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Our Lady of Lourdes

When I set out to illustrate the story of Saint Bernadette, I was surprised to find that there were photos of her. After some digging, I found a whole cache of photos taken right after she had her visions. Someone had had the foresight to pose her in the positions and outfits she was wearing during her visions.
When it came time to paint Mary herself, I knew no photos would be forthcoming. I looked at a lot of Marian paintings (long one of my favorite subjects) and realized that Mary seemed to appear to people in ways that would make them comfortable: San Diego saw a woman who could be a fellow native, there are “Black Madonnas not just from Africa but Eastern Europe as well. In Italy she is depicted as blonde (more from the available models than visions, granted) I decided to find a model that looked similar to Bernadette herself. I didn’t have to look far. Although it had never occurred to me before, I realized my good friend Carmen bore a striking resemblance to Bernadette. She agreed to be my model.
Saint Bernadette describes her vision of the Virgin: ”She has the appearance of a young girl of sixteen or seventeen. She is dressed in a white robe, girdled at the waist with a blue ribbon which flows down all along Her robe. She wears upon Her head a veil which is also white; this veil gives just a glimpse of Her hair and then falls down at the back below Her waist. Her feet are bare but covered by the last folds of Her robe except at the point where a yellow rose shines upon each of them.”
With this as a starting point, I painted St Mary as Berndadette may have seen her on that fateful day. I painted this watercolor as an illustration for my Book “The Lady in White” (available here), and offer a print from the painting to you for the first time.
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