The Gospel of John Ch 4-6

Against the pencil drawings of a Golden Eagle, Heron and Red Deer, the colours of the Kingfisher and Bullfinch really stand out, not that they need a lot of encouragement. It is an artistic technique that works, at least, I am usually pleased with the results. I like detail, which can easily be lost in the, er, detail!

"Nature
gives every evidence
of being
intelligently
designed."

Dr. Edgar Andrews 

For the invisible things of him
from the creation of the world
are clearly seen,
being understood
by the things that are made,
even his eternal power and Godhead;
so that they are without excuse

Romans 1 v 20
When it comes to the colours of birds people, and usually rightly so, refer to the male of the species. The Mallard male is quite striking, no doubt about it, but the female is rather beautiful in a more subtle way. The patterns, streaks and swirls that make up her plumage, and of course afford her some camourflage when she is sitting on her nest, are just as interesting to me as an artist trying to get it right. And when you do see that flash of colour on her wing it is all the more vivid against the muted tones suroounding it. And who can't love those fluffy little ducklings!

​The flower is a member of the dead nettle family. (it doesn't sting) Not sure how it got its name, Yellow Archangel, other than it is yellow.

I love this part of the Gospel. Jesus clearly goes out of his way, through Samaria rather than the usual route around it, to meet this woman, and in the process broke through a number of taboos. The immediate and obvious one was the racial divide and hatred, between Jews and Samaritans. Then there was the gender divide. Notice the reaction of his disciples when they return. They were clearly shocked. And if that wasn't enough, the fact that this woman was alone marked her as an outcast in her own community. Perhaps the fact that she had had five husbands and was currently living with another man, has led some to believe she was a prostitute.,maybe? Whatever her true circumstances, Jesus went out of his way for her, and gently led her to the truth. It would be a mistake to think that he did anything less for us either. We all of us, in one way or another, fall short of the glory of God. The implication of that last sentence is important. Unless Jesus goes out of his way for us on a personal level, we are not going to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
An old mooring post that has seen better days. Lots of old rope and chord used, forgotten, then maybe used again. Tides have ebbed and flowed leaving all manner of weed and crustaceans. Love it. loads of interest and detail to play with.The bird is a Redshank. Not difficult to work out why. And this is a typical pose for this bird. It all adds up to a painting waiting to happen, which is why quite a few wildlife artists have painted it in various ways. 

​Jesus leads the woman away from a wrong perception of religion and worship toward the truth. In the process he reveals how it is going to be in the future, when God gathers a people unto Himself that will worship in Spirit and truth, from the heart. Jesus himself will be the centre of this faith, indwelling his followers, not on the holy mountain of the Samaritans, and not in Jerusalem either. The moment comes when she realises that Jesus is the expected messiah and here he is making a personal appearence to her. How special is that. She rushes off and tells everybody. She is no longer the outcast but an eveangelist and follower of Jesus who brings good news to her city. A lot of people were saved that day. Much is made of the role of women in Church these days. But imagine what would have happened if Jesus had refused to talk to her because of social and religious convention. Or if she had not carried the good news of the gospel to her city........ Just saying.

"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
​Galations ch 3 v 27-28 
There are a number of birds that can be seen in the British Isles that are difficult to tell apart except under the guidance of an expert eye. I am definitely not an expert. Some birds, like the Marsh and Willow tits were even considered the same bird until relatively recent times. I would consider my knowledge to be good but intermediate. The bird opposite is one of those birds that get lost in the mix as far as I am concerned. It is a Willow warbler, and one amongst many warblers that come to Britain for the summer. I painted it here on a branch of willow so at least I can remember what it is I've painted!

​The woman at the well got so excited she forgot the sole purpose for her coming to the well in the first place. It says she left her waterpot and ran off to tell everyone. I can imagine Jesus smiling, or maybe clapping his hands in delight. He refused the food his disciples had brought him to eat, they were less than impressed with the fact that Jesus was talking to a woman, and a Samaritan woman at that. He, on the other hand was totally focused on the job in hand, compassion for the spiritually starving, the saving of souls. 

