Endowed by the Creator
St. Pope John Paul II, in his Letter to Artists (1999), said, "The artist has a special relationship to beauty. In a very true sense, it can be said that beauty is the vocation bestowed on him by the Creator in the gift of 'artistic talent.' And certainly, this too is a talent which ought to be made to bear fruit, in keeping with the sense of the Gospel parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30)."
My goal as an artist is to raise the soul's mind to beauty, truth and, as much as might be possible, to foster an awareness of the invisible spiritual world that surrounds us. The Philadelphia-based company I founded --- Schelkun Studio Arts, LLC --- has been the vehicle for that effort.
Prayer is an important key to my work. Staying connected to Truth ensures that my work is not entirely my own. I'm often surprised how much inspiration comes from simply developing an awareness that I am an instrument and that I do not work alone.
Nothing speaks more to the idea of "sanctuary" than a sacred space that captures and transmits light through stained glass windows. Its beauty removes us from the realities of life outside its walls and draws the mind heavenward.
I work with Catholic parishes and schools to develop a style and theme for stained glass --- one that enhances the liturgical environment with beauty, and serves as an inspirational teaching tool within the community. My strengths are in my knowledge of Catholic iconography and scriptural references, as well as an ability to listen to the client and translate those thoughts into an artistic vision.
My work as a muralist and trompe l'oeil painter began with a commissioned wall painting for a family friend when I was 16. Since that time I have completed many painting projects, but none has been more satisfying in my life than those I've done within the Church family. Visiting the great cathedrals of Europe fueled my dreams of participating in the painting traditions of the Old Masters, many of whom served the Church during their time. It has been the fulfillment of that dream to see some of my work at home in liturgical settings, where it now serves as a source of inspiration and truth for those who view it.
Having the mind of an artist means that I'm intensely aware of the visual world around me. I see beauty in the complex forms and designs of nature --- in the patterns of light on water, in the transparency of leaves against the sky, or the intricacies of flowers designed by a God who knows no limitations --- and I long to translate that beauty into paint. But I am drawn, perhaps more than anything, else to the compelling intimacy of the human face and figure. I will always be a student of portraiture, hoping that with time and practice I might master the techniques used to skillfully capture human emotion and drama , which painters before me have honed and polished.