Quality is the first norm for art, but its final norm is love and truth, the enriching of human life, the deepening of our vision.


Jaques, Doug - VM - Sandra Bowden

Doug Jaques: Angels Restrained and Prostrate Petitioner

Praying for Release

by Sandra Bowden

Doug Jacques wrote that these two drawings, Angels Restrained and Prostrate Petitioner, were meant to resonate with each other. The bound men of the left in the first drawing are the same as the prostate man and the sower in the second. They both visually explore the release that prayer and forgiveness offer.

These graphite pencil drawings both have sweeping movement that draws the eye up and across the surface of the paper. The viewer becomes mesmerized looking at the wings and the fields of wheat while being pulled both visually and spiritually into a silent reverence.

What is Doug Jacques getting at in these drawings? Jacques wrote,

In Angels Restrained the men are praying for deliverance from bondage. Here the two men are aware of their spiritual bondage to sin and are praying for forgiveness and release. There is a third party praying with them, a winged figure, an intercessor. The viewers eye (and the prayers of the men in the drawing) travel along the lines of the wing toward the upper right of the picture where there is a bright circular disk, an image of the sun. This is intended to be a play on words and symbols, to represent Christ, the son who sets us free.

At the bottom of this drawing he has inscribed the passage from John 8:31-36 which says, “In very truth I tell you,” said Jesus, “that anyone who commits sin is a slave. The slave has no permanent standing in the household, but the son belongs to it forever. If the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.”

Prostrate Petitioner finds a man prostate and weeping in a plowed field at night with a smaller figure of a man sowing seed in the background. The two men are meant to be the same person. The intention here is to overlap Psalm 126 with the parable of the sower. The prostate sorry man is the good soil referred to in Jesus’ the parable of the sower. Both the sower and the weeping man are suggested in the passage written at the bottom of the drawing. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy. A man may go out weeping, carrying his bag of seed: but he will come back with songs of joy, carrying home his sheaves.”

The elegance and beguiling beauty of these drawings belie the idea of sin, repentance and weeping that the artist has portrayed. This is his point. Coming to God in repentance is not a thing of horror or repulsion. It is a point of wonder and amazement that God welcomes us and offers release.

When an artist tackles a difficult topic and finds new ways to express the spiritual truth with beauty and skill, the work is not easily forgotten. Artists have the ability to uncover what is only partially known or seen by others. They work with material substance incarnating an idea to engage our spiritual imagination. Christians are a people who believe in the reality of the unseen. Art can become a catalyst for how we envision God and help us see the invisible in the visible. Doug Jacques’ two drawings lift us beyond the visual images we carry in our mind, giving us a new way to envision God’s offer of forgiveness and release.


Doug Jaques: Angels Restrained and Prostrate Petitioner2002, graphite pencil drawings, 19 x 28 cm.

Doug Jaques (1946-2013) was a well-known mural painter in Austin, TX and was on the faculty of Austin Community College for 20 years.

Sandra Bowden is a painter and printmaker living in Chatham, MA, USA. In 2005 Square Halo published The Art of Sandra Bowden. With over 100 one person shows, her work is in many collections including the Vatican Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, the Museum of Biblical Art, and the Haifa Museum. She is also a passionate collector of religious art dating from the early 15th century to the present. Sandra was president of Christians in the Visual Arts from 1993-2007 and has curated many exhibitions and coordinated the CIVA exhibitions program since its inception. She studied at Massachusetts College of Art and received her BA from the State University of New York. For more information, go to

ArtWay Visual Meditation 24 May 2020