Three Worlds: Heaven, Earth & Hell

Three Worlds: Heaven, Earth & Hell

This painting took a while to paint; it has complexity and depth. The viewer has to take some time to pull it all in, but the idea for this painting only took a question from my youngest son to take life.

On our way home from church one Sunday, Elijah, our youngest child leaned forward from the back seat and asked, “Dad, have you ever painted the three worlds?”

We had been to see several really interesting Marvel movies together including Thor and Avengers: Infinity War, and I thought at first he meant something from those movies like Thor and Asgard or the many worlds visited in Avengers: Infinity War. But, it was a simple question from what he has learned from being in church, Confirmation, Youth and Sunday School, he meant Heaven, Earth and Hell.

The very next time in my studio, I selected a tall and narrow canvas and divided it into three sections. I did a small sketch and came up with the main compositional element designed to draw the viewers eye in certain directions and in certain ways to get them through the main idea of the three worlds that I had in my mind once he asked the question. Stay with me a little longer. I made a zig zag shape taking through the three sections.

In the upper right, I placed God, from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco, in the Creation section, where God is reaching down almost touching his beloved creation, Adam. He reaches down into the Earth section (mid left) of my painting and instead of Adam, he is touching “the second Adam”, Jesus. Jesus being here on earth in human form, his death and resurrection were known from the beginning but took place on our earth at a specific time on earth. Pretty monumental to us here on earth.

At Jesus on the cross we see Judas on his hands and knees reaching down in the the third section, Hell, to get his silver for betraying Jesus, but in this painting, he is drawn to and receiving his silver directly from the Devil himself. This chain of real events and compositional elements takes you quickly through all three worlds. I used the “serpent” facing back to the left to push your eye back into the painting again. After that, you are on your own to look where you want and take in all the detail.

I mixed the use of famous and more obscure vintage and renaissance paintings with elements/characters/figures that I just made up in my imagination (like Judas – just added it from imagination of a man on his knees and what that may look like).

A few more details you may want to look for:

In Heaven, I have Peter & Paul in the middle under Jesus’ feet. The Jesus with the nail holes in his hand with the earth as his foot stool came from an older painting called Christ the Redeemer. I added Elijah (after the our son for sure – as he sparked the painting with his question) on the left, Abraham is hard to see but just to the right of the two angles looking down at the central figure of Jesus. Moses is on the right with the ten commandments behind his shoulder.

In Earth, I painted themes like Love, Music, Worship, animal and plant life along with us humans – but a tank for war, people fleeing and those of us that are simply just too busy to really think about anything more than our immediate lives. I do have pieces like the flying German planes coming up from Hell.

In Hell, I worked in a mix of things that came to my mind along with references in the Bible about Hell. For instance, the Bible had Jesus saying “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” AND “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Some things there came from renaissance painting references as well as things that I personally consider evil, that have caused much suffering and unnecessary loss of life and the grief that comes from that.

Hope you will take the time to really study this painting and “thank you little buddy for the awesome question you asked that got this whole thing started!”

-Chris

 

 

Apples

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Since it is already August, Fall is right around the corner with pumpkin season, apple picking, and football!!! So when I first saw this picture, it reminded me of these fast approaching pastimes. This picture though seems to be in a time of transition when it’s not quite Fall yet. The apples have not turned to that dark red color yet. In addition, it also makes me think of some of my own fall memories. I have some of the best memories growing up going to Mercier Orchards and getting to pick a bundle of apples during apple picking season. Therefore, this picture makes me hopeful for the upcoming season of fall, and it also makes me reflect upon this past summer. The greenery is this pictures signifies room for new growth in the upcoming months whether it be in your job, your relationships, your own personal growth, etc. A new season is coming which means that there is time to improve upon what is already there. Also, I feel like everyone can identify with the farmer in this picture because he has the power to pick which apples are the best. Thus, you too have the option to pick which opportunities you take advantage of, people you want to associate yourself with, etc. Therefore, embody the farmer in this painting and ready yourself for the Fall and all the wonderful opportunities coming your way. And remember, try not to pick any bad apples along the way! 🙂

-Tori

Farming in the Summer

When you drive through scenic Madison, Georgia, you constantly see crops growing alongside the road no matter what time of year it is. During the summer though, all you see is corn growing high as it can reach. Thus, I felt like it was only fitting to write about this piece.

