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Christmas Paintings


Christmas paintings exhaustively explore the events of the birth of Jesus. Familiar themes depicted from the Biblical account are the stuff of popular Christmas cards. Visually satisfying, they capture the highlights of the narrative.


The countless Christmas paintings created over the centuries did not deter me from exploring how I might imaginatively express my own reverence for the beloved account.


This work was originally created for the Dallas Park Cities Presbyterian Church's Exhibit titled "The Manger, The Magi and The Majesty". Artists were invited to challenge the familiar and creatively express their wonder of the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

 

The Proclamation


Startled from apathy one mundane night

To sounds yet unheard, an ethereal sight

Of divine trumpets and music of tongues

Beyond description, a hymn yet unsung

In jubilant praise, a birth was proclaimed

To needy humanity, so lost and maimed

Sin-ridden, hopeless, no lamb could suffice

A baby now born to pay that dear price.


© 2010, Sara Joseph

 

The Proclamation, based on Luke: 2:13 is painted in acrylic on a 30x40" gallery wrapped canvas. It has a glaze of interference paints floating over the surface, which gives it an interesting shimmer. The shine of teal and purple is difficult to capture in a photograph, since it responds to light and movement. As you shift your position before the canvas, the sheen of those interference colors also shift.


I wanted to describe that moment of glory when the angels announced His birth! Playing with scale, the humble shepherds on earth's sinful ground, weary from their watch, are thrown into sharp contrast against the backdrop of the glorious angelic host, who are only hinted at by their trumpets.


The shepherds were suddenly exposed to the majesty of the supernatural spiritual world! At what point did they shift from fear to jubilant hope because of the words of the angels? They could scarce have comprehended the ramifications of this glorious event.


Over two thousand years later, we still struggle to understand its power or mind blowing consequences!



The animals grazed unperturbed. I imagine that there might've been nothing alarming about the event for them. After all, did their Creator not care for them daily? Animals seem more spiritually astute than their human owners (remember Balaam's donkey?) 

I could not resist including the abstract pattern of the cross, etched on the rocks in the foreground, hinting at events yet to come!

 

LOGOS, Digital Painting

 

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

 
Digital Painting by Sara Joseph depicting Mary pregnant with Jesus, among lilies.
Logos, Digital Painting, Sara Joseph

This other Christmas painting, Logos, was painted more recently with Procreate, digital software that uses the Apple Pencil on an iPad, similar to brush on canvas. Shapes have to be drawn on the screen, but the choices of brushes and colors are infinite (almost paralyzing for the artist)!


Pregnancy was a special time for me, filled with intense emotions at the changes happening in my body—changes that were mine alone, independent of the life growing within me. Those are universal emotions shared by women everywhere. There's a certain joyous expectation that is unique to pregnancy.


Mary would've experienced the same. Except in her case, the words spoken to her of the coming Messiah would've also carried awe. I've read that Hebrew women for generations nurtured the hope that they, or their daughters, would be chosen to bear the Messiah. And yet no one imagined that that honor would be coupled with the shame of illegitimacy in the eyes of the watching world!


Mary, as a virgin, knew no man. She was chosen by God for the precious role of carrying the WORD, Logos, to become flesh—her flesh and God's flesh—eventually mankind's collective sinful flesh. Her pregnancy was shrouded in even more mystery than any woman in history.


She and Joseph faced much ridicule and shame upon the birth of Jesus. The unfair nature of that shame, in the face of such purity, was on my mind when I painted Logos. Jesus' life on earth carries the nature of that contrast—God's highest purposes against man's hubris, sin and rebellion. Contrasts that are so stark and seemingly impossible to unite. And yet, they came together in Jesus, in whom the great divide was bridged!


Herod reigned in pomp and splendor while the King of Kings was born in a manger!


Even today, our view of things on earth are muddied. We are deceived about what is truly worthy. We tend to glorify what God despises and disdain what He honors!


Perhaps, as Christian visual artists, our work can direct attention to things of true value—the birth of the Savior being one.


If you are a Christian visual artist, the Palm & Pen School was created for you to build faith and clarify your vision.

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