Woman at the Well

The Woman at the Well

Scripture Reference: John 4: 1-42

During the time of this actual event, Jews traveling through the Samaritan area would go around Samaria and avoid contact as they despise the Samaritans. The unnamed woman that comes to the well where Jesus was waiting, came, on purpose, at a time of day that others from her town would not be there (the heat of the day). Due to her questionable lifestyle, this Samaritan woman was an outcast among her own people who were themselves to the Jews… an outcasts among the outcasts.

In this practical, verbal exchange with her about getting a drink of water and how to draw it…

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

God has placed a “thirst to know and worship Him” in us all – he was offering her a relationship with her creator, which would satisfy that thirst for the rest of her life here on earth and into eternity. She did not know who Jesus was though she did know about the Messiah and about God and worship… “religion”. But, not about Relationship, which is what Christianity really is. She immediately replies with; “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (which further illustrates that she still hadn’t gotten the message).

Jesus’ response to her “give me this water” may seem really odd and out of place, a big change of subject even. “Go, call your husband and come back.” Strangely enough, this was needed to help her along and was not a 180, out of the blue response. This started a dialog that revealed who Jesus really was. It made her examine her life and what she as “filling herself with to satisfy that deep thirst” with and it was the approval of males instead of the loving approval of God.

I painted this painting to be around the time she “gets it” and runs off, towards her town where she was an outcast, leaving the water jug there at the well (a metaphor to me about leaving her old thirst/life) to go tell the good news she was now so filled with!

I hope you enjoyed the painting and commentary,

Chris Cook




Untitled on Purpose

This painting is titled “Untitled on Purpose” – on purpose. I have found that most folks that see this painting have some unique idea of what it is and what it means, if not, they will ask me about what it means.

I will give you some ideas about how this work came to being, but don’t want to give too much of my thoughts, as I have really enjoyed hearing from you all. Go see some of what I am talking about when this painting was posted to my Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ChrisCookTheArtist/posts/1422255384578492

I spend quite a bit of time just searching for interesting images on several royalty free photo depository websites, or sometimes while looking for a photo for a new website that I am building, I just stumble upon a photo that captures something inside of me and drag it into a folder on my computer called “2 Paint”.

I found an image of a woman in a house dress looking out a screen door… that is the spark that set this – what I think is – one of my most inspired paintings of late. (I had been praying for real inspiration for quite a while before finding the core inspiration in that photo). I pulled the image down and started playing with it in Photoshop a little, extending it wider… then I left it alone for a while.

Later on, in looking through that folder of images that I had saved, I thought about the scripture where Jesus made the statement “many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:30). As this woman in her surroundings seemed somewhat poor, maybe a little scared – staring ahead at something we can’t see, I felt it an interesting start for a painting. When Jesus is talking about this in that verse, I think He was speaking about eternity – after the second coming. That had me searching for “Second Coming” paintings from the past and I found a few that I could use as imagery in the outdoors of this painting.

All the other elements in the painting, like the black cat, industrial clock, the time on the clock, the strange lights on the wall, the light switch, power plug, television, what is on the tv screen, fly swatter, the “seemingly see through door” with a crucifix behind it… were all added on as I continued to paint. This painting was on and off my easel for several months. You can see the results in the painting below or here on my website

Love to hear your thoughts on this work, I am always amazed and inspired by them.

Thank you,

Chris Cook

Rich Young Ruler

Matthew 19:16-22
Matthew 6:21
1 Timothy 6:10
James 5:1-6

In all of these passages, the Bible seems to discussing our attitude about money and how it can capture and swallow us up. Paul clearly says “the LOVE of Money” not “Money” is the root of all kinds of evil.

First, we should eliminate what He did not mean. Jesus was not teaching that the way to get to heaven is to live a life of poverty in this world. Scripture is clear that salvation is by grace through faith, not of works and independent of one’s financial status. The rich aren’t always last in heaven, and the poor aren’t always first. Nor will believers who enjoy wealth and prestige on earth be required to somehow be abased in heaven. Earthly rank will not automatically translate into an inverse heavenly rank. (from this blog)

A good example that illustrates that earning money and becoming wealthy is not always a sentence of being a slave to money is Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven book series – who began to reverse tithe, giving 90% away and keeping the 10%.

The rich young man claimed to be righteous, and so wanted to know what thing to do to guarantee eternal life. He thought the kingdom could be earned this way. Jesus’ response was designed to probe how righteous he actually was–did he obey the letter of the law only, or the spirit as well?–and to show him the true way to eternal life. The instruction to sell all and follow Christ was designed to reveal that the man treasured his earthly possessions more than the heavenly hope. (source)

Matthew 6:21 – For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

In the painting I wasn’t trying to make any statement what so ever about money; the love for money, being rich, judging others on how much or little money they have… What I was wanting to conceptualize was – when we “walk away” from an important encounter/event/situation, we often look back as we walk away… sometimes we figuratively look back many years later, in our minds… either way, I painted Jesus still standing there waiting, ready to have us back!

A few more things about the painting itself. You would assume that “a rich young ruler” would be adorned in jewelry and fine clothes as he approached Jesus, I painted him as Jesus sees him without the worldly adornment. I painted a subtle frame around the rich young ruler to symbolize the self as center of the world. He is walking into the darkness away from the light, his leg is already going dark.

Thank You,
Chris Cook



Symbols Are Universal

I do more research and thought – letting them gel over time – more than preparatory sketches commonly seen in an artists working style. In the case of this painting called “Disciples Flee” I was, at the time, researching symbols in Christian art. I was also preparing for “Every Time I Feel The Spirit” – a solo exhibit at the Madison-Morgan African-American Museum in Madison, GA – and was searching the Bible for mentions of Africa and Africans.

All this came together wonderfully, no mystery there as I have found with my spiritual works. I had been thinking about how scary it would have been right after the public execution of their teacher, master, friend. These men were in shock, dealing with grief, guilt for abandonment, and had no clue what to do. I tried to capture, quickly, a moment of panic for these three men, looking over their shoulders, avoiding eyes, darting between buildings in a courtyard. I roughed in the main “bulk” of the figures but with no reference yet of “the environment/background” I left it for several months and would occasionally put it back on my easel and work on the main figures. The initial roughed in outlines were thick and bold and I decided I liked it and started coloring in around the initial lines. Still no background, just a few lines to show the horizon line and indication of a building.

Then, I found a website that had these wonderful West African – Adinkra Symbols, see below.

Wow, these four symbols and there meanings represent what these three men really needed at that time; (GYE NYAME) God is Supreme and in charge fully at all times, (NSOROMMA) they are a child of Heaven – guardianship, (NYAME BIRIBI WO SORO) God is in heaven giving us hope and lastly (NKONSONKONSON) that they are united as the human chain and in Christ.

Once seeing these, reading about these symbols and there meanings, I dropped the idea entirely on a realistic background and started painting in the symbols, treated the environment in a more graphic style, applied more of that same style to the three men – and that is how this painting came to being!

I sincerely hope that you enjoy a little glimpse into the internal, conceptual thought processes and then the steps, transformation methods of the physical work of art.

Chris Cook


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Vietnam War Paintings

This painting is something different for Chris since it is watercolor versus his normal acrylic paintings. However, I feel like the use of watercolor is appropriate for this subject matter. If Chris had used acrylic, the painting would be brighter and almost more cheerful. The use of watercolor makes the art more blended and subdued, almost mimicking the emotions that the soldiers felt while they were in Vietnam (missing family, tiredness, loneliness, fear, etc.). I also feel like that this use of medium makes it almost look historical and not a freshly created work of art due to the brown wash/tint on it.

