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

10.30.2014

All Hallows' Eve Shrines

This is my first year as a homeowner, and with Halloween approaching I began to wonder what I would do for decorations. In light of this interesting article by Fr. Grunow about the Catholic roots of Halloween and why Americans came to think of it as a pagan holiday, I decided to try to use this opportunity to reengage the culture and maybe even evangelize my neighbors.

The crazy idea I came up with was to make little shrines to honor a few saints who died as martyrs for their faith in Christ. That way we can remember death, but in a way that points to the Kingdom of God and not the occult. I also hope people are drawn to some of the beautiful and unusual imagery. I made a banner wishing everyone a "Happy All Hallows' Eve" and will leave a basket of free holy cards outside the door. We have really good candy to hand out too!

Materials:
empty cereal boxes
paper (for template)
pencil
marker
ruler
compass
scissors
x-acto knife
black poster board
print-outs of saints
flameless LED tea lights


I had three different sizes of cereal boxes, so I drew a gothic arch doorway that would fit nicely on the smallest box and traced it onto every box, and cut each opening with the x-acto. Then using the proportions of the largest box, I drew a gothic facade and traced it onto the black poster board three times. Then I traced the doorway onto each facade. I also traced the sides and tops of each box. Once all of the poster board pieces were cut out, I glued them to the cereal boxes, taking care to line up the opening in the front of the box with the opening in the facade.

I printed out pictures of St. Lucy, St. Peter, and St. Denis on 8.5" x 11" paper, trimmed the sides to fit, and glued them inside each box. Do this before you glue poster board over the top of the box! I also printed out their names, glued them to scroll shapes cut out of heavy white paper, and glued a name scroll onto each shrine.

It's also important to take breaks to smile at and/or nurse the cute baby on the floor near your work area.


Once you have the shrines assembled, they might look something like this:

I plan to make a few more next year since this was a last-minute idea.

My kids are pretty excited about them. J calls them "little churches." They just had their All Saints Day party at our homeschool co-op.  S wanted to dress up as St. Barbara. I couldn't get her to hold both her tower and her holy card straight at the same time, so here are two pictures:
J went as St. Patrick, but he wouldn't wear his miter once we were home. He likes to dress up as a priest almost every day, so this isn't even really a costume for him ;)


9.27.2014

Crucifix Craft

Children need beauty as much as any adult. In fact, when we pay attention to providing an aesthetically pleasing environment for children, it fosters the growth of their creativity and visual/conceptual skills. But here's a research paper so you don't have to take my word for it: http://www.li.suu.edu/library/circulation/Gubler/eced3930rgThingOfBeautyOnline08.pdf

Perhaps more importantly, if children learn to love beauty, they will love what is true and good.

With that in mind, when we moved into our new house, I realized that we lacked crucifixes for our children's room. It's strangely difficult to find a nice looking crucifix these days, and if I did manage to find one, I didn't want a blessed and expensive object to wind up broken or on the floor despite my 2-year-old's best intentions.  So I thought, maybe I could make one that he could handle:

I found an unfinished wood hanging cross and a small unfinished wood plaque at Michaels. I sawed the slightly curved end off the bottom of the cross using a miter box and a handsaw. Then I screwed them together (I drilled a pilot hole first), and painted them brown (Daniel Smith brand Burnt Umber). Next I found a suitably beautiful looking piece of art on the web and resized it to fit on the cross. This is from St. Dominic Adoring the Crucifixion by Fra Angelico (left). I printed it on digital photo paper using my plain old inkjet printer, cut out the corpus and the INRI sign and glued them to the cross. I finished the whole thing with 2 coats of acrylic matte medium for a little protection. Now my son J uses it on his "altar" (Ikea dresser) to play Mass. I'll write a post about that another time.
My 4-year-old daughter, S, wanted one too of course. I found this little 4" x 3" wooden standing cross at Hobby Lobby. It has a small inset perfect for gluing art into!

 I decided to go with an Italo-Byzantine style crucifix this time. Cimabue painted this one to hang in the Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence.  I asked S paint the entire cross Ultramarine Blue. Cimabue's famous pupil, Giotto, was very fond of that color. Like the first project, I re-sized and printed the artwork on digital photo paper, cut it out and let S help me glue it into the inset. Then I painted the edges with gold craft paint (it looks a little better in real life) and finished it all with 2 coats of acrylic matte medium. This sits on her dresser along with a hand-embroidered picture of the Holy Family that her aunt brought her from Egypt.
If you would like to make these without the work of finding and re-sizing Wikipedia images, you can download a free template here:

6.13.2014

Apocalypse Prize Entries

The winners of the Apocalypse Prize art contest have been announced. Congratulations, Joseph Moats!

