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Saint Cyprian by Theophilia Saint Cyprian by Theophilia
Sanctus Cyprianus - St. Cyprian of Carthage
March 2nd 2013
Ball-point pen, acrylics, watercolor
5 x 8 inches


“But let our speech and petition when we pray be under discipline, observing quietness and modesty. Let us consider that we are standing in God’s sight. We must please the divine eyes, both with the habit of the body and with the measure of the voice.” - St. Cyprian of Carthage

I was contacted by Arx Publishing for a commission of St. Cyprian of Carthage, based on his image found in the Basilica of St. Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. They wanted to use it as part of their cover for a volume of the saint's completed works. (The Complete Works of St. Cyprian of Carthage: [link]). This particular image comes from the wall of martyrs presenting their crowns to Christ enthroned. [link] and [link]

The Feast of St. Cyprian is September 16th.
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:iconsp3777:
SP3777 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014
I enjoy your gallery. You do know that St. Cyprian is of African descent. He is listed as such in several books.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you!

1.) I suppose it depends what you mean by "African descent." Northern Africa was very highly hellenized from Alexander the Great's time through the Fall of the Roman Empire. So many Greeks settled in North Africa and lived there for hundreds of years. So yes, he certainly was probably of hellenized African descent.

2.) I was commissioned to reproduce the cover after the likeness of this mosaic: farm2.static.flickr.com/1277/4… so that's why I have depiected him as I have.
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:iconsp3777:
SP3777 Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2014
Read when the saints go Marching In, Blacks Who Died For Jesus, and other books of that nature. They all list him and other who are depicted as Anglo . As a matter of fact the Roman Catholic Church list him as African/ Black. I know you produced what you are paid to produce. As. Roman Catholic deacon my catechumens are surprised to see how many of the saints and three Popes are African/ Black. Especially my children of color. They do not see themselves as part of the Church because they do not see the saints that look like them accurately portrayed. That is why I make contact with artist like you. You can help to rectify this situation for them . Be blessed and keep producing wonderful art.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
As far as I know, the Church doesn't have an official "list" of the ethnicity of the saints. For St. Cyprian, I suppose I'd be interested in reading a quote if you have one describing his physical features. I freely admit that I haven't read such a passage, and that there may very well be one out there. Do you have a quote describing St. Cyprian's ethnicity that you could share with me?

And I'm happy to say there are certainly plenty of black saints. :) To name a few off the top of my head, St. Martin de Porres, St. Josephine Bahkita, and St. Charles Lwanga (and his companions). Medieval depictions of St. Maurice also showed him as being black (www.michaeloart.com/wp-content…, and a later in the Renaissance: www.metmuseum.org/toah/images/… ). But just because a saint is from Africa doesn't mean they had black skin. There can be white or Mediterranean skinned Africans too. In fact, as an example of what I mean by "Hellenized" North Africans, you can get a good idea of the ethnicity of peoples living in Egypt under Rome by looking at the Fayum mummies. Like here: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia… and factsanddetails.com/media/2/20… and www.bible-history.com/ibh/imag… and upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia… , etc, etc, etc. That's what a lot of people who lived in North Africa looked like. St. Cyprian lived in the 200s, roughly around the same time as these kind of portraits were produced. 

To be honest though, I really don't think a saint's skin color is important one way or the other. After all, it has nothing to do with their sanctity or their closeness to God, which is what really matters for anyone. I do see your point though that many people might feel excluded or "left out of" the Church because they don't see images of saints who look like them, which is certainly a sad thing! But I also don't think it's okay to try and appropriate saints, often for political reasons, or for some kind of cause or movement. I think we ought to let them speak for themselves. In any case, whether St. Cyprian was dark-skinned or white-skinned doesn't make much of a difference to his holiness and importance. :)

Thank you! Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart!
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:iconsp3777:
SP3777 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014
There holiness was and is never in question.my discussion was about representation and how that bears on the children of color. The duty artist have to them.  I will close the conversation with what I was taught by a priest of color. "Those who say the are "color blind" are blind to the problems of the people of color." 
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:iconhaius:
haius Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2013  Hobbyist
:O  YOU HAVE DONE A PUBLISHED BOOK COVER

