Painting Jesus

Jesus at the Table oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

Classical paintings of Jesus Christ emphasize form, simplicity, balance, proportion, and aesthetics. This type of art, such as Jesus at the Table, often looks vintage even if painted by a contemporary artist (like me) living in present day. Realism in the portraiture, earth tone hues, and highly detailed compositions are what make classic art rich in color and storytelling.

Jesus Christ remains the “most popular” historical figure of all time, according to several sources that rate such things (it is unknown how accurate rankings are, but when doing a search for art and writings about Jesus, it’s obvious that the rankings are likely accurate). Because people are very familiar with how Jesus is typically painted, an artist is taking a risk when painting Jesus Christ. However, taking risks is how artists grow.

Nativity is painted in a traditional way, in the style that one might see on a cover of a Christmas card. Indeed, I have sold several such cards. This traditional style of painting Jesus depicts him as a baby with Mary and Joseph, and is associated with celebrating Christmas. While the figures are somewhat detailed and arranged in a traditional way, the composition is simplistic. This keeps the focus on the figures and the story.

Representational paintings of Jesus take creative license and may be more of a design than a composition. In “Angel Watching over Jesus, viewers understand that the bundled baby is the Christ child because of the presence of the angel and the golden hues in this painting. This style is very far removed from the classical style, and from the dynamic of painting Jesus as a man instead of as a baby.

Taking a risk as an artist is not only about the subject matter chosen (a religious, historical, or political figure will certainly bring risks), but also in the style of painting. It is presumably less of a risk when an artist paints Jesus as a Christmas baby, than when painting Jesus as a grown man in a classical style, with a composition that symbolizes his teachings.


However, it may surprise you to know that I have received more threats, hate, and crimes committed against me over the paintings of baby Jesus and angels than I have for painting Jesus as a man. I’m not sure what that says about the state of man, but I’ve long realized that I must be willing to be hated. I will not allow the deranged malice of others to stop me from creating. Artists must be brave.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 111 other subscribers

New Art Journey

I’ve lost track of how many oil paintings I’ve done, but “over 200” is possibly right. My lifetime goal is over 1,000 finished oil paintings,

Read More »


Well, there must have been a bad moon a’rising because today was a horrible day. The close on our house was cancelled, and then thankfully

Read More »

Happy Day!

Today we had the opportunity to bring the kids to the house we’ll be closing on. Until now, they’d only seen the pictures and video.

Read More »


These birds have been coming around and stealing our strawberries! What a disappointment! I was enjoying a fresh berry with Cool Whip as a snack

Read More »

Easy Going

This painting was a “free paint” project, in which there is no reference, plan, or agenda other than to let the paints flow. I start

Read More »


“Fred” was my dad’s nickname for me. This painting was inspired by a black and white photograph he took to complete an assignment for a

Read More »

Wild Days

Ever feel that you live your life with reckless abandon, like these wild horses? What do they care about consequences or the worries of tomorrow?

Read More »


My daughter brought me one of the boxes she packed herself for our move, for me to load onto the POD container. She said it

Read More »

Ooh, Pretty!

These flowers are probably the closest thing I have right now to what my new “Freedom Rose” looks like, but imagine the buds and open

Read More »

Bearing Up

The PODS container was dropped off today. I spent hours packing the first round of our household, mostly by myself. I felt victorious, like this

Read More »

Leave a Reply