|Chris Hart Studio|
I begin by painting the colored areas of the robe and cape, scumbling and blotting as I go until all of the beautiful draped clothing is done. Next the base the saint stands on, gets dashes of color to mimic either the clouds or stone surface, depending on which statue it is. I work overlaying tones of paint by applying a thinned almost glaze-like transparent coat, one on top of the other, layer by layer with a semi-dry brush until the piece radiates a warm energy from inside.
Years ago I learned through grievous trial and error to never attempt to paint a saint's face when I was angry, tired or had PMS. They always reflected whatever emotion I had at the time. Angels would look murderous. The Blessed Mommy would look overwrought and crabby. St. Theresa looked anything but in the moment and St. Rita of the impossible, looked like she was still an abused wife. It was uncanny how the saint became a mirror for my emotions du jour.
Once when I was sick, I painted an entire batch of angels that looked so evil they could be related to the devil. Even when I put them on the sale table, not a soul would touch them. I finally buried them in the garden for the winter thinking their faces would soften with age. Instead, that spring my Rhubarb died. The only angel that works at looking fierce is St. Michael the archangel, guardian, warrior and protector. He holds a sword and has his foot on Satan's head. All of us should pray to St. Michael once in a while, since he leads the army against evil and probably protected me from those horrible little devilish angels I mistakenly painted when I had the flu.
I love painting the saint's eyes. Over the years I have developed the exact colors for each saint. Mary's eyes are always a reflective blue. St. Magdalene's eyes are a beautiful rich green to compliment her gorgeous auburn hair and St. Rita's are a golden brown set off by her classic nun's outfit of basic black. When the eyes are finally finished I imagine the saint crying out...."I can see! I can see!" and suddenly the statue becomes alive in my hands. Usually, I paint the saints' eyes so that they are looking heavenward but the Blessed Mommy statue should always be placed above your eye level so her eyes are cast downward. Yes, the next thing I will tell you is a fact. There is unspoken saint etiquette and those of us who share our home with a saint statue should become familiar with it. That's for a future post.
|Infant of Prague statue from Chris Hart Studio|
St. Lucy with her beautiful eyes, St. Mary Magdalene with her mass of auburn hair, St. Teresa's crucifix and roses of all colors, St. Rita's cross and stigmata, The Blessed Mommy in blue with a gold leaf crown or the Infant of Prague wearing a robe intricately woven with jewels and gold, all beautiful saints that hold special meanings for us through their stories.