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

IMG_3795 IMG_3796

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?

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.


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.

FullSizeRender 2

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!

FullSizeRender 3





Why Did Judas Kiss Jesus When He Betrayed Him?


Pablo-Picasso-Painting-020-500x338My inspiration for this particular painting of Judas Kissing Jesus (I have painted up to 10 versions of this subject) was Picasso. A Picasso painting of a lady, the yellow lips… When I saw this painting in one of my many books on him, it popped right into my mind. Judas. Those odd colored lips. The odd way to identify Jesus, the kiss from Judas… weird huh? Oh well, that is the truth, the way it came into my mind.

Then I had to explore other paintings by Picasso to get my reference for Jesus and oddly enough found it in another Picasso painting of a female. (see the two images with this article)

With this start I just made up the other characters in the painting. I unconsciously added an extra finger on Judas’ hand that is “pointing out Jesus” along with his kiss.

Judas Betrays Jesus with a Kiss
Judas Betrays Jesus with a Kiss

In searching for an answer to – why a kiss – I found this nice article on a website called Jesus-Story  (

After Judas left the upper room where they had been eating, Jesus washed the feet of his friends in an act of godly service. Then they went out to a garden across the Kidron Valley, a garden they must have known well. Jesus prayed there, but the peace of the garden was shattered by the arrival of a contingent of guards and officials. They had come to arrest Jesus. With them was Judas.

Because there were many pilgrims around, it was necessary to have a sign (the kiss) to identify Jesus. If there had been a struggle the wrong man might have been arrested, especially in the dark. A kiss was normal enough; it was the way a pupil greeted a Rabbi, and Jesus had been a teacher to Judas. Mark, writing in Greek, uses an emphatic form of the verb katephilesen. Judas kissed Jesus with more than usual fervor and affection.

Jesus submitted quietly to the soldiers, but spoke some final words to Judas: Friend, why are you here?

The words can be read as a loving rebuke, but they can also be translated as Do what you came to do.


Just add this to the many, many questions that I have about the stories of Jesus.

Chris Cook

Monastery Graveyard




In an earlier post, Chris touched on his time visiting with Father Francis at the grounds of the monastery in Conyers, GA.  He talked about the lifestyle and the contributions that the monks made to the area.

In this particular painting Chris showcases the cemetery on the grounds of the monastery. Seeing this painting has sparked me to think about the issue of human mortality.

I’ve heard it said that, “In all of history, one incontrovertible truth is that the human mortality rate remains pegged out at 100%”. Another way i’ve heard it put is the argument of “what are you going do do with the ‘dash’?” ( the one that’s on the headstone between your birth and death?

Human mortality is unavoidable, but I do believe that as believers, we have a hope for an eternal life through our saving faith in Christ Jesus. I believe that Father Francis and the monks at the monastery were well aware of this truth, and that is probably a big part of the reason that they devoted their lives to the work that they did.

I find comfort in remembering the words from the book of John, Chapter 3, Verses 16 &17 –

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

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.

The Cross




The cross…

A device created by the Roman Empire to instill a painful and humiliating death for all those who opposed it’s rule, or disobeyed it’s laws.

A terrible way to nail up trouble makers, leaving them exposed and naked, to be picked over by wild animals, and to serve as a reminder to all those around of the fate that would meet any who didn’t conform.


The cross…

The place where they nailed MY Jesus – though they could find nothing to convict him of.

The place where they hung Him next two a thief and a murderer – after beating him senseless, humiliating him, chastising him, and casting lots for his clothes.


The cross…

Empty…Just like the tomb after the 3rd day – to serve as a reminder of Jesus’ power over sin, death, and evil. The grave, and all of hell itself could not contain the glory that laid within our Lord and Savior.


The cross… it serves as a beacon of light to remind us as his followers that He is still God, and He is still in control.


“I will cherish the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown”

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



Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Christ’s burden could really be seen from two different perspectives (if not more). On one hand, there was a physical burden – he was beaten within an inch of his life, betrayed by the ones who’d loved him, and forced to carry the physical burden of his cross through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha. On the other, the fullness of the world’s sin and the wrath of a jealous and just God was placed entirely on him as he was nailed to the cross.

I can begin to fathom neither of the two…

As Christians, sometimes we forget the fullness of the reality of what Christ endured in the time of his crucifixion. We love the freedom, and being “saved”, but often are too quick to forget the very real sacrifice that Christ the man endured.

This painting is very subtle, but it’s essence speaks volumes. We can see the cross-beam, a physical reminder of Christ’s earthly burden as well as taking a time to do some emotional reflection and searching about the heaviness of the truth that the sins of the world were laid onto one man’s shoulders on that day. All of God’s wrath was poured out onto His only son for each and every one of us. Every sin that had been, and would be committed was reconciled for all who would believe on that day.

As I reflect on that day through this painting, i’m reminded of the words of one of my favorite hymns …

My sin, oh the bliss of that glorious thought! My sin, not in part, but the whole was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, oh my soul!”

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

House of Thomas


Friday came…They nailed our savior to a cross, and laid his body in the tomb.

Everything you’d worked for, devoted your life to, and placed your hope in was laid in that tomb with him.

The cross was empty, his body was in the tomb, and your mind and heart are full of doubts and questions.

I find it easy to identify with Thomas to have lots of questions and fears in the midst of what he was facing and feeling in the days following the crucifixion.

This painting portrays an “inside looking out” perspective from what Chris poses is the house of Thomas. Things inside the house seem dark, the disciples have understandably retreated into safety and hiding. It serves as a great reminder of what it might have been like to be a 1st century follower of “The Way”.

The good news for us as believers is the truth that he is not still on the cross, nor is he still in the tomb that they laid him in! We have a hope through the Resurrection on Easter Sunday that God has not abandoned us, and Jesus can live in each of our hearts for eternity because of the sacrifice made that day!

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

Jesus is…


I want to try something a little bit different for this blog. Instead of writing my thoughts and insight, I simply wanted to post this picture of Jesus that Chris painted, and ask the viewers to answer this “simple” question.

“What is Jesus to you?”

Answer below in the comments. I can’t wait to see the responses.

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 .

Life on Earth When Jesus Was Here.

What was life like when Jesus was on the earth?


We do have the Bible and other historic writings chronicling the times in the middle east at the time of Jesus.

I have thought about this enough to draw my own opinions. I am not an old world history expert but I think the following of the time:

  • there was knowledge that “this was the time” of the coming Messiah and it was well know (see Daniel 9:24-27)
  • there were probably lots of men claiming that they were the Messiah and knew the prophesies – thus could imitate the signs and actions
  • there was an accelerated number of demons present on earth, demons being cast out… I am open to anyone out there that knows more on the subject to correct me
  • it seems that the demons also knew quite well who Jesus was upon encountering him – while the “religious leaders” of the time seemed to have more trouble in acknowledging him
  • lots of confusion, violence, evil, power hunger, pride, repression…

The religious establishment seemed to be expecting Him too, but from all that I read of their interactions with Jesus – they assumed that he would “come to them” and “work with them” and that they would be in the center of his work here. That did not happen. Jesus found himself in conflict with them throughout his ministry. There is way too much here to write about here and to show you on a canvas…

This painting is made of six equal sized little paintings all on one canvas. You can draw what you want from each or of the totality of the painting as a whole.


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


Visit Us