The following is a preliminary in a series of thumbnail sketches attempting to outline the story of Jonah. These drawings, working out various ways to represent the various parts of the story, are a trial towards making an illustrated book of the story of Jonah. The book may be a handmade one, possibly of linoleum-block or woodblock prints, or alternatively one which is printed with reproduced ink drawings.
Below is a larger format and more detailed, though unfinished, ink drawing illustrating Jonah building his shelter, as the gourd-vine appointed to grow by God begins to grow behind.
“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills…” Exodus 31: 2 & 3.
Bezalel is kind of an early renaissance man, thousands of years before Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, or Durer. More importantly he was faithful to God’s design of him as a craftsman. He was found worthy to build the design of God concerning the tabernacle and all of its parts. As a craftsman and artist, it is hard to comprehend anything so significant to my earthly labors as to manifest on earth something that was authored in the very heart and mind of God.
Elizabeth Duffy asked me about influences and progenitors in her interview with me last year. Here is an excerpt of my response pertaining to Bezalel: I hope, maybe, to be in the line of Bezalel, who fashioned so much for the tabernacle, making the sacred things that were part of the “technology” of worship of His God for his community. Personally, I couldn’t ask for more than that. Bezalel is valuable as a paradigm of an artisan of broad experience and skill. He could work in many trades and arts with skill worthy of God’s Tabernacle. My good friend reminds me of the value of a man of that breadth of experience and skill in contrast to a culture that places a premium on experts of high degree in a single field. When I wonder if I am hurting myself by embracing so many disciplines, I am grateful for Bezalel and his place in God’s story, and a few other men I have encountered who are champions of excellence in this way. The drawing, an imagining of a portion of Bezalel’s tent-workshop, started two or three years ago, finally over the past two months I was able to finish it. It is composed along the lines of another drawing, Go On, Adam, Breathe. An potential series of drawings? The drawing to me feels so limited, compared to the vastness of what could be explored and depicted, as a task to learn about Bezalel, his labors, and his relationship to his God.
I have been printing an edition of Flying Fish, a copper-plate engraving about the miracle of provision experienced by Thor Heyerdahl and his crew in the Pacific Ocean on their balsa log raft, the Kon Tiki. This print is for sale at the Baumwerk Etsy store.
…a Walking Man drawing for my friend Steven.
A new drawing of Walking Man with some contextual review. And a traditional tune called The Gobby-O, played by the skin of my teeth on the tenor banjo, with spoons and guitar.
…If we set the little paraffin lamp out at night, flying fish were attracted by the light and large and small, shot over the raft…
…It sometimes happened that we heard an outburst of strong language from a man on deck when a cold flying fish came unexpectedly, at a good speed, slap into his face…
…We used to fry them for breakfast, and wether it was the fish, the cook or our appetites, they reminded us of fried troutlings once we had scraped the scales off… Thor Heyerdahl, Kon Tiki, 1950
…There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?……Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all… …Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted… …When they were satisfied, he told, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”
In the dark and unlit ceiling of the Loretta Chapel there is a lonely painting of a chunky fish atop a heavy slab of bread. At the moment Thor Heyerdahl’s balsa log raft was colliding with a dusty man breaking bread in the grass of Palestine. The long pilgrim road leading through elder drifts, slabs of rock, mountains of hailstones, unearthly fish with a mouth like a grave. The sign of Jonah. Provision comes unlooked for, and fear is weathered away.