Another model emerged from Friberg’s childhood. In his book, “Classic Scenes from the Book of Mormon,” Friberg tells of a man he called “Altop.” This man befriended and introduced the gospel with Friberg's family in Arizona when he was a boy. He also worked as a carpenter alongside Arnold’s father for a time. Thirty years after losing contact, Friberg wrote that Altop showed up at his home one day for a visit, and at the same time he was painting “Abinadi Delivers His Message to King Noah.” Impressed by Altop’s remarkable health at age 70, Friberg took Altop into his studio and used him as a model for Abinadi.
It’s also interesting to note that when painting Abinadi, Friberg grew his own beard and long hair for greater insight. He also used this method when painting Moses.
A master’s touch
Friberg produced the first eight paintings in the early 1950s before taking a break to work with DeMille on “The Ten Commandments.” In 1957, Friberg returned to Salt Lake City to complete the last four and moved on with his career.
No one could have suspected that these artistic works would be so inspirational, and that the LDS Church would eventually reproduce them in copies of the Book of Mormon that were translated and sent out worldwide — in addition to hanging in the Book of Mormon gallery at the Conference Center.
In painting religious art, Friberg said he sought divine help and felt that God guided his skilled hand.
“What I do I am driven to do. I follow the dictates of a looming and unseen force,” Friberg was quoted in the BYU Studies article. “I try to become like a musical instrument, intruding no sound of its own but bringing forth such tones as are played upon it by a master’s hand.”
For more on Friberg and his artwork, visit www.fribergfineart.com.
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