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

​Mathew 11 v 28-30
I love doing these floral surround designs. I have said that before haven't I? It is such an opportunity to throw together colours that propbably wouldn't work on a knitted sweater, but look wonderful in nature. There are wild flowers here that you might miss unless you look more carefully. Like the Toadflax and White Dead Nettle in the lower right hand side. There is Camomile, Cornflower and Chicory in there too as well as the more familiar Foxglove. All things bright and beautiful indeed.


Reading about nature
is fine,
but if a person
walks in the woods
and listens carefully,
he can learn more than
what is in books,
for they speak
with the voice of God.


George Washington Carver

A simple surround showing the changing season of the White Bryony. This is a common climbing plant and a member of the cucumber family, and I find rather attractive. But I would not recommend it in your salad. It is also highly toxic and has been known to kill full grown cattle. Fortunately the most poisonous part is below ground. How often does that happen, the things we attracted to are bad for us? But it is a fact, that the most poisonous of plants have their uses in the medical world. In the book of Revelation, which admittedly is full of strange symbolism, the Tree of Life is described as having leaves for the healing of the nations. It may be a reference to salvation, but the idea of the healing power of plants is there. There is also the question of certain plants and fungi having hallucinogenic qualities to them which also impart "spiritual" visions and insights. Datura, Peyote, Ayahuasca, etc, all have these qualities much favoured by Shamans for thousands of years. But drug use and abuse for pleasure does not lead anywhere good, and despite the gurus of the New Age movement waxing lyrical about these drugs opening contact with so called "ascended masters" and spiritual entities, especially the one favoured by Terence McKenna, DMT, a shamanic drug derived from certain plants of South America, It will only result in confused knowledge and ultimately, madness. A mysterious book that is actually quoted in the New Testament, the Book of Enoch, describes how fallen angels taught mankind the use of these drugs and their preparation. This sounds fantstical until you understand how certain drugs are prepared from these plants. Ayahuasca is a good example of the impossibilty of this happening by accident. for myself, the Tree of Life is good enough for me. I appreciate their beauty but I don't need to consume them.
The idea of using the butterfly as a metaphore for rebirth or regeneration is hardly a new one but it is one that I can understand. Here is a quote from Randy Alcorn that explains the future regeneration of the Heavens and the Earth better than I could
"What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen or hope to see? What made it beautiful to you? The Garden of Eden was probably the most beautiful place that ever existed. After all, the first people God created lived there in the days before pollution or earthquakes or wars or poverty or crime. We can only imagine what it was like.
Every beautiful place on earth—the Grand Canyon, the Alps, the Amazon rain forests, the Serengeti Plain in Tanzania (where lions roam)—is just a small taste of what New Earth will be like. It’s like when your mom or dad lets you have a tiny piece of turkey or dressing to sample just before the Thanksgiving meal. It’s not enough to satisfy you. But it’s good enough to help you think about how delicious the whole meal will be!
All our lives, even if we don’t know it, we’ve been dreaming of the New Earth—the Heaven that will last forever. Whenever we see beauty in water, wind, flower, animal, man, woman, or child, we see just a sample of what Heaven will be like.
We should expect this New Earth to be like the Garden of Eden, only better. That’s exactly what the Bible promises:

“For the Lord shall comfort Zion:
he will comfort all her waste places;
and he will make her wilderness like Eden,
and her desert like the garden of the Lord;
joy and gladness shall be found therein,
thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” (Isaiah 51:3).
The Spanish and Portuguese have a superstitious belief that owls, being servants of the Devil, have a dark habit of drinking the oil of the lamps in churches, leaving the Saints in the dark. Like evil spirits, they land on candles putting out the light, as if they hated the very light itself. The hissing calls  of barn owls are also interpreted as announcements of death, and there is a belief  that if someone were to hear an owl for several nights a person suddenly will lose their life. It isn't difficult to summise how these beliefs grew out of observations of the owls nocturnal and ghostly appearence, not to mention their screeching, hairasing call. These beliefs are not restricted to the Iberian peninsular either. Similar tales, legends and myths can be found all over the world. The truth, however, is that they are rather beautiful creatures perculiarly adapted for nightime hunting, and mans war on nature and the environment has resulted in their decline. In places, even Britain, that decline has been severe.

