Tag Archives | catholic art

The Annunciation

"Annunciation" by Jen Norton. Acrylic on canvas, 48x48"

“Annunciation” © Jen Norton, 2017

There are a million ways to say “no” to God.

Like Eve back in the Garden, we often listen to that little whispering voice telling us that we’ve been short-changed by God. “I’m not perfect enough.” “My Life isn’t going the way I planned.” “I deserve more.” We blindly take matters into our own hands, chasing things that makes us feel good right now. Born from the spirit but clothed in skin, we’re all capable of that fall. Honestly, I sometimes find it hard to be a thinking human and not know where to draw the line. It requires constant discernment.

But it only takes one “yes” for redemption. Mary showed us “Yes.”

I’m certainly not the first artist to paint the Annunciation. It’s a story that has captured the creative imagination and given hope for centuries. In a violent world, it reveals the power in the feminine quiet. It’s a story that challenges who we are and how much we really trust in God. It’s a story of a young girl, with young-girl plans, whose life was drastically altered by unexpected Divine Plans. It’s a story of God rushing in with all the force of Eternal Spring. Greatly Troubling indeed (Luke 29).

Yet Mary said Yes to God, and it seems she didn’t even have to work through the stages of grief! Maybe because her family got on board. Her parents sent her to a cousin who could comfort and support her (and get her away from village gossip!). Joseph listened to God and moved forward with the marriage. When called upon, he even fled everything he’d worked for and took refugee status. Her people stepped up. They didn’t leave her alone. In my humble opinion, that is a vital part of the story. In our politically-divided culture, it is worth remembering that supporting life as a Christian means not only letting it BE, but also not judging or withholding resources for those who face unplanned, life-altering circumstances. When it comes to Life and Love, God is all in. We should be too. We are called to family.

Be Not Afraid. I am trying.

Contact me to purchase this original. Information and other print products are available here.
Small prints made in my studio are available in my Etsy store here.

Love is Patient… (1 Corinthians 13)

Love Is Patient © Jen Norton. A painting of 1 Corinthians 13 done in a floral motif.

First Corinthians, verse 13. We all know how this one begins… Love is Patient, Love is Kind. If you’ve ever attended a Christian wedding, you’ve probably listened half-heartedly to this reading. And that’s the challenge of this verse… to not LIVE it half-hearted. To not practice it only with the people it’s easy to love, but with those we’re not so crazy about. Whole-heartedly.

How would your life change if you consciously chose not to be jealous of others? How would our society be different if no one ever acted selfishly or in a quick-tempered manner (even on social media)? Would you feel more loved if someone let go of a grudge held against you? What if we sought truth, cared about the “whys” behind the “whats”? If you hold someone else’s well-being as equal to your own, you do bear, believe, hope and endure all things for the purpose of Love. Jesus did it best. We should at least try.

Like a flower, Love can be easily crushed by a harsh word. It can wither and die without attention. But it can also be nurtured, gathered, and grown. Give it daily watering and pruning, action and prayer. The harvest is beautiful, something to be held in adoration.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
(1 Cor 13: 4-8)

This original painting will be available through The Sacred Art Gallery after January 23, 2017.
Art reproductions and other gift items are available in my Etsy store and in my store here:
Art Prints

St. Teresa of Kolkata

Acrylic painting of St. Teresa of Kolkata by Jen Norton.

Many thoughts and ideas have been running through my head in the last week on what to say about our newest saint, St. Teresa of Kolkata. Really, there’s not much I can add that you can’t already find on the internet, said by tons of people more learned than I. So on this anniversary of 9/11, I don’t think I need to add more words. What we still need is peace. Peace in our world, in our communities, in our families and peace in our own hearts. And what is Mother Teresa’s advice on how to achieve Peace? To start at home and love your family. I know that is sometimes much harder than it sounds, at least for me. Love can be a lot of self-sacrificing work! But if you can bring about “Works of Love” with those who you are closest to, you learn and teach each other to live with respect for the other. You raise children who know how to love and respect all people. And you know that to care for the needs of others benefits all.

What can you do to promote world peace today? Go home and love your family, one small work at a time.

My St. Teresa of Kolkata artwork, featuring the corporal works of Mercy in her garment, is available here and here. Do you need a banner for your church or school? I have partnered with Diocesan Publications and you can order yours here!


Lamb of God, Have Mercy on Us

Artwork for Lamb of God by Jen Norton

“Lamb of God” 16×20″ Acrylic on wood


One of my favorite prayers is the “Lamb of God”, recited just before communion during a Catholic mass. It’s so simple, repetitive, even childlike. Yet it says so much. We might complicate Mercy and Peace, but God doesn’t.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world…Have Mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world…Have Mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world…Grant us Peace.

You can purchase this print from my studio here,
or other reproductions and products here:

Art Prints



A Merry Round-up for Christmas

Everywhere I go, people keep asking if I’m ready for Christmas. I am. What I’m not entirely ready for is for my child turning 18 on Christmas Eve! Boy, did those years go fast. Still, as my business grows, I know it’s time for her to fly and find her own way to make her dreams come true.

Looking back over this year, I thought I’d share a few fun dream-come-true moments from my 2015 art life. First, a thank you to all of you who purchased pieces during my recent 50-50-50 sale. Many works found new homes and because of you, I was able to donate $327 to Catholic Relief Services. The poor and vulnerable people of the world thank you too.

So, a few highlights from my art life:

Catholic Gifts by Jen Norton and Dickson's Gifts

• I had the opportunity to work with Dickson’s Gifts this year when they licensed several of my existing pieces (and commissioned a few others) to create a new line of Catholic gift items. These items will be available to the trade beginning 2016, so you might see them in stores later in the year. More on that as it unfolds…

My artwork appeared in several editorial publications and events all over the world this year. Some of these appearances include…

• “Hail Mary”used in a book cover design for Word by Word by Sarah Reinhard, published by Ave Maria press

• “Beloved St. Francis” graced the pages of the September 2015 issue of Tui Motu Magazine in New Zealand

An illustration for a fiction piece about a modern woman finding comfort in St. Julian of Norwich. She is sitting in a rocking chair by the fire with her orange cat, contemplating the words "All Shall be Well" attributed to the saint. Acrylic on paper.

• Franciscan Media hired me for a commission for a fictional story about a woman finding kinship with St. Julian of Norwich in the November 2015 issue of the St. Anthony Messenger

• Our newest Saint, St. Junipero Serra, traveled to the pages of the Winter 2015 edition of Catholic Extension Magazine. I was originally hired to do a cover image…but then got pre-empted by the visiting Pope! Can’t fight that…

• I also created special St. Serra prayer cards for the San Carlos Cathedral in Monterey, CA to be given at an event surrounding his canonization.


Mural art by Heather Gentile Collins at St. Andrews, inspired by artwork by Jen Norton

• Over the summer, Chicago area artist Heather Gentile Collins used my “Sacrifice” artwork as inspiration to create a mural in collaboration with the school children of St. Andrews Parish.

Canticle of Mary event banner

• St. Pius X church in Maryland ordered a “shower curtain” from my Fine Art America store to use as a banner at their Advent luncheon. (I was happy to find out no one was really showering with Mary!)

There were many more uses of my work at church events and on church bulletins and you have all kept me busy fulfilling lots of orders on my Etsy store. But 2016 is already rushing in over here and as soon as the Christmas tree comes down, I’ll be working on inventory and new art to take to the LA RECongress event in Anaheim in February! I have enjoyed all the opportunities and people who have come my way and hope to continue on this path for another year…

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Whether or not your wishes came true in 2015 or flopped spectacularly, know that you are loved right in this moment just as you are. If you have managed to lighten someone’s day along the way, even better.

Happy New Year!

*all artwork was used with permission on these projects


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.


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.


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



Our Father (The Lord’s Prayer)

Our Father Painted Prayer by Jen Norton

Imagine you’re sitting with your friend Jesus in a local coffee shop today asking Him about how to pray. You have so many needs, so many distractions… Sometimes you just can’t handle it all. Using modern American English, he might offer you prayer advice like this:

Start with a “Hello” to Our (shared) Father, Creator of all, who is above, beyond and through this visible world. Tell Him you revere and respect His great name above all and will only use it with loving intent.

Ask Him to let the work you do bring His kingdom to earth, and not be a futile attempt to try and craft your desires into His plan.

Ask Him for what you and your community or family need just for today, no more and no less (and to be grateful for it);

Ask Him to help you forgive, so you also can receive His forgiveness. No one’s perfect, and sometimes we need His help to see that.

Ask him to provide strength to recognize the things, situations, or people that tempt us away from His will and help us to walk away from them and toward His light.

