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Ellen Stedfeld's beautiful spinning piece explores the contrast found in Proverbs 4:18-19.

Proverbs 4:18-19

Brightening Path, Stumbling Darkness


Ellen Stedfeld


Curated by: 

Rebecca Testrake


5″x7″ each

Pencil, Marker, Charcoal, Ink, and Oil Pastel on Colored / Textured Paper

Mixed Media

Image by Giorgio Trovato

Primary Scripture

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Proverbs 4:18-19 appealed to me with its tangible experiential metaphors - the path of the just/righteous is as a sunrise, and the wicked stumble blindly through darkness. My depiction explores this duality of possibility, a demonstration of opposing options, feelings, and outcomes. Though worded in statements of fact, there is a promise of hope, and a warning of despair.

Despite the initial arrangement of the verses, I had to start with the darkness. Layering jagged lines, blotted inks, and shadowy smudges, I filled the space with confusion and agitation, my tools assaulting the page in a frenzied frustration to the point of ripping.

During one stage of the process, the thick ink that was supposed to result in a sinkhole of black turned out to contain a silvery glitter.

Although this altered the intention, in a twisted way, it made sense. The wrong path can deceptively appear alluring, only thinly masking the sludge that lies below the surface. While I may miss looking at the gathering of brash lines that were there, now hidden underneath, the meaning has become even more fitting. You know not on what you stumble. This murk is now truly inscrutable.

Then conversely, we have the path of righteousness, a glow growing gradually brighter. Layered oil pastels and brush pens were applied, for both vibrancy and softness. White is at the center, the brightest place where the road leads to, and as I built the colors around this point it brought to mind how white light actually contains all colors. On the path, I drew implied shapes of people walking, and wanted to show them holding hands. They would be unified, unlike the solitary struggle of wandering the dark. But it was hard to settle on a particular color or form. I kept suggesting without truly defining them, wanting to leave an openness for the viewer to see themselves in it. Intentionally, my image is inviting you to step onto that path. Although the presence of people is not visually obvious, it did affect my approach, as I decided they would do more than hold hands, they would throw up their arms and rejoice! That's where those squiggly lines came in.

Much of my other artwork relies on reproduction, but this piece can only be understood properly in person, hinging on its uniquely tactile qualities. There is no glass over the art, just the raw materials exposed. You must see and examine it for yourself, and you must turn it back and forth with your own hands. The choice of frame was very intentional. It reinforces the related reversal of these two paths depicted, and allows the viewer to consider these concepts in either order. In a way, it emphasizes the implicit decision – which one will you turn away from, and which path will be yours?

Spark Notes

The Artist's Reflection

Ellen Stedfeld is an artist / illustrator native to New York City. Wearing a holster of brush markers, she often goes exploring around town, and sketches at live events and performances.Interested in overlapping art forms, her influences range from historic masterpieces to classic children's books and contemporary comics. At any given time, she is shaping several stories for original novels or graphic novels. Also working freelance, her projects have included band posters, wedding portraits, a page for a comics newspaper, and award-winning neon animations. Her faith in Jesus deeply shapes her creative practice, whether she is putting the Bible to pictures, weaving themes of unexpected love and forgiveness into a tale, or doodling silly drawings to evoke laughter. Learn more on her website

Ellen Stedfeld

About the Artist

Ellen Stedfeld

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