Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Another Month Ends

Well, tomorrow is the last day of April -- another month ends. How quickly the time passes. I recall listening to my elderly relatives when I was a teenager as they talked about how quickly the time passed and I couldn't understand what they were talking about. I mean it seemed to me like an eternity before the weekend would arrive and I would be able to go to the high school football game and the dance afterwards. It is interesting how the passage of time changes our perspective.

I have a new icon to show you tonight. I am calling it "Icon of Mother and Child : A study in blue". Actually, I did two versions of this icon. The first version has the traditional colouring of clothing for Our Lady and the Child Jesus. The second version, as you can see, has all the clothing in shades of blue and gold.

Actually, I am beginning to wonder if anyone out there is reading my postings any more. Maybe everyone is just looking at the pictures and ignoring the text. I have received a number of comments about the photo of me with my grandmother, but no one has made any suggestions regarding my next project -- which I asked for. Surely someone out there has some ideas to help pull me out of this dry spell. Or, maybe not. Maybe I am asking other people to do the work that I alone can do.

Peace be with you all.

Monday, 27 April 2009

No Name

I feel like a no-name brand tonight. For those of you in the states who don't have No Frills grocery stores, you may not know about our famous (or is that infamous) no-name products. That is actually what they are called. They are generally the cheapest products you can buy and they provide you with the most basic product -- no frills.

Why I am feeling this way, I have no clear idea. It probably has something to do with my inability to come up with something I really want to draw. Even the drawing above of the "Old Granite Lighthouse" doesn't provide me with the sense of satisfaction that drawings usually do. I think I may be missing the challenge of doing icons.

Someone suggested recently that I should work on a series of icons of the Stations of the Cross. This is an interesting idea, but would be very difficult to accomplish as many of the stations have never been drawn as icons before -- the Orthodox churches do not normally have what we Catholics call the Stations -- which means I would have to try to create brand new icons.

Then there is the problem of repetitive scenes -- for example, there are 3 different times when Christ falls under the weight of the cross. Well, it is something to consider anyway. If any of you folks have any ideas of a new project for me to take on, please let me know as the Rosary book is in the editing stage now so it is no longer taking up a lot of time.

We had our one warm day for the week today and it was lovely. Now the rain and cooler temperatures are moving in for the remainder of the week. Wish we could share some of these cooler temperatures with you folks in the south who are already having such hot weather.

Wherever you are, I wish you peace.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Thunder and Lightning

Just before I began to compose this posting, there was thunder and lightning and heavy rain falling. When I was growing up in Alabama, we lived way out in the country on the top of a fairly high hill. Whenever there was a thunder storm, we turned off everything electrical until it passed. We also did not answer the telephone. I can't recall the number of times that one of the big trees surrounding our property would be hit by lightening. Rare was the tree that did not have some lightning damage, but most survived in spite of it.

Now to the drawing above. It is a Russian icon of what, in Greek, is called the Pantocrator -- Christ Jesus, Ruler and Judge. The book in His hand is supposed to be the Book of Life. When it is closed, it is said that the Last Judgement is ready to begin.

This is a decorative icon. All the borders and patterns would normally not be seen in traditional Greek iconography.

I am calling it "Russian Pantocrator".

Finally, here is an old photograph of you know who!

I am the tall one. I was in high school at the time the photo was taken. Standing next to me is my grandmother (we called her Gansie) -- my father's mother and in front of her is my cousin, Mardi.

I thought you all might enjoy seeing what I looked like all those years ago.

Well, the rain seems to have stopped so all is quiet again. miz k.d. has come out from hiding -- she does not like thunder!

May peace be with you all.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Good Timing

I haven't had time to look at the photos yet, but Hylott has sent me a bunch of new pictures of this springs' Foxglove flowers. At the same time, I had just finished drawing a picture of "Pink Foxglove" using a photograph from last year flowers!
Rather serendipitous, I think.

What this means, knowing the quality of Hylott's photographs, is that you will soon be seeing at least one more drawing of Foxglove. You can look forward to it!

This second drawing is of a flowering plant called "Indian Hawthorne" also known as "Pink Lady". Once again this drawing was done using a photograph that Hylott sent me.

I actually tried to do something a little different with this drawing -- it is a bit more impressionistic than my usual work. I am not sure what I think of it so perhaps some of you could help me out with your comments. Hint, hint!!

This last drawing is done using a picture from a magazine.

You know how I feel about horses and to find a picture of a young girl feeding oats to her favourite horse brought back all sorts of good memories for me. I decided to use the same name given the photo in the magazine which was "A Stable Relationship". After all, I too like puns.

Just to bring you up to date, I have pretty well finished the basic work on the book. I have printed off all the text pages and will be dropping them off to my friend, Patricia, who has agreed to do some proofing and editing for me. She does editing for a living and is a real expert. So, after that is done, I will get the company to print off a draft copy so I can see what works and what needs some tweaking. Then....

Wishing you all a restful night and a tomorrow full of peace.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Countdown to Earth Day

I am thinking about Earth Day. The problem with Earth Day is that it is only one day out of 365. It would seem that we might need to have more than one day each year -- maybe we should celebrate Earth Day once a week! The ideal would be for each one of us to make every day Earth Day by the way we treat the earth, our fellow creatures and our fellow human beings. I mean if I only attended church one day a year, what kind of faith would I have?

At any rate, tomorrow is Earth Day and I will try to treat the earth and all its creatures as gently as possible in honour of the day. Do you plan to do anything special?

In honour of Earth Day, I want to share with you a couple of recent sketches that I have started working on.

This first one (above) is of a Baltimore Oriole. This is one of those beautiful creatures we share the earth with. This is also a bird with a glorious melody to sing. I remember the first time I identified the bird that was making such beautiful music with the flashes of orange/red that I could see through the green leaves of an oak tree. Later when I actually got a good look at this bird, it was a real thrill for me. I wish I could draw it as beautiful as it really is, but, alas, I am no Audubon.

This last sketch was quickly done as a poster for adopting a dog. I have no reason to be making such a poster, but the idea appealed to me when I saw a photograph of this adorable puppy and thought to myself: "what a cute poster that would make for the humane society!" I often do drawings for certain purposes as though I had been hired to do so. Someone once told me that if I would turn my daydreams into reality, I might be a rich woman!

Well, I think I will consider going to bed early tonight as I am feeling very tired. I had a routine doctor's appointment today and have another one tomorrow -- so getting an extra bit of sleep might not be a bad idea.

Wishing each and everyone a joyful Earth Day.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Mercy Sunday

I have mentioned Divine Mercy Sunday in the past, but it was at least one Easter ago! The first Sunday after Easter has been named Divine Mercy Sunday by many parts of the Church. It is not a requirement, more like an option. In the U.S., for example, everyone seems to celebrate this extra feast; while here in Canada that is not the case.

Divine Mercy Sunday originated with the writings of St. Faustyna -- a Polish nun who died just prior to World War II. She was the first saint canonized by Pope John Paul II in the new millennium. She is also responsible for the Divine Mercy image which the above icon is based upon. Her vocation was to re-awaken in the Church the knowledge of the great mercy of God -- something that has often been forgotten in times of the predominance of the just and judging God.

By the way, this is not the same Divine Mercy icon I was working on a couple of years ago. This is, instead, the first draft of a new drawing of this image. It is simpler than the previous one. However, like the previous one, I would appreciate some feedback and suggestions for improving it.

The second drawing for today is of a flower called a "Meadow Rose". Although the leaves look similar to those found on regular roses, it is actually a wildflower which grows in meadows and open woodlands. It is as close to a thorn-less rose as you are going to get.

Like all roses, it makes me think of Our Lady, blessed Mary. So,let it be a tribute to her -- without whom we would not have had Our Lord, Jesus, and His gift of Mercy Sunday.

