The Fruitful Moment

This is an excerpt from "Lifeviews: Make a Christian Impact on Culture and Society" by R.C. Sproul. I like what he has to say about quality in Christian art.

"The Fruitful Moment: Rembrandt used a fascinating technique whenever he painted his portraits, much like Michelangelo did when he created his sculptures. He used a technique later described by German philosophers as the "fruitful moment."

"One of the problems an artist must deal with is the question of how to capture the essence of a human personality in a single painting. Life is a process, it is dynamic, A sequence of many different events shapes and forms our lives. For 'Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem,' Rembrandt approached his work by reading the biblical account of Jeremiah. He immersed himself in the text of the Scripture trying to gain a comprehensive understanding of the style and the movement of the life of the weeping prophet. He then got out his pad and began to sketch scenes."

"He sketched up to 80 scenes from the life of Jeremiah, all the while searching for the fruitful moment, that one moment in the life of the man that would, somehow, capture in freeze-frame the essence of his personality. In the painting of Jeremiah, one can see the pain etched into the lines on his forehead. The conflict between the light and the darkness that was so much a part of his life is evident. The disappointment and the frustration of the prophet are captured as his head has become too heavy for his neck to hold up. We can look at Rembrandt's painting a thousand times and see something in it that we never saw before."

"Michelangelo had the same approach. After drawing many sketches, he chose to depict David with stones in his hand. As we look at that famous statue, there is that sense of readiness, as if David were ready to spring into action."

"The substance, depth, and thought behind the works of the masters gave their art an enduring value that far transcends the cheap, the boring, and the superficial...Great art has the ability to persevere through time."

Quality is never cheap, never hurried, never just slapped together. Sproul continues "We must encourage Christian art--good art...I think it is wrong for Christians to demand of their artists that they paint only themes which are overtly and directly religious. There is nothing wrong with religious themes, but the theme does not have to be religious to be 'Christian.' "

We need to strive for excellence in our work--do our very best.

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