Ss. Peter and Paul artist Eric Armusik

Saints Peter and Paul. Oil on Panel, 2023. Commissioned by the FSSP.

This year, we wanted to do a little something different for our celebration of our patronal feast. Instead of simply using a painting from centuries ago–as beautiful as they admittedly are–we commissioned a brand-new painting from Pennsylvania artist Eric Armusik.

Armusik is a classical figurative artist who has taken up the techniques and subjects of the Old Masters and rejected the modernist aesthetic of the last century. He is also a devoted husband and father of three, and a member of our FSSP apostolate St. Stephen of Hungary in Allentown, PA.

“I didn’t have any training going into school,” he admitted. “I never painted until I was 20 years old. College gave me art history, and I quickly saw what I loved.”

Resurrection 48 x 96″, oil on panel 2019, with the artist.

Armusik grew up Catholic in Northeastern Pennsylvania, amidst some beautiful churches in his hometown. He remembers sitting in the pews praying (and daydreaming) but also staring at the artwork and thinking: “this is what I want to do. And after a semester in Italy, it started making sense to me why art appealed to me.”

But his interest in sacred art didn’t translate well to the tenets of modernism, and professors and fellow artists tried to dissuade him from following his instincts.

“They told me that was passé. I was heartbroken.” Their opinions seemed confirmed during a group critique in art school, in which he “felt destroyed.”

Crucifixion of St. Peter, oil on panel 36 x 48″, 2022.

Discouraged, Armusik tried to acquiesce to the prevailing culture and paint in more modernist style, albeit tempered with some nods to tradition. But it wasn’t what he really wanted, and he wasn’t happy with the results. It was his wife Rebekah who put him back on the right track with one simple statement:

“If I could paint the way you can paint, I wouldn’t paint that garbage.”

From then on, he would be unapologetic in his embrace of the past. And to this day, she is one of the only people whose opinion he trusts.

But taking an alternative path within the art world wasn’t easy, and there was little help along the way. There were many techniques he had to learn himself: “Art instructors today might not cover 20% of what the old masters did.” And there was an aesthetic readjustment that was necessary as well: “I had to rearrange my brain and start trusting my eyes again.”

Ordination, oil on panel 18 x 24″, 2023.

Luckily, his faith was there to provide support.

The Armusiks were married in the Latin Mass, but spent the first 10 years of their marriage church shopping: “we craved something reverent.” One day they stumbled on the website for St. Stephen’s in Allentown.

Rediscovering sacred tradition gave a new vitality to his longstanding Catholic faith:  “The wires were laid down already–it was just turning on the power.”

That faith continues to inform and deepen his work, as religious work continues to come in from clients. “I feel blessed to be able to do that kind of work, and grateful for every opportunity to do so.”

The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, oil on panel 36 x 40″, 2015

In terms of style, Armusik says he owes much to the Italian artists of the Baroque, particularly Caravaggio’s use of light. In Italy, he had studied Caravaggio intensely, viewing 12 of his pieces in person, some for hours at a time. He was particularly moved by the martyrdom of St. Peter. “It changed my life”

He sees light as “the presence of God in all my work.” He also particularly admires the realism that Caravaggio brought to art, something that wasn’t always appreciated by contemporaries, who expected saints to be portrayed in an idealized manner.

“Caravaggio worked from people, not drawings … That’s why I work with everyday people, because I want to see everyday people in those situations.”

The artist with three panels from the Dante’s Inferno Series (L to R): Canto 2: Beatrice Visits Virgil in Limbo (2017), Canto 1: Dante in the Wilderness (2017), and Canto 3: Dante and Virgil at the Entrance to Hell (2017). Oil on AlumaComp, 48 x 60″.

Armusik’s most ambitious project to date is a massive series on Dante’s Divine Comedy. To respect the original subject matter as much as possible, he works with Dante scholar Dr. Christopher Kleinhenz, Professor Emeritus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Martyrdom of St. Andrew, oil on panel 36 x 48″ 2023

And besides all the other ecclesiastical art and portraiture which he features on his website, a good part of his time is being a mentor and teacher to the next generation. Art instruction is a big part of that, of course. But he is also very dedicated to passing on what he knows beyond the paintbrush, and teaching artists to be successful in their career:

“Art is an entrepreneurial position. The business side is more important the art side, and a half-talented person who is good at marketing is going to succeed where a more talented person won’t.”

This might seem like surprising advice from an artist, but he wants artists to succeed at doing what they love best.

Part of Armusik’s success involves engaging people where they are at in the digital world.

“I put my art out there on social media for everybody. And 97% of it is positive–only a small number of people who are critical.” A Last Supper drawing he happened to share on Tiktok–not a platform usually associated with fine art–received a surprising 380,000 views. “it’s great to see people who aren’t even of the faith commenting and appreciating. Catholic art is truly beautiful.”

In style, in technique, and even in business, Armusik’s art is a unique blend of the old and the new– techniques going back centuries, and themes going back millenia, and all brought forward into the new digital age of social media.

But driving it all is the very same love that inspired a young man from the industrial Northeast to gaze up in wonder at the sacred images that filled the churches of his hometown:

“The world needs more beauty.”

For more of Eric Armusik’s art and some great advice for young artists, see his website at For inquiries or commissions, he can be reached via email at

Christ the King, oil on panel 30 x 40″, 2022


June 16, 2023