Spiraling Out of Control

Maybe I’m addled from drawing too many spirals but this is starting to look like a face to me. I’m calling her Ermintrude.😀 spirals

Gradual Illumination

Here’s the latest update to my Tree of Life design:


I’ve tidied up the sketch a little, and continued with the illumination on the “G”.  I’ve left the bottom spiral in an intermediate state so that you can see how the design evolves.  It doesn’t just pop out of my head and onto the screen.  I have to keep changing it and tweaking it.  I’m still using George Bain’s book for inspiration but now I’m also using Aidan Meehan’s book on illuminated letters.

If you’re wondering why these letters seem to be tipping up to the right, it’s not a mistake.  The old manuscripts that I’m trying to emulate, like the Book of Kells, often have the first few letters of a passage illuminated in decreasing order of size.  However, the rest of the letters in my sketch in the previous post are tipping up to the right, by mistake.  It often happens to my writing if I don’t follow guidelines.  I will have to remember to draw guidelines on the sketch before I finalise the rest of the writing.

Tree of Life – Sketch

Today is the day Catholics celebrate the cross with a Feast that used to be called Rood Mass.  One reason we celebrate the cross is because it demonstrates God’s great love for us.  As Saint Catherine of Siena says:

Nails were not enough to hold the God-Man nailed and fastened on the Cross, had not love held Him there.

Or, as John’s gospel says:


This is the sketch I made for my Tree of Life drawing that I mentioned in an earlier post. The body of Christ is traced from a photo of a crucifix.  That’s why it looks better than the rest of the sketch. 🙂

Getting Knotted #2

(For #1 click here.)

This post was inspired by a wonderful lady called Myra who started a blog to showcase her mother’s amazingly realistic crochet flowers.  I mentioned to her that I used to do macramé so she suggested I try Chinese knotting by following this video:

So I grabbed the first thick yarn I could find…  String vest cotton leftover from my dear nan‘s hoard. 😀


It wasn’t ideal but I had a go…

But I couldn’t stop there.  It’s just too much fun, and there are loads of knotting videos on YouTube.  Besides, I’d always wanted to know how to tie a monkey’s fist knot, so I went on a knotting binge.  Here’s another video I used, this time in English:

The string vest cotton wasn’t working out too well (although it would make a lovely soft vest – I’m almost tempted to make one).  So I scrounged around and found an old cord off a blind…

Thank you Myra, I had great fun! 😀

Key Pattern and Bees

First the bees.  Please could you take a minute or two to help keep a bee-killing insecticide out of Ireland?  Here is a link to the petition.  Thanks in advance to all those who take the time to sign it. 😀

I’ve got two art projects queued up at the moment.  I plan to do a painting based on the Holy Face drawing I did recently.  The other project is a digital drawing which I’m calling the Tree of Life.  These are both intricate works which will take a long time to finish.  For that reason I’m going to share progress reports as I go along rather than waiting to show you the finished pieces.

So far, all I’ve done for the painting is to set up a drawing board to prop the painting up.  I’m going to be painting on an MDF board that I prepared last year (or maybe even the year before that, I can’t remember) with several layers of (sanded-down) gesso.  I’ve never used this kind of surface before so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

I’ve done quite a few embarrassingly crude pencil sketches for my Tree of Life design.  Here is the first tiny piece that I’ve polished up in the digital version.  It is a panel inside one of the first of the illuminated letters I’m going to use.

The hard part was the grid, shown in green in the left-hand image.  It took me four tries to get it right.  It’s based on a design in George Bain’s book on Celtic Art that I mentioned in a previous post.  His design is in turn based on what he calls a key pattern found on a Pictish cross-slab called the Nigg Stone.  According to Bain:

The evidences available [Bain is writing in the 1950’s] show that the key patterns of Britain and Ireland arrived many centuries before the Romans, and that the peoples who brought them made contacts in their migrations with the tribes that later became the makers of the Greek Empire.

P.S. There’s a scheduled power outage in our area today so I won’t be able to reply to comments until the evening.


I wasn’t going to do any more purely Catholic posts but I just read something that made me feel like sharing the following quote.

