Saturday, November 30, 2013

thankful for apple pie

There is yet half a pie leftover from Thursday. And so there is something to look forward to when I serve the turkey soup tonight that I always make from the carcass.
We hosted a record gathering of 21 people for Thanksgiving this year. Our house is not really all that large so there was a lot of logistical planning involved.
I baked three apple pies myself in addition to the many dishes brought by all of our guests. It was an entertaining and thankful crowd, and a good time of feasting was had by all.
I sat down with my little sketchbook and paints to make a painting of the remains of the last pie on Friday morning. I was thinking as I observed it closely that drawing a pie wasn't that different from a landscape, all the convoluted facets and edges reminded me of boulders or mountain terrain.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Prayer of Thanksgiving

From the Book of Common Prayer.

Celebrant:  Let us Pray.

            Eternal God, Heavenly Father,
            You have graciously accepted us as living members
            of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
            And you have fed us with spiritual food
            in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
            Send us now into the world in peace,
            and grant us strength and courage to love and
            serve you with gladness and singleness of heart;
            through Christ our Lord. Amen

Monday, November 25, 2013


My firstborn's birthday is today. His birth announcement here and a sketch I did when he was five days old. My memories of those days are still so sharp and sweet.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I want to live in Narnia

The original art for this tribute to C.S.Lewis and all things Narnian hangs in a hallway of my home. You can see it from the living room and we have kept it there for many years. I created this art in 1981. It was originally a gift to dear friends who had helped us  during a crisis. Knowing that the writings of C.S.Lewis have meant and still mean a great deal in shaping the lives of those friends (and ours), I spent a great amount of time on this. And, since I wasn't very long out of the Art Center years, I then thought of a way to make this into a portfolio piece. I had it printed as a poster with additional quotes from the Narnia stories printed on the bottom of the poster. The company who printed these for me did a wonderful job. I was ignorant at the time about violating copyright laws by using quotes from books without permission. I now know that the estate of C.S.Lewis is very serious about protecting these words. (I have only kept those posters for private use, and have never sold or used them for commercial purposes.)
Well, so I call it a tribute. The Narnia story books have been part of me for a very long time and I will always have a home in Narnia.
My first exposure was in the fourth grade when our teacher began reading aloud "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" to us. I did not wait for succeeding days of chapter reading in the classroom, I found a copy of the book and voraciously devoured the rest of the books. 

For this nine year old girl, the world of fantasy was a refuge. (I had always been a searcher in the shadows for fairies and more.) C.S.Lewis was not the only fantasy author who transported me, George McDonald and Tolkien and many others have been my inner life companions.
I was a dedicated reader early on and still am. My family and friends will attest to my ability to immerse in a book and not be able to hear them calling me. I frequently was in trouble as a child at boarding school because I would be curled in a corner, nose in a book, and the dorm mistress could not rouse me even when she stood above me shouting my name (to come to dinner). (Boarding School can bring out all sorts of strange survival traits) I continue to keep up this annoying ability to this day, my family thinks I do it on purpose. I don't, I really am deaf to the world when I read a good book.
Eventually I left home and went off to college, and Narnia continued to follow me. The day that I met my future husband (I was only 17!), he approached me and tried this cool pick-up line: He; "So, who is your favorite author?" Me, (very shyly) "C.S.Lewis". He; (head over heels in love with me already) "Wow, that's my favorite author too!" Four years later we were married.
Eventually we had four children ourselves. Two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve as they say in Narnia. Of course we read all the Narnia books to our children just as soon as we thought they could understand. I continued to work from home as an illustrator through all the years of raising our family. My children were frequently my models for children's publication assignments. They were accustomed to being asked to pose "stand here, hold this, now turn and look sad, or happy". Because I had the original art hanging in our hallway, my kids always thought they were the four children depicted in the art. At some point I explained to them the startling idea that I actually drew this art before they were born, before I had any idea what they would look like.
I still have a few copies of the poster left. I have given these away as personal gifts for years now. I have never sold them, although I have been asked. I have a file folder of letters that people have written to me. My poster was passed on to them from a friend of a friend and they don't know me but want to tell me their story and how my art has affected them. How unbelievably heart touching for me to hear that my art is meaningful to a stranger. One letter is from a mother whose little boy was killed in an accident. He had the poster hanging in his room,(I think my Mom might have known them and given them a copy). This woman wrote of gazing at my art while sitting in her boy's empty room.  I have also heard from people who were clients of a counselor who had the poster hanging in his office. These people wrote that they felt the healing gaze of Aslan (Jesus) while going through therapy.
These and many more stories are the reason that this art has been significant in my life. Another reason for posting this lengthy explanation would be that this November 22 is the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S.Lewis. On that same day, same year, 1963, Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) died and John F. Kennedy, the 35th American president was assassinated.

Friday, November 15, 2013

a lion, a witch, and an artist

I got a plug today from a friend and well-known many-times published author, Mark Galli. He writes  a column (and is Chief Editor) for Christianity Today, "The Galli Report" on issues that matter, often about Faith.  Here it is. Read his columns and then pick up a book or two of his, I recommend " Jesus Mean and Wild" and his book about St. Francis of Assisi.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lion country

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 
 C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”
― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh and trotted across to the Lion.
"Please," she said, "you're so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.”
― C.S. LewisThe Horse and His Boy

“There is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes.”
― C.S. Lewis

“A dragon has just flown over the tree-tops and lighted on the beach. Yes, I am afraid it is between us and the ship. And arrows are no use against dragons. And they're not at all afraid of fire."
"With your Majesty's leave-" began Reepicheep.
"No, Reepicheep," said the King very firmly, "you are not to attempt a single combat with it.” 
 C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

live like a Narnian

“This is the land of Narnia,' said the Faun, 'where we are now; all that lies between the lamp-post and the great castle of Cair Paravel on the eastern sea.”
― C.S. LewisThe Chronicles of Narnia

“One word, Ma'am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a playworld which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.” The Silver Chair – Chapter 12

Monday, November 11, 2013

a nine year old girl and a Lion

“A long time ago, I opened a book, and this is what I found inside: a whole new world. It isn't the world I live in, although sometimes it looks a lot like it. Sometimes, though, it feels closest to my world when it doesn't look like it at all. That world is enormous, yet it all fits inside an everyday object. I don't have to keep everything I find there, but what I choose to take with me is more precious than anything I own, and there is always more where that came from. The world I found was inside a book, and then that world turned out to be made of even more books, each of which led to yet another world. It goes on forever and ever. At nine I thought I must get to Narnia or die. It would be a long time before I understood that I was already there.” 
 Laura Miller, The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia