As a second witness that Easter is approaching, we had the enormous privilege of seeing the Carl Bloch exhibit at the BYU Museum of Art just before we left town. There are no words to describe what it feels like to walk into room after room where you see a sensitively rendered, lifesize depiction of the Savior -- the closest thing I can imagine to actually being in His presence. There was palpable reverence and peace. The holiness brought me to tears. A time or two I couldn’t stop myself from whispering out (while inwardly shouting) my love and praise for the Master. Powerful.
Having recently painted the Savior myself, I couldn't help but be moved by this quote: "God helps me, that is what I think and then I am calm.
Then we spent five warm and sunny days in southern Utah on a painting excursion. I felt all kinds of ideas and emotions waking up inside me as I packed the cooler and filled my palette, barely anticipating the possibilities.
I tend to think of the desert as a barren wasteland, and an odd place to usher in Holy Week. But the house where we stayed was in “a desert community” where the pueblo-style houses are built down into the ground so as not to interrupt the landscape, and the residents commit to leave the surroundings untouched. Cotton-tailed bunnies would bounce through the sage brush and run right past our windows, while red-tailed hawks circled the sky. We walked through a sculpture garden and labyrinth, hiked to a plethora of petroglyphs, soaked our feet in the stream, and sat and stared at the stars.
Early-ish one morning I went out for a walk with my camera, looking for something spectacular to paint, and what gradually struck me is that the desert landscape is very like Jerusalem, and the landscape itself an atonement metaphor. Virtually everywhere you look, there is:
a scarlet robe
Suddenly I can’t wait to get back to my studio and create a whole series of desertscapes, with imagery symbolizing the atonement.
I found that while the desert itself may seem dry and desolate, my search for deeper meaning led me to Living Water there. I was not just awake, but invigorated. Joyful. Filled to overflowing. I hope I can make that newness and excitement last far beyond Easter morning.