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



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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When I first saw this painting, it immediately made me think of the heavy reliance on technology that is present in today’s society. Whether it be checking email, social media, or texting back someone, almost everyone you see in public is on their phone at some point or another. I realize the importance of technology and the aid it brings in completing everyday activities, but there comes a time when these devices inhibit our interactions with our peers.

Chris Cook clearly paints this point in his Devices painting. All of the people in this painting are so consumed by the content on their phones that they are not interacting with each other. Therefore, this painting proves that a change is in order for everyone and their addiction to their phones. The background of this painting is more abstract and blurry as if the girls are not able to see the world around them because they are engrossed by their phones. Why not try putting the phone down so that you can actually talk with the people you are with? Time is more well spent when you can actually hold a conversation in person with someone rather than texting them with them being right near you. So I challenge everyone to get off their devices for at least 30 minutes to an hour a day so you can actually connect with the ones you are with. The relationships and friends that you have will become that much stronger by this, and you won’t have to charge your phone as much 🙂


Land of the free…



The stars and stripes have always stood for so much to so many people.


To some, they are a reminder of the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

For others, they are a battle flag, a representation of why they volunteered to serve in the military…the reason that they fought.

For some, it reminds them that they live in a nation of freedom from persecution and terror.

For others, it serves as a brutal reminder that the established order of government operates and exists on a plane much larger than any one citizen might hope to ever influence or change.

And still, others see the Red, White, and Blue banner as a representation of everything that is wrong with American society today; citing big brother, government conspiracies, the eye in the sky, racism, classism, hatred, etc. that continue to divide these “United States” of America.


Regardless of what comes to mind when you see the American flag, there is no doubt that it represents much more than simply an assembly of people from 50 states living together on one land mass. It represents a collection of ideas, dreams, wishes, and hopes of millions of individuals who are United in their attempt to live out their own understanding of what freedom, liberty, and Justice for all means to them.


Shalom, Y’all –


Viewing Stages of a Painting, Three

This painting is from the FARM Art Show at the Madison Morgan Cultural Center in late 2014.

The show paired artist to a specific farm in Morgan County. I choose the Lambert Farm.

The original idea for this painting and all 6 paintings I did for the show, came to me after talking with Robyn, my wife about painting Lambert Farm as a number of different American Modern Artist… and I ran out to my studio and made a color pencil sketch to capture the idea quickly.

Below is the original color pencil.



This painting ended up on a 6 foot wide by 4 foot tall canvas. This is the painting in progress on the large canvas. Note the color copy of a second study I did in Adobe Illustrator taped to the upper right of the canvas for reference.


I have added details, see below. I used a gutter cover that had uniform holes in it to prevent objects from falling into your gutters to start the dot pattern in the sky… what a nightmare. I painted and repainted those dots!


Below is the finished painting that was in the FARM Art Exhibit.



Chris Cook



Viewing Stages of a Painting, Two

Here is one of my favorite paintings… really love the concept of taking a Picasso painting of a Spanish tragedy and using the painting look and style to tell the story of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald on Television on the 60s.

This is the third and largest version of the painting I have made. It is 6 foot wide and 4 foot tall.

First I used the 9 grid system to transfer the underlying composition/drawing. Here I have started roughing in the painting… getting the figure and ground separated.



This next image you can see that I am defining the characters faces and bodies and making the background more solid.


Below I have added more details. The background is more formed. Notice some of the earlier details were whited out to start over.


Below is the finished painting.


This painting is not for sale – I may be dreaming, but… my idea is to donate this to the Georgia Museum in Athens, Georgia or the Morris Museum in Augusta, Georgia.


Chris Cook




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





Circle of Life:




I am not much of an artist in the sense of “paint brushes, strokes on canvas, and acrylic color palates”. My art tends to come with the way that I am able to use my words to talk about or describe something. (I studied culinary arts in college, therefore, I have a decent ability to put good looking food on a plate, but that is neither here nor there). That being said, I am one who appreciates art, though I may not always have the best idea of what exactly is happening on the canvas, or what was going through the artist’s mind as he/she created the piece.

Chris titled this painting “Circle of Life”. After singing Sir Elton John’s hit from the opener of Disney’s The Lion King in my head, I began to contemplate life as a circle/cycle, and to contemplate this painting as a representation of it.

I feel like the black and white, almost starry field that constructs the majority of the background helps to represent the vastness that is the expanse of a universe much larger than we’re able to experience in our lifetime. The figure in the top left of the picture seems to represent birth/beginning. The colored element is an adult male, (I assume that is Chris). There are other figures within the painting, and a definite wheel, reminding me of the cycles of our life.

Lent is a time when we are to be reminded of our human mortality. During the Imposition of Ashes, pastors typically speak words like “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. It’s a stark reminder that our creator works things out in seasons and cycles. This big ol’ wheel keeps on turning, and God has a forever plan in motion for it all.

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



I imagine that the days of clotheslines being the norm were definitely a “different” and probably a “simpler” time.

To me, clothes lines seem to signify a time in history when people weren’t rushed by the need for convenience and the speed of modern technology. If your clothes were out on the line, that was alright. I can’t see the people that used clothes lines feeling the need to be as hurried, pressured, and pushed for time as we are today.

Chris painted this picture on a very large canvas, big enough to be a focal piece in a family room, or entrance to a home. I feel like it serves as a great reminder to days past, and as an encouragement to us to slow down, maybe put the phones down and be willing to let life happen at its own speed, rather than hurry it along.

What do you think? Have you ever put clothes out on the line, and then sat back and sipped a glass of lemonade in the breeze? What do you do to take the time to sit back and simply enjoy life without all of the pressures and hurries of today’s busy life?

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.