Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child
Sculpture Idea
8" x 10"
Acrylic on Paper

The full moon shines on a cold winter night, like tonight, casting cool light and shadows on stone. Perhaps in a cemetery? A park? Or even floating in the night?

I thought of this piece as a rounded stone, carved just enough to hint at a mother holding a baby. Or, possibly, it could be done in clay with just a hint of blue glaze to give it the feeling of cold moonlight falling over it.

I like to do sculpture, with my hands, touching the clay and modeling it by feel. I haven't tried to carve in stone but I don't think that I would like it as much as I do the soft clay. That's funny because, before I started doing some clay heads, I hated getting my hands, and everything else, dirty. I think that it really helped me to be able to get better form into my two dimensional work.

Creating those large heads of 25 to 50 pounds of clay was an exciting project. Unfortunately, my strength has waned, and I can't do all the lifting and pounding required to work clay, and I no longer have access to a kiln. So, I have to think in terms of something smaller like papier mache, or some sort of other material. I have quite a few ideas for sculpture that I would like to complete, one of these days.

Since it is now Christmas Day, I thought that my "Madonna and Child", with a moonlit night, would be appropriate to share. On Christmas Eve, my youngest grandson and I watched the full moon rise, and he was excited to spy a planet that he had been hearing about. I'm not sure it it was Mars or Saturn as I had not heard about it.

When I painted this, I thought of the old cemetery where my son, and much of my family is buried. A beautiful park-like place near the home that I grew up in. I thought of monuments in the moonlight, over the lawn where so many now rest. A place that is still and quiet, except for the occasional rustling in the branches of ancient trees as night creatures prowl about.

We took our Mock Stained Glass Windows over to the nursing home and showed them to my aunt Christmas Eve afternoon. The sun was pouring in through the big windows in the dining room where we opened our gifts and enjoyed cookies and cold drinks. As we were holding them up to the light, I discovered that, by placing the angel over the star window, I had a completely different, and very interesting design. The rays from the star and the overlapping colors and shapes broke the angel design down even more and created more colors. That was kind of fun. My grandson didn't want to leave the windows there, so we brought them home. My aunt doesn't have a window in her room, so she wouldn't be able to enjoy the window. There isn't enough room to even hang all her Christmas cards, so I guess the windows are going to go in my own windows, or they may go in with all the other things that I am saving, created by my grandson.

Today we will have Christmas dinner with red roast and red gravy and a small ham. My daughter is cooking. She baked an orange cake and a chocolate cake for dessert last night. The orange cake still will not come out of the Bundt pan! We may have to put icing on it in the pan, and dig it out with a spoon! I thought sure that gravity would eventually take care of it, so it is still upside down on a plate. We both tried using knives to loosen the sides, but it is still stuck. I think it is a little too sticky. It seems done inside, according to the toothpick test, but, to touch it, it is really sticky.

Then the grandsons will open their gifts and we will all go back to see my aunt at the nursing home for the afternoon.

It is so different from the Christmases of the past, with a large family around. We always wanted more children around, though, since my sister and I were the children. We couldn't wait to get out and play with our friends.

My family had the dry goods store, and other men in the family had grocery stores. They stayed open as late as there were customers on the street. As the years passed, that time became earlier and earlier, so that, by supper time, the stores were closed and everyone came to our house for the Christmas tree. People came to town to buy, even in wagons, and they stayed around to socialize or to go to church the next day.

When I was growing up, the family worked at the stores on busy days. Even the kids helped out. And other people were hired to help wait on customers. We had to cashier, wait on customers, put things on the books, gift wrap, stock, put price tags on merchandise, decorate the show windows, sweep, dust, clean the restrooms, and watch for shoplifters. My favorite things were to decorate the show windows and to gift wrap. But, it was a little nerve shattering, being told to not use too much ribbon or too much tape, or paper, or string on packages. I was interested in creating a really nice looking package, but some customers just wanted their packages fast and didn't care if they had fancy ribbons or not. We made a kind of a loop out of ribbon and taped it, with a card on top. Another method was to make something that looked a bit like a man's tie, to me. And there were several strips of ribbon brought from the back side to the front, the cut in points at different lengths. Those were good for stacking on top of each other, or for mailing. And then there were bows. We didn't have to make most of them, we bought them in a big package. Or, each year, at our Christmas tree, we all saved our bows and paper to be used again at the store.

