Mormon Artists Group is pleased

to announce the publication of


By Walter Rane

Of the Latter-day Saint artists working today who paint images from the scriptures, none is more widely admired than Walter Rane, whose dynamic paintings fill the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Rane’s paintings have also been exhibited at the Church History Museum and have traveled in exhibitions to temple visitors centers and other venues in the United States.

His works have been reproduced with regularity on the pages of the Ensign magazine and in books by the General Authorities. He is a multiple winner at the International Art Competitions sponsored by the Church.

Much of the artist’s recent work is inspired by the scriptures. “I grew up wanting to be an artist and looking at and studying the work of the Old Masters in books and reproductions,” Rane says. “Since the Bible was so often the subject of their work, I think I learned to love art and the scriptures at the same time.”

He has received commissions to create works for Church visitor’s centers, and his suite of nineteen large-scaled paintings based on the Book of Mormon has been shown at the Church History Museum and is currently touring.

These paintings have also been collected into the volume, By the Hand of Mormon: Scenes from the Land of Promise, published by Deseret Book.

Mormon Artists Group approached Walter Rane about a print project and the artist responded with a large etching, “Atonement,” based on the biblical accounts of the Savior in Gethsemane.

In the Garden

For Christians, the harrowing events of the crucifixion and the anguish in the garden are the most sacred in history.

The artist describes his work on the etching in this way:  “While the image of the cross is what most of the Christian world focuses on, I think that the emphasis on the prayer in Gethsemane where the suffering was more spiritual is a significant point in LDS teachings. I think that what took place there in the garden is the core of the atonement.”


The demands for an artist wrestling with such a setting are significant. Rane confesses, “I have worked on this subject many times, most often ending in failure. The atonement is so incomprehensible and mysterious, I guess that is why I find it compelling.”

On a technical level, any artist confronting a beloved moment in the scriptures or in history has to manage the viewers’ high expectations through a series of compositional choices.

They are the same decisions that an artist painting a bowl of fruit would have to make, but somehow, the emotional stakes for a painting of the Savior are higher.

“If I can convey the message and feeling through the pose and posture of the figures, I think it is much more effective,” Rane says. “Finding poses for the figures that worked well together was a challenge. Hiding the face of Christ in the composition helps to make the image about the event and not about what he looks like.”

The image is notable for its forthright presentation of a heartbreakingly vulnerable Redeemer, something that is almost painful to look upon. Equally significant is the heavenly messenger whose figure slashes the image diagonally. This artistic choice which alters the balance of the composition also shifts the message of the image from pain to compassion.

The artist notes: “Having the angel in the composition, mentioned in Luke 22:43, was something I have tried many times but have had trouble with.  I feel it adds a very important element to the story; that the Father reached out to ‘strengthen’ His son in this way is very moving.”


For art collectors, the vocabulary of printmaking can be a bit daunting. In today’s marketplace, such barriers to understanding are compounded by emerging technologies that are called prints but have little relation to traditional processes. To create these mass-produced images, artworks are scanned or photographed and then they are computer-printed onto canvas or paper.

These products bear little resemblance to fine art printmaking whose richness, depth, texture, and clarity are immediately apparent in side-by-side comparisons.

We asked the artist to describe how “Atonement” was produced, “Etching is an old and very low-tech process.  A copper plate is coated with liquid tar.  The design or drawing is scratched through the tar with a stylus to expose the metal.  The plate is then submerged in acid which etches a groove into the copper. 

“Ink is applied and wiped clean except for what remains in the grooves.  A sheet of paper is placed over the plate and rolled through a press forcing the paper down into the etched lines to pick up the ink. 

“Since the artist cannot see what the image will look like until it is run through the press, the process is repeated many times until the image is satisfactory.


“Each print is inked, hand-wiped and printed individually, so each one is slightly different.  It is a very messy process. 

“The image on the copper plate will eventually wear down so the edition is limited by necessity (75 in this case).”


The etching was printed by the artist in his Oregon studio. The paper is Arches mouldmade from France, with deckle and torn edges, 20” x 14”.  The image size is 11.75” x 7”.

The edition is limited to 75 copies for sale plus artist’s proofs. They are signed and numbered by the artist.

Atonement - $100