Divine painter

Lawrence artist focuses on religious themes

By Jim Baker

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Jason Jenicke prefers to work on a grand scale.

"I'd like to go larger with the oil paintings. It wouldn't bother me at all to do complete walls, go really large and do huge murals like Rubens (Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens)," says Jenicke, 26.

There's a good reason for the nearly life-size dimensions of some of the Lawrence artist's work.

"It's easier. Painting on a large scale, it's easier to get the details," he says. "It also impresses people a little more."

He's not kidding.

Jenicke's oil paintings -- some of which can be measured in yards -- are like something you'd see in a museum, both for their scope and their vivid beauty.

His most visible work in Lawrence is "The Visitation," a work commissioned by the Rev. Vince Krische, director of St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center, 1631 Crescent Road.

It depicts a scene from the Bible, in Luke 1:39-45, in which the Virgin Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist.

The painting, which is 6 feet, 4 inches by 4 feet, 7 inches, hangs just outside the sanctuary at St. Lawrence. Special lighting has been installed to properly illuminate the work.

It has a warm, spiritual presence that beckons to visitors as they enter the sanctuary.

JASON JENICKE displays his version of Peter Paul Rubens' "The
Raising of the Cross." Jenicke paints religious images at his home
in North Lawrence.

JASON JENICKE displays his version of Peter Paul Rubens' "The Raising of the Cross." Jenicke paints religious images at his home in North Lawrence.

"People love it. Father Vince says he's always getting compliments on it," Jenicke says.

The painting has deeply impressed Krische, too.

"Jason has an understanding of the mystery that's involved in ‘The Visitation,' of Mary and Elizabeth meeting, and he was really able to bring that out in a way that I haven't seen in other work," he says.

"I think it's really neat, because when people visit here, they will be stunned by it (and say) ‘Wow.'"

Style developed

Jenicke's painting at St. Lawrence is already spoken for, of course.

But prints of four of his original, religious artworks are available, in a range of sizes and prices, through his small business, Divine Images.

Jenicke -- a 2001 Kansas University graduate who has a bachelor of fine arts with an emphasis in painting -- started his business in early 2002, soon after completing ‘The Visitation' for Krische.

The archival-quality prints he sells are of four of his oil paintings: ‘The Visitation'; ‘Madonna and Child'; ‘Coronation,' depicting Mary's ascent to heaven; and ‘Last Supper,' showing Jesus and the disciples at the Passover meal.

Archival-quality prints of four of Jason Jenicke's original, religious artworks are available through his business, Divine Images.

He offers prints of these paintings: "The Visitation," depicting the Virgin Mary visiting her cousin, Elizabeth; "Madonna and Child"; "Coronation," of the Virgin Mary ascending to heaven; and "Last Supper."

The prints, some of which are from limited-edition runs, are available in a range of sizes. Prices are from $15 to $50.

Jenicke also does commissioned charcoal portraits and oil paintings.

For more information, contact Jenicke at 843-5929, or e-mail him at jjenicke@hotmail.com.

Sales of his prints are going well. Jenicke has already sold more than 200 prints (at $35 each) of a limited-edition run of "The Visitation," and more than 200 (at $50 each) of a limited-edition run of "Last Supper."

All of the originals were sold to private individuals in 2002 and 2003. They sold for between $1,500 and $2,000 apiece.

Jenicke, who is from Kansas City, Kan., didn't start out intending to specialize in spiritually themed artwork. It happened, he says, as a result of participating in classes and other activities at St. Lawrence toward the end of his college years.

"I wasn't planning on ever doing religious art. It was something I didn't want to do. But as my faith grew, my art pretty much just followed," says Jenicke, who is Catholic.

He was working toward a bachelor of fine arts in illustration at KU when a teacher suggested that he try painting.

"She said that I had more of an Old Masters, painterly or sculptural style," Jenicke says.

It's a style he has sought to develop. In order to hone his technique, he painted a reproduction of "The Raising of the Cross," by Rubens.

"The Visitation," painted by Jason Jenicke, is on display at St.
Lawrence Catholic Campus Center, 1631 Crescent Road.

"The Visitation," painted by Jason Jenicke, is on display at St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center, 1631 Crescent Road.

Jenicke's version measures 4 feet by 6 feet. Though not as big as the original by Rubens, it's still large enough to dwarf the furniture in the kitchen that serves as his studio.

Jenicke shares a home in north Lawrence with his brother, Jeff, 36, a 1992 KU graduate with a bachelor's in architectural design.

"I'm very proud of him," Jeff says of his sibling. "We always knew he was talented when he drew as a kid."

Life-size realism

It's not just his print business that's going well. Jenicke also has some prospects for more commissioned artworks.

Artist Jason Jenicke sketches with charcoal to help plan the
composition of his oil paintings.

Artist Jason Jenicke sketches with charcoal to help plan the composition of his oil paintings.

He expects to hear soon whether he will be hired by Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Shawnee to create a series of 14 paintings -- each of which would measure 1 1/2 feet by 2 feet -- depicting the Stations of the Cross.

That job would keep him busy for more than a year.

And Krische has already talked with him about another painting for St. Lawrence. The proposed work would be called "The Sermon on the Mount," and would measure 12 feet by 8 feet.

Which would be perfect for Jenicke, who likes the figures in his paintings to be life size.

The realism and the scale of Jenicke's work are what combine to impress the viewer, according to his brother.

"He makes you feel like you're there," Jeff says.