Monday, 31 August 2009

I Almost Forgot!

I almost forgot to post anything tonight! I was starting to get ready for bed when it suddenly dawned on me that tonight was the night for adding a post to my blog. I thought about just forgetting it, but being a bit compulsive about things, I decided to do it even at this late hour.

So, quickly, I will tell you about tonight's drawings.

The drawing above is of "Wild Tulips". Yes, tulips grew wild long before they were turned into the cultivated varieties we are so used to seeing in the springtime. And guess where these wild tulips were found: Kazakhstan! See the map below if you are not sure where it is.

The wild version most often has white or whitish petals with a yellow centre while the leaves are the typical tulip leaves. In my drawing you really can't see the leaves all that well as I decided to put the flowers in the midst of a weed patch! These days you can find wild tulips in gardens all over the world.

Here is my drawing of the "Southern Red Trillium".

These wild flowers are found from West Virginia to NE Alabama but occur mostly in the gorges of the Cumberland plateau. They can grow to a height of 16 in. (40 cm.).

Below is a photo I came across after finishing my drawing. These flowers were found on the Fiery Gizzard Trail in Tennessee's South Cumberland Recreation Area. The leaf is so beautiful that I am now thinking about going back and including it in the above drawing! At present, I just have an indication of the leaf in the background. We'll see.

Now, I must get myself off to bed. Actually, I love staying up late, but I don't like it at all when I have to get up at the normal time in the morning!

May peace be with you.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Blue Flowers

I am rather late getting this entry posted. I spent the afternoon with a dear friend, Sr. Mary Cecilia, and Wheeltrans took forever to get me home -- and hour and a half to be exact. So everything got pushed back a bit. But here I am.

Tonight's first blue drawing is of a small flower called "Mazus". It is supposedly a member of the Snapdragon family although I can't confirm that. The plant is also known as Creeping Mazus or by its proper name of Mazus reptans.

It makes excellent ground cover and although its original home was in the Himalayas, it grows in North America along the eastern seaboard to the mid-west, preferring a milder climate.

In order for you to see how small it really is, I have included the photograph below which shows a person's finger holding up one of the flowers, giving you an indication of it small size.

I trust that the owner of the photograph won't mind my using it. I am not making any money off of it and am, in fact, giving the photographer free exposure! -- so goes my rationalization.

The second blue drawing is of a plant called "Birds Eye Speedwell".

The fancy name for this plant is Veronica persica and it is a member of the figwort family. It is also known as Common Field Speedwell. It came to us from Europe and is now found coast to coast from this area of Ontario down to the southern U.S. The flowers are small, about 1/2 inch in diametre. The leaves are a rich green colour and a bit thick. Instead of trying to draw them, I decided to give an impression of their profusion and colour. My depiction is not, therefore, accurate, but it pleases me. Hope you don't mind!

Now, being very tired, I am going to call it a day.

May peace be with you all.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Something Slightly Different

Well, tonight I want to show you something slightly different.

When I did the drawing above, I noticed as I was completing it that it had a vaguely art deco/art nouveau look about it. As I sat with it for a while, I begin to consider how it might look with an art deco frame.

I have never put a frame on any of my non-icon drawings before so I wasn't sure how I felt about it. Gradually I got used to the idea, especially once I added the frame and liked the result.

If you have any comments to make about the above drawing, named "Resting Lotus", please send them in.

Tonight's second drawing is not that different from other water lilies I have done previously.

This one, called "Water Lily with Leaves" is actually a species found in Thailand. I don't know any more details about the species, but thought it was interesting with the reddish "berry" on top.

Meanwhile, I am living in the midst of something called "Buskerfest". This event has taken place in my downtown neighbourhood for the past 10 years and it truly takes over everything! The restaurants are allowed to place tables out to the edge of the sidewalk so you are forced to walk in the streets. The streets are filled with performers and vendors so you are forced to stand still. In other words, stay home unless you really enjoy watching buskers perform! I am staying home -- old stick-in-the-mud that I am.

May peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

What's a Puccoon?

The answer to the question posed in tonight's title is: a Puccoon is a wildflower found in the eastern, mainly southeastern parts of North America!

The one pictured above is called a "Hoary Puccoon". What a name! I don't think you could come up with a more unappealing name if you tried. The "hoary" part refers to the woolly texture of the stems and the undersides of the leaves; while "puccoon" refers to the fact that this plant was once the source of reddish-brown dye used by the North American native peoples. When the flowers die, they stay intact on the plant, turning a reddish-brown colour -- this provided the pigment.

This gives rise to the other name the flowers carry "Indian Paint". Actually I prefer the "Hoary Puccoon" name as it is much more fun to say! The Latin name is Lithospermum canescens.

Tonight's other drawing is a simple sketch of "Trumpet Flowers".

This is the wild form of one of the many so-called Trumpet plants. They all contain poisonous chemicals and should be kept away from children and pets. I am presently working on another drawing of a variation of this plant called a Trumpet Creeper. Another name for this plant is Angel Trumpet.

You may recall some of my previous drawings of similar flowers -- all part of the same family of plants. The most recent one, I think, was of a wild form called "Cow-Itch". Another great name!

Well, enough about flowers. I need to get back to work on my icon books.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Michael Slew the Dragon

Another icon completed for the NOVENA ICONS book.

This is St. Michael, of course, showing him just as the dragon (Satan) is slain. The story is found toward the end of the Book of Revelation, also known as The Apocalypse, the final book of the Christian Bible. Therein we find an account of the last days of creation as we know it -- the events of earth's final battle appeared to St. John in a vision on the Island of Patmos. Interestingly, there is no mention of someone called the "anti-Christ" nor is there any mention of something called the "rapture". These are terms you might have heard thrown around in discussions regarding the "end times".

The good news is that we know who finally wins the battle between good and evil: St. Michael and His Heavenly angels destroy the army of Satan (that old dragon) and his rebellious angels.

The icon depicts that moment when evil is destroyed forever. The words across the top of the icon read: "Holy Michael".

Years ago when I had just finished my first study of the Book of Revelation, I was so jubilant that I felt that writing a ditty that helped me express my joy. The first verse goes as follows:

"Michael slew the Dragon and I saw it happen,
Michael slew the Dragon and I saw it happen,
Michael slew the Dragon and I saw it happen,
Satan like lightning did fall."

There are about 6 verses all in the same pattern.
Not very clever, but you should hear it with the music!! Seriously, to this very day when I sing it, I find myself smiling broadly and feeling quite joyful.

Nothing new to report in the book department. It will take some time to get any responses from the publishing companies in the U.S.

I hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday.

May peace be with you.

Friday, 21 August 2009

After the Storm

Well, we had quite the storm here yesterday. In areas just north of the City, there were actually tornadoes! We very rarely have such violent weather in this part of the world so the devastation caused by these tornadoes was probably more shocking to us than it would be to someone in the southern or central U.S.

In the downtown area, close to the Lake, we just had a really spectacular thunderstorm. For a while it was raining sideways in sheets and since it wasn't blowing in my direction, I was able to sit in the open balcony door and really enjoy the thunder and lightning. I have always loved thunderstorms.

As for tonight's drawings, the one above is of "Virginia Bluebells" a member of the Forget-Me-Not family. It has lovely, delicate flowers with indentations that I really was not able to create with the computer. I tried all sorts of techniques, but it always ended up looking like the flowers had big spots on them so I just left them off. I must find a way to create this effect. I had the same problems recently when drawing the "Chinese Lantern" pods that I posted a few days ago.

Next, I want to show you the "Turks Cap Lily" that I have drawn. These upside down lilies are so interesting and I found it difficult to do them justice. I want to try drawing them again but will wait until I find a better photograph to work from.

By the way, if you remember the "Tubular Begonia" that I posted recently, you may recall that I said that I was inspired to draw it by a photograph I had seen on Facebook. I now have the permission of the photographer to mention her name and give her web site. Her name is Jill Barber of Jill Barber Photography in Knoxville, TN. Take a look at her work when you have a moment -- she is really excellent, especially with photos of children.

Hopefully no more tornadoes tonight.
Peace be with you all.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Feast of St. Sarah

Today is the day that I claim as my feast day, August 19th. Although there are no feast days for St. Sarah, wife of Abraham, in the Catholic Church, there are in the Orthodox. The date for the feast of St. Sarah is today and I have claimed it for myself.

St. Sarah did some really foolish things, but I give her credit for sticking with St. Abraham all those years through all his shenanigans. So there are many things about her that I would like to emulate; however, I do not want to be pregnant with my first child when I am in my 90's as she was with her son, Isaac. That is too much to ask of any woman!

I was at St. Sarah's and St. Abraham's tombs in the Holy Land many years ago -- right where the oak of Mamre once stood. The area is now part of a mosque, but at that time there was no problem about Christian tourists coming into the mosque to pray at the tombs. Remember, the Moslems honour Abraham and Sarah as well.

Anyway, in celebration of my feast day, I decided to invite St. Francis to join me! As is made clear, the icon above is of St. Francis of Assisi and is also my most recent icon drawing. It is very different from the one I did of St. Francis a couple of years ago. Any opinions on which one you prefer?

I also decided to give myself a "Tuberous Begonia" blossom for my feast day.

This recent drawing was done working from a photograph I saw on Facebook. I have two new sources of photographs on there and they occasionally have photos of things I am able to draw.

I am posting this a bit earlier tonight as we are having a meeting in the co-op which starts at 7 and I need to attend -- ugh! Oh, well, it is my duty to co-operate in the co-operative in which I live and this includes going to the occasional meeting so there is no need for me to complain.

Happy feast day to me and peace to all of you.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Sunflowers and Lanterns

This drawing of sunflowers is named "Ron's Sunflowers" The reason being that the drawing was made by using, for my guide, a photograph made by someone named Ron! This Ron just happens to be the husband of my cousin, Sharon. I think I have shown you some of Ron's photography before -- you can see the wonderful work he does at his website, Aronsha.

Anyway, Ron recently posted a wonderful photo of sunflowers on Facebook. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to use it for a drawing. What better name to give the drawing then than Ron's Sunflowers?

Tonight's second drawing is of "Chinese Lanterns".

These plants are popular for their papery, bright orange lantern pods that develop around the ripening fruit. The pods are often cut and dried and used for Thanksgiving and Halloween arrangements. The plants do have small white flowers in mid-summer, but the really striking part of the plants are the "lantern" pods. They do have a bad reputation, however, of taking over flower beds if they are not cut back properly.

I have been getting a bit more work done than usual these past 4 days what with the record high temperatures we have been having. I have been out only to keep appointments with close friends and occasional medical personnel; otherwise, I have stayed close to my air conditioning. The cooler weather is on its way, thank goodness.

Peace be with you.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Novenas and Icons

Tonight I want to show you two new icons that I have been working on. I have reached the first draft stage of both and since they are related to my comments on novenas, I am going ahead and posting them.

The icon above is of "Our Lady of Mt. Carmel". She holds the brown scapular in her right hand. Scapulars are another tradition that I will talk about some time, but not tonight. Tonight I want to briefly mention novenas

Novenas are
nine days of public or private prayer for some special occasion or intention. Its origin goes back to the nine days that the Disciples and Blessed Mary spent together in prayer between Ascension and Pentecost Sunday. The word "novena" comes from novem which is Latin for nine.

So for nine days (or even nine hours) you say a special prayer to Our Lady or one of the Saints, asking them to intercede for you and pray for your intentions. A novena can also be prayed by a group of people for a particular intention such as the healing of a friend or family member or for the conversion of someone.

So you could pray a novena to our Blessed Mother under the title of "Our Lady of Mt. Carmel". Or you could pray a novena to one of the saints such as "St. Anthony of Padua" whose icon follows.

This icon, just like the one of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, has a wonderful story behind it. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to tell you both stories eventually, but tonight I want to mention only that both of these icons are part of my new book which will be called NOVENA ICONS. The plan for the book is that on the page opposite the icon I will have a brief account of what the icon represents (the symbolism and the saint's story) followed by a prayer than can be prayed for nine days asking that saint to pray for your special intention.

Of course, first I have to finish the book of the Stations of the Cross icons, but I can't help but already be working on the next book!

Peace be with you all.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Colour Pink

While pink is not one of my favourite colours, it was my mother's favourite. She loved all the shades of pink except what we now call "hot pink" or "pank" as she referred to it, derogatorily.

I can't tell you how many dresses I had growing up that were various shades of pink. My mother was a very skilled seamstress and made practically all my clothes until I left home at age 18. I remember a beautiful pink dress she made for me the summer before my senior year of high school. It was a lovely pale pink with all sorts of tucks and folds across the front. It must have taken her hours of tedious work. Although I didn't say it, I remember thinking "oh, no, another pink dress!" Ah, the ingratitude of youth!

Forgive the reminiscence, but I never think of pink without thinking of my mother.

As for the drawings, the first one is obviously a "Water Lily", a pink water lily to be exact. I love the challenge of trying to draw reflections although I often struggle with the effort to make them look natural. Reflections are such strange things as parts of objects are often reflected in water that surprise you and if you try to leave them out, the drawing doesn't work.

This second drawing is of a flowering plant called "Mountain Primula".

The primulas are European mountain flowers and they truly prefer mountains as they like to be covered in snow during their dormant season. Some people refer to them as "Alpine Flowers". They grow in mountain crevasses and require very little soil, growing in places that at first glance appear to be solid rock!

I am not really finished with this drawing as I remain unsatisfied with the appearance of the rock itself. I will continue to play with it until I get a surface that satisfies me.

Meanwhile, I continue to try to organize my series of books. Speaking of which, I still haven't explained novenas to those of you unfamiliar with them. I plan to do so when I post on Saturday as I will be posting another icon that will be going in the book on novenas.

May peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Colour Orange

Orange is one of my favourite colours. I am not sure what this says about my personality, but like it or not, all shades of orange appeal to me very much.

So, whenever I see anything that has the colour orange in it, I am immediately attracted. Just like I was by the photos of the two plants I am posting tonight.

The drawing shown at the beginning is a very unusual plant from the land of unusual plants: Australia. It grows large enough to be called a bush and it goes by the name of "Albany Banksia".

The "Banksia" part of the name comes from the name of Sir Joseph Banks, the English naturalist, who accompanied Captain Cook on his first journey to the Pacific. I am sure the native Australians already had a name for this plant, but they, as usual, were ignored.

This second drawing is of a plant that most of you are familiar with since it grows in many gardens in North America -- whether people want it to or not.
It is, of course, "Lantana". The proper name for this particular variety is Lantana vibernum. It has such a lovely orange colour mixed with yellow that it is almost glowing.
Back in the days when I was doing oil paintings, I used to always keep well supplied with two particular colours: Cadmium Red and Cadmium Yellow. I loved the glowing shades of orange, red and yellows I could get from mixing these two in various proportions -- especially the different shades of orange.
Well, I had said I was going to talk more about novenas tonight, but I am just too tired. So I will save that discussion until the next time I post a new icon of a saint -- maybe by the weekend.
Peace be with you all.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

A New Project

Tonight I have a new project to talk about.

First, however, I will mention the drawing of Our Lady. This is a close-up of the face of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the picture of Our Lady not drawn by human hands, but by some heavenly means.

Do you know the story? St. Juan Diego, a native Mexican "Indian", who lived over 400 years ago, had an encounter with a lovely lady near his home. He was a new Catholic during the era of the Spanish invasion of the new world and was stunned to see such a lovely lady who called herself "his Mother". She asked him to tell the Bishop that Our Lady wanted a church built at the spot where she appeared that would serve the native peoples. Of course, when he told the Bishop, the Bishop was very sceptical and asked for a sign should the beautiful lady appear again.

Well, she did appear again the next day and when Juan told her what the Bishop had said, she told him to gather the beautiful roses that suddenly appeared behind her in full bloom even though it was winter. Juan carefully picked the roses and put them in his tilma -- a cape-like garment worn by the native peoples. Holding his tilma carefully, he rushed to the Bishop's home. When admitted, he blurted out "The Lady has sent you a sign" and opened his tilma as the roses tumbled to the floor. But the Bishop and the priests with him were not looking at the roses but at his tilma. There on the surface of his cloak, woven from catus thread, was the very image of the Lady that Juan had seen. The image that is at the beginning of the posting.

Over 450 years later, that image is still as fresh and lovely as it was on that first day. No one can explain how the image was created nor how the tilma has lasted for all these centuries as catus fibre normally decays within 25 years. Following the building of a chapel at the place our Lady had requested, millions of native peoples converted to the Faith. Today a huge Cathedral stands on the same spot and is visited by more people than any other Catholic shrine in the world.

One interesting bit of information that has always fascinated me was the recent discovery of the reflection in Our Lady's eyes. Once it became possible to do the kind of photographic enlargement using special lenses, scientists discovered that there appeared to be an image reflected on the pupils of the Lady's eyes. When they enlarged it sufficiently, they discovered that the image appeared to be of St. Juan Diego as it was similar to an artist's drawing of him that was done while he was still living. How amazing is that.

Now for my new project. As I was putting together the book I am doing using the Stations of the Cross icons, I suddenly thought "why not do a series of books using the icons I have drawn to illustrate various Catholic devotions?" Once I had asked myself this question, I next considered what devotion I would work on next. I had done the Rosary and the Stations so it seemed obvious to me that next I could do a book of novenas using various icons of Christ, Our Lady and the Saints -- such as the one posted above. If you don't know what novenas are, I will be explaining it all in the next posting. This one has gone on long enough!

May peace be with you all.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Where's aechmea pineliana?

You will have to wait a moment before finding the answer to the question posed in the title of this post because first I want to show you this drawing of the "Wild Rose".

Wild roses are found in many parts of the world and there are numerous varieties. It is certainly found in Canada and is, in fact, the provincial flower of the Province of Alberta.

The colour of the flowers varies from soft pink to purple. They tend to be very prickly. I did not make my drawing of leaves and stems look particularly prickly and this is something I may change before I consider the drawing finished.

Now I will answer the question posed in the title of this post.

"Aechmea pineliana" is found throughout South America. A stunning variety with purple leaves is found in Brazil. It is actually a member of the Family Bromeliaceae. If the Family name looks familiar, it is because the name is from the same root as the popular North American house plant, the Bromeliad -- a plant I did a drawing of just a few months ago. Remember this:

I hope you are not getting too bored with drawings of flowers. I am trying to come up with a new project that will require me to create new icons, but so far I am still waiting for inspiration. I am sure it will come in time.

May peace be with you all.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Pasque and Tidy Tips

Tonight I want to show you two very different drawings of flowers.

The first one is the "Pasque Flower". This flower, a native of Europe, gets its name from the fact that it usually blooms around Eastertide. It probably originated in eastern Europe and is now found from Finland to Italy. It is also found in Great Britain as it was transplanted there by the Romans! It is interesting to think about Roman soldiers, all those centuries ago, being so attracted to this little flower that they made the effort to take it with them to the far edges of the empire.

This second drawing is of a North American flower with the name of "Tidy Tips".

Tidy Tips, found both wild and in gardens, is native to southern California. A member of the aster family, this annual has bright, daisy-like flowers -- a strong golden-yellow -- with every petal tipped white. This is where the name "tidy tips" arose.

You may notice that the background is a mixture of drawn leaves and grasses combined with a photograph of grasses. I decided to play around a bit and see how such a combination would look. What do you think?

Otherwise, I have been delivering and mailing the last of the book orders. I don't think I will be selling too many more copies at this point -- we'll see. Anyway, what I am attempting to do now is to get a publisher interested. I have written what I hope is an appealing covering letter to go with the copy of the book that I will send to each publisher and I will keep you informed if anything comes of this effort.

One thing that seems fairly certain is that a publisher will be more interested in the Rosary book if they see it as part of a series of books. So, now I am working on the Stations of the Cross book using the same format. Next I will have to think what other Catholic devotional would benefit from being presented with icons and then get to work on new icons. As always, there is much to do.

May peace be with you all.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Who is Solanus Casey?

Who is Fr. Solanus Casey? Well, I consider him to be a heavenly friend of mine who just happens to be on his way to being called St. Solanus Casey!

