"It is Finished, It has Begun"
image size: 4 feet x 8 feet
My goal is that you would be drawn in to experience the Crucifixion through the eyes of Jesus. To achieve this I used two design techniques. The first is Field Color discovered by psychologists back in the 1920's and used by the field painters of the 1950's. Field color is the use of a monochromatic color scheme on a large surface so that when you stand about a foot away and look straight ahead, you cannot see the ends of the surface. Upon doing so, within 30 seconds you experience the phenomenon of being inside the color. I used a 4' x 8' canvas and variations of subdued orange (brown). But because I needed to use other colors, I added to this an imploding radial design to strengthen the effect.
In this vision painting each person is having their own vision at a crucial time in their lives. The vision begins in the birth corner (lower left) and moves up and to the right in a struggle to overcome. The first to appear are Adam and Eve exposed for their sin of wanting to be like God, a denial of their already being created in the image and likeness of God. Why are they black? Because DNA research has revealed that the human race has indeed one set of parents from whom we are all descended and they were dark of skin, the lighter races being a deviation. They stand as in Genesis 3, their sin exposed as they receive the consequences of their actions. Even so, God blesses them with a promise of a savior. Thus her womb swells with child and reflects the light of the cross she and Adam see. Seth crawls from them towards Noah with his eyes on the cross. In Noah, God attempts to recreate humanity. Noah kneels at the railing of the ark seeing the dove of peace return and the cross. Next is Abraham, shocked and pointing to Sarah as they receive the word she will be pregnant in her old age. She laughs and so the child is named Isaac, which means God laughs with her. Her womb swells and reflects the cross that she and Abraham see. Then comes Jacob who wrestled with the Lord, and after his hip is displaced he holds on demanding to know the Lord's name. I believe the response was in the form of a vision of the cross. Then there is Tamar, who played the harlot. She sees the cross as she is about to be stoned for her pregnancy. The cross marks her womb, and she reveals the staff and ring of the child's father, her father-in-law Judah. Then come Naomi and Ruth. Why does she, unlike her sisters-in-law, refuse to leave and says, "your God is my God"? She, like Naomi, sees the cross and her womb is marked with the cross. Then to prove that God can use our sins to bring about his good will, we have David, the adulterer, and Bathsheba. David surrenders his crown in shame before the cross as Nathan reveals his sin. Later Bathsheba, who lost their first child as a consequence of Davidís sin, sees the cross reflected in Solomonís eyes as she nurses him. Thus begins the Davidic line.
From the Divine corner (upper left) comes both the empowering and the judgment of God. The high priest, Caiaphas, stands in the present of the crucifixion for through the power of God he prophesied, "one man should die for the sins of many". However, the prophetic line began with Joseph who is here seen in the depths of the pit holding on to the vision before him. Then comes Moses, seeing the cross, raises up the bronze serpent on the Tau cross healing the people of the poison that is killing them, just as Christ is raised up on the cross to heal the people of the poison of sin. Next is Deborah, judge of Israel, who in the vision of the cross proclaims that because of their cowardice, Israel will be delivered by a woman, foreshadowing the role of Mary. Then we see Isaiah contemplating the cross as he prophesies of the suffering servant. Then we have Anna and Simeon who, upon seeing the infant Jesus presented in the temple, foresaw the crucifixion and proclaimed his death with its saving power for all peoples.
John the Baptist standing at the Jordan's edge sees the cross and points to Jesus as the "Lamb of God". Then there is Joseph the carpenter who died when Jesus was a young boy. Here I follow an ancient story that says Joseph, to feed his family made crosses for the Romans at night. Then one night when Jesus was helping him Joseph had a vision, his own son would be crucified on the cross he was making. He refused to make any more crosses and was killed. Next to him are John, the only disciple who did not desert him, and Mary as Jesus says; --"this is your mother--this is your son". At the foot of the cross is Mary Magdalene who loved him so. Across from David is another ruler, Pontius Pilate, who in futility tries to wash the blood of Jesus from his hands for his robes are saturated with it. Even as Jesus says: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." And from the vision of John of Patmos we have the image of those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Across from John the Baptist is the Centurion who proclaims at the death of Jesus; "Truly this was the Son of God!"
