Where Do Those Ideas Come From?


One of the challenges an artist faces is: “What to paint?” If you are in a beautiful place and like to do landscapes, that is not normally a problem. If you are working on a series, you generally have a plan. More often than not, thought, the artist finds himself looking at a canvas and thinking: “What in the world am I doing here? I showed up to paint and have no idea where I’m going today!” Then, sometimes, things just begin to fall in to place.

I like to start my day by reading a chapter in the Bible and meditating a while. As I came to a story in the Old Testament, I began to chuckle. God really does have a sense of humor. The story of Jacob and Esau, beginning around Genesis 25:21, is full of family squabbles, parental favoritism, treachery, devious characters, love and finally passion. I don’t ordinarily do paintings influenced by the Scriptures, but this one reached out and grabbed me.

I went out to my studio and sketched a rough outline of Jacob, his two wives, their handmaidens, whom he reluctantly agreed to lay with, and a field of sheep to show his status in life. I thought originally I would call this painting “Poor Jacob,” because he was pressured by his wives to have children by their maidservants. Jealousy lay at the root of this part of the story, as each wife wanted to claim the most children.

This was to be a very lighthearteded painting, representing a story I had enjoyed and had begun to understand as a history lesson.

As I added colors and fleshed out the characters, the painting became very busy – too much so.

Jacob suddenly became overwhelmed by sheep, children, wives and maidservants, all wanting something from him. Not that he didn’t deserve it!

Be eliminating all the unnecessary elements, and changing body positions, I think I arrived at what was important – the pregnant women, carrying what would become the twelve tribes of Israel, and the very great love Jacob had for his Rachel. How many men would work fourteen years to finally win the woman he truly loved? I think the painting finally begins to reflect the story. His feet resemble tree roots – you figure out why. I think this will remain one of my favorite paintings. “RACHEL MY LOVE” is the title I’ve selected.


One Response to “Where Do Those Ideas Come From?”

  1. I don’t remember having heard the whole story behind the birth of this series. Didn’t this come about while we were in Turkey? Maybe that’s why I missed it. Quite a story!


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