​Back in the day before health care if your infirmities were such that you could not walk, the options for you were rather limited. If you were wealthy you might afford to have people to carry you around. If not, you lay on a pallet by the side of the way, begging. The man in the story here had been in such a position for thirty eight years. He had made his way to a certain pool in the city where it was believed that once a year an angel stirred the waters and the first one in, and the only one, was miraculously healed. Not much hope then, even if it was true, that someone that could not walk was going to make it in first. Perhaps he was there because it was a good place to beg. Giving to the poor was part of the culture and to have reached the age he did he must have eaten in that time. But the forcast was bleak, until Jesus.........
I don't think I am alone in this, but I really don't like seeing animals and birds in cages. Of course, the birds well being might depend on it. But as a pet, it doesn't do it for me. The bird I have painted opposite, the Linnet, suffered terribly in this regard because it was such a lovely songster. If you see some of the Victorian cages they were kept in it would make you weep.Today, thank God, there are laws protecting it from such. I have posed this bird atop a Hollyhocks. I suppose it might happen in a country garden that lay next to open fields, but these are birds generally seen in the open countryside. As you can see it is not only a beautiful songster, but also beautiful in its plumage. It is always a delight to see one. 

​Continuing the story from the previous image, we discover that the man, healed by Jesus after thirty eight years of crippling infirmity, immediately betrays him to the authorities, who, once they knew it was Jesus who had performed the miraculous healing, sought to kill him. It is staggering isn't it, the depths of mans' depravity and the lengths he will go to, to protect his powerbase and ego. We should not be surprised really, that human beings delight in putting birds in cages for entertainment. The Romans had their amphitheatres where people killed each other for sport and the entertainment of the crowds. Do we really think we have changed that much? The idea of death in all its various forms is still entertainment. Both in films and so called "sport". And, although it is illegal, there are thousands who pay money to watch people and animals tear each other to pieces. We need to ask ourselves, what would it take to put an end to it? As a Christian who believes that Christ is coming back, I think I know the answer.
There is only one verse of scripture on this page. But what a life affirming verse it is. So I wanted to put in as much detail as I could. I think I achieved what I set out to do. Once again I have used a monochromatic background (pencil drawing)to enable the next layer to stand out. The Fox and Badger are nightime buddies and make excellent subject matter for the pencil artist in me. The birds are Yellowhammer, which is a member of the bunting family, (the original bessie bunting, a compliment back in the day because these birds were and still are, considered beautiful); The Green woodpecker (Dr Yaffle) and the Starling, once again showing off the metalic sheen of its plumage. The whole image is about life bursting forth from the cross.



"The cross
is the center
of the world’s history;
the incarnation of Christ
and the crucifixion of our Lord
are the pivot
round which all the events
of the ages revolve."

Alexander Maclaren 




The flying geese in the illustration opposite are Barnacle Geese, a name of uncertain origins. The Norse called them " "burnt" or "black" geese, and the Celts "white faced" geese, both of which make a lot more sense than "barnacle" for which there is absolutely no connection whatsoever to barnacles except in some dubious folkore. They belong to a family of geese called Cackling Geese, because of the loud barking and yapping sounds they make when they are flying. When a large number of them fly over you will know it! 

​"The hour is coming". Just saying it sounds ominous. But it has two different outcomes for the Christian and the unbeliever. The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and come to life and judgement. Here the judgement is determined by good and evil actions. But we would be mistaken if we think Heaven can be gained simply be our good works. Elsewhere in the Gospel of John we read that salvation is determined by our belief in Jesus Christ.   

"Salvation is worth working for. It is worth a man’s going round the world on his hands and knees, climbing its mountains, crossing its valleys, swimming its rivers, going through all manner of hardship in order to attain it. But we do not get it in that way. It is to him who believes."

