Creating the Sculpture for Bethel Music’s album Have It All

Back in December I had the honor of working with Bethel Music to create the cover for their upcoming live album, Have It All, which will be released early March. This is an account of my experience and the process we went through to create it.

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Bethel Church and the School of Ministry have both played a big part in my life. My two older brothers and my wife have all attended the ministry school. Since the age of fourteen I have been making trips to Redding to visit Bethel. What an incredible place! I have never seen so many people in one room overflowing with love and passion for Jesus. Spending time in that environment always has a profound impact on my family and myself.

Bethel Music has played an equally big part in my life. I really connect with their heart for worship; authentic, raw and passionate.  I have had countless moments connecting with God through their music, whether it is during a church service, or on my iPod dancing through fields. Their music leads me out of whatever funk I am in and into the presence of Jesus to have fun with Him. I am always listening to music as I draw, paint or sculpt, and I find worship most inspiring to listen to while creating. As God is the ultimate artist I feel the most creative when I am connected to Him.

With all that to say, you can imagine when I was asked to sculpt Bethel Music’s next album cover how overjoyed and ecstatic I was! I felt that in a way I had already been collaborating with Bethel Music every time I’d been listening to them as I created. Now I had an opportunity to collaborate with them on a whole other level! I was also overwhelmed with God’s love for me in this. It felt like He was telling me ‘”I choose you, Chapman.”

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With all that to say, you can imagine when I was asked to sculpt Bethel Music’s next album cover how overjoyed and ecstatic I was! I felt that in a way I had already been collaborating with Bethel Music every time I’d been listening to them as I created. Now I had an opportunity to collaborate with them on a whole other level! I was also overwhelmed with God’s love for me in this. It felt like He was telling me ‘”I choose you, Chapman.”

I am in awe of Gods love for us, the way in which he provides for us and takes care of us. The call for this project came at a time when Hannah and I were looking for answers to a couple big questions we had in our lives. Firstly I was considering going back to school. One of the reasons for this was the connections the school had to galleries and artists in New York, it seemed like a logical step to take to further my career. However, neither my wife nor me felt complete peace about it. When Bethel Music asked me to work with them, I felt God speak so clearly that it was Him who had all the right connections for me. At this time we were also about to have to pay a couple of really big bills, one for my wife’s green card (she is English) and another for our midwife (we’re planning a homebirth in April!). We had no idea how we would afford to pay for both these things, and Bethel Music paid me the perfect amount we needed to cover both! When we trust in God, He always provides for us!

Bethel Music wanted me to sculpt the heart in Redding so they could capture the whole process on film to use for promotion videos for the album. So about a week after finding out about the project, my wife Hannah and I made our journey up to Northern California.

During our first day in Redding, we had the privilege of touring the Bethel Music studio and offices. It was honestly so inspiring to go behind the scenes and see where it all happens; the whole place was bursting with creativity. Brian and Jenn Johnson were working on mixing and mastering the album as we were walking around the studio. Before we set off to the location where I would be sculpting, we met with the creative team who shared their vision for the album with me and prayed for me. It was a beautiful experience, I felt very appreciated and honored by them.

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My studio for the week was a beautiful space, simple, and flooded with natural light. We spent the remainder of that first day setting up the room and all the filming equipment. By the next morning I was feeling nervous, but after getting into the studio again with the whole team and praying over our day, I was so excited to begin! So when the very talented director of photography, Sarah Oliveira (who happens to be a friend of mine!) was ready to film, I began creating!

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I had already constructed the majority of the armature at home, but had left a few parts unfinished for the sake of capturing the full process on film, so that was where I began. The armature is the metal structure onto which the clay is applied. It adds strength and helps the clay keep its form, as the sculpture gets pretty heavy!

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When the armature is ready, the next step is to block in the big shapes with clay. I started by adding mass to the interior of the armature and then quickly began defining some of the bigger shapes of the heart. After checking the proportions and shapes from all angles, I could then begin to get more specific, refining the shapes and adding more information. Before long the light was fading and we had to call it a day.

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I spent the following day rendering all the details, creating the different textures of surface, adding veins and muscle fibers. After some finishing touches, the clay sculpture was finished! Looking back, I am amazed at what I created in just two days of sculpting. For a project of this size I would have normally wanted at least a couple of weeks to work with the clay, yet here I had completed sculpting so fast. There were difficulties and hiccups during those first two days, but by Gods grace I had worked quickly and accurately. However, there was still much to be done!

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If I were to leave the sculpture in its clay form, it would just dry out, crack and break into pieces. Some methods would bake the clay in a fire oven to prevent that, but whilst the sculpture is still on the metal armature, you can’t. To make it permanent, you must cast the sculpture. This is a long and messy process. Thankfully I had my lovely wife Hannah to help me with the whole casting process.

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During an incredible sunrise, we made our way to another full day in the studio. To begin casting, I first created a silicone mold. This is the element that captures all the detail of the clay sculpture, so the first layer is crucial. I applied the silicone over the surface of the clay heart just a small piece at a time. After allowing this layer to dry, the process quickened as I applied two more layers and the walls, a thicker strip of silicone, which I later cut into to create two parts to the mold.

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After letting the silicone dry overnight, we began making the plaster mold. The silicone is a rubber like substance, so to strengthen and support it during the last stage of casting; you need to build a plaster mold around it. Hannah and I applied the plaster and burlap and finished building the mold within a couple of hours.

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Once the plaster mold had dried, I separated the different pieces. I then cut into the walls of the silicone, slicing it into two separate pieces and peeled these off from the clay.

