A Madonna ‘fiat’ painting for the diocese
Local artist creates an image of Our Blessed Mother pondering her answer to the angel Gabriel
Jim Simpson studied hundreds of images of the Blessed Virgin Mary before touching his brush to paint.
Simpson, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Wichita, was commissioned by the Diocese of Wichita to paint an image of Mary for this year’s Stewardship theme: Fiat.
“I was really drawn to some of the older, more icon images of Mary, and Mary as the Madonna, and various other portrayals of her,” he said.
The composition and the proportions pay homage to icon images, he said, adding that he wanted something warmer, something that didn’t feel detached.
Spent a lot of time with the face
“I spent a lot of time with the face, the eyes, the overall color palette…the right feel that we were going for, an image that I hope people can relate to and identify with.”
When he thinks of Jesus’ mother he thinks of humility and grace, virtues he pondered as he painted the image, Simpson said.
“I started with a lot of lighter blues and kind of a classic approach of some darker cooler tones and then built up the flesh tones and the highlight areas on top of that.”
Thinking about the veil and Mary’s clothing inspired him, he said. “It’s kind of traditional, or typical in my mind. You see these stencils of starry sky motifs that you see in a dome or an apse of a church. So, that’s something I wanted to incorporate into the fabric.”
The halo also reflects traditional church window imagery, Simpson said.
He said while painting the image he reflected on the enormity of the moment, how Mary could not know what the future held, and despite that, her answer was “fiat.”
“Of course, that’s a lesson for all of us,” Simpson said.
The artist has produced several religious images over the last several years including paintings of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Peter, St. Benedict, and others. “It’s really intriguing to me. I really think there’s a lot of room to expand.”
Simpson also designed this year’s stewardship poster for the diocese.