Jen’s 50-50-50 Birthday-Holiday Art Sale!

A picture of Jen's 50th birthday cake.

My birthday cake, made by my daughter!

I’ve decided to hold my first-ever online sale to celebrate my recent milestone birthday. I just turned 50…a good age to be. Wiser and more discerning, not ruffled by little things, comfortable with my own kind of crazy. I could do without my inherited saggy chin (thanks mom). But overall, I’m happy to be here! So there’s the reason for the first “50” in the name of my sale.

And the second “50”? As you know I have been focusing on Catholic folk art for a few years, and things are going really great. Hard to keep up at times! But… it has left me with some extra “secular” art pieces that have no home. They are also orphans when it comes to putting together a cohesive show. So rather than subject them to life in my garage, I’d like to offer them to you with a little incentive. Like restless children, they have been begging me to find them a better home…

As for “50” number three…50% of profits from this sale will be donated to Catholic Relief Services which provides relief in disaster areas around the world.


All you have to do to purchase this art from me is to follow me on one of my main social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @JenNortonArt) from now until Christmas to see what I’m offering. Be the first to contact me via EMAIL using the Contact Page on this site if you see something you want! Please don’t try to contact me via social media messaging for this sale because I may not see it in a timely manner.

• I will be posting a new larger artwork for sale each Friday evening for the next 8 weeks (see selections below), with subsequent smaller works posted mid-week (not shown here).

• The sale will run through the weekend of December 12-13, 2015. All sales will be conducted directly through me, with tax and shipping applied only as needed. We will work out convenient payment for you…but no big advance money orders to 3rd-world countries please (sorry spammers!).

• Each piece offered will only be available at the 50% price for one week (or until sold). First come, first served. You may also choose to purchase the larger pieces shown below before their release date for an even lower price (see details below). If a piece does not sell, it will return to my regular inventory at its regular price when its week is up. No exceptions. All sales are final.

Easy and fun! But if you need a few more reasons to purchase art:

• Reproductions are great and more affordable. But there’s something special about an original. Here’s your chance to own one!

• Give someone a unique gift for Christmas or the winter holiday of your choice!

• Help support the great work that CRS does, including the Syrian refugees and those who will be affected by the hurricanes in Mexico.

• Buy it to donate to your favorite cause (you may write off the full amount of your purchase; we artists can only write off the cost of materials)

• Or just for fun!

Below are the weekend featured pieces, prices and sale dates. See you online…Jen


Painting of Sugar Skulls and Pan Dulce by Jen Norton

Week 1: Calaveras Azucar y Pan Dulce

Week One: Posted Sunday, Oct 25. “Calaveras Azucar & Pan Dulce”
Original price: $1200;  Sale price from Oct 25 to Nov 1 ONLY: $600 (includes frame as shown)
Frame outer dimension: 30×38″, Image size: 22×30″ Acrylic on paper

Picture of "Almost Home" a watercolor painting by Jen Norton

Week 2: Almost Home


Week Two: Posted Friday, Oct 30. “Almost Home”
Original price: $350;  Sale price from Oct 30 to Nov 6 ONLY: $175 (includes frame as shown)
Frame outer dimension: 23×23″, Image size: 12×12″ Watercolor and collage on paper
Early Bird Discount: Buy anytime before Oct 29 for only $150!

A painting of Neahkahnie mountain in Oregon by Jen Norton

Week 3: Neahkahnie Sunset

Week Three: Posted Friday, Nov 6. “Neahkahnie Sunset”
Original price: $1200;  Sale price from Nov 6 to Nov 13 ONLY: $600 (includes frame as shown)
Frame outer dimension: 35.5×30″, Image size: 27×21″ Acrylic, colored pencil and collage on paper
Early Bird Discount: Buy anytime before Nov 5  for only $575!

A painting of tomatoes called "Ready for Salsa" by Jen Norton

Week 4: Ready for Salsa

Week Four: Posted Friday, Nov 13. “Ready for Salsa”
Original price: $600;  Sale price from Nov 13 to Nov 20 ONLY: $300 (includes frame as shown. Please note that this piece is framed in glass and will be harder to ship)
Frame outer dimension: 28×24″, Image size: 21×17″ Acrylic on paper
Early Bird Discount: Buy anytime before Nov 12  for only $275!

