Tag Archives: spirituality


Twelve (2013)

This work was commissioned by Cornerstone City Church for display at the Jasper Centre in Rochester, Kent.

The concept is based upon the description of the ‘New Jerusalem’ as described in Revelation. I used geometric pattern and the colours of the gems, referred to in the passage, to visualise the hope that the writer envisaged:

 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

The colours of the gem stones are painted in order of appearance as listed within the Biblical text, Revelation 21:19-20:

“The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.”

The variety of colour found within each gem type allows for a fluid interpretation within the painting; more than one colour per gem is portrayed and therefore more than twelve colours exist in this painting.  This is meant to signify the possibility of diversity within the Church.

This is the other version of the painting:

painting entitled "Twelve I"

Twelve I (2014)

New versions of this painting concept can be commissioned. New versions would be different in the same way as these versions differ.

Posted in art, Painting | Also tagged , |


Collage entitled "Passio"

This collage came about through the idea of creating a work of art about the meaning of death following on from a previous piece about ‘the meaning of life.’ As in the preceding work, I used interior decorators’ colour swatches and noticed a colour called ‘Passion Flower’. I didn’t know the significance of the name ‘Passion Flower’ in relation to my theme, but I was inspired to research this flower and discovered the information below. This provided the concept of making an abstract design based on the Passion Flower symbolism. I have used a broken shed as a background support by re-assembling the panels and cutting them into a triangle shape. The piece is therefore not a single item, but many parts made into one.

“Literally, the word ‘passion’ is derived from its Latin source passio which means ‘to suffer’. In fact, passion indicates the sufferings on the cross and the death of Christ. It is called ‘passion-flower’ due to parts of the flower resembling the crown of thorns, nails and other symbols of Christ’s suffering. It is a prominent Christian flower symbol as its pointed leaf resembles a spear, the tendrils the whips, the column of the ovary signifies the cross and the dark circle of threads in the centre the crown of thorns. The flower portrays the passion of Christ. If the flower were white, as in the ‘Constance Elliot’ variety, it denotes piety; blue means heaven. The three days’ life span of the flower is supposed to mean- “so shall the son of man be three days and nights in the heart of the earth” www.arenaflowers.com

Posted in art, Painting | Also tagged , |

Future Creative

1. Describe your creative process in relation to the following four headings:

Question Connect Imagine Reflect

I view my creative approach as an enquiry of the five senses. There is the Question of looking which when translated to the issue of re-presentation brings up questions such as: What can be included or excluded? What is essential or peripheral? The answers to these questions will involve questions pertaining to the other senses. For example, touch; how does the paint feel in my hands or between my toes? Another question might be: What would happen if I limited one of the senses? Lately I have been painting through limited visual stimuli. This has resulted in bringing other senses to the fore, like hearing, in the creation of a work. Instead of looking at nature, I can hear it through the window and this feeds into the creative process.

Inside Outside

Generally my practice builds on smaller questions which are thrown up along the path as I begin a particular work or project.

The need to Connect and re-connect is an ongoing issue. My current work is about issues of spirituality in art and I experience this as a form of connectedness; a passionate engagement with the creative process which I relate to the concept of ‘flow’.

water baptism

The flow is temporal, so I am concerned about finding ways to re-establish the lost connection. I am also concerned about connecting to the viewer of my art since the receiving of the work is pivotal in consolidating its meaning and value. My creative process is therefore a shared experience. I look for ways to connect with other artists, or creatives in other disciplines, share ideas and allow this connectedness to inform my processes. Out of this comes a rootedness to life in relationship; this locates my work in a collective sense.

I recognise that to Imagine is to draw upon memory and therefore remembrance. This relates to my personal narrative which evolves through the guidance of my imagination.


I am specific and intentional about the role of my imagination as a vehicle to positive outcomes; the freedom to imagine creatively locates the past with the future and reconciles the two with hope. This is the sustainable basis of my practice. I see an enlivened imagination as the evidence of a heart at rest with itself, when permission has been given to be oneself. I always hold before me the thought that the fruit of my imagination is born from my attitude. In this way my best ideas stem from my attitude which then steers my imagination to a productive place of idea formation. These ideas are the result of working through questions like: How could my learning environment have been adapted to my learning needs as a child?

My first sculpture

I Reflect after a creative session as a means to evaluate outcomes and the process that lead to them. The reflective process is a significant part of the creative cycle and I spend a lot of time there.


I will try to piece together the particular nature of what was done in order to see the context more clearly and place the work produced within a mental framework. This may not always lead to definitive awareness, but usually the act of reflection positions the experience and artwork within the framework of a discernable statement and results in the right title for the work. When that happens I will always believe in the authenticity of the title as a reflection of the creative process. The reflective stage usually helps me to clarify further goals to move forward.

2. What currently inspires you to create?

I work with mixed media (acrylic, oil, pastel, charcoal, ink and pencil) on hardboard, canvas and paper to encourage a varied and dynamic material process.

materials and work area

I am currently inspired by the idea of the invisible, inner core of a painting sought in the tradition of the mystics leaning toward the lyrical or poetic.  Signposts along the way are usually marked by a combination of formal integrity and suggested narrative. The latter might be a spiritual idea, a personal history, a remembered poem, story, rhyme or an imagined place which then consolidates the work as meaningful:

Execution =Work = Concept

Instead of:

Concept = Execution = Work.

Copyright © 2009 Jonathan Bentall

Posted in art, Painting | Also tagged , , , , |

Painting the Numinous

of or characteristic of a numen; supernatural; divine
having a deeply spiritual or mystical effect
Webster’s New World College Dictionary

I made the distinction between what initially inspires me to paint and any subsequent claims about what the work does or achieves. With this in mind, the idea for the title of my series ‘Painting the Numinous’ came from a book called ‘The idea of the Holy’ by Rudolf Otto:

‘The book defines the concept of the holy as that which is numinous. Otto explained the numinous as a “non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self”. He coined this new term based on the Latin numen (deity.)’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Otto

Beginning with my automatic poem ‘Known in the Unknown’ I launched this series of works which explore the dynamic between freedom (automatism) and control (decision making.)

Drawing entitled "Known in the Unknown"

Known in the Unknown (2006)

I worked ‘toward an unknown end’ navigating a path between failure/destruction and resurrection/renewal. During the painting process I looked for an inner weight to begin to establish its presence. Although very subjective, I felt this begin to occur when the balance/tension between abstraction and figuration seemed to evoke in me the relationship between the physical and spiritual. In my mind this was mediated in the exploration of the relationship between control and accident in my handling of paint. When I sensed the weight and solidity of this relationship with visual clarity the painting was complete. Ultimately I allowed compositional control/accident to either make or break the work, and enable me to engage with the mystery and precariousness of painting.

I fuelled my imagination through reading and solitude (rather than visual stimuli) wanting to paint the essence of an idea; an internal rather than external vision. John O’Donohue’s book Divine Beauty talks about visiting beauty, and I held on to this concept as I reached out to the unknown, believing that the truth came unexpectedly. Technically this project involved attempting to work on a larger scale using mainly canvas or board and achieve the same intensity of vision I felt was possible when working on a very small scale using paper (as I had done previously.)

From the outset I have been inspired by a painting by Arnulf Rainer called ‘Wine Crucifix’ 1957/78 the installation of which, according to the Tate website, involved light shining through the cloth to reveal the shape of the cross: tate.org.uk It explores the relationship of the physical and spiritual dimensions from a Catholic perspective; the sacramental wine transformed into the blood of Christ (transubstantiation.)

I’m fascinated by the notion of materials as mediators of spiritual truth when processed through human hands as if the separation between the physical and metaphysical is grey and interconnected. It’s interesting that the artist felt compelled to rework the image years later, as if through repetition he sought to re-enter more deeply into the experience. I sense the rhythm of this idea expressed beautifully in a song by Van Morrison called ‘Behind the Ritual’

Spin and turning in the alley, spin and turning in the alley
Like a Whirling Dervish in the alley, drinking that wine
Drinking wine, making time in the days gone by


Painting entitled "Impermanence"

Impermanence (2007)

I like the inclusion of the whirling dervish which perhaps alludes to the mystic tradition behind the surface of the song. With the repetition of the words and images the real is concealed behind the banal, so that the implicit message of the song is expressed by explicit ordinariness. We find that the spiritual is discovered behind the ritual of everyday encounter.

Posted in art, Painting | Also tagged , , , , |

Art and Fear


Above is a drawing I did (or my sister did) when we were small – these tickets enable the bearer to go anywhere and do anything. Fortunately they have come to light again.

Here I’ll be recording the artistic activities and projects that I’ll be involved in, as well as any insights and thoughts I might have along the way. By jotting it all down I aim to keep myself ‘falling forwards’.

I studied at Newcastle University, UK graduating in 1997 with a Fine Art degree. My work at that time was created by observing theatrical performers. I sketched all the students rehearsing at the other University (which had/has a strong drama department.) Later I would develop these impressions into compositions which explored elements of the human condition represented by ‘types’ caught in the interplay between spiritual and material realities. The ‘Cloud and the Pillar’ series title was taken from the biblical exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. They were guided by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Within the scope of this story I saw the journey of life played out; states of awareness and being, vision and doubt, knowledge and unbelief, going forward and turning back. I worked on a small scale, very intensively wanting some of the energy of a mysterious drama to unfold.

I’ve been working in different fields outside of artistic practice since then, so it’s an exciting leap to return on a second wind. I have just read an inspiring book called Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, 1993 which talks about creativity in the face of different kinds of obstacles, reconciling oneself to them and continuing to create.

With my series ‘Painting the Numinous’ I have been using solitude as a needed counterpart to community; a way to re-familiarise myself with the personal and material process of making art. By solitude I mean its role as a discipline and its rejuvenating effects in slowing down time.

My experience of solitude as a spiritual discipline involves moments of still contemplation prior to and during painting. This is centring myself. There is a play between meditative deliberation and decision making. During the painting process itself I have used no pre-gathered visual source material. Instead I have been interested in the role of the imagination in its relation to visual memory and spontaneity; similar to my own experience of musical creativity. It’s a process that embraces personal permission giving toward play and abstract experimentation.


Posted in art, Painting | Also tagged , , , |