Readers of my recent novel, The Masterpiece, have asked what happened to Roman’s landscape, based on a line Grace drew to get him started on a new project, and “The Indwelling” – an oil painting of Mary pregnant with Jesus.
Over the course of writing this novel, all kinds of ideas floated in my head about Bobby Ray Dean-Roman Velasco’s artwork. I imagined Bobby Ray Dean finishing an entire wall with graffiti, and having the building demolished, with only a piece of his work left standing. I imagined Roman Velasco painting a masterpiece of Jesus and then taking it out into the desert and burning it as an offering to God. I continue to imagine the paintings that could come from a gifted artist who surrenders all to Jesus.
Roman’s landscape, in my mind, was more a hidden picture of Grace in the hills and valleys. He might have called it “The Awakening”. When Grace drew the line for Roman, she was seeing the beauty of God’s creation right outside the window. Roman was looking at her, a woman he desired. What might he have done with that painting after Grace left? Burned it on his patio firepit? Given it to Talia Reisner to sell in her gallery? Would he have hung it in his bedroom or tucked it at the back of a stack of paintings leaning against a wall?
When he finally surrendered his life to Christ, he had to “let go” of Grace. He had to wait to find out what God’s plan was for his life, not make plans for himself. A hard habit to break for a man who had spent his life living inside the walls he built around himself. Roman did let go of his hopes regarding Grace when he deleted the pictures of her on his iPhone. That still doesn’t answer the question: What did he do with that landscape with the hidden form of the woman he loved? He couldn’t have kept it in his house. Would he have had the heart to sell it, risking someone else seeing what he had hidden in the hills and valleys of a landscape? What does one do with a painting he can’t keep, but didn’t want anyone else to see? Destroy it? But wouldn’t that be like destroying her?
“The Indwelling” was the first canvas painting that came from Roman’s heart for God. He didn’t even realize he was painting Grace’s face until Brian pointed that out. Perhaps it was a reminder that he hadn’t fully let her go. Or was it God who kept that hope alive for His own purposes? And where might that painting have hung, it being so deeply felt and surprisingly personal? We tend to forget faces, even beloved ones, when we don’t have a picture in front of us. Is that why God gave Roman a photographic memory? How might that gift be both a blessing and a curse? Even if Roman wanted to forget, he couldn’t. Was God giving Bobby Ray time to put all those memories in proper prospective, to see people through new light, even Grace? Every thread of our lives is woven by a sovereign God. We see the tangled underside. God sees the full tapestry.
So, what happened to the landscape with the hidden picture of Grace lying naked on her side in repose and the oil painting of Grace pregnant, like Mary in awe of the child she carried?
The point of leaving questions is to give readers something to ponder after the last page is read.