About this blogger:
Gwyneth Holston is a sacred artist who works to provide and promote good quality Catholic art. Her website is gwynethholston.com.
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“Oh, the happy choir director who is hired to start work on a brand new choir, or who walks into his first rehearsal a total stranger to the existing group—what a fortunate man he is! The new choir director who is a former member of the choir, or a member of the congregation, or the nephew of the alto soloist, or a former altar boy, or otherwise well acquainted with the choir, is in for a few headaches.”
— Paul Hume (1956)

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Painting St. Catherine of Siena Part I
published 3 March 2014 by Gwyneth Holston

St. Catherine Initial Sketch HERE WAS A particular scene depicted by Sigrid Undset in her biography of St. Catherine of Siena that struck me deeply. One day her father was about to interrupt her while she was at prayer in her room in order to remind her to do her work. He stopped when he saw her, however, because he witnessed the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove above her head.

After deciding to paint this image, I took the following steps:

Step 1: I sketched several compositions and selected the one with the most pleasing silhouette, color, and value scheme.

Step 2: I found a model who was willing and able to commit many hours of sitting for me on a regular basis.

Step 3: I selected the shade of blue that was most complimentary to the model’s skin tone and sewed her costume.

Step 4: I set up a location complete with background and props illuminated by north light.

Step 5: I stretched linen and prepared the surface for painting.

The painting is not yet finished, but I will be posting an image of the final work very soon. I wanted to share this process because most people don’t realize the difference in quality that can be attained between working from a photograph and working from life. It is far more difficult and much more of a hassle to do things this way rather than use Photoshop for a reference, but I believe that the results are worth it.


St. Catherine Girl
St. Catherine costume