An artist in conversation with art history, and in love with the Source of all Beauty.


Oktoberfest Labels

It's that time of year again when my dear husband carefully prepares home-brewed beer in our garage in anticipation of the parish Oktoberfest.  I've designed a couple of new labels for the occasion, and he has high hopes for these two new batches:

For the first I re-did the old label and made it specifically for the Dunkelweizen which he's been refining for the past couple of years:

The second is for a roggenbier a medieval style of rye beer, which is much like a hefeweizen but using rye grain instead of wheat.  I thought to myself, what could be more suitably medieval than the Harvest of the Earth from Revelation 14 found in 12th century illuminated manuscripts?

Here's the one from Paris MS 403 which was my primary inspiration:

Here is my version, using Daniel Smith walnut ink:


Vestment Design

A while ago I had the great privilege of collaborating with Altarworthy Handmade Vestments to create a design for the back of a priest's chasuble.

Here was my original concept:

Here is the finished product, modified by Altarworthy and used on a real chasuble!

This is a close-up showing the metallic embroidery on the chalice and the red garnets which symbolize Christ's 5 wounds:

This is part of a vestment set for newly ordained Fr. James Mawdsley, FSSP. 

"O Holy Mother of God, pray for the priests your Son has chosen to serve the Church. Help them, by your intercession, to be holy, zealous, and chaste. Make them models of virtue in the service of God's people. Help them be pious in meditation, efficacious in preaching, and zealous in the daily offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Help them administer the Sacraments with love and joy. Amen."  -St. Charles Borromeo

New Book Cover: The Catholic Middle Ages

This summer I completed another book cover for Cruachan Hill Press. This one is for "The Catholic Middle Ages: Readings and Questions, A Primary Document Catholic Study Course" by Phillip Campbell. 

From the Cruachan Hill Press website:
"In The Catholic Middle Ages, Phillip Campbell uses the primary source method to walk students through the history of the medieval world. Beginning with the fall of the Roman Empire and moving up to the eve of the Reformation, The Catholic Middle Ages brings the persons and events of the medieval world to life with thirty-five primary source documents. Featuring the writings of saints, legal codes, eyewitness descriptions of battles, excerpts from period literature, and much more, The Catholic Middle Ages sourcebook immerses students in the life and thought of medieval Christendom to learn its history first hand from those who were there." 
Read more and order here...


Treasures of Heaven: Medieval Goldsmiths

This is a video produced by The British Museum which demonstrates the metalworking technique called repoussé.  Metal sheets are hammered into shape from behind to create the ornamentation found on medieval reliquaries.


Lindau Gospels Cover c.880 A.D.

While I'm on break from making art, I'll try to post some art history videos.  There are some interesting ones by Smarthistory which has partnered with Khan Academy to offer free art history courses online.

This video discusses the metal cover for the Lindau Gospels from the Carolingian period, the influence of Classical Roman art on early Medieval art, and the symbolism of the composition and jewels which allude to the book of Revelation:


Life of St. Columba

One last post before I take a long break.  Here is another book cover I designed for Cruachan Hill Press:

"The Life of St Columba As Told by St. Adomnan, edited with an introduction by Phillip Campbell. Famous hagiography of the great Irish St. Columba who founded the renowned abbey of Iona from which he brought Christianity to Scotland. Contains the complete biography of Adomnán (updated with historical footnotes), an appendix of all the hymns attributed to St. Columba, and a thirty page original introductory essay."


Nearly Completed: The Woman Clothed with the Sun

I can't seem to get a non-blurry photograph of this, but I'll post it anyway. Here is my painting of "The Woman Clothed with the Sun" from Revelation chapter 12. Happy Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe!  Once I finish the borders I'll take a better photo of the finished piece.

I've had to accept that the 3 required entries will not be complete in time for the Apocalypse Prize deadline.  Instead of being disappointed at not reaching my goal, I can be at peace because I know the circumstances are a blessing from God.  I'm very busy with the care of 3 small children, and I'm expecting a new little one to be born before the end of the year. Please pray for us for a safe and healthy delivery and recovery!


The Second Trumpet

I'm still putting the finishing touches on the first painting which will take a while longer. In the meantime, I have very limited time to work on the next 2 paintings in the series, so I've jumped into the drawing for the second one while I wait for the border of the first one to dry. Here is an angel (with no wings yet) who will be blowing one of the trumpets from Revelation Chapter 8:


All Hallows' Eve Shrine Template!

Some of my readers have asked me to draw a template for the All Hallow's Eve martyred saint shrines I created last year.  I quickly put this together while the baby was napping.  You'll still need to trace around the outside of your own box since cereal boxes vary between brands, but these are the essentials:

Please make sure to use LED electric tea light candles and not real ones, and have a Happy Halloween, Catholic style!



After transferring my drawing to the panel, I used burnt umber to define the values. Next will come the metal leaf and colors.


Transfer Drawing

I managed to cobble together a mock-up drawing and transfer it to my panel board which I had already painted a neutral color.

Here I'm nearly done tracing it with a blue ball-point pen so I can tell which parts of the drawing I've already gone over.

I used white Saral brand transfer paper between the drawing and the panel board. I don't know what it's made of, but it doesn't make the surface dirty with hard to cover-up graphite (which I learned the hard way last time).

It's a little hard to see with the glare but here's the finished drawing. Next I'll do the under-painting with burnt umber to establish the light and dark values.


The Woman Clothed with the Sun

I'm continuing to post my figure study drawings for my work-in-progress based on Revelation chapter 12. What does the Woman clothed with the Sun represent?  From the Douay-Rheims commentary:

"[1] A woman: The church of God. It may also, by allusion, be applied to our blessed Lady. The church is clothed with the sun, that is, with Christ: she hath the moon, that is, the changeable things of the world, under her feet: and the twelve stars with which she is crowned, are the twelve apostles: she is in labour and pain, whilst she brings forth her children, and Christ in them, in the midst of afflictions and persecutions."

Thankfully I have access to a baby (my son, A), and a pregnant friend who patiently allowed me to put a sheet and a tablecloth around her for a photo.  This isn't a likeness, but a good compromise between realism and the stylized woman and child from the Douce Apocalypse.  I'm convinced the artist dressed a model in robes and observed the fabric folds carefully in the same way:


Angel Study #3

This is the third angel in the piece.  I didn't give him a shield because he'll be in the background.

A bit of self-critique:  This is an example of why not to draw from photographs if you don't have's difficult to get the proportions right when you're fighting against the lens distortion.  This angel is little stocky with a long arm. On the plus side, I'm getting better at handling the drapery, working from large forms down to smaller forms and letting the folds assist the sense of movement.  I managed to get a good contrapasto (weight on one leg) pose out of the model which makes the drawing just the right amount of dynamic.


Angel Study #2

I'll have 3 angels total in the piece I'm currently working on.  There are many different styles of angels in all the Apocalypse manuscripts I've looked at, but I continue to like the look of the angel from the Annunciation in the Westminster Psalter with his Classical tunic and toga combined with what appears to be a Byzantine influenced way of modeling the figure and drapery:

Here's my second figure study. I haven't decided whether this one or the previous will be St. Michael standing at the front of the angel cluster:


Angel Study #1

I had some very kind assistants agree to pose for reference photos that I could use to base my figures on for my latest painting.  They won't bear a real likeness to the people I photographed...mostly I need help knowing what lots of folded and draped fabric looks like. You can't draw or paint anyone from the Bible without a lot of drapery, and I can always tell when drapery looks faked.

Here's my first angel study: