As I look back on a favorite month, December, the phrase that comes to mind is that it was our Season of Grace. A few things came together at the beginning of the month; my annual journaling retreat with the “Lotus and the Lily” project, finding the only known drawing by Joseph Cornell with the Smithsonian Open Access and a return to drawing and painting swans as a symbol of Grace.
For the first painting “State of Grace” I used the drawing I had done for the 1979 Migratory Bird Stamp with studies I took from the swans at the National Zoo. Unfortunately I did not win the prize, but I was able to watch the judges reject my entry in about 5 seconds, along with the hundreds of other submissions.
You might know that I adore Joseph Cornell for his marvelous, mysterious, wondrous collages and boxes. I admire his influential place in art, in that he paved the way for 20th century artists to put just about anything together as art, without actually drawing or painting. As I understand it, the image below is the only drawing he did. It was studying his source folders of swan pictures, and ballerinas poised in “Swan Lake” that captivated my interest in swans. This was at the Joseph Cornell Study Center (Smithsonian) in 1979. When I discovered this picture in early December, I immediately identified it with my scripts and wanted to see if I could emulate its form onto a new painting.
Swans represent to me grace and guides who take us into dreamland. Ancient Celtic tales of the swans of Newgrange Ireland, that also relate with the Winter Solstice, are quite accessible in my psyche. On the first layer of the art at this time were quotes about the State of Grace. I fancied that I would journey into this state (like one of the United States) where I would have connection and communication with the Divine.
When THE TORNADO of historic proportions struck 200 miles of Kentucky, and stopping just miles from us in one of the most terrifying nights I understood why this gift of grace was given to me. I poured all the energy of these moments, with an intention of aligning with those who lost loved ones and homes as Prayer Paintings. The result was “The State of Grace, December, 1-4”. Stay tuned for more to come from this series.
The Winter Solstice is a most joyful time, since after “sun stands still” for 3 days, it begins to increase the light of our days. All the celebrations of the times, from the Day Out of Time, when I began “Being in the State of Grace” with the writing of the words, to Christmas Eve (New Years in the Celtic calendar) and Christmas were times for gratitude for our safety and generosity for those who had lost so much.
But New Year’s Eve was the strangest in memory. The horrific Marshall Fire in Boulder County stunned us with it’s intensity, since it was our old stomping grounds, where our family and many friends were affected. We are grateful that our son was safe after evacuating to our daughter’s home. But downhearted about our friends who lost their homes.
Once again, the ever loyal muses and divine guidance helped to steer me through times of feeling helpless. I ended the year with newly decorated studio and basking in the light of the art I was making, and intending to share in this year ahead.
And now I have my compass Mandala to remind me of the daily commitments it will take to achieve the plans and desires ahead.