Our featured artist for this week is Brian Mohler
Brian is being featured today for his incredible drawings
“Come, My Beloved”
This piece is partially inspired by the song “Morning Star” by the band Sleeping Giant. The song is a melding of hardcore and worship and it talks about God’s second coming, specifically Jesus’ calling us to go up to Heaven with him. These are the lyrics that I focused on for this drawing:
“Christ, The Morningstar, shine bright,
Heaven’s light falling down on me.
To those who recognize your eyes,
You will come,
Sing ‘My Beloved’
Take you with me.”
This was my way of visualizing what I feel whenever I hear that portion of the song. The unique mixture of the heavy instrumentation with the slow, melodic vocals gave me the impression of an eternal embrace in God’s arms. I made the figures a little bit more abstract and blended in to the piece because I feel like God’s love is all surrounding, and we can never run to a place where he can’t reach us.
“Remembrance (Botanical Bliss)”
This piece is part of my “Botanical Bliss” series that depicts seraphim with various flowers that have different meanings. In the Victorian Era many flowers were assigned different meanings and in this piece I have a Pansy which is a symbol of remembrance. In this piece I wanted to convey the feeling of being reminded of God’s eternal love for us, as well as have an excuse to experiment with color and pattern on the seraphim’s wings.
Q: How and when did you discover your artistic talent?
A: I don’t know exactly when, I’ve always had a desire to make things. It started out with me making spaceships out of construction paper similar to how you cut out snowflakes, then from there I just started to draw. I made hundreds of those spaceships, and my mom used to keep them in a box because there were so many.
She was the one who really saw my potential and encouraged me to express myself through art. Also I had a teacher in 3rd and 5th grade named Mr. Ely who was really into integrating various art forms into our lessons, so I learned a lot of different styles of art there as well.
“Indonesian Shadow Puppet”
I’ve always been fascinated with the art of shadow puppetry, and it just happens to be that Indonesia has some of the most recognizable ones. When working on this drawing, I wanted to focus on one color, and play around with the various hues of purple to accentuate the overall design. I also incorporated traditional Batik patterns into the figure’s dress because it is one of the traditional forms of dyeing fabric that originated in Indonesia.
Q: Did you have any outside inspiration for what your art has developed into today?
A: Some of my biggest inspirations have come from the various patterns and colors in the different fabrics used by my mom in her quilts growing up. Living so close to Mexico, the holiday of Dia De Los Muertos, as well as the colors used in Spanish art have really influenced me, as well as colors and patterns from around the world, especially in Asian countries.
“The Holy Trinity”
For this piece I gave myself the daunting task of attempting to depict the Holy Trinity of God which consists of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. For God the Father I drew my version of his Heavenly throne where He rules over all Heaven and Earth. All the Heavenly Thrones that I had seen online were somewhat sterile and bland looking, and I wanted to make my version slightly more interesting. At the top of the throne are three purple shapes that are an abstract symbol of the Holy Trinity in the form of a three petaled flower. I have used this motif before when drawing King David of the Old Testament because Jesus (God the Son) would eventually come from his familial line. For my depiction of God the Son I drew a cross and a crown to show the two sides of God the Son. Jesus was sent to Earth as a sacrificial servant to die upon a cross for our sins. But in the book of Revelation it is revealed that He will come back as a conqueror who will rule over all. I also included the three petaled flower on the crown to maintain a form of continuity. Lastly, God the Holy Spirit is depicted as an eternal flame covered in eyes. Speaking from personal experience, whenever I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, my body immediately becomes warm and I feel like I’m being filled with a liquid flame of sorts. I included the eyes as a way to symbolize that the Holy Spirit is all around us and that God sees all.
Q: What do your drawings typically portray?
A: A lot of my drawings involve figures in what I like to call heavenly robes that are my way of visualizing our innermost selves being covered in God’s love. Each robe is different because I feel like when I think of God’s creativity, I see an ever changing array of colors and patterns. I tend to draw the figures with skull-like faces because that’s how I visualize what one would look like if all Earthly things were stripped away, and the core, or soul, of that person is all that’s left. They tend to evoke a sense of vulnerability because everything that they/we have built up as a resistance to God’s calling has been stripped away. So there’s a duality of the uncertain vulnerability of trying to rely on our own strength but failing, and the joy and freedom that we have in God once we relinquish that sense of control over out lives. Also, I’ve recently been getting into drawing birds that are based off of real-life birds, but with my own twist on their designs.
“Japanese Peacock & Phoenix”
I did these pieces, as a two-part gift to my mom for her birthday. She’s always loved birds and colors, and the Peacock and Phoenix are two of the most colorful birds out there. I wanted to have a juxtaposition of the cool colors of the Peacock right next to the warm colors of the Phoenix in a sort of color yin and yang. I also tried to evoke this concept by having the Peacock positioned upwards looking downwards, and the Phoenix positioned downwards looking upwards creating a constant visual loop between the two
Q: What is one of your favorite pieces you have created, and why?
