Whether it’s for lettering or baking, whenever I create something, I always look at images for inspiration. There’s a quote that says: “good artists copy, great artists steal.” To me, this quote means that as an artist, you expose yourself to the best things that artists before you have done, then take what worked for them and adapt them to your own style and taste. So as I started brainstorming what the Garden of Eden was in the visual sense, I wanted to see other artists’ interpretation of what Eden looked like. I didn’t want to copy them, but instead use some features that I liked with what I already had in mind.
What I should have done was look to the original Creator/Artist because when God created the Garden of Eden, He didn’t look anywhere for inspiration. When He put creation into motion, He had nothing to imitate or draw inspiration from because He was the original Artist. He created in the truest sense of the word. He invented beauty. Then everything thereafter was and is an imitation or an adaptation to what God has already made.
Unfortunately for me, when I searched “Eden” on Google Images, I was greatly dissatisfied with the images that other artists had created. I guess it is hard to depict Eden, when none of us has been there before. I know that in Genesis 2, when Scripture describes Eden, it says: “The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground,” but I expected more than just green leaved trees. So, instead of copying other artists, I thought deeper about what Eden was.
To most, I think when we think of Eden, we think of the place where Adam and Even fell away from God. I think we lose sight of the original intent of Eden. It was a place God created. It was a temple. In the Old Testament, the temple was the place of God’s special presence where He made himself known and felt to the Israelites. That is also how His walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was depicted. So, in essence, Eden was a place of worship, where Adam and Eve delighted in God’s presence.
Though we don’t worship in Eden with God anymore, we worship in the world He created around us. That’s when it occurred to me, what better artist to “steal” from than the original artist! So, I looked around me for inspiration as I walked through the neighborhood on the way to work or down Fifth Avenue on the way to dinner plans. In the midst of the concrete jungle around me, I saw blooming flowers on trees with soft white petals. I saw vivid red tulips and bright purple hyacinths along Fifth Avenue. From these vibrant flowers and colors, I began to envision Eden. Drawing from these inspirations, I began to formulate how I wanted to portray Eden. I kept coming back to flowers and a kaleidoscope of colors.
When I sat down to begin, I pictured Eden as it was originally created to be. A place where God resided. A place where Adam and Eve freely enjoyed God and worshiped Him. A vibrant place that God created for Himself and His beloved creations to delight in together. I hope this adaptation of Eden invokes marvel at its colorful beauty, much like when we revel in the presence of God in worship.