Grisaille Underpainting of a Visionary Episode from Zechariah

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.

the original drawing
the cradle on the back of the panel.
the walnut stiles are “floating” to allow for seasonal expansion and contraction across the grain, held in place only by the ash rails
laying out the main geometry and locations of vanishing points
redrawing the image onto the panel
ready to start painting
part way through
detail of the upper center of the image, using artistic license, I have inferred the trinitarian presence from “the Angel of the Lord”
detail of Satan accusing the high priest Joshua
the little porcelain pallet I use for mixing
on the work table early in the morning
detail of Joshua receiving new garments
current state of the grisaille- nearly completed

A Handful of Earth

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.

A Handful of Earth

Vox Universi

Vox Universi, 2021, wood engraving, 4″ x 6″

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.

Mary Magdalene Encounters Christ in the Yellow Headed Blackbird

Mary Magdalene Encounters Christ in the Yellow Headed Blackbird, (after Rogier Van der Weyden’s Mary Magdalene from right hand panel of the Braque Triptych, Louvre) graphite on paper, 2020
Mary Magdalene by Rogier Van der Weyden

The Spiritual Mechanics of Labor and Rest

Linocut Print of The Spiritual Mechanics of Labor and Rest, 2020, 15″ x 24″ printed on archival paper: Zerkall Book Smooth 145 GSM, made in Germany torn to size, 18″ x 27″

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.

Relief Carving The Spiritual Mechanics of Labor and Rest

working subtitle…

The Mundane Sheds the Cloak of the Secular

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.

the original drawing

Prints of Jacob Wrestling With God

Archival Prints of Jacob Wrestling With God Are Available for Sale!

We have produced two limited editions, one large and one small, reproducing the oil painting I made of Jacob Wrestling with God.  These reproductions were painstakingly digitally edited and then individually printed by my good friend Mike Schultz in his Portland, Oregon studio.  The image is printed on a satisfyingly thick Epson hot press bright white paper using Epson inks.  The colors are vivid, rich and archival.  Each print is personally signed and numbered.

As stated above, we’ve made two sizes of prints, and they are available for sale in our online store, Baumwerkshop.  There is a listing is for the larger of the two, which is 17″ x 20″, and a listing for the smaller, which is 8 1/2″ by 10″.

The original painting of Jacob was made in 2012.  I have continued to be amazed and humbled by the impact the painting has had on people.  I often receive heartfelt messages from individuals expressing to me how the painting has helped them through a difficult season, or has helped to illustrate challenging and meaningful theology.  The image has even found its way onto album covers, book covers, and countless church bulletins.

As a result, many have expressed a desire to have a reproduction of the painting available for sale.  This is the first time I have attempted to produce and sell reproductions of any of my paintings.  I hope that the final product is a blessing to you.