Thursday, 28 February 2008

Theotokos


"Our Lady, Theotokos, of the Universe (and of the Sign)".


This is my most recent icon. I started it on Tuesday of this week and reached the first draft stage today!


This is the wonderful thing that can happen when an idea really catches hold of your imagination.


For me this happened when two pieces of information came together at the right time and in the right way.



First, I had been looking quite a bit lately at a particular type of icon of our Blessed Mother known as "The Sign".



Here is a modern example.


It is usually called "Theotokos" which means "Mother of God" in Greek. Actually, it means even more than that but that is sufficient for now.

The Christ Child you see in the circle represents Jesus in her womb.

This image is supposed to have appeared miraculously at different times during different conflicts as a "Sign" that Our Lady was interceding for those in distress and that she obviously had the ear of her Son since she is His very Mother!

As I said, I had been considering drawing my version of this icon, but just couldn't seem to get myself sufficiently motivated.

Then, I happened to get a book from the library entitled GREEN SISTERS : A Spiritual Ecology by Sarah McFarland Taylor.

Green sisters are environmentally active Catholic nuns who are working to heal the earth as they cultivate new forms of religious culture.


One of these Green Sisters by the name of Bernadette Bostwick has "written" an icon called "Mary of the Cosmos" which you see here in black and white.

I found a small photo on the web of this icon in colour, but you can see the detail better, I think, in the black and white.


At any rate, the concept of this icon combined with the traditional "Sign" icon seemed to inspire me to create my own version of Mother of God/Mother of the Universe.


If you glance back at my icon at the beginning of this post, you will see that while I included the kingly child in the womb of Mary, I also included a background made up of a star chart from our part of the universe.


For whatever reasons, I find myself deeply moved by this icon. If you have any reactions -- good or bad -- or any suggestions for improvement, please feel free to contact me at my email address.


Oh, yes, for anyone who may be interested, my Clivia is just about to bloom again and it looks like there might be as many as 12 blossoms!



Peace and blessings to you all.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Thinking Trees Again


Do you remember this drawing?
It is one I did early last year entitled:
"She Takes a Moment's Rest".
The original photo that I worked from was taken in Burundi and what attracted me in the first place was the tree!
I continue to get a lot of pleasure and peaceful feelings when I spend time gazing upon this scene.
This next item is a drawing I added to my collection about 3 1/2 years ago. I have always admired oriental brushwork -- both art and calligraphy. And all my regular readers know how I feel about trees!


I remember how impressed I was when I saw this drawing in a pile of cards that were free for the taking.
It gave me such pleasure to look at it and to think that with just a few brush strokes you could have a tree -- and not just any tree, but a tree that was almost like an ink blot in which you could see many different things.
For example, it could be a dead tree, but I saw it as a live tree in winter without it leaves.
As I sat and looked at it, I also managed to see a crucifix, a vulture, a man (or a woman) standing next to a dead tree by a stream of water. Strange what we can manage to see in just a few lines or brush strokes.
Try it and see what you find. If you want to let me know, feel free, as always to write me at sallie@ican.net
This next item is one I received from a friend recently and it has a special meaning for me. It is at a place called Wormsloe State Park just outside of Savannah, Georgia, USA. It is the roadway that once led into one of those grand, old southern plantations -- places that looked so beautiful on the outside but on the inside were so full of human misery. If only these trees could talk, think of the stories they could tell.


Anyway, the reason why this spot is so special to me is because it was one of the places I visited with my sister, Betty, and her husband, B.K, about 15 years ago. They have both since died -- in fact, we are coming up to the first anniversary of my sister's death on March 6th.

Receiving this photograph at this time is what I call a blessing.


May you all be blessed with peace and joy.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Silly Sally

One of the names I was frequently called in elementary and high school was "silly sally". I really did not appreciate it and there are probably a number of men who, to this very day, have scars on their shins which they got as youngsters by not running quickly enough after calling me "silly sally"

The reason I am thinking of this is because of the drawing at the top of the page. I have entitled it: "Boys are so silly". This young man is trying to impress the girl by scaring her with his fearsome snake!


It reminds me of the Jerry Seinfeld routine where he talks about how the best most men have come up with so far is to honk their horn when they see a pretty girl and whistle. He says: They are really surprised when she is not impressed!




This next drawing is the first draft of a Chimpanzee. I still have more work to do on it but I wanted to share it with you tonight.

I am thinking of calling it "Do Chimps Feel Sadness Too -- As We Do?"

You can tell that I have gotten another mailing from the Jane Goodall Foundation as the stuff they send always includes some beautiful photos of Chimpanzees.

There are photos as well of ones that you can adopt and send money for their care each month. I guess they have special needs.

