(Click to enlarge)
|11" x 14", watercolor, pen & ink, collage|
When I began to plan the painting, I intended to somehow document all of John's accomplishments over the past three decades, no easy feat considering how much he has been involved in. As I began listing his church activities, mission trips, and board memberships, as well as the books he's written, awards won, and honors received, I realized that there was no way to include it all in an 11" x 14" painting. I definitely needed to rethink things.
But one thing I was sure of was that I wanted the painting to feature a picture of the church and the parsonage, as well as a portrait of John. So, one Sunday a few weeks ago, I very sneakily took pictures of Pastor John as he preached, and then, after the service, snapped a few more from across the street, as he greeted people on their way out of church.
|reference photo for the church sketch|
I now had my reference photos, and could proceed with my sketches. I included lots of people in the church sketch, and if you look closely, you can even see the Dorean's daughter, Bethany, whizzing down the ramp in her wheelchair. I also added some spring flowers to brighten things up a bit.
|Detail of church|
I indicated the bricks on the church and parsonage with strokes of burnt sienna and burnt umber, but didn't get too caught up in painting every minute detail.
I like how the sketch of the Dorean's home turned out. It looks so cozy and inviting.
I had one teeny problem, though, when it came time to paint Pastor Dorean. My reference photos weren't very helpful at all. The low light in the church had made the pictures kind of fuzzy, and John was sporting a beard in the photos, but had shaved it off soon after I took them, giving him an entirely different look. With my deadline looming, it was too late to take more pictures, so I did my best with what I had.
The painting of John's face is only about 3/4" high, so it was especially challenging to get a reasonable likeness. I painted him on a separate piece of watercolor paper, then tore out the painting to get an interesting rough edge and glued the finished portrait onto the background.
From the first moments of thinking about this painting, I knew that Matthew 25:21 was the verse I wanted to use. It sums up everything we feel about this man who has dedicated himself to God's work for all of his adult life.
After taking some time to mull over my dilemma about how to include in the painting all that John has accomplished, it slowly dawned on me that I needed to stop looking at things superficially. We weren't honoring John Dorean for leading a Bible study or founding our local Habitat chapter or any of his other good works. We love him because of who he is, not what he's done.
With that realization, I knew I'd found the answer I'd been looking for. I designed a flowing ribbon border for the painting, and on it I wrote about who John is...
Seeker of truth
Follower of Jesus
Man of honor
On Sunday, amidst all the laughter and tears of his 30th anniversary celebration, I finally got to present him with his painting. I know he was surprised, and I think he was touched by the sentiment. I hope whenever he looks at it, he'll remember how many people appreciate, admire, and love him. He's a very special man, and we're blessed to have him as our pastor and friend.
|Merry and John Dorean, and me (photo courtesy of Linda Wigington)|