Monday, September 23, 2013

My Latest Subject for the Divine in Each Person - Introducing Kat

I'd like to introduce my latest subject who is also a wonderful friend of mine, Catherine Marshall, or Kat, as she likes to be called.  We first met in grade school at recess, and many years later she contacted me because of how much she enjoyed my art, even in those early days, and how she was inspired by me even then.  How nice it was to be remembered for my art at such an early age!

Since then we have done one portrait commission together, but Kat has also posed and participated in The Divine in Each Person series for some beautiful reference pictures that I am so excited about painting, and yet I am continuing to work also with pictures of several other participants, including Terry, Kimberly, and Arlynne, and hoping to work with two other models soon, who are Sandra and Ana. 

Above is the start of my drawing planned for an egg tempera and oil with gilding panel of Kat, but there is more to this drawing not yet rendered which I will share in another post very soon I hope, reflecting symbolically some of Kat's experiences in the spiritual world and in the here and now too.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Many Aspects Within My Portrait of Mike and Lil

Lil and I with her portrait in progress, and below,
with Mike and Lil, my former husband and mother-in-law.

Here is the wisteria gate leading in and out of the gardens at Mike and Paul's home which will provide inspiration for the wisteria vine around the outer portion of the panel, and I am hoping to include a Heaven-on-Earth pink rose and two buds to represent Mike's two sisters and his father, a wonderful photographer who took the picture which inspired this work of art.  Below is the painting in it's most recent stage and beneath it the photo by Mike's father, now deceased since Mike was 12 years old.  More work still to be done on the figures as well, but I am really enjoying the experiences connected with working on this one, and hope you have enjoyed this review on it's background too.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An update and more progress on Lil and Mike

A detail from the portrait

 My portrait of Lil and Mike in progress, with more on the figures and background still to come

I've been working more slowly on work this year due to several health concerns, including some heart surgery for a congenital arrhythmia in late April, but here is one of the projects I count very special, still in progress.  There will be a garden-like background behind the figures in the inset portion of the panel, and we are also considering a wisteria vine, which as a symbol will take the figures in one way forward in time, and in another way, outside of time.  More on it as soon as I can return to work on this one, and here is a new website for my work in portraiture in general that will launch officially this summer -- a sneak peek in progress for you here:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Progress with the portrait of Lil and Mike

Click on the image for a larger view of the portrait in progress

Another update on my portrait of Lil and Mike, which is being painted
in oil over gold leaf.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lil and Mike Campbell

Here is my preparatory drawing for the painting of Lil and Mike Campbell.  I welcome all comments on the spiritual content of my art and of this blog, as well as comments on the physical content.  Please see my previous post for more on this one.

Monday, July 30, 2012

What Does It Mean?

What does gold leaf mean to us when it is used in a painting?  To me it means the breath of God has been added into it, but that's only part of it.  And yet is God not in every painting that an artist does, so  that in another way it becomes a conundrum if we try to actually designate or pinpoint that this or that is what the addition of the gold actually means?

Okay then, what if we set aside gold leaf for icon writing, the painting of an icon?  What if we say that this icon panel above, with this particular shape, and covered with this gold leaf should have an icon painted on it?  Then what if we ask, should it be a mundane person or human being, or should it be a saint, --- except that a saint is one who has been at once a human being, and God's own servant too?  And what if following this train of thought means in some fashion that we could actually stretch this out and encompass both the human and the Divine, and we know that it's a bridge of sorts to have this icon window?  Does this mean it's a bridge that goes only one way... or can it be two ways?

The two people I want to paint on this icon panel are my friend Mike, and his mother Lil, who are both dear people in my life, and in the lives of many others.  Here is the beautiful photograph I will be painting from, taken by Mike's father, who passed away early, when Mike was only 12 years old.

With this loving pose, does their body language or something in their eyes evoke for you Mary holding the baby Jesus, not in a way that equates them with this, but is this in some way a window to them too?  If I don't put a veil on Lil, or include halos around their heads, is part of Mary still resting within Lil as a mother, and is part of Christ as the baby Jesus still within Mike, even to this day now that he is an adult and one who has many responsibilities to others?  If I try painting their countenances on gold as if it is an icon, what will this mean?  These are only some of the questions I am constantly asking myself and sincerely wishing to explore, not only in my work as an artist, but also in my spiritual life.  It is a sincere exploration that only continues to raise more questions as I go along.

