Exactly ten years ago we we went to the Carl Bloch exhibit at the BYU Museum of art, and had a transcendent experience seeing these well-known depictions of the Savior as the original, larger-than-life paintings. They were breathtaking.
Around the same time, I was offered an opportunity to stay with my family at a friend's vacation home near St. George in exchange for my painting a "house portrait" of the home when we returned. We were excited about the opportunity to spend Spring Break together as a family in the desert, to hike and explore. But we were unprepared for how stunningly beautiful the homes and the development was, all designed to complement rather than detract from the desert setting.
The combination of having been so deeply moved by the Bloch paintings, followed immediately by these four or five days in the desert made me a whole new kind of alive. All of my senses were heightened, and for days on end I experienced what I now call "mindfulness on steroids," an intense but active meditative state where you experience your surroundings as never before. In this case, what I saw literally everywhere I turned in the desert was a metaphor for the Savior and his atonement. Although we were vacationing as a family, I spent that year's Holy Week in a state of relative holiness, contemplating moment by moment aspects of the savior's life, sacrifice, death, and rebirth.
I since planned a series of paintings called Desert Metaphors, in an attempt to share my experience with others. For people who are not religious, they are simply a collection of rare glimpses of the Utah desert at springtime. But for believers, there are layers of additional and deeper meaning to be found in every image.
Ten years later this series still is not complete, but I am ready to present some of these pieces. Yesterday was Palm Sunday, a day Christians celebrate Jesus's triumphant return to Jerusalem, where his followers honored him by waving palm leaves, and shouting Hosanna, which means "Save us now." They laid palm branches, along with articles of clothing, by some accounts, to line his pathway to the holy city...and ancient attempt to roll out the red carpet, if you will.
I absolutely love what President Russell M. Nelson said about palm branches and Palm Sunday, in a video yesterday. He asks the world to “make this coming week truly holy by remembering — not just the palms that were waved to honor the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem — but by remembering the palms of His hands.” He then quotes one of my favorite scriptures, Isaiah 49:16: “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” — a promise, President Nelson says, that “[Christ] will never forget you.”
And so for today's image, in commemoration of Palm Sunday, I present the first in this year's Desert Metaphors series: "His Palms." This is done in a technique I learned from a Florida artist, Jean Grastorf, based on her book, "Pouring Light." The goal is to capture the illusion of light. Perfect for a goal, #StartingToday, to see and choose light in our lives. #Iwillseethelight
"His Palms" 15 x 11 original watercolor.
I am an artist and art instructor working in water media. Just knowing I can watch colors run together makes it worth getting out of bed every morning! Helping students capture the same excitement is equally rewarding.