Ave Maria [Hired Gun]

So I was asked to design a Virgin Mary tattoo, and was secretly overcome with joy while also feeling an added amount of pressure. I did a sickening amount of research for this because although I am a Christian, there are a lot of things I assume that I don’t know to be necessarily true symbol wise. But it turns out these things are confirmed by the Roman Catholic church’s information, so that’s cool.

The concept: Virgin Mary with a sacred heart and rosary.
Color palette: B&W or traditional colors.

Notes I took were as follows:

  • Rosary: 59 beads, 53 are Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayer beads, 6 are Pater (Our Father) beads. Around the actual necklace part, they come in 5 sets of ten, and each set is separated by a single Pater bead. The pendant part has one Pater bead at each end, with a string set of three, resulting typically in a cross. It is meant to encourage charity, faith, hope, protection and love. The prayers associated with it are Hail Mary, Gloria Patri, Our Father (Lord’s Prayer), Apostle’s Creed and the Fatima Prayer.
  • Mary herself is typically depicted in a shroud that is either blue or white, with an undergarmet colored red-orange or white. She has a radiant halo glow behind her.
  • The symbols typically associated with Mary are a gold crown, lilies, ferns, ivy, BV (Blessed Virgin) monogram with an M, mystic rose, iris, pear, almond, periwinkle, pansy, and Fleur-de-lys

I did quite a study of traditional representations of Mary. A lot of the grand old paintings of Mary feature a great golden background and a blue garbed woman (Blue was a difficult and expensive color, so using it showed the utmost of honor)

So anyways, yeah, I stared at probably 200 representations and interpretations of Mary. The client wanted her to be guarding the sacred heart while also holding rosary beads. Because she was holding the rosary, I wanted her to look reflective and prayerful, rather than to be staring you down, so I lowered her gaze to focus on the heart and rosary beads as contemplative measure. The banner features the line “Pray for us”, taken directly from the Ave Maria prayer. As sort of a frame, it features two white Easter lilies, referencing the resurrection and the line blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus from the Ave Maria as well as an affirmation of some of the beliefs outlined in the Apostle’s Creed. In addition, two branches of growth, since Mary symbolizes maternal life force.Everything at the top would be slowly graduated out. Mary’s skin tone would obvious rely heavily on the client’s rather than be packed with color to make her white, and her hair remains covered (and as a result, uncolored) because white-washed Mary is not my favorite part of her significance.


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