This painting is the most fun illustration project I’ve worked on in a long time. It was commissioned as a wedding gift, but I was given carte blanche to decide on content, colors, style…I took that freedom and ran with it! Isaiah 40:31 was both inspiration and starting point. However, I did not want to paint eagles; in fact, I wanted to stay far away from any obvious bird imagery. As you know, I prefer to look for the story between the lines. The key word in this verse is HOPE (or, as some translations phrase it: “wait patiently”). Faith, hope, patience all go hand in hand. As Paul says in Romans 8:24-25, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” As difficult as it can be to wait on God’s timing and provision, that patient hope is rewarded with a soaring joy…the wind-in-your face, sun-on-your-back elation of rising up with wings as eagles. That story, that imagery, took me back to childhood. When do we feel like we can fly? – when we’re on the swing set, doing “Superman”! Simple, childlike hope in a mighty God; flying free because, of course, Daddy’s arms won’t let us down or drop us.
Inspiration is the easy part. Now came the technical aspect of pulling the illustration together. I wanted the little girl to resemble the bride (Carrie) who would be receiving this wedding gift. Her family members helped out by sending me photos of her as a child. Then I set up a photo shoot at a play ground with a girl I know who is similar in looks and build to Carrie at that age. After several sketches and revisions, I was happy with the face and pose of the figure. Design-wise I prefered to have just the head, arms, and swing…without really seeing the rest of the body or feet. Researching photos of skydivers, I determined that this was feasible, looking at the body from that angle. Next came lettering. HOPE was placed first, as a focal point of the phrase. The rest of the lettering was built around that, varying sizes, thickness, styles to emphasize certain words. The groom is a pilot. So, the tachometers as “E”s in Eagles are an homage to his interest in aviation. As for color, purple and dark grey were the colors in her wedding. I figured they would be a safe bet to work with…thankfully, I chose correctly! Purple, as it turns out, is her favorite color; and, their spare bedroom is decorated in greys.
Joy. Sunshine. Freedom. Elation. Those were my goals with this painting! If you get a sense of that as you look at it, then I’ve done my job as an illustrator.