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?
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!
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”.
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 –
Growing up in Madison, Georgia, There are some things that one grows accustomed to seeing, smelling, and encountering as just part of life in a small town.
- Farmers plant fields of hay, grain, crops, and other goods
- You can mark the seasons by when they are cutting and baling each growth of hay or straw
- Farms have animals. Animals make noises and smell funny. It’s part of living in dairy country.
- Those same fields of hay and grass get fertilized… often with chicken manure. You will grow familiar with the distinct smell that comes along
- Tractors need fuel and repair. A small town traffic jam might be because you’re stuck behind a combine or a tractor on its way into town or back out to the farm.
- People live life at a little slower pace. Strolling down the streets of downtown, you could be met by any number of people who know your name, your mama’s name, and probably where you go to church. The community, connectedness, and camaraderie are simply something that one can’t always find in bigger cities and towns.
Chris captures a snapshot of a scene that I have driven or walked by thousands of times in my life. To me, this painting serves as a great reminder of the pace, peace, and presence that comes along with living in a small town like Madison, Georgia.
What is your favorite part of living in small town USA?
Shalom, Y’all –
It seems that so much in life, particularly in the work of the church, revolves around the glorious essence of a ground bean that has been steeped in hot water. Coffee is what makes much of the world go round. It brings warmth and energy to our bodies and life to events and parties.
Some of us cannot function without at least one cup in the morning. Even if we can make it out the door dressed and ready, our day hasn’t started without a stop by our favorite spot for coffee, or a good cup from our favorite mug at home.
I believe that the way that one takes their coffee is a matter of pride, preference, and passion. I personally tend to take mine black. I am a purist. I don’t often waste time or calories with creams, sugars, and syrups. When I first began drinking coffee, it had to taste like a candy bar in order for me to even think of drinking it. I wasn’t fond of the taste or the smell of coffee, and I couldn’t understand how or why other people drank it. As I continued to work through meetings and counseling sessions as a youth minister and church staff member, it became more and more clear that coffee was going to be a necessary evil. Somehow,
Somehow, coffee was able to work its hooks into me, and before long I was drinking it black and by the pot full.
No matter how you take your coffee or if it’s tea or cocoa that you prefer, I believe that one thing that we can all agree on is that there is something special about holding that cup of hot delicious goodness that brings us together, keeps us going, and motivates us all throughout our busy lives.
May your weeks be short, and your coffee be strong.
Shalom, Y’all –
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 –
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 –
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 –
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 –