Friday, 4 December 2020

Still thinking and meditating upon the beginning of John’s Gospel, I found myself looking at early spiral galaxies and working through the photos needing classifying through the ‘Galaxy zoo project ... and found that these widened my horizons, taking me back far further in time... and some paintings resulted based on “In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was with God and the Word was God... the same was in the beginning with God, all things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made... [John 1 v 1 - 18 ] This poetic beginning seems to spiral or circle around in rhythmic repetition... and so this painting began ... taking up the whole of Advent one year, as I turned the large canvas round and round to paint the spiral, basing my ideas on what I had seen via www.zooniverse.org and thinking all the time of those few verses at the beginning of John’s Gospel which went round and round in my mind...

                                          widening horizons :  oil on canvas, Janet Driver

Any of the early Christians who had grown up in a Jewish background would no doubt be reminded of the first few verses of the Hebrew Scriptures Genesis 1 v 1f where the first story of creation is written in a similarly poetic form :”In the beginning...”   I always felt that because John’s Gospel echoed the beginning of Genesis, it would have made better poetic sense to have put his Gospel at the beginning of the New Testament.... maybe then it would have been easier to see the connection between God & His Word in the poetic story of creation... for it is only a few verses into Genesis 1 that we find : “And God said: Let there be light: and there was light”  and we see the importance of God’s Word in creating...for what he says is done, like an echo of his command or his word... as pictured in this manuscript illustration below where the universe is being created through the eyes of a mediaeval artist...rather a different take on things with the huge compass...

 
...

                                         MSS Christ the Creator c 13th Cent.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

 

                                                        journet to Bethlehem : artist unknown, apologies...

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

 


                                             Mary visits Elisabeth : Jesusmafa, Cameroon, W Africa 

see reflection in the Advent Calendar on www.embraceme.org

December 1st / today sees the beginning of various Advent Calendars... the link above is for the charity ‘ Embrace the MiddleEast ‘

you can also find Advent Reflections by clicking on the Adult Learning pages in St Paul,s Cathedral website

If you prefer visual reflections then try www.theVCS.org


Monday, 30 November 2020

 

                                               light in our darkness : oil on canvas, janet driver


of the many advent themes, light & hope seem so relevant just now...  perhaps a painting of a pregnant woman would be  even better... but this one was based, a few years ago, on the prologue of John’s Gospel... [John 1 v 1-18 ], with its emphasis on light & darkness ... ‘the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’...  hence the painting has that sense of brooding darkness in its purple shadows...and yet the Christ child glows with the light he brings into the world through his life...the life that darkness could not overpower...

“but that isn’t the original painting, is it ?  someone visiting my open studio asked a member of the family, who was at a loss to know what to say... after all, this is an original painting... but she guessed the lady was thinking of my earlier painting below, which was selected by Museums & Galleries Ltd for their Christmas cards a few years ago... unfortunately, this painting was so popular with one toddler that he excitedly toddled over to it during a church service and quickly crayoned allover it with a bright red crayon, and when trying to clean it afterwards I accidentally removed a layer of paint, rather destroying Mary’s face... however, once I had recovered from the shock, I remembered that this painting was only meant to be a preliminary sketch as I painted meditatively trying to express the first few verses of John’s Gospel visually... and so, eventually, I felt ready to paint other versions of a similar theme, changing the colours and tone... and also painting on canvas (this first one was painted on oil painting practice paper) So in the end something that was spoiled beyond repair led to other paintings that have delighted many people... there is always hope, even when all seems lost !

                                             oil on oil-painting paper on board : janet driver


this next madonna and child is completely different...whilst the paintings above were inspired by a deep sense of awe in the mystery expressed in St John’s Prologue, the Darfur Madonna below is a prayer-painting resulting from the shocking news coming from Southern Sudan & the reality of the plight of so many refugee mothers forced to flee with their young children, photographed whilst waiting for food-aid to ease their hunger... I felt such anguish in these black and white photos filling our screens and newspapers that I decided the only way I might be able to pray for them was to attempt to paint as a form of prayer...layer upon layer of transparent reds gave way to transparent browns, slowly building up, layer upon layeras each day I prayed as I painted, then allowed that glaze-layer to dry before adding another...a painstakingly slow way of painting, and never knowing whether these faces would emerge with enough depth of brown, and yet enough red to glow with light and hope... adding a touch of yellow highlight at the end, as a sign of hope for their future...together with a little purple to take the raw edge off the deep red which has, sadly, not come out in this photo...  but then this wasn’t a painting for show... not until I began to understand that it might possibly help our mainly African & Afro-Caribbean congregation in prayer... 


Darfur Madonna : prayer - painting, janet driver

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Saturday, 28 November 2020

 

                                              White Lilies : oil on canvas,  Janet Driver

there is something very peaceful about painting lilies... they are so elegant and graceful...

the method I have used means slowing down, taking time to experiment and discover just the right transparent paints to do background layers over the whole canvas that will result in this very rich green... its all too easy to end up with too much blue, or a kind of teal green, and I wanted to have the exact green of the leaves, stem and buds... then each glaze layer needs to be left to completely dry before the next colour is glazed over the top... and finally, the lily itself can be painted...and again each colour needs to dry before the next one is painted over it...painstakingly slow, but somehow very fitting for this kind of flower...   trying to catch the light at just the right angle for the shapes to emerge in all their beauty... I am filled with awe & wonder as each day passes with a little more of their beauty revealed... until the painting begins to echo the joy within the flower...