There are two ways the Good News of the cross spread to the non-Jewish world. The first was though Phillip who answered the Ethiopian eunuch's hunger for understanding. Most Americans think the Africans came to Christ because of slavery when in truth the first Christian kingdom was African because the eunuch converted the royal family of Ethiopia to Christ. Here I show them in reaction to a vision of the cross. Starting at this point instead of showing throngs of people I chose to show representatives. The second way the Good News of the cross was spread to the rest of the world was through Paul. Here I show him falling off his horse before the vision of the cross that was the central focus of his ministry. Next I show the first European family and the first Asian family. Behind and to the right is the Roman Catholic monk Luther who, when celebrating the Eucharist, saw a vision of Christ and was washed clean of his sin propelling him into the reformation of the western church. Though this shattered his beloved Catholic Church into pieces, it also transformed it. Next is a Nez Perce youth on a vision quest to receive his totem and behind him his family who were the first to receive the message of the cross from him. I cannot prove what I say next but the following connections have me convinced. There is a Nez Perce tunic in a Native American museum with a totem of red crosses upon it. Then from about the same time period as the tunic there is a story I remember from Sunday school; that one day a Nez Perce Chief and others showed up in St. Louis looking for the Book of Heaven. Upon questioning them, they found that no missionary had been to them, yet they knew. A missionary went back with them and the early Nez Perce Christian church s howed none of the European trappings that so often have plagued missions. Instead it was a fulfillment of the Nez Perce traditional faith in the Cross of Christ.
All this moves towards the goal of life (upper right corner). To get there some basic understandings must develop. First no race or group of people can consider itself superior to others. In fact, the only way to truly understand the Christian faith is by learning of the faith from those who have been persecuted and enslaved. Thus I show a black Sunday school teacher instructing a young white girl on the faith as she shares her vision of Christ crucified with the child. Next I show an old white Pastor in the act of baptizing a black infant. He lifts the child up to Heaven, relinquishing the power to those who have not been empowered. Thirdly, I show my wife, Marci, on one crutch, holding the other up. As she looks to the cross the crutch becomes a wing. She was a victim of Polio and as a child went through five surgeries to be able to walk without crutches and a brace, only to be struck as an adult with Myasthenia Gravis. Even as she became weaker and weaker, she did not want to go back to crutches and a brace because she felt this was giving up. When she finally went back to them she discovered how much independence these aids gave her and said to me; "these are not crutches they are wings". Though there are physical miracles, I find the most amazing ones are of the mind and spirit. Thus was born a theme for all of my paintings; that your crutches might be turned into wings.
Surrounding these calls to faith are the arts, which communicate the mystery and power of the faith, as words cannot. The conductor with his head over his shoulder looking at the cross represents the instrumental arts, my daughter as the Lorelei singing of the vision of the cross represents the vocal/dramatic arts. Why the Lorelei, a Greek symbol of death and destruction? Carly Simon in her song Let the River Run sings of the sirens calling us to death on the rock of Christ that we may be reborn to the New Jerusalem. Then to represent the 2-D arts I show myself painting the painting you are looking at as I look at the cross. The sculptor carving the crucifixion he sees represents the 3-D arts. Then running toward the goal of life is my granddaughter, representing the little child shall lead us. Where is my son? He modeled for the body of Christ, who is the light illuminating all.
Then last but not least is Judas in the corner of death (lower right corner). In spite of those who wrote the New Testament I do not see Judas as condemned for all time. I feel they wrote this to assuage their own guilt for having deserted Christ on the Mt. of Olives. An influential poem for me is The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson. In this poem Judas flees Jesus through out death in the end to be saved by his hand. Thus Christ's right hand, the hand of mercy, in my painting is blocking Judas from his own destruction. The beauty of this poem is that we find that we, like Judas, in our way have betrayed Christ and as such cannot condemn him but only grab the hand of Christ.
In the end I pray that as you experience this painting; you may grasp the great and sublime of the mystery of Christ that you are of such great worth to Christ he would die for you. Thus may your spirit be stirred to seek out new possibilities in life, as your crutches are turned into wings.
"It is Finished, It has Begun!"
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On archival watercolor paper
Image size 16 in x 32 in, Print size 19 in x 34 in
Purchased from the artist the cost is $100.
If purchased in California there is a Los Angeles County tax of $8.25.
If not picked up at the artists studio there is a shipping charge of $10 within the United States.
2907 Blakeman Ave.
Rowland Heights, Ca 91748-4812
"It is Finished, It has Begun!"
Checks are to be made to James Ellison and sent to