Like these clouds, time keeps passing by and the year is nearly at its end. In the time left, lets all put in dedicated effort to reach important goals. As Psalm 126:5 says, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” The work described there isn’t easy and doesn’t show immediate signs of success, but it’s only if we make the effort now that good may later come of it.
Of course this doesn’t just apply to farming or other business. In a spiritual sense, the Bible also compares the Word of God to seed that is sown in the ground, representing people. Not only do the laborers share in the joy of the harvest that comes from that, but Jesus is described as taking part in that harvest. He sowed in tears but will reap in joy. The psalm ends with the next verse, saying “He that goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
The reference was a couple of photos I took in the nearby field, but with the few houses by the trees and the highway and airport beyond that left out.
Included in the photos are each paint and the two brushes I used at the time that I started using it. The final photo doesn’t really look as good as in person, but the sun sets early now and in poor lighting a good photo is hard to get. The labels are hard to read, but the paints in order are Australian blue gum (a blue grey mix), ivory black, titanium white, cobalt blue, gel medium, cadmium orange hue (warming the cloud highlights and used in mountains), naples yellow, and cadmium yellow light.
The scene of 1833 shown here is a copy of an engraving by Adolf Vollmy. Estimates ranged from a few tens of thousands of meteors per hour over a hundred thousand per hour. One of the quotes I read from eyewitnesses said “never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell toward the earth.”
My own church (Seventh-day Adventist) believes that event to have been the fulfillment of what Jesus said in Matthew 24:29, “and the stars shall fall from heaven,” (excerpt) as one of the signs that His second coming is drawing near. The symbolism here becomes apparent when considering that the point of origin for the Leonids is the constellation Leo, the lion, and specifically from the asterism called the Sickle, which is a group of stars that forms a part of Leo. Jesus is referred to in the Bible as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” and is said to return with a sickle in His hand to reap the harvest of the Earth. The sky that night was so thick with meteors that it was obvious to everyone they were radiating out from the sickle, even if seen from different geographic locations, and thus astronomy learned that meteors are indeed in space and not just an atmospheric phenomenon as people thought before.
Before that, in the same verse, it’s stated that “immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light…” which we believe was fulfilled in the dark day of 1780 (Wikipedia link). The tribulation referred to would be the persecution of Protestants, which was greatly declining from 1724 onward.
I first started this by shading some general shapes with a stick of water-soluble graphite. Then I painted over that with a transparent mix of clear acrylic gesso and an acrylic medium, which wetted the graphite and gave a silvery dark grey base to build on top of. The acrylic mediums also sealed the graphite from smudging further and provided a textured surface to draw on top of. I started working a little with black and white charcoal, but eventually settled on just using various mixes of zinc or titanium white with acrylic mediums to build up transparent layers of white. For areas that needed to be darkened again I either repeated the first step with the graphite or shaved off pieces of graphite to be mixed with acrylic medium to make a dark paint.
If you have any questions on any of this, feel free to ask.
This time I took a chance and added some color, using a rainbow of Koh-i-Noor colored pencils. It was an interesting and useful experiment.
At the start I was thinking about the part in the book of Acts when Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra, which is in the country of Turkey today. The people there had just seen a miracle of healing done through Paul and assumed he and Barnabas were the Greek gods those people worshipped. Paul attempted to correct this mistaken belief and explain the God they worshipped while pointing out His goodness and love as seen in nature, saying “Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
My idea was to show the goodness of God in nature with a rainbow, which is both a sight of beauty and a symbol of God’s promise, amid the roughness of the rocks. Also, although the rocks are very rough at the top, at the bottom they’ve been washed smooth, to symbolize transformation of character.
Here’s the preliminary sketch. It was first roughed in with a wide pencil before adding the ink with a brush pen and a little white Conté pencil over that to lighten some of the ink.
Watercolor on 140 lb cold pressed paper, 10.75” x 7.5”
This is mostly cobalt violet light, manganese blue hue, Payne’s grey, Daniel Smith’s lunar earth, a little raw sienna, and a lot of a terre verte that has viridian mixed into it.
Before starting this I was reading in the book of Ephesians where Paul was explaining the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles. He said “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;” (Eph 3:7-8)
I especially noticed the part where Paul, in humility from the awareness of his own sins in contrast with his knowledge of the holiness of God, called himself “less than the least of all saints.” Yet he was a recipient of grace, which can never be earned or deserved (because then it could not be called grace), and it was received through “the effectual working” of the power of God.
As I read that a thought came to me that I wanted to share, so I made this painting to have an opportunity. What I want to say is that if you have accepted Jesus as your savior then say with confidence “I, too, will gain the victory through Christ.” This victory comes through beholding Him and submitting your will to Him, and all who do may gain the victory as Paul did.
