Happy Resurrection Day! This is the first time drawing faces from my mind rather than from a photo. I was given the opportunity to participate in an Easter Art Show, which had a theme of “Lifted Up”. I had the idea of drawing Simon a few months for another project but this theme fit perfectly. It was also an opportunity to determine if I could pursue creating drawings from my imagination. I was pleased with this first attempt. I was also either very brave or I have an exaggerated idea of my actual skill level for entering a first attempt into an art show. However, my goal was to portray the emotion of the entire scene; I believe much of that came through in the final piece.
And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. ~Matthew 27:31-32
We know of Christ’s dreadful yet crucial journey to the Cross; however I was likewise captured by the man Simon from Cyrene. He was ‘compelled’ by government authorities to carry the Cross.
Imagine, being on the sideline of this historic event only to be singled out to support a man who had been beaten, maligned, and otherwise wronged and on his way to death.
What could Simon be thinking? This was the crux of the drawing. As an artist I created a mental scenario: Simon had travelled from North Africa to witness this event. Physically, he must have been a large man to be asked to carry the Cross, and he might have been of darker complexion living nearer to the equator.
What about spiritually? Did Simon believe in this Jesus of Nazareth as he was compelled? Was he a skeptic and not wanting to be seen with Jesus? Did he fear his own life, now associated with Jesus, was in danger? How did seeing the physical pain and demeanor of Jesus affect him? Was this a life changing experience for Simon?
These questions helped to formulate the facial expressions of the men in the artistic rendition. I wanted to show the fear, doubt, strength and possible ultimate transformation of Simon. Some commentaries say that Simon later went on to become a follower of Christ. Did this one act of being compelled to carry the Cross forever change Simon? Did he see his own pain, his own eternal loss in the face of Jesus as they moved toward Golgotha?