minima maxima sunt

The Small things are the Great things; as in a grain of mustard seed.

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O Intemerata

The second prayer to the Virgin Mary in the book of hours is O Intemerata. (O Unspotted). The prayer dates back to the 12th century and has many variations. The version I used dates to the 15th century. 

This is the last section to complete before I finally get to start working on the actual hours for which these books are known. The Calendars, Gospels and Prayers to the Virgin have taken almost two years to complete due to my very busy schedule, but I am still very much enjoying this project. 

I opted to present a story with this prayer, noting the New Eve and Last Adam.

Obsecro Te

After the Gospel readings it was common to have a set of prayers to the Virgin Mary. I have completed the first and longest of the two prayers. This is the Obsecro Te, which translates as “I beseech thee”. Devotion and prayers to The Virgin Mary date back to the earliest years of Christianity and so it’s not surprising to find these in a book of hours. The prayers to the Virgin were sometimes personalized toward the intended owner of the book of hours. I have opted to represent the prayer as translated.

Read more…

Gospel of Mark

Shortest reading of the gospels in a book of hours is Mark. I’m already a third of the way through the sketch book I bought so I was glad for a shorter reading to allow more space for everything else I still need to add. I’m sure this will be a loosing battle though and will most likely have to go and get another sketchbook if I want to complete and entire book of hours.

Mark’s symbol was the lion which points to concepts like kingship and the “lion of Judah” in scripture. This completes the four evangelical symbols in the book. On the final page I added a Mappa Mundi (world map) popular in older days. This is known as a T and O map due to the circle and tee formed in the diagram. The Mappa Mundi was more of a symbolic map representing the three main continents of Africa, Europe and Asia. The top of the map faces east toward the orient which may seem a bit odd since today we  get our “orientation” toward the north. The word orient comes from the Latin “oriens” which means rising, as in the Sun.

Reading from Matthew

Completed the Reading from The Gospel of Matthew. For these pages I worked with the Flemish style of shadowing. Simple pictures of flowers and insects set in a 3D pop out from the pages. Light background coloring and boxed in with a darker border. Less gold used on these pages mostly because I couldn’t really see where to add that would not seem out of place. So in the end I stayed simple.


Reading from Luke

Gospel reading from Luke. The Evangelical symbol of the bull belongs to Luke. Stuck to a more traditional book of hours scheme for the reading on this one. Lots of gold mixed with vines and wildlife.

Reading from John

Here is the reading from John. Was able to find some pictures on the net to reference the Evangelical Symbols. Johns is the eagle. I also chose to start the reading in Latin which will continue on the other readings.


Have a few updates I’m hoping to put out today. The last month of the calendar I completed about a weeks ago. I was very excited with this last calendar entry for a few reasons. I was looking forward to getting into new sections of a book of hours, (the gospel readings). December and Christmas are favorite times of the year and I had a lot of ideas for the art. I also planned to do some kind of Saint or Icon referencing the incarnation.

Really the first time to try drawing a Saint or human figure in the book. I know I have mentioned several times that I am a hack at this. Not really a refined artist, my calligraphy is not that great….. But drawing hands… yikes! I was happy with the Virgin Mary that I drew but those hands took several attempts to get right. I am satisfied with the final and hope this gets easier as I do plan to have more of this.

Ending the calendar I had planned for a while to have a winter scene with cardinals and snow. A simple scene of winter.


November kicks off with the feast of All Saints and follows with All Souls. I used the “Dia de los Muertos” as a theme. One of my favorite holidays, as a child and to this day, is Halloween. But All Hallows’ Eve, is really just the beginning of a multi day holiday which sadly has lost its connection to the “dear departed”.
In Catholic tradition, dressing up and giving treats, “soul cakes”, goes back about a thousand years; remembering saints days goes back to the first martyrs and as this calendar shows they are still remembered.  The Day of the Dead also has ancient roots in pre-Colombian indigenous Mexican cultures. Remembering the dead, praying for the dead, setting altars or candles at grave sites, reciting the names of saints or church members who have past away in the last year, writing the names of the departed in a book of the dead, are some of the ways the holiday is still practiced.

Sugar sculls “Calaveras” are given to children and left at grave sites in “Day of the Dead” traditions. Sculls are a common symbol in Catholic art and iconography and are found in Aztec, Mayan and Toltec traditions as well. I still remember staying up late on the weekends as a kid to watch “Fright Night” which was a late night show that played horror movies. The opening was a green spooky skull.
La Catarina is a popular image of Death in Mexico and a common costume when celebrating the Day of the Dead. This was my first attempt at a human figure in the book. Had to re work a few times. Being a hacker has its limits, but I do plan on doing some more human figures in the book so I guess this was a good place to start. There was also some intent here as the liturgical year closes at the end of November and begins with Advent which starts four weeks before Christmas during the last days of November.


October I wanted another contrasting theme like I used in April and thought the transition of Autumn made the most sense as a theme. As a kid I remember the beautiful falls in New Jersey as October began. By the end of the month the trees were bare and I can remember being out in the dark for Halloween and seeing the black branches against the fading light. And yes a little nod to the Eve of All Hallows’. Couldn’t resist.

August Thistle and Rose

August was a re-visit to the Flemish art style. Flowers with shadows make the panel art seem to pop out of the page. My first try at this was in February with Oak leaves.

So the top picture is obviously a rose surrounded by gold foil, the side panel… Are doodle flowers and I’m not sure if they could be tied to an actual type of flower in existence.

On the second page is Thistle surrounded by gold and on the side panel are Geranium. These grew wild in Alaska and I had a few of these planted in my yard when I lived there. They came back every year.

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