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A Peek Behind the Artwork: Church of St. John the Divine

This post was originally featured in my February 2011 monthly e-newsletter. Sign up for future newsletters to receive background information about featured paintings as well as subscriber-only discounts.
Original Photograph of the Church of St. John the DivinePartially Completed Sketch of the Church of St. John the Divine- copyright Martin Machacek 2010Original Painting, Church of St. John the Divine. Copyright Martin Machacek 2010

The Church of St. John the Divine is a stunning brick building situated on Quadra Street in Victoria, in between two equally impressive churches: the First Metropolitan United Church and the Victoria Conservatory of Music (which was formerly the Metropolitan United Church). The congregation of St. John the Divine celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, and the building where they worship will also mark its 100th anniversary in 2012.

This particular painting incorporates some of my favourite natural elements, such as the evening sky and stars. I love painting places of worship at night, because it allows me to highlight the warmth, light, and jubilance that emanates from them when the congregation is inside celebrating. The juxtaposition of a dark sky outside with the opulent light inside acts as a metaphor for spirituality itself while creating a visually pleasing painting as well. Although I do not personally practice any specific religion, I do revere all types of holy buildings and respect the power that is generated when like-minded individuals are brought together in spirit.

The Church of St. John the Divine holds a special place in relation to my artwork, as it was one of my first sketches in my new style of architectural etherealism:
2002 Sketch of the Church of St. John the Divine, copyright Martin Machacek

Prior to this particular drawing, all of my renderings of buildings had been done meticulously and true-to-form in traditional drafting style. This pen and ink sketch, with its wobbly lines and organic movement, represented a radical departure from my technical training, and it also flung open the gate of creativity for me. I could not have known it at the time, but this experimental drawing in late 2002 would stimulate a watershed of inspiration inside of me and would steer my artistic career for the next eight years (and counting)!

Although I was based in Calgary, Alberta at the time, my earliest sketches in this fluid style—including my drawing of the Church of St. John the Divine—were completed in Victoria. I spent several weeks at a time in Victoria, sitting in front of the city’s many beautiful churches with my sketchbook in hand. One day, after conceiving a basic composition for a rendering of the Church of St. John the Divine, I sat in the Wildfire Bakery on Quadra Street and started fleshing out my drawing in pen and ink. Within an hour of sitting down, a regular patron of the bakery had offered to purchase my drawing from me. Wanting to complete the piece first as a study for a future painting, I coloured my drawing in that evening and sold it to him the next day. It was my first sale in this new style: an auspicious occurrence, indeed!

The rest, as they say, is history. I have been working in this style and selling my artwork now since 2002, but incredibly enough, I have yet to create a painting of this original sketch, and I only recently (late 2010) painted my second rendition of the Church of St. John the Divine (pictured at the top of this message). I found myself almost overwhelmed with inspiration since starting to paint in the architectural etherealism style, and many historical buildings and charismatic landmarks found their way onto my canvases before the Church of St. John the Divine finally got its turn.

Collectors' Information

The Church of St. John the Divine original painting measures 23” x 30 ¼” unframed and is offered for sale at $2,375 plus applicable taxes. The image will also be available in the following reproduction formats:

1.      Standard-sized greeting cards (blank inside): $4 each or three for $10 plus applicable taxes
2.      8”x10” Photographic Print on Archival-Quality Photo Paper: $20 each plus applicable taxes
3.      12”x16” Poster on Acid-Free, Heavy Cardstock Paper: $20 each plus applicable taxes

No plans have been made at this point to offer this painting in limited edition canvas giclée reproductions. Block-mounted 8”x10” prints are available upon request for $30 plus taxes.

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