For me, summertime always means spending time with family and also eating really good food. Corn is one of those foods that always tastes better when it’s fresh and in-season, and this picture represents this for me. In addition to the corn also being an important part of this painting, the man is also representative of something bigger than himself. Chris paints him in a way that proves that he has been a farmer for many years. The wrinkles on his brow and face show what happens when worry overcomes this farmer when the crops don’t grow quite as well as they need to. Also, the farmer’s skin color and texture proves that he is in the heat and sun day after day looking after these crops. To me, this man and his corn crop is representative of the lifestyle that many have in small, southern towns like Madison. There are lots of farmers who make their living and support their families based on their crops. Without them, Madison would not be the same town. I am very appreciative for people like this farmer because without them, we would not have fresh produce in our stores or on our tables. The food doesn’t just magically appear in the grocery stores. Someone has to put in their own time and effort to produce these foods, and most of the time, this is not an easy task.

This painting also proves that it is important to support local companies and buy local because it directly benefits your community. So why not buy local?

-Tori

 

 

Coffee!

 

It seems that so much in life, particularly in the work of the church, revolves around the glorious essence of a ground bean that has been steeped in hot water. Coffee is what makes much of the world go round. It brings warmth and energy to our bodies and life to events and parties.

Some of us cannot function without at least one cup in the morning. Even if we can make it out the door dressed and ready, our day hasn’t started without a stop by our favorite spot for coffee, or a good cup from our favorite mug at home.

I believe that the way that one takes their coffee is a matter of pride, preference, and passion. I personally tend to take mine black. I am a purist. I don’t often waste time or calories with creams, sugars, and syrups. When I first began drinking coffee, it had to taste like a candy bar in order for me to even think of drinking it. I wasn’t fond of the taste or the smell of coffee, and I couldn’t understand how or why other people drank it. As I continued to work through meetings and counseling sessions as a youth minister and church staff member, it became more and more clear that coffee was going to be a necessary evil. Somehow,

Somehow, coffee was able to work its hooks into me, and before long I was drinking it black and by the pot full.

 

No matter how you take your coffee or if it’s tea or cocoa that you prefer, I believe that one thing that we can all agree on is that there is something special about holding that cup of hot delicious goodness that brings us together, keeps us going, and motivates us all throughout our busy lives.

 

May your weeks be short, and your coffee be strong.

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

Choosing what is better

 

I love this representation that Chris painted of the story of Mary and Martha in this painting. As I have contemplated the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other prominent women figures in my life, I have noticed when each of them demonstrated the tendency to be more of a “Mary” or a “Martha” at times.

 

As I look at this painting, I find it almost comical. The style in which Chris painted is to me very reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s work. Martha is seen draped over the open refrigerator door, red-faced and trying to collect herself from the business of hosting the party. You can almost see her internal dialogue going off. “Ok, devilled eggs, tea sandwiches, the olive tray is full, the vegetables will be done in 4 minutes,  the meat is resting…do we have enough ice? Mary, I could really use a hand here!”

Mary is intently studying, reflecting, and taking notes on everything that Jesus is saying. Her smile suggests that she is absolutely captivated by Jesus’ words and could care less about making sure that the food and the details are all taken care of. The company is her only concern.

I believe that it takes both types of people at different times to keep events going and to make sure that things get done. I know that Martha gets a bad reputation, but without the Marthas of this world, none of us would have tea sandwiches, olive trays, or the vegetables with our dinner. Mary’s exist to remind us to stop and enjoy fellowship, to sit at Jesus’ feet and to keep our eyes and mind on the things that truly matter in the grand scheme of life.

 

This picture speaks to me on many levels. Are you more inclined to feel like a Mary or a Martha? Why…

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

Walking the Line in Infamy

When Chris asked me to begin writing blog posts again, I was excited and thrilled. I love his artwork and really enjoy stretching my creative writing muscles as I compose these pieces about his paintings. This particular upcoming show is one that I think will feature Chris’ ability to tell stories through images in a very dynamic and thrilling way.

The exhibit, “Face to Face – Portraits of the Infamous” will be shown at the Colonial at Main & Washington from Thursday, May 4 through Sunday, May 7. When I asked Chris about his inspiration for the subject matter, he told me he painted one just because, and that quickly turned into many, which seemed a natural fit for an exhibit.

infamous – adjective in·fa·mous \ˈin-fə-məs\

  1. 1:  having a reputation of the worst kind: an infamous traitor

  2. 2:  causing or bringing infamy: an infamous crime

  3. 3:  convicted of an offense bringing infamy

As I began to ponder the idea of infamy and look at this portrait of Johnny Cash, It started to click with me just what Chris was up to. Chris told me that this exhibit is much less about the individuals that he paints themselves, as it was the “face” of that person. Johnny Cash was a man with a tremendous gift to tell stories through song. His strong voice is definitely unmatched and completely unique. His hit “I Walk The Line” sat on Billboard’s record charts for 43 weeks and sold over 2 million copies. In 1980, he became the youngest living inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame. After being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he joined an elite club of performers that are in both organizations.

Cash’s infamy came in part from his “bad boy” appearance and the addiction to narcotics that he developed to keep up with his hectic, 300 shows a year schedule that he had in the 1960s. The “Man in Black” kept up his no-nonsense persona even after recovering from addiction. Despite his storied past and outwardly defiant appearance, Cash had a gift that could not go unnoticed. He was the man that, regardless of how you felt about his character, one could not deny the passion and talent that he showcased.

This piece will be sold in a silent auction in conjunction with the art exhibit as a fundraiser to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Madison, Georgia.

Viewing Stages of a Painting, One

I have had questions over time about how I work (how an artist works really). I do sometimes take quick snap shots of different points I get to in a painting. I am doing a little series of posts that will show some of the stages a single painting goes through as I develop a work. I do have different starting points… sometimes pencil sketches on paper, or a small painting on paper first before going to a larger format. But, like with the example below of “Matthew Listening by Candlelight” I started with an overall wash of a dull color. After it dried, I took a smaller brush and dipped it in some left over brown and started drawing from a photo reference right on the canvas.

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The next day, I went out to my studios and mixed brown and dark blue together to make a near black and with a pretty wide, flat brush laid in all the darkest parts away from the imaginary candle light source. (the photo reference was a man sitting outside in bright daylight). I used a mix of yellow oxide and gray to dab at the highlights.

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After that, I used the three previous color mixes and filled in the rest of his face. Finally a sloppy wet mix of medium dark to tone the entire canvas down giving it the old candlelight look!

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Enjoy.

Chris

 

Just Trying Something New

I have painted many different subjects, in many different styles and even experimented with different media. In looking at my website, I noticed that I do not often paint Still Life paintings. After working so hard to make the deadline for the Farm Show at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, I had to take some time off to rest.

In visiting my art studio after 2-3 weeks after that rest, I took a stab at still life. I wanted to work on my “brush work” and keep them loose… so I painted all of this series (so far) with an oversized brush to force the looseness.

Take a quick look at the early results – what do you think?

 

lemons sunflowers2 sunflowers1 still-life-with-orange still-life-with-lightbulb still-life-with-cupcake still-life-peppers still-life-cherry-mug still-life-apple

White top cliffs

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I think that classifying himself as a “Contemporary Christian Artist” speaks volumes about Chris’ style of painting and his approach to life. His creative eye gives him the ability to spot beauty in things around him, while his faith allows him to remember that God is the ultimate creator and the force behind all things that are beautiful. What an awesome thought that the Lord of the universe is not only a loving God, but one who takes pride in creating beautiful things for us, his prized possession to enjoy.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”

“He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the LordGod Almighty is his name.”

I too take solace and comfort in knowing that, with just His words, our God was able to create the beauty that is contained within our earth. I also love that artists like Chris are able to capture beautiful scenes like this one to preserve their visions and memories during their exposure to these places. Knowing that he knows WHO created this beautiful landscape, and why makes this painting all the more enjoyable to look at.

“I tell you,”he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

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

Fruit in a bowl

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Chris does some amazing things with paint and canvas. Whether it’s something as complex as capturing the sunset bouncing off of the Sedona, AZ desert, the anguish in the face of Jesus as he was crucified, or as “simple” as painting a still life of some fruit in a bowl, he always has a way of capturing the moment, and the memory that it evokes.

This particular painting is one that we all might think to see in an art class, or a “beginner’s lesson”, but Chris seems to have a way of capturing still life in such a way that it is able to still express his personality and style of painting. Even with watercolors on canvas, I am amazed at his ability to capture highlights, reflections, and shadows. I feel like this style, in addition to the whimsical, spiritual, and sometimes fantasy-like nature of some of Chris’ work is a real testament to his talent as an artist.

Sometimes, creating things that are simple, and simply beautiful is the best understated ability that one can have. Chris is able to do this with both his artwork, and with the websites that he designs. He truly has a gift…

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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