Matthew Conner

Matthew Conner


Seven times a day and once at night, Christian monks and nuns sing praises to God. This vocal prayer, however, is anchored in a larger discipline of silence. A silence which permits one to meditate on the sacred text and to wait on "the still, small voice" of the Lord. It is in this expectant silence which the Church has employed the visual arts since the earliest days. In a quasi-sacramental manner, they make present to the viewer God's entrance into Creation through the Incarnation and His continued action in it through the lives of His saints. We wait in the stillness until our hearts swell and again we sing out with the Psalmist:

 Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus, quoniam in æternum misericordia ejus.

Give thanks the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.


 The work begins in the sketchbook. Like a visual lectio divina, it meditates on a given subject through the visual precedent of previous artists and the associated liturgical texts. A full-size drawing is then worked up and transferred to a panel. The composition and details remain fairly stable at this point although sometimes adjusted while painting. Acrylic paint, due to its rapid drying rate, can be handled with much of the same technique as tempera which was traditionally used until the advent of oil paint. Following the methodology shared by Medieval miniaturists and Byzantine iconographers, colors are blocked in with their mid-tone value and then worked with lighter or darker values. Modeling of the surface is built up in a thicket of hatched marks, rather than wet-into-wet as is possible with oil paint. There is a measure of glazing to add a brilliance and depth to a some colors and flesh tones are almost invariably built up on a grisaille. Finished paintings are sealed with an archival varnish to protect the surface.