Friday, 31 October 2008

Creation

The photo of the fawn asleep was just so beautiful that I had to try to draw it.

When I saw it, I immediately thought of the verse from Scripture where God says: "I will hold you in the palm of my hand" and so that is what I named the drawing. It is kind of a long name but, to me, it really fits perfectly.


This image truly makes me feel comforted.


Then, I had come across this photo in an advertisement about being "Green" and it also made me think of creation. So, I decided to draw it as well.

I call it "I AM the Creator" since I believe that through God all things came into being (see the Gospel of St. John, chapter 1) and another name for God is "I AM".


Of course, those of you who have been companions of my blog for some time will probably also remember that I love to try to draw hands. They are so difficult to draw and yet so appealing at the same time.

This final drawing doesn't show hands, but the next best thing: paws!



The title of this drawing is: "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep...Sleep...Sleep" which, as many of you know, is the beginning of the traditional children's prayer with the word "sleep" repeated because this is a cat praying -- and all cat lovers know that cats love to sleep and then sleep some more. The actual prayer goes:

Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake; I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen

Not exactly the happiest prayer to teach children, but it still remains a favourite of mine.


So, as we come to the end of October, 2008, I wish you all a blessed night.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

A Wedding


Well, here is another Rosary "icon".

This drawing depicts the event known as the "Wedding at Cana" and is the second of the 5 Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

The story behind this drawing comes from the Gospel according to St. John. We are told that Jesus and his disciples attended a wedding held in the village of Cana. His mother was also there so the marriage was likely a family affair.

During the wedding reception, possibly due to the arrival of Jesus and all his disciples, the wine steward noticed that they were about to run out of wine. This would have been a catastrophe in that culture and cause great humiliation and loss of honour to the bride and groom.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, learned of the situation and came and told her son. He answered her strangely by saying "what is that to you and me -- my time has not yet come." Whatever Jesus meant by this statement is left unexplained for Mary turned immediately to the servants and said "Do whatever He tells you".


Isn't that a beautiful message. The Church teaches that Mary will always point us to her Son and tell us to "do whatever He tells you to do."

Anyway, Jesus told the servants to fill all the water jars to the brim with water. Then he told them to remove a pitcher full and take it to the head table. When the water was poured, it had turned into wine -- and not just any old wine for the one who tasted it first turned to the groom and said in amazement: "Normally the best wine is served first so after people have had a few glasses they don't notice the poorer quality wine, but you have saved the best wine until last!"


At the top of the icon are the words "Cana" followed by the Greek word for wedding or wedding feast.


Plus, I thought I would post a drawing I did a few months ago and which I never got around to showing you.

As you may recall, I did a drawing of three swans previously which is why I have named this drawing "Three More Swans" I amaze myself with my cleverness sometimes!!


May you have a restful night and a peaceful day tomorrow.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Flowers and Bears

More flowers!

I keep telling myself that I am going to give plants and flowers a rest for a while, but then I see a new photo and I just can't resist.


This drawing is named "Yellow" because both the roses and calla lilies are various shades of that colour. Wow! I am so clever at giving names to my drawings!

Tonight, however, you not only get flowers -- you get another old favourite: bears.


Here are some young Pandas freely frolicking (sorry, I couldn't resist) while in the background is their favourite food: bamboo leaves and shoots.

I call this drawing "The Panda Tree".

Next, is a drawing of (don't groan) polar bears.


As you know, I keep trying to draw these beautiful bears (I know they can be a nuisance up north, but they are still beautiful). One of these days I am going to finally do a really decent drawing of them -- at least that is what I keep telling myself.

This one is entitled "Mama Bear"


I am continuing to work on a new icon -- another one in my Rosary series. I spent many, many hours, alone and in silence, working on it over the weekend. I only went out to go to Mass on Sunday. It is amazing how totally absorbed I can become in this kind of art work. I am sure the subject matter has something to do with it.


