During my recent sabbatical I went on pilgrimage, did some Bible study and had a retreat. Alongside that I decided to reflect on my experiences and studies in a way that did not confine my response to “head knowledge” – useful though that can often be. So for part of my theological reflection I painted my response.

The challenge was to find a way of planning and executing the work well without over-thinking it; in fact, I tried not to spend much time consciously thinking about the subject matter if I could help it. That did not mean donning a blindfold, waving my arms about and hoping that paint would land on canvas rather than on the floor, walls or ceiling. What it did mean was that I started out with a vague idea of the shape but otherwise painted randomly on the canvas. Colours were selected according to my mood or what I felt about the subject, rather than according to an accurate representation.

Of course this means that the results say as much about me at the time of painting as it does about the putative subject. However, there were some surprises along the way. For example, my first “Out of the Whirlwind” picture has a face and a two birds on it. They emerged from my random slapping on of thick acrylic paint when I was simply trying to break up the plain background. When I stepped back and saw them I decided not to paint over them but to go round them and let them stand out with a little extra colour here and there. The theological point is that while trying to convey the chaos of the whirlwind of Job chapter 38 verse 1, I ended up with something that made a kind of sense. You may recall that chapter 38 in Job is where Job hears God’s reply to his various complaints. God spoke out of the whirlwind (or storm). Chaos does not stop God being God – God brings order out of chaos (see Genesis chapter 1, for example). What the pictures mean will in part be up to each viewer.

The other pictures relate to the letter to Philemon and to the life of St Francis

Take a look here.