"Waiting for Miracles" Acrylic on Canvas by Jen Norton

Week 5: Waiting for Miracles

Week Five: Posted Friday, Nov 20. “Waiting for Miracles”
Original price: $900;  Sale price from Nov 20 to Nov 27 ONLY: $450
Gallery-wrapped canvas size: 24×36″ Acrylic on canvas
Early Bird Discount: Buy anytime before Nov 19  for only $400!

"Lines Crossed" original painting by Jen Norton

Week 6: Lines Crossed

Week Six/Black Friday Special: Posted Friday, Nov 27. “Lines Crossed”
Original price: $3800;  Sale price from Nov 27 to Dec 4 ONLY: $1800
Gallery-wrapped canvas size: 36×48″ Acrylic on canvas
Early Bird Discount: Buy anytime before Nov 25  for only $1500!

"Gelato Counter" by Jen Norton

Week 7: Gelato Counter

Week Seven: Posted Friday, Dec 4. “Gelato Counter”
Original price: $800;  Sale price from Dec 4 to Dec 11 ONLY: $400
Gallery-wrapped canvas size: 20×20″ Acrylic on canvas
Early Bird Discount: Buy anytime before Dec 3  for only $375!

"Circle Dancer" framed giclee print by Jen Norton

Week 8: Circle Dancer

Week Eight: Posted Friday, Dec 11. “Circle Dancer” (framed Gicleé print)
Original price: $500;  Sale price from Dec 11 to Dec 18 ONLY: $250
Frame outer dimension: 29×33″, Image size: 20×24″ Limited Edition Giclée print on paper
Early Bird Discount: Buy anytime before Dec 10  for only $225!

And don’t forget to check on social media for some smaller pieces mid-week!


St. Christopher: The man for the journey

A painting of St. Christopher carrying the Christ child across a river, keeping him safe from danger.

St. Christopher. 16×20″ Acrylic on wood.

I was recently commissioned to paint some saints for a gift company who will be making products from my work next year (more on that later…). One of the saints requested was St. Christopher, and even though I attend a “St. Christopher” church, I have to admit I really didn’t know much about him. There are thousands of Catholic saints…who can keep track? I knew he was the patron saint of travelers, but that’s about it.

Turns out he’s a bit of a mystery. The name Christopher means “Christ-bearer,” and may, in fact, refer more to his legend than his actual name. Rumor has it he was a fearsome-looking, large Canaanite man called Reprobus. He may also be one-in-the-same as St. Menas, the patron saint of travelers in the Coptic tradition. Before the church organized its canonization process in the 15th century, saints could apparently be named by popular approval. Consequently, some saints are merely legend or mythology, and some were incorporated from other religions. While the mysterious Christopher seemingly lived and was martyred in the second and third century, he wasn’t accepted into Roman Catholic tradition until the 1500s…and then dropped from the official calendar in 1970 due to the pesky problem that no one is sure who he really was.

Real or not, he still remains a popular future with a devoted following. Why? Because he embodies the spiritual journey we all travel in our quest for holiness and validation.

Christopher’s call to sainthood began with youthful ideals, leading him on a few misguided turns along the way. As a young man, he set out to serve “the greatest king there was.” In modern terms, he might have aspired to reality-TV fame. For the time he lived in, that accolade was to serve the king of Canaan. I’m sure he had great ambitions of becoming a mighty warrior, famous for strength and valor. The king was his ticket.

Then one day he witnessed the king crossing himself to ward off the devil. Clearly the devil must be greater than the king… so he left to find the him. Disillusionment with an idol. Rebellion. “I’ll show you, king.” We’ve all been there. So he found a band of marauders whose leader called himself the Devil and started hanging out with them, causing trouble. Then one day he realized that life had its limits as he watched “the devil” avoid a wayside cross in the road out of fear. Clearly there was one more powerful than the devil, one who could promise a more rewarding life, and he left to find the bearer of that cross…Christ.

