The Morning News

Blackfoot, ID
Scriptures are Read
By Alice Elison
Blackfoot Northwest Stake

THOMAS—A nationally recognized religious artist said everyone has a special calling or mission, at Thursday night's annual Snake River High School Seminary continuous Scripture Reading Fireside.

"The Lord will make clear what he has in store for each of us," said Greg Olsen, a Provo, Utah artist. "The blessings that have come to me and my family have come from our talents and our efforts to lift others."

The artist of such popular paintings as "O Jerusalem" which portrays Christ watching over the ancient city from a nearby mountain, said encouragement for his life’s profession came from [Mormon] President Spencer W. Kimball while serving a mission to Toronto, Canada.

"I was working in the mission office when we learned the prophet was coming to the first ever area conference in Eastern Canada as a token of appreciation."

Olsen spent his weekly preparation day for many weeks working on the special painting. His greatest fear was that he would be reprimanded for the amount of time spent on the project, because someone might believe he had shirked his missionary duties to prepare the work.

"The prophet called me into a room just before the conference and for 8 to 10 minutes he asked art questions," he said. "It was amazing someone so busy would take time for one little missionary."

Olsen stages his painting with real models and costuming, he said.

"I try to capture a single frame to tell a story," he said.

Painting Christ has been a challenge he said, but Elder Boyd K. Packer gave him guidance that has helped create several different scenes.

"Pictures are to be visual reminders to remember Christ and resolve to be like him." He said. "The Savior is to be painted as manly, and physically ordinary."

Olsen’s works are distributed throughout the country and have appeared in church magazines.

"the way to find happiness is through the spiritual things," he said at the conclusion of the one hour presentation.

Sixteen graduating seniors received recognition for reading continuously for 1333 days during their high school years. An additional six read faithfully for four years.

A total of 128 Blackfoot Northwest Stake students received awards for reading scriptures. And 168 Blackfoot West Stake students were recognized.