A surprise invitation from a friend’s aunt and uncle led me on one of the nicest day trips, up to see the artistic and historical fruits of Santa Fe, and, the Loretto Chapel where the famous Miracle Staircase was built.
This painting is one of the pieces I began undertaking after stitching together over 25 images of the staircase from inside the Loretto Chapel. Always somewhere amidst the debates of science and religion in my growing up life and then with the constant media battles of God-vs-Darwin and the like, I noticed one day while just looking the pictures, that this is a remarkable, stunning, gorgeous work of carpentry, regardless of who did it.
In this version I sought to emphasize the staircase’s aspiring quality, with radiant colors and light. Whether Joseph the Carpenter of legend mysteriously appeared to the Loretto Chapel Sisters and answered their prayers, or whether Jean “Frenchy” Rochas arrived from France as a member of a secret society of builders, the emotions conveyed in this work of building are something that is, in themselves, miraculous.
How I Made this Artwork
"The Loretto Chapel Miracle Staircase" began with taking almost a hundred different photographs at different angles of the stair case while inside the beautiful little chapel in Santa Fe where it was created in 1878, then a convent of the Sisters of Loretto. Taking the pictures was probably the biggest challenge since this particular trip was a surpise invitation, and I was just one of the many hundred visitors that day going through, and only had my iPhone with me and no tripod or other equipment.
The staircase really couldn't be photographed in one frame, especially with all the visitors around. To work around this I had to take many shots without distracting the tourists or annyoying anyone, since I really was captivated by the marvellous workmanship and truly artistic expression that the builder showed in this historical work.
Finally, I got as many different pictures as possible, and intermittently while free from other art projects, began the task of sorting through them when I could, and seeing if I could stitch any together, maybe in the hopes of making a panoramic photo. That never really happened because of all the strange angles during the shoot, but I did get enough to create a digital sketch of the staircase that I could use my Wacom tablet on and practice brush effects and paint techniques.
Working with the layered images, I began to find really interesting effects I could make with my Wacom tablet, very similar to Impressionistic Paintings, and little by little worked the layered digital sketches into something that inspired me the same way that the staircase itself did.
Thinking about a Gift for Someone Special?
Anyone who loves New Mexico and all of the intricate stunning beauty this gorgeous state and all of her artist and creative peoples have made, would appreciate the beauty of the Loretto Chapel Staircase. As the staircase itself was a gift, this painting reminds me of the perpetual gift Inspiration is, how when we receive something that is radiant with gratitude and beauty, our emotions shine.
I love the artwork on so many levels, and I would gift someone a print of Miracle of Loretto who showed me somehow how much they take pride in exceptional workmanship, exceptional heritage, and how they feel the value of something made long ago that lasts and persists through generations to come. Many historian friends of mine come to mind when I see this painting and think of the amazing historical story and the famous legend that surrounds Loretto and Santa Fe's famous Chapel.
For me personally, I love the glow of this painting. It was in itself a gift to me, something that helped me learn about history and apply my artwork beyond my previous subject matter(s), it gave me a worthwhile challenge to think about the accomplishments of other people in a field completely different than my own. That in itself is such a powerful motivation of giving, that I would give this artwork to many people in my life as a reminder of how much they've inspired me.
Art Materials and Supplies that Made this Art
I made the digital painting "Miracle of Loretto" with my:
iPhone 3GS to capture over 100 sketch / study images, and my
Wacom Intuos Pro digital tablet and stylus