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Merry Christmas!

xmass 2017

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Here are some images from a life size nativity scene that I created for the church of Sant’ Ambrogio from awhile back.  The post about that wonderful project can be found here.

1 presepe
Front view of Sant’ Ambrogio presepe
2 presepe
Side view of presepe
4 presepe copy
Detail of the Madonna
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Honorable Mention at the 6th Catholic Art Exhibition at the Saint Vincent Gallery

Wanderer pastel
St. John the Baptist, pastel on paper mounted on linen, 50cm x70cm

The painting shown above was awarded an Honorable Mention at the 6th Nationwide Juried Catholic Arts Exhibition hosted by the Saint Vincent Gallery in Latrobe, PA.  I would like to thank everyone at Saint Vincent College for continuing the great work of Brother Nathan Cochran and this year’s juror Denis R. McNamara, Ph.D.

My picture of San Francesco da Paola was also selected to participate.

sanfrancescopaola
San Francesco da Paola, oil on linen, 40cm x 55cm
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Interview Feature

Matthew James Collins - Amore1r
Inheritance: A Portrait of Amore, oil on linen, 50cm x 60cm

While in Chicago this summer I had the opportunity to participate in a short interview feature about my life and work.  Footage from the opening of my Iter Animae that took place at Loyola University is featured as well.  I would like to thank Matt Baron and Joe Kreml for developing and creating this wonderful piece.

I opened a YouTube channel as well and that can be found here.

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Sacred Art Show in Livorno

Wanderer pastel
Saint John the Baptist, pastel on paper mounted on linen, 50cm x70cm

A couple of my paintings will be participating in the upcoming show “The Rebirth of Figurative Sacred Art” that will run from Sept. 7th until the 10th. at the Old Fortress in Livorno, Italy.

My pastel of Saint John the Baptist and oil of San Francesco da Paola will be exhibited.  Entrance is free and the show is part of the Miss Arte Moda Italia program.

sanfrancescopaola
San Francesco da Paola, oil on linen, 40cm x 55cm
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Iter Animae

Rhapso
Rhapso, oil on linen, 86cm x 92cm

Loyola University’s Medical School will host a show of my work in Stritch Center of Medicine this July.  The title of the show is Iter Animae (The Soul’s Journey).  It will have about 20 of my works, oil paintings, sculptures and drawings.

Through a variety of genres ( portraiture, the sacred, landscape) I strive to make the intangible presence of our inner existence visible. Timeless landscapes, evocative portraits and Catholic saints express the ‘iter animae’ or the soul’s journey.  The transcendent power of art expresses truths of the human experience that the confusion of our daily life obscures.

I will post more info soon.

Inheritance.JPG
Inheritance, oil on linen, 86cm x 92cm

 

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A Sight Size Head Study for Affresco

Il Risorto (The Ressurected Christ), pastel on paper, 50cm x 70cm
Il Risorto (The Resurrected Christ), pastel on paper, 50cm x 70cm

I am currently developing a couple of affresco projects for churches in Matera, Italy.  A lot of preparation is required: compositions sketches, presentation drawings, studies, cartoons etc; before the actually painting can begin.  Studies made from life are important not only for working out ideas but for creating the references that are used to complete the painting.

My pastels
My pastels

My medium of choice is pastel.  I make my own sticks using the same earth pigments that will be used in the affresco.  For the head study of Il Risorto that is shown above, I  used the sight size method.  An approach used by portrait painters for centuries, it is perfectly suited for head studies.

Model with study with a sight size set up.  There is a slight distortion from the camera.
Model with study with a sight size set up. There is a slight distortion from the camera.

Essentially a practical application of one point perspective, sight size is based upon the relationship of viewing point, model and picture plane.  Instead of looking through the ‘veil’ the picture plane is the canvas placed along side of the model.  The least amount of distortions and errors occur when the model and the picture plane are the same scale, thus the natural power of this method for life size portraiture.  However, for my project the head of Christ is to be over life size. To achieve the correct scale I placed my board roughly a meter behind the model.