If I had an unlimited amount of money, I would first adopt all the needy children in the world and save all the unborn babies -- then I would adopt all the needy animals and rescue the habitat of all the other creatures like snakes and frogs and salamanders. And then...

Ah, well, even with all the money in the world, I still couldn't rescue the world from itself. People would end up calling me "silly sally" once again and they would be right. So, instead, I will do what I can with what I have and say "thanks be to God" for giving me a heart that cares.



May peace be with you all.


Friday, 22 February 2008

A Quiet, Snowy Friday

I came across something last night that I did several years ago. The graphic was done by someone else, but I had pasted it on a sheet of paper and underneath I had written the following:

"A weeping willow at the water's edge. I love the look of willows, the sounds they make when a breeze blows through them in summer, the way the low-hanging leaves tickle your face when you walk beneath them. I don't recall ever seeing a weeping willow, except in photos and drawings, until I came to Canada ... and I really didn't get well acquainted with them until I moved to the Monastery situated on the Niagara Parkway. So many memories..."

With these cold, snowy days plus another big snow storm expected this coming Tuesday, I felt this was a nice reflection to share with you.

As for my art work --

I just finished a quick drawing of kitty cats which must mean that I have also been working on another icon! Correct.This drawing of the two very young kittens is called "Catch the Tail"! Any of you who have spent time around cats -- young or old -- know how they love to try to catch their own tails or the tails of other cats in the vicinity.

I love the way the white one is having to look over his little, fat, baby belly in order to see that black, wiggly thing on the floor!


Here, then, is the latest icon I have been working on which has reached its first draft stage and is ready for its first showing.


This particular icon -- another in the style I have done previously -- is usually called, in English, "Blessed Mother, Sweet Kissing".

Simply by posting it here, I already see several small corrections I want to make. As always, I would really appreciate any comments or suggestions from my faithful readers.



Wishing you all much joy and many blessings.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Lunar Eclipse





According to some of our friendly scientists, the total lunar eclipse we are expecting this evening may be as red or orange as the basketball is in my drawing above! I understand that this will be caused by filtered light. I hope you get to see it. Supposedly, the conditions for viewing are almost perfect here in Ontario.








The next total lunar eclipse will not occur until December, 2010 -- on my sister's birthday. I do hope the atmosphere will still be in good enough shape for us to see it!





The above drawing, by the way, is entitled "The Basketball Player".









These next drawings are placed together for obvious reasons. I want to make a statement with them.





I have been doing so many icons lately -- because I love both the detailed work involved and the subject matter -- but then I came across a photo on the weekend of a middle-eastern mother with a sick and dying child. I was struck by the icon-like position that she and the child were in as the photo was taken.

























































I'm not really sure of the point I am trying to make here -- it is more just a feeling of saying something by putting the two drawings together.


It's like with the drawing I did of the starving child in Darfur. Not only is his body disappearing from hunger, but the colours I've used are almost fading into white. If his poor little body wasn't tied to the cross, he would float away. Every time some new media event comes along, the world seems to forget the starving children again: in Darfur, in Iraq, in Afghanistan... and the list just goes on and on.

And, after saying all that, I'm still not sure what I am trying to say!

Enough for tonight. I want to go out on my balcony and see if I can catch a glimpse of this eclipse.

May peace be with you all.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Family Day, the First



Today was our very first February 18th statutory holiday in Ontario by the name of "Family Day". To me, it still feels like I am playing dress-up in my mother's clothes -- you know, let's pretend. Maybe by next year it will feel really real!

At any rate, although we did have a few brief periods of sunshine, today, like most of the rest of February, was overcast.

I decided several days ago to do something about this lack of sunshine and begin a series of drawings in which the sun is always shining -- like this one.

It is entitled: "Boy and that Goat". The boy looks pretty happy about having his own goat; however, if you take a close look at the goat, you know you had better not trust that goat for even a second!

Look at those eyes. I have spent some time around goats and I know how they like to sneak up on you and either butt you unexpectedly or else start eating your shirt-tail before you even know what is happening!

I also decided in honour of Family Day, I would show you a photo of me with some of my "family". This photograph was taken back in 2006 at the wedding of the young couple shown. This same young couple came to visit me today just because it's Family Day! I am very blessed.

I am very fond of this photograph because you can see the Tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament in the background -- so I can truly say that Our Lord Jesus is in the picture with us!

I can already tell that because this Monday is a holiday, I am going to be confused for the rest of the week. All afternoon I have been thinking it is Sunday and having to remind myself that tomorrow is Tuesday not Monday. I would blame this on old age except I was this way even when I was young!

Wishing you all a joyful and happy whatever tomorrow is.

Peace.


