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“And suddenly there was with the angel a heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to all of good will.”  I had this painting in mind as long as I can remember. So long that I even used the original sketches in another mural I was developing at the time. It was a lovely traditional exploration of the Gloria, angels praising God on an evening long ago. Arms and wings and voices lifted to their heavenly father. Declaring that a new light had entered the world and probably scaring the Dickens out of some poor shepherds.

I had the layout, sketch and canvas and all I had to do was paint. That’s all. Only I never did. I tiled out the sketch and hung it on the canvas and there it hung for several years. I don’t know what stops an artist from painting. I do and maybe I’ll blog about that sometime but what I think is that the work I had planned just didn’t speak to me anymore. Rather didn’t speak for me.

I have been captivated with abstract paintings since I happened upon a coffee table book full of them as a kid. All the shapes and splatters, deconstructions, cubes, gestures, expressive large eyes were speaking to me. I had never really seen anything like them before other than black and whites from our set of 1964 Encyclopedia Britannica’s. I experimented with them as I grew but the reactions were not very positive.

Every time I would make the effort to move forward with my work images of these masters would cause me to hesitate. It’s hard to start when your mind is boggled and I can only say that I just didn’t want to paint like I always do. Months of planning, renderings, research were for the first time being crumpled up in my hands and headed for the recycle.

That emptied canvas yielded this. Gloria. A celebration of life that took me years to begin and weeks to complete. I didn’t even want to explain it and left it up to those willing to view it. Some were a bit shocked, some flat out loved it, one viewer wept a little a little, some like most polite southerners kept their smiles in tact and opinions to themselves. I did ask several patrons to write me their views. I wanted to know what they saw and thought because I really do struggle with my own ideas about it.

This is from my friend, Jeff Borden. He and his wife Allison commissioned an attempt at the abstract from me years ago entitled Dance of Clay. This is what Jeff sees.

Hey Pat,

So, I’m not an art connoisseur I am just relaying what I see or feel.  The initial reaction I had was; how did you capture our eternal spiritual struggle each of us face that is hidden within the story of creation?

First observation:
The six arms and hands revealing the six days of creation (figuratively) with an almost unseen hand supporting them as fingers on the hand. The 1st day, there was the differentiation between light and darkness (bottom right, almost yin-yang-ish).  The 2nd day, parting of the waters and 3rd day, creating earth.  One arm’s sleeve shows the ocean with waves and the arm shows the land with rolling hills.  The striped regions resembled plowed field yet fertile with life.   4th day, sun, moon, and the earth, so that is the (Left Side middle of painting).  5thand 6th days creating birds, the black wings, the ocean could be revealing life.  The many faces with one on top of the other symbolizing man and woman.  The 7th day was kept Holy and He rested.  The hand made from the flesh color on the bottom left arching right to the support the fingers (arms).

Second observation:
The arm at the bottom seemingly out of place.  Part of pain or despair.  The faces, angelic, but one dark, one light.  One larger, then one smaller as if one dominant over the other.  The dark and light mimicking the internal struggle of good versus evil, knowing God or turning from Him, Joy versus anguish.  A larger dark presence near the bottom with a larger lighter angelic face toward the top.  Depicting the growth in spirituality. The gold color dominant in the forefront with darkness patch worked in the background. The angelic features intertwined.  A division or separation from darkness if we seek Him.

There’s more but I need to just stand in front of it for awhile…It resonates with me and I can’t fully explain why.  Just a comedic note: Totally didn’t get the angels coming to the shepherds in the field…missed that one!…lol.

Thank you Jeff and Allison.

If any of you readers would like to contribute your visions I would be glad to hear them. Just leave your comments via the contact page.