Now there is no (as far as I know) patron saint of mushroom pickers, but Matt's (as in Saint Matthew) grand father looks remarkably regal. He liked birds though so he might stand in as Saint Francis.


So there I was, wanting to do a nativity scene. Luckily Floss and Dave managed to produce a Wilf and offered their services as models. Now Floss is impossible to draw/paint, as mentioned in a previous post in the drawing blog.
Anyhow, as far as I could recall, the nativity involved a couple, a baby, a shelter of some sort and animals. They seem to divide between the more cheerful celebration of a birth and the ones where Joseph is looking quite despondent somewhere outside of said shelter whilst Mary and her new born are safe and sound. Clearly I did not want Dave to look despondent so I plumped for the cheerful version (there's a surprise) and added a collection of animals. The Donkey and cow are pretty standard and as the three Magi are normally shown with some pretty spectacularly exotic animals (at least in Santons set ups) I added an elephant and giraffe. Farm animals also feature pretty heavily in Provencal Santons so I added those too. The racoon is not standard, I am aware, but I am very found of them. The dinosaur head is not quite standard either but Wilf likes them.
Luckily, just as I was adding the final touches, I received a Christmas card from a Catholic friend made by her son and hols and behold, it was a nativity featuring a large star. I had completely forgotten about this, but in my haste I also thought I had forgotten to add a dove with sprig in its beak and it is only afterwards that I realised I had muddled two animal heavy scenes.

St Anne

St Anne was the mother of Mary and thereby Jesus's grand-mother. Her husband was Joachim.

The story goes that they could not have children and Joachim was so depressed about it as his mates were mocking him for his lack of offspring that God granted them Anne.

My Anne came from the cover of a magazine in a roundabout way but I made here more doll like and tweaked a few things to circumvene the fact that I do not actually know that person and I am running out of friends. I had never heard of that Anne: as I do not own a TV I miss out on a lot of contemporary iconing.
In any case her dog is fantastic and being held like a baby, it reminded me of the story of St Anne, who nowdays would probably tell Joachim to get over it.

Lucette and Marie-Lise

There is a St Luce/Lucie but there is no saint with a compound name that I have come across.
I was brought up by those two, they now have American cocker spaniels instead. They like to go on exotic jaunts and are generally deemed to be completely bonkers.
Lucette was named so because my grand-father like Paris (Lutèce) and it is such an old fashioned name that it almost suit my not very old fashioned mother. Marie-Lise, otherwise known as Gline by myself since childhood, is a twin. Her brother  also has a compound name, I guess one way to remember that one was not alone in the womb.
So why not as saints? I cannot quite fathom Gline as a St Mary as this is not her name. I cannot do my mother alone as a saint, even though there is plenty of material there (ahem) as this would be unfair on the other. So here we go, neither as a saint, grinning away in the jungle.

Frieda/Prisca as St Prisca

4 x 6
Prisca was a virgin martyr.
She was also my maternal grand-mother, née Frieda and renamed Prisca.
She was not overly fond of people but adored me, her only grand-child.

Dan B as Daniel the Stylite

4 x 6
Daniel followed the example of Simeon and decided to become a stylite and in doing so basically squatted someone's land. His feast day is on the 11th of December.
The real Daniel is a painter. He made a portrait of me.

Tom Martin as St Roch

4 x6

St Roch is meant to have led a very sorry life: as he had leprosy or some other nasty disease, he was shunned by society and had to live in the woods with only his trusty dog for company.

Tom, whose confirmation name was Roch, is a photographer. He has done a lot of work in Rwanda amongst other things and is worth checking out:

Sylvie Borel as St Sylvie

5 x7 inches
Started in 2013 and finished in 2014

Sylvie as a name means of the forest (sylvian) and Saint Sylvie is not the most famous of saints. She became a saint by being the mother of Pope Gregory the great and by being a great example to him and others of devotion and thereby a de facto proselystizer.
She was a keen nutritionist, making sure her son's menu included such and such so as to maintain him at optimal health. Apparently she did not trust the fruit and vegetables from the local market and would try to obtain things from her own garden to feed her son.

Sylvie is the patron saint of Priests' mothers.

Now our Sylvie is not the mother of a pope but she is a proselytizer and has converted many to the love of the darkroom. She is a photographer, sculptor and a great teacher, a vegan or vegetarian depending on social situation (not easy being vegan when out and about), a gardener, mountaineer and bee-keeper, a follower of alternative and holistic treatment, deeply interested in all matters spiritual and currently a keen student of theravada buddhism.

