I was both excited and nervous to begin this painting.
After all, the Divine Mercy image is not based off a photograph of a famous person or even just a "nice painting"—Jesus himself requested that this image be painted, so that the world may know of his mercy.
Paint an image according to the pattern you see with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You… I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. (Diary of St. Faustina, 47-48)
So, yes, I was nervous as I began to plan the image, unsure of how much creative license to take. Should I stick as close to the original image as I can? Or follow the image in my heart and trust that Jesus put it there in the first place...
I began with his face, long before I was even ready to begin painting. Like many people, I have often imagined the face of Jesus, seen the look of tenderness in his eyes. Having never had a vision of Jesus myself nor any photograph to go off of (of course), I decided to paint the image from my mind's eye—not unlike someone trying to depict the face of her lover from the tendrils of a hazy memory. I searched through stock photo websites and even Google images, looking for the elements that fit. Slowly it came together, eyes, hair, nose... I know there are people who will critique my rendering; perhaps his skin is too fair or his hair is too short. It doesn't matter. When I look at this painting now I feel as if I am looking into the eyes of my Beloved.
Next I made his garments after scouring the clearance section at Fabricland for something that might make the kind of folds I envisioned. I wanted to sew something similar to what he might have actually worn in the days he walked this earth (i.e. not looking like hacked up bedsheets). My wonderfully patient husband was my model, standing with his arms in position as I draped and adjusted the fabric until I got the perfect photograph for reference.
And last is where my skills as a graphic designer came into play. I wanted to make the rays truly unique, and since I am a particular fan of geometric shapes and random opacities, that is exactly what I made using Illustrator and Photoshop to put everything together.
The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the water that makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls ...These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when my agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. (Diary, 299)
Then I saved the final reference photo. I was ready.
There was a flood of grace right from the very beginning. More than once I found myself in tears for no apparent reason. Even now I have a great sense of portent as I release this image into the world... and not because of any great talent of mine, but because, as Jesus once said to St. Faustina as she wept to see that the painting was not as beautiful as she knew him to be, "Not in the beauty of the colour, nor of the brush is the greatness of this image, but in my grace".
And well, here it is. I pray that it reaches deep into this generation, speaking to many hearts in a new and profound way. Please share it wherever you can and contact me if you would like to distribute prayer cards. God bless!