Saturday, 16 February 2008

Good Shepherd



My heart is sad tonight.


Life has a way of taking relationships that you thought would be part of an indefinite future and just brushing them aside like a bit of snow on a winter's wind.


Leaving you feeling empty and sad as I do tonight. So, it seemed a good night to show you the latest icon I have been working on.


Although the colours are a bit unusual, the theme is very traditional: The Good Shepherd. As well, I think the Greek is pretty accurate.


Among the earliest representational images of Christ in the catacombs in Rome, is the well-known one of the boy shepherd.









Ever since the Gospels were spoken and then written in those first centuries, the descriptiion by Christ of himself as the Good Shepherd has been loved by His followers. It is such a comforting image.


Years ago, when I became a novice in the convent, I waited anxiously to hear what my new name would be. I was pretty sure it would be my baptismal name of "Sarah" which probably meant "Sr. Sarah Marie", but "Sr. Sarah Marie of What?".

On my clothing day when the name "Sr. Sarah Marie of the Good Shepherd" was read out, I sang a dozen silent Alleluias in gratitude. What a gift that was.


So, here is my first attempt at drawing an icon of the Good Shepherd and, as always, I would really appreciate any comments or suggestions on how I might improve it.
Peace be with you.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

St. Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

The above drawing is not one of mine but is a self-portrait by someone I consider to be a really good artist by the name of Duane O'Hagan. He has the great good fortune to live in one of the most beautiful spots on earth (in my opinion) -- New Mexico.

I think I may have mentioned his work previously, referring to special art work I have been fortunate enough to acquire. Anyway, if not, here is a photo of one of his creations similar to one I now have in my home. They are called "Spirit Birds" and all parts of them appear to be made from found wood.








There is something about the one I have that makes me so happy each time I see it. I have it placed near my entryway and whenever I come home and my eyes fall upon it, I smile -- no matter how tired or how much pain I am in. There is just something about the simplicity and beauty of it all.
Anyway, I have been hard at work on another icon so when I take breaks, as you now know, I tend to work on drawings that simply make me happy. This next one is such a drawing.
I got the idea for it from some photos sent to me by a dear friend who happens to have some of the world's most adorable grandchildren. I kid you not. Anyhow, a couple of them were taken to a Christmas party where this one was picked up by something that appears to me to be an alien being. I don't remember, but I suppose as children you like this sort of thing!
In the original photo, the child was also dressed in red and seemed almost as though he was being absorbed into the furry alien. That was just too scary for me so I took the liberty of changing the colours, but I did try to keep the expression on his face. I am calling it: "Nana, are you sure he is on our side?"
May St. Valentine pray for us all.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Good News at Last!

No, I am not expecting a baby! That would be more than good news -- that would be an out-and-out miracle!


The good news is that my mouth is finally healing properly. I saw the dentist today and he was pleased with my progress. I was even able to eat something other than mush for my evening meal. That was really nice. I still have some healing to do, but at least all the infection finally seems to be gone.


So, my good news has nothing directly to do with the drawing that I have posted.


It was inspired by a photograph I saw some weeks ago. It made me smile when I saw it then and it makes me smile when I see it now. The title I have given it is "Life (Did you feel the baby kick?)"


It seems that there are so many couples in my life right now who are either expecting or who have just had babies recently. My inbox has been full of email with baby picture attachments. They all make me so happy.


I love the details: such as the couple's discussion over the name, the first gifts of baby clothes, the first photos from the hospital. It is all so wonderful to me and I feel so privileged to be included in the process.


I often think of the saying from Christian scripture where Our Lord says: "I have come that they might have life and have it to the full". None of us deserve less than the fullness of life.


Peace be with you all.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Cold Wind A Blowin'


The wind has really been blowing outside my window today and I hear this has made for a very cold wind chill. I wanted very much to go outside when I saw the sun shining, but I knew it would not be wise. So, I spent another interesting day indoors.

Here is a recent drawing that seems to fit the weather. I have named it "Fire and Ice". Actually, the name comes from a lipstick I used to wear as a teenager.

Then I have another simple drawing that also relates to cold weather.

This is a Vancouver Island Marmot, known locally as a groundhog!

This is one of the many varieties of the little guys who supposedly predicted just recently that we would have an early spring!





Of course, their idea of an early spring is mid-March so I guess I really shouldn't be complaining because of continuing snow storms in the middle of Febuary.

Evidently, they have really been having bad snow squalls in the Barrie area and north. We are supposed to get more snow as the week progresses.

Unfortunately, even a little bit of snow seems to make Wheeltrans start running later than usual. Oh, well...


This final item is something I came across today as I was searching through some old papers of mine. It is a drawing of trees ( which, as you know, I am very fond of) and even had some text I had written underneath it.