Clearly there was one more powerful than the devil, one who could promise a more rewarding life, and he left to find the bearer of that cross…Christ.

Next he met a kindly old hermit (there’s always a hermit) who instructed him in the ways of Christianity and suggested he was well-qualified to spend his life helping people cross a particularly precarious part of the local river as a service to Christ. So he began a life of this simple, albeit dangerous task, keeping river-crossers alive and well. One day, a child requested a ride atop his shoulders. As Christopher was carrying him across the treacherous rapids, it seemed to him the child grew heavier and heavier, almost too much to bear. When he finally reached the far shore, he said to the child, “You have put me in the greatest danger. I do not think the whole world could have been as heavy on my shoulders as you were.” And the child replied, “You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but Him who made it. I am Christ your king, whom you are serving by this work.” The child then vanished.

Christopher had his encounter with “the greatest king”, in the most unlikely form he expected… a helpless child.

And so we all travel through life, following our hearts, fighting our egos, swayed by the choices we make. And if we’re lucky, we find purpose in the simple things we were designed by God to do…the things that brought us Joy as children. And through service to that simple vocation, we encounter Christ who was traveling with us all along.

St. Christopher’s feast day is celebrated (unofficially) on July 25.

At the time of this blog post, the original art is still available. $900 Contact me with your interest.
Buy prints on paper, made in my studio here.
Buy custom prints and products here.


Whimsical Singing Bird: Paint with me at a VinoPaint event!

Singing Bird by Jen Norton

Paint along with me and create your own whimsical Singing Bird artwork at my next VinoPaint event on Tues, May 26! We had such a great time at our last event, we’re going to try it again with a cute little bird image. I hope you can join us and paint along!

This is a perfect opportunity for a girl’s night out or date night, and there’s no experience necessary. All materials will be provided. Even if you’ve never painted before, I’ll guide you through the process with lots of direction. By the end, you’ll have your own unique piece of art to add a bit of colorful happiness to your life! Recommended for 18 years and older only.

Our event will be held at Tony & Albas in San Jose, CA (Google Map) from 6-9pm on Tuesday, May 26th. You can get all the details and sign up on the VinoPaint site here:

Hope to see you there!

PS: Use code jenbird$10 at checkout for $10 off, for a limited time.


Do What You Love: Business Soul Sessions

Business Soul Sessions graphic

Until a few years ago, I thought my job was to be an artist. But then I learned I was really an evangelist, meant to inspire with paint instead of words. Art is my tool of communication, the language I use to inspire others to find joy through faith, family and service.

This revelation came, in part, from an online class I happened upon at a point of burn-out in my own career. What I learned about myself, my purpose and how I should proceed with it all was so valuable to me, I want to share the opportunity with you!

If you are a fellow creative entrepreneur (in any discipline, not just art!), and feeling burnt out or in a rut, I urge you to take a look at “The Business Soul Sessions,” as well as some of the other offerings at “Do What You Love for Life” for inspiration. Taught by former social worker-turned-licensed artist Kelly Rae Roberts and “DWYL” producer Beth Kempton, The Business Soul Sessions class gave me the instruction and insight to really delve deep into what my purpose is, and how I can use that to create a life and business I love that fulfills that purpose and betters the world. I had no idea what to expect, it cost a little bit of money, but it felt right. So I signed up. I’m so glad I did!

Through a number of weeks, the class will guide you and other students from all over the world on a self-guided journey to consider your purpose, the people you are meant to serve, what your product(s) will be, and how you will pull it off. The class is not just for artists…it’s for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit who wants to create a sustainable business they can be proud of. And you can do the whole thing from your computer in your pajamas!

Sound interesting? Take a moment to check it out. The next session of The Business Soul Sessions course begins May 11, 2015. I have an affiliate link here, and I would be very grateful that if you do choose to sign up, you do so through my link (yes, I make a little money back when you do).

As theologian Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Is this your time to come alive?


Blessed Fr. Junipero Serra: A Man with a Mission

Blessed Junipero Serra ©Jen Norton

Fr. Junipero Serra, founder of nine of the twenty-one California missions, is to be canonized (officially declared a saint by the Catholic church) later this year. If you aren’t familiar with Serra, he is an essential figure in California history, but also a controversial one. As it happens, I worked one summer during college for a history professor at Santa Clara University gathering information for the “beatification” of Fr. Serra, the first step towards canonization. This was back in 1986, so you can see the church, as it often does, deliberated and considered this new saint for quite some time before giving it the papal “go.” In September of 2015, he will be canonized as the patron saint of Vocations.

Whatever you may think of Serra, he is a story of brokenness and redemption found in each of us. He is the story of a man with a purpose, driven in spite of, or maybe because of, his faults and demons. He is the story of God’s grace sometimes being out of our range of vision. He is the story of persevering in what we believe in. And for some of us, he may also be a story of forgiveness.

Born in Majorca, Spain, Serra was a gifted intellectual who became a lector of philosophy in his early 20s, before his ordination to the Franciscan order of the Catholic priesthood. At 27, he left his secure post and sailed to the Americas. Upon his arrival in Vera Cruz, Mexico, he was so thankful to reach dry land he walked to his post in Mexico City on foot (about 250 miles or 405km). As a person who easily suffers from motion sickness and was once traumatized by a 3-hour whale-watching expedition, I completely understand that decision.

Along the way, he sustained a chronic foot injury, but would still choose to walk thousands of miles up and down California in his lifetime. He was known to display acts of self-mortification and self-denial and was obsessive about calling native peoples to penance in Christ. I have yet to see a picture of Serra where he looks happy and I believe him to be a man tortured by his own demons and perceived faults of the flesh, despite of his religious calling. I imagine him to be a chronic over-thinker with a well-defined sense of morality that, for whatever reason, he felt he fell short of. Don’t we all battle spirit over flesh, faith over doubt? He may have been extreme in his management of spirit, but he did choose to walk with his pain, not avoid it. I have to believe that gave him some level of compassion, and even his own writings suggest mercy in his treatment of the native population in contrast to the Spanish norms of the time, if not to our modern eye.

In 1768 he was appointed to lead a group of Franciscans who to were to take over the missions of Baja California after Spanish King Carlos III expelled the Jesuits. He went on to found nine missions in Alta California with the ideological vision of converting the native peoples. In the process, he also made California an economically viable trading partner with Mexico and a valuable outpost for Spain. And this is where the controversy lies, of course. None of this would have happened without the exploitation of the native labor force.

But as often happens in history where all things are interconnected, there is more than one viewpoint. I am not going to justify the enslavement or death by disease suffered by native Californians under Spanish colonialism. I can’t. But I can concede that in his time, “converting the uncivilized” was held as a worthy value by Europeans. Right or wrong, it is still a belief we see in the world today and part of our self-centered human nature. Don’t we always wish everyone thought the way we do, even if we don’t act on it? Add religious ideology and you’ve got the makings of a tough, but effective, system.

And then there’s the bigger picture. If it wasn’t for the economic strength of the Spanish-held missions (and military strength of its presidios), Russia may have taken much more of an interest in California. Or, more likely, it would have become part of Mexico. How would it have changed the shape of current America if Mexico had full military control of CA during the Mexican-American war? And what if that alternate outcome changed the game in the later Spanish-American war? If the US did not control the waterways of the Pacific or have authority in Guam or the Phlilipines, how might have that changed the course of the second World War? How would I even be telling you this story via my home computer had California not enjoyed the last century of vast resources and creative independence provided by American freedom? How are those (like me) who visit the beautiful restored missions or who are educated in associated schools inspired by the broken footsteps of Serra?

So you see, whatever you may think of Serra, whatever he may thought of himself in his limited vision, there was a bigger plan at play. We all have a mission, a vocation, a calling. We all try to do the best with the knowledge we have. We all make mistakes and inherently lack God’s full vision. We all do things, both big and small, that require forgiveness.

