When the Zeal is Real:

 

When I look at this painting, I am immediately drawn to the passion in his eyes and the wildness and spirit of his face. I am reminded of the way in which John the Baptizer is described in the scriptures as “wearing clothes of camel’s hair, with a leather belt…eating locusts and honey.” John called the religious leaders of his day “children of snakes… trees that don’t produce good fruit…and husks of wheat ready for the fire that can’t be put out”.

John the Baptizer was a man full of zeal and passion. He came along to prepare the hearts and lives of God’s people for Jesus’ arrival. He was tasked as a prophet to get God’s people to turn away from their wickedness and sins that hey might live on the path of God that would lead them to life eternal.

That zealous spirit was ultimately what led to John’s death. He spoke up to King Herod about his relationship with his sister-in-law. It didn’t take long for Herod to silence John by cutting off his head and placing it on a silver platter.

I believe that the zeal that John and people like him had is something that we should all desire to some point. His belief and faith in what God had called him to do and to be took him to a place that he was willing to live differently, and to press against the establishment of both religious and governmental leaders. There is something to be admired about living a life with such passion and zeal for a cause that you are willing to wager your very life for it. I believe that the world needs more of that…

There is no escaping the passion and life in the face of John in this painting. Chris does an excellent job of capturing the “wild man, camel hair, bug eating” spirit of John the Baptizer. I am captivated by the way that one can almost feel the passion behind the eyes of the man in this painting. To attempt to capture the face of someone using the way in which their personality traits are described is a difficult task I am sure. I believe that Chris does a great job of relaying what he sees as characteristics of John onto this painting.

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

The Gift of Grace:

 

What’s so amazing about grace? What is it about the unmerited favor and acceptance from a loved one, despite all of our imperfections, that they extend to us time and time again? Why is it that a grace can captivate and keep us attached to people?

Why is grace so easy to want, but so difficult to want to give?

How is it that even in the midst of brokenness, pain, tears, and hurt, that grace can still be offered, and still be received?

As I look at this painting, I am struck by the fact that the embrace of grace is happening, even in the midst of pain and tears. The party on the left is present and loving even while the one on the right is clearly distraught and emotional. I believe that this is a great illustration of how grace can find us in seasons of our lives. While we are still in the midst of our pains and struggles, often completely undeserving of any grace or acceptance whatsoever, God is willing to meet us with an embrace of grace that says “my grace is sufficient for you”.

Are there times in your life when you feel like the one who is struggling to give out grace? Are you more often the one who feels undeserving of the redeeming grace of God and of others?

No matter where you find yourself in this image, it is safe to say that the embrace of grace is a wonderful, life-giving, and humbling place to be.

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

Dive on in!

 

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

John 21:7 NIV

This painting is a reflection of one of my all time favorite passages of scripture. Jesus, having resurrected from the cross, is standing on the shore of the lake with a fire started and breakfast cooking for his friends. One of the first things that Love did was make breakfast! What a glorious breakfast that would be!

The disciples have come up completely short as they tried to turn back to what they knew how to do. The last three years of learning from Jesus, healing the sick, and ministering to those on the margins had come to an abrupt end, and they must’ve figured that fishing was the next best thing they could do.

If I were one of the disciples and this man had been shouting, almost taunting me from the shore as I came up with empty net after empty net, I would most likely be frustrated and down on myself as they were. Jesus was gone, their days as disciples and healers were over, and now they couldn’t even fish! 

But then, something beautiful happens. One of the disciples shouts out that he recognizes the man as Jesus. Impulsive, denying, sword swinging Peter tosses on his outer garment and dives to swim for shore. At the moment he realizes that Jesus is alive, that everything he had devoted his life to was not lost. His rabbi was alive, the Messiah had risen!

There are times in our lives when things seem lost. The beautiful truth is that sometimes all it takes is to catch a glimpse of Jesus, maybe even to be reminded of his presence through a friend or family member (thank goodness for the Johns of the world that can point out Jesus in our lives when they see Him) to turn a season of empty nets into breakfast with our Lord and savior!

I hope and pray that we could all find the passion and excitement to jump out of the boat and swim with all of our might to the shore where Jesus is standing, searching, calling out to us to once again drop our nets and live in relationship with him.

Who is your John? What is keeping you in the boat? How can you point out the presence of God to the people around you so that they might dive in, leave it all behind, and seek to be in relationship with the Lord forever and always?

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

“He died for us too”

 

With movements centered around racial equality and an end to racism and bigotry such as the “Black Lives Matter” still very much alive, well, and needed, even 53 years after the Civil Rights Act went into effect, one must ask themselves…”Why?”

Why does it take a set of activists and movement makers to bring to our attention that black lives matter as much as any others?

Why haven’t people of color been treated with the liberties, freedoms, and privileges that their white sisters and brothers have enjoyed without thought or consideration?

Why does the color of one’s skin, the amount of money in their wallet, their country of origin, who they love, or their racial background take away from their identity as an image bearer of God, and a redeemed child of the One True King?

 

When I look at this painting I am struck by the white feet of Jesus, pierced by nails and bleeding out from the cross. The title of this painting is “Died for us“. I am struck by the truth that sometimes we all need a reminder of who all “us” includes. “Us” means all of our brothers and sisters; especially those who don’t look and think like we do.

For God so loved…

  • The homeless
  • The Sick
  • People of color
  • The Elderly
  • People in poverty
  • Refugees
  • Widows
  • Orphans

…The World that He gave His one and only Son; that whoever believes in him would not perish, but have eternal life.

