Project Handel: Messiah 05

A conductor with an eye above his head


Acrylic and Digital

The piece depicts a composer (Handel/Haydn) being guided by a divine presence. The idea came to mind when I learned that Handel/Haydn were able to play the instruments that they would conduct. To be able to play so many instruments and then be a composer seemed inhumanly possible.

Painting of Jesus and a crying Mary


Gouache and Charcoal

For this piece, I wanted to highlight the somberness and melancholy I heard while listening to Messiah. The scene I illustrated depicts the Virgin Mary holding a recently deceased Jesus, weeping softly over his body. While Handel’s Messiah focuses on large, divine concepts, I wanted to portray a humble, intimate moment of mourning between mother and child.

Artwork of a silhouette looking up



Handel's Messiah was written with the intention of exploring the "mystery of divinity". I felt a connection to this idea, to the idea that divinity cannot be explained or fully understood by any earthly medium. I chose to depict two ends of the growth of Jesus and the continued "divinity" of his form as he grows into a larger than life figure and becomes shrouded in this mystery.

Artwork of a black and white forest



I took my inspiration for this project from the music. It sounds very peaceful and quaint, but also invigorating and bold at times, like nature. Also influencing this piece were the lines about exalting every valley and hill, the shaking of the sea and dry land. Thinking of the time and work that the musicians put into this piece, I wanted to breathe that touch of life into my work, just like them.

Artwork of a sleeping lamb in a field



For this piece, I really wanted to focus on how the music made me feel, as well as the colors I associated with it. When I read the lyrics carefully I took note of the mood and common imagery. I feel that a lamb resting in a field really captured the peaceful atmosphere that Messiah evoked.

Artwork of a heron fighting with a snake



The drama and emotion in Handel’s Messiah is incredibly moving to me, however I could not draw on religiosity for inspiration for this project. Instead, I turned to one of the only things I can say I’ve studied religiously: John J. Audubon’s complete works for Birds of America. The paintings are full of drama; epic battles between good songbirds and evil snakes, animals’ bodies twisted into unrealistic, yet beautiful and expressive positions. This piece is my own rendition of this kind of epic battle of nature, expressing the themes of struggle and protection against evil that are present in Messiah.

Artwork of an angel holding a cross


Gouache and Posca Pen

While listening to Handel’s Messiah, I was drawn in by the imagery of loss and beauty. With this piece I intended to capture the elegance of the music, and the color it brings to the listener’s ears. The angel shows the pain of those who witnessed the death of their Messiah, and the will to help in his plight.

Artwork of an angel in the sky



The music and lyrics of Handel’s Messiah inspired me to revisit past research I’ve conducted about the power and depictions of various biblical angels along with the abstracted definition of the Messiah. This influenced me to create an angelic figure situated in the sky. The warmth and comfort I felt from the music inspired the colors of the sky while the confidence and power flowing from the musicians inspired the proud body posture as well as the six grand angelic wings. Together, these elements illustrate both the peace and power created by the combination of music and God’s words.

Artwork of a violinist and shepherd



This piece was created through the examination of my own feelings toward religion and the beliefs that I carry with me. There is so much value to be found in a community, in caring for and connecting with one another. Listening to Messiah encouraged me to imagine life in a time when everything was a little less complicated, when the whole earth was quiet and lambs found safety in a farmer's arms.

A crying figure sitting on a riverbank



What stood out to me the most while listening to Handel’s Messiah was the consistent presence of both agitation and comfort. I appreciated the fact that this juxtaposition was one that anyone could relate to whether it was through religious context or not. In my piece, I explore this concept through the use of light, color, and gesture. The main figure in the piece, which is representative of despair, is turned toward the darkness and unaware of the comforting hand, representative of hope, reaching toward him. I wanted to leave the owner of the hand ambiguous so viewers could have their own interpretations that they could relate to.