Artist

Jill Shuford

Artist bio

I am a retired Art Educator - 19 years as a Museum Art Educator and 15 years as a public school Art Teacher in the Charlotte, NC area. I currently teach on-line Art Appreciation classes for a local community college. In 2016, I returned to my hometown (Lawndale, NC) to care for an aging parent. With my mom's passing, I have begun to focus full time on painting. I was recently blessed with winning 1st Place in the 2020 Shelby Art League Competition (Shelby, NC). My work is in the collection of RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC), RJ Reynolds (Winston-Salem, NC), and Wells Fargo (Charlotte, NC).

Title

Shadow of the Cross

Medium/Genre

Painting

Artist Statement

This work is an oil painting on canvas. I work from photographs that I shoot. I am always photographing light and shadows as that is an interest and on-going theme in my work. For this canvas, I used a photograph (which I have uploaded in the file) that was taken looking out a window inside the Mint Museum of Art (Charlotte, NC) during a spring visit in 2019. Two girls (who were unaware that I had taken the window shot) were photographed in dark silhouette against the bright window. This photo jumped started the creative process of the story that I wanted to tell. I took liberties in recreating two foreground figures in detail. The actual girl sitting on the bench appeared to be on a cell phone but you could not see her face as her hair blocked the view. The girl I painted has her hands on an opened Bible. I painted her in a blue blouse using the traditional Renaissance color of Mary. For the standing girl, I liked the sweater she wore (resembling a shroud) but painted her in a lavender color that represented delicacy and preciousness. Originally, I had planned on painting a church steeple lit in sunlight on the horizon. I opted for creating a shadow of a steeple and cross as if the girls (and viewer) were situated in a church. Enough cannot be said about the prayer and thought that goes into my work. I believe that the Spirit does indeed supernaturally work through my hands and eyes to lead me in decisions that I make in the creation of a work of art.

How it fits into contest

The Spiritual Battle is real but unseen. We have a veiled view; therefore, I painted a curtain screen in front of a window to obscure the bright images outside. The somber scene depicts the afternoon sun creating shadows and light across a cityscape. The light and shadows drew me to this scene and I chose to use the symbolism of light/dark and the forces of good/evil that are found throughout the Bible. The painting focuses on two girls in the foreground that appear immersed in reading and hearing the Word. The scriptures (held by the seated girl) are painted in bright/white colors symbolizing illumination. Two shafts of bright light on either side of the window are the only other pure white represented in the painting and refer to the reality that we are only seeing partially the Light of the outside scene. This vertical light which comes down above the head of the figure on the left and the right side of the window symbolizes the Spirit of God. As I paint, I choose colors for symbolical reasons -- the seated girl is in blue a color often representing the Word of God in Biblical art. The girl standing is in lavender which is symbolic of preciousness (as we are to God). On the right side of the composition, painted in blues and purples (purple is a symbol of royalty) a tall shadow of a steeple and a cross is stretching across several structures. This shadow indicates that the figures are sitting at a church window and the shadow of the steeple is from the church that they are in. It also indicates that the viewer's point of view is from within the church looking out. Even in a refuge as the church the spiritual battle is real. We often feel as if we are on a slippery slope. For this reason, I placed the seated girl not on a completely stable and horizontal bench but on a bench that is tilting downward. It is a reminder that we are always to keep on our toes to stay grounded and balanced in the Word. The bench's slope ends in direct line to the shadow of the cross above. We must fight the battle daily standing firm and taking up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

Credits

I used a photograph to create this painting. The photograph is documented in the attached file. The figures in the painting are a composite of a photograph and the creative process.

How to Purchase this Artwork

"Shadow of the Cross" is an original oil painting on canvas - 18" X 24". It is listed at $500 ($600 framed). Contact the artist through jill.shuford@gmail.com.

Other Goods & Services Available from this Artist

Preferred commissions include small informal portrait settings (oil on canvas) with light and shadow used for highlight and contrast. For commissions, contact the artist at jill.shuford@gmail.com.

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