Merry Christmas From Ethnos Church

This year our studio group at church came up with the idea of creating a community painting to celebrate the Advent season. Each Sunday leading up to the final Christmas Eve service (tonight) a new section of the painting was unveiled. Four different artists were involved for each of these weeks: my friends Megan, Lindsay and Rebecca. Not only that, but each week a small part of the painting was left unfinished, and many people in the congregation were invited up to help paint in the missing elements during the services. So we all have a hand in the painting! Here’s the finished product, followed by closer images of each section as well as the concept sketch.

Merry Christmas everyone! Find your hope, joy, love and peace in Immanuel, God with us.

immanuel-god-with-us-full

Phil’s section:

immanuel-god-with-us-hope

Megan’s section:

immanuel-god-with-us-joy

Lindsay’s section:

immanuel-god-with-us-love

Rebecca’s section:

immanuel-god-with-us-peace

Phil’s Concept Sketch, based on Ashby & Team’s vision

immanuel-god-with-us-concept

There is a short story that goes along with this painting I’d like to share. Most people won’t even entertain the belief of this, but I believe it. I was scared stiff of this project. Originally I was going to have to paint the whole thing because no one had volunteered to help until pretty late in the game. I don’t paint at all! I’ve tried painting a couple times in the past but have found it basically impossible. The results were not impressive, and I pretty much didn’t like the idea of trying ever again. This was like almost 20 years ago. I’ve done a couple other tiny paintings that turned out like junk since then, confirming my inability to paint.

I was so worried about this project that I had one HORRIBLE week! Just thinking about the difficulty of the task put me in a really bad mood. I was so upset that I was even tempted by dark things. Crazy pants. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t hesitant to take on the task. I told everyone who came up with the idea that I would do my best to serve if no one else volunteered… and I was pleased to serve. Yet the task was SO BEYOND me! In the end, more artists got involved, to my rescue! Thank you, guys! It turned out that I got the “easiest” section… I didn’t have to draw any human forms. I’m not good at that. My shapes were all big, allowing for less detail – something I have a hard time achieving with brushes. God not only empowered me to do the task, but he delivered me from the worst of my worries by giving me the part I could attain to.

I prayed that God would help me because I wanted Him to be honored by my work. God answered, no doubt. As I was beginning the painting, I was literally cackling out loud in my apartment because it looked HORRIBLE! I was imagining what people would say when they saw the mess of mud… their “Oh!… it’s ‘interesting’, coughing as they walk away”. It literally looked worse than a child’s painting, with blobs of brown junk everywhere. I couldn’t get the right colors and was just making a mess of things! I chose to keep a positive attitude though and was bemused by it all. I couldn’t help cracking up the entire time because it was so ridiculously hideous! I pressed on, knowing that the intermediate steps might get ironed out later (something I have learned by watching OPB painting shows for many years… the summary of my “skills” – I watch, but don’t do).

To my surprise (yet invested hope), after much random blobbing on of paint I came up with a result that even I was pleased with! I believe no other possible explanation than the Spirit of God helped me. The result was beyond my ability as a very inexperienced, very frustrated painter!

My art buddy Megan was somewhat excited about the prospect of a new challenge. She has also basically never painted before and doesn’t consider herself experienced or naturally able to consider color, favoring graphite, charcoal and the like (though I’d beg to differ somewhat, seeing a couple of her past attempts in colored pencil & watercolor washes… everything she does is attractive). After starting the painting, Megan had similar frustrations as I did and was quite discouraged. Distressed at her discouragement, I faithfully interceded in prayer every day for her week. God answered our prayers once again and produced an awesome result! Wow! Stunning!

Lindsay and Rebecca have a little more experience with the medium of paint than Megan or me, so they probably were not quite as worried. I really like the unique look each of them achieved that stand out on their own. Even so, I prayed for them, and I believe God empowered each of us to achieve our best – or beyond! To God be the glory!

Oh, pretty much the whole thing is done in acrylic paint. It is something like 5 feet wide and 4 feet tall – quite large. Though expert painters could probably achieve something “better”, I REALLY like what we produced. I love the bold colors.