Speed Painting 101: Why Are You Painting?

Posted: September 25, 2015 in Art Technique
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

dweiss2We’ve looked at materials and a lot of other background information, now we need to look at our intent in painting. What do you want to accomplish? Who are you trying to teach? Are you trying to teach? Will you be bringing a message with the piece or does the message come from the piece? Are you doing the painting in support of someone else’s message?

One thing I am hoping you will see is that public painting, especially in a church context, is often bigger than making beautiful art, though of course we always want to bring our best. The painting tells a story or at the very least supports a story. The feel of the piece is important as is the message behind it. For example, I recently did a weekend of meetings at a church in Virginia. It was part of my Close Encounters With Jesus series. This is a brand new series and I am still perfecting it. One of the messages is about the transfiguration, and with it, I paint a picture of the transfigured Jesus. To be quite honest, the painting is giving me fits. Trying to speed paint the glowing Jesus in six to 10 minutes is just not easy. I am trying to keep shadows to a minimum and yet have a clearly defined image has created some issues. Another issue, is the paint does not dry quick enough to layer well. I came up with a pretty good practice piece in my studio, but it did not translate well live. I decided to move to a closeup using only his face and one hand. Afterward the pastor, asked me why I positioned his hand as I did. He felt that it looked a little standoffish, and I had to agree. What worked well in a three quarter body painting, did not translate to close up. The feel was off. (It still came together with the message well, but I need to do a little more perfecting on this piece.)

Know Your Audience
Have you been asked to do your piece for the whole congregation or just a segment? This matters. There’s a reason the animals are all smiling in the nursery Noah’s Ark Mural. They’re not ready for drowning people clawing at the door o the ark. Likewise the context you’re working in is important. The purpose of the piece is to draw people (your audience) into the story. This requires some thought and planning in advance (more on this in the next article).

What Are You Trying to Accomplish?
This goes back to feel to some degree, but there is usually more to a story or a message than just giving the story cut and dried. Different passages are taught in different ways for different reasons. This is in no way advocating a departure from the truth of God’s Word but more like we emphasize the points of a passage that speak to the point we’re trying to make. It is really important that we think on this in the planning of the painting. The goal in a service is for all it’s elements to draw people to the point being made. We have to make sure we are not distracting.

Who Asked You?
I know that sounds a little rude, but what I mean is “Who invited you to paint?” If you are painting in support of your own message, then you know the point you are trying to make and it is easier. If someone else, like your pastor, asks you to paint in support of something he or she is doing, it is pretty imperative that you give them what they want. This is more important than your artistic ideas or creative impulses. What you do needs to support what he or she is trying to accomplish.

At the end of the day, speed painting in a worship service context is a tool to bring people to the point of the message, so that they will go out and apply the teaching to their lives to the glory of God. It’s a big responsibility and a great opportunity to use our gifts to do some good.

  1. […] been posting these posts (1,2,3,4) to tell you about how to do the actual paintings and there is more to come, but I wanted to take a […]

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