The look in the main soldier’s eye is why I chose to write about this painting. He almost has a look of hope that he will get to go back home to his loved ones. His face also shows that he is tired and worn out from his time in Vietnam. Chris truly represented what a solider’s face would have looked like during this time period. I would like to see Chris paint more pieces similar to this but in different time periods, wars, etc. For example, it would be interesting to compare this soldier with one during WWII or the Cold War. They would all have similar emotions yet their surroundings and uniforms would differ.

Chris did paint two other watercolor paintings related to this one. They look like they belong to a set, but they are all so different due to the various tasks that the men are doing. I feel like these paintings showcase the numerous jobs that a solider has to do while “on the job”. It also shows the emotions that run through their heads due to the expressions on their faces. I’m glad Chris painted these because it is something different and new than his previous works, and it serves as a nice contrast.


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O’keeffe Dream

This painting was created by Chris for the Farm show here in Madison. He decided to paint 5 different paintings in 5 different ways, and Georgia O’keeffe’s style was one that he picked. This painting truly embodies the way in which Georgia O’keeffe painted. The deer skull mimics that of “Ram’s Head”; in addition, the colors and swirling patterns in the background are also similar between the two paintings. However, Chris creates his own Madison, Georgia spin on the painting. Instead of the painting being reminiscent of New Mexico, it truly gives a country, rustic feel that a farm represents. What’s more rustic than a deer skull? In addition, the silos are gray and mundane, yet the green grass makes them pop. The red beneath the silos reminds me of rusted metal that you often find on buildings in rural areas.

I also feel like the juxtaposition of the gray and blue in the background is representative of a storm passing, and the blue clear sky is coming into focus. This clear blue sky seems more hopeful and happy to me rather than the dreary gray clouds.

This painting just stands out to me for some reason, but I can’t place a pin on exactly why. The colors are so vivid and bright, and I believe this might be part of the reason.



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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!”



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The Queen of Soul

The world lost a wonderful woman when Aretha Franklin passed away last week. She was a force to be reckoned with when she sang, and I don’t think anyone else can quite capture the emotion and soul she put into her music.

This painting reflects the hope and youth that was embodied by Aretha throughout her whole life. Her face also shows though the hardships and turmoil that she experienced in her years. From her mother passing away from a heart attack before Aretha turned 10, having children at the ages of 12 and 14, and being in a violent marriage, she truly went through a lot. I feel like her music truly reflects this because she sings with such power and sureness; it’s almost as if these hardships were not hardships at all. They were events that would in the end make her stronger and more powerful singer.

In addition, Aretha was admired by so many due to the fact that she never sang a song the same exact way twice. She would emphasize more on certain portions due to the emotion she felt and also the energy from the audience. She left the crowd speechless after her performance at the Kennedy Center Honors, and this was the case with many (if not all) of her performances.

I can say that Aretha will be dearly missed, but her impact will never be forgotten due to her music living on forever.




Jesus’ First Miracle

The original core idea of this painting came to me looking at a book on the artist George Tooker.

Jesus’ first miracle here on earth was turning water into wine at a wedding festival. His mother, Mary must have known the family as she seemed to be involved with the organization, not just an invited guest. She must have also brought her son (that she knew was divine) with her… that is interesting in itself – think about it… “I should bring Jesus himself to a wedding party”!

Anyway, back to the story, she did bring Jesus and good thing as the family did not properly estimate the amount of wine for the multi-day wedding festival. What I tried to depict here in this recording of Jesus performing his first miracle is from the point of view of Mary.

She has asked her son, whom she was told from the beginning was to be the savior of the world, God in human form, conceived by the holy spirit to help this family. When she asks him, here is what happened… “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” Her response was not a direct reply to what He said to her – but – His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

I tried to capture her thoughts after he performed the miracle of “He is the Son of God and now everyone will know” This starts everything in motion.

Enjoy watching some of the steps I went through including Mary’s hand… felt it was not looking like a real hand and started back with painting the bone structure and then “put flesh back on it”.




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 Atchison, Student, Wofford College