On an autumn afternoon walk with my wife and resident artist, our conversation turned to the last 10 years since Trinitarian Theology dawned on our understanding in a meaningful way. Every layer of thought, realized nuance and experience over the last decade has helped us unpack a little more of the stunning reality of our adoption and participation in the Triune Life of God.
"We're Flemish paintings, not Alla Prima." she said. My “colour-blind” response prompted her further explanation: "Alla Prima paintings are usually created in one sitting, wet paint into wet paint, fresh colour laid down all at once for a beautiful, immediate finished work. Flemish paintings are the opposite. They require a series of careful, patient layers, each building on the last. A detailed drawing goes down first, then an under painting, a complete grey layer and finally colour. Colour may include many transparent layers before the final varnish is applied. Each stage must dry carefully for several days before the next and then months of drying are needed before the varnish. The result is a depth of jewel-like colour that is just stunning. A glorious luminosity is achieved with this layering process over time."
She went on to say, “So, most of us are Flemish paintings. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit also do stunning ‘Alla Prima’ work with glorious results and sudden transformation. But they are always patiently at work on the ‘Flemish layers’ of our heart's understanding.”
This metaphor beautifully captures the fact that God, in the ‘artistic recovery’ of His marred image in us, is not in a hurry. And neither should we be. His masterpiece requires our free participation. And that participation involves the healing of our sight through a believing heart and a renewed mind, both of which simply take time.