Can I make a work of art like this even as I am exploring these issues, or is there more I must actually understand, about icons, and about gold, and even about what it means to be a saint, first before doing so?  I hope I've opened a conversation about this with you, my readers, and I'd like to continue this conversation by doing a series of posts on some of the various existing religious traditions surrounding the use of gold leaf, and on the making of icons too. 

I'll close for now with an invocation.  It came to me some years ago from my Reiki teacher Delia, who has also been an important spiritual teacher of mine.  The various colors of the Ray Elohim are said by some to be the creators of universes!  Hard to even begin to wrap the mind around this application of  of gold, or this idea of the Rays in general too, expansive as it is.  In some ways the invocation itself is full of mystery, and yet maybe even within its veiled words lies its very power.

                                             Invocation to the Gold Ray

I call upon the Elohim of the Gold Ray to pour Divine Wisdom into my consciousness.  
I call upon the Elohim of the Gold Ray to reveal the weights and measures, 
the balance and proportion of the universes.  
I call upon the Elohim of the Gold Ray to illuminate my mind so it will grow peaceful  
with understanding.
May I be wise in my actions, balanced in my emotions, peaceful in my mind.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More progress, and more about rose petals and Devi Bhava

"Mary in Amma in Kimberly", (still in progress), egg tempera on panel

After some consideration I decided to remove the shadow from Kimberly's left, in order to show the rose petal shower in an open, (as opposed to a shallow), space.  I hope this will help me to create a feeling of the petals also going deeper into space by showing the petals smaller as they go back in space.  At times I've also changed a petal entirely, in one instance three times, to get the feeling going that I want, and I feel I'm finally getting a rhythm going on this part now.

Having experienced Amma's Devi Bhava petal shower for myself, it is hard for me to describe the blessing feeling that it gives a person, but I can tell you that I wish I knew more about it's mysteries!

I had mentioned in a previous post that while Devi Bhava includes petals from ALL the flowers which are given to Amma during darshan, I chose to portray rose petals for Kimberly's Devi Bhava experience for several reasons. Kimberly is a quite a rare individual as a professional healer in her life. She performs many kinds of healing, beautifully so, across several healing modalities, and it is one of her practices to always have fresh roses in the treatment room where she does her work. A spiritual teacher common to both of us once told us that angels love to be present where there are flowers, but in particular where there are roses. Roses are also Amma's 'theme' flower. Yet, as I'm still adding rose petals to this painting, has anyone noticed there is just one flower petal that is a little different?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mary in Amma in Kimberly ~ continued progress

"Mary in Amma in Kimberly," in progress

Still on this, more petals are still to come, and the background is beginning to lighten and warm up. A few small areas have been removed (washed or sanded off) for revisions/additions, such as adding a petal or repositioning the green leaves at bottom right. Sometimes removing an area is easier than adding extra layers of paint, due to the translucency of egg tempera paint.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mary's Inner Beauty in Kimberly

"Mary's Inner Beauty in Kimberly", graphite on vellum trace © Mona Diane Conner
(click the image to see it larger)

Here is a study for my next panel painting for the Divine in Kimberly series, size still t.b.d.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Mary in Amma in Kimberly" in progress

egg tempera on panel in progress
I'm again in the midst of adding more petals to this painting which now has an official title:  "Mary in Amma in Kimberly". Devi Bhava is a special evening darshan which celebrates the Divine Mother and the divine feminine aspects of God. Beginning with an Atma Puja for world peace and including the chanting of the 1000 names of the Divine Mother, and darshan from Amma as the Divine Mother, Devi Bhava concludes with Amma showering flower petals on everyone present as a final blessing. While the Devi Bhava flower petal ceremony traditionally includes flower petals of all kinds, I have chosen only rose petals for this painting because roses are not only Amma's theme flower, but also the flower that Kimberly loves most.
Although it's a bit long (approx. 8 minutes), I found on YouTube this sweet link about Amma's Devi Bhava. For those unfamiliar with Devi Bhava, the film shows only snippets, but perhaps it provides a glimpse for you of what this all night darshan encompasses: What is Devi Bhava?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Update and Scanned Detail from Kimberly With Roses

