Recently, Greg Olsen revealed some of the touching and surprising stories behind his most iconic works of art in a live Facebook event with Deseret Book. Here are some highlights and unforgettable moments that went into the creation of
O Jerusalem came at one of the most difficult points in Greg Olsen's life.
"We were really struggling. Our house was in foreclosure," Olsen shares. In the midst of his "financial disaster," an art collector paid for Olsen and his wife to travel to Jerusalem for three weeks.
"It was while we were there, climbing the Mount of Olives, I watched the sun go down and I had the idea for the painting that evening," Olsen shares.
Amidst the chaos of his life, Olsen had this brief moment of respite, something that was a "huge blessing."
But at that time, Olsen wasn't known for his religious artwork. He created O Jerusalem as a personal piece, without any expectation that it would become such an iconic work of art.
"At the time, it was really just for me," he shares.
"For me, it's always been a very contemplative piece. If you've ever been there, it causes you to think differently. I remember being on the Mount of Olives and trying to imagine what it might have been like to have been there when Jesus was there or just being reflective on what He might have seen and thought." O Jerusalem was a moment in Olsen's life when he could pause and try "to see the world through His eyes, see myself through His eyes, and see other people through His eyes."
One of his more popular paintings, Worlds Without End almost didn't get released to the public.
"I was really hesitant to even release [this painting]," Olsen says. "That was another [piece] I did for myself. . . . I remember as a kid one summer I had a bet with one of my friends . . . We bet each other who could sleep out the most nights that summer and I only missed a few nights that summer. But I remember looking up at the heavens, I was probably 12, and it makes you think deeper thoughts and think about your place in the universe."
Olsen tried to capture the essence of those feelings in Worlds Without End, picturing what the Savior must have felt while contemplating God's creations
For a little more about the story behind this painting, check out the video below:
When looking at the rich colors and beautiful detail of a painting like The Nativity, you can sense and see the time and devotion that went into this piece of art. But few may realize how much work went into this painting before Olsen's brush even touched the canvas.
"For things like this, I like to get as close to the finished product as I can before I even start painting," Greg Olsen shares. Because of this, he spent days obtaining the perfect costumes, mapping out the painting layout on a church stage near his house, and finding the right props and lighting.
Check out this incredible time-lapse of the creation of this painting:
Did you know you can own Greg Olsen's nativity as a beautiful 12-piece nativity set?
Capturing the detail and emotion of the original painting, the carefully crafted pieces embody the spirit of Christmas.