It has always been in my mind to pay homage to the presence of animals and spiritual support in my life (not to forget family and friends), as well as to the techniques, composition and extraordinary art left to us by the artists of the past. The seeds were planted in the late nineties for the perfect integration of these major influences when I heard of the Blessing of the Animals service in my spiritual home in Paris, The American Cathedral.

The Blessing of the Animals ©2017 Ann James Massey17in x 23in | 43.2cm x 58.4cmOil on mahogany boardHover over the image to zoom in and see the detail or Click to view the full size image in a new tab

This yearly service is held in innumerable churches on or near October 4th to celebrate the feast day of St. Francis of…

Every artist sets up their own studio with materials, equipment and tools they use in creating their work.

For those who are interested or curious, here are mine.

For my drawings (including preparatory drawings for the paintings)

Tracing paper (for loads of quick sketches) and vellum paper (when I want an acid free see through material).03mm mechanical pencil (with HB and/or B leads) for the sketches and line drawings.05mm mechanical pencil (B leads) to retrace the lines on the back of the final line drawing (on vellum paper). It is a bit softer and thicker than the .03 lead and therefore transfers more readily to the final surface. If the detail is very small, for the back, I’ll use the B lead in the .03mm mechanical pencil.Small rounded object to rub the lines of the drawing without smearing them to transfer the final line drawing (I use a quality pen cap) to the preferred surface (Bristol Paper or Mahogany Board).

Contemplating your belly button at length does not mean you know where it really is. If navel gazing was never an abiding passion, you still might be surprised to know just where that anatomical feature rests undisturbed on your frame.

A female’s navel is located below the waist and the male‘s is located at or above the waist. Why the disparity? Essentially, the female waist is higher in the torso (allowing sufficient space for the womb and pregnancy), while the male waist is lower (creating a longer back for better leverage in lifting). As a result, the female body’s center of balance is located at their hips and the male body’s is at their shoulders. Have you noticed that for the most part, moms carry their child on the hip, but dads might carry that same child on their shoulders?

Photo © 1996 Ann James Massey Adobe stock photo

Perhaps you remember the exercise in your high school biology class…

Art is communication and needs no interpreter. However, there can be histories, anecdotes, and observations that add another dimension to our enjoyment once the artwork has spoken to us. And so it is with Veronese’s “Wedding at Cana.”

Paolo Caliari (1528 – 88), called Veronese after his native town of Verona, painted this theatrical biblical scene in 1562 – 63 for the refectory at the Benedictine monastery of S. Giorgio Maggiore in Venice where it inspired the monks until 1798 when Napoleon purloined it and other masterpieces during his conquest of Italy. The painting is so enormous (21.5 x 32.5 feet or 6.55 x 9.91 meters) that it had to be cut in the middle horizontally so that it could be transported to its new home in the Louvre.

After Napoleon’s fall, the Neo-Classical sculptor Antonio Canova (1757 – 1822) came to Paris in 1815 as the head of the commission to restore the stolen works to their prior homes.…

Why is it some artists shudder or shy away from learning the basics of perspective saying it is just too complicated?

But it’s not really…and certainly the basic principles are there for anyone to see and apply.

Let’s just look at the simplest and main law: things that are further away from you will appear to be smaller.

Ta da! Couldn’t be easier and yet start looking at artwork with that idea in mind and you will see breaches of the obvious everywhere.

For example:  Which house below is quick sketched correctly?

Which house is roughly sketched in perspective?

If you chose the second one, you are already understanding that first rule of perspective. The front corner of the house is the closest edge to you, so the two farther corners should be smaller, which they are in both drawings. But what about the roof? The eave is closer to you than the apex of the roof. Therefore, the line…