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Michelle Paine

oil painting of Orvieto Duomo, Orvieto, Italy

September 11 in Orvieto

By Art and Faith, Italy

Processing the 20th anniversary of September 11th this weekend has led me to reflect that living abroad at that moment was in fact formative to my politics, my worldview, and my faith. I’m sharing my journal from the moments after September 11th in Orvieto in the hopes that it may be an encouragement to someone in the midst of divisive times.

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Commissioned Oil Painting of Saint Matthew's Cathedral in Washington DC ©Michelle Arnold Paine 2021

St Matthew’s Cathedral Painting Washington DC

By Architecture, Commissions

The complex architectural space of St. Matthew’s Cathedral was particularly challenging. For instance, a variety of materials (mosaics, marble, plaster, gilding, wood) cover Historic St. Matthew’s Cathedral in DC. How do I paint each element in a way that contributes to the whole painting? How do I communicate the shimmering array of textures and colors within this beautiful cathedral?

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Oil painting of archway in Pienza, Tuscany, Italy by Michelle Arnold Paine

Pienza Arch Painting

By Architecture, Commissions, Italy

Pienza is a hilltop town, and past this doorway the ground drops steeply into stairs. To me this painting represents how we look at the future in this moment. We see something beautiful, but hazy right now. Because of the pandemic, it is difficult to discern how far off that landscape may actually be and how we might arrive there.

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oil painting of woman in a church

New Marian painting: Interrogatio

By Architecture, Art and Faith, Painting, Virgin Mary, Figures

My newest Marian painting “Interrogatio: Inquiry” depicts that moment of questioning “How can this be?” when the angel announced the Christ’s coming to Mary at the Annunciation. Mary’s vulnerability before God is represented here by the nude female figure. The grand space of the architecture represents God’s overpowering presence. The architecture also becomes a metaphor for Mary herself, often referred to in medieval texts as the Temple or dwelling place of the Lord because of her role in the Incarnation.

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oil painting of basilica of saint francis of assisi from uphill

New Painting of Assisi Basilica of Saint Francis

By Architecture, Art and Faith, Commissions, Painting, Italy

In a similar way, I returned to the shapes and images from my time in Assisi many times. I felt a sense of mystery in the images of rhythms of dark and light. Through drawing and painting I explored the arches of an alleyway multiple times. For me it was not simple documentation of medieval architecture. To me these passageways were like my pilgrimages themselves -a path to something beyond what was visible.

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Saint Matthew’s Cathedral Sketches

By Architecture, Commissions

These thumbnail sketches of Saint Matthew’s Cathedral, Washington DC, lay out the plans for my first commission project of 2021. It’s exciting to start a new project at the beginning of a new year. Full of vision, possibility, options, agility. Creating thumbnail sketches like these intimate studies is like peeking around the corner at a fork in the path. Where would this take us? Will this plan accomplish our goals?

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Church Interior Drawings: Waiting

By Architecture, Art and Faith, Drawing

I created these church interior drawings as studies for a previous series of paintings of cathedral architecture. Each intimate drawing explores the space and emotion of the beauty of sacred space. As a result, they hold new poignancy during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time many of us have been separated from our houses of worship and faith communities due to social distancing regulations.

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female figure white arch gold background painting by Michelle Arnold Paine

Art Celebrates Women at the Ohio Statehouse

By Exhibits and Events, Painting, Figures

Since I recently began painting figures on metal leaf , I thought the “Red, White and Blue” exhibit would be a good moment to continue the challenge. In the drawings I leave the backgrond completely blank, allowing the lines to carry all of the expressive power of the figure. In a similar way, in the gold silhouettes I am using the gold for the negative space.

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gold mixed media painting contemporary icon

Contemporary Icons: Gold Silhouettes

By Art and Faith, Painting, Virgin Mary, Figures

My newest series of Gold Silhouette paintings are meant to be contemporary icons, modern interpretations of traditional icons. Whether architecture or figure, even landscape, my work has always centered on a theme of convergence between heaven and earth. Similarly, these new mixed media pieces juxtapose the expressive minimalist quality of my figure drawings with the other-worldly materials of metal leaf and paint inspired by iconography.

