An Amazing Talent

During Conference weekend, channel 5 will run various little spots in between conference session. Sunday, they ran something right after conference that we ended up watching -- it was a portrait of everyday people.

Or so they said. Ordinary heros...people you'd be able to relate to. Sort of...

The first person was the girl who is Junior Miss Utah...and it was cool -- her whole platform was modesty in dress. It was very impressive. The second clip was about two brothers who played the roles of Joseph and Hyrum Smith this past summer in the Nauvoo pageant. Kind of fun to see how they were very similar to the real two brothers in size, age, etc.

But it was the final segment that had us spellbound. It was about artist Liz Lemon Swindle, and her amazing portraits of the Savior. The picture at the top is one that she's still working on, titled Come and See. She paints with oils, and her canvases are some of the largest I've ever seen. This one currently under way is as tall as she is and looks to be at least 15 feet long... Talk about life size!

But the focus of the show was her feelings about her painting, and her depictions of the Savior. She was asked to go to Africa and do some paintings about the orphans there. There are so many orphans as a result of the HIV epidemic, it's heart breaking. She brought a young man with her to be a model for Jesus, and they showed several scenes of him playing with the children, dressed as Jesus. It was touching, and wonderful, and her first work is of a young boy being held tenderly in Jesus's arms.

What really gets my attention with her work, is the fact that most of her portraits show the Savior smiling or laughing, like the one at top. I find that makes him more real, somehow, more someone we would know and be able to relate to. For some reason it makes him touchable.

Her use of colors, the sheer size of her work, all of it works together to draw the center of attention to the Savior and His eyes. She is extremely talented.

Apparently she was able to study wild life under famed wildlife artist Nancy Glazier, someone else I've never heard of. I'll be doing an article about her at another time, her work is amazing too -- though I have yet to find a personal web site devoted to her bio.

Anyway, Liz Swindle became famous for her wildlife before she started on the Savior. She mentioned in the show that she has a clear feeling as she paints -- and if there is something not right about the painting, she can feel it and works at it until it feels right. She knows no one knows the look of Christ, but she feels her attempts are pleasing enough that the spirit lets her know. She feels great peace inside her workshop as she's painting, and I can't imagine a more wonderful talent and gift.

I wish I could share more of her work with you, but I can't seem to locate any wildlife paintings. I guess I'd have to delve more into the internet or library to find them. (Or perhaps an art gallery...grin)

The work I'm more familiar with of hers are the portraits of Joseph Smith. There are a couple of books put out by Deseret Book that include her paintings, and they are truly wonderful. I just had no idea who had done them.

Above is a painting she did of Nephi and a boy. She talked to the young boy who was going to be her model, and asked him about his feelings on Nephi. It became apparent that Nephi wasn't just some guy out of the Book of Mormon to this boy -- Nephi was real. Just like a hero who lived next door...

If you get a chance, go to her site and look at her work, read her inspiration and thoughts about them, and bring some peace into your life. It's a wonderful break from the chaos of life around us.

Return to the Neighborhood.


Sandra said…
She is one of my favorite artists. I talked with her son at an LDSBA a couple of years ago, while she was in Africa. I asked him if she had any plans to do a portrait of the Savior with just one ethnic child, because I had been looking for one since Brandi was born and can only find painting of Him with 1 white child or a group of ethnic children. He said she hadn't thought of that and that come to think of it there were no portraits like I wanted.

I know that the KSL piece talked about how she was inspired to do that portrait of just one child, but I like to think that my search had something to do with the inspiration.
G. Parker said…
I'm sure it did! I'm sure the raising love of many families prompted it. We have a family in our ward that adopted a little black girl and she's such a sweetheart...there is another painter that has done a painting of Christ with a black child, and she purchased it the moment she saw it. I wish I remembered the artist...sigh.
Sandra said…
Probably Greg Olsen- He came out with one last year- Christ and a holding a little black girl's hand and taking a walk with her. It is beautiful
Thanks for sharing this with me. I too love her work!
Anne Bradshaw said…
I, too, love Liz Lemon Swindle's work. It's so eye-catching and the colors are piercing. One of my favorite artists. David Lindsley's pretty good, too.

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