Chris Cook Artist

Southern Art – Georgia Artist – Landscape Paintings, Christian Art, Southern Expressionist Art

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Three in one…One in three.

 

I believe that one of the hardest concepts about God that we humans have constructed and used to try to understand God’s nature is that of the Holy Trinity. We talk about “persons” of the Trinity, knowing that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are not all entirely “persons” as we might think of our friends and neighbors.

God the Father is God the Father, Jesus the Son of God is Jesus the Son of God, The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit…. and yet, all three are God. They entirely are divine in their essence, but they alone do not make up all of what is God.

Many have tried to use analogies to describe the Trinity like the shamrock, water, ice, and steam, Neopolitan ice cream, etc.. The truth is, however, that many of our constructs and attempts to describe God as displayed in the three persons of the Trinity fail to adequately or correctly express the nature and power of who God is. many would me content to simply leave it at “it’s a mystery”.

 

I really like how Chris made his expression of Trinity in this painting. All three figures are seen connected together as one body, but still different in their own individualities. I believe that the skeleton-like parts of the figure in the middle might point to the humanity of Jesus’ nature. Which figure do you see as God the Father? Which might be the Holy Spirit?

No matter how you think of the persons of the Holy Trinity, it is a beautiful comfort to remember that God, in whatever form God is present, loves and provides for all of God’s children who would believe and have faith. I believe that the mystery of parts of this revelation of God only adds to the power and awesome nature of who God is.

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

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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

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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

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“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.

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Connected…Not Connectional

 

It has been said that while people today are the most connected that we have ever been through the advent of smartphones and technology, we live in a world in which face to face verbal communication is in a great decline. Studies of coffee shop social interactions discovered that most people check their phone every 3-5 minutes and that most people held their phones in their hand or placed them on the table in front of them.

The art of face to face conversation is dying off, and people seem to have forgotten what it means to simply sit and enjoy being in the moment of social interaction with one person or a small group. This scene is one that can be found in nearly every coffee shop, restaurant or watering hole across the globe. Though we are the most connected that we have ever been as a people through social media, instant messaging, chat rooms, apps, etc., we have fallen away from the connection of good old fashioned conversation.

Some of the best and most memorable talks that I can remember having were with my friends and family members over a meal, perhaps a beverage simply enjoying being with one another. Whether we were in a rocking chair, on a couch, swinging on a porch, or taking a walk, there is simply no substitute for the connectedness that comes from being with someone simply for who they are.

I am as guilty as the next person, I will admit. Nevertheless, the question that I will leave with is this. Who do you need to sit down with for a cup of coffee, an adult beverage, a slice of pie, or a nice long walk? What could you stand to gain from a good old fashioned distraction-free conversation with someone that you care about?

 

Something to ponder…

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

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Storytelling is painting pictures with words:

 

“I don’t care what anyone says about me, as long as it isn’t true.”  -Truman Capote

Chris told me that this exhibit is very much about the face of the subject. He scoured the web for the right images of each person that he showcases in this work before settling on the right one to infamy that person has to offer. I believe that he caught Truman Capote’s struggle perfectly with this expressive piece.

Born a meek, sensitive, and mild-mannered boy, young Truman was picked on for being a wimp. He was criticized for his creativity and his inventive ways. Little did his friends know that this creative little wimp would grow up to become a famous playwright.

Because of his struggles in school, and difficulties in his home life, Capote made poor grades and spent much of his high school years drinking and carousing with is friends at the clubs. Some of Capote’s associates at that time included the likes of Oona O’Neil, daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neil (Long Day’s Journey, The Iceman Cometh), and Gloria Vanderbilt.

A big part of Capote’s infamy came as a result of his struggles with alcohol, his social outcast nature as a child, his family struggles, his expression of his own struggles through the stories that he told in his writings, and the fact that Capote had a 35 year relationship with author Jack Dunphy in a time when homosexual relationships were much less the norm. Many of Capote’s writings were criticized heavily because of the emotional struggles and “homosexual themes” contained within them.

Perhaps one of Capote’s greatest successes was Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in which he explored the life of a New York Girl who depended on men to get by. The story was adapted into the 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn. Capote also became famous for his work In Cold Blood, in which he followed the story of a gruesome murder trial. This work proved to be a highly emotionally taxing endeavor.

