"Cain" 20x20, Oil on Canvas
I finished my entry for the Jubilee Museum of Sacred Art Biennial for 2014. The theme this year is "Cain and Abel, Am I My Brother's Keeper?"
The text is: Genesis 4:8-13 (New American Standard, emphasis mine)
"Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out to the field." When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He answered, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" The LORD then said, "What have you done! Listen, your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil! Therefore you shall be banned from the soil that opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. If you till the soil it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a restless wanderer on the earth."
I realized after reading the text that Cain was twice cursed. Not just through the curse of Adam: "Cursed is the ground because of you..." (Genesis 3:17-19) but also through his murder of Abel. The earth will no longer produce for Cain but instead he will become a lonely wanderer upon it. At one particular point you see Cain say to God: "My punishment is more than I can bear..." He realizes, in some sense, that he has also "died." He cannot have fellowship with God or those closest to him after this. Yet, he has to live with this great loss.
I wanted to show how the earth was responding to the sin of Cain. Here I have Abel's lifeblood which is coming up through the land as the red/orange. It surrounds Cain (the tree). He can't get away from what he has done. It has changed things forever. I wanted to show the curse of God coming as a storm. The green and growing starting to change into the burnt and barren. Cain is depicted as a twisted tree (sin was crouching at his door) as he turns away from God. He is forever shaped by this sin.
In an artistic sense I started with a small study:
I liked the coloring and mood but wanted to bring some interest to it. I also felt that the two trees (supposed to be the two brothers) looked as if they were coupled instead of one being greatly affected by a curse. This was where making small thumbnail sketches came in handy as I tried to think about one tree and how that would look. I also tried several types of red before I settled on the one in the larger piece. To me there is a visual contrast in the colors with the green and orange/red. Every color that is in the sky is in the landscape. This helped tie it all together.
Lastly, I used some glazing for the grass to get some of the glow to come out and tried for more of a stronger light in the sky.
In the original piece it was just Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, and Yellow Ochre. in the newer one I added one more yellow: Nickel Titanium Yellow and one more red: Cadmium Red and just a little green: Chromium Oxide Green. I felt these helped push the contrasts to tension.