Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Painting in Progress Pt. 2

   I decided to go ahead and post a quick preview of my painting before I leave for work. 

I decided to do this because I think that unfinished work has a charm of its own- and this painting in particular at this point has that. Although, I won't show you the whole thing, so, perhaps the charm is a bit diminished here (or maybe it was all in my head in the first place).

         I have to run to work now- I hope I can finish this soon! Although, I may be sorry when it is done as I do not have another painting in my head yet.... Hmm... I will have to think on it.

Here is a quote by our Pope from a speech that I understand he just presented in Madrid, Spain:

"Dear friends, may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world."
~Pope Benedict XVI, homily for World Youth Day, August 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Harry Potter, Chesterton, and Courage

   I will not be posting artwork this time- I am still working on my painting, and I thought about showing you the progress I've made, but I think I want to wait until it is finished. It is turning out well so far, and I am happy with it, and that is not a common occurrence.
   I have also thought about doing non look-at-my-artwork posts, and using my blog to share things I find, and to maybe share a thought or two here and there. I live a rather solitary life at the moment, which I like in some ways, but I must confess the idea of broadening my blogging horizons sounds attractive. That said, I want to share a new friend with you.
    I am a new Harry Potter fan. And I mean fan! (Yes, I do realize that I am about one million years late, but that's a long story- I was once a "Harry Potter has real curses and will have your kids killing kitties" misled little Catholic) I have been thinking about why this is. I've had my crosses, as we all do, and the topics of courage, love, and fighting have become both dreaded and loved by me over the past few years. They have become friends that are so close now, that the lovely sensitivity they cause is painfully and perpetually fresh. All the best friends wound you in some way or another.
    And so I love Harry Potter. It is a story of love and sacrifice and heroic suffering. Even if fate has dealt you a nasty blow, you don't have to become bitter or complacent- or seek out the One Ring, the best crystals for a super lightsaber, and the Deathly Hallows to undermine death, and take over the universe as the One All Powerful Overlord who spends her days planning out monologues to bellow to minions or enemies with her nails painted blood-red with the coolest black gothic outfit ever and stripes in her hair..... Ah hem, no, because suffering is not bad. (*gasp*) Yes, it is because of evil we suffer, but inn some ways, you could say we were born to live and suffer, and that is a gift, if we use it well. I am reminded of a F.J. Sheed quote I saw recently, "If Christ came to save us, then it must be noted that He did not come to save us trouble." Not that Harry was a saint to came to see all suffering as a gift to offer up- rather he is, as many other characters of the series are, struggling human beings who do what they can with themselves and their circumstances, and I think that is part of the luster of J.K. Rowling's series. They give and give and give- even if they are scared out of their wits, even until death. (I am not a completely brain-washed starry eyed fan-girl, I know the story has it's faults- but not all books that are good are written by saintly Catholic theologians, but they are written by people who have human hearts and are made in God's image... but that's about a dozen other topics in itself that I hardly feel qualified to discuss, at least at the moment)
    I think another reason I love the series is that while romance is not a prominent theme, it is still about the Great Romance- and I have found very few stories, at least in fantasy today (especially YA fantasy), that capture that Romance as well as J.K. Rowling did in her story. I will admit to not being nearly 1/gazillionth as literarily savvy as I'd like, but I have done a fair amount of reading in my life, fantasy being one of my favorite things in the world, and I have found few books that I love as much as these for that very reason. I think most if not all the books in my favorites list touch on it in some way, but these definitely make it to the top 5.
   Now, I could probably stay up all night giving you St. Therese quotes about suffering and digging up evidence in the Harry Potter books, but I think I will, of course, use Mr. Chesterton:

G.K. Chesterton on Romance

All romances consist of three characters… For the sake of argument they may be called St. George and the Dragon and the Princess. In every romance there must be the twin elements of loving and fighting. In every romance there must be the three characters: there must be the Princess, who is a thing to be loved; there must be the Dragon, who is a thing to be fought; and there must be St. George, who is a thing that both loves and fights. There have been many symptoms of cynicism and decay in our modern civilization. But of all the signs of modern feebleness, of lack of grasp on morals as they actually must be, there has been none quite so silly or so dangerous as this: that the philosophers of today have started to divide loving from fighting and to put them into opposite camps. [But] the two things imply each other; they implied each other in the old romance and in the old religion, which were the two permanent things of humanity. You cannot love a thing without wanting to fight for it. You cannot fight without something to fight for. To love a thing without wishing to fight for it is not love at all; it is lust. It may be an airy, philosophical, and disinterested lust… but it is lust, because it is wholly self-indulgent and invites no attack. On the other hand, fighting for a thing without loving it is not even fighting; it can only be called a kind of horse-play that is occasionally fatal. Wherever human nature is human and unspoilt by any special sophistry, there exists this natural kinship between war and wooing, and that natural kinship is called romance. It comes upon a man especially in the great hour of youth; and every man who has ever been young at all has felt, if only for a moment, this ultimate and poetic paradox. He knows that loving the world is the same thing as fighting the world.    