May peace be with you all.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

The 4th Sorrowful Mystery

Here is my most recent drawing -- a depiction of Christ on his way to be crucified. The "carrying of the cross" is the 4th mystery of the five sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary.

As you probably know, after Christ was beaten with whips and crowned with thorns, he was told to pick up his cross and carry it to the top of a hill where the Romans crucified their prisoners.

Jesus tried 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.

So, although this mystery is normally called "Christ carries his cross", I have given it a Greek title which is supposed to say "Christ's Cross". I did this, obviously, because I show Simon carrying the cross and not Jesus.

I purposely used very striking colours for the rocks as I wanted to try to show that even the earth seemed to be sweating blood at this horrible event unfolding.

The two figures you see at the top of the rocks represent Mary, the Mother of Jesus while next to her is the only male disciple who never ran away after the arrest of Jesus -- St. John. Then there are two Roman soldiers and behind them, two angry onlookers who are ready to kill Jesus themselves if the Romans don't do it. Remember, many of the people who had hoped Jesus was the Jewish Messiah were angry and disappointed because Christ had not called forth an army of angels and driven the Romans out of their land.

I hope I have been able to portray some of the tragedy of this event.



Now I want to show you a photograph I came across recently.

This scene (which did not scan very well) was taken by my friend, Dennis Adams. He is an extremely talented photographer and this was on the cover of his Christmas card several years ago. It is entitled "Winter Morning" and I hope my finding it among my treasures recently is not an omen as to the kind of winter we are going to have!




May peace be with you all.




Thursday, 23 October 2008

Flowers and Birthdays

Here are some more flowers I have drawn recently. This first one is entitled "Another Purple Orchid" (that's because I named a drawing back in 2006 "Purple Orchid").

This time I decided to do something extra with it. This is something I often do with my drawings when I want to use them for greeting cards of one kind or another.


As you can see, I used the flower drawing and added a couple of wine glasses and a birthday card -- like a table decorated by a husband before his wife gets home from work on her 30th birthday, for example. The card standing on the "table" puts the words "happy birthday" on the front of the card in an unusual and interesting way.

This is the great thing about drawing on the computer -- I can make a copy of the original drawing and then add whatever I want to without disturbing the original.




The final drawing I want to show you is named "Christian Lilies"! Bet you didn't know that flowers can be Christians. Well, really they can't, but the name comes from the fact that the drawing in the frame is of a little boy named Christian and the flowers are lilies -- so I thought it would be cute to call the drawing Christian Lilies. You can see that I am as clever with titles as usual!

Anyway, this is a type of still life and I am actually thinking about using the drawing as the cover for the birthday card I will be giving to Christian's grandmother next year.

I guess I am very aware of greeting cards as I just completed a large order for Christmas cards. It is difficult to believe that we are only two months away. Where has the year gone?


May peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Finding

Here is another icon in my Rosary series.

This one portrays the fifth mystery of the five Joyful Mysteries: the finding of the child Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem.

The story goes that when Jesus, Mary and Joseph went up from Nazareth to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with all their relatives and friends, Jesus, age 12, was very interested in listening to the discussions among the various teachers in the Temple.

In fact, he was so interested that when Mary and Joseph and all the relatives left to return home, Jesus somehow slipped away and stayed behind in the Temple so that he could participate in the ongoing discussions about the faith and traditions of his people.

It wasn't until the end of the first day's travel that Mary and Joseph discovered that Jesus was not with any of the relatives. Distressed, they immediately returned to Jerusalem in order to search for him -- both along the road and in the city, itself.

For three days they searched for him and finally returned to the Temple in desperation. Here they found him sitting among the teachers and scholars who were amazed at his knowledge and understanding.

His parents, greatly perplexed, asked him, "Son, how could you do this to us -- did you not know we would be distressed and frightened?"

Jesus replied, "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business in my Father's House?"

I have often wondered what Mary and Joseph must have thought about such an answer after all they had been through! Anyway, the Scripture tells us that Jesus went with them and they all returned to Nazareth where Jesus was obedient to them and grew in knowledge and wisdom.

In the icon, you see the 12-year-old Jesus seated on the "teacher's throne" while the learned men sit at his feet. Mary and Joseph are looking over the wall in amazement. The Greek word at the top of the icon means "Finding". The open book that Jesus is holding has the words "My Father's house" written on the page -- a fragment of his answer to Mary and Joseph.


I hope all my Ontario readers are keeping warm tonight and that you have managed to stay out of the snow just north of the City of Toronto. I heard that last year on this date the high in Toronto was 26 degrees Celsius! What a difference a year makes.


Anyway, whatever the weather, may peace fill your heart.


Sunday, 19 October 2008

More Beasties

Well, I have been trying my hand at drawing some more four-footed beasties recently.

This first one reminds me of something I used to see occasionally when I was a youngster: poor farmers or sharecroppers taking their bit of cotton to the local cotton gin. In fact, I call this drawing "On the Road to the Cotton Gin".


Of course, it was usually a wagon pulled by a mule and in later years, pulled by a tractor but this little guy caught my fancy -- especially with the tuft of hair sticking up in the middle of his head!


This next drawing of two foxes playing reminds me of those wonderful days I have mentioned before that I spent in Renfrew County, Ontario. I call this one "Foxes at Play".

There were always foxes around and if we were there at the right time of year, I would sometimes catch a glimpse of the young ones running and playing with each other. As soon as they caught my scent, of course, they quickly disappeared, but if the wind was right, I might have a longer time to watch them at play.

This final drawing tonight is of Mountain Goats -- mother and child, obviously. I have named this one "Mountain Mama".


I have never seen Mountain Goats although I have always wanted to. I have watched many a National Geographic episode which has shown them jumping and leaping up or down the side of a mountain.

It looks as though it would be so exciting to jump from one tiny ledge to another, but for them that is just a normal, everyday experience.

There are so many things that other creatures can do that seem so wonderful to us earthbound humans: the soaring flight of a bird, the diving and swimming of dolphins, the running and leaping of impalas, monkeys swinging through the highest treetops.

What an incredible planet we live on. I pray to God that we don't destroy it in our greed.


May peace be with all creation.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Come, Holy One

I am posting early Friday afternoon as I am going out this evening and by the time I get back home, I know I will be too tired to write anything. So, as promised, here is another in my series of "Rosary icons".

How I wish my image didn't have to be so small on this blog -- but that is just the way it is. Hopefully you will be able to see enough of the detail so that my comments make sense.


This icon, by the way, is of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Blessed Mother and the Apostles at Pentecost. What we Christian call the Holy Spirit is actually more like the breath of God although this aspect of God is very difficult to describe. The important thing to remember is that Christians believe in one God with three unique "aspects": Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This is the third "mystery" of the five Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

The story behind this icon says that Jesus had told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem after His death and resurrection "until the coming of the Holy Spirit". So, at Pentecost, as the apostles and Blessed Mary were gathered together in the Upper Room (the place where Jesus had His last meal with his apostles before the crucifixion) suddenly a great wind began to blow and as the apostles looked at each other, they saw something like flames of fire over their heads. Suddenly, they felt impelled to proclaim the good news about Jesus. Up until that time, they had been afraid to say or do anything to bring attention to themselves for fear that they, too, would be crucified. Now they begin to preach and rejoice loudly, drawing large crowds. St. Peter gave his first sermon (so far as we know) and not only could everyone understand what he was saying even though there were people of all nationalities present, but over 3,000 of those listening asked to be allowed to become followers of Jesus the Messiah.

In the icon, you see Blessed Mary seated at the centre. On each side of her there are six apostles (one had already been selected to fill the space left by Judas Iscariot). Next to her, you see St. Peter on her right and St. John on her left.

At the very base of the icon, there is what appears to be a very old man. He represents the world. In his hands is a white cloth holding 12 scrolls -- one for each of the apostle. He is dressed like a king.

The word written at the top of the icon is Pentecost in Greek. Pentecost is celebrated by Christians 50 days after Easter (pente = five). This was a Jewish festival at the time -- a harvest festival celebrated 50 days after the 2nd day of Passover.

The blue symbol at the top represents the Holy Spirit and the clouds with lines represent the wind which blew at the descent of the Spirit on the Blessed Mother and the Apostles.

Hope you found this interesting and enjoyed looking at the icon. I am off now to get ready for my evening's activities.

Peace be with you all.


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Cultivated and Wild

More flowers!

This first drawing is of a cultivated flower by the name of "Foxglove". I am not sure why it ended up with that name, but it is also the name I chose to use for the drawing itself!

It is such an interesting looking flower -- it almost looks like a horn of plenty filled with jewels.


This next drawing is of a well-know wildflower -- the Cardinal Flower. I am calling my drawing "The Cardinal".

In the months of July, August and September, you can see this brilliant scarlet flower growing all over the northeast near stream banks and damp areas.

Interestingly, the Cardinal Flower is a member of the Bluebell Family!


This final drawing for tonight is another wildflower -- the Canada Violet.


There are several details in this drawing that I would like to point out: first, there is the little green worm resting on the leaf; then there is the actual flower from the front; behind that are the backs of three petals of another Canada Violet. You see, the back of each white flower petal has a purple tinge!

I really like the Latin name for this lovely, little flower: Viola canadensis.


Now it is back to work on the "Rosary" icon I have been working on for some time now. I have finally finished another one in the Rosary series which I will probably be showing you on Friday.

Peace be with you all.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Resurrection Details!

As most people know, the Christian faith teaches that on the third day after dying on the cross, Jesus rose from the dead. In fact, you have seen my icon of the Resurrection.

However, tonight I want to show you two additional icons I finished a few weeks ago depicting events that occurred after the the actual Resurrection.

In this first icon, entitled "Myrrh-Bearing Women", I am showing what is supposed to have happened when the empty tomb was first discovered.


Since Jesus died on Friday and had to be placed in His tomb quickly prior to the beginning of the Sabbath, the women had not had time to place myrrh around the body -- which was the Jewish custom at that time. So, they waited until the "first day of the week", early in the morning, and hurried to the tomb. There main concern was who was going to roll the heavy stone away from the entrance for them.

The arrived to find the stone rolled away, the sepulcher empty and angels sitting there. The guards were asleep or had fled. The women were frightened but asked the angel what had happened and where was their Lord. The angel told them that Jesus was not there, He had risen. One of these women was St. Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus had cast out seven devils.


This next icon represents one of the tenderest moments in the entire Resurrection story.

We are told that after everyone had come and gone, including some of the apostles, St. Mary Magdalene stayed behind, weeping. Through her tears she sees a figure standing nearby. Thinking it must be the gardener, she asks him if he knows where they have taken the body of her Lord. Christ then speaks her name: "Mary". Instantly she knows it is Jesus and she cries out "Rabbouni (which means Teacher)". Christ then tells her not to try to hold onto Him as He had not yet ascended to the Father. The Greek title of the icon reads, in English, "Don't touch Me."


Neither of these icons are part of my "Rosary Series", but my heart was attracted to them nonetheless. Almost every icon I have done has been drawn because I was somehow very attracted to that event and its related image at a particular time.


Peace be with you all.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Drawing Horses


I love trying to draw horses -- partly because I am so fond of horses and partly because they are such a challenge for me to draw. You would think I would be getting better at it after all these years of trying, however....

This first drawing is simply entitled "Full Gallop" and reminds me of how I used to ride my horse, Skipper, along those Alabama logging roads around our property. All it would have taken would have been a hole in the road for both of us to have had a serious tumble -- but I couldn't resist -- there is nothing like the feeling of riding a powerful horse at full gallop with the wind in your hair and the sound of those pounding hooves in your ears.


This second drawing is simply entitled "3 Horses" even though one of them is a colt!

I am really not very pleased with this one as, to me, the adult horses don't look quite right -- a bit misshapen, I think.

They remind me of a story I read once about a lady visiting a family who lived on a horse farm. She was playing with the children and she suggested that they get out the crayons and draw pictures. When they asked her what they should draw, she suggested that they draw horses. She thought this would be fun for the youngsters and secretly she felt she could draw a pretty good horse.

When she finished her drawing and showed it to the children, one of the younger ones said something like: "I thought we were supposed to draw horses and you have drawn a goat, I think"!!

With a very deflated ego, she looked at the children's perfectly drawn horses and had to admit that by comparison, her "horse" really looked very unlike the real thing.

She decided that since their knowledge of horses came from working with them every day, they intuitively understood how all the parts fitted together. She then went on and applied this lesson to other areas of our lives. However, I have always remembered the story about the horses and I think about it every time I try to draw one myself.



Peace be with you all.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Wildflowers2

I have been drawing some more wildflowers.

This first one is called "Fringed Polygala" and in the wild is really quite beautiful -- especially when you come upon it unexpectedly in the deep woods.


This plant is also known as "Gaywings" and "Flowering Wintergreen" (not because it tastes like wintergreen but because of the shape of its broad leaves).



This next flower the the "Yellow Lady's-Slipper".

Those strange-looking, twisted things in the back are actually petals and there can be up to four of them per flower. The Lady's-Slipper plants (there are a number of variations) are actually members of the Orchid family. These yellow ones tend to grow in cool areas close to bogs or swamps.


I do have a real fondness for wildflowers as I have mentioned previously. There was a period in my life when I was able to spend many summer months wandering the woods of central Ontario identifying wildflowers as well as identifying birds and snakes. What happy days those were for me.


Well, enough of that... I feel myself wanting to get back to work on my latest icon. This is of Pentecost and I still have six more apostles to go before I can start to complete all the background details. It is such a satisfying type of artistic effort for me and I am so grateful that I can do it.

Peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Twelve Angels

Here is a new icon of Our Lady, the Child Jesus and twelve angels. My title is "Our Lady, Queen of Angels".

I don't know how many of my readers are familiar with the "mysteries" of the Rosary, but for those of you who aren't, I will just mention that the fifth Glorious Mystery is concerned with the crowning of Our Lady in Heaven as Queen.


The reason I am so conscious of the Rosary tonight is that today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

There are actually 20 "mysteries" of the Rosary and it seems, as a friend pointed out to me recently, that I am in the process of drawing icons of all 20! I think I have about 7 or 8 more to go before I will have completed them all.

I love the prayers of the Rosary so I guess it is not surprising that I would subconsciously end up choosing to draw icons that are associated with those prayers.

So, having pointed that out, I think I will now get back to working on the next icon!

Peace be with you all.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Christmas and other stuff

This is my final Christmas card image for this year and is entitled: "Dear Carrot".

I really thought I had already posted it, but now I think not. However, I am so befuddled these days for various reasons that if I have posted it previously, you will just have to bear with me!


Anyway, this card plus the three Baby Jesus icons I showed you previously, are my offerings for Christmas 2008.

As far as the "other stuff" mentioned in my title, I have been thinking a lot about wolves lately. Yes, wolves.

When I was still in university back in 1970-71, I worked for a wonderful man, a professor of Zoology by the name of Dr. Douglas Pimlott. Dr. Pimlott has since died, but his specialty was the study of wolves and I learned so much from being his secretary and working with his graduate students.

