Wanted to wish you all Happy Holidays with a little David-ish Christmas story….
One of the local charities I support insists on sending me stuff as a thank you for contributing… they do amazing work (providing food, shelter and services to homeless youth in the city) so I’d support them anyways, but it’s nice to get updates on the young lives they’ve helped turn around, along with the Christmas cards they print.
The Madonna and child picture above was used on some of this year’s cards, including the one I sent to David. I love the picture and it just seemed right, I guess, so I sent it off to the P.O. Box last month.
Then on Twitter, I noticed @GwenPo on my timeline was using this picture as her avi. She told me the artist had been inspired by a Christmas carol … you guessed it … Mary Did You Know … here’s the rest of the story:
The painting was inspired 11 years ago when Morgan Weistling, now a 47-year-old father in California, heard Steve Amerson’s song “Mary, Did You Know?” on the radio. It was the Dolly Parton version.
One phrase stood out to him: “When you kiss your little baby you’ve kissed the face of God.”
“Immediately I felt I was supposed to paint this,” Weistling said. “I had been praying and asking God, ‘Give me an idea here.’”
Amerson’s phrasing appealed to him. “This little child she bore was God in the flesh, and yet, she cuddled and kissed him just as all mothers do.”
The painting poured out of Weistling in three days. He didn’t feel the need to sketch in charcoal on his canvas to begin, as he usually does; it was oil paint right away. He didn’t go back to make any alterations. The first draft was the final.
Weistling’s paintings are so realistic they look like photographs, and he uses people as models. His Mary was 16, a brunette named Katie who had a “sweet humbleness to her,” Weistling said. “It wouldn’t have worked with a blonde.”
The baby was of Jewish descent, born to a woman with a crack addiction and recently placed in a foster home.
Weistling knew he needed to master Mary’s kiss, rendering it tender, not “hokey.” Her left hand, pressing the swaddled baby to her heart, also was crucial. He had long admired the way Mary’s marble hand grips Jesus’ side in Michelangelo’s Pietà.
‘Gift from God’
Weistling’s published image, titled “Kissing The Face Of God,” sold out in two weeks. It remains his most popular painting — “my big gift from God,” he said — and the only original he’s kept, despite a standing offer of $100,000.
I’m glad I sent David that particular card.
MDYK … then…
Have a blessed holiday season, everyone!!!
[2013 update: Maria Sabias Que]