Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Twelfth Day of Christmas

"On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...twelve drummers drumming"...and so we come to the last  of the set of Christmas ornaments. Today, Christmas Day, would actually be the first day of Christmas with Twelfth Night being Epiphany. For the party, these are twelve musicians to join the pipers. In the religious interpretation, they stand for the twelve points of the Apostle's Creed. However,  it seems highly likely that the religious interpretation is a much more modern idea - sort of an Urban Myth that keeps getting repeated. So let's look at the accumulated goodies- 12 partridges - no doubt some for the feast, 12 pear trees for a small orchard,  22 turtle-doves as symbols of romance- in 11 cages. No mention of a maid to clean all those cages. 30 French Hens and innumerable eggs. 36 "colly" birds ready to be baked into pies.  40 gold rings- 4 for each finger? Or-  as another interpretation has it, 40 golden ring -necked pheasants -which would have the first seven gifts all birds. The pheasants would be roasted for the feast too.  42 geese and more eggs again. 42 swans and at least a small lake. We hope a swan-keeper  was part of the deal. 40 milkmaids with 40 cows - and possibly some spoiled milk.  36 dancing ladies- maybe a corps de ballet or maybe a chorus line.  30 lords doing a lot of leaping. 22 pipers with a lot of wailing pipes - and 12 drummers trying to keep the pipers and dancers to a a beat.....and so to all... Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Eleventh Day of Christmas

"On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..... eleven pipers piping." I felt bagpipes was the obvious choice - and it probably was in the original days of the song too. The start of the song is mostly about food for the festivities - apart from those turtle doves cooing in their cage to set the scene for romance - but we add the celebrants and entertainment as the song moves along. In the religious interpretation - and more about that tomorrow- this represents the eleven true disciples.so goodwill to you for Christmas but don't expect much peace with all those pipers!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tenth Day of Christmas

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me- ten lords a-leaping... - so here they are. Obviously having a great time at the festivities- perhaps leaping after the dancing ladies and asking if any wish to go a-milking... hmmm- we won't go there!  If I was doing an illustration, I could have fun with a variety of lords- tall, short, fat, old, thin, young, handsome and not so handsome- but on a bauble just a little bigger than a tennis ball,  they are basically all the same. At the festivities, it might not have been the lords who did most of the leaping- they probably hired Morris Dancers - and that too might have been interesting to paint -although a bit more complicated to fit ten of them, ribbons and all, on one small decoration.  In the religious interpretation, they stand for the Ten Commandments.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ninth Day of Christmas

"On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - nine ladies dancing..." With the Twelfth Night festivities, the ladies would have been the guests at the banquet. My choice gives a nod to the more recent "tradition" of going out to the theatre for a musical, pantomime or ballet performance. Perhaps these dancers were part of the Nutcracker Ballet?  (hmmm- there is a theme for another set of decorations, should I ever see paper mache' baubles in a craft store....) The religious interpretation says they represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. I wrote these around the dancers on this decoration, Certainly the "fruits" could give many of us a list of traits to  aspire to - or a list of aims for the New Year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Eighth Day of Christmas

"On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me- eight maids a-milking..." This is one that has a lot of possible interpretations beyond being a decoration based on a traditional song. In the religious interpretation, this refers to the eight Beatitudes (or "blessings") which were teachings of Jesus as set out in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The condition is stated and the result to make a teaching. We are told of the benefits of being a peacemaker, merciful or pure of heart, for example. If we are thinking of bestowing wealth through the gifts, then owning that many cows would really be a sign of wealth. On the feasting aspect, milk was not a common drink as it spoiled easily and there was no refrigeration in those days. So, it would have been a treat at a feast. Incidentally, the cows then might have been more likely to have been Jersey or Guernsey but I thought the Holstein was more decorative. If there was too much celebration, it is said that a bath in milk is an excellent way to overcome a hangover.  Then there is another possible meaning. Since the feast and festivities often led to romance, there was often a lot of hanky-panky away from the eyes of chaperones. So, conversations as to who was willing to do what were a bit discreet - even if the following actions weren't.  Propositions had to be presented in such a way that a turn-down did not give offense but could be tossed aside as a "Well, I didn't really mean that, just thought you night want to look at the cows!" The term "a-milking" can mean more than dealing with cows.  The eighth day interpretation  is up to you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Seventh Day of Christmas

"On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven swans a-swimming.... " Swans have an association with royalty- even to today as there is a Swankeeper  (on the Thames, I think) for the British royal family.
The accumulated 42 swans by the end of the song would also have required a fairly sizable pond- unless some of them also became part of the feast! In the religious interpretation, they stand for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. I have written these around the swans- encouragement, teaching, service, prophecy, giving, leadership and mercy.  Sometimes "exhortation" is the gift, rather than encouragement, but I felt that exhortation was too strong an urging, more like a sermon and could include warning and admonishing. Encouragement  implies urging on toward success and gives hope, courage and confidence ... so "encouragement" was my choice for a more positive gift. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just give gifts like that- to individuals and also to the world.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sixth Day of Christmas