He was born in 1870 in Wisconsin and was one of 16 children (yes, his parents were Irish immigrants). Because he and his brothers had to stay out of school so often to help on the farm, he probably only finished Grade 8. After leaving home, he worked as a trolley conductor and then a prison guard. Finally he did what he had always wanted to -- he entered a religious community (the Capuchin Franciscans) and then begin his studies for the Catholic priesthood.

He did very well at living his Franciscan vocation, but he did not do so well in his theological studies. It wasn't that he was lacking in intelligence, but rather that theology in his seminary was taught in German! Poor Brother Solanus knew not a word of German! In spite of his poor marks in theology, he was finally ordained a priest, but was restricted from preaching or hearing Confessions for his whole life. He did not complain or try to change things, but accepted his status as what was known in those days as a "Mass priest".

His community, not knowing what to do with a priest who could only celebrate Mass, gave him the job of porter or doorkeeper -- a job usually given to a lay brother in the community. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for now everyone who came to the Friary first met Fr. Solanus. His unusually blue eyes were very gentle and seemed to invite people to share their problems. As busy as he was, he always seemed to have time for everyone.

As the years passed, more and more miracles were attributed to Fr. Solanus. He evidently had the ability to read hearts and often knew what people were thinking. As well, he had foreknowledge about the future events in a person's life. Hundreds of times, he would tell someone who had come to see him to return to the doctor and have the physician check again for whatever disease the person had been diagnosed with. These people would come back the next day or the next week with the great news that they were completely healed -- the doctor could find no sign of the disease which had previously been so evident.

Of course, Fr. Solanus was also very direct when necessary and you didn't want to ask him about your health unless you really wanted to know the truth. Stories were told of people who asked Fr. Solanus if they would be healed and he would reply, ever so gently, saying something which implied "Well, I think you should get your affairs in order."

Fr. Solanus would be in the porter's office from early morning until late in the evening and he never turned anyone away -- he always made times for them. Early on his superiors, seeing his good works, asked him to keep a record of people he spoke with and the healings reported. Over the next 20 years, he filled 7 notebooks with his tiny script, writing carefully on the front and back of each sheet. In these are recorded more than 700 healings of everything from cancer to tuberculosis that people had reported after asking Fr. Solanus to pray for them or simply expressing their concerns to him.

After his death in 1957, there was such an outpouring of letters and requests for visits to Fr. Solanus' gravesite that the body was exhumed so that a special place of visitation could be set up. At that time it was discovered that the body was still intact. To this day there are many pilgrims each year who make their way to Detroit to visit the Fr. Solanus Casey Center. One of these days I would like to make a visit there myself. Meanwhile, I will just stay in touch with him through the "Communion of Saints" -- as we say in the Creed.

I had a wonderful visit today from a couple who are very involved in Catholic publishing and they were able to give me lots of good advice about my book. I will continue to see if I can get the book professionally published.

May peace be with you all.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Checkerblooms and Spiders

Tonight's first drawing is a California wildflower called "Island Checkerbloom".

Its Latin name is Sidalcea malviflora. Island Checkerbloom is its common name. It comes from the family of Malvaceae (Mallow) and grows wild along California's coastal grasslands, scrub and open woodland from March to June. There are lots of varieties of "checkerblooms" with a lot of variation in how they look.

This second drawing is a wildflower found in the southern U.S. The common name of the flower is "Spider Lily."

It Latin name is Hymenocallis littoralis and it is a bulbous perennial herb. It ranges in height from 60 to 70 cm and requires sunlight to partial shade for proper growth and blooms from mid-summer to late autumn with white flowers.

As you may have guessed, I have been spending a lot of time investigating North American wildflowers lately. I am always intrigued by the more unusual flowers. Expect to see a few more of these in the near future.

I spent the afternoon with a dear friend of mine. The last time we had a visit was about 15 years ago. Her name is Sister M. Cecilia and for years she was in a conventnear Niagara Falls. Once I ended uup in the wheelchair, however, I could no longer go down to visit her as she was in a cloistered community (nuns who don't leave the convent expect for really special reasons), she could not come to visit me. Now she is living in a care facility in Toronto and miracle of miracles, I am able to see her again. What a wonderful visit we had and we plan to have many more visits in the future, God willing.

May peace be with you all.