Get a tour of the planning behind this multi-figure painting and the unexpected twists along the way. Oil paint, surprise models, research, and non-gold dust all blend in this ever-evolving design. Learn more about the making of this promotional illustration for the 2018 WELS West Regional Choral Festival in this episode of The Process.
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Koine asked me to develop a visual for their album of Martin Luther hymns. The title, "Cross, Heart, Rose, Sky, Ring" refers to the parts of Martin Luther's Seal. Benj Lawrenz explained that the band wanted to deal with Luther as a fellow artist. The album cover alludes to a materiality and an unresolved concept. It presents the parts of the seal before they had converged in his mind. Luther may not have always been so sure of himself. I can relate to ideas part-formed. While our salvation is sure and finished, the direction of our temporal lives remains mysterious.
There was something meta happening during the making of this piece. Benj said he wanted to get at the idea of Luther trying hard to get something right. He wanted a very tactile quality to the artwork. As I searched for a solution I found myself engaged in exactly that kind of "trying hard to get something right."
The lyrics of “Christus Paradox”, sung early in this concert, review an array of seeming contradictions. Jesus is the Lamb of God and He is also the Good Shepherd. He brings peace and also the sword. He walks with us daily and also sits at the right hand of God. Jesus is both God and man? How could Jesus say “I am with always you to the very end of the age” as he was leaving? How do we make sense of this?
Must it all make sense? God’s Word reminds us that our understanding has limits.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’”. -Isaiah 55:8-9
God is God. We are not. What place does proof have in matters of faith? How can we explain the miracles of Moses, Elijah, or Jesus? What about the day the sun stood still for Joshua and the Israelite army? How can we understand God making everything by simply speaking? Is there a rational explanation for Jesus’ resurrection?
While Jesus often provided human-friendly explanations such as parables, not everything about heaven and earth can be grasped by fallen humanity. The dualities in the nature of Christ are beautiful in faith, but a joke to reason. Faith is so thankful that God chose to love in a special way. But reason sees something unusual and suspects a scam. The things that don’t make sense about God can be the most comforting. The standard operating procedure of fallen humanity wouldn’t do us much good. God is surprising Love.
In Jesus, God is God...and God is Man. He is the everlasting instant. Today we get glimpses of that everlasting instant in the Word and Sacraments. Witness the beginning of immortality at a baptism. Taste and see that the Lord is good in an ancient physical meal that nourishes your spirit. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest words that have power to turn lives around. Every spring time we have a picture of how God continually makes things new. The great “I Am” has become “I Am with you always.”
The artwork for this concert is based on an illustration I developed in 2015 for Joseph Schumann (of the Lutheran Ceili Orchestra) and Pastor David Scharf. I recorded sand animations on the hymn “Christus Paradox” for Tenebrae services at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Greenville, WI that year. This poster image was used to promote the service with a concise visualization of “Christus Paradox”. MVL Art Club students scaled up the image, drew and painted the piece for the MVL concert using simple hardware store supplies.
This image of Jesus wearing a royal crown and crown of thorns has become one of my favorites. It shows a God who became a man. It says that he volunteered. He surrendered himself to the Law to become the Gospel. It’s all about his relentless love for you. And even though it may not always make sense to us, it is finished.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Watch as I make 1 dove image by drawing it 4 times and apply it to 2 projects. Who says I can't do math? See a preliminary design for a banner at Martin Luther College and a drawing on granite for Heritage Memorial and Stone Creations. Warning: contains graphite, ink, photoshop, penmanship, a diamond-tipped stylus, and a crazy studio cat.
The folks planning the 2016 Men of His Word Conference asked me to produce a graphic representation of their theme, "Stand Firm". Learn more about this conference at menofhisword.org. My first thought was a knight standing in full gear looking cool and ready (some old drawings to that effect are included below). But as my sketches progressed I realized there needed to be something to stand against. I brought the look of the protagonist closer to home with office-ish khakis and a tie. Rather than some fantasy from centuries past, he could be one of us. He stands against a wave that threatens his position on a narrow bit of ground and he's clutching a big book. As this conference is called "Men of His Word", it seems appropriate for 1) a Man to be 2) of His Word. The double meaning of this conference title cleverly alludes both to personal accountability, as in "I give you my word", as well as a Christian man devoted to the Lord. The wave can represent whatever threatens a man's relationship with God. One's faith can be tested from political events, personal crises, temptations, finances, or even apathy. When in personal crisis cling to Christ and wait out the storm. Stand Firm.
Producing a layered photoshop graphic using ink drawings has gradually become a standard "style" for me. While I'm happy with this illustration, it isn't groundbreaking in my body of work. HOWEVER, motion graphic production is a whole new world for me. My daughter and I decided to take the plunge and learn to animate in Adobe After Effects. It's been a steep climb learning the AfterEffects workspace, but I'm excited to apply new skills in the future. It's amazing how long it can take to produce 20 seconds...have a look. https://youtu.be/QQwJObB63Ug
This ain't my first rodeo! Click this link to view my "Shelter From the Storm" design for the 2015 Men of His Word conference: http://jjjaspersen.com/shelter-from-the-storm/
These two illustrations are my final contributions to a reconstruction project with St. Mary Magdalen Catholic church in Kentwood, Michigan. Both images will be printed on glass nearly 7' tall. Prodigal 1 (with the pigs) will be installed in two 24" wide panes outside the confessional. Prodigal 2 (homecoming) will take up three 24" wide panes inside the confessional. There is an obvious progression and meaning in the way these are to be installed. That longing, lost feeling has a solution and our messed up life has a sympathizer.
Keep scrolling down for a variety of sketches, stages, and test effects. Links to other projects for this congregation can be found at the bottom of this post.FINAL prodigal son measurements I also designed CNC carved doors and a series of 6 more printed windows for this congregation. Learn about them at http://jjjaspersen.com/?s=mary+magdalene and http://jjjaspersen.com/saintsinner-windows/
This post collects 6 designs I produced for St. Mary Magdalen Catholic church in Kentwood, Michigan. These designs were printed on glass and mounted with back lighting. Each design is a composite of 6 to 10 ink drawings, painted text, a photo texture, and various photoshop manipulations. This was part of an effort to rebuild the parish after a tragic fire. The final designs are shown first. Find a few earlier iterations and comments below. Links to other projects for this reconstruction can be found at the bottom of this post.
The following are earlier designs with significant differences from the finals. It was my intention throughout this project to portray these people as accessible, regular individuals. Therefore I photographed models for many of the drawings and wanted some specificity in their features and expression. Patrons wanted images "like we are used to seeing of saints". Also, I was encouraged to portray the moment when the "sinner" became the "saint". Wow, that threw me. From a Lutheran perspective the "saint" and "sinner" is a lifelong struggle. "Simul iustus, et peccatur" (At the same time saint and sinner) is a central belief in my understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. This difference in intent was creatively paralyzing for me. What I wanted to do was fundamentally different from what they wanted done.
I greatly prefer the portraits in the Peter and Augustine designs below. However, I feel the Dismas iteration benefited from revision and I prefer the flow of the newer design shown above.
I also designed CNC carved doors and two more large glass illlustrations for the folks at St. Mary Magdalen. Learn more at http://jjjaspersen.com/prodigal-son-windows/ and http://jjjaspersen.com/?s=mary+magdalene