Monday, 31 December 2007

New Year's Eve 2007

Just want to wish all my readers a Happy New Year. May 2008 be filled with much happiness and health for every one of you.

I received the following from a cousin as well as a friend so it must be making the rounds on the Internet this year, but I like it so I will share it with you:

May peace break into your house and may thieves come to steal your debts. May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for $100 bills. May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips! May your clothes smell of success like smoking tires and may happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be those of joy. May the problems you had, forget your home address!
In simple words ............ May 2008 be the best year of your life!!!

Now, I want to show you what I have been working on for the past few days. I am sure you are not surprised that it is another icon!

You may think this is the same one you have seen previously, but you would be wrong. It is simply another version of the same type of icon. The first one was called "Our Lady of Tender Mercy" while this one is called "Our Lady of Tenderness".

Both icons are my attempts to draw modern versions of the ancient Marian icon known as "Our Lady of Vladimir". The many icons that have appeared over the centuries in this tradition are know as Mother of God Eleusa icons. The Greek work eleusa means "compassionate one" implying intimacy, gentleness and grace.

As the experts tell us, icons are never simply made for the sake of decoration or sale. A true icon is an expression of prayer and long contemplation. Traditionally, the artist writes (paints) the image while fasting and observing silence, in a spirit of obedience to the Word of God and the spirit of chastity.

Icons have been described as windows to the divine.

My icons are but poor imitations of the real thing. This latest one appears here in its first draft, waiting to be worked on further by me. I, meanwhile, am waiting and hoping that someone out there will give me some feedback on this first draft and maybe even make some suggestions about how I might improve it! Just by posting it here, I can already see some areas that need additional work, but I would still like to hear from you.

Anyway, that is enough of an art history class for tonight. I need to go and get ready to watch the ball fall at midnight. For those of you in the Toronto area, I hope you all get home before the predicted snow storm gets too bad!

May God bless you all and keep you safe in 2008.

Friday, 28 December 2007

The 4th Day of Christmas

It is already the 4th day of Christmas -- only 8 more to go and the Christmas Season will be over for another year. How quickly everything seems to come and go.
In case you are not sure what I am talking about, the Catholic Church celebrates 12 days of Christmas which run from the 25th of December to the 5th of January. On the 6th of January, we celebrate a feast called Epiphany (when the Wise Men arrived) and most of the Orthodox Churches celebrate their Christmas (they use a different calendar). Normally, I keep my Christmas decorations up until the night of the 5th and I add the three Wise Men to my Nativity set that evening -- I keep the Nativity set up until mid-January or longer -- I really hate to put it away!
Anyway, here is the drawing I was telling you about in the previous post. I call it "Amaryllis Blossom". I did a drawing of an Amaryllis plant in bloom a couple of years ago, but I have never been really satisfied with it. So, seeing all the Amaryllis plants at Christmas made me decide to try drawing the plant again. I decided to try drawing only one blossom this time and I am reasonably pleased with what I ended up with. It is the type of drawing that will make an attractive note card.
Surprise! Surprise! I have also been working on another angel! I do like to do things in 3's and since I had drawn two archangels, I wanted to try drawing the third one as well.
This is the Archangel Gabriel -- the angel
who appeared to Mary and announced to her that she was to be the Mother of the Messiah. I have always thought of Gabriel as the gentle Archangel.
If you take a look at the previous drawings, you will see that St. Michael has a sword and a shield; St. Raphael has a long rod that could be used as a weapon; St. Gabriel, however, has empty hands.
This is, of course, the first draft (I just finished it this afternoon) so I would welcome any comments or suggestions you might have.
I find that drawing an icon is a fairly intense experience so when I finish one, I like to set it aside and work on a drawing of something simple for a while before returning to the icon. So, this evening I have been working on a drawing of a girl holding a bunny.
As you may be aware, icons are normally "written" by iconographers. They prepare themselves spiritually before they even start and the process is usually quite deep and profound. I, on the other hand, simply draw icons by looking at the written icons of the true iconographers. When I take up the work of these deeply spiritual men and women, I find that I am humbled by their purity of purpose and I usually ask for forgiveness for copying their work in such a casual way.
May your hearts know peace in these troubled times.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Another Angel

Well, as you can see, I have been busy drawing angels again. This one is of St. Michael, the Archangel, the one who will lead the army of angels and defeat Evil at the end of time.

The structure of this icon is a bit different from any I have done previously as is the look of it. I am not sure what it is about this one that attracted me and made me want to draw it. Maybe it was simply the fact that it is so different from the usual icons.

Even though I have been quite busy over these past weeks, I find that I always will make time to be creative. In fact, on Christmas Day, after Mass, coffee with friends and numerous phone calls, I still turned on the computer so I could work on finishing this drawing. I even took a break from working on this icon and finished up a drawing of an Amaryllis blossom -- which I will include in my next post.

In closing tonight, I want to include some cute comments, supposedly from children, regarding angels. Variations of these have been around for a while so you may have read them previously. At any rate, here are 10 of my favourites.

Angels Explained by Children:

I only know the names of two angels. Hark and Harold. -- Gregory, 5

Everybody's got it all wrong. Angels don't wear halos anymore. I forget why, but scientists are working on it. -- Olive, 9

It's not easy to become an angel! First, you die. Then you go to heaven, then there's still the flight training to go through. And then you got to agree to wear those angel clothes. -- Matthew, 9

Angels work for God and watch over kids when God has to go do something else. -- Mitchell, 7

Angels talk all the way while they're flying you up to heaven. The main subject is where you went wrong before you got dead. -- Daniel, 9

Angels live in cloud houses made by God and his son, who's a very good carpenter.-- Jared , 8

All angels are girls because they gotta wear dresses and boys didn't go for it. -- Antonio, 9

Some of the angels are in charge of helping heal sick animals and pets. And if they don't make the animals get better, they help the child get over it. -- Vicki, 8

What I don't get about angels is why, when someone is in love, they shoot arrows at them. -- James, 7

Angels help God sort out all the messages he gets every Sunday morning.--- Phil, 9

Peace be with you.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

Well, the big night has finally arrived. Christmas Eve is here. And although you have seen this particular icon several times previously, I felt that it was truly appropriate to feature it again in tonight's post.

This time I am also including the blurb that is pasted on the back of the wooden plaque that displays the icon. I do this for each of the icons I have drawn as people always want to know a little bit about why the drawing is done a particular way and what the letters mean. It also gives me a place to sign the icon.

I am also including the first draft of a new icon. It shows Christ as an adult. I have never seen this particular image as an actual icon -- only a photograph of an icon, and I am still learning more about the origin of it. As I verify information, I will pass it along to you when I show the next stage of this drawing.
This kind of drawing of Christ is extremely difficult for me as all the focus is on the face which needs to carry the entire weight of the "message" of the drawing. Usually there are at least hands which can also be very expressive. But this one has only the face and the posture of the figure with which to speak the icon's message. I am not sure if I am a good enough artist to accomplish this. I will continue to work on it and show you the results.
I watched Midnight Mass from the Vatican. I remember as a child puzzling over the idea that it was already the next day somewhere else and it still seems a bit strange to me! However, it will be midnight here in a few more hours.
Before I go to bed, I will place the Baby Jesus in the crib of my Nativity set. It is my tradition to keep the Baby put away until Christmas Eve so all this time the Nativity set has been sitting there with the Mary and Joseph figures kneeling beside an empty crib. Tomorrow I hope to attend one of the many Masses of Christmas Day.
So, I wish you all a joyful Christmas Day and hope that you are able to celebrate with family and friends. If December 25th is not a special day for you, then I hope that you will have an enjoyable holiday from your regular work week.
May God bless you.

Friday, 21 December 2007

An Addendum, of Sorts

I have been fussing over the colours for this drawing off and on all day. I got some more good advice from another friend today and with her encouragement, finally made up my mind to give up all my bright colours I like so very much.
So, now I have re-worked all the colouring for the Guardian Angel, simplifying everything. I know I may still need to make some more changes, but I do feel that I am a lot closer to the final version than I have been previously.
The main reason I drew this particular image was because I love the idea of each of us having a Guardian Angel -- no matter race or religion -- given to us by God to try to help us through our daily lives as much as possible. While I realize that an angel can only do just so much when confronted by our human will, especially by our stubbornness and selfishness, at least our angel is trying to get us to go in the right direction and do the right thing.
A second reason I wanted to draw this picture was so that I could have something special to put on a plaque or card and give to the many children in my life. A picture that would remind them how precious they are to me and to God.
Of course, I also like to draw things that people want to buy, but that is certainly not what motivates me.
Anyway, enough of that...
I seem to be recovering from the bad case of the epizootics that I was suffering from last night. So, hopefully, I will have a comfortable Christmas. I wish the same for each of you and for all your dear ones as well.
I expect to be posting again before the big day.

Thursday, 20 December 2007


If you are wondering about this strange title, let me explain. When I was growing up in the southern U.S., if a child complained about not feeling well due to boredom or a desire to get out of work, the grown-ups would shake their heads and say: "you must have a bad case of the epizootics." It sounded like a real disease and the child would vigourously agree: "that's right, mama, I must have the epizootics." Of course, then the child would be informed that there was no such disease and that they had better get their chores done or else!

Over the years, it became a joke that I often shared with my sister, Betty. When she would telephone, if I sounded a bit down, she would say: "What's wrong? You sound like you've got the epizootics!" We would then both end up laughing.

Well, tonight I am really not feeling that great. I am probably just tired after a very busy week; however, I found myself thinking just a short while ago: "I must have a bad case of the epizootics"!!

Anyway, I did want to show you a couple of drawings. The first one is another angel I have been working on and feel ready to post for the first time.

It is another icon -- this one is of the Archangel Raphael. I don't know how many of you are familiar with the wonderful story of Tobias and Sarah in the book of Tobit found in the Catholic version of the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament), but the Archangel Raphael has a starring role. (If you would like to hear the story, send me an email).

The open scroll that St. Raphael is holding has a verse on it that is representative of the Book of Tobit and also indicates his particular charism or mission.

So, this is my first draft and, as always, I would appreciate any comments or suggestions that might help me as I continue to work on it.

As you know, this is my second attempt at drawing an angel and I am a bit more satisfied, technically, with this effort than with the Guardian Angel.

However, I must admit that in spite of the difficulties associated with trying to find the right colours for the Guardian Angel drawing, I feel very affectionate towards the angel with the two children. It probably comforts my inner child -- who also really likes all the different colours.
I have been playing around with the colours in this drawing, but I still haven't reached the point of saying "yes, that's the way it should be."

My friend who always sends me such helpful suggestions did say that she had the feeling of too many colours. So I have been trying to subdue the colours somewhat, keeping them more or less in the same part of the colour wheel, but I really find it difficult to give up some of the bright ones. I am still working on making the wings a bit more detailed.

Once again, I would really be glad to hear from you if you have strong feelings one way or another about the drawing.

I received an order yesterday for 4 more icons so I plan to make the prints tomorrow among other tasks. So, I think I will call it a day. After all, when you have a bad case of the epizootics, you really need to get lots of extra rest!

Wishing you all a peaceful night.


Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Just a quick Hello!

This will be very short as it is much later than I usually allow myself to stay up! Once again I started working on a drawing and completely forgot about the time.

Anyway, I was talking with a friend a few days ago -- telling her about the icons I am drawing -- and she spoke up and said: "do you have any angels?"

Well, I had to say no since the closest thing I have to angels is this drawing of two little girls playing the part of angels in a Christmas pageant!

The friend then went on to say that if I ever drew any angels, she would really be interested in seeing them as she "collects" angels.

Well, that started me thinking about possibilities and within a few hours, I had settled on a drawing and was working away.

I have been working on the following drawing every chance I have had for the past few days and finally reached the first draft stage tonight. I couldn't wait to show it to you even though I can barely stay awake. So, here it is:

As always, comments, criticisms and suggestions would all be welcome.

Now I am off to bed and as I have done for years, I will say the following before falling asleep:

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God's love commits me here,
Ever this night be at my side,
To light, to guard, to rule, to guide.


Sunday, 16 December 2007

Snow, Snow, Snow

This has been quite a snow storm -- certainly we haven't seen the likes of this for the past few years. I hope those of you affected by this storm system are all OK. My readers from the southern U.S. didn't have snow, but some places, like Florida, did have some crazy weather as well. So, whatever you had to do today, I pray that you are all home now -- safe and warm.

Actually, you might be saying to yourself "what is Sallie doing posting on a Sunday night?" Well, it just seemed the right thing to do now that the wind has finally died down and miz k.d. is sleeping peacefully once again. For a while this afternoon, she was most distressed since we were having thunder along with the winds and heavy snowfall. She does not like thunder and I am sure she was as confused as I was when she heard thunder in the middle of a snow storm!

Also, I have a couple of things I wanted to show you as well.

The first drawing is nothing special -- just a long-haired, fat cat with a Santa hat on. I was just playing around with several different drawings of cats and ended up deleting them all except this one. There is something about the face that appeals to me. It doesn't have a proper name yet so at this point I am simply calling it "A Christmas Cat".

The most interesting project I was working on this weekend, however, is a revision of the famous Solidarity banner that originated in Poland in the late 70's, early 80's. The red and white banner in Polish with the Polish flag became the logo of the movement that was pivotal to the bringing down of the Communist government at the end of the 1980's.

The client wanted something similar in English with the Canadian flag. Fortunately, our flag is also red and white. I had fun doing this project and will be interested in seeing if the client approves of what I have done.

So, here's hoping that you are able to get to wherever you need to go tomorrow.

It was wonderful watching all those people on the news tonight trying to help one another out of snow drifts and over icy patches. How kind we can be when there is a crisis. I am sure that there were a lot of thank yous said today and probably there are a lot of grateful hearts in dwellings across the GTA tonight.

Wishing you all a restful night and an easy trip to wherever you have to be tomorrow.

Friday, 14 December 2007

My Birthday!

Well, I have been having a wonderful birthday. Not only have I spent time with a number of my favourite people over the past 24 hours, but I have also managed to finish the first draft of my latest drawing.

This is another icon. It is called "Our Lady of Tender Mercy".

Not only have I managed to reach the first draft stage, but I have also created two versions of this icon.

The first one shows definite shadow and light areas on the faces with the cloak of Our Lady darkened. This is a technique that I have never tried previously and I am not sure how I feel about it.

Because of my ambivalence, I decided to also finish the drawing without highlighting the shaded areas. I thought this would give me a clear idea of which style I preferred. Instead, what has happened is that I still don't know which style best portrays the look of a traditional icon expressed through a modern medium.

I definitely need some input here.

I showed both to a friend who came to visit me early this morning bearing a birthday card and a gift.

At first, she could not see any difference other than the colours until I pointed out to her the shading on the faces. At this point, she decided that she preferred this second version without any major shading.

I said to myself -- well, OK, I will put aside the shaded version and only use the unshaded one. However, I find I am still questioning which one is more effective.

So, those of you who are regular readers of my blog, I am asking that you let me know if you have an opinion on this.

Which version should I use for the plaques and cards? Thanks.

Meanwhile, I need to go and recover from all my celebrating. As well, I need to start writing thank you notes to all those dear friends who gave me gifts. Actually the celebrations are not over -- I have additional birthday activities planned for Sunday and Monday!

Truly, I am overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of my family and friends. I am truly blessed.

May you all have a restful night.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

A Quiet Wednesday

The temperature was above freezing and the sun was shining brightly as the morning hours passed. miz k.d. was taking advantage of the sunshine coming through the windows -- soaking up the rays as she slept in her favourite chair. I was on the computer printing cards for people and working on my latest drawing. It looked beautiful outside, but I chose to stay indoors and get some work done as the next two days are going to be very busy ones for me. I start celebrating my birthday tomorrow since I can't squeeze everything in on the actual day.

Actually, I really had to force myself to stop working on a drawing and post to my blog. I am working on a new icon and I get so engrossed in the intricate drawing required that it is really difficult to make myself do other things.

