I've been working this summer on a faith-based project, which initially had me a bit intimidated.
Drawing the Holy Family and the earliest saints presents both a challenge and a sense of responsibility. Some of history's greatest works of art depict the nativity, the ascension, and other biblical stories. Sadly, some of the worst art seen by human eyes has attempted the same.
Knowing my own limitations, as well as the limitations of the project (this is for very young children), I set a few easy guidelines for myself and discovered a few things along the way.
First, it's always well and good to draw inspiration from the masters, but when researching costumes and garb from biblical times, it's sometimes better to look elsewhere.
inspiring work by Caravaggio:
Helpful still from the Mel Gibson film "Passion of the Christ"
Second, you gotta loosen up. I started with loose sketches of ordinary folks in ordinary situations, like the ones at the top of the post and below. Some of these are mere warm-ups —expressions with beards, but I fully-intended to work a few into crowd scenes. Ordinary people can be turned into saints easily enough. After a few hours of looking at pictures, and free sketching, I felt as if I could move on.