I just completed my skinny pages for the month of February. These pages are going to Lisa who likes cemetery images, saints, gothic anything, gargoyles, medieval, Renaissance images, angels, the Madonna/child, contrasts between the dark and the light, Marie Antoinette, historical royalty. So you can see that I had a lot to choose from, but I chose a saint and a medieval woman. The collage above features St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. It is said that while being put to death, she sang to God. Oh, that I would have the courage and the peace of mind to do that upon my death! The actual image of St. Cecilia above is from a painting by Guido Reni done in 1606. Isn't she beautiful? I love the porcelain quality of her skin and the rapturous look in her eyes. She lived and died in the 5th century, and the violin had not yet been developed, but who cares?
For the other side, I chose an image of a medieval shepherdess. I'm assuming she was a shepherdess because of the sheep and the shepherd's staff, but wasn't she well dressed for herding sheep? She's a scholarly shepherd too, reading a book while tending her flock.
It's the last weekend of the month, and I have several projects to mail off by Tuesday the 1st. So, it's on to the next one! Procrastination — isn't it a lovely thing?
I think my muse has returned! (Knocking on wood right now.) For months now, I would fulfill my obligation to create my skinny book pages each month, but that was it. When finished, I would leave my studio not to return until the next month — well, almost. This time it was different. I wanted to jump right into another creation, and here it is.
Birds! Are you surprised? There is a cryptic message here. The numbers 40-6-26 are a code to something that has a special, spiritual meaning for me. Can you figure it out?
Also, just a word about the fragment of a hymn behind the birds. The hymn is "The Rock that Is Higher than I" (text by Erastus Johnson,1826-1909), and I found it flipping through one of my old hymnals. The words that caught my eye are "O then to the Rock let me fly, to the Rock that is higher than I." Every day of my life I am glad I have a refuge to turn to, a source of comfort and strength much higher than my mortal being.
Now I am anxious to jump into another creation. I can scarcely believe it.
Well, I'm a day late and a dollar short. This was the previous theme for the Gothic Arch challenge — I thought it ended today, but yesterday was the final day. I'm sneaking it in anyway. This week's theme is regal ladies, and I think the Madonna is definitely regal. That stamp, The Saint, by Stampington & Co. has long been one of my favorites.
Do you see the hymn in the background? I recently stoleborrowed rescued 3 old hymnals that were no longer in use at my church and were probably bound for the trash. I brought them home and showed them off proudly to my husband who really didn't quite get my excitement. To me, they are a treasure.
I started to name this post, A.W.O.L., since I've been away for so long, but then decided "missing in action" was more appropriate. I've been busy doing some long overdue housework, babysitting my precious little grandson twice a week, and, oh yes, decorating the house for Christmas. Not much going on the art front for me, but I did put together this slideshow this week. Here's hoping that it works okay.
Auld Lang Syne (from the movie, Sex and the City) is performed by Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis.
As I worked on my arch for this week's theme at Gothic Arches, for some reason I started thinking of an art song I learned and performed in collage, Down Bye Street, by Sidney Homer. The lyrics are from a poem by John Masefield, The Widow in the Bye Street, and recount the tale of a woman's sacrifice for her son by working night and day as a seamstress. The poem reminds me of my friend, Donata. She'll understand why.
The Widow in the Bye Street
Down Bye Street, in a little Shropshire town, There lived a widow with her only son. She had no wealth nor title to renown, Nor any joyous hours, never one. She rose from ragged mattress before sun And stitched all day until her eyes were red, And had to stitch, because her man was dead.
Her little son was all her life's delight, For in his little features she could find A glimpse of that dead husband out of sight, Where out of sight is never out of mind. And so she stitched till she was nearly blind, Or till the tallow candle end was done, To get a living for her little son,
Her love for him being such she could not rest, It was a want which ate her out and in, Another hunger in her withered breast Pressing her woman's bones against the skin. To make him plump she starved her body thin. And he, he ate the food and never knew, He laughed and played as little children do.
So years went on till Jimmy was a lad And went to work as poor lads have to do, And then the widow's loving heart was glad To know that all the pains she had gone through, And all the years of putting on the screw, Down to the sharpest turn a mortal can, Had borne their fruit and made her child a man.
The falling leaves drift by the window The autumn leaves of red and gold I see your lips, the summer kisses The sun-burned hands I used to hold Since you went away the days grow long
And soon Ill hear old winters song But I miss you most of all my darling When autumn leaves start to fall
Last night the trick or treaters came. It was the perfect night for it — cool enough to feel like fall, but still quite comfortable to be outside. Today is an absolutely gorgeous day. So gorgeous that I think I better spend as much time outside as I can. Maybe I'll take some art supplies outside and see if I can create something. The art hasn't been flowing out of me lately, but perhaps today will be the day.
I did manage to work out my design for my Christmas cards this year. For some time, I've wanted to do an ornament that could serve as a card as well, and here it is. Now on to the assembly work of making enough for friends and family.
And I finished the hat to go with the sweater I knitted for Baby G. (Baby G is what we're calling the new grandbaby due in February.) I think it is so cute with that little stem on top. It looks like the stem on a pumpkin to me.
Lastly here's a photo of six-week-old Bobby I took almost a couple of weeks ago now. Isn't he adorable? I'll see him again tomorrow and get some new snapshots. They change and grow so fast at this stage.
Autumn Leaves performed by The Bird and the Bee, lyrics by Joseph Kosma, music by Johnny Mercer
That's the theme at Gothic Arches this week. As soon as I read the theme proposed by hostess Nancy Dooren, a song immediately came into my head. I knew I had to feature the song, "The Last Rose of Summer."
As I created this arch, I realized I have used this woman's image many times in my art. There is something about her face that I just love. She looks so sweet and kind, beautiful without being glamorous. I suppose I should retire her so all my work doesn't look the same. Well, maybe I'll just give her a vacation!
Take a moment to hear Celtic Women sing this lovely old Irish air on YouTube. It's well worth the time, and if you're like me, it may bring on a few tears, but the good kind.
I have been working on Caryl's Stone Angels book. Sadly, this is the last book in the round robin. At a time when I'm seeking to purge myself from involvement in round robins and swaps, I'm still sad to see this one end. It has been an incredible journey. The quality of the art in these books has been superb. When I started on my spread for Caryl's book, I had an idea in mind along with a particular embellishment I wanted to use. As so often happens, I ended up 180° from where I thought I was going. My pages tell the story of hope, resurrection and life after death.
As I worked on these pages, I kept hoping they wouldn't seem too dark, but it's always darkest before dawn, right? And that's exactly what I was trying to express. Inside the crown are the words, "Rise, crowned with Light." I was running the crown down one of my sheet music covers, auditioning words to show through the opening in the crown, and these words seemed perfect. The music behind the angel is "What Wondrous Love Is This," one of the most hauntingly beautiful hymns ever written. (In my humble opinion.) The tune is early American and comes from Southern Harmony, a songbook published in 1835. To hear a beautiful rendition accompanied by touching photos, click on this link to YouTube. Here are the words.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul! What wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to lay aside his crown for my soul, for my soul, to lay aside his crown for my soul.
When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down, When I was sinking down, sinking down, When I was sinking down beneath God's righteous frown, Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul. Christ laid aside His crown for my sou.
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing, to God and to the Lamb, I will sing. To God and to the Lamb who is the great I AM, while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing, while millions join the theme, I will sing.
And when from death I'm free, I'll sing on, I'll sing on, And when from death I'm free, I'll sing on. And when from death I'm free I'll sing and joyful be, and through eternity I'll sing on, I'll sing on, and through eternity I'll sing on.