Praying with pictures…

Art as Prayer

I find that two of the strongest effects of painting and drawing on me as an artist are:

  • that I find myself becoming calm and meditative as I draw or paint.
  • that I find in myself a growing intimacy with, and understanding of, my subject.

Because of this I think that art is sometimes very similar to prayer.

Second Wave in India

In April and May I was really concerned to see how bad the second wave of Covid was for the people of India, particularly after I’d read a story on the BBC News website about a family from Ghaziabad trying to get help for their father, Annop Saxena. (Link to the story.)  Following this family’s hopeless struggle to save their dad was really crushing.

I don’t really pray anymore. The nearest I get to prayer is to hold people in my heart while I think through what I can do to help them.  To be honest it feels the same as prayer used to feel, but has a more practical outcome.   However, because I think in pictures rather than words, drawing and painting are both really helpful here since they help me find a calm meditative state in which to think and they draw me close to the subject I am concerned for.

Digital Study of a Photograph

So I made a study of a Reuter’s picture I came across while reading about the crisis in India.  Here is a link to the original photograph on the Reuters website.  Here is how Reuters describe the story of this photo:

A man is consoled by his relative as he sees the body of his father, who died from complications related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), before his burial at a graveyard in New Delhi, India, April 16, 2021.

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

Meditation, Connection and Trying to Help

So, this study is much less about art and much more about meditation and connection and trying to help.

Here’s the painting process…

And the finished picture once my levels and hue/saturation were adjusted in Photoshop…

I am really glad that things are improving in India now and they are getting on top of it.  I send my warmest wishes and condolances to those who lost family to this horrible disease, in India and anywhere else.


11 thoughts on “Praying with pictures…

  1. Oh my gosh…I just had a conversation about this! A friend of mine at work was looking at the new posters I was hanging in my class – an assortment of my favorite Doctor Who quotes. Some had a TARDIS or a drawing of the Doctor or a sonic screwdriver but all had the quote most prominently. My friend, who is a photographer, told me, “You see in words what I see in pictures.” And here I am having the same conversation!

    So thank you for what you said about my writing. It means a lot :). And I’m just as envious as the beautiful realities you always capture in your pictures. That’s one of the many reasons I’m happy we’re friends! I can appreciate in your work the sort of vision and expressions of meaning I can never create myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always envied linguists and highly literate people since they seems to be able to capture the essence of what’s important in words, like you do, but for me, my language will always be pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How beautiful! I think this is such an incredible form of prayer. It may not fall into our classifications of “traditional” prayer forms but I think it absolutely is. And what a form of prayer it is! This – both your piece and your description of your process in this – really touched me. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The picture I painted is based on an amazing photograph which really seems to carry the grief those two young men were feeling. This disease has hurt a lot of people. Thanks for sharing your empathy.


  5. Yes, I find drawing and painting a meditative process – that is, until things start going pear shaped ( but then perhaps it was not meditating hard enough that got me in the pickle)

    Liked by 1 person

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