happen. I realized God was going to make me work for it, as always. Free will is problematic.
I went literal. I started this painting as a scene of an Orthodox Priest serving communion, but it wasn't working. Too static and the subject matter seemed so intimate. I felt wrong portraying this in a tiny format.
Half way through I changed it. Here, the Priest is censing the church, blessing the icons and the people and the church. The abundant incense rises like prayers. I can think of all kinds of ways that this applies to the eucharist, but I'll let leave that to be contemplated by whoever wants to. And maybe the connection isn't there.
I may have been a little off the mark for the subject of this piece, but I think this is a pretty good painting. I don't think this photograph does it justice. Some of the paintings here don't look as good on the blog as in real life. (It's hard to shoot small glossy paintings). However, there have been a couple of exceptions that I think look better as a digital image. When this happens I feel a little like I am cheating. But maybe all of this is in my mind.
It's hard to have a good perspective on what I'm doing; to detach myself from these paintings. Only after a couple of weeks looking back do I have a decent perspective. But not always. Sometimes, when I'm working on a piece and I have the luxury of time, I will hide it from myself for a week or two and try to see it again with new eyes before completing it. I often put paintings in front of a mirror when I'm working. To see the image reversed brings out what is really there as opposed to what my mind has come to believe I'm doing. Or turning them upside down might work.

Anyway, I thank the Myerlys, again. I wish them a beautiful and meaningful Lenten season.
Their second painting involves Irish dance. It will be up soon.

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