You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. Mark Twain

Petra Zantingh: Watchful Trees

ArtWay Visual Meditation February 14, 2021

Petra Zantingh: Watchful Trees

A Cup with Thorns

by Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker

During Jesus’ last Passover meal an ominous tone prevails. Jesus warns his disciples: “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” “Surely not I, Lord?” they all wonder. As customary they end the meal by singing ‘the hymn’, the Hallel which consists of Psalms 113-118, songs of praise, gratitude and confidence in God's covenant and redemption.

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.

After this Jesus and his disciples go out to the Mount of Olives. Once there, Jesus takes Peter, James and John with him and begins to be deeply grieved and agitated. “Remain here, pray for me, stay awake with me,” he pleads. Then he prays: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” Jesus himself puts the image of the cup central in Matthew 26 to describe the terror facing him. Petra Zantingh’s Watchful Trees shows us this cup, entwined with a crown of thorns – thorns referring to the curse in Genesis 3. How bitterly painful to drink from a cup with sharp prickles like this.

The cup could refer to the cup of God’s wrath or judgement, but here I see it as the cup of Christ’s calling that he has willingly agreed to drink. Did you notice the ear of the cup in the painting? A calling asks for listening and obedience, for acceptance of the suffering that comes with a life’s task. Underneath the cup it is dark; there is even a hint of a snake. Yet higher up there are greens with a suggestion of leaves. The cup itself is bright and white, almost shiny at the top. And do we see a hint of a person, of Christ’s face shimmering behind the cup? It is through drinking this cup that Jesus gives himself to us, filling the cup with the wine of his blood.

When Jesus returns to his beloved disciples, he finds them sleeping. Maybe the four cups of wine of the Passover meal got the better of them. They seem to be ‘in the dark’ about their master’s life’s work. It must have made Jesus feel very lonely in his mission. The miserable betrayal by his best friends has begun. Thank God he is not really alone. His Father is watching over him.


Petra Zantingh: Watchful Trees, 2019, ink, watercolour, graphite, medium on wood panel. 132 x 61 cm. 

Petra Zantingh: “Working in mixed media, I combine graphite, water-based pigments, and inks to prepared wood panels and seal them with UV varnish, wax, or acrylic mediums. This approach to painting is unpredictable and allows for a unique flow and rhythm of colour and texture that bring the subject matter and themes together. As the water evaporates the pigment is left on the surface and creates mysterious designs and marks and I layer those to further craft the painting.” Zantingh has a MA in Art in Education from Concordia University (Montréal, QC, Canada). She is interested in discovering how teaching art influences her own practice and in turn her work benefits those she teaches. Her lesson plans are kept in sketchbooks to allow the visual to take precedence over the text. She teaches at Redeemer University College (Hamilton/Ancaster, ON, Canada) ( in the Art and Education departments, at Visual Arts Mississauga ( and at Indwell (

Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker is editor-in-chief of ArtWay.



1. ARTWAY – We posted a new blog about South-African artist Gert Swart’s Four Cruciforms, written by Gert Swart. “In a post-Christian era, contemporary Christian artists have to find new ways of evoking the power of the cross.” Read more

2. MOUNT TABOR TALKS ONLINE – 20 February, 10 – 11.30 h, online, Artistic Techniques - Discussion with Dr. Filippo Rossi.

3. MORPHE ARTS INTERFACE CONFERENCE – 20 February, 13.30 – 19 h., online: Morphe Arts Interface Conference. A recent article in The Guardian suggested that …the past 10 months have been cataclysmic for the arts…no other part of the UK economy (with the exception of hospitality) has been so gravely impacted by the pandemic. Despite a £1.7bn government rescue package for the arts, it left an unforgivable gap: individuals – those who are self employed and found themselves ineligible for support. It is into this current climate that Makoto Fujimura and Ruth Naomi Floyd will be responding to the question, “Who Cares For The Arts?” The day will also include poetry, film, music and performances by Jo Mango and Ruth Naomi Floyd as well as a practical workshop by Eleanor Young. More information on the program and bookings for the conference are now open and can be made here.

4. THE ANSELM SOCIETY CALL FOR ARTISTS – The Anselm Society (USA) is excitedly planning the 2021 Imagination Redeemed Conference, which will focus on “Finding Yourself in the Great Story.”  Our creative juices are flowing, and we’re ready to get YOUR juices flowing too. Each conference, we’ve aimed to increase the appeal of Imagination Redeemed, expanding the types of art offerings and the ways in which we learn about imagination and the arts. Once again, we look forward to having our understanding of the world expanded through the eyes of visual artists whose submissions we can showcase in the Imagination Redeemed Gallery. This year, we are calling artists to create and submit art around the theme: INFINITE CONCEPTIONS: INFINITE TRUTH, IMAGINATIVELY TOLD. Infinity? Conception? Truth? Imagination? These are big words for a big theme, but they are small words to describe our eternal Father, who is boundless in love and creativity. This year’s gallery seeks to show how we, God’s creations endowed with imagination, can use our God-given talents to create reflections of God’s truth and boundless imagination. Get all the details HERE.  Prime your imagination and prepare your head, heart, and hands for creating new works and sharing existing works for this year’s in-person and digital galleries. We are looking forward to featuring works at Glen Eyrie Castle, September 24-25, 2021, and in our virtual gallery, September 24-October 24, 2021.

5. THE OPEN GLAM MOVEMENT – On CODART: Open Access and Art History in the 21st Century: The Case for Open GLAM. Almost 1000 cultural heritage institutions around the world have published some or all of their online collections for free reuse, modification and sharing. They are part of the ‘Open GLAM’ movement. What are the pros and cons of open access for museums and society? Why have some museums embraced open access while others have yet to do so? And how does open access relate to the practice of art history today? Open access specialist Douglas McCarthy presents an overview of the current landscape. Read more

6. EXHIBITION ABOUT DÜRER’S JOURNEYS – 13 February – 16 May 2021, National Gallery, London U.K.: Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist. A major exhibition devoted to German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer will open at the National Gallery in February 2021. The first significant UK exhibition of the artist’s works in such a wide range of media for nearly twenty years will show Dürer’s career as a painter, draughtsman and printmaker. It will also be the first to focus on the artist through his travels, bringing the visitor closer to the man himself and the people and places he visited, through over 100 paintings, drawings prints and documents loaned from museums and private collections worldwide. Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist will, for the first time, chronicle the Nuremberg-born artist’s journeys to the Alps and Italy in the mid-1490s; to Venice in 1505–7; and to the Netherlands in 1520–1, journeys which brought him into contact with artists and fuelled his curiosity and creativity as well as increasing his fame and influence.

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Other recent meditations:
- February 2021: Hansa Versteeg: Omen
- February 2021: Paula Modersohn-Becker: Old Peasant Woman
- February 2021: Duo Empfangshalle
- January 2021: Lambach Abbey: Healing of a Possessed Man

For more Visual Meditations, see under Artists