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Spiritual Nudes: Theology and Empathy in Monoprints

By Printmaking, Virgin Mary, Figures, Press and Publications

Her figures, far from the classical ideal of beauty, retain the brokenness of humanity, a brokenness that is both spiritual and physical. At the same time, Paine preserves their dignity and value, arguing that man’s design is not wholly evil. In each of these figures the signs of life and death are evident, like permanent and deep marks that cannot be wiped away.

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Saint Joseph Maumee Watercolor

By Architecture, Art and Faith, Commissions, Painting

After I painted the Historic Church of Saint Rose in Perrysburg last year, a local family suggested a painting of Saint Joseph Parish across the river as a special anniversary gift. Her parents were married at St. Joseph Parish in Maumee, Ohio. Since they are still parishioners there, she thought a painting of the historic church would be a memorable gift to celebrate their years together. The architecture of churches communicates the eternal, where God comes to earth…

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notre dame drawing in process

Notre Dame Cathedral Drawing

By Architecture, Art and Faith, Drawing

A few days before Easter we all watched in shock as fire enveloped a great monument of Christian architecture, Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris. Just a few days before I had discussed with my two homeschool co-op classes about Pope Benedict XVI’s charge to be “custodians of beauty”. In his address to artists in 2009 he tasked artists with the responsibility of being “custodians of beauty”. I strongly believe the call is to all of us.

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Architectural Paintings Sacred Spaces Presence

Sacred Architecture Paintings: Building Inspiration

By Architecture, Art and Faith, Exhibits and Events, Painting, Italy

The exteriors of local churches shape the landscape of daily life-about-town, but their interiors have helped shape spiritual lives for centuries. In Europe, cavernous sacred spaces were built for throngs of religious activity, but now hold only shadows of those presences. The shapes of archways reaching towards heaven, the rhythm of dark and light passing through complex spaces inspire a sense of quiet awe and shadowy mystery.

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oil painting Basilica of St Benedict after the earthquakes

The Monks of Norcia: Re-Building Tradition after the Earthquakes

By Architecture, Art and Faith, Exhibits and Events, Italy

These new paintings have become my own reflection on the work of rebuilding tradition. One commemorates the Basilica as it looked before the earthquake. The second depicts it in its currently ruined state. One painting was commissioned by a Catholic, the other by a Protestant, and so together they are a witness to the influence of the great Saint Benedict on Christian life.

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Orvieto and the Feast of Corpus Domini: Incarnation and the Arts

By Art and Faith, Italy

Orvieto was the birthplace for the feast of the Eucharist, called Corpus Domini, and one of the major feasts of the Catholic church. The Cathedral of Orvieto holds a treasure – a number of them, really, including frescos by Luca Signorelli, Gentile di Fabriano, and Fra Angelico. But its spiritual treasure is a relic from the Miracle of Bolsena, the miracle which was the final impetus in the church’s decision to institute the festival of Corpus Domini: “Body of the Lord”. This feast is a reminder to artists and non-artists alike that Art and Beauty can model the Incarnation in the world.

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Orvieto – Destination of the Heart

By Art and Faith, Italy

There are some experiences in life that stay with us far, far deeper and longer than measurable space and time would warrant. In my early 20s I spent three years working for the Gordon-in-Orvieto program in Orvieto, Italy. The experiences and the people continue to live so vividly within me that the distance of time and space does not seem possible.

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Park Street Arts Exhibit: Pilgrimage

By Architecture, Art and Faith, Exhibits and Events, PaintingNo Comments

As a part of Park Street Arts, my series of architectural interiors will be on view at Park Street Church in the heart of Boston until October 19, 2013. This exhibit of paintings and prints is entitled Pilgrimage. The one-point perspective which dominates the compositions implies a destination. Our lives here on earth are the journey to that destination, a pilgrimage journey towards God.

