Capturing the Spirit

psalm 187, detail
psalm 187, detail

I have a painter friend that, when he goes out painting, says “I’m going to steal some landscape”. An ironic take on the idea of making the image your own.

Have you ever heard that in some cultures there is the belief that photos actually steal the soul from the subject? Sounds pretty far out there? Somewhat crazy in this modern age? Have you ever wondered where this belief comes from?

The idea that a representation of something actually contains the Spirit or Soul (at least in some degree) of the subject is wide-spread. Even to the degree that some religions will not allow images of God for fear that the congregation will worship the image and not the God. Other religions encourage depictions of the Spirit or God for precisely the opposite reason, to have the viewers feel a sense of Holiness. This is what an icon is. A representation of God that is transparent enough, metaphorically speaking, that the viewer feels a sense of the Spirit in it.

Does it work? Have you ever been in a cathedral, or stood in front of other great religious art or architecture and felt the sense of the Spirit? Have been moved by it?

Have you ever been out in Nature and felt the same Spirit? That of God in Nature?

That is what I am feeling when I paint nature.

Image detail; psalm 187