“There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church….As a matter of fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do.”

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen – in preface to Radio Replies

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen 1956

I used to hate the Catholic Church.  Well, maybe dislike would be a better word because I didn’t really pay the matter enough attention to get really worked up about it.  I believed all the anti-Catholic propaganda that I had absorbed through everyday life.  I didn’t care enough to question whether it was true.  Many, many people live like that.  I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to begin to care enough to discover my mistake.  I pray that all of you that think badly of the Church get the same sort of opportunity.

Painted Prosthetic Project

I LOVE this artist. I’m reblogging her post in case any of you can help support the “Painted Prosthetics Project” that she is taking part in. See the original post for more details.

busy mockingbird

What do I want to be when I grow up?  An artist?  Ahhhh, I would love to be able to sit around all day, painting whatever my heart desired, while sitting back and watching the money roll in.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  I have a day job, and thankfully it’s one I enjoy.  I’ve worked very hard to get to the day job I’ve always wanted, and worked a lot of cruddy jobs (truck driver, vending machine stocker, night shift newspaper printer, you name it) before this one.  Several years ago, my manager plucked me from a depressing job building small copy ads for a tiny black and white classifieds paper, and since then I’ve been SO grateful to be working for her, happily designing posters, flyers, and marketing material for army and family facilities on military posts, as well as any events that come through.  It’s an awesome…

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Antique Art

Antique” is a term commonly used to refer to objects that are more than 100 years old.  My local church was built in 1888 so the windows and decorations are antique under this definition.  I want to share a couple more pictures of this art.  The stained glass window of the Archangel Raphael is currently my favourite window.  To find out why St. Raphael is shown holding a fish you need to read the Book of Tobit.  In this book of the bible, St. Raphael helps a bedevilled woman called Sarah by defeating Asmodeus, the demon of lust.


The mosaic is on the floor of the side chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The lilies represent Our Lady’s purity, and the crown represents her reign as Queen of Heaven.  The meaning of the motto is “Hail Mary, full of grace” and provides a (perhaps rather tenuous) link with the video I share at the end of this post. avemaria

Art History Resource

Here is a great resource provided by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York – MetPublications.  There are pdfs of more than four hundred of their Art History books available for free download.  I’ve just downloaded one that is out of print,”The Arts of Byzantium”, and the pictures look great.  (I haven’t had time to read it yet.)

Back to the Art

Given that my blog has a new flavour, I wanted to draw a new background for it.  I produced a Celtic version of images that are important to me.  The Holy Face is represented with a consecrated host, i.e. the Blessed Sacrament in which Jesus Christ is present under the appearance of bread.  These two images appear on a Catholic medal associated with devotion to the Holy Face.

There is a link between the Holy Face and consecrated bread that goes all the way back through Old Testament times.  The Bread of the Presence, or the Bread of the Face, is first mentioned in the Bible when, during the exodus from Egypt, God instructs Moses on how He is to be worshipped.  In the time of Jesus it was the custom for Jewish men to visit the temple in Jerusalem three times a year for the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.  On these occasions the Temple priests would bring out the Bread of the Presence and raise it up for the men to see it.  In this way they fulfilled the instructions in the Book of Exodus: “three times a year shall all your males see the face of the Lord”.  For more on this see Chapter 5 of Brant Pitre’s book called “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist”.


The letters “IHS” are a Christogram.  I used to think they stood for “In His Service” but they are actually the English versions of the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek.  The bar over the ‘h’ is meant to indicate an abbreviation.

The spiral designs were inspired by George Bain‘s book on “Celtic Art – The Methods of Construction”.  The book was first published in 1951 but it is still in print and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this art form.  My copy was given to me by a dear old neighbour of mine in Wales, on a trip back home a few years ago.  I was admiring the love spoons my neighbour had carved for his wife, now sadly deceased, and we began discussing our mutual interest in Celtic art.  Unfortunately, he is losing his eyesight so he is not able to do any more carving, and he passed the book on to me so that I could make use of it.  I’m very grateful, it is a beautiful book.