On a fundamental level, the Gates represent a path of enlightenment that can be achieved through meditation. Each gate – from Earth to the Stars – are passed through while ascending to the top. The climb itself, fueled by a desire to achieve an elevated state of spiritual awareness, takes one closer to an understanding and relationship with God. These eight works represent my personal journey through the gates.
From an aesthetic perspective, my contemporary art is strongly influenced by 19th century impressionism with a nod to the graphic arts. It is very much a left-brain, right-brain balancing act, an essential element in reaching an effective meditative state. My work also contains layers of allegory of which I will explain at each painting. Currently, I have completed five gate paintings, with three more in progress. The entire series will include eight works that will be completed this year (2021).
The defining theme of the entire series extends well beyond the direct reference to each specific gate. However, the predominate theme involves the presence of the veil: the spiritual barrier that lies between our physical and spiritual self and separates us from God and the truths of Heaven. By degree, each work serves to represent the existence of the veil and its many restrictions on our spiritual selves. Though restrictive, there are people who are granted brief glimpses of spiritual truths through the veil, as if seeing into Heaven through openings, or holes. Such views, or glimpses, might occur with the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one, or some other significant emotional event or physical trauma. For others, a glimpse through the veil might be in the form of a powerful dream or vision. In these works, I represent the veil as an ever-present gray shroud.
Another dominant aspect of my work is the use of layering. Each layer represents the challenges we face in life. More importantly, the layers also represent the positive and negative elements of each individual gate. As we strive to embrace the positive and shed the negative energy from our lives, we advance along a path to the summit in an attempt to draw closer to God. After passing through each gate: earth, water, fire, air, life, sound, and light; we reach the stars and attain a more spiritual closeness with our loving Creator.
Lastly, I use circles to represent not just holes in the veil, but God and the round. The “round” is the encapsulation of God as truth and light and marks the beginning and end of His work in all things. It also represents the eternal oneness of all life. As such, I’ve come to consider the veil more than a hindrance in my search for truth and light. I see it as a gift from God; one that protects our rights to agency and helps define the developmental parameters of my eternal life journey. Indeed, everything happens for a reason.
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The underlying picture is of the Mesa Arch in Utah. The veil is most dominate in this first representation of the Gates and reflects our struggle to be strong and overcome fear. While the underlying painting is, in and of itself, sufficient to represent Earth, the veil at this level is thickest and least likely to reveal truth save for only a few. The circles, namely the three largest, represent God the Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. This theme is continued throughout the series.
The underlying picture is that of the Havasu Falls in Arizona. In this, the veil once again dominates the scene and casts a nebulous gray-scale view of the falls. The magnificent circles of color represent the holes through the veil and serve as a reminder of God’s gift of natural beauty to be appreciated. The Water Gate serves to increase our passion for goodness and beauty by shedding our debilitating guilt. This gate represents the cleansing power of water.
Fire is often seen as a predominately destructive force, but it serves a far greater purpose in renewing life. In this Gate, Fire serves to remind us of our right to self-government, or agency: to be free to use our minds as individuals and find truth and understanding through God. It cleanses away the shame of mistakes and our impaired worldly judgment. Thus, like the Phoenix, through fire we can all rise up and be reborn.
AIR (44”x36” Acrylic and ink on canvas)
This painting offered a variety of options and ideas, but few effectively translated the idea of air as freedom. Air defines our physical lives with powerful and subtle force. Unseen yet potentially destructive, air, as a gate, is impossible to ignore. As a whole, air encompasses such a broad spectrum of feelings and effects that I struggled applying it as subject matter. Finally, I decided to celebrate the subtle beauty of air as a light breeze freely blowing dandelion fluff in the spring, wheat in the summer, and leaves in the fall. The cold, biting element of winter wind is captured in the white, frosty streaks across the larger field representing the veil.
The underlying picture is of a couple walking away from a campfire, toward the distant surf on Ocean Shores, Washington. The overlying picture made from the circles is of the Tree of Life: root, trunk, branch, and leaf. The first four gates are represented in the underlying picture and can be seen through the veil overlay. For me, the life gate offers a promise of joy in the shared oneness with people and nature. It helps shed the darkness of anger and enable us to enjoy the true purpose of life. It’s not about possessions and wealth, but rather peace and serenity through life and love.
SOUND (28.5”x36” Acrylic and ink on canvas)
This work also posed an interesting challenge for me. There are undeniable elements of opposition in sound. Whether harsh and disruptive or beautiful and serene, sound is impossible to ignore. As fundamental to life as any of the gate elements, true joy can be found while experiencing, even celebrating, the beauty of natural and peaceful melodic man-made sounds. The sounds of nature can ground us in a way that is impossible to ignore, lifting us up as effectively as an angelic choir, or a well-played musical instrument. In this work, the underlying painting is a graphic representation of the eight gates and (my version of) their corresponding colors. The music itself is an adaptation of the musical notes from the song, Amazing Grace.
LIGHT (35”x42” Acrylic and ink on canvas)
Of all the gates illustrated in this series, light made me reflect most deeply about what it represents. Simply put, for the gates, light embodies truth. Darkness hides and light exposes. But in a world so completely veiled, there are shades of light and darkness that effectively dim and refract even simple truths about who we are and why we are here. Indeed, many things we believe to be true are ideations of men; interpretations of truth derived from tradition and history. The flaws of our lives are mostly hidden by darkness, but the brighter and cleaner the light, the clearer the truth. In this work, the underlying picture is of Jesus Christ, the true light bearer of the world. You can see little of Him, only his eye and a bit his hand, because a veil of darkness encompasses the world.
The underlying picture is of Jerusalem at sunset. In this, the final gate, the veil is thinnest. As we have journeyed through the seven gates to reach the summit, the veil opens to reveal the majesty of God’s realm. Once we rid ourselves of negative energy and learn to embrace the positive attributes of the gates in sequence, we literally draw closer to our God. In this final gate, when we shed our Earthly attachments, we’re more open to God’s Heavenly energy and feel His love for us.
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