Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Saint George the Dragonslayer

Metaphorically speaking, all human beings are dragon slayers. If you want to understand this, check out Carl Sagan's beautiful book, The Dragons of Eden.  Even we folklore enthusiasts can't dismiss the powerful connection between the ancient mind and fear of reptiles. George the Dragonslayer is in the top twenty of my long list of favorite saints. Perhaps this is because he has such a complex folklore system that spans many countries and I feel strongly about the reptile connection from a shared memory perspective. He was also a perfect example of the "good knight."

Saint George and the Dragon by Briton Rivière

Today is the feast day of Saint George. I love the above painting because it is one of the few that shows Saint George off his horse. He looks exhausted after slaying such a beast. He should be, for the dragon is ancient and holds a heavy influence on our minds and hearts. Pre-Raphaelite painter Burne-Jones took George off his horse, too, for a wonderful painting that referenced a princess-like figure of the legend. (Apparently few women yielded swords in those days.)

by Sir Edward Burne-Jones
I'm not the only one who admires Saint George. He has prayers said to him every day and even churches have been built in his honor. Check out this page on devotions to Saint George. Blessed or cursed, George the soldier was finally tortured and beheaded for his behavior. Slaying dragons is a dangerous business.

P.S. George is the good knight and reminds me of  Balian of Ibelin, who inspired the character who is at the core of my current work in progress.  The film Kingdom of Heaven is a fictional account of Balian's journey. If you watch this film, I suggest that you view the extended version as it is a more detailed and complete form of the awkward theatrical version. I liked the film very much for it brought out the blessed/cursed motif that I am so interested in as an artist and writer.

Supposedly, Saint George's tomb is in Lod, Israel.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Giotto, Vault of Scrovegni Chapel, Padua (Fresco, 1305) detail
I was surprised today, when flipping through both my art and writing notebooks, how many images I had collected of stars and small details from images that contained a flicker of light in darkness or on blues. The color blue, yes. I noticed this after revising a section of the book in which stars played a significant role, and I remembered that I had specifically printed off a detail from Giotto's work for this scene, so I went to look and that is when I saw all the stars and all the blue.

This is strange, in a way, for in writing the first draft, I was unconsciously working toward a goal I didn't fully understand till the end, and this goal was realized in today's work.

I have a confession. I am deep in revision and it's like I have had a vision of what this story can be.  I am on scene 23 of 54 scenes (that number keeps growing) and this is the first day I have felt like I might have a story akin to what I possess in my head. It's enough to cry over. I suppose these moments are rare, or worse, I might not ever feel this way again. Thus, this little blog post. So that I remember it. As though I might forget. Well, I might.

Writing a novel like this one is new to me and I am sure to find myself lost once again as I was a few chapters back. When that time comes, I will forget my present joy.

Until the starlight appears again....

Friday, April 18, 2014

Holy Friday

The Israelites are eating the Passover lamb by Marc Chagall, 1931

This Day shall be a memorial for you, alleluia! and you shall celebrate it as a solemn feast to the Lord for all generations, as a perpetual institution, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gardening and philosophy of life

Ballerina Rose (from my garden, 2009)
And the rose like a nymph to the bath addressed,
Which unveiled the depth of her glowing breast,
Till, fold after fold, to the fainting air
The soul of her beauty and love lay bare:
And the wand-like lily, which lifted up,
As a Maenad, its moonlight-coloured cup,
Till the fiery star, which is its eye,
Gazed through clear dew on the tender sky;
And the jessamine faint, and the sweet tuberose,
The sweetest flower for scent that blows;
And all rare blossoms from every clime
Grew in that garden in perfect prime. 

from The Sensitive Plant by Percy B Shelley

Charles Robinson's Illustration
to The Sensitive Plant
Some of the most important things I have learned about life have been discovered in my garden. The first lesson you learn is how nature is full of contradictions, both literally and metaphorically. At first you are surrounded by all this beauty and mystery, and then those senses are followed by the hard work and dangers, the losses you experience, some so quick you are shocked senseless. You begin to understand that while the world is very big, it is also very small, that one moment it is beautiful and the next moment it's the ugly monster. You try to comprehend that while you are a part of nature, it is totally apart from you. No one has written about this so well as Percy Shelley in his poem, The Sensitive Plant. The poem spells out all the beauty and love of a garden, then all the horrors of what a garden is, and then our feeble hopes as human beings in that garden. It is a poem about contradictions. I've come to understand one thing only, that sometimes I have no answers, no solutions, no theory.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Quote on staying focused and forming habits

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. 

                           -- Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Bride also known as Mags Phelan

Gertrude Käsebier's The Bride

Mags Phelan is getting married today, and I so wanted to note it on my blog, because Mags is one of my dear online friends and proof that across space and time, people can share their dreams and hopes and lives. I'd like to meet Mags in person, but that probably won't happen, such is life, but in the big picture, such is a little thing. Mags has already touched my life in so many positive ways. Not only is she a beautiful person, she is a wonderful soul and artist, a kindred spirit, one of those flittering, flutting beings that lives with the faeries and I adore her. Every time she post something online, she inspires me to do the work I know I need to do. 

In truth, I am not in Mag's real life, I am on the far edges of it, but to know that Mags is going to get married and live a wonderful life with her soul mate is such a delight. It warms my heart, and so I celebrate Mags and her wonderful Day by posting the picture she personally chose as a sign of her wedding day. It looks like Mags.

Mags, dear, I wish you all the blessings that a soul can wish. (Mr. B, you are one lucky person!) 

Friday, March 21, 2014


A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you’d think misfortune would get tired but then time is your misfortune
— William Faulkner The Sound and the Fury

Thursday, March 20, 2014

March equinox ramblings

Signs of Spring by Walter Crane
It's here, finally, Spring aka the long-awaited March equinox.  What a brutal cold winter we have had this year, but the South is showing signs of spring everywhere.  One day soon I'll go out and take some photographs of all the little plants turning green as they push their way through the surface.  I can't personally express in words how happy I am, but the excitement is deep, and I'm giddy. I've been taking long walks for days now, looking at lawns and gardens, watching birds, noticing that winter is truly over. I can't remember in my lifetime having seen a snow shower after March 20th so I feel safe.  I always feel better emotionally in the spring. While others make big plans for a new year around January, I do it now. For the last two weeks I've been busy as a bee, making plans, cleaning house, organizing the computer, rearranging both my art and writing rooms. I have even redone the blog. I had two things in mind when I worked the blog over, one was to add color and the second was to focus the blog on my brand and work.  I am so tired of black and gray. I also wanted something that would reflect what I am doing in the art room, which is preparing two canvases for paintings that will be spring-related. One is very much influenced by Walter Crane. The other is a mix of styles from the MacDonald sisters and Edward Burne-Jones. I am painting my own "Heart of the Rose" and have decided that I am definitely going to show something of my art this year.  This "sharing" was always a line I never really wanted to cross when it came to the Internet, but I think, at last, I have made some peace with technology. In fact, there will be lots of changes and certainly more sharing.

Heart of the Rose by Sir Edward Burne-Jones
What I love about this piece is the picket fence, the flowers and the rose signifying the heart of things. There is a drawing online of this piece and it's absolutely stunning, just the drawing. Or maybe someone just took the color out. I am not sure, but I love the flowers. It's a little tighter in form than the one I have been working on. Here is a piece by Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh. I've been working on how to produce my own lines.

The White and Red Rose by Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh 1912

Ophelia aka Girl with Butterflies by Frances MacDonald MacNair 1898
I'm never going to be able to paint as well as these women. For one thing, I don't work hard enough at it and I am also sensitive to many chemicals used in art supplies. I am even wondering if I can use gesso this year without getting sick. Last year, I had a rough time painting, so I waited till Spring so I could open the windows and make sure that I had plenty of good air to breathe.  What amazes me about this painting is the layering work. That's difficult to accomplish. But when I get something done that's pretty to the eye, I'll post a photo.

Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale
I suppose people who read this blog know that I am in deep revisions on the Sleeping Beauty Retelling. It's going to be three books now. And I am very focused on it. I no longer believe I have the time or energy to do side projects. Maybe some short fiction, but I am unable to work on other stories that are not connected to this mythology. It's been difficult to face my limitations, but coming out of winter, I find myself relieved and happy that I am so focused on one set of stories and one mythology, that I can see light at the end of the tunnel, that I am able to do the work I am doing. One day I'd love to be able to share my art notebook for this series. But I can't do that until I have sold the project.  And that's my goal, to finish, find an agent, and sell this series of books. I've been editing as I revise, too.  Meaning, I have been "copyediting," and thinking about style while I revise. I don't recommend this method to anyone, but it's been necessary for me for several reasons. The best time to copy edit a manuscript is when you are finished with it. Like THE END finished.  But I've been teaching myself as I go along.  Some days, it's a page an hour. Some days, I work faster.  But by the end of July, I am going to have a good story finished and a draft that will only make my next draft easier.

Finally, it's time to plant some seeds for the flowers that will offer June blooms. The idea of planting a seed always gives me the greatest joy. I'll be doing that all next week as I always await till after the 21st of March to put out my first morning glories and zinnias. This year, I plan to note each species of plant in my yard on the blog. It's something I am doing for my granddaughter. She loves flowers. Stay tuned.  

And to everyone, Happy Spring! I hope the next three months are good for everyone. Summer is just around the corner. Yeah!