Finish with your statement of belief and surrender to His will.

But Jesus spoke the words of the Lord’s Prayer, or the “Our Father” in my Catholic tradition, long ago to His disciples on a mountainside in more poetic language, perhaps to allow us to ponder and reflect on the words from different angles and cultural backgrounds over the course of our lives.

So, imagine you’re under an olive tree, along the Sea of Galilee. You are sitting with Jesus one morning while the fishing boats go by and and the sun is rising, wondering, “How should I pray?” And in the whisper of the breeze, under the shady branches, on the banks beside the cool waters, your friend Jesus shares with you the answer to your question:

Our Father
Who Art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day, our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

“Our Father”  40 x 40″ Acrylic on Canvas. $4800 (Original Sold) Inspired by Matthew 6:5-15

Prints on paper made in my studio available in my Etsy shop here.
Custom prints by Fine Art America available here.


Beloved Saint Francis

Saint Francis painting by Jen Norton

There’s just something about Saint Francis a girl like me, born a Catholic in the hippie era of the 1960s, has to admire. He was the ultimate tree hugger, free spirit, lover of the poor, always bearing hardship with the artistry of a smile and a song. But he wasn’t always the gentle animal lover we see in pictures. Like most of the Catholic saints, he started out just a regular guy, flawed and imperfect like the rest of us. As a young man, he had the promise of his family’s wealth and a father who expected him to continue in the family business. He was popular, spoiled, self-centered and enjoyed partying it up with his friends. He was a dreamer who didn’t do very well in school and who set off to win fame and glory by fighting for his home region of Assisi against Perugia, no doubt captivating damsels in distress along the way. Sounds like a typical teen boy.

But in the words of the late John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.” Life happened to Francis. He was imprisoned for a year in the Perugia war. Bummer. Returning home he intended to step back into his carefree life, but contracted a serious illness instead that caused him to face a spiritual crisis. Another bummer. Upon recovery, he tried one more time, enlisting in the Crusades and bravely marching off decked out in the finest haute couture war garb money could by. He was going to be a hero, come hell or high water!

But again, God had other plans. Dang. He barely left town before he had a dream in which God told him he was wrong and he must return home. It must have been some dream because he obeyed, attracting the ridicule of his friends. That decision was the beginning of a slow conversion through prayer and reflection. He lost his desire for his old way of life, seeing it for all its shallowness. One day, while praying in the ruins of San Damiano, he heard Christ on the cross clearly tell him to “repair My church”. God rarely reveals His entire plan up front, knowing we’d never agree to it! Francis only thought this meant to rebuild the ruined San Damiano chapel, so he sold fabric from his father’s business for supplies and began his work.

His father, never a fan of the churchy set, accused him of theft and brought him before the bishop. The kind and merciful bishop simply asked Francis to return the money and all would be provided. Francis not only returned the money, but he renounced his family, all his worldly possessions and his claim to any inheritance. He began to live like a joyful beggar, preaching to all who would listen about returning to God and obedience to the church. He lived in poverty not to abolish it, but to make it holy; to find freedom in it. In his words:

“What can you do to a man who owns nothing? You can’t starve a fasting man, you can’t steal from someone who has no money, you can’t ruin someone who hates prestige.”

That should be of some comfort if you ever feel “less-than”. As it turned out, others were also eager for change and enticed by his simple and happy manner. One thing led to another and before he knew it, he had about 5000 followers and found himself in front of the Pope pleading for approval for his growing brotherhood. At another time he traveled to Syria, meeting with the Sultan in hopes of converting him to end the Crusades. Not only did he live to tell about it, but he impressed the Sultan who remarked, “I’d convert to your religion, which is a beautiful one, but both of us would be murdered.”

God continually cleared the way for Saint Francis to spread his message of peace in spite of human shortcomings. And Francis, once touched by the power of that Love, never lost his cheerful enthusiasm for life in spite of the hardships of poverty, illness, even blindness. He died in 1226 at the age of 45, but left us with a Franciscan legacy of holiness in simplicity. Did you know St. Francis is also responsible for arranging the first Christmas Creche? In the words of the American hippies of the 60s, “FAAAAAR OUT!”  Saint Francis certainly was!

Original: $800 (SOLD)

You can order custom prints in my Fine Art America shop here or by clicking the “Shop” tab above.
Matted prints made in my studio are also available in my Etsy shop here.