                                                 D.L.Moody

"Not that our salvation should be the effect of our work, but our work should be the evidence of our salvation.Let this be to you the mark of true Gospel preaching – where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus"

                                              C.H. Spurgeon
Painting birds with dark to black plumage is not easy. If you are not careful you end up with one block colour and no real defining of plumage and shape. That is all very well when you are painting a silhouette but not for realism. The Coot is a member of the Rail family. They share some overlap in their environment with the similar, but smaller, Moorhen, though the Moorhen is more likely to wander from the lakes and ponds where you usually find both these birds. The butterfly is a Swallowtail, something of a rarity being now restricted to the Norfolk Broads.

​When Jesus was attacked by the Jewish authorities, they more or less said to him, "who do you think you are"? They were, of course, clueless as to who Jesus was and did not believe for a moment anything he had to say. In fact, so determined were they in their unbelief they assigned the wonderful acts of compassion in his healing and teaching  to the power of the Devil. His reply reveals the very heart of their problem. Despite being religious they did not know God.

"And ye have not His word abiding in you"

​Despite the fact that they read the scriptures and searched them diligently for the truth, they had no understanding of them, and consequently, no understanding of him either. The same is true today. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit there can be no understanding of the Bible. 

"and ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free"
​John 8 v 32
Meadow Pipits are such lovely birds yet often overlooked by artists. It was one of those days when decisions have to be made as to what I would paint next. I knew it was going to a chapter title page and that the cross would be a kind of window filled with poppies, and I was going to paint wheat and camomile. Then I remembered looking at some pics of Meadow Pipits. and so it all came together and I painted these birds for the first time. They are in some respects like small thrushes.

"On the eve of the Passover the Sanhedrin would inspect a lamb for up to seventy-four different possible defects. If a lamb was found to be without defect the Sanhedrin would pass it as suitable for sacrifice. They would take it out and kill it. The same day the Sanhedrin were inspecting the lambs for defects, the Lord Jesus was on trial. And finding no spot or defect in the Lamb of God, they took Him out and crucified Him on the same day that the lambs were slain."

Jacob Prasch

The feast of the Passover looks back to the night when the Israelites daubed the blood of a lamb on their doorposts so that  when the Angel of Death "passed over" they would be covered by the blood. And every year the high priest would enter the most Holy part of the temple and sprinkle the blood on the altar on behalf of the people. It was a temporary offering for the forgiveness of sins and had to be made every year. When Christ shed his blood on the cross, he did so as the perfect Passover lamb, that all who believe on him will find forgiveness for their sins. The Angel of Death has no claim on them, they pass from death to life.
This is the second time I have designed an ornamentel letter incorporating a Wren. Wrens being as small as they are, do lend themselves to these designs. The butterfly in the illustration at the bottom of the page is a Marbled White. The primroses bursting out of a woodland, leaflittered floor is something I see every year in my local woodlands. It is one of those events in nature that makes you feel good. A bit like seeing the first swallow of summer or hearing a cuckoo. The wrens nest is a marvel to see. How do these birds know how to build their nests without ever having been taught.  And some wonder why folks like me do not believe in evolution, but accept the Universe came into being by design. Creation!


AMONG the dwellings framed by birds
In field or forest with nice care,
Is none that with the little Wren's
In snugness may compare.  

Rest, Mother-bird! and when thy young
Take flight, and thou art free to roam,
When withered is the guardian Flower,
And empty thy late home,
Think how ye prospered, thou and thine,
Amid the unviolated grove
Housed near the growing Primrose-tuft
In foresight, or in love.


                                           William Wordsworth                        
Once again, an ideal scene that nature lovers would love to experience. Two birds, both of which are not seen that often. The Nuthatch and the Woodcock. Despite that, this is really a painting of a Birch tree, and the kind of wildlife I would like to see going on around it. Old birch trees are always interesting to paint, with all their lumps and bumps. There was only a small amount of text on this page which gave me a lot of scope to play around with ideas and include a lot of elements. 

