Mercy Has a Human Heart by Yours Truly

My desk is homemade–two cabinets with a door on top.  My intention has been to paint something on it for years.  Twenty-ten is the year.  In January I painted an excerpt from a dream I had about a Greek or a god being roughed up by the goddess Praxidice.

Justice and Mercy

Now I’ve nearly finished a proper complement to Justice by painting Mercy.  I should have made Mercy a man because I’m in love with that character from Orson Scott Card’s novel, The Worthing Saga (which I’ve just reread).

But I wanted to see if I could make a woman look as bad ass as the god in William Blake’s “Ancient of Days.”

My painting’s title comes from Blake’s poem, The Divine Image.  My mom had me fixated on all things Blake by the time I was 5-years-old.  Some things are worth obsessing about.

A story I remember from Catholic school days haunted me for a long time.   The morality lesson was from a religious textbook. The tale started out with an angel visiting hell, and the angel had permission to rescue a soul if that soul was found worthy.  The angel asked a woman if there was any good deed she had ever done.   She replied that she once gave a beggar an onion.  I remember being little and thinking, wow, she was mean.

Stealing Poses from Blake

The angel lowered a gigantic onion down to hell and told the woman to grab on.   The woman had a difficult time getting purchase, but she finally did. (And I found the angel a little sadistic at this point. It seemed like a dirty trick.)  The woman’s eyes burned and she needed all her strength to hold on.  As the angel raised the woman from hell, damned souls began latching onto her legs and arms hoping they too could make it to Heaven.   She wasn’t having that.   She began kicking and trying to shake off the freeloaders.   She fell and lost her chance at Heaven forever.

The moral of the story for me as a first or second grader was do nice things for people on swing sets or on buses. That way if I went to Hell, the trip out would be easier on everyone. 🙂

As an adult, I can only think that was a twisted story to tell little kids.

I toyed with the idea of painting souls in a River Styx and my guy would have been wading in it. However, if my angel was to be truly merciful and full of godly love, she would have to reach right down and snatch the person from despair.  And she wouldn’t leave anyone behind.    So, this is how I painted my version of Mercy.  She personifies Blake’s ideal (and Card’s).   She makes no judgments.   Being completely filled with love, she can only rescue a wretch from a desperate situation.

If you share your ideas on mercy, I’ll gladly give you a dollar and a hamburger on Tuesday. 🙂


48 thoughts on “Mercy Has a Human Heart

  1. Why are your goddesses always blond(ish)?

    Mercy depends on whom I have the chance to do what to.

    (Make my burger grass fed organic beef, please.)

    • I expect more scrutiny than this if you want that grass fed organic burger! Wendy’s until then! :mrgreen:

      My first goddess had white hair because she did in my dream. Plus, I got to work with more brighter colors.

      The second, I let a friend choose. Otherwise, I was gonna make her a redhead.

      • Scrutiny? You want scrutiny? You shoulda said scrutiny. Having scrutinized you for quite some time, I have to say you give good painting. Or good pixels. I think maybe I would have left out the legs on the goddess though.

        Redhead would have been good. I have no problem with blonde, just sensing a theme.

      • I really enjoy seeing your paintings. I’m not much of an “art” fan, but yours are pleasing to the eye.
        Re: Wendys’ and redheads – Would LOVE a Wendys’ burger with a side of their chili. And the little girl in the logo is a ‘ranga. Love the ‘rangas, but, sorry, blondes are a close 2nd.

        Oh, have you seen the works of Reg Mombassa? One of the founders of clothing line “Mambo” .

        And you people just make me sick eating crawfish. Didn’t think it was available in B’ham. So very, very jealous!

        • Tommy,

          I encourage you to think of Art the way Duke Ellington thought of and evaluated music: “If is *sounds* good, it *is* good!” Same with Art: if to you it *looks* good (and maybe touches something in your soul), then it *is* good.

          That should be the first and most important rule of art appreciation and if you think about it that way, you’re on your way to becoming an enthusiast.


        • You’re too sweet to jump over here and comment, Tommy! You and Ric remind of quote on women by Herman Hesse. It amounts to being in love with the lot.

          And why not? 😀

          Re crawfish. OMG! Love ’em! They’re like lobster shrimps or shrimpy lobsters. So-o-o-o good!

  2. I love ’em!
    You are so creative – and I was feeling all creative and such but then the hamburger entered the convo and now I’m all hungry and such so I may have to tap my creative juices another day …

    But that shit rocks, girlfriend!

    • Well, if you want to be creative about it, you could use the hamburger juice to paint with. You could call the work ‘The Meat of the Matter’ 001, 002, and so on. How’s that for juicy?

        • No fear, dear. You ARE The Cookie! I’d share my last chocolate chip cookie with you. (But then I’d have to convince Melissa to make some more so I could share them too.) I just wouldn’t want you to think that I’ve turned from a cranky old curmudgeon into one of those sharey, wussy old men that inhabit my nightmares. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t want to think that either. Which would explain the nightmares.

  3. way to be all talented and shit. seriously, i love the paintings. i even love the cropped version of mercy. the tilt of the man’s head is so profoundly sad. you’re awesome!

    • Thank you, Nonnie, and thanks for noticing my guy’s sadz. 😦

      I wasn’t going for Rodin’s 3 Shades (Adams), but you mentioning the tilt of the head made me think of it:

      Gates of Hell is such an amazing sculpture!

    • My mom started me out on Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright then graduated me to Songs of Innocence. I didn’t discover he was a painter until I was in college and read The Marriage of Heaven and Hell…which I picked up because a book group I was in had me read The Great Divorce–C.S. Lewis’ answer to Blake. Love Lewis’ fiction, but the theology is a little anesthetizing.

      • I almost took “Screwtape” as my nom du Kos, lo! those many (almost 6) years ago. But as cool as it sounded I reconsidered, thinking it sounded a bit too creepy and cynical.

        • I enjoyed The Screwtape Letters a lot more than The Great Divorce. Screwtape was like a British prelude to Dante’s Divine Comedy.

  4. that first comment was directed at the red-head comment.I love the paintings.This is one of those times I am glad I can not paint what I see in my dreams (or on the bridge-but that is for an espresso{and only on the beach and only at sunset-hold the hamburger-hold the dollar.}))) 🙂 🙂
    You paint beautifully.

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