 

Us” means that we see the image of God in our brothers and sisters no matter what…and that we love, care for, respect, and protect them as if we were protecting our very selves. What a wonderful world it would be if this held true for us all.

Viewing Stages of a Painting, Five

IMG_3928 IMG_3929 IMG_3935 IMG_3937

The title of this painting is “Sad Mary”… this title is purposely vague to leave it up to the viewer as to which “Mary” this painting may refer to. In image 1 you can see that this painting started out as a work on paper – it is “clipped” to the easel on the left for reference for the larger painting.  The first pass of the larger painting was spontaneous and only took a few minutes.

I worked quickly with large brush strokes and even let the paint that ran off her chin remain as it became more complete.  In the earlier work Mary looked masculine and I gradually softened the lines and shapes to make her more feminine as I continued. The started the skin tones in black and white and added color as I went along.  In the final version Mary looks noticeably sadder than the previous three.  I increased the size of the inside of her hood as I went along. I ended up subduing the black shadow throughout the painting by the time I completed the final draft. I moved away from the orange color in the bottom left corner. Then, I shifted to a more yellow shade in the upper left corner in the final draft.

Funny the processes used in painting – it just happens and I have learned “when to stop” – which is an art of it’s own!

 

Viewing Stages of a Painting, Four

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Sometimes in the painting process I reach a point where I don’t know if I should continue painting or leave it as it is.  For this particular painting, John the Baptist, I reached a point where I was pleased with the progress and I left it dormant for a week or so. When I revisited the painting I decided to add some flesh color and I really think it breathed new life into the painting.  Which version do you prefer? Lighter or Darker skin tone?

Painting a Painting 3 Times

Not sure if you noticed, but sometimes many artist paint the same painting multiple times. I have read that some great artist, like Robert Motherwell did this because he still felt he had to work it out, that earlier versions were maybe “not it” – was quoted saying “maybe now looking back, it could have been an earlier painting that was it”… Artist like Vincent Van Gogh painted the same painting multiple times to give one to his friend and brother but liked it enough to keep one for himself.

For me personally, this happens for several reasons.

  1. I notice an older painting and take a renewed interest in it and paint another version of it with a fresh look at the original.
  2. I feel that if I sell it (haha) that I might regret not having it around, so I paint another exactly like it (or as close as I can)
  3. I want to share it with friends and/or family and (like Van Gogh) want to have one too
  4. I looked at the original and something bugs me and I take another shot at it (like Motherwell, maybe the original was it?)
  5. I have a wild idea that maybe a museum would want the painting and paint it larger to be more in line with the works in a museum.
Jack Ruby Murders Lee Harvey Oswald on TV
Jack Ruby Murders Lee Harvey Oswald on TV

The second and the last reason above is the reason is the reason for painting the theme of Ruby shooting Oswald again and again. I stuck with the original theme which was to mix Pablo Picasso’s Painting of Guernica (black and white with a little brown) with a still from the television footage (black and white) of Ruby shooting Oswald on live television. Both the painting and the images of the 60s event seemed to have something deeply in common, something that has not changed since men have been on earth – a propensity towards violence to gain power over another person or group of persons…

Maybe I paint paintings multiple times because… I can?

Chris Cook

 

 

 

 

Night Noise

Night Noise.

noise

This painting is from the distant past, but I still have it hanging in view of my desk here at my office so that I can see it daily.

This work started with some small pencil sketches to work out the composition. My concept was to visually create that feeling we all get when we hear an unusual noise at night. We would like to ignore them and think to ourselves, “it was probably just the wind”… but more often than not, we feel compelled to investigate the noise.  I don’t know about you, but I am usually a little anxious… walk slowly and quietly looking around… opening doors slowly… sound familiar?

In this composition, I used a second person to increase the drama. A noise outside that gets you and your spouse out of bed must be more than something to write off as the wind. The second person stays cautiously back a little peering out as well. The outside is dark and unknown, a little creepy, while the interior is bright, warm and safe. They are both venturing out… will they go out or just say all is well and go back inside where they can go back to watching TV or back to sleep?

That is all up to your imagination. I just like to create works that give you a chance to think, or to create your own story with. Either way, hope you enjoyed my story.

Chris Cook

 

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE

Father Francis

father_francis

 

Father Francis Xavier Kavanagh was one of the founding members of the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, GA. He, along with 19 others, formed the Trappist Monastery in 1944. Father Francis is widely remembered by most of the students and visitors who came to the grounds for his role as guest master. He was the face and voice of the monastery for many of the guest who came in seeking information and spiritual counsel.

Chris grew up in the Conyers area. He visited the grounds often as both a “tourist” and as an artist seeking inspiration. The beautiful southern landscape lends a lot of natural beauty to the grandeur of the abbey grounds.

I like the style of this painting. Chris jests that I’m “digging deep” for this painting because it’s from so long ago. I think that the geometric lines and shapes that compose the face, juxtaposed against the rounded crown of the Father’s head are captivating.

There is a mysterious, almost secretive shroud around the monastic lifestyle. I’ve often pondered about the type of faith that it would take to live a life devoted to monastic practices like prayer, service, solitude, silence, and the Trappist skills like baking bread and making wine, beer, and cheeses. The devotion that these men have to their crafts and to their faith is unparalleled. Chris does a beautiful job of capturing a glimpse of the father, incorporated into an artistically blended and beautiful expression.

My question is this – What are your experiences with Monks, Nuns, and Monasteries? Have you visited the grounds out in Conyers? Ever enjoyed a food or product made by the hands of one of these skilled craftsmen?

 

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

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