Psalm 139:9-10

November 15, 2010

Psalm 139:9-10 Dawn, Oil on Canvas 11" x 14"

As mentioned earlier, I was commissioned to produce a painting for a minister that is leaving our church after seventeen years to pursue a calling at a church in New Jersey. This couple has become good friends of ours. The minister and I grew up in the Chicago area in neighborhoods about eight miles apart. Our wives both worked as teachers within our school district. Our children attended the same high school. About a year and a half ago, we trained together to run our first mini-marathon. This was a very personal commission indeed.

I felt that the concept of the dawn and this mans’ ministry at our church had many parallels. Although I created one work which portrayed the church at dawn, I thought that the design needed to be changed. I had a new design sketched and was awaiting a good dawn in which to execute a second attempt.

I returned on a morning in which I anticipated the possibility of a good sunrise and guessed right. Again, it was chilly. Low 30’s with a wind chill in the low 20’s as I set up prior to sunrise. As I painted, my former student again stopped by to check out what I was doing (although this time, I was about an hour into the painting). A hot air balloon slowly drifted across the scene. Interesting morning.

I worked the painting, but along the way, perhaps because of the constant changes in the lighting, I lost my vision for the scene and the work suffered.  I liked the design, but the painting failed. Chilled, I headed home for some hot, hot coffee. I sketched the scene onto another canvas and prepared to tackle the sunrise one more time.

The  third time was the charm. It was also a challenge.  I finally captured the scene and my vision only a few days before the painting was to be presented as a gift. In my determination to get the painting right, I forgot to utilize alkyd oil paint which would have allowed the painting to dry within a couple days. I used regular oil paints and did not realize this mental lapse until I was adding the final details. With only a few days to go, I still had work to do. I stationed this work over a heating vent and made sure that several times a day, I took a few minutes to use a hair dryer to heat the painting surface. This cycling technique should expedite the drying process. Although the oil paints will not be fully cured for several months, this strategy helps the paint skin over enough so that the painting can be handled with less concern of damage. It worked.

I was given the honor of presenting the painting (although I got choked up at one point). The couple loved the work and the members who had commissioned the work were happy with my interpretation of the church and the environment.

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139: 9-10

Dave and Ann – We love you and we will miss you. Until we meet again, may God bless.

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