I create art to comfort and encourage. In our present era, with increasing crime, scandals, and a wall of isolation erected by too much dependence on technology, the need for encouragement is greater than ever. I don’t look at the world with myopic, rose-colored glasses, pretending everything is perfect.
I go through trials, difficulties, and personal struggles and so do you.
During these times of despair, I reach out to God for help like the ancient Psalmists did, and eventually light arises in the darkness. His grace overcomes my weakness. After experiencing the breakthrough, I have a burning desire to share this joy with others so they can be encouraged too. For me, art is the best way to do this.
Ever since I was a child, I have loved to draw and paint people. I especially love to capture emotion through facial expressions and body gestures. Occasionally, I paint landscapes, but I am primarily a figurative painter.
In my paintings, the people interact with God and with each other in relationships where truth, love, compassion, trust, hope, forgiveness, perseverance, and dignity are practiced. In highlighting these virtues, and the often the struggle to obtain them, I hope to create a dialogue with the viewer, to instill a desire for something greater, and to demonstrate God’s loving care in times of sorrow and need.
My medium of choice, since being introduced to it in high school art classes, is acrylic paint. I appreciate its quick drying time and low toxicity. Using a centuries-old glazing technique, I mix the paint with a clear acrylic medium and apply layer upon layer translucently, which allows the white surface of the canvas to reflect through. The result is a colorful, vibrant surface.
For example, in one my portraits, for a gentleman’s suit, I applied burnt umber brown, ultramarine blue, and alizarin crimson methodically, in a series of fifteen to twenty layers, to build up the final color of black. This uniquely-composed black has much more richness and depth than using black straight out of the tube.
When doing narrative or concept-based artwork, my inspiration comes from various sources:
Sometimes it can come from a passage of Scripture during my daily reading.
Sometimes it can come from a sermon by the pastor.
But just as often I am inspired by my relationships with others, especially my children. They teach me so much about the way God sees me and how having a simple trust in Him brings delight to His heart.
Once an idea for a painting comes to mind, I quickly record in it my journal. Next, I begin to sketch it and prepare a photo session so that I have realistic references to draw from. Typically, friends, family members are my models and, like a play director, I ask them to “act out” in a still version the various scenes I will depict later on canvas. The resulting photos then become the basis for my painting.
Finally, after completing a well-defined sketch, I begin the actual painting process. Before and during a studio session, I pray, asking God to help me capture the beauty of the people I’m painting and convey an idea that will encourage the viewers, hopefully drawing them closer to Himself. I paint in a detailed, representational style so that my artwork can be easily understood by a viewer of any background or education level.
I enjoy the process of painting, but I believe the end result of a great work of art is more important than enjoying the process. At certain points during painting, it is not fun; it is just plain hard work.
Just as in the rest of life, when you don’t give up and see a difficult project through to completion, there is the satisfaction of a job well done. And you have something to show for your efforts and struggle, something that you can offer to bring encouragement to others.
"I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands."
"Inscribed," Pencil on Paper, by Matt Philleo
One day, when I was discouraged I read a verse in the Bible, in Isaiah, 49:15-16, where it says, "Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands." This verse brought such encouragement, that I created this original work of art to share the incredible love of God with others, including you!
Get a free 8 x 10 copy of this drawing that you can use to print, share, or as wallpaper!