As a child, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said I wanted to be an artist. Throughout my life it’s been my dream to make my living by making beautiful things. I find it very interesting and gratifying that in the later part of my life I’m starting over and finally living my dream.
My medium was always paint. I loved painting animals, landscapes, people, murals. Then I discovered photography and it took over. It was a hobby then it turned into a profession and I made my living with it but my heart yearned to paint again. There was never time.
Decades passed and life marched on. Eventually I developed a nervous “tick” in my right hand which made it obvious that I could never paint again. I found myself wishing I could find a way to meld the two skills of painting and photography. A few years ago I found a tutorial to teach me how to accomplish that meld. I learned to digitally paint my photographs in Photoshop. It was a new creative challenge that I was hungry for. Digital painting became my therapy in the middle of a stressful world and I applied myself with enthusiasm. In a year’s time I completed 125 paintings. I couldn’t get enough, going through all my old photo files gave me lots of material. The tick in my hand didn’t ruin any piece I was working on. I just “undid” the offending stroke and kept going. Some days required more corrections than others but it didn’t deter me.
I started digitally painting anything I could. A category of general would best describe it but then I started to hone my interests and skills toward people, the most challenging of my subjects with this medium. Loving the challenge of the technique, I hunted for subjects, always keeping an eye out for someone that would be a good fit. I found that senior men were my favorites. My technique suited them best.
As I was photographing a drama event for my employer, I had my camera trained on a man who was an actor taking a break. He saw me and flashed a smile. I grabbed the shot then just kept shooting the event. Later as I edited the images that shot of the actor came up. I was shocked. This beautiful man was, in my mind, the image of Jesus. From that point on I was driven. It took a while to convince him to model for me but he eventually agreed and has continued to model for me.
Putting a lot of thought into the goals for this collection, I dug deep into my intentions and the emotions that were connected to it. I had a gut feeling that this was something big and important for me. The next big thing. Portraying Jesus needed to be done thoughtfully. As I meditated and prayed the thought came to me that when we love someone the desire of our heart is to see them happy. We’ve seen so much imagery of the suffering Jesus. He was and is a real person who lived, loved and enjoyed life. That was the direction I needed. “Joyous Jesus” had begun.
There were challenges. I found that in the first shoot, I lit and posed him too much like a formal portrait. I gained valuable insight from my model who had a great sense for what I was after. The second shoot provided some inspired material and the first finished painting. Since then several shooting sessions have produced a variety of techniques and ideas including pets and lots of kids.
At age 61 it seems odd to be starting at square one but it’s also very exciting. I never had much use for a rocking chair. Finally getting to live my dream seems like a lot more fun.
As I look back, I can see that the disability of the “tick” in my hand turned into a true blessing. Without it I may never have looked for the way to paint digitally. I can see the hand of God in it. This teaches me even more to trust Him when life is not comfortable.