Scanned detail from my egg tempera portrait in progress of Kimberly With Roses

Sorry not to have posted an update in a while, but I have resumed working on the upper half of this egg tempera portrait of Kimberly, and I thought it would be interesting, even though my scanner bed is too small to encompass this 19 1/2" x 15 1/4" work, to try a scan of a detail from the painting at this point. A scan shows you the brushwork and details better, and also the depth I am beginning to achieve with the painting as the layers are building. My digital camera has perhaps only captured a portion of this in previous posts, but you can also see a bit of progress with the painting itself.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Petals and Fringe

"Kimberly With Roses" in progress, egg tempera painting on panel (click image twice for a larger view)

Still adding more rose petals, and working on the gold fringe of her shawl, I'm also beginning to layer in a warmer tone over the background.

Friday, March 18, 2011

falling rose petals

"Kimberly With Roses", 19 1/2" x 15 1/4", egg tempera panel in progress (click the image twice for a larger view)

I'm so sorry that my work to promote portraits in general has kept me absent so long from this blog, but here's another update. As you can see, I'm starting to add falling rose petals and working on the areas around the petals as I add them to the painting.

Please feel welcomed also to visit Mona Conner Portraits, where I feature my commissions.

Monday, January 24, 2011

progress on Kimberly With Roses

"Kimberly With Roses" in progress

Here is what I'm working on; the current version is on top.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spiritual Art For Your Gift-Giving Too

"Niche in Aix en Provence," framed dimensions: 3 3/4" x 3/4", egg tempera on vellum, $350 on Etsy

"Madonna in the Leaves," framed dimensions: 4 3/4" x 6 1/8", egg tempera on vellum, $600 on Etsy

"White Madonna in Aix en Provence," 23" x 35 1/2", pastel on Wallis pastelboard,
© Mona Diane Conner 2010 (not currently available online)

A purchase link to each painting is provided if you click on the art.

Monday, December 6, 2010

In case a special gift is needed for your Christmas

"Christmas Flowers," egg tempera painting © Mona Diane Conner 1985

"Grandmas's Cookie Tree," egg tempera painting, © Mona Diane Conner 1985

"Victorian Christmas Tree," egg tempera painting © Mona Diane Conner 1985

Christmas At Our House, A Family Memory Book

My special gallery series of spiritual portraits is in need of support, and if you need a special gift for Christmas, or just wish to help, it's the only reason I interrupt the flow here to let you know that I also have great art for sale online, and it's at this link:

Twenty-five years ago I created 33 paintings for a Christmas memory book for Harper Collins called Christmas At Our House. Above are a few of the select framed original paintings from this book which are posting for sale in my Etsy shop, along with some great miniature paintings and small works, including some of my Madonnas you've seen here and other items of interest.

I'm always adding new works of art for purchase in my Etsy shop via Paypal, so if anything looks interesting, please visit to see what else is there, now or at anytime, and thanks for checking it out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Progress Update 12: Kimberly With Roses

"Kimberly With Roses" egg tempera on panel in progress (click the image twice for a larger view)

Due to several projects I must work on this Fall offline, it's been a while since my last post, but my work on "Kimberly with Roses" continues. I have laid down an initial underpainting in two layers on the background, added to the bottom of the painting, and have also decided to re-work several portions of the veil on the left side, to balance out the amount of decoration on the left and right sides of the veil. One advantage egg tempera has over acrylic and oil is that I can still either wash off or scrape off with my palette knife an area which is already dry to the touch and completely re-work it as you can see me doing here on the lower left side of the painting.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Miniature Show Preparation

I'm currently preparing for a miniature competition, and welcome you to visit my miniature painting blog, The Ruby Slippers, if you'd like to see what I'm up to, (including my first self-portrait in miniature!) I'll continue here with my progress on "Kimberly with Roses" in about two weeks time, if not sooner...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Progress Update 11: Kimberly With Roses

"Kimberly With Roses" egg tempera on panel in progress (click the image two times for a larger view)

I've been continuing my work on her veil's gold fringe, and on related areas in the forehead, face and neck, continuing to establish tonal layers.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Starting the gold fringe, applying for a grant, and an important word about my blog themes

19 1/2" x 15 1/4" egg tempera on true gesso panel in progress

Here I'm starting the gold fringe, which will have further layers of paint applied once it is established.

