Interview with Mark Lawrence
1. Welcome to INSPIKS, please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you’re from and how you got started in the field ?
I was born the oldest of four boys and raised mostly in Florida. My family wound up in the northern suburbs of Atlanta where we all still live within a 20 mile radius of each other.
Ever since grade school I have always been interested in art. I attended my first (and only) art show when I was a young teenager where I displayed paintings I made on pieces of driftwood that we collected on family weekend boating trips. I still have a couple of those paintings gathering dust somewhere in my basement…
I continued to paint and draw off and on as I grew up, but never really considered art as anything more than a hobby. I stumbled through college and graduated with a business degree even though the liberal arts college I attended had a fantastic art program. Once I graduated I got married, and I was ready to go out and conquer the business world as my dad had done. I suppose that all things happen for a reason, but in hindsight I sometimes wonder what in the world was I thinking!
In times of business pressure and anxiety I would find myself returning to my art hobby as a way to relieve my stress. As my stress increased, so did my art productivity. I’ve always also been a very “techy” type of person, so when I discovered Photoshop and the Wacom tablet I was captivated by the endless artistic possibilities. I began posting my digital work on Flickr.com back in 2005 and through the encouragement of friends and family my “hobby” of creating art and sharing my faith in Jesus became my passion.
2. Describe for our readers the circumstances in your life that lead you to Christ.
Growing up I always considered myself as a “Christian”, but I never regularly attended any church services except maybe Easter and Christmas. I began reading the Bible daily and seeking God in my late 20’s after I began to realize that I had no clue about how to succeed in this world. I was working as long and hard as my dad had done, but my results were not the same.
My business failed in the late 1990’s and I wound up losing everything except my wife and child. It was during that time that I really gave my life and myself to Jesus Christ. I remember thinking- OK Lord I’ve been in charge of things for the past 30 years and the result is personal bankruptcy, if you want me, have your will with me.
I can’t say that the skies opened and everything has been like Disneyland for me since that day, but I can say that God has patiently taken care of His frequently obstinate and undeserving adopted child- Mark Lawrence. I sometimes can relate to Jonah the prophet. I feel compelled to share God’s message with others, yet I am most productive for the Kingdom when I am overtaken by terrible storms in my life. Through the perspective of time I can clearly see His hand nudging and guiding me.
3. Who are your favorite artists? How did they influence your art?
I love all types of art so it is hard for me to hand pick just a few favorite artists. I find myself especially drawn to bold and expressive use of color, light, and shapes- Van Gogh, Seurat, Matisse– all come to mind. Although our styles are very different, I also really enjoy Howard Finster’s art and wish that I could one day share in his legacy of serving and honoring our Lord through creating great art.
I am also influenced and motivated by great scripture teaching and encouragement from pastors such as Oswald Chambers, John MacArthur, and Charles Stanley. Nothing motivates me more to create an art than hearing a truth or a message from God’s word that I want to share with others. I am addicted to listening to online sermons in my spare time and sometimes feel like I’m going to explode if I don’t somehow share what I’ve just heard. My art is a good way for me to express this desire.
4. Can you explain the process and tools you use to create your artwork? Do you combine traditional and digital painting techniques ?
Most of my work starts as a blank screen in Photoshop that I gradually transform through adding color, brushstrokes, filters, and anything else that comes to mind. I sometimes manipulate digital photographs that I’ve taken with an old Sony digital camera that I bought a while ago.
I am generally a PC guy, but I purchased a Mac G5 a while ago so I could play around with Studio Artist software by Synthetik Software. It has some great features, but the learning curve was steep for me. I am also a big fan of the Lucis Art filter for Photoshop. I am a tireless tinkerer, so I can literally spend hours experimenting with new brushes, filters, and tools- again mostly error.
I print the work I offer through my gallery on canvas as giclées through a fantastic fine art printing company Gallery Street, that is very close to where I live. Once printed, I hand embellish each print using gels and paint to add detail and texture to the piece. I had never really considered hand embellishing my work until a designer asked me if I could embellish a piece that she wanted for a hotel project that she was managing. The completed piece was nothing short of spectacular and now hangs in a five star hotel in Hong Kong.
5. How do you decide which scripture verse/s to use?
I have been reading the Bible every day for the past twenty-plus years, and have come across many verses that have spoken loudly to me during the seasons of my life. I think that I probably spend most of my time talking to God rather than listening for Him to talk to me. When I read and meditate on His word is when I really hear him speaking to me. I used to pray a lot for the Holy Spirit to lead me, then I realized that He is always working to lead me, I just resist following Him.
When I am drawn to a verse I often want to share it with someone that might also be encouraged or challenged by it. I know that God supernaturally sends and uses His word to each of us to serve his purposes for our lives. I only wish that I had listened for him much earlier in my life! My art is really just my vehicle for trying to share the truth and hope that I’ve discovered while reading God’s amazing word. I am so blessed when I receive a message from someone who happened across my art and then was ministered to from reading the scripture that inspired the art.
So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~Isaiah 55:11
6. Your “Painting With Light” technique is very intriguing, explain the technique and what motivated it’s development.
The Painting With Light technique is an outcome of my trial and error work with art and digital technology. I felt driven to incorporate scripture physically into my work, but was frustrated with the outcome. I eventually developed a digital technique that I could use to render my art using the selected scripture text as the brush.
The time intensive process re-paints the piece by overlaying tiny colored text characters of the verse millions and millions of times over the canvas. From a distance you can’t perceive the tiny letters, but up close you can see the tiny words and letters from the selected verse. I remember the amazing feeling that I had the day that I completed rendering my first piece with the technique. God’s word infused into a painting- how neat is that?
7. To date what would you say is your favorite piece of artwork that you have created? What motivated you?
I can’t really say that I have a single favorite piece, although there are several that have a special meaning to me. The first Painting With Light piece, Enduring Love inspired by Psalm 138:8 carries a lot of meaning to me. My first commissioned piece, Isaiah 61:1 also has much meaning and speaks loudly to me.
8. Thank you for your answers. Finally, what do you want to say to any aspiring artist that may want to do Christian Art?
I would encourage people to do their best to glorify our heavenly Father first and foremost in everything that they do. Do not love the world and do not expect it to love you when you shine the light of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ~ Matthew 5:10-12 (NKJV)
Thank you for selecting me for an interview! Inspiks is a great site. I do the weekly slide shows for our children’s church and Inspiks.com is a frequent source of inspiration for me, some incredible talent is showcased here.
Where to find Mark Lawrence on the Web
- Limited Edition Pieces
- Open Edition Pieces
Church Print Templates
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