I recently attended a wedding (Joey and Jen Leach, love these guys) that was officiated by Pastor Todd Burpo, best-selling author of Heaven is for Real. Needless to say, the bride was beautiful, the wedding simply charming; both fun and funny. It was an honor and privilege to be there.
The synchronization and coincidence of meeting Todd Burpo after we had heard of him a few years ago added to the astonishment of the day. We were delighted as you can imagine, to learn from our son who happened to be in the wedding party, that he would likely be attending our church service the morning of the wedding. It was there that Todd unexpectedly delivered a powerful message and personal testimony; one that even he did not plan or prepare for. I am ever-increasingly convinced our lives are orchestrated by God in ways called “happenstance.” Nothing is wasted; there are no accidents. We are constantly led by His Spirit, appropriated by believing. A beautiful thing.
The back story is that Todd Burpo happened to be the Youth Pastor of the groom years back, who happens to be a good friend of one of my sons now. I could go further with all the happenstances surrounding this story, but you get the idea.
Why am I mentioning this? Aside from the pure delight of it all, it brings to light my painting entitled, “The Bride.” This piece made its debut in a solo exhibition at the magnificent Oyster Point Hotel, Red Bank, NJ back in March/April (scroll down to All Things New) where weddings are often celebrated. Incidentally, I highly recommend this hotel and absolutely love it.
“The Bride” apparently speaks on multiple levels. Several perceptions were brought to my attention, from the striking aesthetic surface appeal to deep spiritual connotations. My sister recently summed it up with one simple but powerful word. “It symbolizes love.”
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” (Degas)
This painting began with the contemplation of utilizing the white of the canvas. For whatever reason, I believed it to be an essential element of the ultimate success of this piece. I knew I was going to paint a bride, but I did not know exactly how that would flesh out.
“The painting has a life of its own.” (Jackson Pollock).
In a belaboring process with rendering the head, I subsequently and instinctively made the decision to go back in to alter it. The only option to creating something with greater emotion and lasting impact was to wield with artistic punch. A few strong and courageous gestural marks were in order, causing me to squint to the point where my eyes may have actually shut. It was as if the image was going to deliver something right back at me. (And that would be the dreaded impact of hating what I just did!)
“The object of art is not to produce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.” (Alberto Giocometti)
“The job of the artist is to deepen the mystery.” (Francis Bacon)
In perceiving “The Bride” as a work of art, it does not disappoint in the emotional sense, and at the level of intensity in which it was expressed, it mysteriously guides the viewer toward deeper contemplation and truth. That being said, the work does not have to be as dramatic as this to create an impact. It can be as simple as a solid color engulfing the canvas.
In terms of the use of white, I recall an exquisite show by Robert Ryman at the Dia Beacon Museum in Beacon, NY. Every painting was a subtle shade of white, in a white room, with wonderful light. I was struck by the use of white. It’s powerfully simple, pure and unforgettable, the way I’d like my work to be thought of actually.
“The essential thing is to spring forth, to express the bolt of lightning one senses upon contact with a thing. The function of the artist is not to translate an observation but to express the shock of the object on his nature; the shock, with the original reaction.” Henri Matisse
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…” Ephesians 5:25