Tag Archives: Acrylic Painting

Entry into the City

John August Swanson  Acrylic   1990

Today Christians celebrate Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem of Jesus.  He and the Disciples are journeying to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.  They have recently come from Bethany, where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

In the days it took Jesus to reach the city of Jerusalem, the story of the miracle of Lazarus spread quickly.  The teachings of Jesus were already somewhat known in the area, and His arrival caused quite a commotion.  When it became known that Jesus was entering Jerusalem, the people went out into the streets to see who He was, and to welcome Him.  The people spread cloaks and branches for His donkey to tread on.  They sang Psalms and celebrated.

Palm Sunday is my favorite liturgical day of the year.  When people hear this, they generally think it is because it’s a happy, celebratory occasion.  That is not the reason.  It’s actually much more ominous and reflective.

I have a horrible fear of mob mentality.  I always have.  I hate crowds and crowded spaces.  I might blame it on reading Lord of the Flies when I was a bit too young.  More likely, it’s from watching a terrifying episode of The Twighlight Zone entitled “The Shelter” (also at a young age).

A group of friendly neighbors turn on each other when the Civil Defense makes an announcement that an object is heading their way.  They assume they are facing the impending doom of a nuclear attack, and desperately seek help from the only family with a fallout shelter, the same family they teased moments before for its existence.  I probably watched that episode twenty-five or thirty years ago, and I still have nightmares about it.

What does this have to do with Palm Sunday and the happy ride into Jerusalem on a donkey by Jesus?  For me, it’s a stark reminder of how quickly things can change, especially when people aren’t thinking for themselves.  In just a few short days, Judas betrays Jesus.  But more importantly, the crowd, this very same crowd cheering, turns on Him and call for His life.

One reason I think they are so easily swayed is because of their lack of information and knowledge about who He was.  While they joined the exalted cheering and singing of Psalms, they yelled out, “who is it?”  Matthew’s gospel says there was a pretty generic answer given, “Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”(Matthew 21:10-11).

This reminds me of being in the airport and seeing everyone grab their phones and rush to get a photo of someone you don’t recognize.  Someone throws out a name that is vaguely familiar or a movie or TV show you’ve heard of, so you grab your phone and get excited as well.  But when someone else somehow becomes more popular for a day or two, you suddenly find you’re more interested in Barabbas the thief than the prophet you were infatuated with days before.

You follow the whims of the crowd, however uniformed, however dangerous.  This is what Palm Sunday teaches me.  Think for yourself.  Be informed.  And be leery of masses of people who don’t.

John August Swanson is a painter and serigrapher.  I’ve nearly used his paintings for this blog for several different Christian holidays, but for various reasons have always chosen something else.  He has an immense body of religious work, but also some secular as well, including an excellent circus series.

I love that his work is influenced by his mother’s Mexican tradition, but mixed with a look of Russian iconography.  The facial features remind me of Medieval religious work, but the color palette is more Mexican folk or early 20th Century American Regionalism.  It gives the feeling of representing a historical event, while simultaneously seeming modern and current.

My favorite part of this painting is the clouds.  I think that’s why this painting fits me so much better than most other paintings of the triumphal entry.  They give the feeling that something is about to change, something is coming.  It might be a celebration now, but something foreboding lies ahead for Jesus.

So while we celebrate, let us look to what we know the rest of the week will bring.

Swanson detail

Detail of Entry into the City

See more of John August Swanson’s work here:  John August Swanson

Read the Biblical texts of the triumphal entry here:  Matthew 21:1-11



Can’t Get Enough


Cbabi Bayoc  Acyrlic  2012

For this Father’s Day I want to introduce you to one of my very favorite local artists, Chabi Bayoc.  I’ve been a fan of his for several years, starting when I worked at Blick Art Materials in Clayton, MO.  Not only is he an amazing artist, he’s just a nice guy.  And you know what, when you work retail, just a person being nice can make all the difference in your day.

In 2012, Cbabi Bayoc made a New Year’s resolution to paint a father figure every single day for a full year.  His project, entitled 365 Days with Dad, produced wonderful representations of dads with babies, children, adults, and teenagers doing everything from sleeping, playing, kissing and singing.  Every single one is a happy moment, and they’re all beautiful.

I had such a hard time choosing one, but there is something about this baby that I just had to share.  I love how the facial features are so geometric, and that’s picked up in the background design.  The texture of the father’s beard just makes you want to reach out and touch it.  And the black outline around both figures just makes everything pop.

You can see all 365 paintings here:   365 Days With Dad.  You can also read an interesting article from St. Louis Public Radio here:  Public Radio.  Cbabi also has a book featuring several of the paintings you can pick up here: When I Become a Dad

I just can’t NOT add this painting too.  This one is entitled Urban Nature Walk.                                                                                                      Happy Father’s Day!  

urban nature walk cbabi

Sally Ride

sally ride

Simon Kregar  Acrylic on Canvas  2015

Happy Birthday to one of the greatest woman in American history, Sally Ride.  She became the first American woman in space in 1983 on the space shuttle Challenger.  She also continues to hold the record for youngest person in space at the age of 32.  Sort of makes you feel a bit like a slacker, doesn’t it?

If you think that makes your feel like a slacker, being an astronaut is just one of the great accomplishments of Sally Ride.  She was a pioneer in STEM education long before “STEM” was even a thing.  She co-wrote multiple books and even tried her hand at a bit of acting in an episode of Touched by an Angel.

NASA began accepting and actively seeking female candidates in 1978.  Sally Ride was one of six in that first class.  Every one of them made it into space, including Judith Resnik, who died on what would have been her second trip during the Challenger explosion.

