People ask me if I ever paint anything other than portraits. I have in the past and I can definitely appreciate paintings of other subject matter, but I feel called to paint portraits because they are reflections of the eternal. We are made in the image and likeness of God! (Gen. 1:26)
I see this so clearly in the open, wide eyed gaze of a child with face unmarred by the cares of this world. I strive to portray the dignity of children because it is innate to every child.
Martin Luther King Jr. said “The whole concept of the “image of God ” is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected. .. . And this gives [man] a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity. And we must never forget this. . . there are no gradations in the image of God.”
I strongly believe in the dignity of all human life.
But there is more, much more!
I see the reflection of God in the gentle look of fondness on the face of siblings or in the expression of a child who is looking lovingly outside the boundaries of the canvas towards their mother. One of my favorite portraits of my oldest daughter is of her holding out a daffodil towards someone unseen. To me, it will forever be a portrait of Hali and my grandmother and a memory of a beautiful early spring day when Hali was 18 months old and of my grandmother picking flowers with her and putting them in an old egg basket.
Another aspect of reflecting the image of God is joy! Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God takes great delight in us and rejoices over us with singing. I Iove to portray a thoughtful, wide eyed expression but sometimes a person is overflowing with joy that just has to be expressed!
I am certainly aware that the subjects of my portraits are not perfect, but I take to heart what John Calvin said: “We are not to reflect on the wickedness of men but to look to the image of God in them, an image which, covering and obliterating their faults, an image which, by its beauty and dignity, should allure us to love and embrace them.”
My goal to is capture my subject at their best, so that the response of the viewer is not “What a well executed portrait!” but “Oh, they are so precious to me!” or "This is a person worthy of respect!".
We can see God’s glory on display in all of creation; the crashing of waves, the vastness of the night sky, the breathtaking beauty of the mountains - everywhere we look, nature displays His majesty. There is limitless inspiration to be found there, but it is mankind who is made in His image!