Friday, December 4, 2015

Miriam of Nazareth COMPLETED

I dedicate this painting to my beloved wife Veronica Blair Pedersen 7/10/89 5/1/15. Rest in peace my love.

36 x 48 Inches on stretched canvas. Commissioned by Teresa Moore.
Teresa owns a rosary making company and wanted a painting to showcase in her shop and in advertising. It is said that the Virgin Mary (Miriam was her actually name in Hebrew) was the one who brought the practice to the Catholic church. Teresa requested that this Mary be somehow different then most of the Marys you see in paintings.
So my concept was to bring you simultaneously Miriam the person and the Virgin Mary the divine being. I took a bit of landscape found outside of Nazareth for the background. The idea was to bring a spacious and serene beauty found in the desert of Nazareth to painting. I also wanted to symbolize the importance of Miriam's blood, the lineage of King David. This family tree in hebrew literature is often referred to as the "Tree of Life". So I found about as grand of a tree as you can find that is native to the region and place then in the middle ground of the painting, the tree of life. As a divine being I like to express how nature and elements bend in harmony to the will of the divine. In doing so I brought a bright light source in the sun directly over head, creating a halo effect, and having a glare from light transform into the iconic cross shape of Christianity blessing her crown.
Miriam herself I wanted to try to represent a woman, as she was. Miriam first and foremost was a human being, of Israeli decent. She would have been of the Hebrew or Jewish faith in the form it took during the time period. She was also describe as being the most beautiful and pure being on the planet which was what led her to be the mother of the most high God. In an attempt to capture the essence of culture great care was taken into choosing the fabrics and style of clothing. It was after all against the Tora to wear a blend or mixture of different fabrics. I incorporated the iconic hebrew blue color into the middle eastern shoal she wears but with a slight twist of authority. The golden clasps you see on the shoal are found on traditional shoals of Jewish Rabbi, translating just a subtle sense of religious authority into the design. Traditionally in Catholic art the virgin is shown wearing a crown. So in the painting I designed a crown in an attempt to take catholic symbolism and translate it into authentic Israeli style. Being a woman of power and authority I opted to do something not often done traditionally in art with women models. I decided to have her facing full on and making full unashamed eye contact with the viewer. However I did not want this position to become too overbearing so I also decided to bring a warm motherly smile and demeanor to the figure. As if she is facing you for a warm embrace as opposed to confrontation. A sad but loving smile. Acknowledging the great sorrows of the Virgin in Catholic worship, but not making too great a statement on them. She also sits low on the horizon as a show of humility, being down to earth as if sitting on boulders with close friends in a marvelous rock garden.
Lastly the rosary she hold not only reflects the history of the Virgin's part in the introduction of the practice to the catholic faith, but the rosary itself is based off of one that was created by the patron of the painting. The crown, the clasps, and the rosary are all painted with a metallic gold paint creating a warm, shining, and intense presence that only gold leaf can accomplish. A effect that one can only achieve by actually being face to face with the painting itself.