Jesus on the Beach

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Let’s have an art discussion. Do you like this painting? If so why?  If not, why not? To you think it is ‘good’ art? If so why, if not why not? Do you think it is ‘Christian’ art? If so why, if not why not?

  • Jeffrey Miller

    Now if it was painted on velvet it would be great art right up there with poker playing dogs.

  • Pam

    I give it 2 thumbs down. I am not an art critic but this looks like the cover of a Harlequin romance novel with Fabio playing the part of Jesus.

  • Karina

    The composition, style of painting, and color choices are extremely amateurish. The artist makes a stab at realism but clearly does not understand how light falls on form. Areas such as the driftwood and clouds do not look purposefully stylized- they look as if the artist does not know how to paint. Areas such as the woman’s dress show a total lack of knowledge and ability to suggest the underlying structure of the human body.

    To be good, one needs to know and master the rules, only then can one break them purposefully, artfully.

    The artist should enroll in life drawing and painting classes. A good start is to study old masters, and then after learning how to see and portray color and light, and how it plays over the figure and landscape, work to develop his or her own style.

    This artist may have wonderful insight and yearn to portray spiritual truths, but they are severely hindered by their lack of technical ability.

    • Paul Kattukaran

      Very well said, this painting is just illustrational, this painting is borrowing somebody else’s imagination, the artist has not made it his/her imagination and inspired visualization. Even without great technical abilities one may paint great inspired visualizations; this is done to please somebody, not the artist’s inner self!

  • Vinko

    The message is positive. Christ is the one who can carry anyone through anything. I just don’t prefer the style of the painting. In other words, I would not hang it up in my home. It is a mish-mash (for lack of better word) of many styles. Aesthetically confusing. Looks like someone cut and pasted in some lady into a Dali meets Sci-Fi painting.

  • Reluctant Liberal

    I don’t really like it. The woman is over-sexualized. And why is Jesus carrying her into the storm? That doesn’t seem quite right.

    I couldn’t say why, but I don’t like the colors. I can say that the storm doesn’t really look like a storm to me. In my experience, storms don’t come in on the ground first (or at all, really).

  • Tracy

    I don’t think it’s theologically sound. What is represented here is Jesus carrying someone through troubles while they are unconscious of it. Jesus doesn’t promise us this kind of help. He promises to be with us; to walk with us. We are to be holding His hand and trusting Him as a child trusts his father. He doesn’t do it for us.

    I agree with the first poster that this is also a mish mash of images and has just too much going on to make any real impact. The details aren’t even that interesting; just jumbled.

    Is it art? Well, I guess if you define art as being able to draw a picture then it is. If, however, you define art as something that should speak truth to the soul, then no, it isn’t.

    • Todd

      I don’t agree with your analysis of the theological message. One need not be conscious of God’s grace for it to be carrying us through life. Indeed, God’s grace holds all things together into being, regardless of our consciousness of it.

  • Oregon Catholic

    Definite thumbs down. I’m afraid it looks like the cover of a weird bodice-ripper romance novel. It also looks like Jesus’ halo is on crooked. Reminds me of something you might see in a really tacky funeral home.

  • Mac McLernon

    I suppose it’s meant to evoke the “footprints” reflection… “When you see only one set of prints, it was then that I carried you.” But the woman’s pose is just all wrong – as Oregon Catholic says, straight off a cover to a bodice-ripper! It’s rather ghastly IMHO … but some people like that sort of thing. Basically, as long as I’m not forced to look at it, fine.

    • Anil Wang

      I’ll have to agree about the posture of the woman.

      In the poem, the carrying is supposed to happen during the darkest moments of the person’s life, so the person is fully awake and struggling. Also theologically, those are still your feet even when Jesus is caring you. Suffering is a part of the Catholic life.

      I think a better illustration is for Jesus to be floating (since is only one set of footprints) just above the woman while she is carrying many burdens, lifting her up by her burdens. His other hand would be on her head giving her a blessing and praying for her.

  • Julie

    I agree with the previous posters by saying I would not hang this picture within my home. I must, however, disagree with Tracy about the message. God watches over everyone whether they are aware of His help or not. Many people deny Jesus’ existence (due to cultural differences, ignorance, or just plain stubbornness), but that does not mean He is not present and assisting even though they are unable or refuse to recognize the help.

    • ogden lafaye

      Certainly not because of ignorance. You follow jesus because you ignore the truth…thats classic ignorance that cannot be denied by people in full control of their faculties.

  • Jim

    Nice feet!

  • English Catholic

    I think that although the style is a little off that the message is theologically sound i.e. Jesus is the Spouse of our souls (something I think we’ve lost in the past 50 years) and he is always with us (but most especially in the Blessed Sacrmant).

    • ogden lafaye

      And he wll arrive any day….Get Ready, look busy, smile.

  • Bernadette

    It is not art, because it is not saying any thing that the poem “footprints” has not already said, only far more eloquently. This picture sentimentalizes a good idea and, no, it isn’t Christian art because it is tacky and cheap. Christian art draws people into the presence of God. A beautiful painting of almost anything would be more likely to do this, than this clumsy attempt. The whole point about the poem is that the writer had felt abandoned and that Jesus was invisible but present. This artist has decided to deprive the viewer of empathizing with that by spelling out the message loud and clear just in case we don’t get it. If s/he had actually understood the poem, s/he would have drawn the viewer into the mystery of the story by painting, beautifully, e.g. a set of male footprints on a beach.

    Please don’t say you painted it.

  • Will

    Too cloying and schmaltzy for my tastes.

  • Jan

    My first thought was that she looks dead. Aside from that, I don’t like the colors. Also, even though Jesus is invisible, He still casts a shadow…that’s weird.

  • Fuquay Steve

    Not sure how sacred, but I looked high and low for my tie-dyed t shirt and flip flops.

  • Nathan

    Christian art has some real heavy weights (Michelangelo, Leonardo, Caravaggio, Bernini, Titian, etc.) so to create a really moving Christian piece you really have to pull off something a lot better than this. I suppose the message of it is rather appealing to our culture, but I can’t bring myself to call it good art. Okay art, maybe. Good art? No.

  • Susan Mary

    The painting portrays Christianity in an extremely negative way. There is only one set of footprints in the sand. They lead from the light into the dark, away from calm waters to rough seas, away from a pristine beach to a beach strewn with rock and ugly snarled driftwood. The path is leading from life to death. The unconsciousness of the women suggests she is not going with him by her own free. Everything in this painting is the complete opposite of what we are taught as Catholics.
    Is this painting done by an atheist?

    • ogden lafaye

      Atheists are not toooo interested in religious “art” of any sort negative or positive….laugter
      We are engaged in the pursuit of enlightenment and the banishment of IGNORANCE….look in the mirror…get responsible, get real, get going.

  • Susan

    Does it look like something from the movie “Contact”? Or a movie I can’t place. I wonder if it glows in the dark…

  • Paul Kattukaran

    Yes, this artist while painting this one has not experienced the divine; it is insincere; so it is kitsch! I am happy that many have felt it is not right.

  • Pidge (Celia Blay)

    Hackneyed and shallow; it says nothing new in either style or message. This has barely moved on from the JW and Seventh Day Adventist school of art. Why a young pretty woman? Why not an old deformed man? It’s using our sexualised culture rather than challenging it.

  • ejf

    Superior to Dogs Playing Pocker, but not as good as some pieces in my Elvis collection.

  • Cynthia

    I have to agree with the other posters. My first reaction was “yuck.” My second was, “why does the woman have to look slinky?” This is junk not art.

  • AnneG

    It’s a poster, commercial, not art. And the imagery is definitely not Christian. I don’t think it was intended to be for reasons mentioned above.

  • AnneG

    I take it back. The artist, Lester Kern, did intend it to be Christian & inspirational.

  • McSkeptic

    If this is either the Pacific or Atlantic in the US — given the rarity of electrical/thunder storms coming in off the West Coast (last week’s storms were rare events) — and only in times of hurricanes do storms move westard onto the East Coast (and the storm is not a hurricane) so, i.e., the storm has passed, I would say the artist has a poor grasp of science in addition to a poor imagination. Also, shouldn’t there only a be a shadow of the woman?

    • AnneG

      You’ve never been to the Gulf.

  • Ryan M.

    As many have already pointed out, the style is absolutely garish. But I also think there’s something of a tacit Gnosticism in the painting: Our Lord is portrayed as something of an incorporeal spirit. Freed, perhaps, from the confines and chaos of matter, he’s able to carry the young woman whilst being unaffected by the storm…

  • Christina

    It reminds me of a painting I often see in mexican restraunts of an Aztec warrior carrying a woman up a mountain.

  • Kolokol

    Nice work on the tree branches, that’s about it though. The rocks on the beach look like piles of what I try to avoid in pastures, however I do like to wear my halo just like that, with a rakish tilt.
    I don’t like to run down other people’s artwork, but I have.

  • Dave

    The girl looks like she passed out at a cocktail party and this ghostly figure has made off with her. Typical modern symbolism that signifies nothing. I’m sure the art critics will go wild for it as it ranks right up there with Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe.

