Sunday, 28 June 2009

Another Revision and A Busy Butterfly

Thanks to my dear friend, E., I have made some changes to the final station -- the Resurrection. Please let me know what you think of it.

I removed the small angel from in front of Christ and put an angel in the air. I also added rays coming from the tomb in hopes of giving more of any impression of depth. I also added a few lines to the winding sheet at the foot of the entrance to the tomb to try to let people know what that white thing is! There was some confusion and it may still not work.

Unfortunately, these image are so small in the space I have for the blog so take a look at it enlarged and see what you think and please, if you have any suggestions, pass them along.

I am giving this next drawing a long title: "Butterfly feeding on Forget-Me-Not".

I was really attracted to this photo because it shows how much pollen the butterfly has already picked up in the process of feeding. I tried to show that in my drawing as well, but don't know if I managed or not.

This is a strange week coming up. I have to prepare for surgery on Monday and then have the surgery on Tuesday. Wednesday is Canada Day -- kind of like our 4th of July. Then the remainder of the week should be recovery and rest and getting back into my regular routine -- maybe glasses free!

As I have mentioned, the book is ready for sale. I will be preparing all the information of costs and ordering procedures, etc. during this week and hopefully will be posting it by Thursday. Remember, I won't be posting on Tuesday since that is the day of the surgery. So, I won't post again now until Thursday. See you then.

Peace be with you all.

Friday, 26 June 2009

A Revision and A House

I met my dear friend A. for lunch today and, as always, she had a really good suggestion to make about Station Fourteen.

She talked about the possibility of making the lighting of the tomb a bit more realistic -- I have been working on since I arrived back home.

It is very difficult to do with the limited tools of my software. What I really need to be able to do is have the light coming directly from the opening and slanting across the face and upper body -- however, I cannot make my colour anything but solid. If I could make it translucent as I could with oils, I know exactly what I would do, but sadly this is my best effort so far. I will continue to look at it and consider how else I might change it, but for the time being, this is it.

Remember, if you have any suggestions, I would really appreciate them. This was only a small suggestion but it turned out to be just what I needed to hear. You can do the same.

This next drawing is a solitary house somewhere along the coast of Newfoundland/Labrador (some place I have always wanted to visit but never got around to it).

I was attracted to this drawing because of the snug looking house -- maybe a good place to spend a summer -- and the wind-blown tree in the front yard. It is really just a house and a tree and some land and some water, but it appeals to my artist's heart.

Meanwhile, we continue with our strike of city workers which means that the garbage is piling up all around the city. Fortunately, our building has a private service. Garbage strikes are definitely something that should happen in the winter! Phew!

May peace be with you all.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Hooray! The A/C is working again!

Here is the 15th Way of the Cross icon. Let me know what you think of it.

I have tried to make everything as glowing as possible. The tomb is full of light (maybe angels). The tail-end of the bright, white shroud falls just outside the cave opening. The dawn sky is filled with bright colours which reflect off the rocks. Christ's hair is almost fiery. The angel kneeling before Him is small which makes Christ look almost super-human in size. Flowers have blossomed at His feet. All the clothing is white except for the gold-coloured band across the chest of Christ and the golden-light of the halos.

I added cracks to the big circular stone that had been covering the opening to the tomb to indicate the powerful way in which the Resurrection took place. I want this station to say: Christ is risen from the dead -- death is powerfully defeated -- Alleluia!

This second drawing reminds me of the photos I have seen of eastern Canada. Wherever it is, it is definitely some place I would enjoy being right now as it looks considerably cooler than Toronto.

I have named this drawing: "The Night is Far Spent". It makes me think of that time of night just before the sky turns grey, the moon fades from sight and you can see traces of fog over the water -- fog that will fade with the rising sun.

I met today with the surgeon today who will do the cataract surgery on my right eye this coming Tuesday morning. He said that my left eye is healing very well and he doesn't foresee any problems with the surgery on my right one.

Peace be with you all.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Numbers 13 and 14

Well, here we are. These are the final two stations in the traditional Way of the Cross.

Number 13 is a revision of an icon you have seen previously. I had worked on this icon some time ago with the idea that if I ever did get around to doing the Stations, I could use this one for the 13th or 14th station. When the time came, I decided that with a bit of revision, it worked better as the 13th station which is "Jesus is taken down from the cross" (and laid in His mother's arms).

You can see the open tomb in the background and the empty cross even further back. In the foreground we see the Blessed Mother cradling her Son's head while St. Mary Magdalene cries to Heaven behind her. This was apparently the last time our Blessed Mother would be able to hold her Son in her arms although I am sure she knew, in some way, that she would hold her Son in her arms again someday.

And here it is -- number 14. One of the titles of this station is "Jesus is placed in the sepulchre".

I chose to make this as simple as possible with the exception of the three figures in the doorway: our Blessed Mother, St. John and St. Mary Magdalene. One last goodbye and the stone would be rolled across the opening -- leaving the inside of the tomb in total darkness. Those outside left just as the Sabbath was beginning with plans to return after the Sabbath ended on Sunday morning and wrap the body properly with the spices that had been provided.

I have often thought about this plan to open the tomb on the third day after the death of Jesus. Had His followers had time to wrap the body properly before the Sabbath started, they would not have made plans to open the grave again at all. Jesus would still have risen, but I wonder how He would have dealt with His followers in making Himself known in His glorified body.

As I was telling a friend recently, I find myself wondering about many such things as I get older and seem to have more time to reflect on such matters. Just recently I began to wonder if Judas could have cried out to God for mercy in the final seconds of his life. If he did, I might very well meet him in Purgatory when, please God, I arrive there!

That's enough rambling for tonight. Please, please give me some feedback regarding these two stations -- especially station 14. On Monday I plan to post the 15th station and I will need feedback on it as well since it has just recently become a regular part of the Stations of the Cross.

Peace be with you all.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

I Double-Dog Dare You!

I double-dog dare you to climb up the ladder and run down this dock!

If you are wise, I think you would refuse to take me up on that dare. This drawing, by the way, is called "Shaky Dock"!

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the phrase "double-dog dare you". When I was growing up it was the absolute extreme dare and if you refused to accept the dare, you were truly a "chicken" (absolute coward). I remember accepting some of these extreme dares and ending up either badly bruised or in serious trouble with my parents!

This second drawing is of a grey kitten who appears to want more food. I have called this sketch "Isn't there any more?"

I am such a cat lover. I enjoy dogs and like having them around, but for me dogs are meant to live in a house with a yard -- or even better, a nearby field or woods. I had never seen anyone walking a dog on a leash until I came to Canada. Growing up out in the countryside in Alabama, everyone had a dog or dogs but they ran loose and came and went as they chose to.

But the only animal that was sometimes able to sneak into the house were the cats. I have always admired their tenacity among other characteristics!

Well, enough about that. I am going to start showing you the draft drawings of the 13th, 14th and 15th icons of the Way of the Cross. These are truly my concepts -- especially 14 and 15 -- so I am hoping for a lot of feedback from you folks about whether I need to change them or not. Please give me your opinions when I show you the first one in Saturday's posting.

May peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Two More Stations

The eighth station is often entitled: "Jesus speaks with the women of Jerusalem"

These women, upon seeing Jesus beaten and bloodied began to weep for him -- so pitiable was His condition.

Hearing their cries, Our Lord said to them something that I think is amazing: "Daughters of Jerusalem weep not for me, but for yourselves and for your children..." (the Gospel of St. Luke). I find it amazing that Jesus, after all He has gone through and knowing what He has yet to face, could take the time to speak words of counsel to these women. In fact, come to think of it, the only people Jesus spoke to directly during His "carrying of the cross" were women: His mother and these women. During the crucifixion, of course, He spoke to His Father, to His mother and to St. John.

The other icon I want to show you tonight is of the second station usually known as "Jesus receives the Cross".

In the first station, we see Jesus with His hands tied and chained. In this station, I wanted to show Him with His hands still tied (just like you would keep handcuffs on a prisoner). The soldier is in the process of laying the cross on the shoulder of Jesus after which His hands would be freed so that He could use them to hold the cross as He drags it behind Him.

The remaining stations that I am working on are the 13th (Jesus is taken down from the cross and laid in His Mother's arms) and the 14th (Jesus is laid in the tomb). I have just done the outline for what will be the 15th station (the Resurrection). In the past, churches usually only had 14 stations, but it has become more popular now to include a 15th station of the Resurrection as the story is incomplete without showing Christ's triumph over death.

We have had three beautiful days of sunshine and highs in the low 20's (that's the low 70's for you Americans); however, although tomorrow starts off sunny, the rain arrives in the afternoon and will stay with us for the rest of the week. Next week I hear we will be having our first hot weather of the year. That is only right, I guess, since summer officially begins on Sunday.

May peace be with you all.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

A Change of Pace

Tonight I wanted to post some of the other items I have been working on. Whenever I want to take a break from the intensity of working on icons, I usually like to sketch flowers or water scenes. So that is what you'll be seeing tonight.

This first drawing (above) is called "Ask Hylott". When I saw the photograph he had sent, I was pretty certain it was a hibiscus, but I never trust myself. I still don't know for absolutely certain that that's what it is, but it looks like a hibiscus to me. However, since I had already named the print "Ask Hylott" when I exported it from his email, I have just ended up keeping the same name. It's kind of catchy, don't you think?

This second drawing is called "Another Hot One" as the scene reminds me of early morning in parts of the deep south close to the Gulf of Mexico. In the summer as the sun is rising, everything is a hazy, yellow colour and you just know that it is going to be really hot and humid.

I have no idea where the photo was taken as it is one I came across online somewhere and no information was given as to the photographer or where it was taken, but it made me think of the canals near areas like Gulf Shores (Alabama) and Panama City (Florida).

I made it to Mass today because I really wanted to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. However, it was such a beautiful day out there that I really didn't want to come home until I reached my neighbourhood, that is!

We have a festival each year in Toronto for dogs and their people and it is always held in my neighbourhood. When I left to go to church, the streets were practically empty -- just vendors setting up their booths, etc. On my return, however, it was a very different story.

Trying to maneuver a wheelchair through hundreds of dogs and even more people is a very difficult task -- in fact, it is the sort of situation that could cause a person to actually stop loving their fellowman and to consider the pleasure of running over some of the more obnoxious ones! You'll be glad to hear that I refrained from temptation and finally made it home to my quiet apartment and a sleepy cat.

Peace be with you all.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Falling Three Times

Here are the 3 stations where Jesus falls under the weight of the cross.

This first one (above) is the same one I used for Jesus carrying His cross in the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. I hope it is not a bad thing to use the same icon in another series since it does fit very well for the first fall, Station III.

Each fall, of course, causes His captors to treat Him more cruelly. That always seems to happen with violence -- once it has taken control every little hesitation seems to kick the rage of the person up a notch.

I have seen a father so angry with a child that every time the child tried to say "yes, sir" through her tears, the father would strike the child again when the words did not come easily -- each time striking harder.

So it was with the captors of Jesus. Every time He fell, they turned on Him in fury.

In His final fall, just before reaching the top of the hill of crucifixion, the soldier uses his staff and his foot to try to push Christ and His cross over so the soldiers could yank Him up again and drag Him the rest of the way. So casually callous the soldier is -- for him it's just another day's work.

There was a story on tonight's news about a young man seen pulling a dog by it leash down one of those long flight of stairs at the subway. The dog had fallen and was not given time to try to stand as the man casually dragged him -- bump, bump, bump. The people in the station called the police and animal control who were on the scene quickly. Concerned passengers tried to comfort the dog while others held the man until the authorities arrived. Turns out the dog was 15 years old and had simply gotten exhausted by too long a walk and the man was the dog walker that a couple had hired to walk their dog each day!

Whether human or animal, angry people seem to be able to hurt and harm with casual indifference. Sadly, evil is alive and well in this world -- just as it was 2000 years ago when Jesus fell three times under the weight of the cross.

Peace be with you all

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Simon of Cyrene

Here is the fifth station.

Jesus was trying His best to carry the cross, but after all he had been through, he kept falling under the weight of it. So the Roman soldiers grabbed a man from the crowd, a man from Cyrene by the name of Simon, and made him carry the cross for Christ.

We never know when the events of life are suddenly going to reach out and grab us. There was Simon just walking down the street or maybe, attracted by the crowds and noise, trying to see what was happening and a Roman soldier reached out and grabbed him. He was thrust into what would turn out to be one of the most meaningful episodes in human history. His name has forever after been associated with the story of Christ's passion and death. Unlike Pilate, whose name has also been associated with this event; Simon of Cyrene is remembered by Christians with gratitude because of the help he gave to Our Lord.

Now, from the sublime to the ridiculous, take a look at the following photograph.

Yes, it really is me. I was a senior in high school when this photo was taken and one of three majorettes who pranced weekly in front of our marching band during half-time at our Friday night football game. The majorettes usually performed some kind of half-time routine as well. I was easy to recognize even from the highest rows of the stands -- I was the one always dropping my baton! Oh, well... what can I say!

Peace to you all.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Holy Napkins

There are two holy napkins that I know about. One comes from the traditional stories of the Catholic Church; while the other one comes from a similar story tradition in the Orthodox Church.

The Catholic story is about St. Veronica. The story goes that a holy woman by the name of Veronica broke through the crowd surrounding Jesus as He carried the cross. She held in her hands a clean, linen cloth and as Christ came near her, she reached out and carefully wiped the blood and spittle from His Holy Face.

Christ's eyes met hers with thankfulness for her kindness before the soldiers shoved Him on His way. When Veronica looked at the cloth, she found that an image of Christ's bloody and beaten face had been left on the napkin. This event is now memorialized as the sixth station of the Way of the Cross.

The other story of a holy napkin comes from the Orthodox tradition. I have told you this story previously -- maybe a year ago -- when I posted the icon above known as "The Holy Napkin -- Not Made by Hands".

As you may recall, a messenger from a great king was sent to Jesus asking Him to please come and lay His hands on him so he might be healed. At that time, Jesus was surrounded by His own people -- people trying to question Him about His teachings; others seeking to be healed. There was no way He could walk away from His own people at that moment so He took a napkin and wiped His face with it, giving it to the messenger to take to his master. When the cloth was opened, it was found that there was a picture of the Holy Face -- not made by hands -- and the sick who touched the cloth were healed.

I placed an order for a single copy of the book today after making some adjustments to my previous attempt to order it. Hopefully it will arrive within the next two weeks and then I will be glad to start taking orders. I decided not to use their book selling service as they are a U.S. company and it would all get too complicated. So, I plan to order enough copies to cover the requests and then sell them myself. I can always order more copies if necessary. I get a 10% discount on the price if I am ordering 10 or more copies at one time so I will wait until I have at least 10 requests before placing my first order.

I am posting this early tonight as I have a young couple coming for a session in their marriage preparation course.

Peace be with you.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Another Try for First

After several comments (only one of which made it to the blog), I decided that I needed to scrap the first Station and try to rebuild it -- which is exactly what I have done.

So, I would appreciate some opinions on this revised edition and feel free to make them as comments to the blog. If you have forgotten your original password, just check Anonymous and you will be allowed to make a comment. Then when you finish you can sign your name if you want to.

I was thinking today about why these are called Stations. The English word for station comes from the Latin for stand. When the stations were first initiated, they were walked in Jerusalem itself by pilgrims. This practise begin in the early centuries after the death and resurrection of Christ. Each time an individual or group would come to one of the locations where an event was supposed to have occurred in the carrying of the cross, they would stop and pray -- thus each stop became one of the stations. Finally, 14 "stations" were established as the norm and are still walked by pilgrims to this very day.

These days you will also find drawings/icons of these stations in every Catholic church. This practise developed during the centuries when Christian were no longer able to actually go to Jerusalem -- mainly due to the occupation of the Holy Land by various Muslim leaders. So, if any of you non-Catholics are ever visiting a Catholic church and notice someone walking a bit and then standing to pray before walking a bit more, you will know that they are making the Stations of the Cross.

This poppy is known as "Papaver orientale" and I think it would be quite beautiful to see it for real.

The photo I was working from was not that good -- rather fuzzy actually -- but I tried to do my best and express something of the beauty that was almost visible.

By the way, the book is ready for the first printing of the draft copy. Once I have checked it carefully, I can then either go ahead and print it or make corrections if needed and then print it. So it should be available soon. I think I am going to use the option offered by the book printing service. I will announce the book far and wide and then everyone who wants to purchase a copy will go to their web site and place an order. The company will then send me my share of the selling costs. If any of you would prefer not to deal with an online company for any reason, please let me know and I will purchase enough copies to send out privately so you will deal directly with me.

There is just one holdup at the moment and once that is settled, I will place my order for my own draft copy. After that things should happen fairly quickly.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Flowers and Foolishness

Well, the flowers of tonight's title are "White Hydrangeas". The drawing was inspired by a photograph taken by Hylott -- my Alabama friend. He also sent me a photo of a pink hydrangea which hopefully you will be seeing a drawing of soon.

The foolishness part of the title comes from this next silly sketch.

I have named this one "I'm a Lion Too". Nothing much to say about it -- sketching it was just a fun way to take a break while working on another Way of the Cross icon.

Speaking of those icons, I finally got some comments from a regular viewer -- helpful comments I might add. I am still waiting for comments from some of the rest of you.

I am sorry I can't say too much tonight as my eyes no longer work well with my glasses and so my efforts to read and to see what I have typed are very tiring. I think I need to go and take another good rest. Maybe I will be able to do a bit more work later.

Peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Finally, my first posting for June

Well, in spite of the fact that it is only 2:00 in the afternoon, I decided I had better go ahead and do my posting for today. I am already feeling quite weary.

I think it must be that I had two doctor's appointments that morning one of which included a procedure where they wrapped my legs in numerous bandages from my toes to my knees. Very interesting -- now let's just hope we don't have a sudden heat wave!

Then I had to endure another procedure known as a punch biopsy! This simply means that after deadening the area, the doctor took a sample of tissue for biopsy. It is nothing serious -- rather there is an area of skin that is misbehaving and no one can figure out why! So hopefully, the results will show that it is simply me trying to call attention to myself again!!

So, I think you can see why I feel like taking a good long nap -- and these days, these naps often turn into all-nighters.

Now to the drawing at the top.

This is Station I of the Stations of the Cross: "Pilate condemns Jesus to be crucified". It is very interesting to me that I chose to make the figures in this icon larger than in any of the others. I think it is because this moment is the beginning of the end of this most important battle between good and evil.

Pilate had had all sorts of promptings to let Jesus go. His wife pleaded with him to do so because of a dream she had, Pilate's own conscious bothered him as he tried to find ways to get out of having Jesus put to death and finally, in desperation to please the crowd, he condemns Jesus but seeks to separate himself from the act by publicly washing his hands and saying that they are guilty of this man's death, not he.

And so the march toward the Crucifixion begins.

I would ask you to compare this drawing to the earlier drawings and see if you think it will be all right to have the figures in the first Station a bit larger than those in the remaining ones. Thanks.

Now, I must get some rest. I hope what I have written makes sense as I wrote part of it with my eyes closed! I am sure I will be better by Thursday.

Peace be with you all -- always.