I wanted to do a new painting to enter in the church art competition. As I was thinking about the theme “Make Known His Wonderful Works,” I decided that Christ’s greatest works were all about serving. In my mind I pictured Christ helping an older man, like he was healing or blessing him. I wasn’t sure who I would use as the older man in the painting. As I was contemplating this, I remembered a photograph that I had taken of my father-in-law about thirteen or fourteen years ago. I realized that this picture would be perfect for two reasons. The first was because of the position he was in. His head was tipped down and he was wiping his eye. I could picture the Savior helping someone sitting like that. The second reason was because of who he represents as a person. He struggled with many things in his life, including addictions. He was, in fact, an alcoholic. His addictions changed who he was, destroyed a lot of what he loved most, and basically caused his death in 1999. My husband was later able to do his temple work for him, which shows that there is always hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The next thing that I had to decide was what the background setting should be. I saw a photograph of some old ruins in Capernaum and noticed that there were some stairs. Again, for two reasons, I felt like stairs would be a good setting. I knew that compositionally they would add dimension to the painting. The stairs can also be very symbolic. Christ can help us, but it is up to us whether or not we go up with him or go back down. Also, we go up one step at a time. When I painted the bottom stairs I put more cracks and flaws in them because life is harder without Christ.
As I was coming up with a title, a couple of different ideas came to my mind. However, none of them seemed quite right. One Sunday in church we were singing the sacrament hymn 185, “Reverently and Meekly Now.” The words “I have ransomed even thee” really hit me. I knew that it fit the painting perfectly, except I changed it to present tense, “I Ransom Even Thee.”
So the idea of this painting has evolved from a simple idea of Christ serving someone to something much greater. We can be forgiven when we repent because of Jesus Christ. In 1 Timothy 2:5-6 it says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” How wonderful the atonement is! There is no greater work. It is for every one of us! It is for my father-in-law, for me, and even thee.
Another note of interest is that this is the first oil painting that I have done in quite some time. I have decided to switch things up a bit, and focus more on oils than watercolor. It has been an exciting change for me.