The Painting for the Hymn Rock of Ages:

Tempestuous Serenity
“Tempestuous Serenity”
©2019 by Natasha Nashadka
Created for the arrangement “Rock of Ages” by Sally DeFord.

Another Exciting Project with Sally DeFord

Inspiration brought Sally and I together again for her arrangement of the beautiful hymn “Rock of Ages” (original blog post).

I am repeatedly astounded by how the pairing of music, lyrics, and images adds a new level of magic that you can feel! If you’re ready to see (and hopefully feel it), skip to the video.

If you want more detail, keep reading!

The Process: Not Too Literal, But Just a Little

The last thing I want to be is a literal painter. My initial dream was to be one of the gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, but my career was sidelined when I suffered third degree burns in a freak accident involving a fresh batch of onion rings. Mmmmmm, onion rings.

I prefer images that use imagination, metaphor, and symbolism . . .  but then it’s a whole lot harder to figure out what to paint.

Early on, I became fixated on having the ocean represent the theme of water in the hymn. And, of course, there had to be a literal rock, but I put it at a distance to symbolize a process, a journey. You can read more about the symbolism on Sally’s second blog post.

(Incidentally, I patterned the rock after Shiprock in New Mexico – a “ghostly galleon upon a midnight shore”, because the first time I ever saw it (Shiprock that is), it appeared to be ethereally floating above the ground. Desert illusions are awesome! But don’t lick the toads!)

Looking for Help

I have never painted water before. Forging ahead in a new frontier can be scary or at a minimum frustrating. You never know when a path you take is a dead end, will ruin your marriage, or, even worse, destroy your painting!

Practice sketches help a lot (we’ll get to that next), but having a teacher goes a whole lot further. That’s when I found Andrew Tischler, a master at painting the ocean. I’m almost loathe to show you his work because I don’t want to invite the comparison (so please don’t). What he does with waves is breathtaking!

Getting Started

I am amazed by the painters who can grasp water’s ever-changing shapes, texture, and colors. Usually, I might. . . might create one rough draft. In this case, I made eight! And four more gentle drafts. I had to practice everything.

*click on the gallery to see my comments on each one.

Small Canvas, Big Ideas

During school, the mantra was, “Use the biggest brush you can to get the job done.” This helps preserve a looseness and a more interesting interpretation of the subject matter. You might be quick to point out that I use tiny brushes. The painting is only 9×12 inches (the smaller the faster) so little brushes seemed necessary. I think I was still able to maintain expressive brush strokes. Take an up-close peek and tell me what you think:

detail of Tempestuous Serenity

And Now for the Show: The Video

For “Rock of Ages” arranged by Sally Deford.

Here’s the best part: watching it all come together. Sit back and relax. This goes best with popcorn.

Get More

Want to see more footage of the painting being created?  I put together a longer timelapse so the massive amount of footage wouldn’t go to waste. Check it out:

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