Some of you are aware, and others may not be, that I run three active painting blogs, all of which are listed on my links (also a fourth blog, Windows of the Soul on miniature eye portraits is remaining online just as an intro to eye portraits in miniature). I truly appreciate your interest in my art no matter whether you just enjoy watching one of my blog themes, or all of them, but I thought it might be helpful just one time to explain why I prefer separating my art into separate themed blogs, and where the action will be for now.

With this spiritual portrait series in particular, which has continued for almost two years now, I am actually unfolding and at times discussing on-blog a personal theme through an ongoing body of work in portraiture for a gallery or museum show. So I feel it is more meaningful in the long run to develop this theme in it's own context, separately from Mona Conner Portraits which is more about portraits and portrait commissions in general, and separate from my miniature painting blog which is primarily about my work in miniature painting. I may, for example, get more into discussion of technical aspects of painting on Mona Conner Portraits, whereas here on Grander Joy of Spirit I'm really attempting to zero in on the spiritual aspects of the art and hopefully evoking responses from my viewers, too, on this level.

So far my spiritual portrait series has been done completely uncommissioned, and only with the cooperation of several interested friends who have willingly and kindly posed for me for this purpose. However, I am also quite open to the opportunity of creating a commissioned spiritual portrait if anyone desires one. I sometimes do a portrait in miniature, which may overlap with Mona Conner Portraits, and very much enjoy also the treasured theme of the Madonna and the Divine Feminine in my art, which at times I will also portray in miniature. Eventually you can expect men, too, to appear in spiritual portraits on Grander Joy of Spirit, so it is not only the Divine Feminine aspects which I'd like to explore!

And while I may need to spend time on Mona Conner portraits, to foster portrait commissions when sales of miniatures are not proceeding fast enough to cover costs, my single most important goal as an artist remains this spiritual portrait series of paintings on Grander Joy of Spirit. Right now I'm at work on an artist grant application, just to help me be able to continue with this particular body of work which is so very dear to my heart; so please keep my grant application and my efforts with this series in your prayers and wish me luck!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another Update: Kimberly With Roses in Progress

19 1/2" x 15 1/4", detail of the egg tempera portrait in progress (click the image twice for a larger view)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Progress Update on "Kimberly With Roses"

19 1/2" x 15 1/4", egg tempera (in progress) on true gesso panel (click the image twice for a larger view)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

While it's being repaired ~ another detail view

Detail from the arched panel painting

While it's going to my panel shop for a repair prior to the application of gold leaf, here's another detail of my other panel painting in progress, "The 'Mary' in Kimberly". I'll be so excited when this one is completed!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Kimberly With Roses" progress update

19 1/2" x 15 1/4", egg tempera (in progress) on true gesso panel

Here I have been working on the roses and the area immediately around them.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Progress on "Kimberly with Roses"

19 1/2" x 15 1/4", egg tempera (in progress) on true gesso panel

Still laying in the first layer of paint on portions of this, since patterns take time, and I have devoted several painting sessions to this egg tempera portrait since my last progress report.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

studio problem

Just a note that until it is fixed, a practical problem in my studio is preventing me from working normal hours, but I hope to resume posting as soon as it improves.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Introducing "Mona Conner Portraits"

I've recently started a new blog, "MONA CONNER PORTRAITS - Portraits Large and Small" which will sometimes include my spiritual paintings, but where the emphasis is just on portraits. It's my fourth blog!

Here at Grander Joy of Spirit, I've taken a break from my first Mary in Kimberly panel until I can have a repair completed to a few areas of the gesso before I continue to apply the gold leaf, but next I will be working on final touches for one of my pastels, and will resume posting too on my progress with the portrait of Kimberly with roses.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Sacred Art of Icon-writing

My icon-writing in progress of Archangel Michael in the Russian Byzantine style offered at the Prosopon School of Iconology. Further illuminations will lighten the face and hands.

