Josh McCallister is painting a Bible scene mural at Master’s Books showing the Israelites crossing the Jordan River. When finished, the 360-degree mural will show Bible scenes in a time line of events. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.
Mural painter Josh McCallister tends to be tough on himself and his artwork, so he takes compliments on his artistic creations in stride.
“The customers are shopping in a Christian bookstore, so their comments are very positive,” the 24-year-old artist said. “I’m my own harshest critic. I’ve never done Bible stories before. I’ve always leaned toward more interpretative and abstract styles, using icons and symbols rather than a more literal depiction of a scene. I have things I want to go back and touch up, but as a whole, yeah, I like it.”
So do most of those who have seen him painting a circular mural inside the new Christian bookstore, The Master’s, in the newly remodeled building that formerly housed Furr’s Supermarket at Prince and 21st streets.
“People are really impressed by it,” said Joey Porter, 21, a frontliner at the bookstore. “We get awesome reviews from our customers. One lady came in and said she was ‘taken by it.’ They think it’s beautiful. He’s doing a really good job with it.”
Bookstore general manager Michael Covington described McCallister’s work as “awesome.”
The mural begins with a depiction of God’s hands descending to create heaven and earth and then flows around the dropped ceiling in the bookstore, illustrating certain selected Bible stories from Genesis to Revelation.
“I do research, go to the library and do some drawings,” McCallister said. “I try to arrange the different stories. There’s a continuum. I realized water was a continuing theme in the Bible, so I use it to link the stories together. I didn’t want to do comic book cells where each section was divided. I wanted it to flow from one scene to another.”
McCallister said he spent hours thinking, praying and drawing out details.
“I thought about the literature aspect of the Bible and the symbolism of the water and the blood — at times, the waters were parted and other times, flowing — in both the Old and New Testaments,” he said. “What I want the mural to do is to lead people to a new understanding of the Bible. I draw it out as I go. I know what stories I want to include, but I’m not always sure how to incorporate them. That’s the real work.”
That work hasn’t been lost on mural admirers.
“That’s neat,” said Clovis shopper Stephanie Proctor as she first saw the artwork. “That’s great. It’s very colorful. I especially like the Master’s hands at the front.”
McCallister’s wife, Candace, said she was pleased with her husband’s work.
“I like it a lot, but I’m his biggest fan,” she said. “I try to make suggestions, but he likes to do it his own way. Sometimes, he listens to me. I really like the scene separations. It’s very creative. Josh has a real gift of art — when he’s up there, it’s not all coming from him. It’s what God gives to him. He really thinks about it and prays about it. He wants to offer a message to the public besides just making it pretty.”
Tammy Willard, owner of The Master’s, said she knew McCallister was the one to do the mural.
“He and Candace had just come back from a four-month mission trip to Bangkok, Thailand,” she said. “He’s a friend of our kids, and I knew he was in between jobs. I also knew he was a tremendous artist. He had painted some things for my kids. His work is amazing.”
The opportunity to do the mural was a Godsend, said McCallister, who graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 2002.
“When we were in Thailand, I was thinking painting would be something I really felt called to do,” he said. “I felt the Lord was opening a door (by providing this opportunity) because I had no idea of how to make a living by painting. That’s a big testimony to the Lord’s goodness in our lives. I felt making art was what I was supposed to do.”