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After cleaning the clay residue from the inside of the silicone, we put the whole mold together again, silicone inside plaster. I wound tape around the mold to make sure it was tightly together. Now the mold was ready to be cast! I mixed bowls of plaster and poured them into an opening in the bottom of the mold, moving the sculpture from side to side and around in as many directions I could to force the plaster into all the cracks and crevices. Just like the silicone, this first layer of plaster is really important, as it becomes the visible layer on the sculpture, where all the detail is captured. I continued to pour bowls of wet plaster into the mold until it was filled. After the last pour I placed a metal rod into the opening, which would be the stand for the sculpture to attach to the base.

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On our final day we once again took apart the mold, this time revealing the pure white plaster cast of the heart! It was beautiful. I had to touch up the plaster a little, filling in holes with wet plaster and scraping away bumps.

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Once the cast had dried completely, I applied bronze paint to the whole sculpture, transforming it from pure white plaster to a bronze cast!

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Over the weekend we went to the Sunday morning service at Bethel Church. During worship we sang Have It All! My body was consumed with passion as I sung out the lyrics ‘”You can have it all Lord, every part of my world, take this life and breathe on this heart that is now yours.” I had been listening to the song all week while sculpting the heart, but for some reason during the live worship I got a whole new revelation of the meaning of the song as I visualized the process of creating the heart. The process showed me what God does to our heart when we give it to Him; He transforms it into a new creation, He purifies it, like the pure white cast, and then He refines it into a heart of gold. It may be a messy process, but He makes us stronger and more beautiful than we could have ever imagined.

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What an incredible experience this all has been! By the end of the week, I felt so connected with the creative team. I gained friends, built my confidence as an artist, and learned more about God’s love for me. It was a dream come true. I am excited for the world to see the sculpture and to listen to the music from this album. I hope that the art and music inspires and blesses all who see and hear it, and I pray that all would have a revelation of the fathers love for them. I know it will change the world!


This is a longer video of me creating the heart sculpture, describing the process more in depth then the album trailer.

Photography: Justin Posey & Stephen Hart

Director of Photography: Sara Oliveira

Creative Director: Kiley Goodpasture

Produced by: Lindsey Strand

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The Hudson River Fellowship – New Hampshire

 

I have been wanting to blog for years now and feel I must back track a little (two and half years!). I will start with one of my first painting adventures from the summer of 2013, which had a profound impact on me: the Hudson River Fellowship.

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First, I should explain what the fellowship is. The Hudson River Fellowship models itself after the traditions of the Hudson River School, a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism. The fellowship is a two week intensive drawing and painting adventure. Surrounded by beauty, you spend time receiving practical and technical tutorage while discovering for yourself the more spiritual and personal experience in Landscape painting. You can find more information about the fellowship in the link at the end of the post.

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From the many artists around the world who apply, only twenty are selected to partake in the fellowship. It was an honor to be among those selected. I was thrilled to be taking part beside other talented artists, some of whom were already good friends.

After two flights, a train ride and a very long bus ride, I finally arrived in Jackson, New Hampshire. During the course of the fellowship we stayed in ski chalet log cabins in the hills. It was quite an experience to live in community with artists that I had so much in common with. Not only were they artists, but classically trained painters, and we all shared this love of being in nature and creating art from that experience. Many of them were passionate about the earth, caring for the land, eating in a way that protected it, all things I am also passionate about. It was clear to me that these same passions had been born in all of us because we first saw beauty that we wanted to capture and represent, and the more time we spend in amongst that beauty the more respect we have for it.

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I found it a profound experience to have the time to just slow down and see, to truly see. Since I was very young I have had an appreciation and fascination for beauty, but to have two weeks committed to only painting in nature really allowed me to slow down in a way I had never done before. There was so much time to explore the wilderness, to take time observing all the beauty that surrounded me, and then to draw or paint from whatever captured and inspired me the most! I find I can look at something for hours, but unless I try to capture it, I never truly see it. There is something about representing what you are seeing in a drawing or painting that encourages your eye to see differently. It is a beautiful process.

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My greatest pleasure in landscape painting is the connection I feel with God, who created it all. Each time I paint I feel like He is inviting me to create with Him; to witness what He has already made, to be inspired and to describe the beauty I see in his creation. My unique style and perspective influences every brush stroke I put down to describe what I am witnessing.

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During a tree portrait-painting demo, Thomas Kegler talked about capturing the characteristics of that individual tree, whether it is a young girl dancing in the wind or perhaps a stoic grandfather. Tom encouraged us to see the story that each tree had to share. This idea transformed the way I look at all trees, whether I’m painting them or not. I look for their personalities and what makes them unique and beautiful.

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I had many great conversations with Erik Koepel and Lauren Sansaricq, the couple that hosted the fellowship. We spent most evenings deep in conversation at their home. Seeing their art and the way they lived their lives was very inspiring to me. They were the first landscape painters I had the privilege of getting to know personally and it was encouraging to see how they were successful at what they did and were able to pursue their passion in art and music.

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In amongst all the painting and drawing, there was still time for us to enjoy the wilderness and explore in other ways. I have many fond memories of running and dancing through forests, swinging from trees, swimming in rivers and hiking through waterfalls.

So many beautiful days filled with adventure. So many hours spent capturing God’s beauty. So many conversations with inspiring people. Partaking in the Hudson River Fellowship was a special experience I shall always remember.

www.grandcentralatelier.org/hudson-river-fellowship.php

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Chapman Hamborg painting

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Chapman Hamborg painting copy

Hudson River Fellowship Emerald Pool

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