~ featuring the art of Cia Williford of Briarwood Studio ~

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Magdalena, the Woman with the Alabaster Jar

I had a very unusual experience while working on this painting. If you're an artist, then perhaps you've known that feeling of a piece of work being "divinely inspired" or otherwise coming from a place outside of you.

As I drew the sketch for Magdalena, I felt as though someone was guiding my hand...literally. I've had very little in the way of training when it comes to my art, so most of what I do is intuitive. I try something and if it doesn't work, I try something else. But this time, as soon as I drew a line I knew immediately if it was right or wrong. No, I take that back. Even *as* I drew a line, I knew immediately if it was going to stay, or be erased and redrawn. It was as if I *knew* just how the painting was supposed to turn out...not my usual mode of working. It was an odd, but very amazing, experience.

As many of you probably know, Magdalena refers to Mary Magdalene, otherwise known as "The Woman with the Alabaster Jar." She has come to mean, for many women, the embodiment of the feminine aspect of the divine. I have a special place in my heart for her.

Later, as I was telling my sister the story of my "inspired" painting, she immediately said, "You know who was guiding you, don't you? Mom."

How funny that I didn't see that at first. We lost Mom in December 2008 of complications from her vascular dementia.

Her name was Marion, a derivative of the name Mary. :)

Thanks for the help, Mom. I love my "inspired" painting.


  1. Oh yes I know what you mean when your hand is guided.. that happens to me very often as well especially when I do portraits. This painting is absolutely gorgeous and thank you for sharing this beautiful story, Cia ! xoxoxo

  2. oh, how wonderful Cia. I love the story behind your painting- and you know, when I first saw it I thought there was something magical about her eyes. Now I know why. You and your Mom did a wonderful job ♥

  3. Oh Cia, what a beautiful experience you have had! I have had similar inspirations from my husband now gone four years, tho I have not felt my hand guided in that way... So awesome! She has a wonderful enlightened look in her eyes - so special and lovely. This is one to treasure for all time!

    Hugs, Jessi xoxox

  4. Thank you, Sung-Hee, Kim and Jessi. You ladies are very special!

  5. I have been reading through your blog from the most recent post and I really love it. I had seen people doing the 'face a day' drawing but hadn't signed up because I knew I wouldn't have time to do one every day. i was very impressed and inspired when you wrote that you would do it and if you had to miss a day so what, you wouldn't let stress stop you haing fun! I also read your father has altzeimer's and here now, I have read that you lost your Mum to vascular dementia. I am very sorry.

    The main reason I have such little time for myself is that I care for my Mum, who has vascular dementia, early stages, but quite dependent..... I love your Magdelena painting... I love this saint too...

    I recently signed up for an online class on drawing faces, mixed media, and I hope I can do well on this.....

    Anyway sorry to waffle. I'll get back to enjoying your pictures now.

    1. Helena, thank you so much for stopping by and for taking the time to leave your comments. I just read about Scooter on your blog, and I hope he's feeling much better today. Our poor fur babies. We suffer when they do. I signed up to follow your blog. I enjoyed my visit there. Hugs to you, Cia


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