Tuesday, July 29, 2008


This is another departure piece from my usual style. Some people might recognize immediately what this picture is about, others might need a more in depth explaination. Here goes, perhaps grab a cup of tea before you start. Click on the image if you want a more detailed look at everything. The original is 12"x18" acrylic on canvas.

I guess the overreaching theme here is sin and forgiveness of those sins. This is a major component of Christianity... (if you need more information on that, let me know and I can point you in the right direction, but I digress) Christian or not, forgiveness is a difficult thing to master and I think no matter what faith you practice (or don't practice) you will know that the feeling of relief and cleansing that comes with truly forgiving someone, or being forgiven is amazing.

This painting is an illustration tracing the path of sin and how Christians must deal with it. I decided to draw on traditional Christian and Liturgical colour schemes here to underline my point and add a depth of symbolism to the piece.

Firstly we have a black snake. The snake represents the serpent in the Garden of Eden. It also represents sin itself. It is the only part of the painting where I've used a true black pigment. Black often symbolises death, and if left unaddressed, sin itself ultimately ends in death.

On the left hand side of the painting is the setting of original sin. Adam and Eve have already started to feel the effects of the fruit and are hiding themselves in the bushes from the realization and subsequent shame of thier nudity. I've mainly kept this side dark, with greens and browns - some traditions tell that brown means spiritual death and degradation while green is the triumph of life over death.

On the right hand side of the painting we have a church setting on Forgiveness Sunday, which is observed by some churches (usually more Orthodox) at the beginning of Lent. The people here are engaged in the act of mutually forgiving each other for sins commited against one another. I have used a lot of purple in this which is the Liturgical colour of Lent as well as traditionally being a colour of penetance.

Going back at the painting as a whole, I think looking at Matthew 6:9-15 sums up our obligations as Christians, whether or not people fully commit to this or not I can't comment on, but this is what the Bible says for us to do on a daily basis.


Veronica Funk said...

Funny that your post is about forgiveness today as that has been a topic that's been heavy on my heart of late. Great piece...painting and post. By the way, Kate noticed your painting on my monitor and immediately asked if it was Mrss Wiebe's work.

Ivan Chan Studio said...

Thank you for writing about the symbolism you used in this piece--I always enjoy learning about religions.

There is a Chagall-like quality about this painting that I just love--of course done in your inimitable style that makes it pure MW!

Beautiful and sweet, even with the darkness. I can imagine it as a stained glass window in a church.

Take care,


Joanne said...

What a unique and beautiful piece, Michelle - both artistically and symbolically. I like how the serpent's tail ends without completely curling around the forgiveness side of the painting - well thought through and beautifully executed. Oh, and did I say it is beautiful??? :-) Love the color combinations and associations with Lent. I think this is one that should be displayed on a church wall where the people can see it and be reminded to forgive one another.

Cindy Buckshon said...

This has a lot of emotional energy. Keep up the good work.