Mountains of the Lord, 2008

22x28 acrylic on panel
Collection of Dr. and Mrs. David Bylund

Commissions are challenging because what is in the mind of the patron may not be what I see as I work out the piece. I make a deal with the patron that I will paint what I feel they want, but they always have the option of not accepting it--it has worked both ways.

This piece was a challenge as I don't often paint man-made objects--buildings. It was also challenging because there are two specific places but not a specific location. Mt. Timpanogos and the American Fork Temple are in a relationship that cannot exist. Two very recognizable, special places with many memories and attachments—our emotional response to mountains is unique as our brains sort out the ordinary and make them extraordinary. They look much different in photographs than then do in our minds--the majesty is gone and the extraordinary things become ordinary. As I contemplated this commission, sought images of both locations, the parameters that were provided, and inspiration to make it unique, I found that there was a knoll that I had not seen before in the photos and it was the location that I thought would be the site for the temple. Manmade streets and objects did not seem appropriate. Even access I would not explain. I sought inspiration at Adam-ondi-Ahman—the grasses and slope of the hill. I felt these
would be appropriate inclusions.

If you have faith, you can move mountains and temples and put Mt. Timpanogos and the American Fork Temple in a relationship that cannot exist. I resolved the mountains in their majesty. Dark clouds threaten to engulf and yet are colored with the beauty of a hopeful sunset. A beaming white temple shines into the darkness and upon the clouds as if to break up their encroaching menace. The color of the temple is white yet is full of contrasts of cool and warm colors representing the contrasts of the world and of the spirit. It wasn’t until I opened up the foreground with a pathway to the temple that the composition came to completion as we are all striving to walk the narrow path that leads to the mountain of the Lord. There we find our resolution and purposeful fulfillment of life’s journey.

I spent a year with the painting and was constantly painting on it in my mind and in reality, as I would see details in my travels to include and color to adjust based on things I saw. I lived with the finished work for several months and feel good about the outcome and feeling. It is unique and a vision that I pray will bring inspiration to those who view it.


Opa said...

Although the patron may have an idea of what the piece will look like, I think most patrons are open to alternate (better) ideas and interpretations - and that is the job of the artist.

Andrew Morrill said...

Wow, I really like this Nick. The colors are very good. I also think the illusion of depth is excellent -- the temple seems to stand out more because it really seems to be very far down from the mountains. Also, the dark tones around the temple help to make it stand out. I really think you captured the feel of the hills at the base of timp -- if the temple were actually on those hills this would be just like reality :). Wish I could see it in person.