Thursday, 31 July 2008

Family Traditions

This is a drawing of some family's home. It looks like a place that I would have enjoyed living -- a comfortable looking house, nice outbuildings with pasture and a beautiful view.

That's actually what I named my drawing: "What A View".

Family traditions not only include the place where you live and how you live -- they also include the family's religious beliefs.

My religious beliefs include the Sacrament of Baptism as fundamental to my faith life and traditions.

This past Sunday, I attended the Baptism of the "first-born son" of some young friends of mine. Below are a few pictures of the event.

Here are the parents with the deacon who presided at the Baptism. He is holding their little son who is named Sean Michael.

Here is Sean Michael with his mother and his "Aunt" Sallie. He was very well behaved and grabbed onto my hand while we had a delightful conversation!

Here is another picture of Sean Michael with his "Aunt" Sallie. You can see his handsome face a bit more clearly in this one.
As everyone is well aware, today is the last day of July, 2008. I find it so difficult to believe that summer is only about seven weeks from being over!
Enjoy it while you can.
May you all have a happy and peaceful August.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Feeling Flowery

All this rain we have been having this month has made me feel quite flowery!

All the gardens are lush with greenery and with flowers of all sorts. Unfortunately, all the rain has not been so good for the farmers so we need to pray that August will be hot and dry.

Anyway, I have done a few flower drawings which I thought I should post tonight

This first one is called "Butterfly on a Sunflower". This is my first attempt to draw sunflowers and they are not as easy as they might look -- you need to give the impression of all those seeds.

I am not satisfied with this first effort so I am sure I will try again.

This next drawing is of Prairie Crocus -- which is what I am calling the drawing.

This appears to be a very interesting plant with seed pods which expel a cottony-like substance.

If anyone has ever seen this flower in the wild, I would really appreciate knowing more about it.

And finally, I have a drawing of an iris which I call "Purple Iris" (you can see that I remain as clever as ever when naming things!).

I have a real fondness for these flowers as my first satisfactory watercolour years ago was of a single iris.

I have been working on a couple of very unusual icons which I may be ready to post before week's end.

Meanwhile, as always, I wish you peace.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

A Different Approach

This is my most recent icon -- a drawing of the Agony in the Garden.

I tried a very different approach when drawing it -- I drew it in two separate sections and then put them together.

First, I drew Our Lord at prayer on the rock as you see below.

Then I drew the disciples, Peter, John and James, trying to stay awake and pray as Christ asked them to.

These figures needed to be much smaller than the Christ figure in order to show both their lesser status and their physical distance from Christ.

Then, as you saw at the beginning, I put them together in one normal size icon. I gave the Christ drawing more rooom which made everyone the appropriate size.

Why did I do it this way?

Mainly, because I knew how difficult it was going to be to try to draw all those figures on one "canvas".

Plus, I would have been working with such tiny figures which would have been very hard on my eyes and my hands.

So, now that you see how it turned out, what do you think of my different approach?

Peace be with you.

Friday, 25 July 2008

And Even More Bears!

I really do not understand why there are so many bears in my life these days, but it seems that every time I turn around, there is another message about bears or photos of same.

The image above is a photo I was playing with. I like the overall effect I have created. I am calling it: "Excuse me, but I think you are sitting in my snowbank!"

These next two photos were in an email that a friend sent to me. The subject line for the email was "Hey, Ma, where's my dinner?"

I am a member of an organization called ZooCheck Canada. They are very concerned about zoo animals and the ethics of keeping wild animals in captivity.

I received an email from them today in which they told about an upcoming evening in September where authors of books about animals will be speaking.

One of the authors they mentioned was a woman by the name of Else Poulsen. She has written a book (soon to be released) entitled: "Smiling Bears: A Zookeeper Discovers the Emotional Lives of Bears".

I wouldn't mind hearing her speak or reading her book. I guess bears are supposed to be my newest favourite animal!

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Not Made With Hands

This icon, while well known among the Orthodox, is less well known to non-Orthodox Christians.

It is called "The Holy Napkin" or the icon "Not Made with Hands" as it is supposed to have been created as Christ wiped his face with a napkin.

I have inserted below the story of how this icon came to be and what it was intended to accomplish. I hope you find it interesting.

(Christ Not Made By Hands or Holy Napkin)
According to Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich in The Prologue from Ohrid:

"In the time that our Lord was preaching the Gospel and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people, there was in the city of Edessa, on the banks of the Euphrates, a certain Prince Avgar, who was riddled with leprosy. He heard of Christ, the Healer of every pain and sickness, and sent a portrait-painter, Ananias, to Palestine with a letter to Christ, in which he begged the Lord to come to Edessa and heal him of his leprosy. In the event of the Lord's not being able to come, the prince commanded Ananias to paint His likeness and bring it, believing that the portrait would heal him.

The Lord replied that he could not come, as the time of His Passion was at hand, and He took a napkin and wiped His face, leaving a perfect reproduction of His most pure face on the napkin. The Lord gave this napkin to Ananias, with a message to say that the prince would be healed by it, but not entirely, and He would therefore send him later an envoy who would rid him of the remainder of the disease.

Receiving the napkin, Avgar kissed it and the leprosy fell from his body, with just a little remaining on his face. Later, the Apostle Thaddaeus [one of the 12 apostles], preaching the Gospel, came to Avgar, healed him secretly and baptised him.

Then the prince smashed the idols that stood at the city's gateway and placed the napkin with the face of Christ above the entrance, stuck onto wood, surrounded with a gold frame and ornamented with pearls. The prince also wrote above the icon on the gateway: 'O Christ our God, no-one who hopes in Thee will be put to shame'.

Peace be with you.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Bears and More Bears!

I have been playing again... this time with bears.

I have never tried to draw bears before and they are not as easy as they look. I need a paint brush in order to make fur look like fur!

Anyway, this first attempt is simply called "A Big Bear".

This image is one of my earlier drawings. It was inspired by a photograph of an Arbutus Tree which, to me, looked like a standing bear. That is how I drew it.

I have shown you this drawing previously, but it seems to fit with today's topic. The title of the drawing is simply "The Arbutus Tree".

What really prompted all this bear stuff was an email I got from a friend. You may have seen it as I assume it is one of those things moving around the Internet. Anyway, it shows a mama bear with 5 cubs -- almost unheard of. I also attached the letter that goes with the two photographs for you to read. Enjoy.


Black bears typically have two cubs, rarely one or three.
In 2007, in northern New Hampshire, a black bear sow gave birth to five healthy young. There were two or three reports of sows with as many as four cubs but five was, and is, extraordinary.
I learned of them shortly after they emerged from their den and set myself a goal of photographing all five cubs with their mom, no matter how much time and effort was involved. I knew the trail they followed on a fairly regular basis, usually shortly before dark.
After spending nearly four hours a day, seven days a week, for six weeks I had that once in a lifetime opportunity and photographed them in the shadows and dull lighting of the evening. Due to these conditions the photograph is a bit 'noisy' as I had to use the equivalent of a very fast film speed on my digital camera. The print is properly focused and well exposed with all six bears 'posing' as if they were in a studio for a family portrait.

I stayed in touch with other people who saw the bears during the summer and into the fall hunting season. All six bears continued to thrive. As time for hibernation approached, I found still more folks who had seen them and everything remained OK. I stayed away from the bears as I was concerned that they might become habituated to me, or to people in general, as approachable 'friends'. This could be dangerous for both man and animal.
After Halloween I received no further reports and could only hope the bears survived until they hibernated. This spring, before the snow disappeared, all six bears came out of their den and wandered the same familiar territory they trekked in the spring of 2007. I saw them before mid April and dreamed nightly of taking another 'family portrait,' an improbable second 'once in a lifetime' photograph.
On April 25, 2008 I achieved my dream. When I showed the result to a woman who had purchased a print of the cubs a year earlier she exclaimed, 'I have never seen such an extraordinary photograph'.
When something as magical as this happens between man and animal, Native Americans say: 'We have walked together in the shadow of a rainbow.' And so it is with humility and great pleasure that I share these photos with you.
Sincerely, Tom Sears

Peace be with you all -- even the bears.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Another Sarah

Finally, here is the icon I have been working on for some time. It is one of the most complicated that I have attempted to date.

It is called "The Hospitality of Abraham and Sarah".

Actually, this icon is usually just called "The Hospitality of Abraham" but how could I, another Sarah, leave her name out of the title?

I am very uncertain about the Greek. Actually, let me rephrase that. I am very uncertain about the "and" (kai in Greek) since it is a modern spelling -- plus I may not have used it properly. I really need help with my Greek!

For those of you who don't know, there is a story in the Book of Genesis (first book of the Hebrew Bible) about three angels coming to visit Abraham and Sarah when they were an old couple. The angles prophesied that Sarah would bear a son and through him God would bless the nations. Sarah laughed since she was an old woman. However, the following year she gave birth to a son, Isaac.

The three angels have often been viewed by Christian artists and scholars as representing the Holy Trinity -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- which is how Christians describe the one God. There is even a very famous icon by Rublev of the three angels which is called "The Trinity". However, in my icon I drew them as three mystical creatures which allows the viewers to make their own conclusions about what or who the angels represent.

Peace be with you all.

Thursday, 17 July 2008


From looking at the two drawings I am posting tonight, you might think my title should be "Africa" instead of "Nicknames".

Well, as you will discover, the first drawing, above, bears a particular relation to my discussion. [The title for this drawing, by the way, is "Giraffe Mother and Child"]

I have always been a person of nicknames. From the day of my birth I was burdened with a nickname that I carry to this very day.

My given name is Sarah. I was named after both my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother was named Sarah Victoria; my paternal grandmother was named Sarah Elizabeth. However... one was known to most people as Sis Sallie and the other was known as Sallie Bet. So, from day one, I was just called Sallie.

This, of course, led eventually to people calling me "Sal" . Then I had the misfortune of being given the middle name of Wallace which led to my being called "Wally". Finally, to make matters even worse, I was in high school when the song "Long Tall Sally" became a hit and I just happened to be skinny and very tall -- so I was called "Long Tall".

At some point in my early twenties, I had a group of friends who started calling me "the giraffe". As with all my nicknames, I tried to find something positive about the appellation and so begin my fondness for giraffes.

However, I must admit that this is the first time I have ever tried to draw them. I always hesitated because of all the spots they have. It was a bit tedious drawing them all, but I am glad I finally tried.

This drawing was inspired by a newspaper photograph showing a woman in Darfur carrying her food rations for a month. I entitled it: "Food for a Month -- Darfur".

I am sure that she is taking her donated food home to a family which will have to try to survive on this small amount for four weeks -- in the hope that there will be another truck of food aid there at month's end.

Let us not forgot those who have so much less than we do.

Peace be with you,
Sallie a.k.a Sarah, Sal, Wally, Long Tall and The Giraffe

P.S. The new icon is almost completed.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Learning by Copying

This drawing was copied from the cover of a note card I received recently from a friend.

The original is a painting entitled "African Afternoon" and was painted by an artist named Tilly Willis.

I was struck immediately by the way that one bright colour gives the impression of intense sunlight and I wanted to try it for myself. So I did.

I have always wanted to try to draw an acacia tree as well and this effort gave me the chance to learn more about the structure of these iconic African trees.

This drawing of a Great Blue Heron was copied from a postcard I received a few months ago from a friend travelling in the States.

Until I started working on the drawing, I had never realized how many different types of feathers are found on a heron. I did not try to draw them all, of course, but I did learn a lot by trying to copy just a few of them.

The background was borrowed from my clip art file.

I have almost finished a new icon. It is one that I have wanted to do for a long time, but never could quite bring myself to attempt all the detail work necessary. Now it is almost complete! Maybe it will be ready for me to post on Thursday.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, 13 July 2008


When I picked up the completed plaques yesterday at Staples, it suddenly dawned on me that I had never posted this icon I did of St. Edith Stein.

For those of you who don't know, Edith Stein was a Jewish convert to Catholicism. A brilliant philosopher, she became a Roman Catholic in the years prior to World War II and eventually became a Carmelite nun. She was Polish and after the Germans invaded Poland, her community sent her to Holland for safety. Unfortunately, the Germans invaded Holland a few years later. Edith Stein (known in religious life as Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) was put to death at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.

tThe other plaques I picked up yesterday were of St. Paul. I have shown you this one previously but include it once again since it is part of the same order.

Also I wanted to point out, to anyone who might be interested, that I finally got my Greek spelling correct! At one point, I changed the name of Paul to Paulinus -- then after some more research, I realized that it should be Paulos. This is what I have now: the pi symbol is P, then A (alpha), followed by what looks like a Y but is the Greek symbol for upsilon, then the thing that looks like an A with a tail on top is the Greek letter lambda = L, followed by O (omicron in Greek) and then the symbol for S (sigma in Greek). Voila! You have the name of Paul.

Once a teacher, always a teacher, I guess.

Peace be with you.

Friday, 11 July 2008


As you can see, I have been indulging myself once again by doing drawings of one of my other favourite creatures -- horses.

The drawing above is entitled "Arabians".

The drawing below is entitled "Equine Mother and Child".

The two photographs below were sent to me by a friend today. You may have seen them already. If not, enjoy these scenes of God's peaceable kingdom.

Just in case you might worry about what on earth a little fawn is doing with two big horses, I am posting the concluding comment from my friend's email.

"After the horses moved on, the doe came in and got her wandering fawn. So all is well."
May peace be with all creation and with you.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Learning as I Go

I have been playing again.

This time I decided to try re-drawing a photo that has always appealed to me.

The photo is one from a travel advertisement for Nova Scotia and PEI which has been around for some while now. When I first started teaching myself to draw on the computer, it was one of the first things I tried.

So, the drawing above and below are both done from the same "model" -- one in 2005 or 6 and the other this past week.

The new one is called "Down East Farm" and the older one is entitled "Early Morning Benediction".

I find the differences interesting.

I keep learning as I go.
Peace be with you.

Monday, 7 July 2008

A Difficult Day

The idea for this "icon" came from a groups of drawings I found on the Internet that show protective angels with representative members of dangerous occupations.

I chose to do this one because I have a brother-in-law who has been interested in firefighting most of his life. To this day, in his 70's, he remains a volunteer fireman.

As for me, I have had a difficult day. Nothing in particular needs mentioning, it was just one of those days where things simply do not work out the way you had hoped.

I think the prayer on the drawing would be a good one for me: "St. Michael, the Archangel, defend me."

Peace be with you -- and with me!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Now is the Time

This two-part icon, entitled "Mater Dolorosa", was completed a number of weeks ago.

I thought about posting it at that time, but decided not to. My feelings about the icon were too close to the surface.

As the weeks have passed and other drawings and events have filled my life, I feel that now is the time to post it.

Probably the most sensitive aspect of this icon for me at the time of drawing had to do with the image of Our Lady -- as the Mother of Sorrows.

I actually separated the icon and now have this image of Our Lady hanging on my wall as an individual drawing.

In its single state, I call it "Our Lady of the Empty Hands".

This title comes from an image I saw in a dream in the month after my sister's death last year.

Of course, the image of Christ in His death is properly suited to go with the image of His Mother with her empty hands.

For all of us are left with empty hands at the death of those we love -- empty hands and the hope that we will meet again.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

What Have I Done?

Here is my latest icon. It is entitled "Extreme Humility". The proper title should be "Christ the Bridegroom" (O Nymphios in Greek) but I prefer my title.

My choice for the title is inspired by the canticle found in St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians (2:6-11) where he writes of Christ: "...and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross!"

Now for an explanation of the title for this posting.

The other night, I happened to decide to take a look and see what had been collected in my Picasa Web Album. This album is something I signed up for long ago but which I have basically ignored.

Well, when I looked at it, I discovered that there were all sorts of duplicate copies of drawings that I have posted over the past 10 months. Being a neatness freak, I thought, "well this needs to be cleaned up".

I selected a whole bunch of duplicates and pressed the delete key. A warning box came up which I basically ignored as I assumed it was just the usual question about "do you really want to do this?"

However, I then decided to delete a few more and this time when the warning box appeared, I happened to read it. It said that if you delete these pictures from Picasa they will be deleted from your blog!

I nearly had heart failure but managed to hit the cancel key.

I spent the next hour trying to find the pictures that I had originally deleted. I even went through all the information in Picasa Help and followed all their instructions for retrieving things -- all to no avail.

I simply could not find them anywhere.

Now I am afraid to look at my previous entries for fear that things have been deleted.

Of course, there is also the possibility that since I don't have Picasa actually inserted into my blog that the warning message doesn't apply to me. I don't know and I am afraid to find out!

So, if you are looking through my earlier postings and there seems to be pictures missing, I guess you had better let me know.

What have I done?!!

Well, peace be with you anyway.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

A Tree and Me (Conclusion)

HAPPY CANADA DAY! Hope you have had a wonderful celebration of Canada's birthday.

As you can see from the drawing above, I have been busy drawing another butterfly. I guess I will have to add them to my list of favourites! This one is entitled, "Another Butterfly".

And, now, for the conclusion of my art therapy story. As you may recall, my "assignment" was for me to get in touch with my special feelings for trees.

A Tree and Me -- the conclusion:

In the final dream I want to tell you about, I found myself feeling sad again as I remembered what it was like to be young and beautiful – free of scars and pain. I remembered the angel with the children and wondered again why they had chosen the old oak tree instead of me as a place to play. I imagined them playing under my autumn foliage as my leaves were falling. For a moment I felt happy again.

I also recalled the happiness I had felt when I dreamed about the butterflies and the robins and the new life hidden in my branches.

Suddenly, I looked up and there in front of me was the most beautiful lady I had ever seen. She was carrying a child in her arms and he seemed to shine like the sun. They were smiling at me and they both reached out at the same time and touched me. I felt a warmth and happiness greater than anything I had ever known.

Then the Lady spoke and said: I am the Lady of Sweet Tenderness and this is my Child – the creator of all things, including you, dear tree. We have heard your cries of pain and suffering and we want you to know that you have not been abandoned.

Suffering is a natural part of life – especially as we grow older – but as you saw in your dreams, you are still able to give comfort and shelter to all the creatures who look to you as their home – their place of safety from the storms of life..

Do not be afraid, dear tree. No matter what happens, we will be with you and someday you will be born again into the heavenly kingdom. There you will be forever strong and beautiful and you will give eternal shade to the mansions of the sons and daughters of God.


When I awoke, I was the same old tree – scars, pain and all – but there was now within me a deep peacefulness that has remained. Now I find myself rejoicing in each moment as my life flows on into sunshine and birdsong – no longer afraid of what lies ahead.

The End.

Peace be with you all.