I hope all of you have had a beautiful Sunday. It was sunny here for most of the day with cool temperatures; however, now the rain is moving in and is expected to hang around for the next two days (with high winds included). It will be Wednesday before we catch a glimpse of the sun again. Like we have always heard though: "April showers bring May flowers" and I, for one, welcome all the flowers we can get!

Peace be with you.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Money, Money

Don't get your hopes up -- I am not giving out money. But thanks to a photo from my friend, Hylott, I have been able to draw a picture of Money Plant blossoms, buds and leaves.

You may be saying to yourself, why is this called a Money Plant when there is nothing about it that looks like money. Well, the answer can be found in the photograph below.

What you see in the photo are the "leftovers" from the same Money Plant after the blossoms are gone. I am sure most of you recognize the dollar-size circles above since you usually see them in almost every dried arrangement of flowers and grasses. The seeds also look a bit like pennies to me.

So, next time you see those shiny, pearl-coloured disks in a flower arrangement, you will know where they come from.

The final item tonight is a drawing of Pansies -- which is also the name of the sketch! These are obviously a very bright and fancy variety. And, if I recall correctly, the photograph I worked from also came from Hylott. Thanks to him you get to see 2 interesting flower drawings.

Also, they make a bright ending to a very bright and warm day in Toronto. Our high today was almost 21 degrees (that's almost 70 degrees for you in the States). Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer; however, on Sunday it will turn cool again. Oh, well, it is still too early for us to be having such warm weather full time. Hopefully by the 24th of May the weather will be warm every day.

Now it is time to get back to work on the book. It is coming along nicely. I will let you know when I am ready for your help proofreading.

Peace be with you all.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Feeling Flowery Again

Well, as you can easily see, I have been feeling flowery again.

The first drawing (above) is of a pink Azalea blossom and buds. I am calling the drawing "Pink Azalea". It took a lot of effort to come up with that title!

If I remember correctly, this drawing is the result of another couple of Hylott's photographs.

This second drawing is of a flower (and bud) called Cosmos and the title is so obvious that I won't even embarrass myself by telling you!

By the way, the leaves do not belong with the flower. I just felt like drawing big leaves for a background. Hope nobody minds.

Tonight's final drawing is of the Common Bluebell and, yes, the name of the drawing is "Common Bluebell".

It has been kind of relaxing to work on drawings of flowers in between time spent working on the book. Yes, the book is coming along quite nicely.

I now have all the drawings in place as well as the text that goes with each icon. The next major task is editing all the text once again. I did a quick edit when I was placing the text on the pages, but I need to read each page again and see how it fits in relation to the other pages. After I have done that, I am considering posting any text portions I feel still need more editing and asking you folks to help me figure out the best way to say things.

Speaking of the book, I think it is time to return to my editing.

May peace be with you all.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Just What I Promised

Back on April 3, I promised the following:
"Until then, you will be seeing more flowers, butterflies and horses."

Well, this is exactly what you will be seeing tonight!

First up, you have the drawing above which I am calling "Heart of Dahlia". So you are getting not the whole flower, just the "heart" of it. It is an unusual drawing -- not typical for me -- and I can't decide whether I really like it or not.

Next comes the horses... they should have been third, not second, but I can't be perfect all the time!

This drawing is call "Best Horsey Friends" and some of you may recall the photo that I was working from as it has been circulating on the Internet recently. I liked the photo a lot because of the challenges it presents in trying to draw horse heads in that position.

The most wonderful thing about it, however, is that there was an actual photograph of two horses loving each other this much.

And here is the butterfly. Just another one of my butterfly drawings although the colours and design of this one are somewhat different that the Monarchs I usually draw. I am calling it "Brown Butterfly."

I sometimes puzzle over what it is we like about butterflies. I guess it is their beautiful colours and patterns and the fact that they look so lovely when they fly. Also we usually see them on flowers which makes for a lovely backdrop. The truth is, of course, that they are really just flying bugs and like all bugs, they do some pretty disgusting (so it seems to us) things.

Oh well, no need to say nasty things about butterflies when they do look so lovely in a summer's meadow.

Meanwhile, I continue to spend a lot of time working on the book. Slowly but surely it is getting organized.

Oh, by the way, I got a photo of myself from a cousin last night which I will have to show you. It is difficult to believe that it is really me.

Peace be with us all.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Why Me?

Here is the icon I mentioned recently. I just finished this first draft last night. The title in both Greek and English is "Christ the Healer."

Those of us who accept Christ Jesus as true God and true Man usually don't have too much difficulty with the idea of Christ as Healer. We accept the biblical accounts of His healing ministry and probably even believe that He is still doing His healing work in the world today.

We may even know someone, like I do, who was healed miraculously when they were prayed over by people of faith. As well, we have all heard many stories of miraculous healing which we can choose to believe or not. I mean, for Catholics, every modern saint must have two miracles attributed to their intercession before the cause for sanctification is complete.

But what about those who pray and do not get healed? There are so many people that we have prayed for over the years who did not experience a miraculous healing -- instead, they actually got worse!

I have been thinking about this a lot recently because of a young couple I am acquainted with. The 2 month old baby daughter of a family member was born with a potentially fatal illness. Everyone has been praying and hoping for a miracle, but it did not happen. She died this past week.

I had no idea what God's plans might be for this child and her parents so when I prayed for her, I said my own version of those famous words that Christ said in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Father, if it is possible, take this cup of sorrow away from this family, yet, not my will but Your will be done." For me, there is really no other way to pray for myself or others.

I believe that God has a plan for all our lives and so I accept the fact that He knows best. I tell him what I would like to see happen, but then I have to say "but You, Lord, know best so do whatever Your will is in this situation."

The title of this post is "Why Me?" This is a question I no longer ask when bad things happen to me or to those I am praying for. "Why not me", I say -- for who am I that I should expect my life to be without suffering and sorrow. How would I ever learn anything that way? God knows that the only time I really get down on my knees, so to speak, is when I am faced with difficulties in my life or in the lives of all those I care deeply about.

Even so, I can't help wishing that things had ended differently for my young friends and my heart goes out to them and to their family.

Peace be with us all.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

The Cat's Meow

First, before I explain the title of this posting, I will tell you about the drawing above.

Obviously, it is another flower drawing. The name of this flower is "Jacob's Ladder" (which is also what I have named the drawing!).

Do you recall the story of Jacob's ladder in the Old Testament? Jacob, running away from his brother, Esau, whom he has seriously deceived, stops to spend the night on his journey. Sleeping on the ground with a stone for a pillow, he falls asleep. Once asleep, he dreams a prophetic dream. He sees a ladder stretching from the rock he is sleeping on all the way up into the heavens. On this ladder there are angels ascending and descending. This dream is a message from God.

As I was drawing these flowers, I kept trying to figure out why anyone would have named them Jacob's Ladder. If you see any connection, please let me know!

Now, to the title of the post.

Recently, I was browsing the cat food section of the local supermarket when I came upon a new product. It was cat treats which contained glucosamine, chondroitin and Omega 3. This combination is supposed to help cats maintain healthy joints and since miz k.d. has arthritis, I thought it might be good for her.

Well, the treats do seem to be helping her to be more active; however, she has quickly become addicted to these treats. Almost every time I move now, she starts meowing with that meow that means: please, please gimme some treats, please.

I try to explain that the package says she can only have 4 a day and I've already given her 5 -- so that's it. Ever notice how cats only hear what they want to hear?
Anyway, now, whenever I have to move from one place to another, I try to wait until I hear her snoring (yes, she snores) and then I move very quietly, hoping she won't awaken and start meowing again. What have I done?!!

Now back to the book.

I want to thank Amra for her excellent advice about the Introduction page. I will definitely revise it.

The page I am posting tonight is the page that goes with the first Joyful Mystery -- the Annunciation. The pages are set up so that the icon is full page on the left-hand side and the comments are on the right-hand page. This is the format that continues throughout the rest of the book.

Please take a look at the page below and send me your comments, please.

The Annunciation
This event, found in the Gospel of Luke, tells of the Archangel Gabriel appearing to young Mary of Nazareth. He greets her by saying: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." Then he tells her that she has been chosen to be the mother of the Messiah.

Mary, a virgin, is puzzled by this but when the angel explains that this will be accomplished by the power of God, who is all-powerful, she makes her famous response: "Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word." This was Mary's way of saying "yes" [Fiat in Latin] to God's will for her life. Her "yes" made possible the salvation of all creation.

Whenever I am confronted by anything that I would rather not have to deal with or face, I try to remember to say the 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 and in trusting God do accomplish good thing with my little fiat.

As you pray this mystery, try to remain conscious of Mary's Fiat and ask God to grant you the grace to say "yes" to whatever He gives you each day.
Peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Stuff from a Slow Day

Here are a couple of sketches that I did within the past few weeks, but since I wasn't overly enthusiastic about them, I just had not gotten around to posting them.

This first one is of a springtime crocus breaking through the melting snow. I should post Hylott's photo that I worked from as it is much better than my drawing; however, the point here is to post my own work.

Anyway, I am calling the drawing "Springtime Crocus".

This second sketch was drawn by using a photo from a travel brochure. Unfortunately, the butterfly was not too clear in the photograph so I just had to sort of make it up as I went along.

The drawing is called "Butterfly Girl".

Finally, I have pasted in the Introduction from my book. I need some feedback so let's hear it from those of you who don't mind helping me improve what I have written. Of course, in the book, the print is different in style and size as this is all placed on one page. For those of you who find a lot of reading difficult, I give you permission to skip to the bottom!


This is a book that can be used to pray the Rosary; however, I hope you will use it for much more than that.

I hope you will take the time to look carefully at the icons which were truly the original motivation for this book. This is how the process worked.

I begin drawing icons back in 2007. It was a slow process because, due to arthritis, I had been teaching myself to draw using a computer mouse -- I could no longer hold a brush long enough to accomplish anything. As I worked on those early icons, I felt drawn to choose some of my favourite Rosary mysteries as my subjects.

After drawing several of these, I thought: "why not try completing all 20 of the mysteries?" I must admit that I never really expected to get them all done. Then when I had completed them, some of my regular clients begin to talk about ways in which they might be able to purchase copies of all 20. It was at this point that someone mentioned doing a book!

The idea felt right, but then as I begin to work on the idea, I thought: "well why not include the information I had written about each icon in my blog?" And thus this book on the Rosary was born.

So, there you have the first rough draft. Thanks for any help you can give me in straightening it up.

Peace be with you all.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

The Unusual and the Simple

"Sweet Shrub/Carolina All-Spice" is the name of tonight's first drawing. It is an unusual looking plant, but quite beautiful in its own way.

This sketch was made using another photo from Hylott (the next drawing as well). His photographs are really quite special in capturing the beauty of a plant or flower through close-up framing.

One of the shots he sent me of this plant was covered with pollen -- little white specks -- which I wisely decided not to try to draw as I think I would be working on it for many weeks trying to put in all those tiny white spots!

These flowers are called "Thrift Blossoms". I am unsure as to how they got their name -- maybe it has something to do with their simplicity although the centre of each plant is quite beautiful and rather complicated.

I do hope you enjoy my ongoing flower show. This is definitely the time of year to be thinking of flowers. Although, we have snow predicted for Monday and Tuesday and temperatures just above freezing (with wind chills below). So all you readers in warmer areas think of us poor northern folks kindly as we suffer through a bit more winter-like weather.

Actually, I am feeling a bit tired tonight as I have been working on correcting all my Greek icon titles. On some of the icons I had played around with the colouration quite a bit after I had finished the drawing. Rather than go back to the beginning and try to get the same effects again, I have ended up using text boxes over the old titles. In the Annuciation icon, the only mistake was a missing "O" at the very beginning of the phrase so I took the lazy way out and just left it off. I may hear about it later from some reader of my book who knows their Greek, but I will just have to apologize for my laziness!

Now that the drawings are all corrected, I can get back to working on the text again.

Meanwhile, I will pass along to you a question that I came across in an article today: "Is there anyone in your life that you love more than you love yourself?"

Peace be with you all.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Southern Springtime

Tonight's drawings were made using photographs from my Alabama friend, Hylott. He has been running out between rain showers and taking beautiful photos of the plants already in bloom down there in the southern U.S.

Actually, this first one may be have been drawn from one of last summer's photos, I can't remember now. However, it is a beautiful Camellia blossom with some buds. As a consequence, I am calling this drawing "Camellia Buds and Blossom". See, I haven't lost my touch for clever titles!

These next two drawings were definitely done from this year's photographs.

This drawing is of a "Cherokee Chief" Flowering Dogwood tree just coming into bloom. Unlike the more familiar Dogwood trees that have white blossoms, these early blossoms are almost a reddish pink with a number of round, light-green "berries" in the centre. I found the photograph that I worked from to really be quite beautiful outlined against the sky.

Next is my attempt to draw the "Cherokee Chief Blossoms" at a later stage of development. I am not really very pleased with the result, but thought I should post it anyway to give you some idea of how the small, reddish blossom develop into a rosy pink colour with deeper shades of reddish pink of newer growth coming in. I plan to try drawing these blossoms again and perhaps I will be more successful in the finished picture.

This is such a beautiful plant and I am very grateful to Hylott for sending me the photographs.

On another topic entirely, I just wanted to let everyone know that a friend of my dear friend, Amra, has kindly gone through all my icons and corrected all my Greek titles for me. I am so thrilled. I have a bit of work ahead of me making the corrections, but at least I will know when my book is ready that I won't be getting emails telling me about all my mistakes in Greek!

By the way, I am working on a new icon, but it is a rather complex one so it probably won't be finished for a while yet. Until then, you will be seeing more flowers, butterflies and horses, I hope.

Peace be with you all.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Music -- another art form

Music used to be such a huge part of my life until arthritis decided to take up residence in my hands and fingers. I don't have too many photos from those days, but here are a few I thought you might enjoy seeing.

The photo above is of me playing the autoharp "Mother Maybelle Carter" style. I taught myself to how to play the instrument with three finger picks and I had the strings customized so that I had all the major and minor chords on it.

In the photo, you see me leading the singing at a prayer group I used to attend back in the late 70's. The fellow playing the guitar was a music professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. The man sitting next to me is one of the best guitar players I have ever known but he did not have his guitar with him that night. In those days I had a very "dependable" voice which was good for leading.

I also wrote music and lyrics during those years and I am sure I wrote well over 200 songs -- nothing special, but a few that people liked to hear again and again. Many times I set the Psalms and scripture to music -- just like untold numbers have since the days of King David and his harp.

These next two photographs are of me playing the guitar.

I enjoyed the guitar, but I was never really that good at it. For some reason, I found it very difficult to finger some of the more complicated chords and to move quickly enough from one note to another.

By the way, these two photos were taken in the early 70's right after I had gotten my hair cut for the first time in about 10 years. I had decided that it was time to stop looking like a "hippie".

I really miss being able to play instruments and write out my feelings in songs. Some people seem to be able to write music without playing an instrument at the same time, but this was never true for me. I would have an idea in mind for a song and as I played chords and notes, the melody and the words would often just seem to flow out of the exercise of playing.

Well, I think it is time for me to return to work on the book. I am enjoying working on it, but it is a long, slow process.

May peace be with you all.