As a natural-born redhead and illustrator, I was delighted to receive an assignment for MY LIGHT MAGAZINE to illustrate Mary Magdalene. This wonderfully enigmatic and elusive New Testament character has fascinated, Catholics, Christians, and historians alike.
So where do I begin. I look for resource illustrations and find as I knew I would, fine art representations; many hinging on the sultry as well as downright erotic. I always thought of her as the unnamed woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. Further research indicated that at this time Jesus was visiting a Pharisee's house, a controversial step for a holy prophet. In fact the entire event was steeped in controversy.
Back to the illustration. I knew I was over thinking as I pulled Mary Magdalene to the foreground. I tried to create a look of longing and wistfulness. After all, at some level, Jesus was a love interest. (Whose feet would you wash with your tears and dry with your hair if not for love?) I placed Jesus somewhat in the background, with a wise old man (the probably wealthy Pharisee) pouring Him wine.
The event of creating the red hair reflected my views of the scripture as I repeatedly, softened, lightened, punch up color with the most vivid mineral orange. Too bright? Subdue with terra cotta. Too brown? add some venetian red. Ah, just right. How much hair would have shown. More than Our Lady, for sure. But she's inside the house, is her hair still covered? Probably.
Hold on, go back to the scriptural resource. But she's not actually named. Do I even have the right Mary? I'll have to take Pope Gregory the Great's word for it.