Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity

I painted Jonathon Roberts today in his first painted portrait, ever.

Starting with peppermint tea and a pot pie, Jonathon sat by my front window this afternoon. With winter light and a limited palette, Jonathon's usual jollity was egged on by the peanut gallery (two cats, a husband and a flatmate) who had gathered in the room. I don't recall who said that portraits should evoke the space between the sitter's sentences - but that's where I found myself concentrating: to find the solid Jonathon between smiles and laughter.

Jonathon is a composer, musician and the director of Spark and Echo Arts. He is working together with artists, writers, musicians, actors, dancers and poets to create a new multi-media illumination of the Bible. He is also my friend and a constant support and that's why I asked him to be a part of the beginning of this project.

Back in college, I was in Dennis Marzolf's choir. A staple in our concert program, "O God Beyond All Praising" used the tune Thaxted which is found in Gustav Holst's stellar orchestral suite. One of the first friends of mine to marry in college, Raelene Miller walked down the aisle during the last verse to meet her groom (also named Jon) with the deep basso of the organ vibrating the pews and the descant soaring through the sanctuary. Theirs was one of the first weddings I photographed, blinking back the tears during their processional because the resounding joy was so intense.

But I've never married Holst's parenthetical "jollity" surrounding that solemn anthem in The Planets to any meaning. I've always subconsciously separated the two; joy/sorrow, love/sacrifice, God/man - that's why I seek in my artwork to fuse contrasts. As I reflect on Jonathon's portrait wondering now why I chose to portray him with such a stone face, I realize that Jonathon embodies the entire piece. 

Jonathon's ambition is steadfast, his enthusiasm exhilarating, his faith grounded and his hopes ascending. Like Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity, or even that great planet, his surface merriment whirls around a titanic core of solidity.


  1. Thank you Charis! I love it!

  2. Anonymous13/2/12 14:50

    Still my most favorite part of our wedding... well, except the whole marrying my best friend part... and later that night was cool too. ;) THE DANCE! (What did you think I meant?!)

    Raelene (Miller) Kocaviny


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