Saturday, 29 November 2014

Advent Hands : a meditative poem by Catherine Alder

I discovered this poem & used it for a short Advent Meditation, and thought it would be better taken even more slowly... a week at a time to savour each verse... with the addition of one or two visuals.

First, focus on this cave painting...


What do you notice ?

[ even in this small section of the cave, covered with so many hands, you can begin to see how individual they are, and the longer you look, the more you notice about them: right hands,left hands,
different shapes & sizes of fingers, and at least one in deep yellow ochre... ]

This Advent poem focuses first on the hands of Joseph... just imagine....

"I see the hands of Joseph,
Back and forth along bare wood they move.
There is worry in those working hands,
sorting out confusing thoughts with every stroke.
'How can this be, my beautiful Mary now with child?'
Rough with deep splinters, these hands,
small, painful splinters like tiny crosses embedded deeply in this choice to stay with her.
He could have closed his hands to her,
said 'No' and let her go to stoning.
But, dear Joseph opened both his heart and hands to this mother and her child.
Preparing in these days before
with working hands and wood pressed tight between them.
It is these rough hands
that will open and be the first to hold the child.  "

Among so many Madonna & Child paintings, it seems that artists have tended to leave Joseph out, let alone thought of painting him actually holding the baby... but Georges de la Tour painted this beautiful picture of Joseph with Jesus holding a light for him to work by.

next week I will post the second verse of this poem by Catherine Alder

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Trouble with Indigo oil paint

Having seen the beautiful dark indigo background of a Chinese book printed during the Ming Dynasty [ at the current British Museum Exhibition ]

I decided to experiment with indigo myself.

After two glazes of Indigo I realized that this blue has a bitterness that will set my teeth on edge when warmer colours are placed anywhere nearby. Fortunately it will take umpteen more layers until I reach the depth of colour on the label, and so I decide to see what will happen if I glaze it over with ultramarine blue.
 Despite searching all over the Indigo tube of paint [ Artists Quality oil paint ] I can find none of the usual marking code to indicate whether this is a transparent, staining, semi-transparent or opaque colour. I have to guess therefore that it is opaque; I know Ultramarine in artists quality oil paint is transparent and wonder whether its warmth will actually have any effect on the cold layer below.

I thought maybe three glaze layers might help, but it took five glazes before I really had some degree of warmth and real depth of colour. Now in fact I enjoy the beautiful velvety deep blue background that has been created. I wanted a really deep background to offset the paler tones, and a background that would recede. I think I have discovered a way to take off the Indigo bitter edge, but only time will tell as I continue with the painting.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

White Peace Poppies

Seeing the moving pictures of the "River of Blood" installation leaves me wondering why no one has thought to do anything with white peace poppies...perhaps we might think of that for 2018 when we celebrate the end of the first world war ?

Thinking along these lines made me begin to sketch some white poppies in pastels on black paper:

 As I began drawing white on black
I found myself thinking of the black IS flag, and their menacing black uniforms,
and how Muslim leaders have asked us not to call them Islamic State, because their violence has nothing to do with the true Islamic faith.

Then, whilst sketching this white poppy, I thought of all the warmth and love being shown by those who have suddenly found hundreds of refugees in their midst and risen to the challenge of housing them in schools, church halls and makeshift tents; somehow managing to find food... of all the aid workers & those who have donated money, sent supplies...and risk their lives.

Yes, red poppies are an immediate reminder of sacrifice and blood shed during war...
but I post these white poppies in remembrance of all those who work for peace, risking their lives as medical volunteers among Ebola victims; those who stand in solidarity with all who are persecuted; those who listen and care and in whatever way give their lives for others...far too many to name or number... but who also need to be remembered.