So many years ago it was
That I walked each afternoon for 30 days...
Across the crunchy snow,
Under the Evergreens
Praying the Rosary...
I wonder where I would
have ended up had
I continued to walk that
tree-embraced Road?
Where did it lead?
_______________________
Peace and Blessings to you all.


Friday, 8 February 2008

Strange Combinations



















I have always been intrigued by the juxtaposition or combination of strange and unusual things. Which is what caused me to want to do this drawing, illustrating the friendship between a monkey and a sea bird. Not the kind of friendship you see every day!

I decided to name the drawing "It's Special to Have A Good Friend". As most of us have over the years, I, too, have found that your friends make all the difference.

Because of the problems I have continued to have this past week with my teeth, I have needed so much help and encouragement and, as always, my friends have been there for me. I am so grateful.

Now, from the sublime to the ridiculous (almost).

I received an email from a friend recently in which he included the following pictures showing the artistic efforts of a woman whose medium is marzipan.


Marzipan, as most of you know, is almond paste: a sweet paste made of ground almonds and sugar, often with egg whites or yolks, used as a layer in cakes or molded into ornamental shapes.

As you can see, especially in the second photo, this woman is truly talented. There were other photos which I did not include which showed actual decorative arrangements for cakes for -- baby showers, I guess.


Anyway, my question is: who on earth could eat one of these adorable creations?

I mean, really -- where would you start?

Nope, I think she should use a permanent medium. The combination of icing and babies is too strange a combination even for me!

________________________

Remember to tell all your friends how special they are.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Ash Wednesday




Being that it is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent and all, I was finally able to get myself to finish this drawing.



I had cut the photograph out of the newspaper almost two years ago. It had accompanied an article about the terrible conditions in one of the refugee camps in Darfur at that time. The child in the photograph was actually lying on the ground.



I could barely stand to look at the photo, much less draw it, but finally I started. Then, once I had the inspiration to put him on a cross, it seemed a bit easier to look at.



But it was never easy enough. So, it became a process of working on it for short periods and then not working on it for longer periods!



Today, with the heavy, wet snow outside (which is not really accessible for wheelchairs like mine) plus the fact that it was Ash Wednesday and I would not be able to go to Mass as I have every Ash Wednesday for years and years, I said: I will finish the drawing -- and I did.



I have named it "Crucifixion -- Darfur Style". If it affects you at all, I trust it will spur you to positive action and not be a source of bad dreams.




Blessings and peace to you all.


Monday, 4 February 2008

The Saga Continues




















Well, I had to go back on antibiotics today as I don't seem to be healing quite properly. Tomorrow I see the doctor again and will, hopefully, be told that I am healing all right but that it is just going to take a bit longer than expected.

Meanwhile, all this time at home has given me more opportunities to be creative. I saw a photo of a country church in the newspaper recently and it reminded me of all those churches that were part of the background scenery of the Alabama countryside where I grew up. I couldn't resist drawing a country church using elements from the photograph and elements from my memories.

I am sure you will all be surprised to learn that I have named this drawing "Country Church"! Clever as always, aren't I?


This next item is a new icon which I have been working on for several weeks now.


It probably looks familiar to you because it is in the same style as several I have done previously.


The Virgin of Mercy (Eleousa), a variant of the more ancient Hodegetria, expresses the intensity of the loving and affectionate relationship between the Mother and the Christ Child. Mary hugs Jesus close to her, their faces no longer frozen and frontal, but turned toward one another, cheeks touching as the son grabs her cloak." [from Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church by Alfredo Tradigo]


The most famous example of this icon is, of course, The Virgin of Vladimir by Rublev.


Well, that's enough lecturing tonight. I am tired. I guess all these pills can do that to you!



Peace be with you all.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Confusion




I spend so much time being confused these days all because of the pain medication that I am taking for my teeth.


I haven't been out since a brief trip to the coffee shop/Market on Thursday morning. And I keep falling asleep while I am doing various things -- all of which combines to leave me very confused.


Interestingly, I can stay awake for longer periods of time when I am working on a drawing, but even then I find myself slipping into that confused pre-sleep state while I continue to draw!


I have 4 drawings underway right now but have a hard time working consistently.

This is a picture of a Kikuyu boy in Kenya who had taken refuge in a monastery last week. Now the Kikuyus are, I understand, fighting back instead of hiding which means that even more people will die.


The photo shows the boy's eyes in bright light with the rest of him in dark shadow.
If I ever figure out a way to do extreme shadows properly, I will be able to draw him.

I am continuing to read "Illustrator for Dummies" but it is slow going -- especially these days.


May you all be well and at peace.