Painting Prayers

April 8, 2009 by  
Filed under News

While in the middle of painting my latest piece, “Faith”, I realized that my paintings are my prayers.  (With the exception of “Crayola”, which came out making no sense to me at all.)

Not figuratively, as artsy, sentimental mush.  They are very literally prayers.

That’s probably why I’m so emotionally attached to them (“Crayola” aside), and why I’ve never been able to consider selling them (apart from, “Crayola”… Poor “Crayola”).

This also might be why none of them ever feel finished.  Especially the paintings which remain unanswered.

When I look back on them I see that each one was created in a moment when I felt there was nothing else I could manage to do — when none of my own actions could change my life’s circumstances or my own condition and I had run out of words and ways to rephrase my pleas and petitions to God, I could still make pictures.  In a way, to me my paintings echo the tone of Old Testament offerings.

I’ve just finished reading “Disappointment with God” by Philip Yancey, and am now half way through his, “Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?”.

The visual result of such a tumultuous theme over the last year of my life is this ~ “Faith”, a series of three, acrylic on canvas (photographed with a very poor camera).

It’s a request, not a claim.

I can’t hold on to my treasures.  They were gifts to begin with.  I’m not in control of them, and my attempts at grasping at the pile only results in bruised and squashed fruits.  So I only have one option.  It’s certainly not common sense and it seems awfully foolish to do, but it’s the only way out.  Chuck ’em up to God.  It’s the only chance they’ve got, and the only way to free my arms of the load.  I guess my arms are of no use if they’re clinging on to tumbling fruits.
This image to me is the flip-side to the Pilgrim’s Progress idea.  He’ll take care of not only my burdens, but my treasures as well (before grasping on to my treasures becomes my burden).

I’m not yet sure which of the three images is me.

Faith, acrylic on canvas

Faith, acrylic on canvas

Other prayers:


“Day: 1” (which was painted over another painting called “Day: 39”)

Day: 1 represents the first moments of reflection and coming to terms – on the way to recovery and able to rest, but reflecting on how things will never again be quite as they were, before.  Blind faith hopes there will be a purpose, in spite of the thick fog that tries to convince it otherwise.  Day: 1 waits, hoping the pain will become a pearl.
Day: 39 was painted a few years earlier.  It was an image of an emaciated hermaphrodite character, doubled over and dry-heaving on the floor.
40 days in the desert.  40 days of flood waters rising.  The 39th day is that nearly broken state that thinks it will surely last forever and could never guess Day: 1 is just around the corner — the day before a dove returns with an olive branch in beak.  That painting was far too painful looking for me to ever display, so I felt it much more meaningful to start again, over top, with Day: 1.

“Anne’s Blue Heaven”
“I see the eight of us with our ‘Secret Annexe’ as if we were a little piece of blue heaven, surrounded by heavy black rain clouds. The round, clearly defined spot where we stand is still safe, but the clouds gather more closely about us and the circle which separates us from the approaching danger closes more and more tightly. Now we are so surrounded by danger and darkness that we bump against each other, as we search desperately for a means of escape. We all look down below, where people are fighting each other, we look above, where it is quiet and beautiful, and meanwhile we are cut off by the great dark mass, which will not let us go upwards, but which stands before us as an impenetrable wall; it tries to crush us, but cannot do so yet. I can only cry and implore: ‘Oh, if only the black circle could recede and open the way for us!'”
~Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank


Newest in the “Painting Prayers” theme,

Safe, Acrylic on canvas

Safe, Acrylic on canvas

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3 Responses to “Painting Prayers”

  1. Ruth on April 8th, 2009 9:49 pm

    Not that you were asking for any opinions. But I had to respond in some way. Love what your doing, love your deep musings, and I think you are all three combined into 1 Rachel. Love Philip Yancey’s writings too. I’ve read both of thsoe books.
    Love you Rachey.

  2. “Safe” | Rachel Peters Animator Artist Performer on September 2nd, 2010 9:54 pm

    […] a new painting added to the “Painting Prayers” theme.  It’s called “Safe”. Acrylic on […]

  3. Kirsten Borror on January 16th, 2012 7:51 pm

    Hey Rachel,
    Glad to have found you!
    I am inviting you to join the Visual Story Network!
    We have an event coming up, but I’d love to talk with
    you before that.
    Email me!

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