After the stores closed, a weary crew went to our house to have the family Christmas tree. It was really hard to wait for Santa, when it got to be really late. But, the store came first. Once everyone gathered, Santa made his way from the garage to the front porch with any special gifts, like bikes or wagons, or doll buggies and little tables and chairs. "Look what Santa left out here!" Daddy would tell us. "I thought I heard him!" he would add.

"I heard him, too!" others would say, trying to make us believe.

One Christmas, Santa brought my sister the pair of cowboy boots she always wanted. We were still pretty small then. My sister would not take off her cowboy boots, for days, and even slept in them, and I wouldn't move my dolls over. We shared a three quarter size bed, so it was pretty crowded in bed. And, then, the cats joined us! But, those cowboy boots. I can feel them still. They had sharp pointed toes, and were really stiff, especially in my back! She loved those boots!

We usually got things like underwear from the store, and a thread box with dollar bills in it. (No fancy wrapping for the family. But, they didn't have time to shop, they said, and so they just put the money into an empty thread box, and gave that out while presents were being passed out.) Mama, and one great-aunt always made sure that we got some nice clothes, toys, and books.

While the great-aunts were receiving things like jewelry, or furniture, or pieces to their crystal, china, or silver patterns, Daddy gave my mother gifts that just upset her. She just clenched her teeth, and held her little presents, and everyone said that he should be ashamed of himself. Of course, he laughed and thought it was so funny. He gave gifts like a Lady Gillette double edge razor and a slop jar. You may remember that happened in "All In The Family" on tv, when Archie Bunker gave Edith her own razor. Well, my dad did it years before that! His sense of humor.

The men all got things like pajamas, shirts, ties, cuff links and tie clasps-things that stayed in their boxes and were saved. Long after they died, we are still finding boxes of things that were gifts that were saved. One thought was that they would save the good things in case they should ever have to go to the hospital.

At our family Christmas tree, we would always have some sort of refreshments, cookies, cake, tuna fish sandwiches and potato chips, and, if it was cold, Mama would make hot chocolate. In later years, when you could buy it in the store, we added egg nog to the menu. One year, my great-aunt, who lived across the street, brought over some Mogan David wine in her mother's lead crystal decanter. Her sister in law had served them wind during a visit, and she wanted to do the same. The other great-aunt acted shocked. Everyone refused the wine except my uncle and I. We asked my grandmother if she wanted some wine and we thought she said she did. However, Grandma was deaf and had hardening of the arteries. When she came to the Christmas tree that night, all she wanted to do was to go home because her babies were there. She couldn't figure out that her children were grown and were there with her. My aunt had said not to give her any refreshments because it might have sugar in it, or salt, and she had read that those things were bad for people. So, she went around making sure that no one ate anything that had the bad things in it. We learned to pass the sugar and the salt under the table, so she wouldn't see us, and throw a fit. My uncle said that we should let Grandma have a little wine, so he kept my aunt busy while my great-aunt and I gave her a tiny wine glass full of wine. When my aunt discovered us, we told her that it was grape juice, and she was satisfied with that. Grandma kept wanting more of those little glasses of wine. Pretty soon, she perked up, and was talking normally, and enjoying herself. She recognized her children and was more lucid than she had been in a long time. The lack of sugar and salt had actually hurt her, and she ended up having to go to the hospital and getting IVs to put some of those things back. My aunt never would concede that people need some salt and some sugar.

Sometimes, on Christmas Day, we would drive to my mother's parents to have Chirstmas dinner with them. It didn't seem right to be away from home, and the family that I was accustomed to on Christmas. And I was eager to share with my friends what we had received for gifts on Christmas Eve.

There was a little longing for a fireplace for Santa to come down, the custom of opening presents on Christmas morning, and a big, roasted goose on a platter for Christmas dinner. Instead, we got Santa bringing gifts to our front porch, having the Christmas tree after the store closed, and turkey and red roast and red gravy for Christmas dinner.

Merry Christmas! And I hope that you are having a wonderful, memorable time with friends and family!

Be sure to look at my guest book. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find it.

If you haven't read yesterday's post, you might like to read it, including a poem by Elaine Winters.

Let me know if you see something of interest to you. Thanks for reading and for sharing.

1 comment:

williamhessian said...

wow. great blog. i like the pot ideas. I can see the relation to my bearded bunnies.

if you are interested we should trade links.