So apparently it’s December. That means it’s just a few short weeks before we kick 2017 over the edge and stare warily at 2018. There’s a few things I would like to stake to 2017, set them on fire, and scream at them while they go up in flames….oh that doesn’t qualify as holiday cheer?
But hey, I actually managed to gather the gumption to put up those LED lights I bought last year. It was a sunny clear day that wasn’t too cold, so that wasn’t too hard. And they actually worked after just a few hours of sunshine absorption. Of course, nearly every day since then, it’s been overcast and/or rainy here in Seattle. So yeah, LED solar-powered lights were a great solution to the problem of not having an outdoor plug. However, they don’t work so well when daylight is extremely limited.
On the brighter side, I managed to complete two holiday paintings to add to my line-up of images for the holidays: St. Lucy and the Winter King. They join La Befana and the Yule Goat as a series of holiday cards and prints that are available for a limited time. And I even got them translated over into coloring pages too.
After this past week, the especially darker part of my brain wished that I had done The Wild Hunt and the Mari Lwyd instead, because those sentiments (of clearing out what has died in the past year, laughing in the face of injustice while also delivering both blessings and punishments is so right up my mood alley right now.) I’m sorely tempted to make those pieces (and get them done for holiday cards ASAP), but I have one more book project to finish up.
(and no, I’m not doing Krampus. Sorry, not sorry. Not my jam.)
But I am glad I chose the two pieces I did do this year. They do harbor more positive imagery that is needed.
I grew up with St. Lucy (St. Lucia) as part of my family’s holiday decorations. Her feast day, December 13th, is my half birthday. I remember being fascinated with this little blonde doll standing in the middle of a wreath of candles, with a tiny wreath upon her head. This wreath sat in the family room or living room – while the Advent wreath lived at the kitchen table. Of course, the Advent wreath lacked a doll, but it had red and purple candles that actually got lit every night during dinner. St. Lucy’s wreath on the other hand, only got lit for parties, if ever. Upon doing research for the painting, I discovered that the saint was actually from Sicily and honored throughout much of Italy, which explains why we had her. (I do remember the statue in the back of my grandparents’ church, with St. Lucy holding her eyeballs on a plate.) I’m still a bit fuzzy about how she got popular in Scandinavian countries. I suspect the blonde doll in my mom’s wreath came from one of those shops – I mean, how many Sicilians are natural blondes? Go ahead, google “Sicilian women” and tell me if you see something different. Ahem. Well, it took me 3 attempts before St. Lucy came together, and FYI, she chose the hair color you see in the image, so she gets what she wants.
The other image, the Winter King is more of an amalgamation of ideas I’ve had over the years – part Holly King, part Old Man Winter, part Horned God, part Green Man (and partly inspired by several handsome and wonderful older bearded gay men in my life.) He also gave me a bit of trouble starting off with 2 attempts before this third painting took off fluidly. He insisted on being in profile, versus looking at the viewer head-on. There is a sense of reflection, thoughtfulness, and warmth despite the cool temperatures.
I have never really connected with the Oak King/Holly King rise/fall cycle, so I don’t see those events in the Winter Solstice. Instead, I see the comforting leader, the true sense of a patriarch who guides ALL of his people in a fatherly way that is balanced, full of emotion, sensitive yet forthright, and just. Providing, guiding, and protecting.
So I think I selected wisely in choosing these two to make paintings of. We need illumination and insight, especially in dark and scary times. We need to protect, guide, and nourish ourselves and those around us. Once we make sure these things are in place, we can switch our focus to clearing out and bringing justice. The darkest days will soon be over, and the light shall return. Something to keep in mind.