Churches are dying. Small ones are losing members to larger ones. Larger ones are losing members to mega-ones. Mega-ones are becoming TV-mega-ones where they measure their success on how many tune into their broadcasts or stream their events online. If you aren't increasing your social media "likes", your church is not growing and the pressure is on to get more numbers. After all, its a competitive world out there and no more evident in filling up the pews on Sunday.
This little church is over 100 years old and served a small community for many years. But it has fallen into disrepair. The grass around it is mowed each summer, but the paint is peeling and the winter winds have taken their toll on its whitewashed exterior. Regular services are no longer held there so it is used occasionally for a gathering or special event when someone wants a picturesque background. As I pass by, I occasionally see a photographer trying to capture the well-worn visage like they would a quaint old homestead.
Many times I paint because a scene or composition captures my attention and I want to go back and see it again.
Many times I paint because a scene or composition captures my attention and I want to go back and see it again. This little church has classic vaulted windows with stained glass that you don't see on many churches today. The clapboard siding and small steeple with a bell tower define this rustic church design from a century ago and I can understand how it seems to define for many people, the America of their childhood. I didn't want to include too much detail in my painting because I wanted the focus to be on that window and its distinctive shape.
The extreme angle of the light on that side of the building was to my advantage as the shadows helped to distinguish the shapes against an otherwise nondescript white. But I have come to appreciate even the simple walls of a building when they speak of the character of those who built them long ago, or those who depended on them for many years. Texture is also important to me and many times I will see a composition merely out of the texture of a surface.
There are a lot of little churches like this in the mountain communities around me and I will venture out to find and paint them in ways that bring their uniqueness to light. While the Bible tells us that God does not dwell in buildings made by human hands, churches like this one are a testimony to the reverence once offered to Him and the sense of community that they provided to a rural area in the mountains.