Monday, March 02, 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Felted Wool for the Artist

When Artist Son arrived for his between-semesters-visit and unpacked his art supplies, I discovered that he was carrying everything in thin plastic baggies. Nothing was damaged, but shouldn't he have something more protective and "nice" for his gear, and couldn't I make something out of felted wool?? I went directly to Pinterest where I found this idea. I adjusted the measurements a little: 7 1/2 inches by 10 1/2 inches to hold 10 pencils and 7 1/2 inches by 21 inches to hold 20 pencils, with 1/2 inch between 1/2 inch slits.


I improvised the paint brush holders. The v-neck ribbing of a finely felted sweater worked to secure the flap. Pastels and charcoals were stored in some saved Altoids tins. (Those little things are handy! I'm tempted to buy them just for the tins.)


Artist son made a few tired fruits and an an onion look pretty good in this still life exercise.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Artist in Residence

Life slows down in the cold month of January, like molasses, making it the perfect time to welcome Artist Son home for a visit. Fresh from a two-and-a-half week European art gallery tour, and with six weeks before his semester abroad in Italy, Artist Son settled in to read, write, and create.

Our concrete and stone home is "cool" in the winter, and during the coldest days we do most of our living in the family room. Below is Artist Son's first improvised studio space. He later expanded to my larger sewing table, which we brought in and set up next to my computer.

Artist Son spent much of his artful time exploring the process of illustration by taking story boards to sketches to finals.

(photo credit, Tayta)

Dear Husband has long wanted to improve the appearance of the grafitted school wall just opposite our home, and so Artist's Son's visit was the perfect time for him to commission a mural project.  He and Artist Son discussed possible designs, Artist Son sketched it out, and Dear Husband purchased the paint.


The before picture, taken from our drive-way: Artist Son is prepping the walls with some sanding and sweeping.


Dear Husband helped apply the base coat and paint some of the broad strokes of the design. School children stopped by regularly to watch and ask questions--and make comments, suggestions and critiques!





This was Artist Son's first mural project and he enjoyed the large scale painting, a whole body experience as he described it, and interacting with the passers-by.


We now  have a much nicer view in front of our house, and Dear Husband and Artist Son both received comments of appreciation from neighbors. Hundreds of people pass by this mural every day, and so far it has only received a few minor marks and scratches. One friend said that was a sign of respect and appreciation for Artist Son's work. We have no illusions that it will last forever but for now we are enjoying the view.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Sunday Afternoon Drive in the Country

One of the simple pleasures Dear Husband I  most enjoy together is a drive in the country. It helps that we have the perfect country road on which to roam: The Mafraq-Jerash road winds through cultivated pastures, ancient-come-modern villages, olive orchards, and small pine forests. Whatever the season, the eye finds much to explore and enjoy.


Last Sunday, our drive had a destination: the village of Rihab, and site of at least 30 ancient churches, most of which date to the sixth and seventh century.




Stones with ashlar masonry


This friendly group of boys were choosing up sides for a game. Maybe hide and seek? Pretty cool playground, though Tatya confessed that growing up around ruins, she didn't think much of them until she was older and realized what they were. I like to think that playing among ruins and exploring old stone castles has influenced my children's imaginations.


Chinked walls--every stone is useful.


Sculpted stones are recycled


We visited one of the "newer" churches and noted that the mosaic floors were more colorful, and the designs more intricate than those of the earlier churches.




Our last stop was the Rihab's Church of Saint George. Despite the disputed archaeological evidence for dating this church as early as the second century, making it the oldest known church in the world, the sign is still posted.



Earlier mosaics?


The mosaic, mentioned in a previous post I wrote about the church of St. George, reads:

 "the 70 beloved by God and the divine which has led some to believe that 70 early disciples of Jesus worshiped in the earlier cave, however other archaeologists feel that further authentication of the site is required." The article linked above has an interesting point about the Greek translation of the date, making the early dating of the church an "absolute impossibility".

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Comforts of the Cross



I purchased Comforts of the Cross, by Elyse Fitzpatrick, as I am in the habit of reading some small section devotional writing or biblical instruction along with my daily Bible reading. I was looking for a new book to put in the queue, this book was offered as a Kindle Special, and I knew from reading another of Fitzpatrick's books some years ago that her emphasis on the good news of Jesus' incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension would be just right. And so it was and always is.

I find myself lingering at a major cross-road in my life, that of having my main life work of marrying, establishing a home, and raising a family behind me. Thankfully my marriage and family are still very much with me, but coming to a close is the period of my life marked with intense efforts at becoming one and then, a family of six. These days I find myself looking backward and forward all at once. What have I done? What will I do?

The thirty short chapters, a month of devotional reading, in Comforts of the Cross have been a balm for my soul as I am reminded that I must first and foremost ask and answer the questions: What has Jesus done? What will Jesus do? How often do I need to to receive God's truth in love to re-orient my heart? Many times a day! Like the author, I find that my heart is "so bent towards self-righteousness, pride, laziness, and despair", and so I am thankful for any and all reminders of Jesus: what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do.

I will read this book again--in fact, I've already re-read some of my favorite chapters.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Um Qais Revisited

Some places call me back again and again, places whose beauty is ancient, familiar and at the same time always renewing itself. Um Qais, the ancient decapolis city of Gadara is one of those places. Our family has explored the site as a tourist would, such as during our first visit in 1992, but we've returned again and again, with no other purpose than to be in the place together as a family, soaking up it's beauty, letting it nourish our imaginations.


As we traveled to spend the day in the ruins of Um Qais last Sunday, I reminisced about previous visits: Oldest Daughter was two years old when we first visited Um Qais, and I carried Active Son in a bright red baby carrier. A snapshot from the day shows shows Oldest Daughter sitting on a carved basalt rock as if a princess on her throne. This was the beginning of our children growing up with ancient ruins and and rock piles as their playgrounds. 


The Cardo

Shortly after Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, the militarized area just beyond the ruins was opened to the public--though one must still leave one's identification card at the military checkpoint when entering this area. We visited the "Saha"(open area) on a hilltop where there are lookout towers, like this one, and a helicopter pad.


.

A local friend told us that the late King Hussein and the late Prime Minister of Israel, Yizhak Rabin would rendezvous in this place. 


From the hilltop one can look west to Lake Tiberius/Sea of Galilee (it was hazy so the sea is not clear in this picture)


and north to Syria, immediately beyond  the banks of the Yarmouk river.


Today one can also hear the mortar shells exploding just beyond the border.


Banks of the Yarmouk river, Jordan/Syrian border

Dirt roads winding down into the Jordan Valley toward the Sea of Galilee bring to life the story of Jesus casting the demons out of the Gadarene (man from Gadara) into a herd of swine, which Luke tells us, rushed down the steep bank and cast themselves into the sea.

This Saha is also the place were I first discovered the riotous variety of Jordanian flora: as a closed military zone, the flora was left undisturbed. When visiting in 1994 we waded through a field of wildflowers up to our waists. I'd never seen anything like it, even in the Alps of Swizerland. The same area is now grazed and/or cultivated.



Back at the ruins, we basked in the sun which had not long ago melted snow. I love living in a country where it can be winter and spring all at the same time. My eyes feasted on the bright green of newly sprouted foliage...


,,,and the soft grey green of olive trees and fig trees yet winter bare.



Artist Son, who is in the midst of an  illustration project, made reference sketches .


Dear Husband could be found where there were signs of excavation.


He found a little Roman glass along the way.




I went searching for the first signs of a new wildflower season. It has begun! I spotted my first anemone...


...and my first asphodel of the season.








Beauty in the olive groves