Friday, May 30, 2014

At last in silver

I just got this silver cross and thirty others like it from the caster. Its real size is about an inch and an eighth long. My husband blackened it with liver of sulphur, and then I shined it up. I'll put it for sale on Etsy when the chains and clasps I ordered arrive.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Watercolors of an island garden by Childe Hassam

This weekend I attended the funeral of a friend, a woman of unusual warmth and generosity, a neighbor and valued member of our small community. The burial service was unusual in its attempt to fully acknowledge the reality of death. Those who wished to placed a handful of earth on the coffin, flowers were removed from the coffin, and the coffin was sealed in its vault in our presence. I think a request had been made to lower it into the grave in our presence, but that was not done. I suspect that was too complicated with the machinery involved. I think the funeral director thought we were nuts.

Later in the day I looked through my folders of downloaded images. These Childe Hassam watercolors of an island garden I found particularly comforting to my eyes and soul, partly, I think because of the long view of the ocean in the background. 

I think the ocean is a good thing to look at when we're thinking about death. Its largeness, the invisibility of the other side, is congruent with our sense of distance from the one who has died, from one who literally has passed on. We can't see them any more. They are on the other side. We can't see to the other side, but it's there.  

These words of C.S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory, were read at the funeral: "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest, most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror or corruption such as you now meet only in a nightmare. All day long we are in some degree or other helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Illustration Friday: Retro

About five years ago I found this little painted wooden figure at the thriftstore. I don't know if it is actually old or just made to look so. I love its soft, simple shapes and light, soft colors. I've been wanting to do a little illustration of it ever since I got it. Thanks to Illustration Friday for giving me the direction and focus to do what I've been wanting to do anyway.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Samuel Palmer, self-taught English visionary painter

When I look at this artist's work, I feel I could have been him in an earlier life, or I would feel that if I believed in such things, which I don't. My response to his work seems pre-verbal, so I'll let the Tate website do the talking:

"Palmer was a key figure of English Romantic painting who represented, at least in his early work, its pastoral, intuitive and nostalgic aspects at their most intense. He is widely described as visionary and linked with his friend and mentor William Blake, though he stood at an almost opposite extreme in his commitment to landscape and his innocent approach to its imagery. He had none of Blake's irony or complexity and was inspired by a passionate love of nature that found its philosophical dimension in unquestioning Neo-Platonism."

So there you have it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Illustration Friday: Voyage

"I should like to spend the whole of my life traveling abroad, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend afterwards at home." ---William Hazlett

I used to want to travel, and I took a few long trips when I was much younger, but now I mostly want to stay home. I vaguely thought of traveling as a spiritual, emotional, artistic quest--a way, among other things, to connect with more beauty and meaning than I could access by staying in one underappreciated place. But appreciation for my place has grown, energy to flit about has waned, and I stay happily put as the earth wheels around its sun, traveling through seasons that bring all the change of scene I want just now.

My drawing for Illustration Friday is of violets, common little flowers of spring I sketched from life. I thought perhaps they, like dandelions, had made the voyage to the New World with European immigrants, but it turns out they are native to this continent as well as to Europe. When I Googled violets to find out where they came from I was mildly affronted by these words: "violets can be a problem in shady fescue lawns." I cannot at all relate to the American suburban ideal of the smooth green lawn, free of  violets, dandelions, clover and other interesting variations. Such lawns feel sterile and unfriendly to me.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Illustration Friday: Revenge

At a time in my life when vengeful and resentful thoughts haunted my mind, these words of Jesus helped to change my feelings. I did not suppress the resentful thoughts but used them as reminders to repeat Jesus' words to myself. After a week or so the resentment died away and was replaced by love and emotional freedom.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Claughton Pellew

Quietness of a shepherd leading his flock in the predawn cold, a passing train shedding a different kind of light from a different kind of place, soon to leave the shepherd in quiet again. From The Bookroom Art Press.

I have discovered a new to me artist, Claughton Pellew (1890-1962).  He was English, a Catholic convert, a conscientious objector who spent World War One in jail. He lived with his wife, artist Emma Tennent way out in the country, used a bike instead of a car, used paraffin lamps instead of electricity, loved rural England. He is, as far as I can tell, little known. His face in this photograph moves me. It seems to express purity of motive, sensitivity and vision.

Here are a few of his woodcuts. The next is from the blog Modern Printmakers. You might want to go there to learn a little more about Pellew.

These are from A Polar Bear's Tale.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Illustration Friday: Vanity

Vanity means not only conceit and excessive interest in appearance, but also (and more basically) emptiness, meaninglessness and futility--as in "our efforts and hopes were in vain." I tried to express the opposite of this week's prompt.

This is an image that has been rattling around in my head for awhile. I did most of it late, late last night when I couldn't sleep. I want to try it again, make it bigger and more complex, make the waves more watery, put some fruit, flowers or more birds in the tree.


Well, I just tried to upload to Illustration Friday, but I'm too late. The new prompt is already up--"revenge." I might have to do another opposite!