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Journey to “The Tent of Abraham”

Nearly fifteen years ago I started thinking about organizing a long-term series of paintings that focus on uplifting stories from the the great religious and spiritual traditions of the world. I am not a religious scholar so this thought that has been percolating is both intriguing and overwhelming.


Most painting ideas I have in mind relate to the three great monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So I think the name of the series will be something like “The Tent of Abraham" and focus on great stories from the Bible, Torah and Quran.


Some ideas will reach beyond these religious traditions eventually and dip into mystical traditions as well but I think there’s more than enough to keep me busy for long time.


In the Bible, Peter walks on water in Matthew 14:28-33, where Jesus tells Peter to come to him on the water, and Peter does so. However, Peter becomes afraid of the storm and begins to sink, so he calls out to Jesus for help. Jesus then reaches out and takes Peter, and says, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" .When Peter and the other disciples get back into the boat, the wind stops. The disciples then worship Jesus, saying, "You are truly God's Son!"


I was reminded of this story while attending my grandma’s celebration of life during my cousin, Emily's eulogy. I woke up at 2 am the next morning and started painting the scene you see directly below this sentence.


“You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 1/2 x 22” oil on wood panel.


I had been collecting reference material for this scene for quite some time. I had a mix of images related to this scene stored away. Some of my favorite reference material came from stained glass windows.


Fortunately I've been practicing for this endeavor for quite some time by painting regularly and occasionally working in religious and spirituality themed works from time-to-time.


"Halfway Through Hanukkah" oil on cradled wood panel 12" x 12"


Lit Candle 7" x 5" oil on cradled wood panel



Some of my preparations have included studies of great works from the past like these paintings seen below.




Some paintings have focused on mysticism. The concept of the third eye is ancient and has been found in many spiritual traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. In Hinduism, the third eye is called the ajna or brow chakra, and is said to be located around the middle of the forehead, slightly above the junction of the eyebrows. It represents wisdom, enlightenment, and the power of destruction. In Buddhism, the third eye is said to help transcend ordinary perception to access ultimate truths. In Western spirituality, it symbolizes the fusion of mind, body, and spirit.


Third Eye Open


Other paintings like this little acrylic painting were done well before this notion of assembling a series was even a conscious thought.

"Jesus Tested in The Wilderness"

Acrylic on canvas


If I'm honest, days spent outside in nature while hiking and painting often engender deep feelings of peace. Sometimes they even generate a sense of spiritual freedom and connection that I really enjoy.


Painting scenes inspired by religious and mystical traditions move me in different ways. The process requires more planning and conscious thought. I tend to learn more but I find I am less able to lose myself and get out of my own head while doing them.


So they tend to require much more energy and leave me feeling tired in most cases-- especially if there is a narrative involving multiple figures within a scene. Somehow these more complex scenes are still just as satisfying in the end -- just different... hard to explain...


If you happen to have a favorite uplifting story from any of these great traditions, I'd love to hear from you, please let me know… maybe I'll be able to find a way to incorporate it into the series.


Thanks for checking out my work.


Be well!

Tom

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Wow. Powerful work! One of my favorite Bible stories is when Jesus heals the lame man. It’s the moment right before when the man has to decide if he believes and the conflicting thoughts and feelings the man being healed must have had.

J'aime
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