Thursday, March 21, 2013

Making art is an antidepressant

My husband was out of town, and it had been a long day. I finally settled my youngest two in bed and snuggled and storied them to sleep.  It was time for art, but I had to eat dinner first---somehow in making and serving and breaking up arguments I hadn’t actually eaten much myself. It was getting late. Should I just go to bed?

No! I had promised myself art time every day if at all, at all possible. I couldn’t find my sketchbook, so I grabbed a scrappy piece of printer paper and sketched snowdrops from some Victorian botanical art.  Then I played around with colors inside lily shapes for a few minutes. It was a pleasant, peaceful exercise—I love the sound and feel of colored pencils on paper.

I hadn’t made anything exciting, but I was sleepy, so I went to bed.  As I pulled up my blanket, a wave of satisfaction unexpectedly washed through me.  It was my making something feeling--not the tenuous thrill of finishing something I like,  mixed with disappointment that it’s not as good as I hoped, but the simple, grounded happiness that (for me) comes from applying pencil to paper.

There should be a recommended daily allowance for that kind of happiness. About a year ago I realized that when I don’t do art for awhile, my inner light goes dim. I had been determined to get my house in order no matter what, and for a couple months or so I had a clean house and no laundry backlog by giving it my undivided attention. I felt I had no time for art.  It was fun to move around my house without kicking stuff out of the way, and sheer delight to get to church on time because we weren’t sorting chaos to get ready, but I noticed in myself dullness, a listlessness. I thought maybe I was getting down because I was addicted to mess stress.  But one day I did some art (not having connected artlessness to the creeping depression) and unexpectedly zest for life returned.  
I wonder how many people are sad because they are not exercising some vital element of their beings, and they are unaware that this is so. Think about it. What would you love to do if only you had time? Would doing it give you more energy to get other stuff done and actually save you time?  

My house did get messy again, which crowds out art and is also depressing, so now I am learning how to keep a fairly ordered home without being obsessive and self-destructive about it.
I wrote this awhile ago, before I had this blog.  Circumstances in my life have changed since then, and I’m doing art for many hours a day.  Most of it I can’t put online yet. That dream come true has its own pitfalls. I’ll tell about them pretty soon.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I bind unto myself today the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever, by power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river; his death on cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb; His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet well done in judgment hour; the service of the seraphim;
confessors’ faith, apostles’ word, the patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord, the purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun’s life giving ray,  the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free, the whirling winds’ tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His shield to stay, His ear to hearken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach, his hand to guide, His shield to ward;
the Word of God to give me speech, His heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name, the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation, eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Attributed to St. Patrick (372-476); translated by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895) 

Art by Melissa,  Prismacolor pencil.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A jumble of colors

Posted by Lucy

I had a blast making this crazy drawing. I sometimes describe it as a mixture of butterflies and colored blocks. The necessary handicap of proportion blew away like smoke on the wind for this piece, and I could put anything in that trickled out of my imagination onto the paper. I did it with Prismacolor pencils and there are six “Lucy”s hidden in it. Can you find them?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Better late than never—a post meant for last week

 Posted by Melissa

The air is thick with snow. It falls steadily as if pacing itself for the long job ahead--eight to ten inches are predicted.  The distant trees are dim smudges, and there is no horizon. I could watch snow like this all day, hypnotized by the quiet steady falling.  The funny thing about this weather is that it’s almost spring, and the quality of light, even through thick white snow clouds, seems springlike to me.

           Lucy cut these paper snowflakes before Christmas. I am still enjoying them. Maybe we'll take them down at Easter...         



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Winter doodles. . .

posted by Lucy.

These are some winter-related ballpoint pen and Prismacolor pencil doodles that I did a little while ago. They were very easy and fun to do.

This Christmas one is obviously a little late . . .

This is one of my favorites, though it isn’t really finished, a fact I didn’t notice until after it had been scanned! I had meant to fill out the top of the tree, but somehow or other, I was interrupted, which of course led to distractions and my tree was forgotten.

The beggar children below are just sloppy doodles I did while having fun with Prismacolor pencils.

This is also just a sloppy doodle. . .

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Easter eggs

posted by Melissa

I’ve been painting wooden eggs.  I've finished four eggs (the size of hen's eggs) and put a background color on four more.  It’s fun and addictive like eating candy—playing with all the pretty colors, following my fancy.  I plan to open an Etsy store soon and put them in it, though I also kind of want to keep them for myself. I’ve noticed in me a growing attachment to my creations.
I’ve seen some amazing lacquered eggs around, perfectly polished and with utterly refined detailing. These eggs aren’t like that. Not only does trying for that level of finish take all the fun out of it, but I think I prefer wooden eggs that look wooden and hand painted eggs that look painted by a human hand.
The vintage English tin in the background is one of my thrift store treasures. It was less than a dollar!  Was it meant for loose tea? The linens, lace and mercerized cotton thread are also thrifted treasures.