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Basilique Sainte Marie Madeleine

In the town of Saint-Maximin-la-Saint-Baume is located one of the most beautiful basilicas in all of Provence. The outside unfortunately needs quite a bit of work, but once you step inside it is wondrous to behold.

The construction of the basilica began in 1295 A.D. and the Gothic style was chosen by Charles II d’Anjou. It was he who discovered the tomb and relics of Mary Magdalene in 1279 A.D which had been buried since 716 A.D. The relics were hidden there as protection from the Sarrasins who were pillaging and devastating the region at the time. It is said that Mary Magdalene spent many years in Penance in the Grotte de la Sainte Baume (also known as La Sainte-Baume Grotte Marie Madeleine) located in the hills above Saint-Maximin-la-Saint-Baume.  The crypt of the basilica, which was built in 1316 A.D., contains an ancient Gallo-Roman tomb of the fourth century and four beautiful marble sarcophagi decorated with scenes of the Christian religion and allegedly contains the skull of St. Mary Magdalene. You are allowed down into the crypt to see the sarcophagi and the skull. It is quite an eerie feeling, I must say. Is this really the skull of Mary Magdalene? I couldn’t tell you, of course, but it has been legend for many centuries and the Catholic Church believes it to be so.

In 1348 A.D. due to the plague, construction stopped for a while on the basilica. Work started again in 1404 A.D. All construction was halted in 1532 A.D. after 237 years of being worked on. Due to this, the front doors to the church and the bell tower were never finished.

The basilica’s dimensions are superior to those of the other churches in the region. It measures 73 meters long, 37 meters wide and 26 meters high.

Behind the alter is the seventeenth century work of art entitled “The Glory”. It was sculpted by Joseph Lieutaud. It represents the Holy Trinity who is surrounded by angels. The walls of the choir area were carved from 1681 to 1692 in walnut wood by Vincent and Jean-Baptiste Funel Oleri who were brothers. It contains 94 stalls and 22 medallions depicting the life of the Dominicans and is one of my most favorite things about the church. The delicacy in which these two very talent brothers carved these masterpieces is unreal and rivals none in my opinion. There are also many angels atop the choir area and a large crucifix above the main door leading to the main alter which was installed in 1676 and made of marble. The pulpit was carved in 1756 by Brother Louis Gudet and is made of walnut. It contains seven medallions depicting scenes from the life of St. Mary Magdalene.

The basilica is also home to a magnificent organ. The order of the Dominicans wanted an organ present in the church that would match the magnitude of the basilica itself. They got their wish.

From 1772 A.D. to 1774 A.D, Jean-Esprit Isnard and his nephew Joseph constructed the organ which now resides in the basilica. It is immense and matches very well the size of the church and like the carvings in the choir area, the organ is absolutely marvelous.

I could spend hours in this church just gazing at all the little intricate details that are present. It is truly a work of art in and of itself.

The Art of REALLY, REALLY Great Illustration

Our  daughter illustrates the most wonderful pictures you could possibly imagine (NO she is not 5 years old and NO I’m not exaggerating. The proof is in the post!) The fantastic creativity that comes of this kid is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! She is truly gifted and I wanted to share her story and show you some of her art illustrations because everything she creates is just ridiculously great!

I usually refrain from blogging about my children. Aside from the occasional mention now and then, you don’t hear too much about them. For one, I feel that if I’m going to make them an object of a post then I probably should consult them to see if they really want to be written about by their mother (you know how sensitive offspring are). Secondly, three out of the four kiddies are adults and are in the United States and therefore aren’t apart of the everyday activities Dude, Tinki and I are experiencing.

But……on this occasion I have broken my rule (the one about making a kid the direct object of a post not about the consulting part).

As I was looking through my daughter’s illustration work, I had the sudden urge to share it with you all. She is more talented than anyone I personally know and I’m not just saying that cuz she’s my kid. You’ll see for yourself, it’s true.

The kido I am referring to is our oldest and she graduated from college last year with a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts in Illustration. Now we all know what that means; long, painstaking hours of intense creativity flowing from the body all for the sheer passion and pleasure of doing it. History continuously shows how unkind the world is to artists and in the modern world it’s much the same. Tell someone you’re an artist and what kind of a look do they give you? Yup-that’s right, you all know the look.

It’s tough to be an artist, and that’s putting it very mildly. The passion must be so intense for the work. It must always be for the work because the monetary rewards are so few for the majority out there. It’s not too say that you can’t make a living at being an artist, it’s just that it happens to be one of those professions where it’s a bit tougher to come by.

Most artists revert to doing something else on the side to be able to eat, put a roof over their head and clothes on their back. They all know, especially in the beginning, that no matter how great they really are, their work isn’t going to do that for them. Starving and artist has become synonymous with each other, but what can you do when you love it more than life itself?! (By the way, she doesn’t get the talent from me. I’m lucky if I can color inside the lines in a coloring book!). Her gift was passed to her by the way of Dude’s two older brothers who happen to be wonderful at any and all kinds of artsy stuff.

From the time our oldest was about 2 she displayed a talent for drawing that I hadn’t seen before. We would give her crayons and a coloring book and she wouldn’t want the book. She only wanted plain paper so she could draw whatever she wanted on it. Coloring books didn’t allow her creativity to flow. She saw the lines as roadblocks. As she grew, she had paper and pens or crayons with her at all times.

We made sure in her early years to put her in any and all art classes that we could find, whether it be at school or through extra-curricular classes in town. Art supplies aren’t cheap and neither were the classes so we told the rest of our three children that since their sister was busy making beautiful art they couldn’t have any extras. They would have to just get their pay back from her when she was rich and famous. This is why I don’t post any photos of them when they were younger. Seeing them in rags just isn’t pretty. 🙂 You’re not really buying that one are you?

In her preteen years she would paint using watercolors and oils and draw with pen and pencil. She entered any contest she could and she won some kind of ribbon or award in nearly all of them.

When we lived in Aix-en-Provence, we were lucky enough to find a couple of art classes that she could attend during the day each Wednesday and in the evening each Thursday. Boy did she eat those classes up. I never saw more of a happy camper than when she was heading out the door to art class in France.

Upon our return to the United States, we enrolled her in the Orange County High School of the Arts, otherwise known as OCHSA (pronounced OSHA). This is undoubtedly one of the best places to go for a teenager who lives, eats and breathes anything that has anything to do with art. Those few years at this school she excelled and was introduced to jewelry making, sculpting and fashion design as well feeding her illustration-minded knish.

After high school graduation she was accepted to The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, New York. She spent the next several years there before graduating last May.

During the last year she has done two book covers, has had her art work appear in gallery shows and has even been lucky enough to sell some of her stuff. That’s not bad right out of college. She of course has a side job and maintains that artist can’t make enough to live on but one day she hopes to.

Her specialty is fantasy illustration and children’s books. The mediums she works the most with are oil and watercolors.

Her goal is to be in one of SPECTRUM’s volumes, and work either at Random House publishing doing the illustrations for children’s books or at Wizards of the Coast illustrating their fantasy playing cards.

I wanted to share this with you all because I am so proud of her. She is an exceptional child (now an adult) in every way possible. She is loyal, trustworthy, conscientious and hardworking. Her work is beyond wonderful and I would like others to know how truly gifted she is and since I have a blog, I might as well use it every once in awhile for plugging something, right? Why not my oldest kido?

If any of you out there reading this knows someone or is someone who is looking for an illustrator, please don’t hesitate to let me know and I will pass on the information to my daughter. She is always looking for free lance work (as well as steady work).

I know you all are just dying to see if I’m telling you the truth, so here you go, the proof:

Here are some examples of her fantasy illustrations using oil paints.

Here are some examples of her illustrations using watercolor.

Here is an example of her work with Prisma Colored Pencils

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