From art exhibitions to Bible study guides, fine artist Phil McKay has seen his work used in a wide variety of contexts to share the good news of Jesus. “I guess I would describe my style as a modern take on traditional Bible imagery,” he says. “I want my artwork to be a powerful and dramatic visual representation of the Bible and what it conveys to the reader.”
A member of Port Macquarie Seventh-day Adventist Church, McKay is a full-time artist who creates his masterpieces from his home studio on Australia’s sunny east coast. “Fortunately, I have been able to make a career out of my artwork. I call [my studio] my ‘Roman cave’, as I am an avid collector of Roman antiquities, and my studio doubles as a museum,” he explains.
Although McKay has been painting the gospel for about 12 years now, his style and subject matter have evolved over time. “As early as I can remember, I have always been creating art in one form or another, so pursuing fine art as a career was inevitable,” he says. “Over my career, I have tried my hand at many crafts. Some of those include signwriting, screen printing, automotive airbrushing, making replica artefacts, and museum-quality Roman swords.”
Drawing inspiration from the great Renaissance masters, and with a vast collection of Roman antiquities, McKay says for a period of time, he painted a lot of dark-themed images. “For obvious reasons, it never sat well with me,” he confesses. “It was very lucrative, and I was very good at it, making a name in the custom car/bike industry. God blesses us with gifts, but I was glorifying the devil rather than the Lord.”
Deciding to leave that world behind, McKay prayed for guidance and asked that God would allow him to use his talents to spread the gospel. “The very next day, I had work painting images for a Bible study,” he explains, and he has been painting the gospel ever since.
“Most of my images are used in some form to visualize the gospel and its teachings,” McKay continues. “Whether that be with Powerpoint presentations, Bible study guides, sermons, digital and social media. Researching the context of each image and coming up with composition has definitely brought me closer to God.
“I learn something new and special every time I paint a new image. I am a visual person, so seeing a text or story from the Bible visually makes it come alive for me, and I hope it does the same for someone viewing my artwork.”
When McKay is not painting, he enjoys pursuing his Roman passion: making swords or researching, expanding, and cataloging his collection of Roman antiquities. “I am planning on getting my Roman collection into schools and colleges/universities here in Australia for educational purposes. I want to share it and educate people who are interested,” he says.
As for his professional practice, McKay says he is currently working on two picture rolls for Signs Publishing: one on discipleship and one on the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. “[It’s] a wonderful project to be involved with,” he says. “They will be available in both a traditional and digital format and will be an exciting and beneficial resource for spreading the gospel for any pastor or Bible worker.”
To see McKay’s stunning collection of work, visit philmckay.com.