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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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!”

-Chris

 

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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”.

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

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

If only by the hem…

 

In this painting, Chris captures the moment in Scripture where a woman who has been suffering from a condition for quite some time reaches out in a crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and received healing.

This account provides a lot of comfort and insight into the nature and character of Jesus to me. The suffering woman probably feels lost and rejected by the mass of the crowd that she is in. A woman, nevermind a sick woman, she is in desperate need for something that will make her fell restored and whole again. In what seems like a desperate effort, she reaches out and touches the hem of Jesus’ garment. One account mentions that she thought “if I can only touch His robe, I will be healed” (Matthew 9:21).

I believe that there are times when we all feel like this woman probably did. Things in our life don’t seem to be going right for one reason or another, and we don’t feel like we’re as close to God as we could or should be. Our minds tell us that our best hope might be to stay off at a distance and hope to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment as He passes by.

The beauty of this account is that in that moment, Jesus noticed the tug on his robe, looked back, and assured the woman that she would receive healing because of her faith.

Jesus knows when one of God’s children reach out in faith to try and receive healing and power. Jesus notices our struggle, acknowledges our need, and assures us that healing and restoration are possible through faith and the healing power of God.

 

I for one am grateful for the assurance that though I may feel weak and marginalized at times, God sees me, knows me, and seeks to heal me and restore me.

 

I pray that we may all rest in that assurance each and every day.

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed