Saturday, 30 August 2008

The Sacred Image

Up first tonight is one of my latest icons -- The Baptism of Jesus by St. John the Baptist.

St. John is appropriately "rough" looking -- remember, he lived in the desert on locusts and wild honey. There are three angels adoring Christ standing on the other side of the Jordan River. Jesus is standing in the water so that he, too, might share in John's baptism of repentance while above him the Holy Spirit descends upon Him like a dove. "And a voice was heard from Heaven saying, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."



Next I want to tell you about what I did yesterday: I took a trip to Markham to the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. Here is the front of the brochure about the show I went to see.


The Varley Art Gallery of Markham is located at 216 Main Street in Unionville. The telephone number is 905-477-9511. The web site is www.varleygallery.ca

There were many beautiful icons -- every kind from Russian to Egyptian (Coptic), including Greek and Ethiopian.


I believe the exhibit lasts until some time in October, but you can look at the web site to be sure. It is well worth the drive to Markham! It is really quite a large exhibit and so beautiful. My friend, Jessie, who drove me there made the comment that I looked like I was in Heaven!

One statement that was given on a plaque really grabbed me. It read: "Every icon is a reflection of the gaze of God."


Peace be with you.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Little Children

I have been busily drawing children again!

This first drawing is entitled "Little Girl Watering". The idea for this picture came from thinking about how things are this time of year here in Ontario: the trees are starting to turn, the tomatoes are ripening on the vine, the melons and squash are ready for eating and the goldenrod and purple asters are in full flower.




This second drawing is entitled "Tyler and Trevor, Brothers".

These are the grandchildren of my dear friend, Joyce. As you can see, Trevor was born this summer. He seems to be trying to memorize the face of his big brother. Children are so precious -- we need to treat them with care.

This third drawing is entitled "Sister Dear Sister".


These are not children I know but I was attracted to the photograph of these two girls because they seem to be looking out at the world from two different viewpoints. I hope I was able to capture that.



The final drawing for tonight is entitled "Boy with Rice, the Philippines".
The idea for this picture came from a news photo of a boy in Manila carrying home a supply of rice. The accompanying article was about the recent scarcity of rice in the City of Manila and the implications for the future.


You may notice that I drew the background in such a way as to indicate activity by using different colours. Did it work?


For those of you who asked, yes, my rash is getting better. The ointment from the doctor seems to be doing the trick.


Peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Events of Sunday Past

Well, the special Mass that included the blessing of this icon of St. Edith Stein (as well as the icon of St. Paul) has come and gone.

It was a beautiful Liturgy and I am very happy to know that these icons will be an integral part of this parish in the days ahead.


Thanks to my dear friend, Eugene, the Master of Ceremonies for the evening's Liturgy, I was recognized and thanked publicly for my artistic efforts.

Many parish member thanked me after the Mass and told me how much they appreciated the icons. That was a special gift.

Following are some memorabilia from the event:


These are the designs of the prayer cards that were handed out after the Mass. They were designed by my friend, Eugene.
Here is the reverse side of each of the prayer cards.


And here are a couple of paragraphs from the back of the program for the Mass that mention me -- the artist.

All in all, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to make a real contribution to the prayer life of a local parish community. I hope and pray that the icons will be a source of blessing for them all. I have truly been blessed by the whole experience from the initial discussions about the possibility of creating the icons to the past Sunday night when they were blessed with holy water by the parish priest.
My only complaint at this point is that I seem to have eaten something at the pot-luck dinner after the Mass that I was allergic to. As a consequence, I now have an itchy rash on both my arms! Ah, well, the price of fame!

I hope to be getting some photos from the event before long. When I do, I will share them with you as well.
Peace be with you all.



Sunday, 24 August 2008

An Exciting Day

This is a very exciting day for me so I decided to post earlier in the day than usual. Otherwise, I might not have time later on.

This is the day when two of my icons are being blessed during a Mass at a local parish. I, the artist, will be present. The parish commissioned these two icons.

I will give you all the details in my next posting on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, I wanted to show you one of my latest flower drawings (above).

The plant is actually named "Fennel Flower" (Nigella damascena). My name for the drawing is simply "Lavender Flower".

Next, I want to show you two new drawings of trees I discovered lately.

This first one is of an arbutus tree -- they are so beautiful.

It was painted by a friend of mine who does large, glorious paintings -- a truly gifted lady.

Her name is Rose Marie Nicolucci and if you want to see more of her work, go to www.beaux-artsbrampton.com and click on her name.

This second tree is by an artist that has a booth across from the St. Lawrence Market on Saturdays during the summer. I showed you one of her other tree drawings last year.

I just happened to see her yesterday on my way home from shopping and couldn't resist buying a card with this print on it.

I love barren trees. I used to take loads of black and white photos of them. There is something about them that really speaks to me of the waiting for new life that all creation must do.

The artist's name is Julita Wolanska and her web site is www.julitka.com


So now I had better go and start getting ready for my exciting evening activities.


Peace be with you all.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Annunciation


Tonight I want to share with you my icon of the Annunciation. The event, found in the Gospels, tells of the Archangel Gabriel appearing to young Mary of Nazareth. He tells her that she has been selected to be the mother of the Messiah.

Mary, a virgin, is puzzled by this but when the angel tells her that this will be accomplished by the power of God, she makes her famous response: "I am the handmaiden of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your will." This was Mary's way of saying "yes" to God's will for her life.


Whenever I am confronted by anything that I would rather not have to deal with or face, I try to remember to say those same words that Mary said to the angel. I try to say "yes" to whatever God wants to give me whether it is difficult or easy. I find great peace in doing this.


In the icon I have used symbols to show the "overshadowing" of the Holy Spirit. I also placed the Greek word for announcing something important in the upper left-hand corner. I am sure that there is a special word for "Annunciation" in New Testament Greek, but thus far I have not been able to figure out what it is.

This next drawing is just a simple picture of a mass of Black-Eyed Susans with a ladybug on one of the leaves.

I call the drawing "A Ladybug in Black-Eyed Susans".


I remember learning the verse about ladybugs when I was a child: "Ladybug, ladybug fly away home; your house is on fire and your children are alone...etc.".


Years later I learned how helpful ladybugs are to gardeners and then I stopped telling them to "fly away home"!!



May peace be with us all.


Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Nostalgia

I am feeling a bit nostalgic tonight. This may be because I had a good visit today with a very dear friend and we talked a bit about our lives -- past and present.

Even though my family was extremely dysfunctional, I do have many pleasant memories associated with growing up on a farm.

Most of these happy memories centre around livestock that I had to feed and care for.

This drawing of a series of barns and buildings is much grander than anything we had, but the concept is similar. This drawing shows three horses in the fenced-in pasture while we had only one, but that one was very special to me.

This drawing, by the way, is entitled "Evening Star".


This second drawing of cows in a sunny pasture also reminds me of my youth.

We only had two cows for milking -- something that it fell to me to do whenever my father had to work overtime at his factory job.

Occasionally, we would allow one of the cows to have a calf which meant we only had one cow to milk until the calf was weaned and sold. Seeing the sweet calf sold was one of the most difficult parts of the process for me.

This drawing is simply entitled "Cows in a Pasture".

This has been a beautiful day in Toronto and a very happy day for me. I am grateful.

I wish you all happiness and peace.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Two Things Go Together

In Christianity, there are two events that always go together.

The first is the Crucifixion which happened on what we call Good Friday.

The icon above is a representation of the event. It shows Mary, the Mother of Christ on His right side and St. John, the "beloved" disciple on Christ's left. Behind the Blessed Mother is St. Mary Magdalene and next to St. John is a Roman soldier.

Above the cross are two angels and under the cross are the symbols for death. The buildings in the background are supposed to represent Jerusalem although tradition makes them look more European than Middle Eastern.

The Greek at the top of the cross reads: "King of the Jews".


Then on the third day after Good Friday, the Resurrection occurred.

The tremendously wonderful and unexpected event is depicted in the icon above. The Greek name for the Resurrection is Anastasis. The phrase in Greek underneath Anastasis refers to the "harrowing of Hell".

This icon shows Christ in His glorified body in the process of "harrowing Hell". This means that Christians believe that His crucifixion, death and resurrection were retro-active. So you see Satan chained and Hell (or Sheol) being emptied of all those righteous people who lived before the coming of Christ.

He is actually pulling Adam and Eve from the coffins while Jewish priests and kings from the past, who have already been brought forth from the dead, watch with rejoicing.

"Sheol", by the way, is the name for the place the dead went before Christ's coming and was supposed to be a place of darkness and sleep -- a place of waiting. You will occasionally find the word in the Psalms of David.


So, as you can see, I have been very busy working on icons lately -- for which activity I am very grateful.


May peace be with you all

P.S. Anonymous wrote to point out that I had put "winnowing of Hell" when what I really meant to put was "harrowing of Hell". Thank you very much Anonymous. I went back and corrected it immediately. ST


Saturday, 16 August 2008

Active Young Ladies

Lately I have felt like drawing young ladies -- very young and a bit older.

Here are two of my recent efforts.

This first one is obviously of a pianist. I will tell you now that drawing piano keys and sheet music are both very difficult and not something I will try again any time soon!

I call this one "Girl at the Piano".


This second drawing was a lot more fun.

I call it "A Girl and Her Chicken".

As you know, I used to have to take care of chickens when I was growing up. We had two big chicken yards and each day when I got home from school, I had to feed and water the chickens and gather and wash the eggs.

I like chickens even though they don't seem to be too bright. The one problem with them was how they would gang up on a weak or sickly member of the flock. I constantly had to watch for signs of "bullying" and when I found a bird that had bloody patches or feathers missing, I would move that bird to a separate pen until it was stronger.

I guess that is really not much different to what some people do -- and it seems to be a particular problem with young folks these days. I wonder if bullying has gotten worse because it can be done using computers?

You would think that people should be smarter than chickens!

Well, that is enough rambling for tonight.

May peace be with you all -- especially those who are weak and suffering.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

New Techniques


You may recall the icon I posted a few weeks ago of "The Agony in the Garden". That was the one where I talked about a new technique of drawing the icon in two separate parts and then putting the parts together for the finished item.

The main reason for doing this is that it enables me to work with each section in a larger format than I would be able to do otherwise.


This is exactly what I did with the icon shown at the beginning of this posting which depicts The Transfiguration of Christ.



Here are the two halves of the icon before I put them together.


I also did something else different with this icon -- I used a revised version of the same bottom half that I had already drawn for the icon of The Agony in the Garden.



Actually, the figures of the three disciples in the Agony icon were taken from the original drawing of the Transfiguration icon. I just tried to make them look a bit more like they were trying to stay awake instead of being frightened.



In The Transfiguration icon, the disciples are frightened by the change in the appearance of Jesus and the presence of two long-dead prophets -- Moses and Elijah.



Unfortunately, I cannot use the two-part technique in many of the icons I want to draw as it is too difficult to match them exactly.



Having rocks in the middle of the drawing makes it much easier to put the two halves together after they are finished.



I am working on a new icon of the Baptism of the Lord. This is not one that I can do in two parts and so I am struggling greatly with the faces of the two men and three angels depicted.



Every so often I have to take a break and draw something larger and simpler -- which is why you keep seeing images of animals and children!




Peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Youth and Old Age

I have noticed as I have gotten older how I find it increasingly pleasurable to watch babies and young children.

The beauty of a baby, the curiosity of a two-year -old and the lack of self awareness of a three-year-old as they play "let's pretend" are heart-warming.

Slightly older children, like the ones I have drawn in these two drawings, I also find very appealing.

The first drawing is called "Girl with a Puppy". The second drawing is entitled, "A Curious Boy".




I was thinking about age tonight not only because I have been working on these two drawings, but also because today's is a friend's birthday.

My friend, Billie, is 80 years old today. A group of us will be celebrating with her on Saturday, but today is her actual birthday.

She is 13 years older than I am and thinking of that leaves me wondering if I will live to celebrate 80 years!

Peace be with you all.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Flight

Here is a recent icon of the Flight into Egypt.


I was actually planning on showing you another icon that I have been working on, but after seeing the news today about the forced flight of over 1,000 people from a section of Toronto, I decided this one was more appropriate.


For those of you who don't live in Toronto, there was a huge explosion in the northwest part of the City early this morning at a gas facility. A fireman is dead and the nighttime plant worker is missing. People were forced to evacuate the area, leaving behind homes and businesses with windows blown out, doors off hinges, etc. Most amazing is the fact that the 401 highway across the top of the city -- one of the busiest highways in North America -- was completely closed out of concern that there might be more explosions.


For now, all seems to be under control with a few hot spots being watched carefully. We are all hoping and praying that people will soon be able to return to their homes and that the highway will be re-opened before the morning rush hour.


Anyway, back to the icon. That is the Archangel Gabriel leading the horse. The city in the background is Bethlehem from which they are fleeing. The writing at the top is supposed to say "Flight into Egypt" in Greek. I can only hope that it is close to being correct.

So, I am asking the Holy Family to pray for all these Torontonians who had to flee their homes early this morning. The Holy Family also knew what it was like to flee from danger.


Here is a new icon of Our Lady with the Child Jesus.

This one was finished some weeks ago, but I had never gotten around to posting it.


Actually, it was an experiment in colour. I wanted to use only colours of one family. I did weaken and put a bit of blue on Our Lady. It almost has the appearance of a sepia print.




May peace be with all those affected by the Toronto disaster and with the rest of us as well.


Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Flowers and more Flowers

As you can see, I have been indulging my love of flowers again.

This first one is a plant I know as a "Mallow" -- which is the name I gave the drawing. The Latin name for this particular variety (called Silver Cup) is Lavatera trimestris.

They actually remind me a bit of Hibiscus.


This drawing is called "Ant on a Flower.

I like the fact that the picture contains buds in various stages, an open flower being eaten by an ant and the remains of a dead flower -- the whole story of birth, life and death.


The title of this final drawing is "Pentagon".

I do not know the name of this flower. The picture I was working from did not give a name. It looks as though it might be tropical as it appears to be growing on a tree.

If you know what it is, please write me.



Speaking of the tropics, our weather has a more tropical feel to it these days it seems to me. Almost every afternoon now we have another rain storm. This was the way the weather was this time of year in Florida when I lived there as a child.

I don't know if I mentioned it to you or not, but my St. Edith Stein icon is being used in a novena on a Catholic women's web site called Secretum Meum Mihi www.MySecretisMine.com

If you are interested in seeing how it is being used, go and take a look.

Peace be with you.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Strange Icons

Here are a couple of unusual icons that I completed last month but never got around to posting.

This first one has been around in one form or another for many centuries and is known as Christ Anapeson or Christ Reclining.

It has another name which I prefer and that is "He Who Does Not Sleep".

Christian believe that Christ is true God and true man. As a man he slept; as God, He never sleeps.

The idea for this icon comes from Psalm 121, verses 4-8, where the psalmist says: "Behold he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand... The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore."


This second icon is entitled "The Just Judge" and is my copy of the 20th century icon.

It represents the final judgement at the end of time and the images are taken from St. John's vision called the Book of Revelation -- the final book of the Christian Bible.

In his vision, St. John sees Christ surrounded by four living creatures -- one of whom has the appearance of a man -- as well as many angels with wings like fire.

As He sits on the throne, the final judgement begins. The words in the open book read: "The Book of Life was opened and the dead were judged."

These images were very difficult for me to draw with a computer mouse as many of them are quite small. How I miss being able to hold a small paint brush. Oh, well...



I hope that those of you in Ontario have enjoyed your civic holiday, or Lord Simcoe Day as we call it in Toronto.


Peace be with you.



Saturday, 2 August 2008

Four-Footed Creatures

I've been playing again -- taking a break from the detailed work of icon drawing.

This first drawing of "four-footed creatures" is entitled, "Mama Moose". I had never tried to draw a moose before and they are not as easy as they look.

Also, I was not really aware of how cute the young are. The adults are always so homely -- to put it kindly.



These next two drawings of are horses.

The first one is entitled "Tennessee Walking" as I think the horse is a Tennessee Walker.

This horse reminds me very much of the horse I had as a teenager.


This next drawing really reminds me of myself as a teenager.

I have called it "Danielle's Daughter" because the photo that I worked from is actually a photo of the daughter of a woman named Danielle!

There is truly something special about the relationship of a girl with a horse -- something good and wholesome.

My next posting will be on Monday which is a holiday for those of us here in Canada. So, may all of you who have a long weekend enjoy your extra day of rest.

Peace be with you.