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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"I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It’s impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden, and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent. Can it be trusted any more about anything else? Won’t it proscribe tomorrow what it prescribes today?"
— Pope Benedict XVI, writing in 1997

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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