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

RELATED SCRIPTURES:
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.

-Tori

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Devices

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 🙂

-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

 

 

The Unsung Hero from Up: Carl

Squirrel!

When you hear this quote, you instantly thing of Dug the talking dog from Up, but what quote makes you think of Carl Fredrickson? Not many come to mind, but he still remains a pivotal character within the plot. Up would not be the same movie without the tear-jerking opening scene of Carl and Ellie building a life together. Carl is then left alone to mourn his departed wife. Throughout the entire movie, I always viewed Carl as more of an elderly, grouchy character who saw Russell and Dug as a nuisance. Chris Cook paints Carl though not as an elderly man who has liver spots and gray hair but as the young boy that he once was looking through the eyes of the man he has become. Carl never lost his childlike innocence as he grew older, and this is why he has to see South America even if Ellie can’t be there with him. What better way to see the world than by tying thousands of balloons to your house. This non traditional approach to reach his goal proves that he is not as old as he seems because what elderly man would think to tie balloons to his house? Thus, I feel like this painting completely embodies Carl as the individual he is inside and out. The bright background reflects his childlike tendencies, and he has a little smile on his face. Most of the time in the movie, he looks cold and upset, yet there seems to be some happiness hidden deep within. Chris has hit the nail on the head by painting Carl in a different light that accurately reflects his personality and undying need for adventure.

By painting Carl in this manner, Chris has proven that not all people (and characters) are black and white. People have many different facets of their identity that they wish to expose and others that they want to remain hidden. This painting proves that you should never judge someone solely on how they are on the outside; you have to see past the exterior to truly see the actual character of the person. What kind of movie would Up be if Carl was just a coldhearted, stuck in his ways, old man who wanted nothing to do with adventure?

Remember, adventure is out there, and there is always something or somewhere worth exploring!

-Tori

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

Peter Denies Jesus

 

Loneliness and shame are two very powerful emotions. I would imagine that in the hours after Jesus was taken and arrested, all of the disciples ran the gamut of emotions. The Gospels focus particularly on Peter during these hours. Known to be outspoken about his faith and devotion to Christ, Peter resorts to hiding on the fringes and denying even knowing Jesus three times just as the Master had predicted that he would.

It would seem that this Peter, who knew what it felt like to walk on the waves alongside Jesus, might have fallen the hardest. How could he have allowed himself to sink from walking on the waves into the depths of the darkest corners? What took a man who was so bold and impetuous to draw a sword against the Roman soldiers down to where he did not even want to be associated with this Jesus who he had followed for so long?

I believe that Chris does a great job of capturing the loneliness and shame that must have been going through Peter’s mind and heart that morning. When one looks at this painting, it feels as if we are pulled out to the fringes, away from the warmth and light of the fire and into the darkness. The darkness is no doubt both literal and metaphorical in this image. Being separated from the true source of light that darkness will not overcome was a feeling that I am sure Peter longed for as he wondered what would come next.

 

I am grateful to God that grace allows us all the opportunity to come out of darkness and back into the light of Christ. No longer do we have to be bound to our guilt, shame, and loneliness. The gift of Grace is that God offers us a chance to step out in faith to be restored through grace, and to say “Lord, you know I love you” as we set out to be one who might feed God’s sheep.”

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed