Saturday, 31 January 2009

Unconditional Love

Like most Christians (and even some non-Christians), I love the story of the Prodigal Son. So I decided to do an icon of the story as you see above. The only thing missing from the icon is the older brother -- he is the one I often identify with -- but I chose to draw the version without him.

Most of you know the story that Jesus told. How the younger son thoughtlessly asked for his inheritance before his father had even died. The father gave it to him and off he went to waste it all in "riotous" living. Things reached a point where the son ended up feeding pigs (a job that the Jewish listeners of Jesus would have seen as worse than death) and the boy became so hungry that he finally decided to humble himself and ask his father to take him back into the home -- but this time as one of his servants. He knew that he would at least get fed this way!

As the son came down the road, dirty and ragged and probably practising his plea for forgiveness, his father saw him coming. In spite of all the boy had done, the father had never stopped longing for him to return. The father runs out and before the lad can really begin his plea for forgiveness, the father has gathered him into his arms with joy.
The father calls for the servants to bring clothes and a ring for the boy's finger and to fix a great feast for "My child who was lost has been found". The prodigal son is welcomed back into his father's home, fully forgiven, unconditionally loved.

The older son I mentioned earlier is angry and unhappy because his father is so kind -- he, like me, really does not yet know how to love unconditionally. To learn this is one of my life's goals and I will only succeed by God's grace.

I was very aware of this kind of love today as I was listening to a CD by a Czechoslovakian woman by the name of Anne Marie Schmidt. She, along with her whole village in Czechoslovakia were either killed or shipped to Auschwitz concentration camp. Why, because they would not give up the practice of their Catholic faith and deny Christ. People don't often think of it, but there were huge numbers of Christians of all denominations in Auschwitz and other German concentration camps who ended up their because they refused to deny Christ -- and so many of them were put to death.

Anyway, there was a German guard at Auschwitz that Anne Marie described as the most evil man she had ever seen -- before or since. He caught Anne Marie and her dearest friend, Kristina, praying the Rosary one day. He killed Kristina and beat Anne Marie until she lapsed into a coma. Just before she became unconscious, however, she had the grace to say: "I refuse to hate you; I choose to love you because you are a child of God."

When she came to days later on her bunk, she was amazed to see the guard sitting next to her bed with a cup of goat's milk. She learned later that he had cared for her every day since the beating and even stolen goat's milk and fed it to her spoonful by spoonful. As soon as she was fully conscious, the guard asked her "do you REALLY believe I am a child of God; do you REALLY love me? Anne Marie said it was the most difficult thing in her life to not hate him and seek daily to treat him with love, but it paid off. The guard never killed or beat another prisoner for the remainder of their time together in Auschwitz.

She taught him his prayers, starting with an act of contrition, and eventually even the Rosary -- the very prayer that had cause him to kill Kristina and beat Anne Marie within an inch of her life. Eventually, the guard found a Catholic priest in the camp and became a Catholic.

What a story of love and forgiveness. A true imitation of the father of the prodigal son and of God the Father himself whom the father in this parable represents. We are all His children and He loves us all, totally and unconditionally.

May peace be with you all.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Family Time

I only have one drawing to show you tonight and that is the almost finished icon above.

This is, of course, the Holy Family at Nazareth.

I still have to put in the Greek designations for Jesus Christ, His Mother Mary and St. Joseph. I also want to put the title of the icon at the top of the drawing -- hopefully in Greek as well.

I need to spend a bit more time working on some of the details in the drawing. I want to do a better job on the handmade saw hanging in the storage alcove. Right now, you really can't tell what it is supposed to be!

This is certainly not an ordinary topic for an icon but there is no reason not to picture the Holy Family in this manner as far as I am concerned. As you know from my earlier work, the Holy Family is usually pictured in a close grouping creating a circle of arms with hands touching.

I will show this one to you again when I feel it is completely finished.

Meanwhile, I am working on another icon of an unusual subject. Plus, I have almost completed two more flower drawings. I will be showing all of these to you sometime soon I hope.

I am feeling tired and cold tonight and I think I hear my bed calling.
May all of you have a warm and restful night.
Peace be with you.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Bird of Paradise and Angel Trumpets

I, like many people, have always been fascinated by the Bird of Paradise plant. It is so different from our ordinary flowers and so unusual that it is kind of amazing the first time you see it.

I was a young adult the first time I actually saw this plant -- the real plant, not a photo -- and I can remember just looking and looking as I tried to figure out just exactly how it was all put together! I am still not sure.

I did a drawing of the plant 3 or 4 years ago and you will find that drawing in this blog among my early pictures. My technique in using the mouse for drawing has improved a bit over these years so I felt like trying again. This, then, is the result.

The next item I want to talk about tonight is the Angel Trumpet plant.

You should recall seeing this drawing (on the left) recently and I recall trying to explain how the photographer might have been viewing the flower. Well, I now have permission from the photographer, himself, to show you some of his photos which will make visible how these flowers grow.

The photographer's name is Hylott Armstrong, Jr. He is really good with a camera while his wife, Patsy, is really good with the planting and growing of many of the beautiful plants he photographs. Hylott and Patsy live in Birmingham, Alabama and both went to the same high school that I did.
As you can see from this first photograph (above), the flowers hang down so when you are standing underneath them, you are looking up into the flower. The one I drew was from a photograph that had been taken at a slightly different angle.

This second photograph was taken from underneath but does not show the complete interior of the flower as did the one from which I did my drawing.

This is a truly beautiful photograph -- the colours and the composition are really excellent. I am so grateful to Hylott and Patsy for giving me such lovely material to work with -- and if you are one of the people who like my flower drawings, i am sure you are grateful too.

Well, we are supposed to get over 15 cm of snow in the next 16 hours. I know that doesn't sound like a great deal; however, that much snow in a city the size of Toronto can make an awful mess. Plus, it is just enough to make it difficult for wheelchairs and rollator/walkers to get around. In other words, I think I won't be going out tomorrow!

Not to complain, however, as that will just give me more time to do art work and read.

May peace be with you all.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Behold, I Stand at the Door

Icon, "Christ Jesus Knocking", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you and you with me." Revelation 3:20

This is a somewhat different icon that I have been working on recently. I came across the original online and was taken with it right away as this is not a traditional subject for iconographers.

I decided to try drawing it anyway even though I kept seeing the well-known painting by Hunt whenever I tried to visualize the finished result.

I am still not really satisfied with the result and may try drawing it again in the future. Any suggestions you might have about what I could do differently to make it a better icon, would be appreciated.

I am almost finished with a new drawing of the Bird of Paradise plant which I will post on Tuesday. I am also working on another unusual icon but am not sure I will finish it any time soon as it is another non-traditional subject. I think that sticking with the traditional subjects is much more satisfying as there is so much more material to work with.

Well, that's enough rambling about my artistic endeavours.

It has been another cold day in Toronto and will be cold again tomorrow. By Friday, the temperature should actually be back up to normal for this time of year -- which means we will also have more snow! You just can't win -- unless you love to ski, that is.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my dentist to make the plans for all the dental work I have to have done. We will probably be starting some time in February and maybe finish in April. I think that is where my thoughts are tonight. Sorry.

May peace be with you all.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Blue Unknown

When my Alabama friend sent me the photo from which this drawing was made, he, not knowing the name of the flower, called it "Unknown".

When I began drawing it, I had to assign it a name so I called it the "Blue Unknown" for obvious reasons.

When I decided I wanted to include it in this posting, I felt I should give it a proper name so I wrote him, asking him to consult with his wife about the actual name -- she is very knowledgeable about such matters.

After a bit of research, I was sent several choices of names since it was a variety of Anemone and the exact variety is sometimes difficult to determine. So after reading everything my friend and his wife had sent, I settled on the name of "Wood Anemone".

Actually, I still really like "Blue Unknown" the best!!

This next drawing is a variety of the Bromeliad plant. The one we are used to seeing here has rather pale green, mottled, thick leaves and the "flowers" are usually pinkish in colour.

The is a variety found in Hawaii, however, and has smoother leaves and a brilliant colour. It reminds me of a jungle parrot -- all green and red.

This last item is the icon I posted earlier in the week. I am posting it again because I want to write about something related to it.

After that previous posting, I had several people ask me about the song I mentioned writing after spending time praying before this icon one day in the convent chapel. So I am going to post the words tonight.

Let me just say at this point that if you are one of my non-Christian readers or you are a Christian but you are uncomfortable with "prayers" to the Blessed Virgin, then you may just want to skip the rest of this section. I leave it up to you, of course.

Mother Mary, Please Don't Cry by Sallie Thayer, 1980

Chorus: Mother Mary, please don't cry
Don't look at me with those sad, sad eyes
Mother Mary, please don't cry
I didn't mean to make your little boy die
I didn't mean to make Jesus have to die.

1. I know that I'm a sinner and my sins are to blame
That Jesus had to die for me in suffering and in pain
I wish it hadn't had to be, but Mother you know it's true
That Jesus had to die for me and all creation too.

2. And still, I am a sinner ... was His death all in vain?
Each day I crucify Him anew in suffering and pain
I wish it wasn't this way, but Mother you know it's true
So I keep asking for your prayers, my source of Grace is you.

It is going to get very cold here tonight. At 6 p.m. it was +1 Celsius and by 6 a.m. tomorrow, it should be -20 Celsius with a wind chill of -30! How does that sound for a day at the beach!!

May peace be with you all.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Mother of Perpetual Help

I finished another icon. It is one that I have drawn before. I have drawn it again because it is one of my all-time favourite icons.

It was the first icon I became really well acquainted with many, many years ago.

Catholic churches staffed by priests and brothers of the Redemptorist community have been having devotions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help every Wednesday for as far back as I can remember. As a consequence, their churches always have an icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

This stems from the fact that one of the popes gave the Redemptorist the responsibility of looking after the original of this icon in the church of St. Alphonsus (their founder) in Rome. Tradition implies that the original was actually painted by St. Luke during his many conversations with Blessed Mary as he was writing his gospel. The one in the Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome is not that old, but it is the earliest version in existence.

The other significant connection I have with this icon stems from the fact that the Redemptoristines (contemplative nuns whose order was also founded by St. Alphonsus) were the sisters I lived with for about four years in the late 1970's, early 1980's. These sisters, because of their relationship to the Redemptorist, also had the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in their chapel and a smaller image over the bed in each bedroom.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this posting, I have drawn an icon of this subject once before -- back when I first begin teaching myself how to draw icons. The new drawing is at the beginning of this posting while the older version is just below this paragraph. I, personally, think my technique has improved over these past two years -- what do you think?

In case you don't remember the story behind this icon, it goes like this:

Supposedly, when Blessed Mary was talking to St. Luke about her life with Jesus, the boy, she told him a story about a vision Jesus had one day.

He suddenly saw two archangels (Michael and Gabriel) holding instruments of torture, suffering and death. He was so frightened by this sight that he ran to his mother's arms for safety. In his effort to get to her quickly, one of his sandals almost came off.

Even at that time Blessed Mary had an idea of what the vision meant that Jesus described to her as it built on all the things she had heard and seen over the years. Jesus, too, no doubt knew what the vision symbolized as he always had some understanding of what was going to be required of him.

Blessed Mary looks out at us almost like she is asking "Why does this have to happen to my precious Son?" During those years of living in the convent, I once wrote a song after spending some time in prayer before this image. The song was entitled "Mother Mary, Please Don't Cry".

I am very tired tonight as I had to get up at 5 I think I will be going to bed rather early for a change.

May we all have a restful night and may peace be with you

Monday, 19 January 2009

Are You Afraid of Snakes?

WARNING: If you really can't stand to look at snakes, go no further -- or at least quickly scroll down to the text part -- maybe with your eyes closed!

Here I am in 1970. I had just finished teaching a class at Centennial College and had rushed home to keep an appointment with a reporter from the Financial Post who wanted to interview me for their magazine.

I asked the reporter if she was prepared to enter our basement where she knew that snakes and other creatures were living out the winter (the article was published in May but I think the interview was in January or February). She said she was and down we went.

She wanted to take my picture and suggested I use the calmest snake present. I chose an Indigo Snake (native to Florida) since they are known for their sweet behaviour. They are often used in Florida programs for teaching children about snakes. The photograph she took you see above.

The article was titled "What Summer Means To Me" and subtitled as you see directly above. My picture and story were the lead items in the special feature. Of course, as has been the case for most of my life, she spelled my name "Sally" instead of "Sallie".
Now you can read about me as I was in 1970. Enjoy!

As you can see from the article, my life has changed a great deal since those days. But that's OK. I really like the person I am now a lot better than the one I was back then.
So, no art for tonight -- just some reminiscing about days past.
May peace be with you all.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Reminders of Spring

The first drawing tonight is of an unknown flower. My Alabama friend sent me the photograph, but he wasn't sure of the name of this flower either!

To me it looks a little bit like a Bromeliad, but not really. So, I am calling the drawing "The Unknown Flower". If any of you out there know what it could be, please let me know.

The second drawing tonight is of a butterfly on a flower, feeding.

I am calling this drawing "Michael's Butterfly" because my friend, Michael, sent me the photo that I worked from.

I am not sure of the exact angle from which the photo was taken, but I drew it as though the viewer was squatting down, looking upwards.

This third drawing is a very simple picture of a mother Swan and her two babies.

I am calling this drawing "Mama and Babies".

So, as you can see, these are all reminders of Spring: flowers blooming, butterflies feeding and mother animals having babies. If I look out my window, I can see the snow falling. It is supposed to continue snowing all night. This is definitely not Spring.

Well, as I have said before, I am very grateful for my warm place to live.

I hope you are all safe and warm tonight. May peace be with you.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Warm Flowers on a Cold Night

Such cold weather we have been having. It makes me take even more pleasure in drawing such things as flowers and butterflies while trying to remember what warm breezes feel like! Just a little over three months and the possibility of warm breezes returns again.

This first drawing tonight is of Begonias. A pretty flower in front of a sun-dappled wall. This drawing and the following one are both taken from photographs sent to me by my Alabama photographer friend.

This second drawing is of a plant called Wild Azalea also known as Wild Honeysuckle. The flowers remind me of the wild honeysuckle vines we loved to raid as children when I was growing up in the southern U.S.

We would pick the flowers, break off the bottom of the flower and then suck out the sweet liquid that the flower contained. There was just a small amount but to us it was a real treat. Living out in the country, there were no convenience stores to hang around in hopes someone would have a nickle for a candy bar!

One of the regular readers of the blog was asking recently about the lectures I mentioned regarding icons (See "An Artistic Concern", January 7, 2009). If any of you are interested, the lectures were given by a York University professor by the name of Richard Schneider. He gave 4 seminars under the heading "The Art of Prayer" regarding the meaning and use of icons. If you would like a copy of the lectures on CD, contact: St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 73 Simcoe Street, Toronto, ON M5J 1W9. I think the set is priced at $15.

Well, I have still not fully recovered from the dental surgery I had this past Monday so I think it is time for me to go and rest a bit. I hope all of you who live in the extremely cold parts of North America are keeping warm.

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

For A Change

Well, tonight, for a change, I am showing you neither icons or flowers!

This first drawing is entitled "Lakeside". I came across a photograph in a magazine about summer camps for kids. The original photo had children on the dock but I knew from the moment I saw it that I wanted to draw a picture of solitude.

This is the type of place I would love to be on a summer morning, early, before the activities of the day begin. What peacefulness the scene makes me feel. I keep expecting to hear the call of a Loon across the quiet lake.

This second drawing is also a bit different.

The title of this one is "A Castle in Poland" and the photograph I worked from came from a 2008 Polish calendar.

There is something funny about this drawing which you may notice right away. I mean, I tend to draw exactly what I see and so it wasn't until after I had finished this one that I realized that I was drawing from a photo taken with a wide-angle lens. This means that at the edges of the photo, things appear to lean in a bit. This distortion is one of the things a photographer has to accept in an effort to get more of a scene in the photograph. So, drawing exactly what I saw meant that I, too, had things at the edge leaning in toward the centre! After realizing what I had done, I considered changing it but then decided that I liked the effect and so I left it. What do you think?

I am really tired tonight as the vet came this afternoon to give miz k.d. her annual physical. She decided that she needed to take some blood. miz k.d. did not think this was a good idea at all; however, with a lot of encouragement from us, the blood was finally drawn. miz k.d. is so tired that she has already gone to bed and I don't think I will be far behind.

We are having some terribly cold weather for the next few days. If you are anywhere in the northeast, keep your ears and mouth covered if you go outside. Those of you in warmer areas should be grateful. Wherever you are and whatever the weather, may you be at peace.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Beauty and Sorrow

Isn't this a beautiful and interesting plant? It is called "Lantana".

The colours are not as accurate as I would like, but with my limited computer palette, I do the best I can to create the appearance of shading and blending.

I would love to see this plant in person. I am sure it would be really stunning in its natural profusion of flowers and leaves.

This next drawing is another Pieta. The actual name of this icon is "Mother of God of Magadan" and this is the name I am using for my records. However, I am also calling it "Sorrowful Mother (2008)" as the Greek at the top of the icon reads "Sorrowful Mother."

If I am not mistaken, I believe that Magadan is a place in Russia. I need to look it up and see for certain. If any of you know for sure where it is, let me know as that would make my search easier. I still want to look it up on the web and see why the icon was given the name of Magadan. Usually such names are given because the painting was first seen in a church in a particular city, but sometimes there is a miracle associated with it as well.

I hope all of you in southern Ontario are managing to keep warm. I hear we are supposed to get more snow then falling temperatures on Monday afternoon with wind chills of -30 by Wednesday -- and it won't get any warmer for the foreseeable future! This is real winter.

Peace be with all of you.

Friday, 9 January 2009

A Cold Winter's Night

Brrrr. It is really cold out there tonight! I am so grateful to be inside and I pray for all those who have to be outside in this weather either to work or because they are homeless or mentally unstable. Thank goodness for those people in our city that go out on nights like this to try and get all the street people to someplace warm.

Tonight's first drawing (above) is copied from a Russian-style icon. Then because I love the Greek alphabet, the writing underneath the image of the Blessed Mother is in Greek and reads: Extreme Humility. The icon is entitled "Our Lady of Extreme Humility".

The belt that is above her waist and loosely tied indicates that she is expecting a Child. Many of you know, I am sure, that the image that appeared mysteriously on the tilma of Juan Diego and became known as "Our Lady of Guadalupe" had a similar belt. This was the way the Indian women of Mexico dressed when they were pregnant. That is, by the way, such a miraculous image. No one has ever been able to figure out how it was imprinted on this rough cloth, why it has not faded or decayed after all the hundreds of years and most especially, how the image came to contain a reflection of an Indian peasant in the lady's eyes (this only became visible after high-powered microscopes were invented!).

This next drawing is taken from another one of the beautiful flower photographs being sent to me by my Alabama friend.

This is another variety of Fuchsia and I am presently calling this drawing "Fuchsia 2". You can see that I have not lost my gift for clever titles!

This friend, by the way, takes such beautiful photographs and is so knowledgeable about flowers. As well, he appears to have a yard full of all sorts of wonderfully colourful plants. I don't think he realizes how grateful I am to him for sending me all these pictures.

Finally tonight, I am including a plea from the War Resisters organization here in Canada. Because I am so grateful to Canada for taking me and my husband in back during the Vietnam conflict, I feel obligated to help this organization whenever they ask. If you are not interested in their comments then just skip them; however, if you are interested, please take the time to send some emails. Thanks.

May peace be with you all.


Please send an email right away to: Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal Leader --; Borys Wrzesnewskyj, the Liberal Immigration Critic --; Jim Karygiannis, MP -- Please urge them to issue an immediate statement concerning the deportation order against war resister Kim Rivera and her family (husband Mario, son Christian (6) daughters Rebecca (4) and Katie (6 weeks). Ask them to come out strongly in opposition to this order, which would mean that the Riveras would have to leave Canada by January 27 or be deported.

Don't forget the other war resisters facing imminent deportation: Chris Teske; Patrick Hart and family; Cliff Cornell; and Dean Walcott. The Liberals supported the motion of June 3, 2008, recommending that "conscientious objectors to wars not sanctioned by the UN Security Council" be allowed to stay in Canada and apply for Permanent Resident Status after two years..

It also recommended that the Government "cease all deportation proceedings" against such people. But in recent days, as deportation orders have come down against many war resisters, the Liberals have been silent. Please urge them to speak up, and demand that the Harper Government comply with the House of Commons motion of June 08, and state their intention of supporting a similar motion when the House reconvenes later this month.

Peace, Lee Zaslofsky, War Resisters Support Campaign

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

An Artistic Concern

Here is a drawing of one variety of "Fuchsia". The friend who sent me the photo that I worked from also sent me a picture of another variety of Fuchsia in an email today. This is such a beautiful and interesting flower form that you can be assured that you will be seeing a drawing of this new variety soon.

Now comes my "artistic concern" of the title -- actually more a question.

Here is another version of the icon depicting the fifth mystery of the five Glorious Mysteries. "Our Lady as Queen of Heaven and Earth, Angels and Men".

What is causing me a bit of a dilemma is the manner in which this icon was created. I took the original icon of "Christ the King with His Mother" (you saw this one some months ago) and then pasted in a portion of the drawing I had done of "Blessed Mary, Queen of Angels" in order to create a new icon of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven.

Is this artistically ethical?

After listening to some lectures recently by a professor from York University who teaches about the Orthodox faith, including icons, I feel that he is of the opinion that there are truly no hard and fast rules for how an icon is created or what media it is created with. He talks about mosaic icons, wood-carving icons, etc. and feels that they are all valid so long as they are truly a meeting place between God and man.

If you have an opinion on this matter, please let me know.

Finally tonight, I want to show you a very strange looking plant. This is called "Madagascar Jasmine".

I must say I have mixed feelings about how God designed this particular flower -- especially its buds!

Let me hear from you as I always enjoy getting your emails. Please always let me know if you are willing for me to share your comments on the blog; otherwise, I will assume the comments in your email are just for me.

Peace be with you, one and all.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Winter Sunshine

Here is the new icon I was telling you about. I finally finished it on the weekend. It is called "The Dormition of the Virgin Mary" (dormition means "falling asleep").

Remember the Glorious Mystery icon I showed you called "The Assumption of Mary"? Well, this is the Orthodox depiction of the death of Our Lady. She is shown in death as though asleep while her spotless soul is cradled in the arms of Christ Jesus -- her Son and her Lord. St. Peter mourns her death at the head of the bier while an angel guards the body that bore the Saviour. The Greek reads "Dormition of Theotokos" which translates into "the falling asleep of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God."

"The belief that the body of Blessed Mary, which remained inviolate after she gave birth, never experienced decay in the tomb and was directly assumed into heaven was already prevalent in the early Christian community." [from Icons and Saints, 2006).

