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Angel detail by DouglasRamsey
Angel detail

Just a few notes on my choices here: The angel is present because he's mentioned by Daniel himself though I think it's unlikely he literally held the lions' mouths shut with both hands, especially since that would seem to require a plurality of angels. The idea of him keeping them at bay with a flaming sword comes from Numbers 22 and Genesis 3.

Artistic depictions of this scene also frequently feature a cave full of unnaturally tame lions, so much so that Daniel can cozy up to them and even stroke their manes. While I’ll grant that’s a possibility I don’t think it’s a very strong one and is less visually interesting in any case.
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Lions detail by DouglasRamsey
Lions detail
One little thing about the lions: I heard another artist talk about his wanting to paint a realistic Daniel and the lion’s den piece because so few representations feature realistic lions. And then he went on to populate his den exclusively with African males. The lions here would have been Asiatic and though we have just about zero background info on how the Persians kept their dens stocked, in the wild males don’t hang around the females much once they reach maturity. Males fight it out for possession of a group of females and then normally only come around when they want to mate. I suppose it’s possible that Darius could have had a collection of males rounded up and held in captivity but it still looks weird.
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Daniel detail by DouglasRamsey
Daniel detail
An oddity of biblical art is that men who were likely young are often depicted as old (Ezekiel, Jeremiah) while Daniel, in this story, is often depicted as young. He wasn’t. By the time this happened he was probably pushing eighty.
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In the Lion's Den by DouglasRamsey
In the Lion's Den
Acrylic on hardboard, 24" x 36"

As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”

(Daniel 6:20-22)

What does this story mean for Christians today who are faced with prospect of either compromising their beliefs, or being faithful to Christ and suffering persecution as a consequence of it? Just “dare to be a Daniel” and God will deliver you from any kind of suffering and persecution that you might be threatened with? Of course not.

I don’t know if Daniel’s enemies hated him because he stood in the way of their ambitions or he could have exposed their own corruption or if it was an extension of their hatred for Daniel’s God. It actually doesn’t matter much because ultimately, Daniel’s real enemies weren’t the other high officials of Persia. Behind the scenes these high officials were being manipulated by higher forces who were utterly opposed to Daniel’s God and to his people. And these cosmic powers are still operating today.

These forces were trying to do what the evil one always tries to do, namely, to destroy every trace of the kingdom of God. We have to go back to Genesis 3:15 to see things for what they really are. In this incident, as in lots of other places in the OT, the destructive power of lions is really symbolic of the chaos and disjointedness and disharmony of the fallen world. This is why the NT describes the evil one as “a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” So when you read about these things that are a part of our fallen and broken world and then you read in Isaiah chapter 11 about the promised age to come when the lion will lie down with the lamb, it’s a preview of what God is ultimately going to accomplish. And in Daniel’s case, his deliverance is, in some sense, a foretaste of the promised, universal, restoration, where lions, whose very nature is to destroy and to consume, were held at bay, unable to destroy or to consume that morning.

So why was Daniel delivered when so many persecuted Christians are not? What was happening is that in a moment of crisis, in order to preserve his kingdom, God brings the power of the coming kingdom, the fulfilled kingdom into this situation of adversity. In other words we’re being given a picture here, in a small-scale microcosm, of a much larger reality. Even though he was a real person and this is not a parable, there’s a sense in which Daniel is presented here as a representative of God’s people as a whole. The lions and high officials represent the gathered forces of darkness who seek to destroy God’s people. They’re examples of the kind of actors who are engaged in this cosmic drama that’s going to continue to play out until the end of history.





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Glory to God in the Highest Revised by DouglasRamsey
Glory to God in the Highest Revised
Acrylic on canvas 36" x 72"

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

LUKE 2:13-14

This one is a good example of why preliminary drawings can be really helpful. For this one I didn't do much more than a loose thumbnail sketch with the basic shape of the thing before trying to paint it. I didn't want to try drawing a whole multitude of angels more than once. Consequently this piece has undergone more revisions in the painted stage than anything else I've done.

Changes for something like this are relatively easy, since it's done in just black, white, and gold (with just a little yellow) though if I were to redo it completely I'd avoid the iridescent paint altogether as it's really more trouble than its worth. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Anyway, this version of the entrance to heaven is a little closer to what I originally wanted and integrates better with the lower two thirds of the painting but I'm still not that happy with it. I'll probably keep making changes to it until somebody takes it away from me.
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DouglasRamsey
Douglas Ramsey
Artist
United States
Favourite style of art: Dynamic realism
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:iconshark235:
shark235 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2016  New Deviant Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm glad you are drawing wingless angels; it's very hard to find wingless angels.
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:iconpoisoningorchid:
PoisoningOrchid Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2015  Student General Artist
Ah, unique. Yes. Finally something different to all those watercolour portraits of women or pencil sketches of animals. Finally something cultured and symbolic. Great work
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:icondouglasramsey:
DouglasRamsey Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2015
Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful words. I appreciate that greatly.
Reply
:iconcartoongal:
Cartoongal Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2014   Writer
Incredible work. Glad I stumbled upon it.
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:icondouglasramsey:
DouglasRamsey Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2014
Thanks very much!
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:iconkylito23:
kylito23 Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2014
All of your Bible works are super coo!!! Makes me see the Bible in a different way. A beautiful way to spread the good news! Keep 'em coming, bro!
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:icondouglasramsey:
DouglasRamsey Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2014
Thanks so much! That's tremendously encouraging for me to hear.
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:iconjaqerant92:
JaqErant92 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Your stuff is awesome. You have a gift from God for art. :)
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:icondouglasramsey:
DouglasRamsey Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2014
That's really nice of you to say. Thanks so much.
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