From Cameron Smith:
Painting Our Lady of Guadalupe has been tremendous. Often I receive inspirations from a purely visual starting point, and the meaning and theology follow later. This may seem backwards, but I believe it is the Holy Spirit leading with Beauty. Included are examples from OLG to illustrate how this process works for me. One thing I can say is that I don’t recall a single time when following a purely visual inspiration didn’t result in deeper, richer content. In this detail of the painting you can see she’s wearing a pearl choker with one larger pearl (the “pearl of great price”, which may happen to resemble a miraculous medal). When you think about the symbolism of the pearl of great price it’s perfect, but it started as simply seeing that she needed something on her neck to divide and create spacing that worked better compositionally. I like incorporating elements that increase visual continuity with the original OLG image as well. In the original, the collar and neck of Our Lady’s dress form the same lines as the choker and pearl.
Next example is the flaming cape. My desire was to make the cape more flowing and dynamic, but the flame idea came after designing the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, incorporated in the dress pattern. Only after liking it for visual reasons did I think of all the meaning: flames – Holy Spirit – overshadows Mary – like a torch. This works so well, because a torch carries a flame as Mary carries the Light of the World, Himself, who wishes to “set the world ablaze.“
You can just keep going with this one. Final example for this post – Mary’s hands – I wanted to clear the area for the two hearts and the belly, as well as accentuate the fact that she’s pregnant (frequently missed in the original). The hand under the belly seemed natural, motherly, and almost liturgical, like a paten under the Eucharist. Later, I felt I needed a bit of green pointing up from the left side near the fingers – purely visual, to interrupt the dress and balance greens. Then, afterwards, thinking of the Holy Spirit as flames, green as fertility, it’s like Mary is actually pressing the Holy Spirit to her womb – her “fiat” of accepting the Holy Spirit as spouse and conceiver of life. Yes, she’s a bit further along than the Annunciation, but I still love the visual that her’s is a proactive faith. You can see why time and flexibility to develop and evolve an image are crucial! I’ll post more on inspiration and process soon.
One of the beauties of Mary in the providence of God is that she is the human who is one of us. God provides her as a symbol to us in our time and in our circumstances no matter when and where we are.
Just as God in Christ met humanity in our fraility and flesh, so Mary meets us in our time and circumstances. In the day to day acting out of our lives.
And she points us to her Son.