"When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone."

​In terms of wealth and prosperity and power, Jesus could have had it all. But at what cost. Satan offered all this and more to him, 

"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

​Today, a new Gospel is being preached. It goes by many names, "name it and claim it", "The prosperity Gospel", The positive confession gospel" etc. It does not really matter what name you put to it, the power behind it is the same one who offered all the kingdoms of the world to Christ, if Christ would only bow down to him. We should flee from it as if it were the most deadly of contagions.  C. S Lewis said, "aim for Heaven and you will get the Earth thrown in, aim for the Earth and you will end up with neither."
The inspiration behind the painting of the Black Headed Gulls, who incidently are only black headed in the summer, came from a direct reading of the scripture. Pretty obvious really. What is not so obvious are the differences between different species of Gulls found in this country. One or two of them are very similar and I am not so much of an expert that I can tell them apart. And some of them, like the Great Black Backed Gull, are enormous. A Puffin will barely reach the top of their legs. And they are predatory to the point of being vicious. Smaller seabirds, like little auks, are swallowed whole. Nature can indeed be bloody. 

​People "get religion" for all sorts of reasons. But there is a world of difference between being religious and having a genuine spiritual conversion. In chapter 3, we saw  how a religious man by the name of Nicodemus, a Pharisee, just didn't understand that he needed to be born again, through the Holy Spirit changing his heart. Now we see in chapter six, an example of what can happen when no such conversion has taken place in the human heart. Jesus was well aware that many followed him after the feeding of the five thousand because they wanted another free lunch. And they were as predatory as any Gull. When he tells them straight the real reason they had followed him over the water, they turned on him. Unbelievably, they first demanded that he show them a sign, or miracle, as if he had not done that already. He refused. Then they began talking amongst themselves, trying to find reasons to justify their unbelief. Actually, no amount of miracles would have made any difference to these religious people. He fed them, he healed them, , he taught them how to find eternal life, and the same people joined in the chorus baying for his blood.
The two shrubs illustrated here are Juniper and Sea Buckthorn. Juniper berries are well known in Northern European as a food flavouring and some say they have been used for medicinal purposes. I don't know about the medical properties of Juniper, but the Sea Buckthorn berries are an excellent source of vitamin C, and that I can vouch for!. There are also two bugs in this pic. The Juniper shield bug and the Six spot Burnett Moth. The strange little bird, which I have painted before, is a Dartford Warbler. And yes they really do have that wine coloured breast, grey head, and red eyes. They are not all that common, preferring open heathland, and I have only ever seen this bird once.

​The scripture here is part of a long dialogue between Jesu and a crowd of religious people, who ultimately turn on him. I have commented on it already so I won't repeat it here. But I do like verse 40, which I will repeat.

"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."


​Sitting atop a pile of sawn off logs this male Kestrel looks like he has just spotted something that might be lunch! But there again, they always seem to look like that. Most people will be more familiar with them when they see them hovering by the side of motorways. They have an amazing ability to keep their head perfectly still even if the rest of the body is moving in the wind. Their eyesight, of course, is a lot better than ours. high off the ground they can see bugs moving around in the grass. Amazing. The birds in the bottom picture are Grey Partridges. Not as common as they once were in this country. They have been largely replaced by their relative, the Red Legged Partridge. The well known Christmas Carol, "On the Twelth Day of Christmas" has the line "and a partridge in a pear tree". Well, the partridge in question is this one The Grey Partridge. 

Never try to arouse
faith from within.
You cannot stir up faith
from the depths of your heart.
Leave your heart,
and look into
the face of Christ.

​Andrew Murray
All the art  in this Gallery was created with home made watercolour paint on 140lb Fabriano Artistico Paper. 22* x 15* (Does not use animal products in the sizing) I used Rosemary & Co Brushes. (Synthetic) The calligraphy was done by hand using a brush and acrylic ink.

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If you would like to leave a comment or ask me a question concerning the art or anything I have written on this site I can be contacted at the following address. 

crowman24@hotmail.co.uk