How is painting like a prayer?

by | Jan 10, 2022 | Art, Pop Culture

I never had much of a knack for photography. I don’t have any talent for original art design. I can’t conjure up magical scenes in my head and bring them to life. Neither the composition nor the color scheme you see displayed below come from my imagination. Still, I suppose no one can lay claim to the composition and color scheme of the sun setting over the water: except God.

Lacking inspiration, I asked my novitiate classmate Daniel if any of his recent photos were interesting. I did not know exactly what I was looking for. All I knew is that Daniel loves photography and he takes really good pictures. Unsurprisingly, the photo he sent grabbed my attention. There is something peaceful about it. Perhaps it is the beauty of the sunset (or rise?), the reflection in the water, the contrast between dark and light, or the clouds in the sky: All these things attracted me.

I took all these elements and made them my own, using my God-given hand and the tools 1 available to me. Admiring a photo and its beauty is one thing, it is entirely another thing to take all of that and re-create it, capture it. Maybe it is the same attraction that drives photographers to snap that perfect picture. I don’t consider myself an artistic person. But as the painting came together, I understood what it means to be an artist for that one brief moment. I got to experience it in a more intimate sense: God-endowed beauty was brought to life through my hand.

Painting feels prayerful. Perhaps it is the meditative nature of the act of painting itself: Lots and lots of attentive repetition is required as the brush or pen moves back and forth, up and down. By the time I finished, I had made close to 100,000 brush strokes. I  spent a lot of time just looking at what I was painting. As the hours went by, even the minutest details became more and more present to me. This sense of awareness, plus the attentive repetitiousness of the activity gives painting its prayerful quality. I felt myself coming closer to the beauty of God’s creation as I brought it to life.

Header photo by russn_fckr on Unsplash

  1.   I paint on my iPad Pro using the Apple Pencil in the ProCreate app.