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“If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” –Edward Hopper
As I sat down to share my thoughts on faith and painting, I happened upon this statement. It got me thinking about The Word, God, and his eternal story. But as of late, my desires have been distracted. My heart has, too often, been rebellious.
Let me back up a bit. A few months ago, I put in a late evening painting session that was particularly tenuous - extreme highs and lows seemed to accompany my every decision. When all was said and done, I was left with this: A roughly one inch thick, jagged line of green paint enters the painting from one vertical side. It proceeds to move along the frame of the painting in an erratic manner – shifting between straight and curved before exiting the frame from the side it entered. The line appears as a separate figure from the deeply textured surface whose pearlescent quality shifts from blue to yellow. I couldn’t help thinking about a snake as I looked at the green line shifting through the pictorial space.
As I slept that night, I dreamt I was running away from a remote jungle village into the forest. As my feet hit the thick grass surrounding the village, I noticed something beautiful that should have been terrifying. Snakes surrounded me. They coiled forward at the pace of my stride with bright yellow and red scales reflecting the sun’s light. And as quickly as I noticed their strange presence, one of them bit my heel. I stumbled back to camp at the alarm of my wife, and through a bizarre series of events, the friendly locals healed my wound.
Upon waking, my thoughts went where, I suppose, many others would go following such a dream – to a story that would have been told in Jerusalem several thousand years ago. A story of origins, where in a divine garden sanctuary, a serpent deceives, a woman desires, and a man rebels against God. And in this story, God curses the serpent. He explains that the offspring of the woman will bruise the serpent’s head, presumably fatal, and the serpent will bruise his heel, presumably not fatal. (Genesis 3:14-15) Amazingly, this may be the first announcement of the gospel of Christ – of lasting triumph over evil.
Yet at times, in a world full of deception, that majestic story feels too damaged. Like a bruised fruit – no longer fit for consumption. And perhaps, only the grace of God keeps my head above the serpent’s lies.
If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint. I plan to keep on painting.
(A Sean Palmer original piece)
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