Saturday, 28 February 2009
Actually, I almost did not get this posting in before the month of February ended!!
I happened to take a glance at the TV channel EWTN earlier this evening just when a movie was beginning. Normally, I am not much of a movie watcher; however, this one was a French film with subtitles about one of my favourite saints and so I was immediately hooked.
By the time it ended and I was thinking about going to bed, it suddenly dawned on me that I had not posted in my blog tonight as planned. So this will be brief.
The drawing at the beginning -- of a bridge over a frozen stream -- is called "Reconciliation". I am not sure why I called it that -- maybe because a bridge is something that brings two sides together. The photo that inspired the sketch was in a calendar and it appealed to me because it was unusual looking.
This second drawing is from some magazine I was glancing through. I decided to name it "A Snowy Birthday Party". Those sticks in the mound of snow between the child and the snow-person are supposed to represent birthday candles and the mound of snow represents the cake. There are six pretend candles in the pretend cake!
Here is hoping that March will be less snowy than February and that spring will arrive early for once up here in the frozen north. Meanwhile, I hope everyone is someplace warm tonight.
By the way, I still haven't received any comments about the drawings on which I requested your opinions. Please give it a try.
Wishing you all a peaceful night.
Thursday, 26 February 2009
The one above is called wild "Blue Flax". My favourite parts of this plant are the buds and the stems. The green is an unusual one and the flower buds are more indigo than blue.
This next wildflower is called "Birdsfoot Violet" Don't ask me why it has that name because I don't know. Maybe one of the readers who is a more serious naturalist than I am will know. Or, maybe even Wikipedia will be able to tell us although that might be just a bit too arcane for them! Anyway, if you find out, please let me know.
The sorrowful part of tonight's title is this icon of the 4th sorrowful mystery -- "Jesus carries His cross".
This is my revised version of the icon in preparation for putting the Rosary icons together in a book. When I saw this one printed for the first time recently, I immediately noticed several things that needed fixing or correcting.
I have now made the corrections and if you are interested in seeing if you can detect them, you will have to go back a few months to the last time I posted this icon and then compare the two. I know that certain of my viewers enjoy doing this sort of thing!
This icon turns out to be an interesting one for me to be posting tonight as the Gospel for today's Mass was the account of Jesus telling his disciples that anyone who wants to follow him must "take up their cross daily". In this icon we see Jesus carrying His cross while each one of us have our own crosses to carry each day.
One of my upcoming crosses is the dental surgery I will be having on March 3rd. So, if you don't see a posting from me on March 4th, you will know that I am still somewhat dopey from the pain medication! Don't worry as I am sure I will be back by the 6th.
I haven't gotten any comments on the previous revised icon I posted (The Agony in the Garden). Please, if you have an opinion, let me know what it is. Thanks.
Peace be with you all.
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, however. For all those Christians who observe Lent, it is a time of extra prayer, fasting and alms-giving as we prepare for the coming of Easter.
And since I and many others throughout the world are setting off on the journey towards Easter tomorrow, I thought it would be appropriate to post a recent drawing of a butterfly (this drawing was inspired by another photograph taken by my friend, Michael). As most of you know, the butterfly is often used as a symbol of Easter and the Resurrection.
Just like the caterpillar, we go into the cocoon of Lenten barrenness and silence, waiting for that moment of re-birth. Just like the caterpillar who exits the cocoon as a beautiful butterfly, we exit the 40 days of Lent as the renewed sons and daughters of our Resurrected Lord -- bright with the light of His glory.
As strange as it may sound, Lent is my favourite time of the Christian year. In the Catholic Church (and no doubt other churches as well) during Lent we never use the word "Alleluia" in our prayers or music, we have no flowers on the altar and the organ plays only the most basic music during Mass.
The lack of the Alleluias is so striking when after 40 days you suddenly hear it sung out in the darkness as the midnight Mass of Easter begins: "Christ is risen, Alleluia! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!" Gradually the light from the new fire is passed from candle to candle, person to person until the church is filled with light and the Alleluias ring out again and again. Oh, how I love waiting those 40 days for that moment each year. First, of course, I have to get through these next 40 days!
Now leaving such a sublime subject, I want to get your opinion about another revised Rosary icon.
This, as is obvious, is the first Sorrowful Mystery known as "The Agony in the Garden". The version above is the newer version. In the original version (see below), I had used the three disciples from the Transfiguration icon for this icon as well.