Here is the complete gallery of entries:
http://www.apocalypseprize.com/photoGallery2.html

...and the highlights of everyone's work. I'm honored to be considered a Fellow of the Apocalypse Prize.
http://www.apocalypseprize.com/BestOfEverything.html

Here are the 3 paintings that I entered:

The Adoration of the 24 Elders (Acrylic and metal leaf on panel board, 24" x 24")

The Adoration of the 24 Elders (Detail)
The Harlot Riding the Beast (Acrylic on panel board, 12" x 12")

The Marriage of the Lamb (Acrylic and metal leaf on panel board, 12" x 12")

I already loved medieval illuminated manuscripts, especially in the Gothic style, so I jumped at the opportunity to really research them in-depth to learn how to create works of art in continuity with the conventions of traditional Western iconography. During my research I unexpectedly fell in love with some Romanesque era manuscripts and they started influencing my work. I was also surprised to find how much the depiction of Christ in Majesty from the Westminster Psalter has in common with Byzantine Icons of Our Lord, and how even the most stylized drapery seemed to correspond to real-life observations of how fabric folds would fall on a form.

4.19.2014

Pop-Up High Mass Card



Here is a craft you can make, maybe as an Easter present or as a way to teach kids about the Mass. It folds out into a tiny high altar with a little priest and altar boys. This started out as a gift idea for my children, but I decided to make it in a format that could be reproduced and write instructions for how to construct it. 

Free PDF file here: Pop-Up High Mass Card


Materials recommended:
  • card stock or some kind of sturdy 8.5" x 11" paper for printing
  • X-acto knife and/or scissors
  • cutting surface
  • ruler
  • glue stick

Instructions:

1. Download PDF file and print out.
2. Separate pop-up card side from priest side.


3. Cut sides of altar and stairs along dashed line. Start below top dotted line.  If you are using scissors, fold the card in half and snip a slot for the scissors to get started.


4. Score along dotted lines to make folding easier. Use dull side of x-acto blade or a single scissors blade. Make alternating folds like an accordion.


5. Cut out priest, glue front and back sides together. Fold tab on bottom so he can stand on feet.


6. Cut out each altar boy and fold front and back sides together. Fold backwards in the middle so they can kneel.


And there you have it:

"Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi."

If you're feeling really ambitious, color it, decorate the walls and floor, draw and cut out more figures and accessories (thurible, processional cross, etc), fold up front edge and make an altar rail.

"Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen."

If you use this, please feel free to leave a comment and tell me how your family liked it or what could be better for next time.  If you send in a photo of the finished product in use, I might write a future post featuring the photos I receive (ardanziger@gmail.com).

Also, please share this with your friends!  Happy Easter!

4.11.2014

Switching to www.ardanziger.com

Dear readers,

Over the weekend, I will be changing my settings so that my blog will be hosted on my own domain.
My old web portfolio at www.ardanziger.com will disappear and will be replaced by this blog website. One or both sites may be down for up to 48 hours. After that time, please update your links, bookmarks, etc.

Thank you very much!
Amanda

3.29.2014

Maintenance 3/29-3/30

Dear readers, I need to perform some maintenance on this blog this weekend, and then I will resume regular posting. My long-term plan is to integrate my blog and my web portfolio (www.ardanziger.com) into the same site. Thank you! A.R.

10.16.2013

Christ in Majesty Revisited

Here is another sketch for my upcoming project. This Christ in Majesty will sit in the midst of the 24 elders. I'm glad I worked on small scale copy of an illuminated manuscript before this so I could learn some of the Romanesque style's conventions and apply them appropriately to my current piece. I hesitate to say that mine is a more "naturalistic" or "realistic" representation because those words tend to imply the downplaying of the supernatural and emphasis on the natural world.  I am interested in reviving Western religious iconography (related to but distinct from Byzantine iconography) in the Roman Catholic tradition, and therefore I am very interested in a symbolic representation of supernatural realities. Anyway...