May God bless Fr. Serra and fulfill his mission of repentance and vocation in each of us so that his sainthood may be justified.

Fr. Serra’s Feast Day will be July 1

Art prints from my studio available in my Etsy shop.


VinoPaint Class: Pink Floral with Neutrals!

Pink Floral with Neutrals © Jen Norton

Learn to paint this 16×20 artwork with me at a VinoPaint event!

Think you can’t paint? I bet you can! Come learn to paint this spring pink floral bouquet with neutrals with me at a VinoPaint event this month! You’ve probably heard of these painting and social events and now I have been asked to lead one… and I hope you’ll join me in the fun!

This is a perfect opportunity for a girl’s night out and there’s no experience necessary. All materials will be provided. Even if you’ve never painted before, I’ll guide you through the process with lots of direction. By the end, you’ll have your own floral work to add a bit of colorful happiness to your life! Please note: Because this event has alcohol served, it is for 21-and-over only.

Our event will be held at Tony & Albas in San Jose, CA (Google Map) from 6-9pm on Monday, March 23rd. You can get all the details and sign up on the VinoPaint site here:  Be sure and use the code $10offTULIPS (for a limited time only) to get $10 off the price of the evening.

Hope to see you there!


Through Lent to Easter: The Season of Communion

The Sacrifice ©Jen Norton

“The Sacrifice” 16×20 Acrylic on canvas. Original sold; Prints and prayer cards available.

In the Catholic church, and in many other Christian churches, we are currently in the season of “Lent.” It is a time of reflection and repentance to prepare for Easter, the promise of new life. It is a time to reflect on all that we have, and have done; all that we have built up or torn down; a time to take stock. It’s a time to remember that in the end, everything of this world will pass away and all that will be left is How We Loved. God didn’t just leave us with an abstract concept. He sent His Son to us. Jesus experienced the worst of human brokenness…temptation in the desert, betrayal by a close friend, taunting and fear, and finally a humiliating and painful death. Whatever you may be going through or whatever difficulties you may be facing, Jesus gets it. He lived it. And he died to it. He was bread-broken, blood-shed, self-sacrificed.

But wait, there’s more… Easter! New Life. The Way through. Death was not the end of the story. Jesus escaped its throes. And he didn’t just zip up to Heaven and let an angel tell us about it. He stuck around for a while and made sure there were many eye witness reports and the fervent acts of the early apostles to prove it. He even included a “doubting apostle” for those of us who aren’t quite able to believe it all by faith. God thought of everything…and so we inherit everything, if only we believe. If only we walk in communion with Him.

In church tradition, this is also to time for children to receive their “First Holy Communion” and for adults newly entering the church to go through RCIA (Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults). I have created some new artwork in my not-quite-traditional style to celebrate these events. Should you be in need of a gift, or just an inspirational piece for your own home, I would be honored if you chose one of my pieces!

“The Sacrifice” (above) is available in the following formats through these links:
matted and unmated prints on paper
8×10 print on wood
pocket prayer cards with choice of Anima Christi, Our Father or a Communion Prayer on the back
customizable prints and cards

I have created two images expressing the simplicity and joy of Jesus’ welcome, perfect for your young boy or girl. The originals are available. Acrylic on cradled wood with painted sides, 8×10″, $180 each. Contact me directly to purchase the originals.

First Communion artwork for boys and girls are each available in the following formats:
• Communion Boy matted prints or customizable prints
• Communion Girl matted prints or customizable prints
Communion Boy prayer card or Communion Girl prayer card (with Our Father on the back)
• Customizable party invitations, coordinating postage and stickers for both boys and girls

Art and Gifts for First Communion ©Jen Norton


May you walk in communion with the promise of our Lord.


Listen to your Mother: Pray the Rosary

The Joyful Mysteries by Jerry Windley-Daoust

Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. —1 John 2:11

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the darkness? Turn on any news show and you’ll want to run to your nearest closet, lock yourself in, and declare the world a hopeless, evil place. But there is a key to unlock that closet, and it’s held by an unlikely girl, once a nobody, really. But then she was given a great task to become part of the salvation of all creation, and she said “yes.” She did not let darkness overcome her. She walked with it until it passed. And now she wants to lead you to The Way, to her Son. The steps on the path are the beads on her Rosary.