In the Transfiguration icon, the three disciples are supposed to be struck down in fear and trembling. I had just tried to make them look a bit more like they might be sleeping than fearful but I was never satisfied. Look at the icon below to see what I mean.
Finally, I decided that I would try to draw them again really looking sleepy. I put them huddled together for warmth and looking drowsy -- in fact, St. Peter looks almost asleep although if you look closely his eyes are still open just a bit. I feel this is a more honest depiction of the event than the first effort.
What do you think? Which one do you prefer?
I pray that all you who observe Lent will have a Lent filled with blessings. To all of you, whatever your faith or lack of it, I wish you peace.
Sunday, 22 February 2009
The drawing above is simply called "Begonias" for obvious reasons. This drawing was inspired by an excellent photograph taken by my friend, Hylott, in Birmingham.
The photo was so well balanced that all I had to do was draw what I saw and this is how it ended up.
I tried a different style background -- let me know if you like it.
Then recently, I came across a photo of a Hibiscus blossom in an article on Arizona of all places (seems like Arizona is popping up in all sorts of ways in my life recently). Anyway, I took a lot of liberties with the photograph and this is what I ended up with.
As for a name for this drawing, in my usual clever fashion, I am calling it "Hibiscus Blossom". Sometimes I amaze myself with my ability to name things!!
Finally tonight, I am including the icon I did of "The Last Supper" or "The Institution of the Eucharist". You will notice that even the icon has a number of different pink shades in it as well.
I have been reworking many of the so-called Rosary icons in preparation for putting them together in a book format. I have already had some subscriptions for the book as soon as it is available, but before I do it, I want each icon to be as "perfect" as I can get it.
It is difficult to tell how effective the changes are at this small size, but in the book each icon should be at least 5 x 7 inches. I will tell you more about this project if you are interested.
May you all have a restful night and a peace-filled day tomorrow.
Friday, 20 February 2009
There are three men in my life at present who are all excellent photographers and who are freely sharing their photographs with me. There is my friend, Hylott (with his wife, Patsy, the gardener), in Birmingham, Alabama and my friends, Glen and Michael, both in Toronto.
The drawing above comes from a photograph taken by Michael in his garden . It's an Arizona Blanket Flower which I have named "Sunburst". I am not sure if it is so colourful in real life; however, the light in the photo taken by Michael made it look that way to me. You can count on seeing more drawings from Michael's photos in the future.
Next, I want to show you what can happen when people do make helpful comments about my drawings. The statement below came from a much longer email from my friend, Eugene, and really got me to thinking about the icon I showed you back on Feb. 16th. The photo, taken by my friend, Glen, and the paragraph below from Eugene, go together.
Photo by Glen Keay
"Now, a word about the painting itself: I really think it is too dark. The purplish-blue of the water would contrast more with the boat, if it were lighter - perhaps more greens. As well the sky (although I know you want it to look "stormy") is too dark. Many years ago, Glen took a picture of a stormy ocean at Bonita Beach on the gulf coast of Florida, which I am going to try and send you by way of attachment - which is something like I am thinking of." (from Eugene's email of Feb. 19)
So, here you see the revised version of "Be Not Afraid" which, according to Eugene and Glen, is much more effective than the original. What do you think?
This is exactly why I am always asking for input from my readers. You really don't have to be an artist to be able to say whether you like something or dislike something and why!
The last item is another posting by me about one of my major concerns these days: letting the war resisters stay in Canada. As an American who came to this country with a "war resister" back in the late 1960's, I want everyone to have the right to stay here and prosper as I did.
If you are able to attend, please do so. The war resisters, just like the U.S. president, "love this country" and they didn't come just to visit, they want to put down roots here.
May peace be with you all.
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
These are Althea blossoms so I call the piece "A Trinity of Althea".
I wish I could have seen these flowers "in person" before drawing them as the variation in colours was mostly a guess on my part as I did not know what was real and what was the colour balance of the camera. Hopefully I was able to leave you, the viewer, with a true sense of their beauty.
This second drawing is just a simple scene of a fisherman at that moment before his net hits the water. Poised and balanced on the edge of the boat, he has to be ready for anything from an empty net to a huge haul of fish.
I named the drawing "Just like Peter" because it made me think of the story of St. Peter and the night he and Andrew threw their net in over and over and caught nothing. Then Jesus came along and after talking to the crowds for a time from Peter's boat, he told Peter to cast out aways and throw in his net for a catch.
