Behold, Your Mother
watercolor, paper, acrylic & gold leaf on oak panel, 2017
16 1/2" x 14"
I created this piece shortly after I learned the Indian Moghul minature painting technique. I combined the knowledge I gained in that training with my love of Japanese style to paint Mother Mary as I often imagine her.
Why do I sometimes imagine this ancient Jewish woman as Japanese? I think because I am taken with the Japanese appreciation of Beauty & perfection, and Mary is the pinnacle of created Beauty, as well as a gift to all the world, to all cultures and peoples.
When Christ looked down from the cross and said to St. John, "Behold, your Mother" He gave her to all of us, to intercede for us. She is all the goodness of maternity, and I see myself as a small child, running behind her, coming to take her hand so that she may joyfully lead me closer to her Son.
acrylic, India Ink and gold leaf on four cradled wood panels, 2017
10" x 10"
This piece was done on commission as a mock-up for a larger version. I took the Pieta by William Adolphe Bouguereau and amended it, removing the background characters, deepening the contrast of light and darkness, and placing Jesus and Mary against a very dark background on which Scripture is written in tiny script. I also changed the face of Mary. Inspired again by my love of Asian art and the idea of Mary as a gift to all, the face was modeled in part on the face of a Japanese empress.
Watercolor and ink on Papyrus, 2018
8 3/4" x 13 1/2"
I love learning about the styles and techniques of other ages and cultures and employing them to create original pieces. After studying Egyptian art, I drew on ancient images of Hathor and Isis to paint Mary, the woman "clothed by the sun" from Revelation 12. Rather than wearing the cobra crown of these pagan goddesses, she crushes the cobra underfoot. She is crowned by 12 stars, with the moon under her feet, and she is heavy with child. Mary holds the cross of St. Mark, Apostle to Egypt, and a lily symbolizing her purity.
As in Egyptian art and iconography, various elements of a story are related in the same picture, despite happening at different times chronologically. Satan comes to Mary as the seven-headed dragon with ten crowns, with his heads modeled after Set, the Egyptian god of death and destruction. His tail sweeps a third of the stars out of the heavens; two thirds remain. Satan is spewing a flood of water to destroy the woman, and it is vile as it comes out of his mouth; it passes through the Cross, is purified, and the earth, represented as the seat of the woman, swallows up the flood to protect her. The woman is given the wings of an eagle to escape the dragon, and her Son rules as the rod of iron in the heavens, here a combination of the the staff of Moses and a bishop's crossier. "Mother Mary" is written in hieroglyphics inside a cartouche - the oval shaped rope that is reserved for the names of royalty.
1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne...
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him...
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
acrylic on oak panel, 2018
22" x 23"
When I began this piece in 2017, I felt surrounded by the ravening lions & wild oxen. I completed it in 2018, depending on the strength of God to rescue me.
I was inspired by Indian geometric design and the rich imagery of the Psalm, as well as iconographic dictates. In iconography, the images must be representational and symbolic rather than realistic in order to convey a spiritual truth rather than an earthly one. In this vein, the lions and the bulls of Bashan are stylized, and the swords are woven into the detail of the henna-style design. In the center, the peacock, age-old symbol of immortality, guidance, protection, & watchfulness, here reflects the strength and dominion of our rescuing God and stands as a bulwark against the attack. The red roses symbolize power and courage; the yellow roses, joy.
Several verses from the Psalm, highlighted below, are written in Hebrew around the corners of the frame.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you[f] I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
egg tempera, watercolor, acrylic, 24k gold leaf, rubbing & etching on clayboard, 2018
24" x 30"
In this Sacred Heart, you can also see the light of the Divine Mercy coming from the heart of Jesus. The outer garment of Christ is in an iconographic style, but modeled on a Medieval Chinese robe. The face of Christ is modeled on that of a dear friend of my youth who I always thought looked like Jesus.
The prayer around the halo is the first part of the Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: "O most holy heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer you this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, Good Jesus, that I may live in you" followed by a quote from Margaret Mary Alacoque: "I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of God."
the parting of the red sea
acrylic on canvas, 2018
2.5 ' x 4.5'
I love the Japanese artist, Hokusai. Everyone knows his most famous woodcut, Great Wave Off of Kanagawa, and you can see that I borrowed it for this scene from Exodus. Here Moses holds up his rod and God miraculously parts the Red Sea, allowing his people to escape the pursuing Egyptain army and find their way (slowly but surely) to freedom in the Promise Land.
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
“I will sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.
2 “The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.
5 The deep waters have covered them;
they sank to the depths like a stone...
8 By the blast of your nostrils
the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood up like a wall;
the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 The enemy boasted,
'...I will draw my sword
and my hand will destroy them.’
10 But you blew with your breath,
and the sea covered them.They sank like lead in the mighty waters.
11 Who among the gods
is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
12 “You stretch out your right hand,
and the earth swallows your enemies.
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
seven cranes standing
acrylic & watercolor & gold Leaf on 3 wood panels, 2019
8" x 24"
Cranes have long been symbolic of happiness, youth, good fortune and longevity.
The number 7, regarded as the perfect number, represents happiness, renewal, and wisdom.