REMEMBER US LITTLE FOLK WHEN YOU GET BIG  XD

It looks really good though.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hahahaha, thanks. :XD: I don't know if I'll ever get "big" but I'll certainly remember the little folk because I'll still be one of them. :XD:
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:iconhaius:
haius Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013  Hobbyist
YOU'LL ONLY BE LITTLE IN SPIRIT :D
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:icona-little-tea-rat:
A-Little-Tea-Rat Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013
Very cool!
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks!
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:icona-little-tea-rat:
A-Little-Tea-Rat Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2013
you're welcome ^-^
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:iconbohemianbeachcomber:
BohemianBeachcomber Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh wow, I bet you were tickled to get a commission like this! That's so cool! You did a fantastic job, too! I like how it looks like both a mosaic and a painting. Very neat. :clap: :boogie:
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yeah, it was definitely pretty cool. :D Though, it was tricky figuring out how to make it look like mosaics. ^^;
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:iconbohemianbeachcomber:
BohemianBeachcomber Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I think you figured it out marvelously! :nod:
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:iconmahira-chan:
Mahira-chan Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013   General Artist
Oh my gosh! That is so cool; what an amazing commission to have! And you did a lovely job on it. I adore how you nailed the mosaic look, leaving no doubt about it's origin, but also added your own style and colors onto it. Really great work!
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you! Yeah, it was certainly good fun to do! :D This one was a rather experimental piece too (in terms of technique and medium mixing) but I'm glad i didn't botch it completely. :XD:
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:iconmahira-chan:
Mahira-chan Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2013   General Artist
You're welcome! I can imagine! :)
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:iconaranov:
Aranov Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
OH WOW I love this technique! SO AWESOME. I don't guess you did a step-by-step on this...? :P I think my favorite part is how you really popped the blues. They look amazing against all the golds and oranges. :D
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
THANK YOU!!! :hug:

Ah...no I didn't. Sorry. ^^; It was fairly straight-forward (though, I was a little nervous working on it because I hadn't ever done acrylic and pen on watercolor paper, and I wasn't sure how it would work.) First I just sketched it out, then I inked it (with all of the little mosaic tiles). Then I did a wash of sepia-brown in...watercolor I think. Then I started painting over that with the acrylics The pen actually came through more than I expected, and now I wish I had done more penwork. :XD:
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:iconaranov:
Aranov Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
:hug:

Oh wow. So basically the answer is "lots and lots of painstaking tedious work". :P It looks amazing. I'm glad this was a successful experiment!
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh, I wouldn't say quite that. It only took me a couple of hours. Much shorter than my usual pieces. :XD:

:hug:
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:iconaranov:
Aranov Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Really? Wow! Wouldn't have guessed. I guess because you didn't have to wait for as much watercolor to dry... Impatience is my watercolor-skills' bane. :shakefish:
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
That's why I can't do oil. :XD: It takes too long to dry. Watercolor dries very quickly though (I mean, as long as you don't have a soaking wash layering everything every time you go to paint). The watercolor paper I use is generally super finicky so I don't get to use a lot of wet-on-wet techniques.
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:iconaranov:
Aranov Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Oh but with oil you can WORK while it's wet and get all those fine details and smooth transitions I love! x_x Maybe I need to get some of your watercolor paper. :P
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very, very true. :D I guess I'm just super impatient and lazy. I hate waiting for things to dry.
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(1 Reply)
:iconlupusacerbus:
LupusAcerbus Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013
You got a commission? Sweet! :headbang: Rock on!

I really like the mosaic look, by the way. Definitely looks different than some of your other works, but very cool.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yep! I've been starting to get a couple of them now, which has been nice (and a lot of fun!) :D

Thanks! Yeah, it was tricky trying to figure out how to do that. I knew I wanted to try and do acrylics, but I wasn't sure exactly how it would work with watercolor paper and pen. Yay for mixed media!
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:iconfinarfin24:
Finarfin24 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013
This one reminds me the mosaic in Ravenna in Italy, in "Sant'Apollinare Nuovo" !
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks! It should, because it's supposed to be the one of St. Cyprian, so I must have done something right. :D ;-)
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:iconfliegenlicht:
FliegenLicht Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Whoa! That is cool!
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks! ^^
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:iconrichelieu88:
Richelieu88 Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013
Looks really like a mosaic. Great work!
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Aww! Thanks! That part took some figuring out...
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:icondashinvaine:
dashinvaine Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013
Ooh, nicely done with the late Roman style. This is something different!
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you! :D
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:iconfirefiriel:
FireFiriel Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Congratulations! That's a neat way of evoking the mosaic's texture while still being very painterly.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you! I definitely had some difficulty (and trepidation) in experimenting with the acrylics and pen on watercolor paper. I'd never done that before. ^^;
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:iconcrispinvcampion:
CrispinVCampion Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013
Very well done.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks!
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:iconcrispinvcampion:
CrispinVCampion Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2013
You're welcome.
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:icongudrun355:
GUDRUN355 Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013
A skillful depiction. Excellent.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you! :hug:
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:icongudrun355:
GUDRUN355 Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013
You're so welcome :hug:
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