Parables & Lessons
The parables and lessons of Jesus are so full of images of birds of the air and lilies of the field, lost coins and stray sheep, sowers of seed and gatherers of tares, wedding bridesmaids and prodigal sons that they cry out for illustration!
In my series of watercolor-pencil sketches called The Parables of Jesus, I wanted to recapture the elegant simplicity of the line drawings in the American Bible Society’s Good News for Modern Man, which I much admired, when it first came out in the late 1960s. Working with simple forms, I added a few splashes of color and the vaguest hint of facial expressions without veering too far towards realism. Since the parable panels are similar in scale and color palette, I mounted them on a single background to create the illusion of separate events taking place in a shared space, an homage, of sorts, to Pieter Bruegel’s masterful mass compositions like The Battle of Carnival and Lent.
The three drawings in The Apocalyptic Trilogy meld events from Jesus’ life together with signs and symbols from his parables and teachings about the End of Time. As Jesus admires The Lilies of the Field, he knows they will soon be cast into the flames, like the tares and the unfruitful vine shoots in the background, which feature in his stories of the Last Judgment. In The Stone the Builders Rejected, Christ sits under a withered fig tree, lamenting the future destruction of Jerusalem. As he watches a mother hen protecting her chicks, the evil vineyard tenants of the parable in Matthew 21: 33-46 can be seen in the background, murdering the son of their landlord. Offered The Kingdoms of this World by Satan (represented by a Roman helmet, standard, and shield on a cross-like post), Jesus refuses the temptation of worldly power by drawing a cross in the sand.
I was interested in the historical murals of Thomas Hart Benton, when I was working on this trilogy, so, hints of American regionalist art, no doubt, found their way into the compositions.