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Annunciation/Birth

By Art and Faith, Painting, Virgin Mary, Motherhood and Art-MakingNo Comments

The Feast of the Annunciation was moved to April 8 this year, since March 25 fell during Holy week. The Annunciation celebrates the moment when the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will bear the Savior. This series of Annunciation master studies I have shared over the last months is about waiting, and the expectation of new life. At times this “new life” has been a metaphor for new beginnings, forgiveness, spiritual renewal, but in 2012 the time of waiting was literal, as I waited, in pregnancy, for my baby girl to be born…

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Fede I, Oil on Canvas, 12x12, Architecture, Price $600

Convergence Exhibit – Reception March 23

By Architecture, Art and Faith, Exhibits and Events, PaintingNo Comments

On display now at the Ashland Public Library is a series of my prints and paintings entitled Convergence. The title “Convergence” has two origins, and these two meanings themselves “converge” in the paintings. In part, “convergence” describes how, in ecclesiastical architecture in particular, celestial and terrestrial converge in built space.

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Annunciation after David by Michelle Arnold Paine

Annunciation after David

By Art and Faith, Exhibits and Events, Painting, Virgin Mary, ItalyNo Comments

This Annunciation transcription will be included in the exhibit Compassion: The Good Samaritan, opening at Adams ArtSpace, Harvard College, Cambridge this weekend.

The Annunciation is the moment when God comes to earth – when human and divine come together to become incarnate in Jesus, Savior of the world. The Incarnation, God’s greatest act of compassion.

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Annunciation after del Cossa

By Art and Faith, Painting, Virgin Mary, ItalyNo Comments

Appropriate to post another Annunciation transcription today, the Feast of the Archangels (Gabriel, Michael and Raphael). This particular Renaissance Annunciation infuses Classical architecture into the Biblical story of the Gabriel’s announcement to Mary. The painting also shows off the artists’ knowledge of perspective in the way that the artist places the angel in the foreground.

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Annunciation after Beccafumi, Oil on Canvas, 6x6 ©2012

Transcriptions: After Beccafumi

By Art and Faith, Painting, Virgin Mary, ItalyNo Comments

Another in my series of Annunciation transcriptions. The original Mannerist painting was completed in 1546 by Italian Domenico Beccafumi and is currently in the little town of Sarteano near Siena, Italy. I’m not always a fan of Mannerism, but I like the mirrored swooping curves in this painting and the sense of motion it creates, so different from the very still, stable Annunciations of Fra Angelico.

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Church of the Transfiguration, Cape Cod Art Tour

By Architecture, Art and FaithNo Comments

A few weeks back we spent the weekend on Cape Cod for a little get-away. One of our excursions was to the Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans, Massachusetts. The Community of Jesus is an ecumenical Benedictine community made up of brothers (friars), sisters (nuns), and laypeople. They began building this testament of faith in 1997, hiring architects, liturgical consultants, and artists from all over the world to complete the narrative of salvation the building tells.

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Annunciation after Duccio, Oil on Canvas, 6x6, ©Michelle Arnold Paine

Annunciation after Duccio

By Art and Faith, Painting, Virgin Mary, ItalyNo Comments

What is the purpose of “copying” a work of art? Franklin Enspruch phrases it like this in a review of Wendy Artin’s series of watercolors of the Elgin Marbles: “She is at once paying the sculptures due homage, studying them for artistic clues, and using them to reach upward in ambition and scale.”

Somehow, in entering in to someone else’s creation, one often emerges at the other end with a clearer, renewed sense of voice and direction.

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Annunciation, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, 1344

Annunciation after Lorenzetti

By Art and Faith, Painting, Virgin Mary, ItalyNo Comments

I love the brilliant blue and of Mary and her contemplative gaze in the Annunciation altarpiece by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Lorenzetti was a Sienese painter in the first half of the 14th century and this work of his is presently housed in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena, Italy. My version is tiny, only 6″ x 6″, but I’m looking for the contemplative quality he captures.

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Beacon, Michelle Arnold Paine painting oil on canvas

2012 Olympics and Run with the Fire

By Art and Faith, Exhibits and EventsNo Comments

The Olympics are always an Event: even non-sports fans like me turn on their televisions to watch the grace, strength, speed and beauty of what the human body can accomplish. The passing of the torch leading up to the Olympics is also a moving part of the event; it is expressive of our human journey on this earth, of friendship across nations, and fraternity even in competition. I am excited to be included in a digital exhibit which will be released in tandem with the London Olympics.

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