As part of the Challenger crew in 1983 and 1984, Sally Ride was the first woman to use a robot arm in space to retrieve a satellite.  There is a super cool Google Doodle animation that shows a representation.  Check it out here:  Sally Ride.

She was eight months into her training for her third mission aboard Challenger when the shuttle exploded.  Following the accident she was part of the presidential commission that investigated the accident.  She is also generally considered the only person to stand behind engineer Roger Boijoly, the engineer who warned of an imminent disaster due to faulty 0-rings before the shuttle launch.  She was also part of the commission after the Columbia explosion.

But her real contributions began after she retired from NASA.  Starting in the 1990s she was actively involved in encouraging  young girls and women to pursue careers in science fields, particularly space.  In addition to her books for kids and young adults, she also worked with NASA to start the KidStat program, now called the Sally Ride EarthKAM, which stands for Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students.

EarthKAM encourages students to actively participate in NASA missions.  Originally designed for shuttle missions, the project has been picked up by the International Space Station. It allows students to direct the camera on the ISS and take photos.  See lots of cool images and learn more here: EarthKAM.

In 2001 she co-founded Sally Ride Science, a non-profit designed to inspire young people, especially girls, in science, technology, engineering and math.  They offer summer camps, classes, and tons of resources for students and teachers.   You can take advantage of those resource on the this website: Sally Ride Science.

Simon Kregar is also actively involved in STEM education.  Primarily a space artist, he belongs to a genre of artists called Neuroesthetics.  Essentially, they use neuroscience to explain why we like what we do when it comes to artwork.  It’s really quite fascinating.

What I love about this painting is her skin tone.  If you look closely you can see five, six, ten different colors mixed perfectly to create the highlights and shadows.  He also does a great job at capturing Sally Ride’s amazing smile not just in her mouth but also in her eyes.  And I absolutely love how well he represents the light and reflection on her microphone.  It’s perfect, just like a photograph.  Check out more of his awesome space art here:   Simon Kregar

Today, Sally Ride would have been 65 years old.  She died in 2012 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.  Today we celebrate the life of not just an astronaut, but a pioneer in education for girls, especially in STEM fields.  Happy Birthday, Sally.  You are truly what stars are made of.


As a side note, in the 1960s there was a group of women training for space, going through the same rigorous training as the men.  However, they were not officially part of NASA and by a violation of their civil rights were not allowed to proceed with their training.  (Look for a post on Lovelace’s Women in Space Program sometime in the future.)








Paul Meijering  Acrylic Painting  21st Century

There is very little I can type about Prince Rogers Nelson that hasn’t been typed or said a million times today, so I’m going to keep this one short.  The Minneapolis native was a prolific artist with eight Grammy nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, and one Oscar.  His parents, both of which were jazz artists, fostered his talent from an early age.  For the last 15 years he has also been an active Jehovah’s Witness.

He is one of the most underrated guitarists of our time, possibly of all time.  I would strongly encourage you to bust out all your old Prince CD’s, Cassettes, and LP’s and listen to the amazing guitar solos and riffs.  He wasn’t just a voice, he was an amazing guitarist, as well as percussionist, bassist, pianist, fashion icon, and music business icon.  His impact on modern American music will continue to be present for generations.

Paul Meijering is a Dutch portrait artist most well known for his football (soccer) portraits.  He has painted numerous musicians, movie stars, and sports stars, and pop culture icons.  I love the angle and perspective in this painting.  It gives the feeling of sitting in the front row of a Prince concert, looking up at the flamboyant costume, the perfect skin, and that amazing guitar.

Generally, Jehovah’s Witness do not believe in life after death. According to jw.org, “We are mortal and do not survive the death of our body. The life we enjoy is like the flame of a candle. When the flame is put out, it does not go anywhere. It is simply gone.”  Prince’s flame may have gone out, but he is not gone.  Prince will live on forever through all of those he influenced.  Rest well, our dear Prince.



Jackie Robinson

John Gampert  Watercolor  2009

On this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of Major League Baseball and became the first African American to start a game outside of the Negro League.  After starting the game at first base for the Dodgers he ended the year by being awarded the very first Rookie of the Year.  He would go on to become a six-time All-Star, MVP, and play in six World Series championships.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, the first time he was on the ballot.

Even more interesting to me is his military career.  He was drafted in 1942 and assigned to a segregated Army cavalry unit.  He faced discrimination when applying to the Officer Candidate School, but was eventually accepted with some help from Heavyweight Champion and friend Joe Louis.  He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and joined the prestigious, though segregated, 761st “Black Panthers” Tank Battalion.

However, he never saw action on the front lines.  In 1944 he boarded an integrated Army bus, but was ordered by the driver to the back of the bus.  He refused and faced a court-martial.  Read that again.  He refused to move to the back of a US Army UNsegregated bus and faced a court-martial.

His commanding officer refused to authorize legal action so he was quickly transferred to another battalion with a commander that would.  The Black Panthers Tank Battalion went on to be the first black tank unit in World War II and obtained high honors without him.  Eventually the charges were reduced and he was acquitted by an all-white panel.  I guess this prepared him for what he was up against while facing racism in Major League Baseball.

The artist is John Gampert, an American illustrator.  He’s best known for his paperback book covers, including many, many Star Wars books.  Although it is sometimes listed as an acrylic painting, it seems to  obviously be watercolor.  Since he was an illustrator I suppose it could be acrylic ink, but I can’t seem to find much definitive information.   You can also find this painting sometimes cropped to just show Robinson’s portrait.  I like the whole painting so you can see a little of Ebbets Field and some of his teammates.

UPDATE:  I have verification from the artist’s son Erik that this IS acrylic.  Thanks for the information, Erik!  If you would like to order a copy of the print, you can do so here:  John Gampert

Happy Jackie Robinson Day!