Thursday, 15 July 2010

Body of Christ sketch

Image © 2010 Gregory Watson

Pencil Sketch, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2".
Here's the value drawing sketch of another painting I want to do in the not too distant future. The image was inspired by an experience I had this past February or March. I was sponsoring someone through the RCIA process at my parish, and on one of the Rites of Welcoming, we happened to be in the front pew during Communion. At the time, we had a seminarian with us doing his internship, Deacon (now Father) Jeff Oehring, who happened to be distributing the Host directly in front of where I was kneeling after receiving the Eucharist. I looked up from prayer, and right in front of my face was the ciborium that he was holding, and reflected in it, I could see myself, and the entire church behind me. Immediately, I knew I had to paint it.

Hence the image here, depicting, in a slightly different way, the scene that I saw. I say slightly different because that's not technically me in the foreground of the ciborium. It was intentionally a generic blurry person. Also, the structure of the church is decidedly more traditional and Gothic than my parish. Finally, I had intended to depict reception of the Eucharist kneeling and on the tongue (of course, the image doesn't depict the actual communicating, so it's a bit ambiguous that way, which is good in its way because it's applicable to a wider range of Catholic experience then).

The title, "Body of Christ", is as multi-layered as is the term in Catholic theology, which is what made me want to make this image. Obviously, first and foremost, it refers to the Eucharistic Host, in which Jesus is truly present, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The moment captured is right when the priest or other minister of Holy Communion would say, "The Body of Christ" before administering the host to the communicant. However, the priest's hands are also a part of the meaning of "Body of Christ", since we hold that the priest is himself an alter Christus--by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest has the authority to act in persona Christi for us, a tangible sign and example of Christ's presence among us.

Finally, the reflection of the Church in the ciborium brings out a third dimension to "Body of Christ", in that we, the Church, is the Body of Christ, and we, individually, are members of it. It is through Communion that we become that Body, as St. Paul writes, "The blessing-cup, which we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ; and the loaf of bread which we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? And as there is one loaf, so we, although there are many of us, are one single body, for we share in the one loaf" (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

I plan to paint it with a very simple colour palate. The background, which merges into the sleeves of the chasuble, will be green, while the ciborium will be in golden tones, as will the shading in the alb. The skin will reflect that golden hue, though in a more natural skin-tone. I hope to keep the image simple, yet profound.
The original sketch has sadly been destroyed by the front cover of my sketchbook, while it was packed in my luggage on my trip to Haiti, but prints of the image are now for sale. please email to order Prints.

  • Full size (5" x 8.5") limited edition high quality giclée print (unframed): $10.00 (CAD)

  • Full size (5" x 8.5") limited edition high quality giclée print (framed): $20.00 (CAD)

  • Image on 4¼" x 5½" Greeting Card (blank): $1.50 (CAD)

God bless