Merry Christmas!

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May the hope of this joyous season fill your heart and home throughout the year - Merry Christmas!

May the hope of this joyous season fill your heart and home throughout the year – Merry Christmas!

Out of the Blue Bliss

Years ago while I was creating designs for my parish’s liturgy committee, I decided to enter a liturgical art contest.

My art didn’t place in the contest. Not even a mention. More than a year later, one of the images of my work appeared on the cover of a magazine owned by the company from the contest.

It was my first time as a published artist. It didn’t register with me at the time, even when I opened the magazine and saw my name for the cover credit. As I look back on it, I am glad I put myself out there by entering the contest. The experience fostered a seed planted long ago.

I am acquainted with several artists who volunteer their time to illustrate sacred stories. You never know where it will lead, for me the experience was far richer than getting notice on a magazine cover. In fact, I would describe it as bliss.

Cover art by Mary A Livingston  6'x9' in fabric

Cover art by Mary A Livingston
6’x9′ in fabric

Becoming an Illustrator

Interesting how one thing leads to another. I was asked to participate in liturgical environment planning. Just for a season. Nothing official or formal. I think part of the plan was for me to learn a bit more about the faith I had awakened to as an adult. A little backdoor catechesis perhaps. Not sure at what point I became a regular team member. I spent many years that followed as a part of the liturgical design team in our local parish.

Liturgical environment planning involves reading sacred scripture for the applicable period and designing the way the surrounding environment will look. The key to designing sacred space for worship is presenting an environment that supports and enriches the written word without adding to or detracting from it.

Using brainstorming notes from the liturgy team, and the colors designated for the season, I would bounce ideas around and watch faces for the tell tale sign of ah ha.

Sometimes using imagery, sometimes just color and shape, but always the surrounding area is designed to invite into the story. A successful design will awaken the listeners to the fullness of sacred word spoken. An unsuccessful one will leave them perplexed.

I realize now, this was the first time I illustrated. It was also the first time I publicly presented art other than photography. A seed planted long ago was nurtured.

I imagine the process is the same, regardless of your faith tradition. People have been illustrating the sacred since before it was written word.

Should you have the chance to participate in such an endeavor in your personal faith tradition, I encourage you to do so. You may find it to be enriching, rewarding and enlightening. You may even come a bit closer to bliss.

Form and color practice to present to the liturgy team for review. I sneaked into my husband’s watercolors, this was this was the second time using watercolors since I was a child. (I have since remedied that dry spell.)

The final piece. The background is painted with dyes on cotton muslin. The wheat is painted with dyes on felt. For the last 9 years it occasionally appears during the late summer/autumn ordinary season. 6’x9′