Capote’s brilliance in storytelling was the only thing that paralleled the controversy and intrigue surrounding his lifestyle. He spent many years in and out of rehab for drugs and alcohol, struggled with social settings and strained relationships, and working to “fit in” with the “typical” life of an American male author in his time. Regardless of his personal struggles and his infamy Capote’s ability to tell a story and to captivate an audience is undeniable.

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12-DSC_0005

 

Our experiences shape our viewpoints. Consequently, everyone sees things differently. When people see this painting, they see a figure surrounded by a color explosion. They reach certain conclusions about what the colors are expressing about the figure. Some people may wonder why the figure is not a white figure, connected with peace and innocence. The figure is a dark contrast to the color explosion. Another part of everyone seeing things is the way humans see color. We see colors by different light rays coming into our eyes and our brain registering them. I would conclude from this, that we all see colors differently, even if the difference is a fraction of a shade in difference in color. The red I see in this painting could be much different than the way you see it or a tad lighter or darker.

I have a certain love for abstract paintings more than other type of paintings. Abstract paintings are known for being theoretical and not actually existing, but I believe that abstract paintings are the most realistic paintings. These paintings show our emotions, our beliefs and our dreams because they start out with no defined goal. As the artist begins the abstract, he has no rigid goal, but as the artist lays down the paint, he begins to see patterns. Chris realizes that certain colors would not mix with the other colors in this color explosion. Even though there are abstract paintings, these paintings are still influenced by the teachings and ideas of art the artist possesses. At some point in this artistic expression. Chris had to decide if he would have this figure in this painting. Chris had to decide if the figure would play a role in the expression of the painting. These paintings are realistic to our reality because we come into this world with no defined goal, but as we grow into a our person, we see certain patterns and make certain decisions leading to our final masterpiece as a person.

I am grateful that Chris put the figure in the painting, because I would not have had the revelation I had after studying the painting for a while. I leave for college this week, and I would assume that I am supposed to be nervous. College will be something I have never experienced before, but I am still trying to decide if that is an opportunity or a chasm filled with problems. I connect with the figure, I am the figure. The color explosion is the world around me. Giving me advice and telling me how to live and what to live for. The colors are also the obstacles I will face as I begin to figure out who I am. Many people will shrink in the face of this challenge and follow other people to protect themselves. It is much easier to live a life with other people’s values and expectations so you can blame them for your unhappiness. It is much harder to go into the world, determined to find out the world for yourself. The world is filled with much less people with “convictions”, convictions are fostered by contemplating on something in solitude. To live for something, you must believe come to the conclusion yourself. I do not want cheap beliefs that I have borrowed from others, I want my own beliefs.

I am not saying that by coming to conclusion by yourself, you will completely understand human reality or be more intellectually advanced than others. We cannot fully understand our human reality until after death. I have come into this world, to change something, to leave my mark. I am not here to leave a mark for anyone else, I will take the opportunities the world has given me. I have learned from many other people and will continue to learn from many more. But it is time, to come to my own conclusions. I am ready to live a life with convictions that are strong and lead me to the life I am destined to live.

When I was at Younglife volunteering at a camp for a month, a friend of mine Lee Wicks told me a quote that I will live my life by

“We choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard” – John F. Kennedy.

An easy life is a life not worth living. I’m ready to be the figure going into the explosions of color in this life. Love you Dad, hopefully I’ll do something cool with my life. And hopefully, I learn something about writing.

  • Carter

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devilmask

All of the paintings discussed in this series of posts has been painted on paper. As I dwelt on this fact, I started wondering if these paintings were just random acts of expression or a beginning phase of a painting that he never put on a canvas.

This painting is the first in the series that depicts a “human” figure. The background for the painting is a light blue and yellow which is a sharp contrast from the dark red figure. The yellow is at the top of the painting and the lower left side of the painting. In the lower left, the yellow seems to be an explosion of color, expanding as far as it can go. There is a white shape that seems to be covering the figures face, similar to a mask. The interesting part that stuck out to me was that the mask seems to be slipping off the figure’s face. As though, the figure’s identity was about to be revealed. The figure also seems to have horns in the back of his head, but the mask cannot cover the horns. The mask cannot hide all of the true thoughts of the figure. The horns allude to the figure resembling a devil figure.

