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


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:


Researching and Sketching

I've been scouring the internet for medieval manuscripts of the subject matter I'm going to paint for the Apocalypse Prize.  My first painting will be of the Woman Clothed with the Sun from Revelation chapter 12.  I want to include the battle between St. Michael and the Dragon as well.  Here are a few manuscripts that inspired me:

St. Michael and his angels battling the Dragon by Pacino de Buonaguida, Florence, 1340 A.D.

The Cloisters Apocalypse, Normandy, 1330 A.D.

The Woman Clothed with the Sun, Cloisters Apocalypse, Normandy, 1330 A.D.

The Woman Clothed with the Sun, MS Paris 403, France, 1250 A.D.

Next, the way I begin to sketch out the layout involves dividing up the plane using the armature of the rectangle.  Basically, connecting the midpoint of each side with the opposite corner gives you a framework for building a harmonious composition based on proportional intervals. See how I've use the intersections to determine where the image divides into thirds and quarters?

Since I make a lot of mistakes and erasures and I didn't want to lose my composition lines I decided to draw the rest on layers of tracing paper.  Here are the major divisions of the piece in terms of space...heaven, sky, earth, hell:

Next, the Woman, who simultaneously represents the prophecy from Genesis 3:15, The Blessed Virgin Mary giving Birth to Our Lord, and The Church giving life to the Christian soul:

Finally the angels and the seven-headed dragon:  The dragon pulls 1/3 of the stars from the heavens. Also, tucked into the upper left corner, the temple opened and the ark of the covenant revealed (From the last verse of Revelation 11) which I spotted in some of the manuscripts.  I'm thinking the dragon is a bit large, so I'll scale him down a little in the final piece.

 The next stage will be to take some photo references using models, work up some detailed sketches of the figures, and draw the layout to scale to be transferred onto the actual work surface.  Then I'll get to actually paint it!


A.R. Danziger on Pinterest

Hello Readers,

If you have a Pinterest account, you can follow my new "Apocalypse Manuscripts" board. I only have a few pins so far, but I will add more as I do more research for the pieces I plan to paint for the Apocalypse Prize art contest this year.

Since it's always so long between completed works, I thought this might be one more way I can let people in on my work process which might help other artists in the same boat.  The "I'm trying desperately to understand Medieval art and there are so few resources available" boat.

You can find it here, or in the widget I just added to my blog sidebar:


The Rending of Christendom

Sorry for the long absence! I've been very busy working on a few projects that I couldn't show on my blog just yet. I can finally show you one of them now. I designed the front and back cover for this book:

The Rending of Christendom: Readings and Questions by Phillip Campbell
My friend Phillip Campbell, a history teacher for Homeschool Connections, has created an excellent high-school level course on the Reformation/Counter-Reformation era based on primary source documents. The book is designed to follow the online course, but it can certainly stand alone as it's own curriculum.

The main book "The Rending of Christendom" has study questions after each reading, and there is a separate answer key available. There is currently a 15% off sale if you buy both together:

I'm about halfway through, and I think the selection of readings provides a very broad and thorough understanding of the key players and events without being overwhelming. I took a church history elective class at my secular university, and I have to say that reading actual primary sources like these acted as an antidote to my high school history textbooks and marked the beginning of my conversion process from Protestantism to Catholicism. If I know you in real life, I'd be happy to show you my copy.

I don't profit at all from sales of this book, I just think it's a really great idea and worth promoting.