However, I did want to show you the first drafts of these two drawings I completed recently. I am thinking about naming the one at the top of the entry "The Magic of Winter" but that is not a final decision. I really enjoyed drawing it as the scene makes me think of Christmas and that is really where my thoughts are these days. I have been listening to the Christmas part of The Messiah by Handel every day for the past week!

This next drawing continues the Christmas theme. All I had to work with was this little boy's face (which I found appealing) so it was fun turning it into a Christmas scene.

I will probably name this one "Santa's Little Helper" for obvious reasons. I got the idea for the shirt from some photos a friend sent me recently of her youngest grandson's visit to Santa. He was wearing a white shirt with Santa's little helper across the front in red. I decided that was the perfect shirt for my young friend in my drawing.

By the way, this latest icon I am working on is one that is named "Our Lady of Tender Mercy". The original is so beautiful and I hope that I will be able to capture at least a little bit of that beauty in my drawing.

As you can probably guess, I really want to get back to it so I will keep this short.

Wishing you all a peaceful night and a joyful tomorrow.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Troubling News

This first drawing is one you haven't seen before. It isn't new, but somehow it just got overlooked. I called it "A Proud Uncle" and it shows a Down Syndrome man holding his nephew. Do the lives of these two people in the drawing have the same value? Do they both have an equal right to life?

I almost hesitate to write about what is troubling me tonight for people seem to feel so strongly about the Robert Latimer situation.

I, personally, don't feel it is that important for him to be denied parole since the parole board appears to be denying parole mainly because they are hoping to force him to admit that what he did was wrong! Obviously, it was wrong, but keeping him incarcerated is not the way to help him -- or so it seems to me.

No, what is troubling me the most is the attitude that so many people seem to have about the value of his daughter's life.

Having spent the past 10 years as a member of the group that people called disabled, I have gotten to know a number of disabled people quite well. Some barely seem able to function without constant assistance while others lead active and productive lives from their wheelchairs. Only once during this time has anyone said anything really ugly to me. A person on the street yelled at me one day, loudly asking why I didn't stay at home and out of people's way like I should. That was a bit of a shock for me, but I managed to deal with it in a peaceful manner.

But after reading all the letters to the editor and editorial comments regarding the Robert Latimer situation these past couple of weeks, I now wonder how many people are thinking that way but just not saying it out loud?!

How many times have I heard people say "Oh, it would have been better if that child had died at birth" or "why didn't she have an abortion if she knew her baby would have this syndrome or another?"
The lady in the above drawing holding the child on her lap has Alzheimer's and I have certainly heard people say: "it would better if she just caught pneumonia and went quickly -- what good is her life anyway?"

This little girl in this next drawing is brain damaged like Robert Latimer's daughter. She doesn't appear to be in constant pain, but even so how can people say her life has no value?
I have known a number of families over the years who have one or more disabled/handicapped children and never once have I heard them say "I wish the doctors had let this child die at birth" except for those very few parents who simply cannot face the reality of the situation and see killing as a legitimate option -- like Robert Latimer.
Most parents that I have known have found that the disabled child brings a certain depth to their family life and teaches them more about loving than they would have known otherwise. Of course, when the child is terribly damaged, they may not be able to care for the child in the home and have to find some other place for them to live -- which Robert Latimer could have done, I would think.
I have heard Jean Vanier speak on several occasions and he always brings people from the residence with him. Their presence adds so much to what he is saying about accepting the brokenness in ourselves and others. Often the smiles of the young people with him teach much better than his words what love and acceptance is really all about.
I know none of this is easy and that to see your own child so helpless, so limited, in pain and distress, must be one of the most difficult things in life to live with day after day. I have so solution. All I can do is pray for those who are struggling with these issues in their lives and try to be as accepting of all those people I see each day who are living with something far more difficult than anything I have ever had to face.
I only hope that as I get older, more infirm, more disabled -- maybe even unable to communicate or care for myself in any way -- that society will allow me to live until I die. I truly believe that God can do good things with my life until the day of my death -- and, truthfully, I don't want to miss any of it!

May we all learn to accept our own brokenness and the brokenness of others.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Another Busy Saturday!

I ran out of my old business cards yesterday so I needed to print up some new one.

As I looked at my old design, however, I thought: I would like to create something different.

So that is what I have been doing this evening. I wanted to come up with some way of showing some samples of my work without just having a bunch of little pictures like I did on my old card. So, I was looking at my drawings for inspiration and suddenly it dawned on me that I have this drawing with a fence and if I put pieces of art work along the fence, it might look like someone has used the fence to set up an exhibit.

This is the design I ended up with. After deciding that I felt satisfied with the results, I printed off 50 copies so I am well-stocked with business cards for the time being!

During all this activity, I have been thinking a lot about my sister, Betty, as today would have been her 84th birthday. This is the first December 8th in my life that I can remember not sending a birthday card, making a phone call or both to my dear sister. All day long it has felt as though I was forgetting to do something!

Actually, I and my two sisters were all born in December. As many of you know, my birthday is coming up this next Friday (the 14th)!

Also, I wanted to show you this icon again.

On the 6th, I showed you the first draft. I have fixed most of the things that were missing or incomplete in the first draft and am feeling as though this icon is pretty well finished.

Now I am hoping that my friend who has helped me with my other icons will check out my blog soon and see this latest one. I can always count on her to help me see what needs to be changed or fixed or re-worked. It is a great help to get that sort of advice.

