New Artwork: Picking Up the Mantle

New Artwork: Picking Up the Mantle

Everybody has a calling; a unique reason for being here on planet earth.

It all starts with God as the foundation, since He created us, just like the engineer of a finely tuned watch knows what its purpose is.

And just like that watch will give honor to its maker by operating as it is supposed to, so will we, when we do what God has created us for.

In fact, the whole purpose of our lives is to bring glory to God.

The first and biggest way we can do that is accept the fact that we need Him and receive His forgiveness for our sins, His gift of eternal life to us through the accomplishment of His Son’s death and resurrection.

After that, step by step, we go on a journey to let the glory of God shine in our lives moment by moment, day by day, walking in dependence upon Him and bringing every blessing and every trial as a gift of thanks and a petition for help.

In the Bible, the prophet Elijah was about to be taken up to heaven. His special role as a messenger to God’s people would be transferred to His student and successor, Elisha.

These were big shoes to fill: Elijah had prayed for a drought to cause the nation of Israel to seek God again, and God shut up the heavens for three years. Elijah asked God to show His glory by fire on Mount Carmel so the Israelites would stop worshiping idols, and God sent the fire. And Elijah prayed again for it to rain, and sure enough, the parched, thirsty earth was given torrents of water to drink.

But as Elisha was seeing the amazing way the Lord provided for his teacher, he was being prepared to be used in the same way. 

I met a wonderful gal at the Falling Leaves Art Studio Tour who connected me to another wonderful gal through this blog, who then connected me to a publisher in Abbotsford, WI. I was asked to paint an image of Elijah and Elisha for a book cover, and I thought it would be a great project.

It turns out the author of the book is a missionary that our church has supported for years! Here is the painting, titled “Picking up the Mantle.” It took about 25 hours to create. Below is a few in progress photos of the painting, leading up to the finished work ( I also have a video of the painting in progress as well):

"Picking up the Mantle," 16 x 20, Acrylic on Canvas, by artist Matt Philleo--sketch

“Picking up the Mantle,” 16 x 20, Acrylic on Canvas, by artist Matt Philleo–sketch

"Picking up the Mantle" 16 x 20, acrylic on canvas, by artist Matt Philleo

“Picking up the Mantle”
16 x 20, acrylic on canvas, by artist Matt Philleo–in progress

"Picking up the Mantle," 16 x 20, Acrylic on Canvas, by artist Matt Philleo

“Picking up the Mantle,” 16 x 20, Acrylic on Canvas, by artist Matt Philleo

In the painting, you see Elisha holding up Elijah’s cloak, or mantle, that he left behind for Elisha to pick up. The mantle represents Elijah’s special position as prophet, his unique calling, his anointing for service, and the power God had given him to carry out his duties. It was now for Elisha to carry on.

But you can almost see Elisha saying, “What now?” as his master is taken away. God had many adventures in store for him, but in this moment, he is simply awestruck.

The mantle is a symbol of what is being passed on to the next generation.

What are you–and me–passing on to our children and grandchildren? 

I’d love if my kids achieve a certain level of success–all parents want that. But if they don’t have God–what good is it? My wife and I pray for my kids at bedtime, read the the Bible, and share the great things God has done for us. I want to do more of that. I want my kids to remember and think, “My dad sure had some issues, but one thing I know is that he really needed God and God came through for him. And God came through for me, too.”

What is your calling? Mine is to encourage. I don’t always do this well, but I know God has used me to encourage people and that is because He has encouraged me first. We love God because He has first loved us.

I finished this painting at the end of January, and then delivered it to the publisher after he decided to buy it in addition to purchasing the illustration rights of the image. That was a great blessing, because studio rent was due for the next month. God always brings in the provision just in time!

Share Your Thoughts!

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave me your feedback below! I will personally get back to you. Can you help me spread the word? Please share this post with your family and friends by using the social media links below. Thank you!






"I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands."

Inscribed6a 500px

"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!

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  1. Hello, Matt. I first met you in person at the Falling Leaves art tour. Discovered that your wife’s parents had belonged to the church where my husband was once pastor. However, I was already acquainted with some of your work. I saw “Inscribed” on display at the Heyde Center, and have a framed print of “This is my Son whom I love” hanging in my home. I was excited for you, more recently, as you wrote about your new studio. I live quite close, and stopped by the other day to say “Hi” but you had already left for the day. Another connection – you mentioned the person in Abbotsford, J.Z.; I’m acquainted with him through Western Wisconsin Christian Writers Guild. Just now, I want to tell you how much I like the painting of Elisha. Your love of God and knowledge of Scripture pour into your art powerfully. I thank you for your prayers when we communicated a while ago. May our Lord continue to bless you and your family.

    • Matt Philleo

      Hi Deetje, great to hear from you! I was just chatting with a lady from my church last night that worked for you for a while. She said she loved being in your home and loved how you would pray about everything! Yes, I got acquainted with J.Z. through one of your friends and it was a blessing to be able to do the painting of Elisha for a book cover. The author of that book just happens to be a missionary our church supports–one of those “small world” kind of things. Thank you for your kind words and I appreciate your prayers too. Blessings to you!


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