Secrets of Great Art

Art Beyond Words: The Veiled Christ

The Veiled Christ Giuseppe Sanmartino Cappella Sansevero, Naples.

The Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino, 1753

Even Antonio Canova was envious of this sculpture. That’s saying a lot.

The Story Behind The Veiled Christ (from Museo Cappella Sansevero)

Placed at the centre of the nave of the Sansevero Chapel, the Veiled Christ is one of the most famous and impressive works of art in the world. It was the Prince’s wish that the statue be made by Antonio Corradini, who had already done Modesty for him. However, Corradini died in 1752 and only managed to make a terracotta scale model of the Christ, which is now preserved in the Museo di San Martino.

So Raimondo di Sangro appointed a young Neapolitan artist, Giuseppe Sanmartino, to make “a life-sized marble statue, representing Our Lord Jesus Christ dead, and covered in a transparent shroud carved from the same block as the statue”.


The Veiled Christ Front View

Front view. Notice his crown of thorns and the nails.


The sculpture was so unbelievable, they thought it was magic.

Legend of the Veil (from Wikipedia)

Over the centuries, the masterful depiction of the veil has acquired a legend, in which the original commissioner of the sculpture, the famous scientist and alchemist Raimondo di Sangro teaches the sculptor how to transform cloth into crystalline marble. For about three centuries, in fact, many visitors to the Cappella, amazed by the veiled sculpture, erroneously believed it to be the result of an alchemical “marblification” performed by the prince, who was meant to have laid a real veil on the sculpture and to have transformed this into marble over time by means of a chemical process.

In reality, a close analysis leaves no doubt that the work was entirely produced in marble and this is also confirmed by some letters written at the time of its production.

The Veiled Christ head detail.

This is an example of the divine art that inspired The Sculptor series.

Could you find words to describe it?


Photo credits



Museo Capella Sansevero

An Author’s Research: How To Build A Realistic Body

My anti-hero is a disturbed sculptor whose art captivates the world. His story is very important to me and as an author I felt it my responsibility to make sure I created a believable character and an accurate portrayal of an artistic genius’ world.

A few months ago I announced that amazing artist, Kristine Poole, would be advising me for my first fiction series.  I’ve begun the initial phases of revising (reading through quickly, chopping up ruthlessly, combating nauseating self-doubt) and I will be interviewing Kristine Poole for in-depth details in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I wanted to share her video so you can see how she transforms a chunk of solid clay into a sculpture so lifelike that you can almost fancy it’s breathing. I learned a great deal just by watching the video and realize there will be much I have to change in my books. For starters…

  1. I had this vision that my sculptor would carve his pieces from the clay in the same way other sculptors chisel from marble. As you can see, this sculpture is made in a completely different way using coils and slabs.
  2. I thought the armature (support) would go inside, like a skeleton, but as you can see, Kristine uses outside supports.
  3. I had forgotten since my elementary school pottery class that ceramics must be hollow. Solid clay cannot be fired! 

After realizing how mistaken my assumptions were, I know why it’s so important to do proper research for a novel. If a writer cares about their characters and their readers, they must take the time and effort to make sure the story they build could possibly take place in the real world.

I know nothing takes me out of a story faster than lack of credibility and disbelief.


Readers: Have you ever been turned off by a poorly researched book?

Writers: How do you find credible sources for your research?

Were you surprised by the sculpting method used in the video?




And the Klimt Tote Goes To…

*drum rolls*

(in game show host voice) Tami Abrioooooooo!!! Give her a big hand, folks.


My Sweet Delirium Nifty Prize Contest Winner


I’m sending the Klimt bags out today. One goes to my lovely Nifty Prize winner, Tami in Cali, and one goes to me!

*more applause*

Stay tuned for pics of us looking all cultured with our new totes.

Klimt The Kiss Tote bag Christa Wojo

I’ll also be revealing this month’s Nifty Prize!

(hint: It involves literature and hot caffeinated beverages)

*oohs and ahhs*

Like My Sweet Delirium’s Facebook page to participate in my monthly contest.

Click my Delirious Mime. Don't leave him all alone in there.

Click my Delirious Mime. He’s looking for new playmates. It’s okay. He’s medicated.

Big congrats to Tami and thanks to all who participated!

Questions or Comments about the contest? Ask below!

Giving Birth to New Realities

Pablo Picasso Quote over his painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon


How powerful is your imagination?

As I said in a recent post, when I write I feel like I’m channeling a parallel universe. Sometimes I even feel like by imagining the story, I’ve created a new reality.

Whether one believes in string theory, bubble theory, or traditional religion–most humans sense invisible worlds that exist just beyond our perception.

Could these worlds spring into being just by us imagining them? Is our world one such dimension–a thought in another being’s head?

What do you think Picasso meant?

My Writing Process: Christa Wojo

christa wojo my sweet delirium writing process blog hop

I confess, I’m dying to have an excuse to talk about writing. I live in the mountains in a foreign country with a few pets who just don’t get as excited about literature as I do. My human companions politely smile at me like I’m a mental patient and change the subject.

I was giddy when my Twitter bud, Susan Kicklighter (a woman who makes me literally LMAO on a daily basis) tagged me for this writing process blog hop.

So, my captive audience, let me tell you a thing or two about my favorite subject in the world.

1. What are you working on right now?

I’m working on the third novel of a series called The Sculptor of New Hope. It’s a dark romantic story steeped in artistic and literary themes. It explores mental illness, drug addiction, violence, and abuse. Conversely, the story focuses on questions about aesthetics, evolution, true will, and true love.  I try to demonstrate how both positive and negative sources fuel the mysterious force that is creativity.

2. How does your work differ from others in the genre?

To be honest, I don’t know what genre to place this series in. I think that happens to a lot of inexperienced writers.

It’s a contemporary love story with elements of gothic romance and literary fiction. My characters are on the fringe of society: artists, musicians, perverts, and freaks. Others are involved in crime, drugs, prostitution, etc. My main purpose is to show the beauty in the most depraved people and horrific situations.

After doing some research in the commercial market, I’m considering starting my own sub genre. I’d like to immerse the reader in the dark mood and melodrama of a gothic novel, while using lush settings all over the globe. I will always write about deeply flawed, pretty much sociopathic characters who are dealing with huge existential and moral crises. Is there a genre that covers something like a Verdi opera mixed with Edgar Allan Poe and Pulp Fiction?

3. Why do you write?

Since I was a child I felt that it was important to document my experiences. Whether it was the PB&J I had for lunch or my dinosaur and unicorn stories–everything was noteworthy. I’ve always wondered why the hell I’m on this planet, so I guess it’s my way of taking notes on life in hopes that one day all the knowledge will be useful.

We are all born with a calling, and that of a storyteller is especially strong. I believe it’s because we all had our roles in ancient society. There were rulers, warriors, merchants, and farmers. Modern writers are the scribes. We are the record keepers of the collective consciousness. Our stories reflect the times and everyday thoughts of our species. You can open a book from any era and step into the writer’s mind. I feel writers need to realize they have a serious responsibility. The written language is a portal into someone else’s psyche, and everything we write echoes through others and ripples out across time and space.

I also write for my sanity and the safety of others. When I don’t write, cerebral toxins build up and I get irritable. I have to let my psyche breathe. As I write, I feel like what’s happening on the page helps my subconscious to process what’s happening in my physical world.

At the same time I help the characters who have summoned me to tell their story. I listen to them and watch their lives unfold in my mind’s eye. I feel like I am channeling another world and the process often seems to have little to do with me at all. I’m merely a conduit, and my characters are so real I’m sometimes afraid I’ll run into them and cause a cataclysmic clash of dimensions.

