"It was like putting a huge puzzle together to make this work," Tressler said.
Unlike her past four works on large canvases - which can be seen at other area churches, including St. Andrew's United Methodist Church in Hagerstown - Tressler found herself using more than 20 photographs when she worked. Children from the church school had posed for the pictures as did her grandson, Christopher Tressler.
The artist used shading to create crosses within the window frames behind the children. She also worked diligently to create an iridescent effect on Jesus' robe.
Tressler said she examined the painting at night, then put sticky notes of ideas all over it for the next day's work. Her efforts with the painting, which is oil on canvas, began in earnest last July, although the concept had been turning in her head for quite some time.
"I envisioned Christ looking down over the children," she said.
His face was one of the quickest aspects of the painting to accomplish, since it only took Tressler one afternoon to perfect.
"I knew when I did it that I had it right," she said.
Tressler, a certified member of the Maryland Society of Portrait Painters, incorporated the Virgin Mary as a statue in the background, and appreciated her pastor's mention of Mary being the Mystical Rose.
"I put white roses in my paintings whenever I get the chance," said Tressler, who joined St. Andrew Catholic Church in 1994.
Tressler, who has three art shows scheduled in the coming months in Hagers-town, views the painting as transcending St. Andrew School, and said the girl wearing a sailor-style dress represents the non-Catholic children welcomed at the school
"This could be representative of so many things, not just the schoolchildren," she said.
In addition to concentrating on her commission pieces, Tressler wants to next focus on a pair of paintings she's been wanting to start. One would represent the crucifixion and the other the resurrection.
"The inspiration has come from seeing other works of art, religious works of art, plus it's been a mission of mine," said Tressler, who studied at the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore.