Friday, December 28, 2018

What’s Going On

Copyright © Edward Riojas

The coming of a new year forces some of us to seriously assess what we’ve actually accomplished throughout the past year and what we may expect in the next. It’s not necessarily a feeling of woe – it’s simply reality. If your time, like mine, is filled with long-term projects, then the “out box” might seem lacking, adding to the false impression that not much at all was accomplished.
"Baptismal Triptych."
Detail showing the crossing of the Red Sea.
Copyright © Edward Riojas

I’m not in the habit of keeping everyone abreast of my current projects, preferring instead to do “show and tell” when things are seriously close to being finished. Artists, by nature, chafe at showing others unfinished work. Often, that’s because there are early stages that can look ugly in spite of a very different end. No one wants to show off underwear that will be hidden beneath a tuxedo.

At the expense, therefore, of being a bit premature, I thought I would give a peek into some things that are either waiting for varnishing or are still in the drawing stage. Let me reassure you that I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs or binge-watching Netflix. OK, one out of two isn’t too bad, is it?

The Baptismal Triptych
This commission began months ago. The roughly eight-by-eight-feet piece will be placed behind the Baptismal font at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Hankinson, N.D. The text of Luther’s ‘Flood Prayer,’ which is part of the order of Holy Baptism, will feature prominently on the panels, along with imagery surrounding the prayer.
Floor design conceptual drawing
for the Holy Incarnation.
Copyright © Edward Riojas

Floor Designs
Sometimes I get opportunities that are fun simply because of the materials involved. Although I only have a design role, the floor project for Trinity Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas, is one such opportunity. Using a decidedly old-school technique, the church will use terrazzo to embellish the narthex and sanctuary floors. Eleven roundels will hold symbolism relating to Lutheran confessions and the life of Christ.

Terrazzo makes use of what is essentially colored aggregate and cement which is carefully placed in intricate, flexible forms. Once dried and cured, the surface is then ground down and polished. Often the forms themselves are left in place – especially if the design calls for brass or silver-colored lines. What makes this ongoing project challenging is that no human images are to be used. No one, after all, would dare walk on an image of Christ.
Superfrontal and Chalice Veil.
Edward Riojas.
Copyright © Ecclesiastical Sewing

Ongoing work with Ecclesiastical Sewing is always rewarding. The eagerness with which I attack embroidery designs is matched only by the anticipation of finally seeing them executed. It doesn’t help that there is a natural lag time of digitally producing the images, so some designs are seemingly long in coming. Shown here is part of a new “White Set” that can be used for either Christmas or Easter, but look for wonderfully massive sets for Lent and Christmas in the future, along with a constant stream of other seasonal sets.

Chapel Walls
A few weeks ago I received confirmation of a commission for a series of paintings for the chapel walls of Zion Lutheran Church in Wausau, Wisc. Only very rough thumbnail drawings have been done, but the theme will show all of creation in adoration of the Lord. The wall piece will compliment another of my works in the same chapel – The Zion Altarpiece.

Working drawing for "Baptismal Mural." Copyright © Edward Riojas 

Baptismal Mural
Just last night I had a conference call with members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to chat about a project that was previously on a back-burner. Work will hopefully begin mid- to late-summer of this coming year. It will be on a wall in the new environs of the St. Paul Music Conservatory – an entity for which I provide illustrations. The mural will also be in proximity to another mural of mine showing Jesus surrounded by children.

Book Project
I am in the early stages of a large project that will necessitate painting eleven or so oil paintings. I don’t yet feel I can divulge details of the book for Kloria Publishing because, well, I don’t want to spill ALL the beans.

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