Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Our Lady of Sudan

                       Water Lily -- Nymphaea caerulean -- Sacred Blue

Tonight's posting is a bit different.  The subject of the post is an icon I have already shown you -- but now it is slightly revised.  I downloaded the flower drawing above as I like to always start each posting with a drawing and not text.  I will have more to say about Nymphaea caerulean in the near future.

What follows are portions of two email messages -- one from Fr. Herald of the Sudan mission and my response to him.  You will read his suggestion for changing the icon and you will see what I changed in the icon in response to his suggestions.  As well, you will read what I said to him about the changes when I sent him a copy of the revised icon.  I hope you find this of interest. 

This email relationship I have with Fr. Herald has been a blessing for me.  As you may recall, he was the one who used my icon of St. Josephine Bakhita when posting a prayer for abused women and children written by an African sister.

Now, here is our most recent correspondence along with the revised versions of the icon of Our Lady of Sudan.

"Hi Sallie,

Thank you for your email. Yes, it's sad and hard for us to leave Sudan, and we've tried to do as much as we can to ensure that what the Lord began there during our stay will continue. We've been much encouraged, though, by the amazing way the referendum has unfolded, surely God's answer to many prayers. We're praying now that as the near-unanimous results are announced, they will be quickly recognized by Khartoum and the rest of the world.

I really like the "iconized" version of Our Lady of Sudan with the African background and elements of traditional iconography (the lettering, the stars/triangles indicating Mary's virginity, the stylizing of the faces). One suggestion I would make is to either elongate the entire image or cut the torso of Our Lady to allow the title ("Our Lady of Sudan") to be placed completely above the image of Mary. It feels a little "crowded" and is a little hard to read the way it is currently placed.

By the way, the image comes from a collection of African Catholic/Biblical images that can be found at:


They are really beautiful, and we've used them a lot. I just put the title of "Our Lady of Sudan" on the large one we reproduced. But thanks to you it looks like there will really be an original and proper image with that title now."

(revised image no 1 with text at bottom)

Here is my response to Fr. Herald:

"Dear Fr. Herald:

Thank you so much for your message. I know you must be very busy at this time so it means a lot to me that you put responding to me on your agenda.

Thank you so much for your comments about the “icon” of Our Lady of Sudan. Once you pointed out the crowded area at the top of the drawing, I could see right away that it needed changing. I am attaching the revision [see above] which includes a change in placement and background colour of the title. This leaves more space at the top. The Greek abbreviations for the names of Theotokos and Christ do not show up too much, but I really prefer it that way as often these elements, I think, detract from the drawing if they are too prominent. The name "Our Lady of Sudan" shows up much more clearly now that it is located at the bottom of the icon, I think. 

If you have further comments, please pass them along if you have time."

After writing the above, I had an email from a friend and regular reader who suggested that the intensity of the background detracted from the image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus.  So, I decided to try to do something different with the background.  You see the results below.

(revised image no 2 with faded background)

After making these changes, I wrote to Fr. Herald again (poor man -- I am sure he wonders what he has gotten himself into!).  Here is what I said to him:

"Dear Fr. Herald: I have been getting suggestions from different people about Our Lady of Sudan. One comment was that the background pattern was too intense and took attention away from Our Lady. I have tried adjusting the background but I did not want to definitely choose this version until you had seen it and approved of it. You have the previous version I sent in my recent email and now here is the updated version. Which one do you think would be more satisfactory to the people of Sudan?  Thank you so much, Sallie"

So, at this point I am waiting to hear back from Fr. Herald who, hopefully, will tell me which version he feels is more appropriate.

Meanwhile, I would love to have some feedback from you, my readers.  Which version do you prefer -- or do you think it still needs further revision?

Now for some new Polar Bear photos!  As you know, I do enjoy bear photographs.

Here is an adorable youngster.  It is no wonder people get in trouble by trying to approach these baby bears as they do look very cuddly and sweet.  However, the mother is somewhere close by, watching, and does not appreciate such familiarity!

This next photo, and the one following, were taken by crew members on a submarine as it surfaced somewhere in Arctic waters.  This one was obviously taken through the periscope as you can see the cross hairs.  The bear appears to be trying to figure out what sort of big fish this is and is showing absolutely no fear.

In this photo, the sub has surfaced sufficiently for someone to stick their head out and take a regular photo in colour.  The bears are still showing no fear and their curiosity reminds me of that of a cat.  I am sure they are trying to see if this "thing" is bringing up any food with it!

Finally, here is a photo of a bear who may be in a bit of trouble.  I have no idea how he ended up in this predicament, but there he is -- perched on top of what appears to have been a chunk of ice possibly originally attached to a larger piece.  Maybe he had fallen asleep only to awaken and realize that he was now facing a serious problem.  His expression seems to suggest he was fully aware of his dilemma.  I wish there was a follow-up photo so we could know what finally ended up happening to the poor bear!

Not much to report otherwise.  Suki is doing fine and to the best of my knowledge, I am doing fine also.  I am grateful that we are having more seasonal temperatures again here in Toronto.  It was actually a pleasure to be outside today while running my errands.  I hope everything is going well with all of you.  Remember, comments, suggestions, recommendations, etc. are all very much welcomed.  So, stay in touch!

May peace of God be with you all.


Amra Porobic said...

I liked both versions of Our Lady of Sudan. I think I prefer # 2 with grey background. But somehow I think people from Sudan will prefer the version #1.

Anonymous said...

Concerning your second revision (of the background, as suggested by another of your viewers), I really have to say that I did not agree with her suggestions about the background being too dark. To me, the first with the dark brown highlights the African motif much more than the light grey. But that is just my opinion, and I really can’t identify the reason I feel the way I do. One alternative (although I truly hesitate to make any further suggestions after all you’ve already received to this point!) might be to go with a slightly lighter brown background. . .

In the final analysis, as they say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and you are the artist. So, please go with your own instincts and preferences. Ultimately, it is not all that crucial, and there is nothing wrong in keeping both versions alive at the same time.

Hope these comments don’t confuse the issue even further. . . Eugene S.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sallie,
I like the icon with the dark background best. And it is beautiful! I do not think that the darker background takes anything away from from the image at all. Of course, and as you well know, this comes from someone who ranks several levels below a novice as concerns art.

Warmest Regards,