Pray one decade (1 Our Father + 10 Hail Marys + 1 Glory Be) on your couch with a cup of coffee. Pray all 5 decades x 20 mysteries on your knees in a monastery. Pray it on your fingers in the car. It doesn’t matter… as long as you pray it. Why? Because when you spend even a few moments of each day mindful of the feminine strength needed to bring God’s Grace to the world, you will begin to understand your part in overcoming darkness too.

When I was a child I was preoccupied with order and perfection. It’s safe to say I probably had a bit of undiagnosed OCD… and one thing I obsessed about was church rules. I would try to say the rosary before bed, but if I made one mistake, even in the last word of the last prayer, I’d start over. As you can imagine, I did some pretty heavy praying for a kid! My one reprieve was to recite it with my mother. Together, we could make all the mistakes we wanted and it was OK. Her inherent goodness was powerful enough to negate my imperfections. So I would trek down the hall to her room at 10 or 11pm, frustrated by my “prayer failures”, and wake her up from a deep sleep to say the rosary with me. And to her credit she did it. I’m sure her reaction was a mixture of happiness that I was so devout and complete annoyance that I was interrupting her much-needed sleep. Still, she was there for me. She didn’t leave me all alone in my darkness.

I continued to say parts of the rosary throughout my life, albeit less devoutly. Ten “Hail Marys” before bed, an “Our Father” on the way to a college test. No real devotion…more of a comforting insurance policy, really. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I really needed to turn to prayer for a difficult situation that comfort of the rosary became real to me. This time, it was my turn to accompany someone through darkness. In recitation of the simple prayers, holding each bead as I went along, I felt the Blessed Mother walking beside me. I was guided toward the help needed; I was given the strength to think clearly when things got scary. But most importantly, I was provided with an underlying sense of Peace. I was given the mantra “Let it Be”, which I understood to mean that in the end, all would be well. Just what a mother would say. And she was right.

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6-7

Recently, two of my paintings, “Hail Mary” and “The Canticle of Mary”, were included in an Illuminated book of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary by Catholic author Jerry Windley-Daoust. From an artist’s perspective, it’s definitely a boost to the ego to be included in a published collection of work with the likes of Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli! On a deeper level, I believe this author found me because we both share a vision to provide a new, fresh perspective to timeless traditions of our faith. Artwork can offer a deeper understanding for both children and adults; a good companion to the beads. Jerry’s book offers an alternative way to experience the Catholic meditative devotional to Mary: through the eyes of artists who have spent their own prayerful time at the canvas.

I hope you will consider making the rosary part of your spiritual practice, if you don’t already. They’re simple prayers, to a simple girl. And, quite simply, they can drive out darkness. The devil hates that, you know.

A preview, and copies of the Illuminated Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary can be purchased at 

Prints of my included artwork are available in my Etsy and Fine Art America stores.

The original paintings are part of the permanent collection at the Presentation Center in Los Gatos, CA.


The Canticle of Mary (Magnificat)

The Canticle of Mary (Magnificat)  Acrylic on Canvas, © Jen Norton

The Canticle of Mary (Magnificat) Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 30″

I never really pondered the “Canticle of Mary” (aka the “Magnificat”) before I was contacted by author Jerry Windley-Daoust about licensing an image for his soon-to-be released illuminated guide to the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary. It’s a good story to recall during Advent…the story of Mary’s waiting and anticipation before the birth of her Son. It is a uniquely feminine call by a new mother to join in the salvation of the world. But I also reflect that in some ways it is the song of each of us to willingly accept our place in God’s plan…to say “yes” to a bigger life than we might have imagined.