Anyway, bottom line is writing is my bliss. When I am writing, I can hear my soul sing.

christa wojo may sweet delirium writing process

4. How does your writing process work?

I’m still trying to get my writing process down. I’ve been allowing my system to develop organically. I trudged through two National Novel Writing Months in a row, but now I realize there is a book that wants out of my head every six months or so. So far, I just sit down and purge the story out. It gets messy, but it gets done.

The process I need to work on is how to revise novel-length work. I’ve been so overwhelmed with the thought of revising my books that I just keep writing as a form of procrastination–but this has its advantage. I figured if I write all three books first, then I can revise the series as a whole so that it is more cohesive.

I’ve been lucky enough to find some amazing critique partners who I know will give me some vital clues as to where to go. My character, the sculptor, always says that his masterpieces are already completed in some time and place to come. According to him, my books already exist in their perfect form in the future somewhere. All I have to do is keep the faith that the world will give me everything I need to get them done and at the proper time (no matter how badly I want to rush it!)

So there you have it. I am just as wacko as my characters. You can send the men in white coats for me now.

In the meantime, I tag…

Ashley Antoinette Sapp 

“That quiet girl with the written words. Editor wannabe. Literature enthusiast. Wanderlust addict. Southern charm with a twist.”

AR Rivera

“Author (Between Octobers), mother, blogger, and Blockhead. Should said book become an uber-successful film before being adapted for TV, I’ll fall on that grenade.”

Charlotta Amato

“I love life, even when I don’t understand it. I’m a single mama, High School teacher, experiencing building a life for my children and I in a country which I myself do not come from.”

June Hur

“An aspiring novelist who works for the Library. English lit & history graduate at the University of Toronto. Follow my journey to publication via my blog :)”

Madhuri Blaylock

“Creator of The Sanctum Trilogy / Attorney by day / Dress buyer / Ice cream eater / Snark purveyor / WeNeedDiverseBooks supporter / Dork / HOLLA BITCHES!”

Shonda Brock

Author of IR Paranormal Romance, who believes there’s nothing wrong with a little wine, but remember not every bottle is created equal. Some are just better!

Your turn to answer the same four questions and tag your own authors! Your free to use the Writing Process Blog Hop image.

Thanks to Susan Kicklighter for giving me the opportunity to yack about my book. Make sure to follow her blog and connect with her on Twitter.

Opinions and Thoughts Requested

I’d like to know…

  • How do you feel about writing?
  • What are your best strategies for writing and revising?
  • Do you determine genre before or after writing your story?

Photo credits:

Flickr Creative Commons

Jennifer Mathis and Paloetic

The Essence of Great Art

Quote Image Friedrich Nietzsche by Christa Wojo

Venus and Adonis by Antonio Canova


What do you think is the essence of great art, writing, dance, or music?

Photo source.

Cultivating the Dark Core of Passion

Black Hole of Passion

This post by SymbolReader is a perfect mediation for the weekend.
I have found that without structure and discipline, passions lead to chaos and emotional and physical burnout. A solid routine of mundane activities allows me to access the ‘dark core’ without fear of losing myself in it.

What are your passions?
Are you pursuing them?
How do you tame and refine them to harness them for inspiration?


photo credit


Of Human Bondage

Picture of book Of Human Bondage

The first real paper book I’ve read in a long time.

What makes a book, movie, painting, or song an enduring masterpiece? I think it’s one that awakens a slumbering memory, long forgotten, yet an integral part of one’s personality and perspective on life.

Typical for Panama, the power went out for most of the day. I worked on my desktop computer until my backup ran out of juice. I switched to my laptop, but soon the internet went out as well, so I dug my iPad out of my purse, but I had forgotten to charge it.

With no electronics left to shake any information gratification out of, I turned to my dusty bookshelf where the title Of Human Bondage caught my eye (I know what you were thinking, but it’s not about S&M). It’s a book I found when my mother-in-law was moving a few years ago and has been sitting there ever since.

The story, so far, is about a boy named Phillip who is born with a clubfoot. When he is nine, his mother dies and he is sent to live with his Uncle who is a vicar. The boy is lonely and friendless and finds his solace in books. Phillip resigns himself to a peaceful existence, reading all day and accompanying his uncle to church at night.

His life soon becomes miserable when he is sent to school where he is teased and bullied by the other kids. He never has a moment’s peace as he limps around the campus. His classmates torment him wherever he goes. Phillip withdraws socially, trying to go unnoticed, and hides his deformed leg whenever he can.

He turns to religion and studies it with fervor.

When he is home at the vicarage on break, he remembers a passage he read from the bible:

If ye have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you should say unto this mountain,

Be though removed, and be thou cast into the sea: it shall be done.

And all this, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing ye shall receive.

Phillip asks his aunt, and his uncle, the Vicar, if it is true. Can a person really move mountains with faith? Phillip’s aunt tells him that if it says so in the Bible, it is so. His uncle confirms by saying, “By the grace of God.”

Phillip is bursting with excitement. It wasn’t like he was asking for a favor as grandiose as moving a mountain. God would surely cure his small deformity. He structured his days around praying for his foot to become normal, and set a date for the miracle to occur by the first day of school.

That was the part that really got to me. The reader very well knows that his prayer won’t be answered, and watching Phillip’s innocent hope just make’s you ache for him. You know he is in store for life altering disappointment.

It reminded me of the time my parents took my sister to one of those crazy faith healing churches. There were no rattlesnakes or fainting women, but it was much different than the solemn Catholic Church we had recently abandoned. My baby sister, Tia, was born with malformed eyes and could see very little. Like most parents who have a baby with a birth defect, mine would try anything to make it disappear.

The congregation prayed intensely over her. I watched for a light from heaven or a subtle cue from angels, but nothing happened. Before we left, the pastor blessed a white handkerchief and told Tia to sleep with it under her pillow at night and that we all must pray.

I expected to wake up and see my sister looking at me with two clear blue eyes, but of course, she is with her condition to this day–one eye having died completely and the other steadily deteriorating.

Christa and her sister on bridge

My little sis, Tia, and I when she came to stay with me and work on her book.

As a kid, I felt it was my fault. Even though I believed with all my heart that she could be cured, I knew there had been a speck of doubt hidden somewhere in the deepest part of my heart, or in my family’s, or even in some of the members of the congregation’s hearts. This insidious speck prevented the miracle from happening.

I think most of us have that crisis when discovering the Bible, or any religious book, is not literal–or in a child’s understanding, not real.

The metaphors are lost on us as children and we feel we’ve been cheated into believing in what is nothing more than a grown-up’s fairy tale.

The same disorientation follows when we find out there is no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny. And I think that loss of faith, that big lie told to us by the adults, plants a seed of suspicion that makes us doubt forevermore. We doubt our faith, we doubt our gods, we doubt our abilities, and we doubt our loved ones. If it’s too good to be true, it is, right?

Now, as I write about that memory with the faith healers and my poor sister, I’m wondering if that disappointment has not been my beef with The Big Guy all along.

As an adult I understand and appreciate the Bible’s mythos and how it fits within the context of physical life, but there is still the little girl in me that’s pissed when my baby sister strains to hold back her tears and says, “I don’t remember what your face looks like anymore.”

Of Human Bondage is by a W. Somerset Maugham. It’s semi-autobiographical novel that was published in 1915, but almost one hundred years later I can pick up this book and relate to its author in the most profound way. That is the magic of the greatest artists.

I will continue reading it and let you know what happens to Phillip. In the meantime…

  • Tell me what literature, film, or music has touched you in this way?
  • At what point in your life did you have a similar crisis of faith?
  • Do you think you have ever gotten over it?

Please leave me your thoughts below.