Go On, Brother Lawrence is a small wood engraving, carved and printed by hand from a boxwood block. Brother Lawrence (born Nicolas Herman) was a 17th century Discalced (barefoot) Carmelite monk. I will fall short to try to describe him in a brief statement, rather, I encourage you to read the small collection of his letters and conversations, Practicing the Presence of God. He has been a significant influence in my faith and work since I first encountered him in art school, over two decades ago. Brother Lawrence sought out the presence of God at all times and in all things, notably, in his daily labor as a cook and dishwasher and later as a repairer of sandals- the subject of this print- and in so many ways he became the present Christ to very many who came into contact with him.
If you would like to purchase one of these prints they are available in my store, Baumwerkshop.
I wanted to share a series of images showing the process of the making of an underpainting which I have been working on for the past few months. The image itself is an illustration of a vision of the biblical prophet Zechariah laid out in chapters 3 and 4 of the book of Zechariah in the Old Testament. It is a beautiful story of God’s grace and restoration, rich in symbolism and images. It is not very long and is certainly worth reading.
This grisaille is done in egg tempera on an oak panel, built from an oak that came down on my father’s farm in Greenwood county, was subsequently milled (quarter sawn) and air dried for 10 years. The panel has been cradled with walnut and ash to help keep it flat over time. The surface is a traditional gesso as describe out by the 14th century Florentine Cennino Cennini in his Il libro dell’arte. Once the grisaille is complete, I will start to paint layers of translucent colored oil glazes, hopefully to beautiful effect.
It has been a long time since I have drawn much with colored pencils- many decades as a matter of fact. But the youngest of my kids love to draw with them and we have been spending time drawing together in the evenings. There are many levels of joy in rediscovering the accessibility and immediacy of colored pencils with my children.
Vox Universi (the sound of the Universe), is a little wood engraving carved from a block of Resingrave. It is a simple reflection on “non-profession music”, prayer, a celebration of the concertina, being slow, planting oak trees: things like that. If you want to buy one they are available here.
The Spiritual Mechanics of Labor and Rest is a relief print edition carved and printed by hand from a block of linoleum. It is available for pre-order in the Baumwerk Shop. It will be an edition of 100 prints. Numbers 1-75 will be black ink on white paper, while numbers 76-100 will be sepia ink on cream paper. There will be a separate listing for each color option. The black and white prints will be ready for shipping sooner on March 23rd, while the sepia and cream prints will be available a few weeks later.
The Spiritual Mechanics… began as a way of building a repository or archive for many of the symbols that help me to understand my place and function in the world and the Kingdom of Heaven. It is, after a fashion, an info-graphic which serves a developing theology around the ancient kinship of labor to worship.
At the heart is a worldview which sees an holistic unity between what is spiritual and what is natural. These are crude words and a crude image which is looking towards something that is deep and nuanced in its beauty and inherent goodness within the mind of God. My hope is that in here is an echo of God saying of the earth and creation, “It is good”. Also the echo of the Words of the Creator resident in every atom and particle. May it be an echo of John the Baptist saying “change your hearts and minds, because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” May it be an echo of Jesus saying “it is finished” on the cross. Heaven is coming to earth and our labor here is not in vain.
The Spiritual Mechanics of Labor and Rest is also a prayer and an offering. It is the noise my heart makes towards God, offering the smallest and most mundane moments of my days as He simultaneously offers them to me. It both seeks to say and asks if it’s really true that labor spent shoveling dirt in a garden , roofing a house, or cutting a stone before God can be as significant a spiritual lever as the most noble words of the priest in the cathedral, or the pastor behind a pulpit, or the hands of a healer in a tent.
I have more openly exposed my heart in this image than in my previous work, where it is shielded by narrative. In following posts I will seek to lay out the symbolism and stories behind the details depicted here, but it should be understood that I have sought to use images like these because for me the words are fundamentally insufficient to describe what it is that I see and seek.
I also hope that you will consider purchasing this print. Many of you know my ambivalence towards the marketing. However, I believe I am called to engage the “marketplace” with my work in a way that settles with my conscience and ethics. Here is a link to pre-order The Spiritual Mechanics of Labor and Rest.
Concerning the invitation to occupy the sacred rhythm of labor and rest and to engage the “resistant materials” not for provision first, but for relationship, for worship, for knowing God. I’ll share more on this when the print is done. The block is about 75% carved. I hope to be able to start making some proofs of the image in two or three weeks.