Why I Paint What I Paint



Is art important?  


Can a board with marks convey a message, meaning, a thought, a feeling, or provoke a reaction that speaks to many?


Is this a pursuit worth time, resources, money? Is it practical? If so, why?


Am I exploiting others for my own benefit, making money of the experiences of others?   


I  continue to struggle with these questions and probably will do so for the rest of my life.  


Let me share an experience I had that sometimes makes me feel better about what I do.


In the fall of 2002, I was in Avila, Spain, the last place I visited before returning home from a 3 year work commitment in Barcelona.  I had wanted to see the famous "murallas", or walls.  Even though I was Catholic, I did not know who St. Teresa of Avila was.  There was a statue of her outside the walls. It was white and she was in her Nun's habit. She was looking up at the sky.  I also looked up to the same sky.  Something intrinsically changed in me. There seemed to be such a contrast to what (or who) she was looking at, and what I was focussed on in my own life.  It was a reality check for me that set me on a journey to rekindle my faith...and love of creating art. 


Without going deeper, twenty years later, my Catholic faith has become the center of my life. My life is for the most part focussed on the Sacraments, prayer, teaching catechism. Painting has been the hobby I sneak in when I get time.


I still consider myself a “struggling Catholic artist”.  I struggle in so many ways.  I enjoy painting so much that I feel guilty if I am painting.  To me, its the ultimate indulgence....to be able to choose whatever size canvas or other surface I want, and choose whatever colours I want, and paint whatever subject I want. It is so exciting and liberating.  How can this pleasure also be a tool to use for the common good? 


I find it overwhelming that there are so many options. I still seem to dabble with various media, and my painting subject matter and styles change.  While I know what I am drawn to...namely the Bible, nature, and family, I am still trying to find my niche. Hence, I paint a variety of subjects in a variety of ways experimenting with media, technique etc.  While I work mostly in acrylics, I also paint in watercolours, oils, pencils, pencil crayons. 



When I read or hear the personal stories told in the Holy Bible,  I am drawn a sketching pad and eventually a blank white canvas.  I am inspired to bring to life the struggles, doubts, the hopes, and joys experienced by real people who  were no different than us.  I want viewers to connect with the people in the scene and feel they are not alone. I want them to know that Christ saw the suffering of others and He Sees yours. He knew the doubts and questions people had about Him,  and He Knows yours too.  For this reason, the facial expressions are the most important part of my Biblical paintings. Each character comes through me emotionally onto the canvas.  Time is evoked through light and darkness, be it the freshness of the morning, the lethargy of the afternoon, the weariness of the evening, and the silence and peace of the night. 




Truth is important to me.  Being interested in archaeology seemed natural after reading the Bible. I wanted to know if these stories were true. Is there evidence? That led me to research the very places where the events took place….from the Nativity, Crucifixion and Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. To date, I have been to the Holy Land 8 times and God Willing, will go again.  Seeing the places where the events took place have definitely found their way into my paintings subconsciously and deliberately. I have my photos and memories and draw upon them to create the backgrounds to my paintings.



The landscapes were an afterthought after I completed the Camino, an ancient 800 km walk across Spain in the summer of 2015.  It took me 35 days with me walking an average of 25 km per day.  I took photos of the landscape along the way.  It seemed just holding the memories in my heart and camera were not enough. I had to express the tranquility, beauty and peace in nature. Hearing the water from the brook sustaining the trees and plants in the forest. Seeing across the field of green grass and acknowledging that each and every individual blade of grass was integral to the whole community of the field. I felt that nature can be a sacred space where you can find God.


I have done other inspired works of art. These are experiments in painting, works that may progress into a series or may remain a “one of a kind” never to be done again.  I will not know if I like something or if it works until I try it.  Some were responses to certain calls for shows. Some were the fruits of purely intuitive painting.