This painting is a testament to the belief that masking our intentions is never truly successful. After looking at this painting for a while, I noticed a couple words written underneath the painting. These words say “Last Moments of Judas”, and I had a revelation about the meaning of the painting. Chris has painted the dark red figure with horns to portray Judas. Judas’ mask is falling off as he is about to die, but the horns were never concealed to Jesus and God. The story of Judas has always been an interesting one to me. Jesus and God let Judas betray Jesus ultimately leading to Jesus’ death. But Jesus knew what his destiny was and did not interfere with God’s plan. The betrayal of Judas raises the question, “Did Judas believe that Jesus and God were all powerful?”. Hard to imagine a man betraying the one who created everything.

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p1p2 As I write this post, a recent memory springs up in my mind. Earlier this year, my dad had an art show at the Steffen Thomas Museum focused on Christian Art. One afternoon, Chris and I decided to go over there so I could look at his show. I am always amazed at my dad’s art and this was no exception. As we went from painting to painting, I could not imagine the countless hours he spent on each one of these paintings.

However, our trip did not last countless hours as I looked over  30 paintings in about twenty five minutes. This was not due to my lack of interest, but more to my novice mindset towards art. Art is similar to most skill activities in that people that are active in said activity can better understand and articulate the small actions that lead to a great piece of art, a great football play, or a great movie. I am embarrassed to say that I did not pay close enough attention to the intricacies of my dad’s art, but I accepted to write these articles in hopes I could learn more about my dad’s favorite past time.

Is painting two pieces that are strikingly similar, a lack of creativity or a different expression of the same idea? When I first saw these two paintings side by side on Chris’s website, I could not distinguish if one was just the finished product of the other. The first painting seems to have larger and thicker brush strokes than the second, which has more white spaces separating the strokes. Both paintings are surrounded by a black box that has an opening on the northwest corner. The opening could be an escape from whatever the black box contains. But I do not believe that the box holds evil or Chris would have used a different color than a calming light blue. Imagine the light blue being replaced by a dark red, the paintings would have a menacing feel to it. The shapes inside the black box make the painting continue on and on like a hole going to nowhere.

One aspect that I love about both of these paintings, Chris lets the art happen instead of “correcting” the mistakes. In the second painting, there are black dots right above the black box looking as if they it was an accidental drop of paint. If this was my painting, I would most definitely try to cover up “this mistake” and enlarge the top black line. But this would make the painting lose its integrity as thin strokes. The black dots are my favorite part of this painting, they immediately draw my eyes and show a contrast from the first painting.  Painting two paintings that are similar may be to some a lack of creativity, but I believe that Chris was not finished expressing his idea and needed two paintings to show that idea. Or, he just likes painting black and blue squares which is still pretty cool if he paints like this.

  • Carter

 

 

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ocean

Before writing this post, I read an article about abstract art discussing Piet Mondrian views on art. Mondrian was involved in the De Stijl art movement, an art style focused on isolating a single visual style that would appropriate for all aspects of modern life. The style resulted in implementing geometric blocks of primary colors and vertical and horizontal lines. Mondrian’s art theories greatly affected his abstract art style & his quote about abstract art stuck out to me when looking at this painting, Mondrian said

The emotion of beauty is always obscured by the appearance of the object. Therefore the object must be eliminated from the picture.”  

When I first look at this painting, I see splatters of ink. There seems to be an incident where ink has spilled all over the canvas. Reminiscent of the incident of an ink pen breaking in my pocket and ruining a pair of jeans I had when I was a kid. As I try to make sense of this painting, I run into problems. My eyes scan the painting, and the big splatter of blue paint could be a break of ocean water from the wave, ( the other expanse of blue). Then I run into the problem of what the black circle is surrounding the blue splatter. While the other colors seem random & in no particular order, the black lines seem to be purposeful.

I was drawn to this painting because Blue is my favorite color. Blue is associated with calmness, but I think this painting shows a different side of the color blue. This painting shows the strength of blue, like an ocean, calm but has the possibility to be destructive & explode. Chris could have planted the brown to show that the water had taken over all of the land except for two small parts. Reflecting back on the Mondrian quote earlier mentioned, by Chris not becoming fully immersing in painting the object “perfectly” he is able to express the real message.

-Carter