Lenten Project: Our Lady of the Wood Painting

Happy Ash Wednesday everyone!

So, this blog post is going to be slightly different from a lot of my other blog posts. If you’re uncomfortable with anything that has to do with religion, just a heads up, that’s what’s being covered today.

For those of you who don’t know, Lent is the Catholic (and some other Christian denominations) time of the year where we honor the forty-days where Jesus wandered into the desert alone. Someone participating in Lent would give up something and/or do something extra (being better about cleaning someone’s room, going to daily mass, that kind of thing).

I’m sure many of you are aware of the 40 Trash Bag Challenge, which my mother first did and blogged about back in 2009 (independent of 40 Bags in 40 Days , but still the same idea).

Well. I’m starting my own challenge: 1 Painting in 40 Days.

One thing that I’ve been meaning to do for years during Lent was to paint a religious painting, either of a saint or a biblical scene. This is the year that Lent finally didn’t sneak up on me, and I know what I’m going to do.

About a year ago, my mother asked me to create an oil on wood painting of the Virgin Mary, particularly as Our Lady of the Wood.

The story of Our Lady of the Wood is inspring to me as someone going into art conservation. Many years ago in Galloro, Italy, there was a kid named Santi Bevilacqua picking berries in the forest, while he was there, he stumbled upon a wall with a painting of the Virgin Mary on it. He kept coming back to it, praying in front of it, and bringing flowers. Soon, some of the other kids started following him and doing the same thing. When the adults expressed concern with the children playing in the woods (not an unreasonable concern), they discovered that this wall was actually part of the remains of a church that suffered through a land dispute several years before and decayed over time. The church was rebuilt.

And now, I’m making a painting drawing inspiration from this story.

The description I was given was, “She is part of the wood, and the wood is part of her.” Mom had a dream about this. Mary is in a forest, wearing a pink veil the same texture and color as the sunset, and her clothing is disappearing into the forest as though she herself is part of it. This painting will be going into a niche in her house.

After doing a bit of research on oil-on-wood (being an acrylic-on-canvas artist), I found that oak or mahogany was the best wood to use. I used a good chunk of the money I earned from a commission I did that year, went down to Home Depot, and got a slab of oak that fit the size of the niche, sawed it down, then left it alone.

I really want to finish this piece before I leave for Florence.

I really love the work of William Bougeureau, so I’m thinking I’m going to be studying him a lot during this time.

Image result for Innocence bouguereau
Innocence by William Bougeureau

Image come from here.


I don’t know if I’ll blog about it every day, in fact, I probably won’t, knowing me, but I’m definitely going to try to work on this painting every day. If this project goes well, hopefully I can do this every year.

Fun Fact:

Apparently, Dorothy Day gave up smoking for Lent every year.


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