Peter said they had fished all night and caught nothing, but that if Jesus said to do it, he, Peter, would do whatever Jesus asked. So Peter rowed out just a bit and cast out his net one more time and within moments his net was so full of fish that he started yelling for his cousins, John and James to come and help before his net broke.
The net did not break and as the others arrived to help Peter turned to Jesus and fell on his knees, crying out: "depart from me for I am a sinful man". Jesus pulls him to his feet and says: "Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men."
All that from just one simple drawing.
The last item tonight may offend some of you. It is not a drawing of mine, but is an ad by Peta about Canada's annual seal hunt. I, personally, feel very strongly that there is no need for these young seals to be killed each year: No one needs their fur except the Native Peoples who live in that area who also eat the meat when they kill an animal. The seal hunters are just after the pelts and the meat rots on the snow. The fashionistas of the world can look elegant without killing wild animals and wearing their skins.
I have written to the government of Canada asking them to stop the hunts and pay the seal hunters the money they would make from a good year. They could also supply them with retraining programs so that in time they would have a new and better way to earn a living.
Maybe I am naive about all this, but I really don't think it is healthy for men and women to dull themselves to the fact that we live among all these creatures created by God and that even when we do have to kill for food and clothing, it should always be done with respect and gratitude. So goes my opinion anyway.
Well that is enough preaching from me for tonight.
May peace be yours.
Monday, 16 February 2009
I actually got the idea for this drawing from the work of an iconographer on one of the Franciscan web sites. I was attracted to the striking features of the icon and wanted to create my own version -- which I did.
What makes this icon so unusual, however, is the fact that Jesus is shown with his eyes shut. Well, you say, why wouldn't his eyes be shut, he is asleep after all. While that is very true, the tradition in iconography throughout the centuries has always been to never show anyone with their eyes completely closed unless they are dead!
I have broken this rule before in an icon I did of the sorrowful mother. In that icon, Blessed Mary has her eyes closed in sorrow as she holds the body of her son. Her son, on the other hand, has his eyes slightly opened the way that people often do shortly after death.
Now, as to the story of this icon. Those of you familiar with the Christian Bible know the story of how our Lord Jesus got into a boat one day with his disciples and said to them "let's go across to the other side of the lake" (this is Lake Tiberias or the Sea of Galilee). Then, while the apostles, who were experienced sailors, were looking after things, Jesus fell asleep. Suddenly a wind storm swept down across the lake (as still happens frequently) and the wind and the rain were causing the boat to take on water. Jesus meanwhile continued to sleep.
Peter, it is assumed, started shouting at the Lord, "Wake up, Master, we are perishing". Jesus awoke and gently rebuked the wind and the raging waves and all was suddenly very calm. He said to them: "Where is your faith? Don't be afraid." They were amazed and said to one another: "He can even command the winds and the waves and they obey him! Who can this be?"
My drawing only shows St. Peter and St. John in the boat with Jesus although in the Bible story, all the apostles were with Jesus. I did this for emphasis so I could show St. Peter in his position as leader of the apostles and St. John representing the fear of the apostles. I hope that fear is evident in the figure of St. John crouched down in the corner of the boat.
Since this is somewhat of an experimental icon, I would really appreciate any feedback you can give. I know some of you have told me "oh, I don't know anything about art or icons or stuff like that". However, you do know if you like something or not. Even if you say "I like the bright colours and swirls" or "I think the colours are too bright", etc., all such remarks help me to get a better idea of how a drawing is perceived -- and believe it or not, that helps me.
Peace be with you all.
Saturday, 14 February 2009
My friend, Eugene and his good friend, picked me up about 11:30 a.m. and off we went to Eugene's place. I had wanted to see his apartment for some time because he has a number of my icons he has purchased over the past few years hanging on his walls.
As well, he was preparing lunch for the three of us and he has a reputation as a very good cook. Also, since he is also clever with the computer, he had prepared a menu for us. The picture above with its heading was printed on quality paper and followed by the "menu".
Here is the menu.
Look at all those delicious foods! The rice dish was something new Eugene had tried and it was absolutely delicious. In fact, the whole meal was better than many restaurants to which I have been.
One of the items left off the menu were triangles of Pita bread with a dipping sauce of Balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil next to each plate. Very nice touch.
Before eating, we sat in the living room and visited while consuming various beverages and delicious appetizers (see menu above).
