While on a family vacation to Edisto Island, S.C., I visited the New First Missionary Baptist Church. This active church is listed on the national register of historic places and dates back to 1818.
I loved the simplicity of the structure and knew I wanted to use it in a painting. I wandered toward the rear of the church, where the cemetery came into view. It was well-kept and dotted with a variety of grave markers.
I started drawings and studies to work out the composition for my painting. Initially I was focused on the entrance of the church, but I kept thinking about my feeling when I was near that back entrance and looking out over that grave yard. The contrast of the less formal backdoor entrance and the graveyard was intriguing. So I shifted my focus.
The composition was coming together but showing the back entrance and graveyard did not express the idea this was an active church. I did not want to add a human figure to the composition, but I needed something.
Fast forward to the Sunday morning service that went a little long. I began to daydream and think about the painting. I decided to use a dog as the living element in the painting. Why a dog? No matter how long the sermon might last, a dog would still be waiting at that back door for his owner. Problem solved, and I had the title for the painting too. “Long Sermon.”