Tuesday, October 26, 2010

HCSBSB: Noah's Ark

This was one of the earliest illustrations I did for the project and also one of the more straightforward. (As I post these, by the way, I'm going to proceed roughly in the order in which they appear in the HCSB Study Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, as opposed to the chronological order in which each illustration was executed. That chronology would be difficult to reconstruct anyway, since some of the simpler ones were begun and completed while some of the more involved ones were still in various stages of development.)

On the one hand, Noah’s ark just sort of is what it is: the text is pretty clear as to the dimensions involved, which leaves only minor details to guesswork and interpretation. Along those lines, there were a couple of things I wanted to try and capture which were perhaps a bit unique from any of the countless other renditions I have seen. First off, it bugs me a little bit that people almost always assume that antediluvian man was primitive and crude and that therefore the ark’s construction must have been quite unrefined and utilitarian. My own study of both history and the Bible leads me to believe that, on the contrary, ancient man possessed knowledge and (in some respects, at least) a degree of technical proficiency and innovation that eludes us still today, along with a flair for embellishment and adornment that our own utilitarian age has sadly lost sight of.

Inspired by the symbolic Scriptural links between Holy Spirit-wind-water-bird(dove) that are all in play here, I wanted to propose an ark with a prow that suggested a bird. Being a rather unconventional approach I knew that would be a hard sell to the publisher (and it was) but it was fun exploring the possibilities in the course of making the attempt.

The final still retains the swirling wave motif that I drew all the way around the upper portion. The storm clouds and gathering birds in the background are meant to dramatically anticipate what is coming.

HCSB Study Bible Illustrations

This month witnesses the publication of a project that occupied me (in fits and starts) for two full years. Back in the spring of 2008, I was approached by B&H Publishing to execute over a dozen illustrations for their planned release of the HCSB Study Bible. This represented a virtual dream job for me as an illustrator, so needless to say I accepted the offer gladly.

The process involved an enormous amount of research. (Some would call it “painstaking” I suppose, but for me it was sheer delight. The real challenge posed to me at this stage was not to get too lost and absorbed in it all!) In a few cases I resorted to building some crude scale models to help me visualize with the greatest possible accuracy. There was also consultation with a professional archeologist for a number of the pieces, sometimes involving a number of revisions. The end results two-and-a-half years later are a pile of research drawings, notes and preliminary sketches big enough to fill an entire portfolio, and a final product in which I take great satisfaction - as I trust the folks at B&H do also - and which I trust will prove a most helpful and inspiring resource for students of the Scriptures.

In celebration of the event, I will be featuring here on this blog in the coming days and weeks, for the very first time, images of the final illustrations as well as, in many cases, sketches and other glimpses of the process involved in their creation. Lord willing, I will be making new posts of this material at the approximate rate of two each week over the next several weeks, so please check back in regularly. Hope you enjoy!