As always, I look forward to your comments on this latest drawing and on the theology behind it.

I am including a photo of the well-known kitty cat, miz k.d. She is shown sitting near a patch of winter sunshine. Just as I started to post this entry, I noticed miz k.d. lying on the rug and luxuriating in today's bright sunshine. She will find the least little bit of sunshine and make lying in it look so good that I long to get down on the rug with her!

There is one other drawing I want to show you today. It is called "White Gardenias" for obvious reasons!

I tried using a new technique I have discovered on my computer in my ongoing effort to try to find a better way to imitate the kind of shading you can do with a paintbrush. Let me know what you think.

I am posting this a bit early today as I may have company this evening. More on Wednesday.

Peace be with you all.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Flowers in Winter

It is freezing cold outside my windows tonight so I am focusing on warm weather flowers so I won't have to think about the freezing rain and snow that are predicted for the days ahead!

These two drawings I am posting tonight were drawn by using two photos for my models. These photos were taken by a friend of mine in Alabama who takes beautiful pictures and who also has beautiful flowers in his garden which he photographs.

The first drawing is of a section of a Dogwood tree. I remember how in the spring, the woods stretching down the hill from our house would be dotted with the beautiful blossoms of dogwood trees.

When my friend sent me a photograph of the dogwood tree, he also sent me the legend of the Dogwood Tree:

At the time of the Crucifixion the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber for the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus, nailed upon it, sensed this, and, in His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering, said to it:

“Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. “Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross—two long and two short petals. And in the center of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember.”

This second drawing is of a flower called "Angel Trumpet".

I am really not that pleased with the results as it is almost impossible to capture the loveliness of this type of flower unless you are working with paint -- there needs to be a continual gradation in the shading of yellow to green in the centre. Anyway, I wanted to try to draw it. I may return to it in the near future and try again.

I have been spending a lot of time working on a new icon. It is another version of one of the Rosary icons. It is interesting to me that I can't let that project go -- I want to continue drawing different versions of all the mysteries until I have the exact icons that I want for each one of them. Anyway, you will have to continue to look at them, I'm afraid, in the weeks to come. This current one will probably be posted on Monday night so prepare yourself.

May peace be with you on this the third day of the New Year.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year, 2009

I trust that everyone has changed all their calendars is now prepared for the beginning of 2009! Don't forget to put 2009 on any documents you are signing -- that always the most difficult part of the new year for me.

As to the first drawing I want to show you in the New Year, it is an icon -- one that I have been keeping aside for a while as it is so different from most other icons I have done. As you can probably tell, it is another version of what is known as "The Visitation" -- the second mystery of the 5 Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

Having the figures so large is not typical nor are the bright colours of blue and orange. I actually designed St. Elizabeth's clothing to look something like fire. I did this because of what Scripture tells us. In Luke's Gospel, we read: "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry -- Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb."

It's almost like Jesus in the womb of Mary "baptized" St. John the Baptist and his mother, St. Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit -- giving Elizabeth the gifts of knowledge and prophecy for she continues by saying: "And why has the mother of my Lord come to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed the word of the Lord that was spoken to her." Mary had not yet said a single word to Elizabeth about her encounter with the angel or the fact that she was pregnant.

I have thought many times about this encounter and have always asked myself wonderingly "who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" This is a particularly good question for me to ponder on this feast day: The Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God."

This next drawing is of a "Passion Flower". I have never seen one in real life, but I came across a picture of one in a book on flowers and found it quite interesting and different. If any of you have actually seen one of these flowers, I would definitely appreciate getting more information about them. I could always research them on the Internet, but I like to hear from people who have actually seen the item I am curious about so I can get their impressions.

Well, after staying up until midnight last night and having an active day today, I am already tired. It may be an early night for me after all.

Once again, let me wish all of you all the best in 2009. May peace, charity and compassion explode all over the world!