Since this blog is about spiritual and sacred art, I wanted to do at least one post about the sacred art of icon-writing. After painting the initial stages of only one icon, shown above, I am still strictly a beginner, and there is so much more to learn, but I was fortunate to spend my Saturdays for about a year's time at the New York Studio of the Prosopon School of Iconology. When my art sales improve, I also hope to resume icon-writing lessons.

I initially learned about the presence of Russian master icon painter Vladislav Andrejev in the U.S. through artist friends Suzanne Scherer and Pavel Ouporov. Later when I heard he had formed the Prosopon School, which included a New York Studio, I was thrilled to start lessons with one of Vladislav's sons, Dmitri Andrejev, and later with Tatiana Berestova. My reaction when I entered the icon studio for the very first time and saw all of the icons in progress lining the room, was to cry, because it is such a very wonderful and moving sight.

Icon-writing is done with egg tempera and gold leaf on gessoed icon panels which usually have a niched border and vary in shape. Partly because it is considered to be a spiritual practice, it is probably true that as many as 50% of icon-writers have no previous artistic training or background, even though artists also enjoy the craft aspects of this art form. Icons stand apart from other forms of spiritual art because they are created to serve as an interface or portal window between the spiritual and physical realms, and it is for this reason that classes at Prosopon give equal emphasis and time to teaching the spiritual and symbolic meaning of each part of the physical process involved in this sacred art.

To learn more about icon-writing, and to see wonderful pictures of icons and sacred paintings, please visit Prosopon School of Iconology . There are also some wonderful icons from around the world currently posting in the Facebook group Egg Tempera Painters

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Progress update on the first "Mary in Kimberly" panel painting

(click on the art in progress to view it larger; as previously explained, the red clay bole background will later be covered with gold leaf and bordered with the mother of pearl, a sample of which is included at the lower right)

At this time I am working on the veil, hands, and lower portions of the portrait. This post shows further work in egg tempera, on and around the hands.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Important Announcement About My Egg Tempera Workshop

I will need to hear from five or more definite participants by June 10th in order to hold the opportunity of the private summer workshop in egg tempera in position for early August. To help you decide if you are considering attending, here is some additional information:

The location in Brooklyn, NY is within driving distance from most neighboring major cities and approx. 30 minutes from mid-Manhattan via subway. PLEASE NOTE: the dates have moved slightly to Tuesday through Thursday, August 3, 4, and 5. The cost is $300 for two full days of instruction 10 AM to 6PM with a one-hour lunch break, and $400 for three full days, excluding accommodations which are running approx. $200 and up per night, BUT only if booked now at the Holiday Inn Express and and at similar locations very near the venue in Brooklyn. The workshop fee also covers a gesso panel to paint on, and a few basics (like eggs!), but not all of your art materials, so please plan to bring paints and brushes with you, and a reasonable supply list will be provided to guide you on what you will need.

For those who wish for it, and because I have included the optional of three days instruction: if it is the group's desire to spend part or all of the additional day out on a field trip, it is also my personal delight to take you to one or more possible locations: The Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium at Coney Island, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, or a New York City Cathedral tour including St Patrick's Cathedral. I hear that an exciting new version of the musical "Promises, Promises" is returning to Broadway this summer, and there are many exciting ways to spend your evenings in the Big Apple during your stay.

Your $100 check holds your spot in the workshop, but I will need to at least receive your email responses by June 10th (please email Inquiries also welcomed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A start on the veil

Now that the outline of it is clearer, I am working on the translucency of the veil. (click on the image to see it larger)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Preparing the first panel for gilding

I've paused my work on this portrait to begin the gold-leafing for it's background which helps establish the outline of the veil. Later on I'll be adding mother-of-pearl as a border.

Later today: an update on my first panel painting

I'm writing an article today about my work in miniature for the next issue of the Miniature Art Society of Florida newsletter, but I also have an update on my first "Mary in Kimberly" panel that I hope to post afterwards, so please stay tuned for the update, coming soon.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010