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Old & New Project: Turning Points Highlights

06-Gideon-Meets-the-Lord_Ciara-Panacchia

Round 3 of Old & New Project came to a close today. It’s been another fantastic set of contributions from artists all over the globe.

Like any good parent, I don’t like to choose favorites among my offspring, but there were a handful in this round (all contributed by female artists by the way) that impacted me for one reason or another.

1. Gideon Meets the Lord by Ciara Panacchia (above)

This piece, though simple, has tons of emotion wrapped up in it without feeling melodramatic. That’s an extremely difficult thing to pull off for an illustrator, so the way Ciara does it here is truly impressive.

Another reason this image resonates so strongly with me personally is because I have a boy named Gideon in my family, and he—like his namesake—is up against all odds, yet consistently inspiring each of us with his capacity to do great things.


Sales from Ciara’s piece go to charity.


13-Jonah-Tossed-Overboard_Melanie-Matthews

2. Jonah Thrown Overboard by Melanie Matthews

One of my early reservations about the Turning Points theme was that we’d be including more popular Bible stories than past rounds. Both Jim and I have always been drawn to and enjoy sharing more obscure passages with many who may have never realized they were contained in the Bible. So when it came to perhaps the most illustrated passage ever from the Old Testament, I couldn’t help but be a little nervous we’d be publishing more of the same old thing.

While writing the familiar story of Jonah, I tried to focus on what may have been his greatest Turning Point (he had several), and it seemed to me the moment he confesses his flight and volunteers to be thrown overboard is pretty critical to the whole tale.

When Melanie Matthews delivered this piece (all the way from Australia, no less), my fears were relieved. She somehow managed to demonstrate one of the most visually exploited stories in all history in a fresh, new and fabulous way. The look of relief on Jonah’s face as he watches the sun break through the clouds and the storm subside, totally unaware of the gaping jaws below is totally priceless, and should go down as one of the great “Jonah and the Big Fish” illustrations ever.


Sales from Melanie’s piece go to charity.


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3. A Man of Unclean Lips by Sophia Foster-Dimino

Every once in a while, I’m so excited about one of our contributing artist’s agreeing to be part of the project, they can’t possibly live up to my expectations. After discovering Sophia this past year when her Bram Stoker “doodle” was featured on Google’s home page, I secretly thought there was no way she was going to create something as awesome as I hoped she would… but she did.

I honestly had to stop to catch my breath after seeing this for the first time, but what makes it even more fabulous is Sophia’s thoughts on her design process—which demonstrates so beautifully exactly why  including athiests among all the other variety of faith backgrounds contributing art to Old & New Project has been so important to Jim and I since the beginning.


Sales from Sophia’s piece go to charity.


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4. Samson by Alexandra Beguez

I have to admit, I faced a bit of a dilemma when Alexandra delivered this piece. The story I’d written on Samson was specifically about his spirit breaking in prison and reaching out to God in his first moment of real weakness. There was no mention of the lion carcass or honeycomb at all.

But this design was so awesome!

It was so good, in fact, I edited my story a bit to include a few phrases hinting at this lion-and-honey episode. I can’t say exactly what it is about Alexandra’s piece that moves me, but I love Samson as a “regular guy,” as opposed to the stereotypical Schwarzenegger-type, and her use of high-contrast reversed color is totally unique and surprising.


Sales from Alexandra’s piece go to charity.


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4. Saved by a Harlot by Julie Frey

Rahab’s is one of my favorite stories in the whole Bible. Not only does it beg the provocative question, “what exactly were those spies doing in her house?” but I feel prostitutes are easily the most misunderstood and misrepresented biblical characters  (particularly in the western church).

I was really excited to see how Julie handled Rahab’s story. She focused on the woman’s redemption in the scarlet cord, but made sure to include the more scandalous but important facts surrounding the story (however appropriately left in the shadows).


Sales from Julie’s piece go to charity.


Traverse City Art Show

Traverse City Art Show Poster

I’m happy and proud to announce a new solo art show opening this Thursday at the Ledbetter Gallery in Traverse City.