I started working on a new drawing last night, by the way, and hope to be able to show you the first draft soon. This time I am not doing an icon, but a drawing of a little boy dressed up for Christmas. I really feel as though I only want to draw things these days that relate in some way to the Christmas season. It is hard to believe that in just 16 more days it will be Christmas Eve!

Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying the holiday season whatever you are or are not celebrating.

Wishing you all a joyful Sunday.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

How did it get so late?

I will never understand where the time goes!
I sat down at my computer at 7 p.m. with plans to work a little bit more on my latest icon -- Christ in the Manger.
The telephone did not ring nor did miz k.d. come and try to get into my lap. I just had a lovely time working away on the icon without any interruptions.
I was just thinking to myself, with some surprise, that I seemed to be getting a lot done this evening in a short period of time.
Thinking an hour or so had passed, I thought that it would be a good idea if I posted to my blog and shared with you a draft of my latest drawing.
I looked at the little clock thing at the bottom of my computer screen and it appeared to read 9:54 p.m.! I knew that couldn't be correct and figured that my eyes had gone a bit strange from working on so much small detail. Surely I had not be drawing for three hours!
Well, you know the rest... I had been working for that long and the time has just slipped away. How does that happen?
Here it is almost time for me to go to bed. The evening that seemed to stretch luxuriously before me at 7 has now disappeared. Soon I will go to sleep and when I awake it will seem as though I just went to sleep a short time ago but it will be morning of a new day!
I remember as a child trying to get my head around the idea that God exists outside of time -- that in eternity, there is no time. Years later, when I was studying physics, I remember how impossible it seemed for me to try to mentally comprehend the theory of relativity. When I try to think of these sorts of things, it feels like my brain is getting twisted in a knot!
Anyway, enough of this. I really just wanted to show you how this latest icon is progressing. I still have lots of finishing up work to do, including putting in the Greek letters beside the Holy Infant and His Blessed Mother plus the Greek letters in Christ's aureole.
Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions about this drawing since I will be trying to finish it up in the next few days.
Now, I am off to play with time by going to sleep!
Wishing you all much peace and joy.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

A Little Sadness

A clip from the web site Collecting Loss, an art project by Karen Haffey and Esther Kalaba:
Betty Cosby StevensAge 83, 2007

"It smells of your perfume…As I sit here now, I can recall so many times when you were wearing this shirt as we visited - out on the screened porch looking at the lake, you with a glass of your favourite red in your hand, the sun setting across the water, the water causing our laughter to bounce back on us so that it seemed everything around was laughing, rejoicing. How I loved you then and how good it felt to be wrapped in your sisterly love for me...I still love you, Betty, and truly believe that your unconditional love continues to surround me even as I grieve the loss of your physical presence. Until we meet again..." written by Sallie Cosby Thayer.

The photo at the top of the column is of my sister, Betty's, favourite shirt for lounging around the house. I have no idea where she got it -- but she loved wearing it. What is such a picture doing in my blog, you might ask? Well, after I returned from the memorial service for my sister in Florida last spring, I came across a news article in the Toronto Star about an art project being done by two Ontario women. They were collecting favourite pieces of clothing, etc. belonging to people who had died; collecting them from people who had lost someone dear to them -- from babies to the very elderly. They were asking for the item to be submitted with a short story that answered a bunch of questions giving some insight into the relationship and the article of clothing.

Their project is called Collecting Loss and is really quite beautiful. If you are interested, take a look at Go to View Gallery Stories and click on page 9 and about half way down you will see my sister's shirt with the blurb I have pasted in. Let me know what you think of the web site.

So that is why I used the title "a little sadness" tonight. It pleases me to see the shirt as part of an art project, but at the same time, it makes me feel a bit sad.

I cannot recall if I have posted an actual photograph of myself and my two sisters on my blog or not. Anyway, this seems like a good time to do so.
This photo was taken back in 1998 and I am sure will can't help but notice the shirt my sister, Betty, is wearing! We are even out on the screened porch I was speaking about in my blurb although you can't see the huge Cypress lake just outside the screens.
So many happy memories for which I am very grateful.
Well, moving on to my art work, I have finished the icon of the Holy Family and am now ready to start working on something new. I am always on the lookout for new subjects for drawing so if you come across something you think would be of interest to me, please feel free to pass it along. I gladly take help and suggestions from wherever I can get them!
Meanwhile, please be careful if you have to be out on any of the highways in northeastern North America -- you never know when you might be confronted by ice and snow!
Blessings and peace.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

A Snowy Sunday

This is just a quick posting since I don't usually post anything on Sunday night... but, as you can see, I have been working on my latest icon of the Holy Family.

I had lots of time to work on it today as it snowed here last night (as it did many other places in the northeast). The snow looked beautiful from my windows, but since wheelchairs don't have snow tires, I am kind of stuck inside for the time.

Anyway, this latest icon is still in the draft stage, but I wanted to show it to you so you can see how it is progressing. I want to do the Greek lettering properly plus a few other things so if you have any suggestions about how I might improve it, please feel free to email me.

I can hear water dripping outside which lets me know the snow is melting. However, I understand that the temperature is supposed to be dropping overnight to below zero Celsius which means all this water will turn to ice! I think I will be spending another day indoors.

Hope you are keeping warm wherever you are tonight.

Blessings to you all.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Busy Time of Year

This has been another busy day of a very busy week. And why has it been so busy for me? Because I am working hard at creating a business out of what has previously been mostly a hobby.