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - Six geese a-laying. I Canadian-ized this with making the geese Canada Geese- and the eggs golden eggs for Christmas. The "original"- if the song is a folk song - would have been domesticated geese who were supplying eggs for the 12th Night banquet ---- and so continuing the accumulation of food for the festivities. In the religious interpretation, they represent the six days of creation . ( He rested on the seventh). Or a decoration is just a decoration!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fifth Day of Christmas

Five gold rings for the fifth day- or "golden" rings which works better for singing... This hints at the romance to be found during the festivities of the season. The religious interpretation has these as representing the first five books of the Old Testament - the Torah , the "Law". Two sides of every coin - or bauble in this case.  These decorations are three and a half inches in diameter.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fourth Day of Christmas

My interpretation was the more modern "four calling birds" so I picked the Purple Finch as a local songbird. Roger Tory Peterson describes them as being "like a sparrow dipped in raspberry jam".The question remains, why call them "purple"? However, nicely colourful as they are, the real bird of the song was a "colly bird". Colly means black as coal and would have been the European Blackbird. Why blackbirds as a gift? Well, as in "Sing a Song of Sixpence", they were food and would have added to the feast for 12th Night - along with the eggs from those Three French Hens.  Since the song accumulates, there would eventually be enough colly birds to outdo the four-and-twenty who were baked in the "sixpence" pie. Some see the song simply as a folk song for the festive season that celebrates the feasting and celebration. Others say there is a hidden meaning to it - just like nursery rhymes. For a period of English history, Roman Catholics were not allowed to practice their faith openly. The "12 Days of Christmas" is seen as a secret catechism that could be sung in public. In this interpretation, the four birds stand for the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Third Day of Christmas

Only two are visible in this two-dimensional photo of the three-dimensional bauble.  Three French Hens- all glamorous in black and white on their nests of golden straw. Obviously these are free-run chickens and all very content. When I was young and used to visit my grandparents on acreage out in Cloverdale, I loved to go and visit various livestock - but especially chickens and baby chicks. There was also something magical about "gathering eggs"- reaching under the fluffy bodies to find a egg in the straw. Chickens are quite social birds really so I'm sure the three French hens got along very well. I was reading that department stores are making a comeback but that they realize that some sort of "experience" needs to be provided to attract customers... not just merchandise. Too true - the pre-Christmas visit to downtown Vancouver used to be memory-making... looking in the beautifully decorated windows, having a ride on the little train through a winter wonderland and getting a candy cane at the end, then maybe eating lunch in the department store dining room...definitely not a cafeteria. Who knows? Maybe some of that will come back with the resurgence of department stores. We have enough "big boxes" with lots of things to buy but shopping is more of a chore then.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Second Day of Christmas

So we are up to day two. Some backgrounds for the decorations are red and some are green - no idea whether I did half-and-half or not! Here are the two turtle-doves. When I see them, I always think of many years ago when we were on a Hawaiian vacation and there were doves on the balcony outside our hotel window in Waikiki. The kids were young and managed to lure the doves inside with breakfast cereal. Kids were delighted! Fortunately, the doves behaved and did not poop on the carpet. Not Christmas-y - but definitely a memory... and there are forget-me-nots on the bauble.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Twelve Days of Christmas

It is twelve days before Christmas - so I thought I'd show my "12 Days of Christmas" ornaments. The *real* twelve days of Christmas have Christmas as the first day and run to Epiphany. However, I notice that stores are having the twelve days of shopping so my pictures are running before too.
These are paper mache' baubles that I bought a few years ago. They are, of course, unbreakable and, even though they are a decent size, lightweight. I gessoed the balls first, sanded and then painted in acrylics. They are then varnished with a gloss acrylic varnish.  This is the first one and here is the partridge.  These were fun to do.  This year, due to the kitchen renovation and attendant upheaval, I'm not having a tree but I'll put these ornaments on the mantelpiece along with some cedar. It might be interesting to  paint some other decorations some time but I haven't seen any more paper mache' baubles.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Back to the tools

A while back, I did a small series on old tools that used to belong to my Dad. They were "mixed media" pieces with some collaging from construction diagrams in the backgrounds.  Recently, I was clearing out some more tools - most of which were happily taken away by my son- when I felt that just maybe it was time to paint some more. This is the only one completed so far - and is, of course, a keyhole saw. I felt it almost had a personality! At any rate, it was fun to do. There may be more to come. I have a screwdriver that has so much more to it than the modern screwdrivers. I want to record that too.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Some practical painting

Just in case you have been wondering why I haven't been posting as frequently...Well I'm undergoing a reno around here. The main thing is the kitchen - but there was a bit of spin-off into the laundry room as some plumbing for the kitchen overhead had to be dealt with. It all ended up in a new wall and new shelving in the laundry room. So... I've been painting a bit with a roller and a gallon can. The colour is "Waterfall" by Benjamin Moore. I had a space left between the shelves so I could hang a painting and also cover the access to the main shut-off valve. The Prague rooftops with the copper edgings oxidizing to turquoise seemed a good choice. I'm happy to have it clean and bright and with the plumbing fixed up and easy shut-off access.   I have been doing the "usual" amount of drawing so may post some pictures of drawings. But here is the practical side of painting...