Then we moved to the dining area where we ate and talked and ate and talked for quite some time
After we finished the meal, we retired to the living room again, this time for desert and cappuccinos.
The funniest part of the "menu" that Eugene had given each one of us was the photo on the back. (see below). It was totally unexpected after all the seriousness of the previous pages and I let out a real hoot when I saw it
I asked to meet the chef, but Eugene claimed that he had already done his work and left. I don't know if I believe him or not since this type of chef usually eats everything in the kitchen prior to leaving and we had plenty of food!
After some more time of visiting (one of my favourite things), Eugene and his friend drove me home. As I sit here writing this, I am still feeling very full and satisfied from the gift of a lovely St. Valentine's Day.
One thing you may not realize is that I was finally able to go and visit Eugene because I can now, for the first time in 10 years, go places without using my wheelchair! I have to use a rollator/walker, but it can easily be folded and put in the trunk while I, with a bit of help, can now get in and out of cars once again.
How can I not be grateful with so many wonderful things happening to me?!
Wishing you all a peaceful and happy evening.
Thursday, 12 February 2009
You may not realize this, but I have still not completely made up my mind regarding my 20 Rosary icons. The one of the Visitation above is an example.
So then I tried a new approach. I came across a drawing where the Blessed Mother and her cousin Elizabeth appeared very large with no real background -- I decided to add the traditional background. At first I thought that I had found the drawing that I wanted, but over time it, too, begin to bother me --
I now felt the figures were too large.
I began to work on this icon again a few weeks ago and finally came up with the design that you see at the top of this column. Once again I feel better about the finished results although it is quite possible I will change my mind again!!
The image at the beginning of this post has three door-shaped rings around Blessed Mary and Elizabeth as though they are standing in a doorway, greeting one another with great love and joy. Elizabeth's clothing is supposed to represent the fact that she and her baby in her womb are both filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment Mary with Jesus in her womb embrace them.
Also by making the figures a bit smaller, the background images seem a bit more natural in relation. The Greek word at the top stands for Visitation while the names of St. Elizabeth and the Blessed Virgin Mary are in Greek at their sides.
As always, I would appreciate your thoughts on this. With this many changes over a number of months, I am beginning to lose any objectivity I might have had in the beginning.
I hope everyone is doing OK and enjoying the warmer weather we have been having.
Peace be with you.
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
This first drawing I am just calling "Shamrock". This is because I am unsure of the name of the flower and since it has leaves that look like Shamrock leaves -- well, you understand.
The flowers are so beautiful and seem to grow in mass profusion. If any of you recognize this flower, please let me know so that I can give the poor things their proper name.
This next drawing reminds me of a woodland scene in the early morning before the fog has burned away. I think it would be lovely to be walking through the wet grass early on a summer morning and stumble across something as beautiful as this flower.
This flower, by the way, has two names! It is called by some the Balloon Flower and by others the Chinese Bell Flower. I actually prefer "Chinese Bell Flower" which is what I am calling this drawing.
The final drawing tonight is my rendition of a Gerbera Daisy. There were two photos I worked from -- one pinkish and one sort of orange. I chose to emphasize the pink, making it brighter than natural. I got the idea for the black background from a poster I saw with a single flower on a black background.
It looks to me like one of those prints you could have enlarged and framed if you had something like a metal and glass, very modern decor. So far I have only had three of my drawings printed large for framing since most people are more interested in buying icons or greeting cards. Two of these large prints were of flowers and one was a portrait done on request.
Well, I can see that I have started to ramble here -- it must be the fact that I am feeling very tired tonight and have another busy day tomorrow. I hope you all enjoyed tonight's flower show.
Peace be with you.
Sunday, 8 February 2009
Originally, I wasn't sure which major event in the life of St. Peter I was going to emphasize with this particular icon. I thought about making it the scene where Our Lord Jesus says to Peter: "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
This is the passage, of course, that Catholics use to explain why St. Peter and his elected successors are the head of the church.
After some consideration, however, I decided to make the icon about that moment on the beach in St. John's gospel where Christ asks Peter three times if he loves him -- in a way helping St. Peter make amends for the three times he had denied Jesus on the night Our Lord was arrested.
So the icon shows the two of them standing on the shore while the other disciples are a distance away and as Peter assures Jesus that he loves him after each of the three questions, Our Lord replies: "Feed My Sheep (and my lambs)" He appears to be giving Peter, in spite of his sinfulness, the place of the chief shepherd of the flock -- the position that Jesus held while on earth.