  • Oregon Catholic

    I may have detested Mapplethorpe’s subject matter but there is no denying his artistic talent with a camera and the use of light and shadow. It’s a shame he wasted it.

  • Fuquay Steve

    The painting begs the question : Is there cheeseburgers in paradise?

  • Paul Rodden

    I wonder what David Clayton would make of it?

    The responses remind me of how I used to interpret Scripture in bible studies as an Evangelical (rather like the story of the blind men feeling round an elephant) Art has been relativised and we have to recover its meaning and language. A sort of aesthetic ressourcement is required. I have a hunch this has a huge impact on how to understand the Eucharist, too. Art has been removed from the sphere of language to that of entertainment. From a tradition to subjectivity.

  • Eileen

    I guess it’s “inspired” by the Footprints poem, but sheesh, could it be any worse?

  • Lee

    The idea is derivative and the execution is weak. We need Christian artists to produce moving, thought-provoking, inspiring art. I believer artists can deal with a classic themes or ideas, but they have to do so in an original ways.

    • ogden lafaye

      You mean their art should tell the story f jesus again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again…jesus jesus jesus jesus jesus jesus…if these people were sane, the mere mention of jesus should drive them bonkers. My stomach lurches when someone throws that name out in a conversation.

  • John

    I, for one, LOVE it!

    I also love t-shirts and flip-flops, guitars, projection screens, 70′s music, and “Our Father” hand-holding in Mass.

  • Tim S.

    Here is an interview where the artist talks about his art.
    He died of prostate cancer in 2110 at the age of 55.

  • John Beeler

    Good composition, garish colours, inappropriately sexy. Thumbs down.

  • Benedict James


    Jesus looks like a limited edition Star Wars figure and He seems to be carrying that woman towards the purple storm and rough water instead of away from it. Also, the woman isn’t dressed very modestly and she being unconscious through her current peril isn’t the idea we wanna portray to people about how should go about our struggles in life. We shouldn’t just lie there and expect Him to do everything for us, we should be working with Jesus in order to better understand His will. Even in portraits of Him as The Good Shepherd the lame had its eyes open and clearly understood what was going around him.

    • Benedict James


  • Michelle Therese

    Very dorky. I would not hang this on my wall.

    • ogden lafaye

      Fear not, it will be in velvet soon…then garage sales. Would certainly make good fish wrap.

  • John Collier

    That is pretty bad.Wow.
    It is hard to know why such pieces become so popular. I hope it is because nothing else was available when the public went to buy something. I have the same hope when I have to sing another bad song on Sunday morning— Or maybe the cantor just can’t tell the difference. There is a story I once heard about the old Dallas First Baptist that said it built a building with a roof that leaked because to build it right made it look too Catholic. I get the same thought about why protestant hymns , which are clearly superior and a greater aid to the soul, aren’t used by my parish… “well, yes they’re good but .. you know… they are too protestant sounding.”

  • http://n/a Tom Reddick

    Perhaps the picture above serves the same essential function as the inkblots in a Rorscach test. It cn serve to reveal as much about the viewer as the painter. I view the picture less objectively than some. Like our lives, it is an attempt to relay the perfect love of Christ using imperfect medium. Several saints I know of have Used sexual comparisons to try to emphasize the deep and personal longing they feel for Christ. Our first instinct often is to distance ourselves from the raw, the crude and the childish emotional expressions people often make when they try to express the love of Christ. But there is nothing polished about the responses to him that Christ defended in scripture. “Let the little children come unto me and suffer them not.” Just as I will not criticise another’s life expressing the love of Christ until mine is perfect, so I will neither criticise this picture until I have a perfect one. What I will say is that, a person has expressed this love very differently from how I might have. And maybe almost even as imperfectly as I would have. Thanks for reading, and remember to tip your waiters. 8-)

  • Scott

    A Gnostic Christ- the painting is theologically unsound and tacky.

  • Fuquay Steve

    This painting begs the answer to the eternal question : “Are there cheeseburgers in Paradise?”

  • ogden lafaye

    No, it is not art. In a real sense: the waves, that close to the shore, means the water would constantly be up on the beach erasing the footprints almost as he made them. The “clouds” are not storm clouds. This is simply tear-jerk Christian art.

  • mary

    Yes, absolutely! Jesus our saviour and hope, is there to carry us when we are down, even though we may not see Him. This piece of art is lacking a sense of colour. But the message is quite clear, you don’t have to dig too deep for answers.
    what makes something a true piece of artwork, is when one picture says a million things. the picture is definitely art.