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Well, Bright week is done, and I am just now posting this.  We did celebrate, feast, and ignore the blog.  If you would like to see more photos from Holy Apostles Orthodox Christian Church visit here.


Lars Brownworth created a free podcast that has both kept me entertained and taught me about a huge chunk of history.  Each night when the kids go to bed I spend an hour or two cleaning up, preparing schoolwork or food, or drawing.  The perfect way to fill in that busywork is with podcasts.  This free podcast series called 12 Byzantine Rulers is about 6.5 hours long, and it has sparked a love of history in me.  I plan to read more about the Byzantine world, and Brownworth gives reading recommendations too.

The Hagia Sofia was a major character in this story, and when the podcast told of the 1453 Turkish take-over of Constantinople I was heartbroken.  The church looks different now since it was turned into a mosque and then a museum and has been through earthquakes, but many who visit the Hagia Sophia say it is the most amazing place they have ever been.  It was built in only 5 years and finished in 536AD by Justinian.  5 years!  I hope to either commission or (someday) draw an historical version of the Hagia Sophia in an architectural style to hang in my living room.

Besides the Hagia Sophia the podcast offers so much adventure and political drama and mystery.   There are many characters to hate and love.  Brownworth speaks of the tensions between the East and West parts of the empire and in the end says that when Constantinople is overrun, all the scholars escape to the West.  He points to that as the beginning of the Renaissance.  He even makes the claim that without the Byzantine empire, we would not even know of Plato. The people of Constantinople were well-educated and thoroughly mystical people.  I love itit‘s better than any film I have seen lately.  Enjoy!

“And yet, what is more important: the redemptive eternal life of the soul, or the short-lived life of the body, which we spend so much time attending to?  It is this, which I spoke of, that leads people either to good judgment or to stupidity.”  from The Way of a Pilgrim

These are two acrylic portraits done on wooden nesting dolls.  They are real nesting dolls which fit together.  After this photo I put on a final coat of Mod Podge to protect them.

This was one of many projects that I get through the custom listings on

The buyer sent me about 2 dozen photos, and from those I made sketches so he could visualize the project and ask for changes where he thought they were needed.

These dolls were a real challenge for me.  When I do another set, I will not do more than one quick sketch on paper because the image was distorted when I transferred it to the blank dolls.  Instead I will do a sketch just for compositional purposes (to pick clothing and size relationships), but all the fine tuning of the faces will need to be done right on the wood.  The smooth finish of the wood is very easy to draw on (and erase and redraw).  Here is the sketch that I did in Photoshop with my Wacom tablet which I later transferred to the dolls and painted:

If you are interested in having your portrait painted on wooden Russian dolls, contact me for pricing.