Saturday, April 30, 2011

now is the season of Easter

The events of last week were very powerful.
 I have posted about the work that I did for the Great Vigil of Easter, the 40 foot tall Icon/Banner and the beautiful service we had until almost midnight.

I am going to tell about a moment that happened while I was painting during a very long intense week.
The banner is heavy canvas, 16 feet wide and 40 feet high. The only space we could use for painting in the last week, (we had to move it a couple of times) was the warehouse storage room belonging to the organization, World Relief.
World Relief has many offices all over the country but the one in our town is primarily focused on receiving and settling refugees and immigrants. Recently I have heard that they are helping a lot of Iraqi war refugees. Many of course, are widows and orphans. I had an encounter with a lady who was one of these recent arrivals and spoke no English but communicated with me in a moving way.

As I was on my knees painting away in the middle of the day, a woman dressed in long black robes, with her head also covered in black approached me. She spoke to me and it sounded like a question, so I answered that this giant painting was for the Easter service. She responded with the one word "Easter!" then she began to pray, with her hands upraised in the Orans posture.
She walked to the center front of the canvas as it was spread out on the floor and prayed for a long time, tears streaming down her face.  She continued to walk all around and repeated praying at four more spots. Finally, I put my brush down, (I had been painting all this time, not sure what to do) I approached her with my hand outstretched. She grabbed me in a huge hug, kissed me many times and repeated something that sounded like gratitude.
All I can think, is that she surmised that I was working on a giant Icon (why not, everything in America is big) . And as an Iraqi Christian, she was honoring the image in a traditional way.
Needless to say, covered with kisses and tears, I was  touched to the heart. I believe my work was really Blessed that day.
So we went from this, the photos above, to this below, the Saturday night service with full choir and orchestra and a resounding  Alleluia.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Christ is Risen. He is risen indeed.

This enormous icon/banner was viewed by many people over the weekend. Yes, I cringed when it went up, it is my "artist" thing to feel poorly about images that I have made.
That is not the important thing, Christ risen in reality is most important.
I have some stories to tell about the last week of painting. I will post more of them.
The Altar Cloth shown here is the part I most enjoy at this time. I painted it almost at the last minute. (another long story, involving a trip to the emergency room, mid-painting, with a family member, and everyone is fine now thank you). It is the Tree of Life with nine fruits of the Spirit. Gold, white, green and red on appliqued fabric.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The enormous mural of Christ Resurrected is finally finished. I have been giving up all my spare time to this project. Will I cringe when this is displayed at the Great Alleluia? I hope not, but I am too close to the project at this time. I will need some distance, some time away from it. 
Here it is still out on the floor , 40 feet tall and 16 feet wide. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

thoughts about color

Showing here (left) one of my color sketches when we still thought Christ should be white and gold.

This image (right) was our inspiration.
 Matthias Grunewald's painting of The Christ Resurrected (Isenheim Altarpiece).

This is my absolutely favorite icon image, Christ the Pantocrator from St. Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai. It is the oldest known icon of Christ, encaustic on panel.  This is reported to be from the early 6th century and the lifelike qualities and realism of the expression are amazing.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

process of icon study

As you can see the process is overwhelming! We had quite a debate about the skin tones of the Christ image.
At first we had the idea that His skin would be shining white and golden, as glorious as possible. But after some applications of an ivory base color I began to think, that this would inevitably look like a caucasian Christ and I want to avoid that stereotype.  I went back to the study I had been doing for all the weeks of Lent of traditional Orthodox Icon painting.
The skin tones of Christ and Saints are a base of an olive/ochre  darkish color. On top of that usually deep reddish shadows and some warm yellow and finally descriptive white highlights added to bring out a glow. In these photos above, you can see I am laying/scumbling in a greenish/yellow ochre color. I have been studying my icon books for days now thinking about where to go next with the colors.

