Monday, 3 December 2012

Old Saint Nick

Icon, "St. Nicholas", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Normally, this posting would highlight one of my flower drawings, but since the Feast Day of St. Nicholas falls on the 6th of December and since I won't be posting again until the 7th, I decided you show you my icon of St.Nick today.

St. Nicholas was born in Asia Minor, the only son of Greek parents.  Even with this heritage, he has come to represent Santa Claus, Sinter Claes, San Nikola and Father Christmas in the western and eastern-rite Roman Church and various Orthodox churches throughout the world.  So, the real Santa (Saint) Claus (a corruption of Nicholas) is not a jolly fat man who lives at the North Pole, but is, in fact, the saintly Bishop of Myra (located in modern-day Turkey) who lived during the early years of the Christian Church and who, so legend says, continues giving gifts every year in December.

He was born in the year 270 and died on December 6, 343.  The story goes that his  wealthy, Christian parents died during an epidemic when he was still a young man.  He was raised by his uncle and felt drawn from an early age to the priesthood.  He was ordained a presbyter (priest) by his Uncle Nicholas who was bishop of Patara.

Fr. Nicholas was very generous with his wealth it is said and is best known for rescueing three poor girls from prostitution.  Their poverty-stricken father could not afford doweries for them which meant that they would probably end up working as prostitutes since they would not have husbands to protect them.  When Nicholas heard about this, it is said that he took two bags of gold and dropped them down the chimney of the poor man.  Not only did one bag fall safely on the hearth, the other one fell into a stocking drying by the fire.  Then, while the family was excitedly looking at the fireplace, Nicholas threw the other bag through the window before slipping back into the darkness. So in this early story we see a number of elements that have become part of our Christmas traditions. 

Many cultures celebrate St. Nicholas Day on his feast day of December 6th.  Children put their shoes outside their bedroom doors or by the fireplace on the night of December 5th and in the morning find them filled with fruit and nuts and candies plus a few small gifts.  In North American we have the custom of hanging up Christmas stockings for each person and on Christmas Eve or morning the stockings contain all sorts of goodies unless a child has been very naughty!  Naughty children are threatened with lumps of coal or thin tree branches for use as "switches".  Fortunately, most young children try their best to behave the closer they get to Christmas so that Santa doesn't leave lumps of coal in their stockings or shoes!

So, here we have the real Santa Claus who, all these centuries later, is still dropping gifts and treats down the chimney or through the window of the homes of good boys and girls!

My icon shows the saint as a bishop holding the book of the Gospels.  Since he is the patron of sailors and people who work on the sea, I put a red sky behind him.  Such a sky is a powerful sign for all those who go out to the sea in boats.  Remember the rhyme:
"Red sky at morning; sailors take warning -- 
Red sky at night; sailors' delight!"  



"Glastonbury Holy Thorn", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting online a gentleman by the name of Angus Edyburn. He lives in the U.S. and is very knowledgeable about all sorts of art. He was evidently searching for information regarding the Glastonbury Holy Thorn tree. Many of you will recall a posting I did back in 2010 on this subject which included a very weakly drawn icon and a drawing of a branch of the thorn tree in bloom. While searching, Angus discovered my drawing of the tree branch and contacted me about it as he wished to make use of it. In our subsequent correspondence, he made a comment which I asked him for permission to quote as it relates to previous discussions we have had on here about whether computer art is really art since there are so many basic features of the computer which allow an artist to “cheat”. Even being able to use something so simple and basic as cut and paste provides an option not available in any of the traditional art forms. Here is what he wrote to me regarding the drawing posted above:
“It is like a wonderful millefiore* glasswork or like a very rich and thick stained glass window! It is organic and very beautiful!.”
 Any comments?

*[Millefiori is a glasswork technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns on glassware. The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words "mille" (thousand) and "fiori" (flowers). Apsley Pellatt (in his book Curiosities of Glass Making) was the first to use the term "millefiori", which appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1849. The beads were called mosaic beads before then. While the use of this technique long precedes the term "millefiori", it is now frequently associated with Venetian glassware. More recently, the millefiori technique has been applied to polymer clays and other materials. Because polymer clay is quite pliable and does not need to be heated and reheated to fuse it, it is a much easier medium in which to produce millefiori patterns than glass.]
 ~Taken from Wikipedia. 
Section of millefiori glasswork technique



My sweet boy is growing up.  I would love to keep him small and cuddly for much longer, but he has his life to live and, like most of us, is in a hurry to get older!  If he had the wisdom of my years, of course, he would delay growing up as long as possible, but that is just not human nature.