Sylvie is also responsible for this work: she gave me oil paints in 2012 so that I could have a try.


Not quite a saint, Deborah features in the Old Testament as a prophet, dispensing advice to all and sundries from her favourite spot under a tree.
Wise and witty she was a font of knowledge, strong and independent.

My Deborah is also wise, as well as incredibly nice (and gorgeous). I always found her witty, but that might have been helped by the copious amount of red plonk we used to quaff in our studenty days.

She is also the queen of evolution and has a great trick of saying 'oh I can't do that' and then do it better than everyone. For example, having previously claimed not to be academic, she proceeded to collect Master degrees.  She used to not be keen on cats, now she fosters rescued felines in her spare time.
A trained dancer, she is incredibly strong (yet looks dancer like and fragile) and has a stupendous work ethic that plays in her favour in the big world of business.

6 x 4 inches
Started in 2013 and finished in 2014

Saint Simon

Simon the zealot is meant to have preached as far as Persia along with Judas Thadeus, his preaching partner.
He is the patron saint of fishermen and lunberjacks.
This one was started in 2013 and finished in 2014.
5x7 inches
The real Simon can be quite flamboyant. This attire and pose is atypical, yet I always found him to thoughtful and a dreamer so this appealed to me as well as fitting my purpose better.

Siobhan Wanklyn as Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc first heard in early teens some fellow dead Saints talking at the bottom of her garden advising her to save France, etc. 
Her parents - who seemed to have been rather open minded - let her get on with it and off she went to try and convince slightly less open minded military men that she was up to snuff. After some persisting she did manage to convince them and was taken to the King whom she impressed.
Her background had to be checked as it needed to be established that the King, his army and France were under divine protection as per her visions, rather that following the ranting of a witch. Her credential as a pure maiden of Christian virtue having been confirmed (hence the insistence on her virginity), she went off to war. 
She is likely to have been a standard bearer rather than an active combatant. 
As we all know, she was captured by the English and burned at the stake  after being tried for heresy.
Interestingly, the heresy bit was because she dressed as a boy. In Deuteronomy 22:5 it says: 'The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for all who do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.'
She was retried 15 years after her death and found innocent. 
She was only canonised in 1920.

Siobhan means Joan and her middle name is also Joan after her grand-mother.  Siobhan is now a primary school teacher as well as a green activist and all round nice person. She also makes very good wedding cakes.
The slogan on her standard comes from a badge she wore at an event. The dragon comes from Saint George's chapel in Worcester cathedral. The decorative edge is based on a pattern on a coat in Cologne's medieval room, and a similar form of it is around Saint Nicholas (here is one I did earlier), which Siobhan picked up for me in Worcester.
She has since cut her hair and donated it to a charity making wigs for kids.

4x6 inches

Louis Figgis as Saint Louis

5x7 inches
Saint Louis was Louis the IX of France. The only canonised French king, he was born on the 25th April 1214, died in 1270 and was canonised in 1297. His feast day is the 25th of August and he is the patron saint of France, hairdressers and embroiderers.

He was a crusader and died during his second crusade outside Tunis, some say of bubonic plague, others dysentery.

Saint Louis established the Sorbonne University and commissioned the Sainte-Chapelle on the Ile de la Cité in Paris where the crown of thorns is housed. The Sainte-Chapelle is my first 'wow' moment as a child when I saw it. Aged 10 my grand-parents took me on a trip to Paris where amongst other things I got frowned at by choir boys whilst eating the biggest lolly-pop ever in Notre-Dame. Having over the years been reluctantly dragged to many a Romanesque church as part of my cultural formation, the Gothic splendour of the Sainte-Chapelle took my by surprise.

On the other island in the Seine, the Ile Saint-Louis, there is a church called Saint-Louis en l''île. That church has a most splendid perforated spire.

In that church I drew most of the patterns used in this icon, although the ones on the side are islamic patterns, an allusion to his crusades. There is obviously a fair amount of fleurs de lys as these are emblems of the kings of France and I wanted to keep to the colour scheme of the Sainte Chapelle.

Louis Figgis grew up in the grounds of where I have my studio. As he is rather dashing, I thought he would make a fine king. I hope he will be glad I did not give him Louis the IX's hair style, patron saint of hairdressers or not.