Tuesday, August 2, 2016

St. Hildegard in Progress

Still working on an icon of St. Hildegard of Bingen, an amazing German lady of the 13th century--musical composer, spiritual writer, founder of a monastery, adviser to the powerful in her day--and I could go on.  She has been called an artist as well, and perhaps justifiably so, although the pictures attributed to her were probably not done by her own hand, but by painters under her direction--depicting mainly the various visions she received during her life.  If you'd like to see some of her work, or read her writings, it is readily available on the internet since she has undergone a great surge in popularity over the past few decades.  I guess she's become a sort of feminist hero and New Age spiritual guru.
Here's a snapshot of the icon in progress showing the inner part that will frame the figure of the saint.  I made the earth and sky background all wavy--not sure exactly why.  I plan on writing the text of one of Hildegard's hymns along the wavy lines of the sky, using the script of her place and time--or a reasonable facsimile thereof, since I am not a practiced calligrapher.  My first idea was to put this in as in the musical manuscript, the old-fashioned "sheet music" as it were, but have decided to keep it simple and just use the words.  Perhaps the lilting lines alone give some sense of music.

I have a bit of a backlog going--an icon of St. Brigid of Ireland and a couple other items yet to be scanned and offered as prints.  Financial constraints--so by all means feel free to hit that donate button on this page!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

St. Brigid of Ireland

This is a snapshot of my recently completed icon of St Brigid of Ireland (d.524), one of those strong woman leaders of the Church of the ancient British Isles, a woman of noble family who founded a great abbey at Kildare.  Next to St. Patrick, I guess St. Brigid is the most popular Irish saint--she's right up there anyhow.

The border is my somewhat free interpretation of patterns found in traditional Celtic art, and featuring images associated with Brigid and her homeland: anemone flowers (associated with the saint); hops foliage (because according to reports, Brigid was fond of beer); reed crosses at the corners; and of course some shamrocks.

The figure stands against a simple landscape of rolling hills.  She holds a model of a church building, emblematic of her founding of an abbey.  In her right hand she holds a crozier, emblematic of her leadership in the church.  While the crozier today is exclusively associated with bishops, you do see it in some icons, old and new, held by a woman who was a prominent abbess in her time.

As for the sword under Brigid's foot--there's an interesting story there that I'll leave it to you to look up.

St. Brigid liked beer so much, she wrote a poem about it, which you can read here: http://www.minogue.com/brigid/prayer.php

I'm going to make this icon available as a print in the next week or so.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

St. Brigid of Ireland Icon--Working On It

Working on an icon of St. Brigid of Ireland, whose feast day is in February. When I finish it, I will have icons for saints of every month of the year. Lots of Celtic details in the picture--even some shamrocks--why not? A Celtic pattern with leaves and buds from the hops plant, because Brigid was a fan of beer. Etc. Brigid is a very popular and interesting saint, tho perennially overshadowed by her countryman Patrick--one of those powerful women in the earlier centuries of the Church in Ireland and England. I'm open to suggestions for my next picture (this one came from a suggestion). Soon I'll be starting on the figure and landscape for this one.

Any and all input is welcome, on this picture or any other subject.

Please note, as always, there's a link for donations on this blog.  If you like my work and think it is important, you could support it.  Like many artists, amateur or pro, with a "day job," I have issues with the time and resources necessary to get this thing going in a bigger way.   All help is appreciated, definitely including all comments, criticism and critiques.  Also, don't forget, I sell the icons myself in forms not available at redbubble or elsewhere--so please inquire.  A selection of my icons, mounted on boards, is also available at the Rosary Gift Shop in Lansing and at the St. Francis Retreat Center shop in Dewitt (tho they may not have the display up as yet).

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Completed John Paul II Icon

Finally finished this one.  This is just a snapshot--scan for prints not made as yet.

Lots of meaningful detail in this picture--for example, Polish wildflowers around the border plus roses for John Paul's Marian devotion; and flanking the figure, depictions of a view of St. Peter's in Rome and the cathedral in the saint's hometown in Poland. The saint stands above a globe, indicating the worldwide reach of this pope's ministry.

Prints, cards and other items will soon be available at redbubble.com and FineArtAmerica.com.  For prints mounted on boards and multiple prints, contact me at raberdavid@yahoo.com or 989-834-2783.

As always, donations in support of my work may be made at this blog via Paypal.

St. John Paul II, pray for us.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

John Paul II Progress, Part 2

Getting close to completing my icon of John Paul  II.  A few details to complete and maybe some modifications.

The border features roses (for John Paul's Marian devotion) and other flowers native to Poland.  After I finished the border, I thought it might be too flowery for a manly guy like JP2.  But that may be superficial thinking.  Garlands and picture-borders of flowers have always been associated with the saints, and there is a reason behind that impulse: the beauty of the natural world and blossoming flowers are entirely appropriate in connection with the spiritual beauty shown forth in the life of a saint.  So I let it be and went ahead with the original plan, and let the chips fall where they may.

Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us.

Friday, May 29, 2015

John Paul II Icon Progress

Possibly the border is too flowery!  I've got roses in there for the Pope's devotion to Mary, and also four types of flowers native to Poland, including red poppies, the national flower of Poland.   Maybe the original concept won't work out here--not sure.  Right now I plan on pressing forward--see how things turn out as the figure steps in.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hermano Pedro Icon

This picture was a commission for a married couple with ties to Guatemala, the home country of Hermano Pedro ("Brother Pedro"), a Franciscan friar of the 17th century.  The floral border includes poinsettia blooms native to the country, and the white flowers are called the Flower of Brother Pedro. There's a story that goes with the bell and walking staff, as you might have guessed.  You can look it up.

Every nation and almost every local region in the world has its saints of the Universal Church, Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican.

While we honor these people as the heroes of our religion, followers of Jesus Christ to a degree and intensity that most of us have not achieved--as a select few, in other words, the fact is there are not few, but so many!  As someone who looks for subjects to portray in icons, I really don't have to look at all, there are so many on offer worthy to be held up for recognition and imitation.  And of course there are also those, countless more people alive and dead, whose holy lives have not come to the attention of anyone but the few who have known them personally.

So while true sainthood may be relatively rare, in absolute numbers it is not rare at all.  God has given us a wealth of examples of all races and times and places, showing us how the saints' level of commitment to living the life Jesus showed u is open not just to a select few but to many, and to us ourselves, by the grace of God, which is literally available to all people.

Prints of this icon are available athttp://fineartamerica.com/profiles/david-raber.html

Contact me directly at raberdavid@yahoo.com for special orders or prints with handmade frames--this icon or others.  I am always open to special commissions from parishes or individuals.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Baby Jesus Icon

I made this one to be a Christmas card.  This is a snapshot of the completed picture.  I'm having it scanned right now, and it should be available at the redbubble and FineArtAmerica sites in a few days, and also directly from me.

I started out with the idea of making a nativity scene but then gravitated back to my practice of focusing on a single figure, in this case the infant Jesus himself.  The Latin motto is the traditional announcement: Christ is born.

The Incarnation will always be the central belief of the Christian faith--the idea that God became man in the form of this Jesus of Nazareth who walked the earth and gave us, by his teaching and by his example,  the definitive revelation of God.  And this man started out like all the rest of us, as a small helpless baby born of a woman.  I hope this picture does something to communicate this Christian belief and this faith in a man who was also God, though we will never fully understand this mystery in this life.

A merry and blessed Christmas season to all, and a happy new year!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Face of Christ Icon

My most recent icon.

The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus was in all things like use except for sin. He walked the earth, loved his friends, felt anxiety and pain, suffered death. And so depcictons of the human face of Jesus have had an important place in Christian art. Here is another attempt to make that connection between ourselves and this man who Christians believe was also the Son of God, and a revelation of God, in a sense that no other human being was.

The red roses stand for the Passion and Crucifixion, the lilies for the Resurrection.

Art prints of this icon, framed or unframed, are available to buy at  http://www.redbubble.com/people/draber/works/12416821-face-of-christ?ref=recent-owner 

It is also available there printed on a t-shirt.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Franz Jaegerstaetter Icon--Snapshot

Franz Jaegerstaetter was an Austrian farmer executed by the Nazis for refusing to serve in the German army during WWII.  Against all motives of patriotism and even against the interests of his family, and certainly counter to his own personal  interests, Jaegerstaetter refused to serve the cause of evil because he believed God's imperatives come before all else.  He was a committed Catholic who fearlessly thought through the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church, and he followed through on what he knew to be right.

Jaegerstatter was one of the millions who died as a victim of WWII.  Many millions of those were innocents, and many millions of others died in war fighting either for or against the Nazis.  Those who fought in the war are hailed as heroes, willing to die in a fight against evil, but we should ask ourselves, How much pain and suffering and death might have been avoided if sizable numbers of others, within the German Reich and elsewhere, would have been wiling to die in peaceful protest against the Nazi war machine?

The frame of the picture is made up of symbols and images related to the Nazi-dominated socio-political world that framed the life of Franz Jaegerstaetter and his family and friends and fellow citizens of Austria.  The saint is pictured within a sort of mandorla that shows forth a better world--the local world of the saint's home region, surrounded by a border representing his home nation, Austria, through flowers and foliage associated with that nation (the Austrian rose and edelweiss.  Jaegerstaetter's parish church and the house on his farm flank the saint.  Emanating from the mandorla is a sort of secondary halo spreading its light over the framing background of evil that is overcome by the work of Christ in the world such as that done through and by the followers of Christ.