A: This piece is titled “Jubilation”
I drew this piece during a 24 hour prayer event at my church. I had never experienced anything like that before, and the fact that there was such joy in the room really influenced this piece. While I didn’t stay for the whole time, I was there for about 6 hours, and during that time I heard a guy play worship songs acoustically for over 5 hours straight, I had two lovely ladies pray over me, and I got to see just a glimpse of what it’s like to be in God’s presence with fellow believers and no distractions for a concentrated amount of time. It was heavenly, in all senses of the word, and this piece is a testament to that. I was inspired by the six-winged Seraphim from the Bible, who are angels that burn with the flame of the Holy Spirit and fly around God’s throne constantly worshiping him crying “Holy, holy, holy”. But instead of six wings, I did eighteen. I was inspired with the thought of what if the angel’s wings didn’t look like regular wings, but had other forms instead, like flower petals and leaves. If God created all of nature, then surely he could have been just as creative in making the angels. Ultimately I just wanted to show the pure joy, or jubilation, that we have in God and I think that I far exceeded my expectations for the piece. That is my all-time favorite piece that I’ve done.
Growing up I loved dinosaurs just like every other kid, and when the movie Jurassic World came out this year I felt like a little kid again watching all the dinosaur mayhem up on the screen. So, I decided to draw one of my all-time favorite dinosaurs, the Pachycephalosaurus. I always loved the skull design, and really wanted to have a lot of fun imagining what it’s skin could have looked like way back when.
Q: What do you hope your art will speak to others?
A: I want to redefine what people think of when they think of Christian art. For too long there has been this stereotype that Christian art needs to have an element like Jesus, a cross, a dove, etc. to be considered Christian art. We as a global church need to return to the visual arts and embrace them. Just imagine what could be done if artists in the church were encouraged to use their God-given gifts to produce art? Financial backing of the auditory arts such as worship songs and music has vastly out-weighted the backing of the visual arts. I would love to see a time when the Church finally sees that you need both to truly show the vastness of God’s creativity and love, and that you don’t have to make the stereotypical art for it to be Christian art.
“Surrounded By His Spirit”
When I think of God and his love for us, I visualize an ever-changing array of colors and patterns that surround us constantly. God was most creative when he made us in his image, and when I think of God’s creativity, I think of constant motion, rather than a static sense of being. In this piece I wanted to show a figure surrounded by an abstraction of the flame of the Holy Spirit, and I’m pretty proud of how it turned out.
Q: Where do you hope your art will take you, personally?
A: Wherever God leads me with it. He gave me these artistic gifts to praise him, so I think it’s only fair that he decides where to take me with my art. Though I would love to start having my art be a form of income. I’m currently working on a series to shop around to various galleries, and I’m always open for commissions. If people want to contact me for commissions, they can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“New Horizons (A New Lease On Life)
This piece is inspired by the band Flyleaf’s song “New Horizons.” The song is about having a new lease on life and seeing the limitless possibilities, or new horizons that God has for us when we turn to him. When I first heard the song I envisioned a figure jumping out of the tumultuous fire and waves of life, looking to the Heavens to find the pure joy which is found in Christ. An expulsion from their old worldly ways and a jump into God’s loving hands was what I wanted to convey. At the bottom there’s God’s hands supporting us through whatever we go through in life, even if we stray away from him, he’s always there in the background helping us come back to him. On the figure’s robe I have the quilt pattern of Jacob’s Ladder which is a symbol of when we struggle against God. The figure’s head is a flame because they have been set ablaze with the joy of the spirit of God. And behind them is the visualization of the new horizons that we have in our future.
Q: What are some steps you believe we can take to support visual artists?
A: The best way that someone can support an artist is with thier wallet. Words of encouragement are always appreciated, but being financially supported as an artist is the best way to help them grow. You wouldn’t expect a songwriter to produce music for free, so why should you expect it of a visual artist? For some reason, there’s a stigma in the church when it comes to financially supporting an artist. More often than not they expect us as artists to give them art for free as a sacrifice of time and effort, similar to a musician playing in the worship band. But that mindset is totally wrong. While I don’t want to take anything away from those talented musicians, they’re playing pre-written songs, not original songs that they wrote themselves. When you as an artist to make a work of art for free, that’s the same as asking a worship artist to write an entirely new song, lyrics and music for free, and that doesn’t happen. The Christian music scene is doing better than ever commercially, and it should be the same for Christian visual artists. It’s not that as an artist I’m looking to be greedy, I just see an unfair balance in the Christian arts world, and we visual artists need to put food on the table too.
“Truth (Botanical Bliss)”
This piece is part of my “Botanical Bliss” series that depicts seraphim with various flowers that have different meanings. In the Victorian Era many flowers were assigned different meanings and in this piece I have Bittersweet Nightshades which are a symbol of truth. In this piece I wanted to show that God is always truthful with us and has provided us with all we need in the Bible which is the ultimate source of truth.
Q: What does art mean to you?
A: Art is my way of expressing how I see God’s creativity in the world around me and gives me the opportunity to worship and praise him in a way that is uniquely specific to me.
This drawing is inspired by verses 6-8 found in chapter 2 in the book of Genesis in the Bible, which states:
“and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground- then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Gen. 2:6-8 ESV)
It depicts a figure being formed up out of the Earth like a seed planted in the ground. It was my way of saying that all forms of life here on Earth came from the same place, created by an eternal God who formed us from nothing.
Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
A: Never stop. Keep practicing at what you love and you’ll get better over time. If there’s a particular art style that you like, try to emulate it, but with your own personal twist. Feel free to experiment, because that’s where some of the coolest ideas come from. And don’t forget to have fun. Art is a form of expression, and is a powerful tool to express every emotion possible. Don’t be scared to express your emotions in your work. It can be hard sometimes to be that vulnerable, but some of the most powerful pieces of art were made when the artist was at their most vulnerable.
If you would like to purchase, or take a look at, any other creations Brian has made check out his website at: https://society6.com/brianmohlersart