By the way, 1970 was over 10 years since I had graduated from high school; however, I did my university degree by working and taking courses at the same time. As you can imagine, it took me a bit longer this way!

Anyway, back to the wolves. Dr. Pimlott taught me to appreciate them as fellow creatures on the planet and to stop thinking of them in "little red riding hood" terms.

Following are some photos of wolves:



A young adult looking magnificent.

Howling in delight!

A family member guarding the den.



A wolf cub.


Now, here is the reason I have been thinking about wolves so much lately. This lady evidently likes to shoot them from a helicopter with a high-powered rifle. I just don't understand her thinking.



Personally, I consider myself to be pro-life -- for all living things, however.
Whenever mankind's greed causes Nature to get out of balance, our attempts at trying to put things back in balance never seem to work. And even worse, what we usually do in these efforts is cruel and causes us to stop seeing other living things with any compassion.
For me, I believe that all living things -- from the smallest cell to the largest accumulation of cells -- struggle to stay alive just as much as I do. So, I had better have a mighty good reason for killing them -- and greed is definitely not a good enough reason.
May peace be with all creation.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Another Story

Here is a recent icon representing the story Christ told which we have come to call "The Good Samaritan".

As you can see, I did not try to figure out what the title might be in Greek -- I figured I wouldn't be able to find the word "Samaritan" in any English-Greek Dictionary!

Anyway, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan one day when some of the teachers had asked him to explain "who is my neighbour?" (the Jewish law said that each person was to love their neighbour as themselves).

Jesus begin to tell them a story. He described a Jewish man travelling down from Jerusalem to Jericho -- a road that even today goes through a very barren and desolate section of the country.

Suddenly, bandits swarmed around the man, taking his possessions (including his clothing), beating him severely and leaving him for dead by the side of the road.

After a while, along came another man from Jerusalem travelling down to Jericho who, for his own reasons, decided he couldn't be bothered with helping the poor man -- it looked as though he was already dead anyway. So he passed him by.

Afer a bit more time had passed, along comes another man, a devout person, who did not seek to help the wounded man as he would have been religiously defiled had he touched someone bloody and dirty. So he passed him by as well.

Then along comes a Samaritan. Now the people listening to Jesus looked with contempt upon their neighbours known as Samaritans -- they would not think of helping them nor would they expect them to help a Jewish person.

However, in this story, the Samaritan dismounts from his horse, sees that the man is still alive and proceeds to clean and bandage his wounds. He then puts the wounded man on his horse and takes him to a nearby inn and gets him a room so that he can rest and recover.

The next morning, he pays the inn keeper for both his room and the room of the man from the road. As he prepares to leave, he tells the inn keeper that when he next passes that way, he will pay for whatever food and lodging the wounded man required before being well enough to continue with his journey.

Jesus then asked those who had questioned him: "Of the three, which one loved his neighbour as himself?"

The answer was obvious -- to them and to us.


In this icon, the Samaritan has been drawn to resemble Christ Jesus, himself, as he clearly demonstrates for us how to truly love our neighbours.

Peace be with you all.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Wildflowers1

I have been looking through my old Field Guide to Wildflowers recently and came across some of my favourite wildflowers which I decided to draw.

I am not certain that I have ever seen Trumpet Vine flowers (see above) as colourful as these, but I am sure it is all right for me to take a bit of "artistic license" when selecting my palette colours!

These flowers are also known as Trumpet Creeper and they have a close relative called Cross-Vine with very similar flowers but with slightly different leaves.


This next wildflower is a lifelong favourite of mine -- Columbine.

It is such a thrill to come upon them growing in the woods on a rocky hillside. The colour and design are both startling and beautiful.


Interestingly, they are members of the Buttercup Family!



I used to spend many long summer hours looking for unusual wildflowers. It was easy to combine that interest with another interest: looking for snakes, frogs and toads!

Now that I can no longer go walking through the woods, I can still draw wildflowers and remember.

Peace be with you.