I am making a serious effort to change the focus of my business from seasonal greeting cards to other art work -- like the icons I mentioned selling on Wednesday. I will still make note cards for my regular customers, but even there I want to try something new.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with a web site called Toronto the Better
but my business is listed there along with lots of other really interesting businesses.

If you go there, you will find lots of organizations that sell fair trade items and are concerned about being green and ethical. Check it out.

Anyway, they are going to be taking copies of this card (African Grandmother, see above) and placing it in some of their stores where you can buy it. This drawing, by the way, is a picture that came out of a political/social situation in Africa where so many grandmothers are ending up parenting their grandchildren because their children have all died of HIV/AIDS. Also, the organization it was designed for is associated with the Stephen Lewis Foundation. (Remember December 1st is World AIDS Day.)

I have lots more cards that have political/ ethical themes (as my faithful readers know) and I am hoping that they might be interested in selling some of those cards as well.

Meanwhile, I am still working on icons.  Sunday, December 2nd, will be the first Sunday of Advent and Advent is time where Christians prepare for the coming of the Lord.

Therefore, it seemed appropriate to me to work on an icon of the Holy Family as part of my preparation for Christmas. As soon as it reaches the first draft stage I will show it to you and hopefully get some constructive criticism from you.

Also in an effort to increase my creative potential, I have finally decided to seriously pursue the study of Adobe Illustrator (I already have the software). One of my faithful readers sensed that I was finally ready to began and very kindly sent me the link for a wonderful web site called Hassle Me ( I have asked them to remind me every two days that I am supposed to be studying Adobe Illustrator. It will almost be like having parents again!

So, now I think I will return to my art work -- a most enjoyable way to end my day.

Blessings to you all.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


I had a very interesting experience today: I sold my first actual icons!
Not cards with pictures of icons on them or holy cards with pictures of icons on them, but almost-like-the-real-thing, pictures-on-wood icons!
Quite a few weeks ago, an acquaintance had ordered a "set" of icons (one of Our Lady and the Holy Child and one of The Christ). I told him that I would see what I could do. So, first I drew this picture of Our Lady and the Child known as Our Mother Of Perpetual Help which I have shown you before.
The fact that I was able to draw it as well as I did within the parameters of the traditional style was actually quite amazing to me. I can only guess that my ability had something to do with all the years I have spent meditating before this icon -- the icon that touches me more deeply than any other.

Shortly after finishing the drawing of Our Lady, a dear friend of mine asked me to do a drawing of an icon called Our Lord Pantocrator. I had previously tried to draw one of the many versions of this icon, but it was far from being satisfactory.
Fortunately, my friend was very patient with me and helped me create something closer to the traditional image. I finally reached a point where I think my friend was reasonably satisfied and she gave me permission to go ahead and print some cards for her using this image.
Well, up until today, my acquaintance who had ordered the icons had not seen any of the work I had been doing as he does not have Internet access. In preparation for his visit, I even had the picture of Our Lady mounted on a plaque with gold trim.
When he saw the drawings and saw as well how they will look when mounted on plaques, he was really almost speechless. He said several times: "I expected them to be good, but these are really, really good. They are excellent. So traditional and yet so modern at the same time."
Was this not music to my ears? Of course it was. No matter what they say, every artist loves praise and I am no exception. He went ahead and wrote out a cheque for the full amount before he left and even offered to pay me more "since the work more than meets my expectations."
So, now I will make 8 x 10 prints of these two images and mount each one on a
9 x 12 gold plaque. I am hoping that these are simply the first two of many icons that people will purchase from me in the days to come!
Blessings to you all from a very satisfied Sallie.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Wee Babes

Life is so very precious in all its forms. Everything that is alive struggles to survive until reaching a certain point of desperation or debilitation -- and even then if you give them the tiniest bit of hope, you can see the struggle to live return.

Human beings can sometimes talk themselves into dying for various reasons, but I won't go there tonight. I just mentioned the topic of life because I have been working on this new drawing of a wee babe entitled "Another Precious Life".

The drawing is not really finished yet -- lots of detail work still to be done or done more carefully -- but I wanted to show it to you anyway. I was attracted to this picture because of the unusual position of adult hands without a visible body and the baby being held at an angle. It is really a picture of mostly hands and tiny feet.

Speaking of wee babes, for some time now I have been wanting to show you this lovely photograph taken by a friend of mine a number of years ago.

This is a picture of my friend's granddaughter dressed in the Baptismal outfit worn by the father of the little girl when he was an infant. I love the way she is holding her fingers -- reminiscent of Winston Churchill's victory sign!

My friend was really looking forward to seeing her granddaughter grow up -- but that was not to be. She died of cancer in her mid-50's.

Like most of us would, she fought hard to live. But all the courage in the world is frequently no match for cancer.

My personal belief is that I will see my friend again some day in a place where we will be forever whole, healed and at peace. A place outside of time and age and pain. And that, in fact, my friend will someday meet this grandchild once again.

Truly, life is precious in all its forms.

May your life be blessed.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

A Sleepy Saturday Evening

It has been one of those days where I have kept almost falling asleep time and time again.

My legs were bothering me last night at bedtime and so I finally fell asleep a little past 1:30 a.m. only to wake up at 7:15. My home care was arriving at 8 so I figured I might as well just go ahead and get up. This left me a few hours short of a good night's sleep!

