The Development of an Artistic Voice, Part 4… The Stratum Series

Untitled, acrylic & charcoal on canvas, 28" x 78", 2000
Untitled, acrylic & charcoal on canvas, 28″ x 78″, 2000

The Stratum Series is an excellent example of something good coming out of complete failure. When I was working on the Hatching Series I noticed that the paper I glued down became translucent. Since I was working with layers, I decided to see if I could draw under the paper and have the drawings show through adding an additional layer. It was a complete failure. Once the paper dried, the drawing underneath could not be seen at all. But, I really liked the how the charcoal looked when I spread the matte medium to glue down the paper. This led to an innovation in painting style that I have used ever since. The painting above is the first to use my new layering process where I draw in charcoal, or later pastel, and then spread it with matte medium, sometimes mixing in gloss or other mediums. In this particular painting the process was only repeated a couple of times but in future paintings it was repeated sometimes over 20 times.

I also liked how this method of painting worked with my visual metaphor. The societal groupings that my imagery referenced were not something that happened out of the blue. They have a history. I liked that with this method of painting, and the transparency, the literal history of the painting and metaphorically the social groups could be seen.

Sheol, 'Erets, Shamayim, acrylic & pastel on canvas, 30" x 156", 2000
Sheol, ‘Erets, Shamayim, acrylic & pastel on canvas, 30″ x 156″, 2000

One of the challenges with this method of painting is how to use color. My early solution was to isolate colors to individual canvases. In the piece above, Sheol, ‘Erets, Shamayim, each canvas was a different color. That does not mean that the colors were simple. For example, the brown in the middle canvas came about by mixing multiple blues and oranges and the blue and orange canvases were also more complicated than one simple color.

This piece also continues to develop my use of metaphor. The title is based on the Hebrew words that are translated Hell, Earth, and Heaven in the Old Testament. The piece is panoramic and meant to reference the entirety of human existence.

As I continued working in this way, I became more loosely tied to the metaphors. I also gained a greater control over color. I still do works that separate color by canvas but some of my favorite works work with color in a much more sophisticated way. The piece below, Covenant III, is a good example of a more mature use of color. This one has actually become one of my favorite pieces to the point that is hangs over my bed.

Covenant III, pastel & acrylic on canvas,48” x 60”, 2008
Covenant III, pastel & acrylic on canvas, 48” x 60”, 2008

This series was my primary artistic production for many years. Even in the pieces shown here they cover nine years. I still work with this series some. But, my artistic production has expanded. However, this series is at the heart of my visual voice and will likely be something that I play with for the rest of my artistic career.

Developing an Artistic Voice

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  • I hesitate to comment. I hardly have enough art appreciation to be a novice appreciator.

    I took painting lessons when I was a kid. I sold paintings in the sixth grade. I wish I had kept doing that.

    I tried to be a musician. That was an absolute disaster.

    I write – but not artistically. But in college the brief study in poetry, though it failed to really bring poetry to life for me, did nonetheless expand my appreciation of Bible. Like learning Greek taught me English at the next level!

    I love art, but almost entirely as a layman. Popculture stuff mostly. But I sometimes recognize depth and richness in classic and other kinds. Sometimes.

    Okay, enough with disclaimers.

    I was friends, briefly, with a real artist at my work a few years ago. I was developing an interest in prophetic ministry during that time, and was blessed to have this guy to talk to – even though he was a Marxist/atheist. I began to see a lot of commonality between prophetic ministry and art.

    At Fat Beggars, we engage in a medium we call Proph-O-Drama. We take a passage of scripture and portray it/act it out. In fact, Mrs. Agent X and I got married in a fairly extravagant Proph-O-Drama. If you are interested see the post describing it here:


    I suppose I liken it to treating Scripture like a script of a play, but then letting God paint his picture/direct us in his prophetic way.

    Thanks for visiting Fat Beggars.

    I found your old post about homeless and that intrigued me. Very uplifting! Inspirational… and validating. So glad I found you.

    I suppose I will keep an eye on this blog. I really don’t have a lot to offer to the art stuff. I am reduced to saying ITS PRETTY – which it is, but I understand that art is far deeper than that too. I just really lack the skills to converse in it.

    But reading here is helping that…



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