Easel placement seen from the side
Easel placement seen from the side

In designing large, in situ wall decoration a lot of different factors come into play.  Compostion, visual corrections and varying viewing points all must be considered and orchestrated to create a successful painting.  Sight size, when used intelligently, is a fundamental and necessary tool for not only shapes and proportion but giving work the power of impact at a distance.

To learn more about my pastel approach there is a post here.  For an example of the affresco technique there is another post here.

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The 5th Nationwide Juried Catholic Arts Exhibition

The Monk, 50cm x 70cm, pastel on paper mounted on linen.
The Monk, 50cm x 70cm, pastel on paper mounted on linen.

The 5th Nationwide Juried Catholic Arts Exhibition hosted by the St. Vincent Gallery at the St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA opens today.  My painting pictured above ‘The Monk’ was selected to participate.  Sad news unfortunately accompanies this wonderful event.  Brother Nathan Cochran unexpectedly passed away this July.  He was the visionary and driving force behind the St. Vincent Gallery and this Exhibition.

Hopefully we can all learn from his positive attitude and carry forward his dream of reviving Catholic art.  To learn more about the exhibition the link can be found here.

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Off the Coast of Utopia

An old friend and wonderful artist, Martinho Correia, interviewed me for blog: Off the Coast of Utopia.  The post can be found here.  It is an audio podcast.  Honestly, I do not like the sound of my recorded voice.

I met Martinho in 2000 when he was studying at the Angel Academy in Florence.  He went on to become a head instructor.  Now he travels extensively teaching workshops worldwide, founded an artist retreat in Portugal, and is creating a sacred art program for a Catholic university in Canada.  In addition to all this he still has time to create  beautiful paintings.

Here are a couple examples of his work:

Highlander, oil on linen, 50cm x 60cm
Highlander, oil on linen, 50cm x 60cm
Ananstasis, oil on linen, 3/4 life-size
Ananstasis, oil on linen, 3/4 life-size
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article

Porta CroceThe Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has done several articles about the sacred art show at St. Vincent’s gallery in Latrobe, PA.  The above painting won 2nd place and is the featured image in an article found here.  The other 2 articles can be found here and here.

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4th Nationwide Juried Catholic Art Exhibition

Porta Croce
Jesus Carrying the Cross, oil on linen, life-size figures

The above painting was awarded 2nd place at the 4th Nationwide Juried Catholic Art Exhibition hosted by St. Vincent’s Gallery.  The site can be found here.  I speak in depth about the painting in a previous post found here.  The show is up until December 9th.  So if you happen to be in the Latrobe, PA area, please stop by.

I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude to Br Nathan Cochran, the director of the gallery, and John Spike, the juror.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a short article about the show.  Find it here.

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A Forgotten Church Revisited

The cave church of the Madonna degli Angeli

A stolen fragment of an affresco from the cave church of the Madonna degli Angeli has been recovered in Germany and returned to Matera.  The article from the Art Journal explains the story here.  My blog posting about the church is found here.  An image of the fragment is shown below:

'The Good Monk,' affresco(color)

Here is a view of the church interior.  The above affresco was taken from the figure directly left of the opening.

Interior from the cave church of Madonna degli Angeli

I painted a view of the ravine with the church several years ago.  Madonna degli Angeli is on the hill to the right.  Below is an image of the painting:

The Two Churches
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Praying Hands

Praying Hands, terracotta, life-size

In honor of Easter, I would like to share the above picture.  It is a pair of praying hands that I originally created for a Nativity scene for the church of St. Ambrogio in Florence.  You can find that post here.  In the end the work was not really appreciated by the parish and completely disregarded.  I was able to reclaim the terracotta bits while everything else was thrown away.

The technique that I used was rather interesting.  The final color of the hands was achieved by the use of different color clays, not paint.

Hopefully I will be able to reuse these hands in a future work.