2022.04.09smallWorkandWorship.36x22.25.St .Isidore.Acrylicandp

This blog was originally published by artist, Bryn Gillette on his website.  It has been republished with permission. Prints available for purchase in his store. 

On March 24, 2022 I had the privilege to paint live during the “Work and Worship” gathering at New City Church with Matt Kaemingk of Fuller Seminary who spoke of his book by the same title. My 2012 painting the “Plower” was displayed as an initial seed of visual inspiration, and while Matt and I sat to talk and pray before the event began, he asked me, “Have you heard of St. Isidore?” I hadn’t, and this led to a short conversation/ revelation of the classic saint fabled to plow his field 3x faster than anyone else due to angelic help. Matt and I laughed together as we looked up images of the saint that depicted him praying quietly beside his field while the angel did the work. Instead, we both imagined a reality where St. Isidore himself would be plowing while the angel amplified his offering of labor.

IsidorePraying

By the end of the first worship set, St. Isidore and the angel were already in my painting, with the angel at his back like wind in his sail. By the end of the evening’s live event, the table holding humanity’s various “offerings” of work as worship was included, along with the gears at the bottom of the painting where I intended to paint yellow flowers symbolizing the blending of the human and the divine.

update 7

I then took the work back to the studio to add the five specific various expressions of worship Matt Kaemingk described as central to our work as worship. I added each as a roundel over the altar and used details from classic paintings to express the theme:

1) Trumpets of Praise- with Johannes Vermeer’s The Art of Painting

2) The confessions of our failures- with Masaccio’s The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden

3) Tears of pain and lament- with Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist

4) The first fruits of harvest from our labor – with Caravaggio’s Bacchus

5) The Petitions for our coworkers and community with Giovanni Salvi da Sassoferrato’s The Virgin Mary in Prayer

Roundels

As a remarkable “Holy Spirit Wink”: the night of the live event as I was pulling up to New City Church, my friend Corey Unger called to tell me he had felt prompted to call me and was seeing “gears and yellow Dahlia flowers”… and asked if that had any meaning to me. It did! My original Plower painting that was on display that night showed the Plower turning over the ground with yellow flowers growing illogically right in the wake of the plow… a symbol from my former church Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel, CT where it was painted, and where yellow flowers symbolized a life surrendered to the Lord. The day I painted the original painting, my daughter Kea, not yet age 3, gave her life to Christ. Corey didn’t even know that painting was on display or that I was schedule to paint just minutes after his call… it was a true answer to a Spirit prompt. It was his statement of “Gears and Flowers” that led to me working in that fusion as a metaphor.

IMG 0073

My original 2012 “Plower” painting in oil on canvas.

It is now my daughter Kea’s, as it commemorates her Easter Morning Day of salvation.

Back in my studio I was visited by a friend KC Clark who came to share about his difficult year vocationally. As I described the five roundels I was painting while he visited, I found the work ministering directly to KC and his story. As he left, he gave me a handkerchief from his wife’s recent album, and it featured a Dahlia flower, only the second time I can remember someone mentioning that flower by name… Corey Unger had said he specifically saw yellow Dahlia flowers. I took a picture of KC and his gift next to the painting in its last hours in my studio, just before I added the yellow Dahlias… it was such a clear “push” to finish strong and add the element of the flowers I had been inspired/ directed to include. I just love when God does something with such confirmation to show that He is with us pushing our work forward from behind with a supernatural power beyond anything “we could ask or imagine” [Eph. 3]. I felt like St. Isidore in the midst of my painting!