I was fine so long as I was staying active, but then I started reading the weekend newspaper (remember our Saturday paper is like the Sunday paper in the U.S.). After about an hour, I found myself nodding away, jerking awake, trying to finish reading the article, nodding away. So, I gave up reading the paper and figured I will maybe finish it tomorrow. Of course, everytime I glanced across the room, I would see miz k.d. sleeping away so comfortably.

Cats never cease to amaze me when it comes to sleep. I hear that they need about 16 hours a day and they really make certain that they get it! I think they are the absolute professionals when it comes to the art of relaxed sleeping. Like the cat in the drawing above. If you think it looks familiar, it should. This was the original drawing I did some months ago for a set of greeting cards. As we begin to get closer to Christmas, I made a copy of it and re-drew parts of it with torn wrapping paper and a gift tag which reads: "To Kitty From Santa".

This next photograph is one I came across recently and since it gave me a chuckle, I added it to my collection. It reminds me very much of a big ginger-colooured tom-cat I used to have by the name of Mr. Ginger. He was such a delightful character and I still miss him very much. Like so many male cats (and other male creatures), he took the prize when it came to sleeping -- anytime, any place.

Of course, among all creatures, the young sleep the best of all -- I guess they haven't learned about all the fearful things that surround them yet. And a healthy human baby at sleep is certainly a beautiful thing to behold.

This little one here -- all ready for Christmas -- looks like he might be the child of Santa and Mrs. Claus themselves! Actually, he is the young relative of a friend of mine.

This next drawing, which you have seen a number of times previously, is a favourite of mine.

As you may recall, it is entitled "A Mother's Prayer". The child in this picture is certainly old enough to be aware of what a frightening place the world can be and yet, because he sleeps in his mother's arms, he sleeps like a baby.

One of the things that I have always found most attractive about this drawing is that it shows the mother holding her son in a position that must be uncomfortable for her and yet she lets him stay because it seems to be comfortable for him. This is a visible expression of the best of motherly/ fatherly love for a child.

Next is another drawing that you have seen previously. For the life of me, I cannot remember what its proper title is. I should search through my archives and find out, but I am feeling far too lazy and sleepy for that! So I will give it a new and perhaps
temporary name: "Brothers".
Older brother is still so very young himself and yet he suddenly takes on a certain look of maturity as he holds his baby brother in his arms -- protecting him from harm. And his baby brother feels safe, obviously, as he is sleeping soundly.
Finally, I want to show you again a very recent drawing that I completed last weekend and posted for the first time earlier this week.
The title is "Missing Nap Time".

The reason for including it again tonight is because it best shows exactly how I am feeling. I am so sleepy that I think I could even sleep in this position without any problem! Of course, I would be full of aches and pains when I awakened, but I certainly wouldn't have any trouble falling asleep.

And speaking of sleep, even though it is still relatively early on a Saturday night, I see no reason to stay up any longer!

Until the next time, be at peace.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Finally Feeling Better!

unshine on my shoulders...

Light, today was filled with glorious light. Yes, it was bone-chillingly cold, but the sun was shining and whenever I could get myself in the right part of the sidewalk, I could even feel its warmth. Once I almost got hit by some falling ice. Amazing how much heat we still can get from the sun this time of year.
I was thinking a lot about light anyway after two days of very cloudy skies: Wednesday it rained all day; Thursday it tried to snow all day although by the late afternoon there were already glimpses of occasional sunlight.
Light is the artist's friend -- although too much or too little can drive you crazy when you are trying to get an exact colour on a canvas. The ability to show light and shadow can change a boring painting into something exciting. And, of course, there is nothing worse than a muddy canvas -- when it reaches that point, you may as well start over.
I miss being able to work easily with the drama of light in my computer drawings. I understand, from those who know about these things, that this problem is largely my fault because I am too lazy to learn the more sophisticated software that would enable me to put down layers of shading where the colour underneath still shows through. Perhaps if all you folks out there who appear to be faithfully reading my blog were to get on my case... Oh, well, I would probably come up with some new excuse.
Anyway, I want to show you a couple of paintings I did some years ago that were attempts on my part to express something about the symbolic nature of light and how it stands for God or good. I can't recall if I have shown you these previously, if so, bear with me.

This first one is called "The Piercing of the Heart" and represents the soldier's piercing of the Heart of Christ at the crucifixion to make certain that he was really dead.
Catholics have a whole tradition about the Sacred Heart of Jesus -- especially as a hiding place when you are overwhelmed by the harsh realities of life.
This painting was done on poster paper using poster paint.
This next painting was done many years ago and was painted on canvas board with oils. The title for this one is "The Light at the Heart of the World".
I painted this back in the late 1960's when I still believed that we, the young, could change the world by love and non-violence.
Of course, what none of us put into the
equation back then was time. We thought we could change the world by the time we reached the age of 30!
So, this painting came out of the belief that at the centre of everything there was goodness and all we had to do was love the darkness away and let the light shine. Remember?
Interestingly, this was the first painting of mine that anyone ever offered to purchase. I was being very much of a weekend hippie in those days so I said something like, "Hey, man, if you like it that much, it's yours." I can't remember now if he accepted my offer or not!
Anyway, it is great to be feeling better again and I understand we are headed for a gradual warming trend with a few more days of sunshine mixed with clouds. Enjoy!
Peace and blessings to you all.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Now begins the time of the year when I seem to have to take extra pain medication more frequently. I don't know if it is due to the cold, rainy weather or the pending snow storm, but something really has my joints going crazy today.
At any rate, extra medication mean extra sleep is needed. During the times I have been awake, I've continued working on this latest icon -- another icon of Christ, Panocrator. I have been working on it for a number of days now and I think I mentioned it briefly when I was recently discussing the difficulty I have of drawing men's facial hair.
I am still not finished with this drawing, but it is certainly far enough along for me to share it with you.
This is my second attempt at an icon of Christ, Panocrator. The first one I posted some time ago. I downloaded it again tonight so that you could see it and compare it to the newer one.
As you can see, the first one is much darker while the latest one has a more "golden" look about it.
Much of what happens with icons, even for a novice like me, is unexpected and unplanned. I find this is also true to a certain extent with holy cards. It can really be quite exciting at times to see something appear on the screen as the drawing begins to come together that looks totally different from what I had planned to draw!
Well, I am starting to get drowsy again so I think I had better stop and call it a day. I am hoping and praying that once the snow arrives the humidity will decrease and maybe my joints will be happier.
Whatever happens, I pray that we all have a happy day tomorrow, filled with blessings. And to all my American readers: Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Still Recovering