Here is a more traditional  Christ the Pantocrator icon image. (not my work) Artist unknown.

messing around with my blog

I am tinkering with my blog design. It seems more complicated than it should. I am intending to add some pages of art that I will group into common subjects as I have posted on them. And I am playing around with various headers to add some punch to the page. So, this one?

Or, this one?
How about the one I already inserted into the design above? I am using that one in my website already.
I am not happy with the design yet, I will have to mess around some more.

Opening of the Wired Artists Show

The Wired Artists Show opened on Friday night at William Jessup University in Rocklin, California. I wish very much that I could have been there. Frank Ordaz , a wonderfully talented painter and illustrator himself, organized this show and thoughtfully sent me this photo of my art hanging for visitors to see. So there it is!
I am waiting to see more pictures of the opening night and of the artists who were present. It is quite an honor.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

oh, my knees are sore

From the very first day of gridding out this huge banner I have been injured. The skin on both my knees is raw. So I wear bandaids, athletic bandage wrapped over that, then rubber knee pads such as tile setters use.
And I am still very sore every day! It is all for a good cause and I am enjoying the process.

Friday, April 15, 2011

out and about and away from the studio

I have hardly been home, and even less in my studio for the past four weeks.
I went to France for ten days with the high school student group (post my sketches from that trip later). Immediately after arriving back, I went into hyperdrive painting a huge banner for Easter services at our church. The painting is taking up all my time now, it is interesting and satisfying. I am working with several artists on this, surprisingly it has been great collaboration on the images. Here I am  contemplating my drawing of a massive figure of Jesus Christ resurrected in glory. The banner is forty feet high and 16 feet wide. I am working from a gridded drawing to get the figure laid out. Christ's face is three and half feet high, his nose is a foot long. It is hard to get a perspective view of it. My friend, who took the photo, was on top of a ladder.

Friday, April 8, 2011

publicity for the Wired Artists show

The other participating artists are so outstanding in the quality of their work that I am awed to be included in this. I feel quite inspired by this opportunity to work harder this year.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wired Artists art show

I am invited to display my work in an art show in California. My blogging acquaintance, Frank Ordaz, (with whom I also share alumnus status from the Art Center College in Pasadena), has most generously reached out to his internet connections and proposed a show made up of blogging artists that he knows.
The show titled "Wired Artists" will be exhibited at William Jessup University Library in Rocklin, California from April 15 through May 12.
I will post more about this, I am thrilled to be a part of it.
I am sending a large painting, titled "Angel Wings".
 acrylic on canvas, 48"x48".

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The studio of Paul Cezanne, Aix-en-Provence

I am back from the thrilling trip to France. And what a privilege it was.
A highlight of the journey was our visit to Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.
We visited the studio of Paul Cezanne, and then attended a workshop and lecture about the artist and his working methods. I was very interested in the lecture and then how the students would be instructed about painting in the style of Cezanne. We were all given a small canvas, some oil pastels, and a paper plate with acrylic blobs of red, yellow, blue, and white. I had tried to prepare our students beforehand about the importance of mixing secondary colors from the primaries and adding a touch of the color wheel opposites to those colors to make muted shades. Nevertheless, they were all worried about failure too soon. At the end, it seemed that all had enjoyed the experience, even those that had said they did not like art.
Above is my copy of a Cezanne landscape on the canvas provided at the workshop, produced with primary colors and in an hour's time!
After the tour we drove past the real mountain scene that Cezanne had painted many times in his life.
Below is the real Cezanne painting, and a quote that I found by him.
"May I repeat what I told you here: treat nature by means of the cylinder, the sphere, the cone, everything brought into proper perspective so that each side of an object or a plane is directed towards a central point. Lines parallel to the horizon give breadth... lines perpendicular to this horizon give depth. But nature for us men is more depth than surface, whence the need to introduce into our light vibrations, represented by the reds and yellows, a sufficient amount of blueness to give the feel of air." 
Paul C├ęzanne to Emile Bernard, 15 april 1904 

Road Before the Mountains, Montagne Sainte-Victoire 
Paul Cezanne 1900