Many of the photos of bees on flowers I didn’t post because they weren’t focused right or, like this one, not framed the way I wanted because slight movements of the wind kept moving everything.
Recently I was reading a passage in the Bible, Deuteronomy chapter 11, in which Moses was describing to the Israelites in the wilderness what the land they would enter into would be like. This chapter is one of several places that uses the famous phrase “a land that floweth with milk and honey.” After explaining that it wouldn’t be like in Egypt where they irrigated by their own work, they were told that they would receive rain for their crops. I especially liked the wording of verse 11, “But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” This is what I was thinking about when I made these little paintings above.
The chapter goes on to explain that receiving the blessing of abundance of rain would be dependent on their faithfulness to God, saying “…if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season…”
The paints I used the most was a 1:1 premix of phthalo green blue shade and ivory black, Monte Amiata natural sienna, a little bismuth yellow, a couple of different blacks with white gouache, and a light blue gouache premix. The rain in the bottom painting took a long time because I didn’t actually paint the rain. Instead, I painted everything, and then I darkened everything except those lines for rain. So it looks like those lines are painted lighter, but actually they were just left at the amount of lightness that everything had before I darkened everything.
While I was painting these night scenes of the sky obstructed by trees I started thinking about how conditions for doing something, like watching stars, are often not ideal. Then I was reminded of Ecclesiastes 11:4 “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” This is another poetic parallelism in the Bible where, in this case, the same idea is being repeated to present both cause and effect. Another way of saying it would be that if you always wait for what you think is the perfect opportunity then you’ll miss every opportunity. So what if a few trees are in the way? Can you still at least see some stars? So what if you don’t have the best painting studio? Can you still at least make a drawing?
In the last sketch I was actually trying to paint real stars from a photo I had taken. The positions aren’t completely accurate relative to each other, but they’re all real stars. The biggest one in that painting is Vega. The first painting is on proper watercolor paper, for a change.
I wanted to make a painting using a few verses from the Bible as a basis, so I chose verses 26-28 from chapter 36 of Job-
Behold, God is great, and we know Him not,
neither can the number of His years be searched out.
For He maketh small the drops of water:
they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof:
Which the clouds do drop
and distil upon man abundantly.
This was part of an argument saying that God cares for us and calls us to salvation and to do what is right, but also that He is too great for us to understand His ways. This was emphasized by describing the wonders of the natural world, because if even the things that God created are beyond our understanding, then the God who created them is much further beyond our understanding.
I tried to represent this by painting the human component of the scene small in comparison to the vast expanse of creation. Even so, humans occupy a place of focused interest. The clouds are very high in the scene, and higher than them is God, where our eyes can’t see.
The book of Job is considered by many people to be one of the greatest poems ever written. I separated each verse above into two lines, or units, to show something often used in Hebrew poetry, called parallelism. What we see here is a type called synthetic parallelism, where one unit adds to the previous unit. Parallelism is very useful for developing a thought because the second unit can explain, emphasize, or contrast with the first unit. Once you start looking for parallelism you’ll be able to see it used in many places in the Bible.
This is a copy of a scene painted by Rembrandt, seen here. I drew this in pencil and then colored the background with some copic markers.
The scene here is from Genesis chapter 48. Jacob, on the left, was very old when this happened, and before dying he blessed all of his sons and also the two sons of his son Joseph. By inspiration Jacob knew to give Ephraim, the younger of the two grandsons, the greater blessing, seeing that his descendants would become greater than those of his older brother Manasseh.
As he blessed Joseph and his two sons he recalled all of the care with which God had guided him through his life, saying “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” (Genesis 48:15, 16)
This is a based on a sketch made by Rembrandt, seen here. Because the original is only a sketch, it’s hard to know exactly what he intended everything to be. It seemed to me that the burning bush was intended to be placed somewhere off the left edge of the canvas, so that what we see is Moses’s reaction to seeing it and wondering what it was. The real trees of the area were probably not as large and lush as what Rembrandt drew, but I went ahead and worked from his sketch as it was drawn. I rarely paint in acrylic and I think it’s been at least 10 years since I’ve painted a person. My version is also only a sketch, using only burnt sienna and white, but I added a little more shading than Rembrandt’s version.
This scene comes from the Bible, the book of Exodus, chapter 3. The situation was that Moses was living in the land of Midian east of Egypt as a shepherd. Moses left Egypt when he was 40 years old and was a shepherd for another 40 years, making him 80 when this scene occurs. As he was leading his flock he came to a mountain called Horeb, which is also called Sinai, and is known as “the mountain of God.”
“And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And He said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover He said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” (Exodus 3:2-6)