Michael O’Brien (b.1948) is a contemporary Catholic writer and artist from Canada. In an interview that can be found on his website he says of himself:
‘My Catholic faith is my life. Any artist, if he is to be faithful to how he perceives the world and to the nature of his creative gifts, cannot divorce the two. To create is to love. To love is to create. This is true for all of us, regardless of our vocation, in whatever forms the human person seeks to give life; either in the private life of “Nazareth” — where most people live — or the public life of a more visible role in the shaping of society.’
In another interview he spoke of his Catholic faith at the heart of his work:
‘During the 30 years I have been a painter and writer, I have noted a distinct pattern in myself: Whenever my prayer and sacramental life grow lax, the work suffers. It may continue to be clever and even dazzling to the eye, yet it becomes more and more shallow. Here is the vine and the branches that Jesus speaks of with a certain urgency. If creators of Christian culture hope to produce work that will bear good fruit, we must draw our life from the true source — our living Savior.’
The subject of this painting is unique. The two male figures are St Joachim (father of Mary) and St Joseph (husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus). The painting draws from two traditions in art: from icons and paintings of St Joachim and his wife, St Anne (or Anna), and from paintings of the betrothal of Mary and Joseph.