10.09.2013

Twenty-Four Elders

Here is a sneak preview of a current work-in-process. I'm working out the drawing for a painting of the adoration of the twenty-four elders before God's throne in the book of Revelation.  For reference, I actually sewed a full-length (18 ft.) toga, draped it around my husband, and snapped some photos.  Here are two of my sketches:

9.30.2013

Saint Jerome

Today is the memorial of Saint Jerome, 340-420 A.D.  Both a scholarly world-traveler and a desert ascetic, he is perhaps best known for his work on the Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate. It began as a project to create a translation of the four Gospels using the best Greek texts. Already fluent in both Greek and Latin, he later expended great effort to learn spoken and written Hebrew from a Jewish convert to Christianity, and consulted with rabbis to ensure the accuracy of his translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
"To sum up, the Biblical knowledge of St. Jerome makes him rank first among ancient exegetes. In the first place, he was very careful as to the sources of his information. He required of the exegete a very extensive knowledge of sacred and profane history, and also of the linguistics and geography of Palestine. He never either categorically acknowledged or rejected the deuterocanonical books as part of the Canon of Scripture, and he repeatedly made use of them. On the inspiration, the existence of a spiritual meaning, and the freedom of the Bible from error, he holds the traditional doctrine."

 Saint Jerome in his Study, Albrecht Dürer 1514

He was considered one of the original Four Doctors of the Church, and often appears in works of art with the others (St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and St. Gregory the Great.) Hint: Jerome is the one in the red cardinal's robe and hat. Though the office of cardinal did not technically exist at that time, he held a prominent position in the court of Pope Damasus I who encouraged him to translate the scriptures.

Four Doctors of the Church, Carlo Braccesco circa

In other art he is shown studying in solitude, often wearing just a simple robe, with only a crucifix and skull in to meditate on.  Sometimes he is shown with a lion, who, according to Jerome's medieval hagiography, befriended the saint after having a thorn removed from its paw.

Jerome in his Study, Niccolo Antonio Colantonio c.

The Vulgate was the definitive edition of sacred scripture in the West for well over one thousand years, and was affirmed as the Church's official text at the Council of Trent in the 16th century. The Gutenberg Bible, the first moveable-type print edition of sacred scriptures, was a copy of the Latin Vulgate.

9.23.2013

Silos Apocalypse

I don't typically think of Spain when I think about illuminated manuscripts. That is until I was recently researching manuscripts that specifically illustrate scenes from the book of Revelation (for my most recent work). The Silos Apocalypse was created around 1100 A.D. It's actually one of several illustrated copies of Saint Beatus of Liebana's Commentary on the Apocalypse. Beatus was a contemporary of Alcuin, a monk, theologian, and geographer.



Flip through the pages yourself at the British Library website: Silos Apocalypse

While you're browsing, you can listen to some Mozarabic Chant, the liturgical music of the Iberian region which predates the Visigoths.


If you're wondering what the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos are up to nowadays, you might recall their 90's Billboard chart topping album, "Chant."

7.13.2013

Christ in Majesty

This is my latest work, "Christ in Majesty" based on the illumination of the same title from the Westminster Psalter. The original artwork was created using pen, brush, and ink, and embellished with metal leaf. I'm selling it as a high quality photo print on real Kodak photo paper.

7.11.2013

From London to the Holy Land

I just love maps.  There are some maps being featured right now on the British Museum's Medieval Manuscripts Blog. Here's one from the 1250's of a pilgrimage travel route. All the towns are about one day's travel apart.


Royal MS 14 C VII

Each town is distilled to its essential features, and each road is straight. It is more of a topological map than a topographical map, if you get my mathematical pun.  It's a really telling example of how medieval people organized, prioritized, and represented information artistically, whether geography or scripture was the subject.

If you'd like to zoom in on it and view other pages, you can find the digitized manuscript online at the British Museum website: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=royal_ms_14_c_vii_f002r

6.21.2013

Lindisfarne Gospels

The BBC recently did a piece on the Lindisfarne Gospels. You can listen to it here: BBC iPlayer

You can also flip through the pages at The British Museum Digitised Manuscript collection here: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Cotton_MS_nero_d_iv


 The Chi-Rho monogram from the Gospel of Matthew in the Lindisfarne Gospels, England, approximately 700A.D.

5.26.2013

Romanesque English Manuscripts

Let's take a look at a few illuminated manuscripts made in England during the Romanesque period:

Christ in majesty, spreading his hands in blessing. Winchester Bible, 12th Century


The Doubt of St. Thomas. St. Albans Psalter, 12th Century

Christ in Majesty from the Westminster Psalter, around 1200 A.D.