Painting my vision of the Holy Trinity has consumed a good six months of my life. I will write the story behind the painting at the bottom of the page, so as not to bore non-readers. I am presenting the “in progress” pictures I took along the way. The First set of pictures is a “small” version test of concept. The second set is the larger version.
Original pencils, both versions
Small Version Progression (12″x12″)
It took me 2 1/2 to 3 weeks to finish the small version. I was happy with the result and decided to continue with the large version, which is 36 inches x 36 inches or 9 times the area of the small version.
Large Version Progression (36″x36″)
My Trinity Story
This painting was a very long road. For years I considered painting another large scale pointillist piece, but was intimidated by the time that such an undertaking required, The subject matter had to be worthy of such an expenditure of time. I put a 36″x36″ blank canvas on my easel and looked at it over the course of weeks, mentally creating and discarding ideas. Eventually I decided on a religious piece and hoped I could come up with an idea both new and special.
My mind kept returning to and idea of painting thousands of tiny Angels in a type of heavenly host configuration. I had been painting many miniatures on gemstone specimens and thought I might be able to translate these skills to a large pointillist piece. I kept mentally playing with this idea and that, but while sitting in Church one day, I realized that I shouldn’t just go all tiny on the painting because something needed to be visible from a distance.
The first decision finalized, was to paint a representation of the Holy Trinity. I researched symbolism that various cultures had used to represent the Holy Trinity and thought i might draw the multitude of Angels in such a way that they would comprise such a symbol, anyway. I did a few sketches and …totally discarded the idea. They looked bad. I then thought about God “offering” his Son to the world, and knew I wanted to use welcoming, offering hands to represent God the Father. I chose to incorporate the Risen Jesus to compliment the welcoming hands, wanting nothing “painful” to be conveyed by the piece. The Holy Spirit has been represented in the Bible both as the Dove and with Tongues of Flame. I immediately had the mental picture of how the “Tongue of Flame” should fit into the painting. and at this point I had at the image that I wanted visible from a distance.
So I started researching and doing small thumbnail sketches, then finally did the pencils on a 12″x12″ canvas board. I intended to paint a small version of the painting first to see if the idea worked and hopefully solve any painting issues that might arise. I was happy with the pencils on the small canvas and used the grid method to transfer the drawing to the larger canvas.
And then I got stuck, aaa-gain. I still wanted to incorporate Angels into the piece, but didn’t know how. I thought about painting them into the form of a nebula behind the Trinity image (to illustrate my thinking that God is God of all time and space), then I thought about just filling the entire background with tiny angels that you wouldn’t see until you looked close up at the painting. I tried testing this and did a quick dot painting of a small angel with the pointillist technique. It was not going to work. The dots would have to be way to small. I became frustrated with my indecision and lack of vision and the two canvas drawings went into a corner of the garage and they sat there for a long time.
One Sunday, a year later, I had a little “vision” for lack of a better term. The Angels could surround the Holy Trinity and that I could achieve a sizing effect by cutting a template from a piece of paper. Small at one where the far away angels would be placed, and expanding into larger Angels as they encircled the Trinity. It was a eureka moment in the middle of mass. Got home, changed clothes, found the two canvases, dusted off the cobwebs, cut out a template and drew guidelines onto the small canvas that day. I now knew how the angels would fit into the overall composition but did not know how they should look. I looked up everything from 16th century Renaissance paintings to modern Angel Christmas tree ornaments and began filling sketchbook pages with Angel drawings, realistic to simplistic. I was in danger of getting stuck again.
Having done many pointillist paintings already I had discovered something some time ago that I had not seen done by other artists. Obviously I have not seen the work of all pointillist artists, but I have studied Seurat and Signac rather extensively and those two fathers of pointillism had not done it. I hope the realization/technique is mine alone, in any event I discovered it on my own. Anyway, I found you can superimpose images on top of each other and something interesting happens at the points of intersection. It was my intention to apply this principle to the painting and to use it with overlapping layers of Angels amongst other places.
Well, anyway, blah blah blah, I don’t feel like writing anymore. I drew a bunch of overlapping abstract angels and started doing dots. 5 months later the paintings were finished. Maybe I will come back later and explain some more though I am probably the only one who will read this far when I edit.
All the Best