Acclaimed artist Liz Lemon Swindle is currently painting the parables of Jesus Christ—but with a modern twist. She first paints the parable as it would have been understood in the Savior’s time and then creates a painting of what it might look like during our time.
On November 2nd, 2010, I had the chance to be at the photo shoot of one of Liz’s parable paintings entitled: “The Lost Sheep.” My job was to film the event then interview the participants. I had no idea how much the photo shoot would strengthen my own testimony of the Savior’s parable.
“And [Jesus] spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?”
The name of Liz’s model for the Lost Sheep was Nichole. I talked to Nichole in the lobby of Repartee Gallery before we went out into the field. She was very pleasant and beautiful, with a cheery disposition and a free smile.
Not long after meeting Nichole, I was introduced to Phillip, Liz’s model for Jesus Christ. He was also very pleasant and had a very calm and warm personality. His presence exuded the Spirit and, while sitting in the lobby, he shared with us a few of the experiences he had had while being the model for Christ.
We opened the shoot with a prayer then went out to a nearby field that would serve as the backdrop for the painting.
Although she felt that anyone could (and often do) represent a Lost Sheep, Liz needed the painting to show the Savior holding someone who could clearly represent a Lost Sheep, so she decided to go with a more traditional approach. After consulting with her photographer, Robert A Boyd, they were soon photographing Nichole and Phillip.
About ten minutes into the shoot, Nichole said that she needed a break. She said that she wasn’t feeling the emotion that Liz was aiming for in the painting. So while Liz and Robert took a break, Nichole sat quietly next to Phillip and the two of them started talking.
Since I was there to film, I left my videocamera on. While I couldn’t hear much of their conversation (nor was I trying to), I could tell that Phillip was sharing personal stories and experiences from his own life and his own conversion to the Church. Tugging at the grass beneath her, Nichole would occasionally ask a question or two and Phillip would calmly respond. After a few minutes, Nichole signaled that she was ready and the photo shoot continued.
She leaned back into Phillip and he wrapped his arms around her…and then the tears came. The video below reveals some of the emotions behind the painting “The Lost Sheep” coupled with a powerful interview of the artist, Liz Lemon Swindle.
“And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.”