Here we see him learning to eat "solid" food from a spoon.  That is a big step and he seems to have gotten the hang of it very quickly!

Braden learns to eat sweet potatoes!

Braden likes sweet potatoes as they are being fed to him by Grandmother! 

Braden kisses his cousin.  Methinks he has a ways to go in learning the fine art of kissing the ladies!

I get to see Braden and his parents on December 16th.  I can't think of a better birthday and Christmas gift!



Suki assists me in putting up the Christmas decorations
Well, it is time to decorate my home for Christmas and, as usual, Suki insists on helping as you can see in the accompanying photos!

Fortunately I was able to distract her with paper circles linked together -- a gift from one of the children in my life many years ago.  Since I did not plan to put it out this year, I could relax and let Suki play to her heart's content.

From now until January 7th, I will have to make certain that I protect all my precious decorations from her insatiable curiosity.

After trying to eat the paper, she decided she was too
tired to continue helping me!  Thank goodness!!
I have a new banner to hang this year given to me by my friend, Jessie.  It is so beautiful.  I plan to take a photo of it so that I can show it to all of you.  Fortunately, this type of item does not interest Suki so I know it will be safe.  However, the little tree with all its twinkling lights is a totally different matter!

Thankfully, the tiny Baby Jesus stays hidden until late on Christmas Eve when He is placed reverently into His crib.  Of course, the first year I had Suki, I discovered to my horror that she had removed the Baby Jesus from His crib and was batting Him around the floor like any old toy!  I gave her quite a lecture about this as I retrieved the Baby and placed Him back in His crib.  My lecture seemed to make little impression on her so since then I have been careful to put the baby and the lambs out of reach whenever I am going out of the apartment for a while or when it is bedtime.  What a cat!

As for me, little has changed during these past four days.  I am counting the days until the 21st which is when I will find out about the next surgery.  I hope and pray that they will be able to fix my eyelids so that I no longer weep copiously when trying to read anything.

I have to go out briefly tomorrow and Wednesday -- first to see about my teeth.  Then on Wednesday, I have to get a letter from my doctor to give to Health Ontario explaining why I should not be required to have a photo on my new health card!
Now, I pray that we all may be invaded by that peace which God alone can give --that peace which He places in our hearts and which is meant to flow out to others, to everyone we meet.

And may St. Nicholas pray for us and for all those dear to us -- asking that we may be well prepared to welcome the Christ Child this Christmas.



Sallie, I am so blessed to have met you through the internet. It is especially interesting that it occurred at this time of year. I am so happy to know you and to read about you and your cat! What a wonderful relationship and understanding you have of each other.
The story of St. Nicholaus is wonderful, and I didn't know half that much about him. You have such an interesting way of incorporating historical things into the present time, without being derivitave or post modern. It is a really fresh and wonderful experience to visit your site and to learn more about you. You are a remarkable being and it is such an honor to be in touch! Keep writing, and we all hope you will stop weeping and be able to experience things in a more comfortable way. You are a touchstone of humility, empathy, wisdom, compassion, patience and wonder, I am sure, to those who know you and who visit your blog. Keep it up as we need people like you to keep US going and inspired and motivated to explore, think, imagine, and rejoice in life.

Sallie (Sarah) said...

Dear Cosmo Studio
Thank you for your extremely kind comments and observations. I am not altogether certain that you are really talking about me, but it appears that you are. Since I have always maintained that people have a right to express their own perception of things, I guess I just have to accept your right to do so as well! It has been delightful to meet you and I look forward to getting your feedback on both my artistic efforts and my written comments. Welcome to salliesart.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sallie,
Your art IS like "millefiori" - you are putting together colours and shapes in such a beautiful way. And literally speaking - you probably made more than 1000 of them by now.
But when it comes to the other part of your art - your icons - your style is way beyond "mellefiori".

Praying for your eyes,