I earned a “conversation starter” badge on the Thriving Christian Artists Facebook page because I asked a question and got over 200 replies to it. My question was, “Why do so many Christian artists paint lions?”
The 200 replies broke down into about five categories.
1. The Bible answer: In the book of Revelation 5:5, a symbolic figure assumed to be Christ is called “The lion of the tribe of Judah.” Artists have enjoyed painting this symbol for centuries.
2. The C.S. Lewis answer: Artists like to paint Aslan, the Christ-symbol character in the Chronicles of Narnia.
3. The fun/aesthetic answer: It’s fun to paint lions, and they look cool.
4. The visionary answer: God/Jesus spoke to me in the form of a lion. OR God told me to paint a lion.
5. The cliche’ answer: Christian artists have settled for painting traditional Christian images: lions, eagles, doves, lambs, crosses. They lack imagination and originality.
I easily become bored, and I am bored with lion paintings. You can tell from my title that I was looking to skewer lion-painters in this blog. However, the flood of answers opened my eyes to my own judgmental prejudices. (No new lesson for me. Still haven’t learned it).
Artists have their own personal drives and inspirations, just as writers do. I was impressed with the depth of discussion carried on by various ministers and speakers who obviously have given the topic a lot of thought. Contributors such as Marlee Huber, TJ Voelker, Matt Tommey, Kathleen Colussy, and John Grapperhaus shared their ruminations on the subject and made for lively discussion.
Still, I am not a lion-painting fan. I would like to see artists breaking out of the chains of Christian cliche’. What are your thoughts?