To understand the significance of the Magnificat, I looked back to the Annunciation. I imagined Mary, a young teenaged girl going about her everyday village life, slated to marry a nice carpenter and become a typical Nazarean wife. Then the Angel Gabriel shows up and throws a first-century wrench into her plans. Things aren’t going to go as expected. I’m going to make an assumption here: I’m pretty sure when an Angel of God appears, you KNOW it’s an Angel. It’s not an intuition or merely a breeze. One big clue is that when Angels appear, they always start off by saying “Be not afraid!” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been particularly frightened by an intuitive feeling.

So let’s assume the angel is clearly and Angel. When he says,  “…the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” and you will have a son, she knows he’s not kidding. And not just any son, but THE Son of THE God! Even though she has had no relations with a man. Even though in her society she will be shunned and maybe even stoned for this inconvenience. But Mary, without sin and with unfathomable and unwavering belief responds, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Mary said “Yes.”

Would I have been so willing? I’m not sure. If I imagine myself in Mary’s place, I have to believe she didn’t run out to all her friends and enthusiastically announce her pregnancy. In spite of admonitions to “Be not afraid”, I bet she was afraid. Just a little. She would have had to inform her parents and Joseph, but then I bet they all kept this little secret to themselves.

So she goes to visit her kinswomen Elizabeth, traveling “in haste” to her home in the hills. She appears to go alone, a little stealthy. The quickness of her departure makes me think her parents might have wanted to protect her from the backlash of her community. Angel or no angel… a young unmarried girl who becomes pregnant is vilified in both modern and ancient times. So off goes Mary, torn between possibility and fear, to seek refuge and comfort with a fellow pregnant woman in the hills. I bet she wasn’t expecting the welcome she got!

Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah had been privy to some Godly insights of their own. Zechariah, a priest, also experienced an Angelic visit (complete with the greeting of “Do no be afraid”) telling him of a son he and his wife would bear in their advanced age. He was told of his son’s purpose, his name, and then struck silent until the birth as a sign of its truth.

So here comes Mary, up the hill to Elizabeth, who immediately recognizes the fulfillment of God’s promise in her young cousin. We are told her baby “leaped in her womb” and Elizabeth greets Mary with “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?… Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled!”

And while the bible doesn’t offer us any more in the way of emotional context, I can only imagine as a woman, that there was a great sense of relief in that recognition. All of Mary’s doubts and fears must have dissolved as she was fully validated in Elizabeth’s greeting. She is transported from tentative teen to a full realization of her destiny in the salvation of Israel as she says,

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.
From this day, all generations will call me blessed.
The Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His Name.

His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with is arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham, and to his descendants forever.

Mary said “Yes” to God’s plan and the world was forever changed. Who knows what would happen if we all said “Yes.”

Art prints of this piece are available in my Etsy store and my Fine Art America store. Original is sold.

The reflections for this painting are from Luke 1: 1-56. The Canticle of Mary is found in Luke 1:46-55. 

I chose to illustrate this painting with the feminine pink hues used in the liturgies of Gaudete Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Gaudete means “rejoice” and the day is a celebration of joy knowing that Christmas is near.


Six Catholic Saints

I recently had the pleasure of creating illustrations for six Catholic saints for the “Faith Fusion” textbook that will be published this spring by Our Sunday Visitor. Do you know your saints? I didn’t… but then there are thousands of them, and a saint for every reason under the sun! Here are the ones I got to know, with some fun facts attached. You can find out more about each one on Catholic Online. You can also see the full images (and purchase prints) in either my Etsy or Fine Art America stores. These not your typical sad-looking saints… I prefer to believe that even with hardships, each of these folks found great joy in God. My saints are perfect for a Catholic child’s room or even Catholic school classroom.

Enjoy…and if you see your favorite, please feel free to “pin” or share on your favorite social media!

St. Joseph © Jen Norton

St. Joseph with Baby Jesus


St. Clare of Assisi © Jen Norton

St. Clare of Assisi


St. John the Baptist © Jen Norton

St. John the Baptist


St. Dismas © Jen Norton

St. Dismas, The Good Thief


St. Michael the Archangel © Jen Norton

St. Michael the Archangel


St. Dominic Savio © Jen Norton

St. Dominic Savio