Well, I did not even end up with one black eye, much less two and my nose, while still sore, is healing nicely. No, the biggest problem has been all the additional aches and pains I have had to put up with on top of all my usual aches and pains!

So, I have been spending a lot more time at home working on the computer. I'm trying to draw another icon of Christ -- which is very difficult for me for a number of reasons. You may have noticed that I tend to draw many more children and women than I do men. One of the reasons for that is this primitive software I use does not provide any decent way to do the kind of shading necessary to properly depict facial hair or beard shadow. I keep experimenting and maybe one of these days, I will find a way. Of course, if I would stop drawing all the time and teach myself to use more advanced software, the problem would most likely be solved.

Anyway, whenever I want to take a break from working on the icon, I work on a much simpler drawing like the one above. I call this one "A Kitten in my Coffee Cup" and it makes me chuckle when I look at it. Such a wee, little kitten -- so young that its eyes are still blue. Kittens are so irresistible at that age.

So, here it is a little past 10:30 p.m. and I have to take Wheeltrans to the dentist tomorrow so I think it would be a good idea for me and miz k.d. to call it a day. May tomorrow be a good day for us all.

Blessings and peace.

Saturday, 17 November 2007


I'm feeling a bit like Humpty-Dumpty tonight as I had a great big fall this morning! Nothing is broken, unlike poor old Humpty, but I do have a gash on my nose and may get a black eye. I was trying to do something clever while standing and holding on to my rollator/walker with one hand and reaching out with the other. Obviously, it did not work!

So, I have spent most of the day resting and finishing off this drawing that I started some time ago. I have entitled it: "Missing Nap Time".

I love the relaxed way that children can sleep any place, any time and wake up relaxed and refreshed.

Back when I was healthy and normally active, I often forgot how tired you can get when you are a little person or a not-as-healthy, getting-older-person such as I am now. I can remember looking at children sleeping and thinking how sweet they looked. On the other hand, I can recall seeing elderly people sleeping in public and thinking, somewhat pityingly, how pathetic they looked. O, how the mighty have fallen.

Enough of that... All this talk of sleep is my way of letting you know that I think the time has come for me to call it a day and do what the little girl in the drawing is doing -- only I plan to stretch out in my comfy bed.

If I end up with two black eyes, I will try to get someone to take a picture of me so you can see how "colourful" I look!

Blessings and peace.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Grandmothers and AIDS

Grandmothers and what? you might say... What do grandmothers have to do with AIDS?

Well, in Africa, as I've mentioned previously, many grandmothers are raising their grandchildren because their own children have died from HIV/AIDS.

Of course, numbers of their children did not have to die if they could have had access to the current "cocktail" of drugs that enables many AIDS patients to live much longer, healthier lives. The problem, as you no doubt are aware, has been pharmaceutical companies unwillingness to make the cheap forms of these "drug cocktails" available plus the reluctance on the part of many groups and governments within Africa to talk about HIV/AIDS openly and admit what really causes its transmission.

I have been thinking a lot about this whole problem again recently because I decided to do two new drawings. This first one [above] is called "Canadian Grandmother" and is taken from a photo of a Canadian grandmother who has been instrumental in doing some of the initial groundwork in forming the Mothers (Grandmothers) for African Grandmothers. The various local chapters of this organization do different types of fund raising and use the money raised to assist African grandmothers who are courageously raising all their grandchildren single-handedly without the assistance of social programs such as we have in Canada.

If you would like more information about finding a group close to you or starting a group yourself, there is some information on the Internet or you could write me and I could put you in contact with people who either have some answers or know where to get them.

This next drawing is one of the grandmothers being helped. She is also very active in her own community in South Africa. As well, she and the Canadian grandmother shown above are acquainted.

It is my understanding that grandmothers in South Africa are called GoGo. I am not sure why or where the name comes from or even how widespread its use is since South Africa is a country of a number of different tribal languages.

I thought about using GoGo as part of the title for this drawing, but then remembered that I had already used it previously... so, falling back on my usual creative abilities, I decided to name it "South African Grandmother". See, I haven't lost my touch!

Finally, I want to show you once again the very first drawing I did of an African grandmother.

This one is cleverly named "An African Grandmother" and was used for a time by the local chapter of Mothers for African Grandmothers as their card for writing their invitations and thank you notes as well as for selling as a means of fund-raising. I noticed recently that they had a bulletin up on our notice board about a planned meeting -- the first one of those that I have seen for some time. So, maybe they will be asking for some more copies of their card.

Blessings and peace.