Earlier this year I had several other themed shows on music and film, but I’m looking forward to this chance to display a lot of various works that many who only made it to those other exhibits might have missed.

I’ll also have some new work like St. Eustace on display that I’m really excited about.

Everyone in northern Michigan is invited to come get a high-five and some artwork for holiday gifts. There will be art available from a wide variety of prices (from $5 – $2000), so something for everyone!

Preview some of the artwork that will be available at this Traverse City show in my portfolio, and RSVP on Facebook.

See you there!


Traverse City Art Show · Ledbetter Gallery

Thursday, November 29, 2012
5:30pm
1129 Studio C
Tru Fit Trouser Building
Woodmere Ave.
Traverse City, MI 49686

New Painting: The Conversion of St. Eustace

St. Eustace artwork painting of St. Eustace

You might recognize the stag with a cross in his antlers from the Jägermeister logo. What you may not know is that the mark is a reference to St. Hubertus. This 7th century bishop has become a patron saint, but his story is intertwined with another earlier mythological church figure that I find even more interesting—Saint Eustace

The Legend of Saint Eustace

According to the legend, a lascivious 2nd century Roman general named Placidus was deep in the forest hunting when he saw a vision of Christ in a stag’s antlers. He immediately converted to Christianity, was baptized along with his whole family, and changed his name to Eustace.

After enduring a lifetime of trial, including temporarily losing his wife to a pirate captain and his boys to wolves and lions, the family miraculously persevered through it all to finally be reunited. Their joy was short-lived, however, when they were burned to death by the emperor for refusing to offer a pagan sacrifice.

St. Eustace and the Church

For hundreds of years before being dismissed by the Catholic church as fantasy, Saint Eustace was the patron saint of hunters, hence his and Hubertus’s veneration by Jägermeister—a digestif brewed from a variety of forest roots and  herbs.

About the Piece

For whatever reason, I’ve connected with this guy Eustace. Real or not, I can identify with his suffering and his connection to the forest, and I’ve spent the past few years trying to imagine how to portray his story. I finally lucked out with this concept assembled from a bunch of scrap lumber – collected from the junk pile behind Odom’s, off the side of the road at Apple Fence Co. in Grawn, random lumber yards and from my own backyard.

I’m dedicating this piece to all my friends out there in the woods trying to find food for their families. Shoot straight & safe, fellows!

Check out detail images of this piece and others from the show in my Fine Art Portfolio 

Weidmannsheil

The Jagermeister label also features the first verse from a fanastic german poem by Oskar von Riesenthal called Weidmannsheil. I love it so much I tried to incorporate it into the painting, but almost ruined the whole thing in the process:

Weidmannsheil

This is the hunter’s honor:
That he protects and cherishes the animals,
That he hunts as he should:
That he honors the Creator in the creation.

Hate reigns over the war bullet,
But love for the animals aims the rifle.
When you eat every day consider if your animals are starving,
That your animals don’t starve.

Guard it before man and animal,
Shorten his mortal fear,
Be tough outside, and lenient inside,
Then your honor may shine.


Thanks to graphic designer Karl Noelle for help with the translation

Old & New: Miracles

Old & New Project is an ongoing collaborative biblical art collection that I started with Jim LePage. This week I put together this little animated trailer for the new round of designs launching this Monday, September 24th!

The theme for the round is (obviously) Miracles, and the roster of contributing artists consists of some of our favorite graphic artists & illustrators. One of the coolest aspects of the project is that contributors come from across the faith spectrum—from evangelical to atheist.

Check out the 24 pieces from the first round and follow along on Facebook or Twitter so you won’t miss any of the new stories!

Entertain Us

Here’s another piece created for Song in Art show at Seed Studio Gallery in Traverse City.

I had no idea how this one would turn out and honestly, once it was finished I kind of hated it. But then I thought, “well, that’s kind of the point, right?”

I had several people ask about it during the opening reception, to which I replied, “If you don’t get it, you’re too old (or young).”

Actually I responded in a much more PR fashion, but that’s what I was thinking anyway.

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