This sculpture depicts Jesus standing on a mountain top, one hand holding a shepherd's staff, the other hand outstretched, as if beckoning to lost sheep. The wind gently blows through His hair and garments. A baby lamb and a yearling ram huddle beside him. The sculpture is the visual representation of the Christian mission, which is to not only seek the protection of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, but also to reach out as shepherds to guide others in the community.
This was an especially exciting sculpture to create for Jeff, who relishes any opportunity to witness for his Christian faith through his art. This entire project was a blessing to all who were involved. Jeff used three different live models to pose during different phases: one model for the miniature (maquette) design, one for the life-size version's body (this model posed in costume while Jeff worked), and one for the face (Jeff added the beard and long hair later, after the style of Bernini, who was a great sculptor during the Renaissance). With all three models, artist and model had a word of prayer before each session and then kept their conversations spiritual and reflective as they worked. This added a much deeper, spiritual dimension to the project, as Jeff and the models realized with great seriousness the subject they were working to depict.
The sheep in this sculpture also have an interesting story. Jeff is from the school of thought that sculpting from live models is the absolute best way to truly capture a subject, and the sheep were no different. He took his clay and toolbox out to a sheep farm and sculpted in the pasture, amongst the sheep. He chose the ramboullet breed for their horns, and enjoyed the warm spring weather and gentle bleating of the sheep in the background as he worked. The particular ram that was used as a model was a yearling that had just been shaved for market, which had a symbolism that appealed to Jeff. The ram was sold for slaughter the week after Jeff finished sculpting him, which parallels Jesus' death on the cross. On a lighter note, just as Jeff needed to sculpt a lamb, it happened to be lambing season. Several models were used, as they kept growing faster than he could sculpt. Jeff was also fascinated by the sheep's behavior. He enjoyed watching the lambs jump around at feeding time, and seeing the gentle relationship between the ewes and their babies.
It is Jeff's sincerest hope that this monument will be a witness and a blessing to all who see it.