   I have been thinking on who Harry's "Princess" is that he was fighting for could be. You could say it was his love interest, Ginny, who fit this description, but I think it was more than that- much more. He was willing to leave Ginny for life for what he thought was right if he had to. No, he had his parents memory and their sacrifice, his friends and their sacrifices, and, encompassing all, love to fight for. He gave his life for Romance (How could a book embracing such Christian principles be satanic? Yes I know, that's another topic... ). 
   You may think I am stretching things: saying such things about Harry Potter (a tale with joke shops, the Chuddley Cannons, Hippogriffs, flying cars, remembrals, owl mail services, petrified kitties, etc) and connecting it to the Chesterton Quote, and all this talk of love, etc. But I tend to find connections everywhere for better or worse, and I am grateful for the comfort and even strength I find in little things such as stories. I find many things that connect back to the Chesterton quote, if not all things. Maybe I am overly simplistic, I am not sure. But while it is not advisable to underestimate evil, I think it is just as if not more tragic to underestimate the power of good. I know for my part I will take what I can, when I can- and I found much in Harry Potter. 

Excuse me... This muggle must go check her e-owls. (Couldn't resist) In the mean time, enjoy this fan video- I thought it was quite good. But be warned, it contains spoilers.

P.S. Ignore that last part about the Pope in the mtv link.... I truly believe there is more to that story, and I am not the only one. 
   Don't forget to check out  the Hogwarts Professor and Mark Shea's blog on the matter. God bless!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

" I Am A Bear of Very Little Brain....

.... and long words bother me." -Winnie the Pooh

      Well, yesterday evening working at the library was slow. I had straightened shelves, and sanitized sticky kid's books and counters..... twice, and had to find something else to pass time so my brain wouldn't explode or melt. I usually read articles, or research something- but yesterday I decided to copy some little drawings out of a Winnie the Pooh book.

There's a little girl I sometime see at work who has some sort of disability- she can't seem to form real words when she talks, and while she seems to be able to hear, I've seen her family use sign language to communicate with her. Anyway, she gave me a little drawing of two fairies last time I saw her, and I thought I might give her a drawing next time I see her. She's very cute. She has an odd posture and body shape, but has the cutest little face, pale complexion, rosy cheeks, freckles, and dark hair. I was going to post her little drawing as well... only, I kind of left it in my pant pocket in the wash, and now it's in little flakes all over my laundry and closet. Makes me sad. I was rather proud of that little drawing.

    I am looking for some words of wisdom from Winnie the Pooh on the internet. I have a friend who has a little book of it, and I am having some difficulty finding them on the internet- at least, with my poor internet connection. I hope I can finish this post before it escapes entirely.      
    In the mean time, I am listening to Stephen Fry read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on youtube. It's rather fabulous listening to Jeeves read such a delightful book- he is a great narrator! (yes, it's on youtube- at least for now, before it's discovered and removed)
    I found some cockamamy (new word of the day!) yet entirely sensible and delightful wisdom from Pooh Bear:

"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."
- Piglet, Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A. A. Milne

"My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places." - Winnie the Pooh

"Some people care too much, I think it's called love. "- Winnie the Pooh

"People who don't Think probably don't have Brains; rather, they have grey fluff that's blown into their heads by mistake."
- Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A. A. Milne

They're funny things, Accidents. You never have them till you're having them.
- Eeyore

And finally.....

"If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart.. I’ll always be with you."
- Winnie the Pooh

Monday, August 8, 2011

Painting in Progress

You remember that painting from the last post- the one I got so excited about? Well, I am working on it. See? I have been busy! (but that's hardly any excuse for not sketching something to draw.) I've been painting and watching Serenity and going to the theater twice to see The Deathly Hallow Part 2. AND working out AND reading AND actually cooking (a bit) for my lunches at work! For me, that's a lot. I have lots of energy lately and I am rather enjoying it.
Here is a preview of my painting. It's a black and white underpainting. It's also an experiment- I am trying out a new brush that has an odd asymmetrical shape that I thought might work well for petals. I was right, but it's tricky. It's a hit and miss every stroke, which is frustrating, but over all I think it's turning out ok. Eventually the roses will be red.
    This painting will have lots of roses... and roses are hard. Why do I do this to myself?
 Oh! And guys, FALL is coming! I am so happy about that! I've had enough of southern 110 degree days. I want to go outside without melting. 
   I bought a lovely hardcover used (but in excellent shape) copy of the complete works of Flannery O'Connor. A few quotes in her honor would be lovely:

‎"Don't expect faith to clear things up for you. It is trust--not certainty." -Flannery O'Connor

"The artist uses his reason to discover an answering reason in everything he sees." -Flannery O’Connor