Sunday, March 20, 2016

Remnants and Recreation

Discarded painting with demonstration limb--the perfect start to a painting

I have been working with some young people at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Paris, KY. We have been making images of Easter to adorn the church. It has been an exhilarating experience as the young artists are fearless and quite prolific. They have high standards, too, and I found a couple of starts in the trash can. They were too tempting to pass up! Meanwhile, Dawn was interested in making a painting of spring boughs and so I made a little demonstration for her--how to use the paint brush boldly to make that branch. The resulting combination sang out to me. I am here! Finish me!

Adding more oil pastel and then the backwash in watercolor  
So I brought her home and started to pile on. First, I was thinking of redbuds--they are already budding out here in Kentucky.  I had a "warmed up" fuchsia oil pastel. Then I slopped in the background wash, in Himalayan salt pink (thank you, Meg!) I let that dry overnight.
     By the next morning, I knew that the strokes of the original artist (I will need to find out who this is!) had more of a cherry blossom sensibility. I must correct my trajectory. Also, I began to think of the poem, Loveliest of Trees, by A. E. Hausman. It is a poem of Eastertide, so appropriate. But, it has additional meaning for me. When I came home from the hospital with our first child, I remember sitting with him and listening to Prairie Home Companion. Garrison Keillor recited Loveliest of Trees, though it was January. I had this realization that this little baby I held in my arms, who just arrived, one day he would die. Both events are unutterably sacred. New life and death are so bound together in Easter.
The cherry tree in bloom

Loveliest of Trees by A. E. Housman

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
is hung with bloom along the bough,
and stands about the woodland ride
wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
twenty will not come again,
and take from seventy springs a score,
it only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
fifty springs are little room,
about the woodlands I will go
to see the cherry hung with snow.

      Thank you for all the beauty; both well known and dismissed. It is all there for our pleasure. Thank you for children giving us fresh insights and for all those who wish to create and revitalize a teacher's inspiration. Thank you for this season of new life!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spring Creation

Let's Play: back and forth with oil pastel and watercolor

In the upcoming Saturdays I will have the new experience of working with young people to create images of Easter. Their ages range from 7 to 17+. We are going to be thinking about some of my favorite subjects: creating and perceiving; and how those two things are intertwined.
      I've been dwelling in this milieu already because every Lent I read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  The story of Mary Lennox's and Colin Craven's transformation gives me the annual conviction to throw off the clogging mantle of old, crippling and wrong-headed ideas and habits. Incrementally, I am nudged into seeing the world afresh. It is also an excellent narrative about perception, objective and subjective and how we can begin to see things more clearly and completely.

This change is not instant or "cheap". It is slow and deep. Often, it happens in a hidden fashion, not to be seen until the life force pushes to the surface, like daffodil bulbs in Spring.

Lenten Growth, 10 x 8", oil pastel and watercolor
   We will be working with watercolor and oil pastel, a medium that I have not used extensively. So, I will be playing and experimenting, too. Spring!

My hope is that through the creation of our Easter images, these young people will feel the beauty of seeing the world clearly and also the enchantment and poetry of their own particular vision.  Only a start is possible, of course, with our small project. Still, I am looking forward to seeing their world in Spring.