Saturday, October 14, 2006

How old were the disciples?

I recently heard someone say that all the disciples, except Peter, were under 20 years old.

The reason given was the story of the 'coin in the fishes mouth' (Matthew ch17 v24-27) The coin in the story was enough to pay the taxes for Jesus and Peter only, even though the other disciples were present. Men under 20 were not required to pay the roman taxes, which led to the suggestion that the other disciples were all under 20!

I'm not sure if this merits a 'Back to the drawing board' award, like the 'No more domes' post.
I need to do more research. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My favorite Bible artists #2

Nestor Redondo 1928-1995
I was brought up during the 'silver Age' of DC Comics. When inked line-work was minimal, and the draftsmanship excellent! The artist Curt Swan springs to mind. Those guys could really draw! No digital 'special effects' in those days to cover up bad anatomy! Sorry, I'm getting off the subject!
You can imagine then, how pleased I was, while browsing through items on Ebay, to find 'THE MOST SPECTACULAR STORIES EVER TOLD FROM THE BIBLE', a DC publication!
Joint artwork was by Nestor Redondo and Joe Kubert. It was printed in 1975 and covers the stories from Creation to Sodom & Gomorrah. On the inside back cover it says 'Don't miss the next issue!'
Did they produce anymore issues? I've only ever seen the one. Joe Kubert answers this question for the Bible illustration blog here.

Nestor Redondo was born in the Philippines and was better known for his work on 'Tarzan', 'Swamp Thing' and 'Conan' But Bible illustration was a subject close to his heart. His pictures of Noah's Ark are some of the most accurate i've come across, sticking closely to the actual biblical dimensions.
On the whole, DC Comics 'Stories from the Bible' has been very well researched, and not a 'dome topped building' in sight! I'm impressed! Gerry Alanguilan, from the 'Komikero Komics' website, informs me that Redondo worked on "more extensive adaptations of Bible stories, published in the Philippines in the late 60's, serialized in Superyor Komiks. Redondo adapted and illustrated hundreds of pages of Bible stories beginning with Genesis and well into Exodus." In Alanguilan's opinion they were superior to the DC comics version. Apparently Open doors have distributed these comics in countries where religion is discouraged or suppressed. Does anyone have any samples?

Click below for an excellent article on 'Realistic illustration' by Nestor Redondo.
'Realistic illustration'

Favorite Bible Artist #1 Frank Hampson
Favorite Bible Artist #3 Clive Uptton
Favorite Bible Artist #4 Cicely Mary Barker

What did Jesus look like?

Every Bible artist would love to know the answer to this question. The simple answer is, 'We don't know!'
I read an historical document in the 70's which was supposed to be a letter from a 'Roman officer' who was present in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion. The letter was written in answer to a letter he had received from a roman governor who had asked 'What was Jesus like?' The letter contained a physical description and more, but the authenticity of the document remains in doubt.

In the 50's, The Lord Jesus was often depicted as blond. (see my post 'My favorite Bible artists #1').
The reason for this may have been the influence of movies made at the time.
The portrayal of Jesus by Robert Powell in the Franco Zeffirelli Epic 'Jesus of Nazareth' has greatly influenced the way in which I, (and others) have drawn the Lord Jesus. We live close to the second largest Jewish community in the U.K. So I can vouch for the fact that although there are blond and even redheads among Jewish people, The vast majority have dark hair.

I have heard it suggested recently that the Lord Jesus was 'Black!' I can't see this myself. If this was the case, I believe that scripture would be very clear on it.The only things that we do know from scripture for certain is that He was Jewish, He had a beard and a robe that was woven throughout! (seamless).
For a long time I have illustrated the Lord Jesus with the traditional 'blue & white ' clothing. I am now trying to move towards more authentic colors of the time.
(Amendment added later). Blue and white were authentic colors of the time. What I meant was more earthy colors, like the ones used in 'Jesus of Nazareth'. I wanted to get away from the sanitized image of Jesus that we are used to seeing in many films and children's Bibles.

Some believe that we should not show pictures of Jesus at all. There are Bible pictures available where Jesus is shown as a black silhouette! I've been present at children's meetings where these have been used, and I have to say that most children were puzzled! Bible pictures should be an aid to hold a child's attention during the telling of a Bible story, and shouldn't become an obstacle!

Although we may not know what the Lord Jesus looked like, we do know that He was just like His father! (Hebrews ch1 v3).
In other words, If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus!

Related posts:
How old were the disciples?

Gathering Bible references

A fellow artist once told me that "An artist is only as good as his references". After five years of illustrating the Bible, I now know that to be true!
Gathering references can be a time consuming but important task. Made all the more difficult for me as we are providing a series of 5-6 pictures on average, for each Bible story, which means that I need references of the same people/buildings from different angles!

Before you begin to illustrate a Bible story, there are many types of reference that you will need. Firstly, I would like to deal with 'figure reference'.
Figure reference is arguably the most important, as each story focuses on the characters in it.

The best form of figure reference is photographic, but finding photos of people in Bible clothing is not easy. If you can lay your hands on some good Bible clothing, invite all your bearded friends around, (the male ones anyway!), and get snapping!

It's also important for an artist to elaborate on his photographic references, otherwise a combination of a poor choice of models and Bible clothing can result in a beautiful painting of the twelve disciples that look more like twelve software engineers at a toga party!

If you have the luxury of time (and money) to do the above, that's great. But, if you're working to a deadline like me, then go for 'plan B' which is, get your references from anywhere and everywhere! Old books, old Bibles, old photos, old masters, even old comics! Cataloging your references in a filing cabinet will save you lots of time.
(I must do that one day!)

'Bible buildings and landscape reference'. (See my 'No more domes' post).
You may or may not have noticed that Bible illustrators, on the whole, avoid illustrating buildings. Why is this? I think there's a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that there's very little good reference available.
One artist who does include detailed back-grounds however was William Hole RSA RE.
Hole actually travelled to the Holy land in the early 1900's and painted his pictures on the spot!
His book 'The Life of Jesus of Nazareth' includes some really nice buildings.
When you compare Holes pictures however to photographs taken around the same period, you will notice some very similar architectural features, which means that if those features were around in Holes day, they were probably not around 2,000 years earlier. Despite this, these pictures still include some of the best 'Bible buildings' I've seen!
to be continued:

Related posts:
Bible Research
Illustrating a Bible Story
More Biblical costume reference!
Which Bible clothing colors should I use?
Easy mistakes to make!
Bible study aids

Sunday, October 08, 2006

My favorite Bible artists #1

Frank Hampson 1918-1985
Frank Hampson was better known for his work on 'Dan Dare' a strip that ran in the 'Eagle', a British comic for boys in the 50's and 60's. 'The Road of Courage' was a lesser known strip in the same comic that was a retelling of the New Testament story.
Many thanks to Dragons Dream who had the foresight to reprint this strip in book form in 1981. A word of warning. I would not recommend this book for its theology!

The artwork, as you can see from the sample of 'Herod' was outstanding. His draftsmanship and attention to detail is unsurpassed even today.
I believe he worked from photographic references that were dramatically lit by the photographer. Hampson also traveled to the Holy land to gather picture references for this book.

I'm not sure if Hampson used a brush or nib to ink in his line-work. If anyone knows, please add a post!
My only criticism is the way Hampson depicted the Lord Jesus. He looks like Dan Dare with a blond wig on! But other than that, it's some of the best artwork I've seen! Hampsons excellent choice of models, also shows his flair for casting!
More about Frank Hampson here: Frank Hampson.

Favorite Bible Artist #2 Nestor Redondo
Favorite Bible Artist #3 Clive Uptton
Favorite Bible Artist #4 Cicely Mary Barker