I tried to make St. Peter look just a little bit uncomfortable -- I hope it worked. As always, I would appreciate any comments or suggestions you folks might have about ways to improve the drawing.
This next drawing came from a resort brochure. I added some things and moved some things about, but basically, the colours are similar. The colours, of course, drew me to the photo in the first place.
I thought about calling it "Street of Colour", but then I thought that perhaps "Siesta" might be a better name as that is what it makes me think of . It may not be great art, but it surely was a lot of fun to draw and colour -- almost like a colouring book!
I just finished a book last night entitled: "Against Medical Advice". It is really a well-done, true account of a young man growing up with a dual-diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The book has a reasonably happy ending, but I can't stop thinking about the story and the people I know with Tourette's and/or OCD -- both sources of such overpowering compulsions. If you are interested, the book is well worth reading.
Wishing you all a peaceful night.
Friday, 6 February 2009
This symbolism of broken things often revealing hidden beauty can be applied especially to human beings and their search for spiritual meaning and growth. Many years ago as I begin to try to truly submit my will to God, I wrote a song. These comments of mine tonight have brought some of the words to mind. What I remember of it goes like this:
May peace be with you all.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
From the earliest writings of the Church Fathers (and Mothers), there have been references to the love of the heart of Jesus and resting in the heart of Jesus. By the 12th Century, the devotion to the wound in the side of Christ was well developed and gave rise to such statements as "let me hide in your sacred wound, O Lord". This eventually led to the idea that the spear pierced the heart of Christ so that all his blood was poured out for us. All of these developments brought the Church ever closer to the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The visions of St. Margaret Mary closer to our own time were just the culmination of all that had gone before. It was her visions, however, that gave us the image that we, today, know as The Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Monday, 2 February 2009
Today is the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple also know as Candlemas also known as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the left is my icon representing that event.
"According to the Mosaic law a mother who had given birth to a man-child was considered unclean for seven days; moreover she was to remain three and thirty days "in the blood of her purification". When the time (forty days) was over the mother was to "bring to the temple a lamb for a holocaust and a young pigeon or turtle dove for sin"; if she was not able to offer a lamb, she was to take two turtle doves or two pigeons; the priest prayed for her and so she was cleansed. (Leviticus 12:2-8)
Forty days after the birth of Christ, Mary complied with this precept of the law, she redeemed her first-born from the temple (Numbers 18:15), and was purified by the prayer of Simeon the just, in the presence of Anna the prophetess (Luke 2:22 sqq.). This event, the first solemn introduction of Christ into the house of God, came to be known as Candlemas"** as it was the Mass at which all the candles were blessed for the church year. This practice developed in the early church because Christ, the Light of the World, entered the Temple for the first time 40 days after Christmas. Christ the Light coming to the Temple equals candles representing Christ the Light being blessed on this day.
Now, before I get to the flowers I had planned to post tonight, I wanted to mention a question I got in an email about the recent post of the Prodigal Son. The questioner wanted to know "what is the significance of the ring placed on the prodigal son's finger by his father?"
I haven't actually researched it, but from what I know of such matters, I would say that the ring symbolized that he was fully a son once again with the authority and power of his Father. Throughout history there has often been a ring that went with the office of leader. To this very day, the Popes wear a special ring which indicates the power of their office. You will often see people genuflecting and kissing the Holy Father's ring when they first meet him. This behaviour is also seen in the Orthodox churches.
Now to some of my recent flower sketches...
Here is a Magnolia Blossom. This sketch was done using one of the beautiful photographs sent to me by my friend, Hylott.
You may notice that the edges of the petals are not as smooth as they should be -- Magnolia petals are soft and smooth. I guess I need to let everyone know that the shakiness in my hands has increased a great deal lately and it does affect my drawing ability. I am not sure why this is happening, but am hopeful that it is only a temporary occurrence. The shaky lines are evident in all the new work I have been doing recently.
The different areas in the centre look like they have little fringes sticking out all around. To draw such things, my hands would have to be a lot steadier than they are these days! Oh, well, hopefully I have given the idea of how they look with the variety of colours used.
I didn't realize that this was going to end up being such a long posting. Hope you enjoy it.
Peace be with you all.
**Taken from the Catholic Encyclopeadia