Here I have to share with you the beginnings of a project I have underway. This is my first venture into the subject of Madonna and Child. One of my ministries with LAMP is to go to a Good Counsel Home, a shelter for homeless pregnant women and their children. During my time spent there I have had some opportunities to draw the babies in the nursery. I figured that I could try to use some of these drawings of babies as references for the Christ Child as I develop a finished painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus. I was drawn to one drawing of a baby to work with as I saw how I could integrate the image in with a figure depicting Mary. To do this I made a make-shift mannequin out of blankets and had one of my housemates and fellow missionaries, Lynn, modeling as the Blessed Virgin Mary, hold the bundle oriented in such a way that matched up with the orientation of the baby in the drawing and drew her.
Then I took my drawing and photocopied it, from there with charcoal I
drew in the image of the baby over top of the copy- bringing the two
figures together. I sought to bring them together in a way that was
natural and organic. I also used my artistic license to lengthen the
hair on the figure of Mary. So at this point I had a drawing to work
off of to make a painting.
My next step in forwarding this project,
which I did today, was to practice painting off of one of my drawings as
a reference- a technique I haven't really worked with before. I started
making a paint study based off the image of the baby I'm working with
in this project. Today I just made the first layer in burnt sienna.
Next time I work on this I'll work over this first layer to build up a
As I delve into making sacred art, or art with explicitly religious imagery, I am seeking to integrate in my love of drawing people from life and capturing a likeness to my model. Also, I'm trying to educate myself in what would be a good balance between creating an image accurate to the model and subtle abstraction/ idealization of the image I'm developing. One theme I feel drawn to as I begin to make sacred art, a theme which has carried over from my previous work, is having different layers of meaning in my works of art. What I mean by this in this piece would be that this is an image of Lynn, my model, and the baby I drew and it is also an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Christ Child- and these two dimensions interpenetrate and inform each other. I see every woman as having an inherent link to Mary the "New Eve" and true model of authentic womanhood. As Mary, by her feminine gift, opened herself to receive within herself and bear forth divine life- in the flesh, all women have a call to receive and bring forth life- whether that life be physical or spiritual. The subject of Madonna and Child is an exploration of the mystery of motherhood. Lynn, my model in this piece, comes with me to Good Counsel and has a role of being -if not a physical mother- a spiritual mother to these children in her time spent with them and through her prayers. So she is particularly well suited for this subject. In this way is this painting an image of Lynn and the Good Counsel baby while at the same time being an image of Mary and the infant Jesus.