Sunday, 7 December 2014

A Shepherd Girl

"A Shepherd Girl", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

For this week's drawing, I used another work of the French academic painter and traditionalist, William-Adolphe Bouguereau. (see my posting of November 2, 2014 for details on the life and work of Bouguereau) as my inspiration. He did a painting entitled, "The Shepherdess" and I felt the pose he used for the young girl was just perfect for my model, especially since I had a dual purpose in wanting to draw a shepherdess.  Let me explain.

Recently, for some reason, I have been thinking quite a bit about Lucia dos Santos of Fatima -- thinking about both the story of her life and the story of Fatima, itself.  I felt as though I wanted to do a drawing that expressed her life at the beginning of the whole amazing story. However, I also wanted to just try to draw a young girl tending sheep -- the lot of so many poor children in the past as well as the present.

"Lucia of Fatima", drawing by the hand
of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014
 So I ended up with two versions of the same drawing:  one shows a young girl tending her sheep and lambs while the other shows young Lucia de Jesus dos Santos of Fatima, Portugal, as I think she might have appeared.

I have no idea why the Fatima story had been on my mind so much lately -- this story, itself, hasn't been of overwhelming importance in my life; however, now that this drawing (both versions) is finished, I feel a kind of peace as though I have accomplished something I needed to do.

As usual, there are a number of little things I am still not satisfied with in both versions of this drawing, but, for the time being, I don't think I will be doing any revisions.

Of course, one extraordinary aspect of these two drawings should occur to those of you reading this since you are computer-savvy enough to be on the Internet! As I am sure you realize, I really did only one drawing and then, since I draw on the computer, I was able to make a copy the original and then make any changes to it that I felt were appropriate. I didn't have to draw it twice as Bouguereau would have had to do. Since I can transfer the entire file by using "save as", I can then work on the copy in the same way as I worked on the original -- making changes, additions, etc. as I see fit. This is an area of modern art work that has only become possible in the past 15 - 20 years and it really is quite amazing when you think about it. I wonder what of art and design work will be possible in another 15 - 20 years?



Can you believe that this little guy is already slightly over 1 month old? His photos appear to show that he is busily developing into his own, unique person -- and in just two more weeks, I am going to get to finally meet him face to face!  I am so excited.

Hey, what's going on here?  Whose big hands are these?

Speaking of hands, take a look at these!  
This guy is either going to be a symphony conductor, a football referee or...

... maybe a baseball umpire.  He has definitely already got the moves!



As a youngster, I well remember how easily my mother could get me to behave as Christmas approached.  All she had to do was say the magic words:  "Naughty children only receive coal and "switches" under the tree -- nothing else!"  

Coal and switches were two things with which I was very familiar. We had a coal bin in the basement right next to the furnace filled, during the winter, with hard, black rocks that my father would regularly shovel into the brightly burning mouth of the furnace. As for switches, there was a large shrub just outside the back door which seemed to have a limitless supply of thin, pliable branches about 16 - 24 inches in length.  When stripped of their small flowers, they made the perfect implement for my mother to use across the back of my bare legs when, on occasion, I was particularly naughty and unmanageable.

Thus, the closer we got to Christmas, the more determined I became to behave myself.  I mean, after all, what child would prefer dirty lumps of coal to a new dolly or toy car?!  Suki, on the other hand, seems to behave in the opposite manner and the threat of coal and switches doesn't work for, to her, they sound like interesting new toys.  By the time Christmas arrives, I am at my wit's end!

Suki, of course, blames me.  As she points out, I am the one, after all, who brings all those bright, shiny objects out of the storage closet each year, placing them on the Christmas tree, on the coffee table and on various shelves of the bookcases.  Surely, she says, those nice round balls must be cat toys and as every cat knows, instinctively, trees have only purpose:  to provide places for cats to climb.  So how can I possibly be upset when I awaken once again to find another broken Christmas decoration on the floor? 

Sometime I catch her in the act and with a shout and a loud clap of my hands I can usually get her to stop fairly quickly.  With the shout and the clapping, Suki usually heads for the bedroom, quickly scooting under the bed.  When I point out to her that her reaction would indicate that she knows she is doing something wrong, she retorts with:  "That's not true -- you know how loud noises frighten me.  You know how high-strung I am.  It's cruel to be stressing me out so."  Suki, as I am sure you have noticed by now, is very good at passing the blame.  

Sometimes I actually end up feeling guilty for stressing out the poor cat.  But then I usually remember fairly quickly that it was Suki who was caught in the act of trying to remove another decoration from the tree -- a decoration that even now would probably be lying, broken, on the floor if I hadn't yelled at her.  So I yell at her again for trying to be such a manipulator and back under the bed she goes.  Her quick movements remind me a bit of Santa in the classic, T'was the Night Before Christmas where we read: 
"[Santa] turned with a jerk and laying his finger aside of his nose gave a nod and up the chimney he he drove out of sight: 'Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night'."   
A Happy Christmas, indeed!

As for the rest of my life, everything remains much the same -- the same pain along with the same daily regimen of pain medication and distraction attempts.

I did have a visit this week from one of the priests at St. Michael's Cathedral.  He is young, very nice and polite.  I was finally able to receive some of the Sacraments that have not been available to me for a number of months.  He agreed to come and visit me again at the beginning of Lent.  



"Icon -- St. John the Baptist in the Desert", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 revised

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  Mark 1:1-8

A lot of folks thought St. John the Baptist was a crazy man. Imagine, going out to the Judean desert -- a proper no-man's land -- and living there, eating "locusts and wild honey", until you felt prompted by God to start shouting things at people -- things about the coming of the Messiah and judgement for your sins.  

Sounds sort of like one of those "end of the world" characters we see wandering our city streets on occasion, shouting at us as we try to go about our mundane tasks.  I usually try to get past them as quickly as possible without looking at them directly so that there is no chance of making eye contact with what is obviously, or so it seems, a crazy person.

Yet, when it came to St. John the Baptist, for some reason, a lot of the poor people of his day listened to him, allowing him to pour water over them as they stood in the Jordan River having come to believe that he spoke the truth.  They were seeking forgiveness and healing by receiving a "baptism of repentance".  They wanted to be ready when the Messiah appeared.  Remember which groups of people did not listen to him -- the religious and political leaders of the day.  Interesting, isn't it? 

May I know the freedom and peace that comes from acting in accord with my beliefs even if there are people in my life who think I'm crazy for doing so!

St. John the Baptist, God's glorious fool, pray for us.


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