Saturday, January 26, 2013

Let's Escape Winter in a Faraway Land

I know people are probably getting tired of the ice and snow now. But there's nothing you can do about it, so why don't you look at pictures of beautiful places instead? Take a look at these fabulous pictures by David Clapp of the Hebrides, which are the islands off the west coast of Scotland.

David Clapp, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland,

David Clapp, Callanish Stone Circle in Callanais, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland,

The Hebrides are a part of the British Isles particularly steeped in myth and legend. Before Christianity it was reputed to be the retreat of holy men and this holds water, considering Fingal's Cave (an incredible place I hope to visit someday) and all the standing stones that are to be found on the islands. Later, Colum Cille (Saint Columba) established a monastery on Iona, one of the Hebrides, and spread Christianity to the Picts. It's no wonder holy men liked it there. I think I could be perfectly happy to live in austerity in a place like this...

David Clapp, Luskentyre, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland,

The scenery is so stunning too. Ethereal and mysterious are adjectives that come to mind.

David Clapp, Elgol, Skye, Outer Hebrides, Scotland,

David Clapp, Mangurstadh, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland,

So, is anybody coming with me?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Ballad of Tam Lin and Winter Rose

Grace Robert, Tam Lin, 2012

Last semester for an art class I did an illustration for one of my favorite fairy tales, The Ballad of Tam Lin. It's a classic tale of love and someone being rescued, but what I particularly like about this one is that the damsel does the rescuing. How often does that happen? And when it does, it's usually in a poorly re-written Hollywood version that is simply ridiculous.

Another wonderful part of the story is when Janet must hold on to her Tam Lin as the Queen of the Faeries turns him into various terrible beasts or painful things. This, to me, is wonderful both literally for its imagery and inspiring bravery and also as a metaphor for what real love, true love, is; it's where you hold on with all your might to someone even when it hurts or they're not who you want them to be all the time. It references the more difficult parts of having a relationship that most won't stick through. And if you're brave and try hard, even the Queen of the Faeries can't thwart you. How's that for a fairy tale love story? It shows how love is full of mistakes (er, the unfortunate "payment" at the well that first time) and trials, but it will triumph in the end if hearts are steadfast.

Now, on to the ballad. There are many different versions, but I like the old, difficult to read ones the best. There is a more modern version here and a version geared more towards children here (without the unfortunate incident at the well the first time). The version I have below comes from the wonderful website which has just about every version ever come up with.

One of my favorite modern works of fiction is inspired by this story. It's called Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip, a writer whose prose I consider to be some of the best being written these days. Plus, the cover art is done by Kinuko Craft, my top favorite still-living illustrator. What a magical combination.

The Ballad of Tam Lin

O I forbid you, maidens a',
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.

There's nane that gaes by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a wad,
Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenhead.

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has broded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she's awa to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can hie.

When she came to carterhaugh
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she fand his steed standing,
But away was himsel.

She had na pu'd a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
Till upon then started young Tam Lin,
Says, Lady, thou's pu nae mae.

Why pu's thou the rose, Janet,
And why breaks thou the wand?
Or why comes thou to Carterhaugh
Withoutten my command?

"Carterhaugh, it is my own,
My daddy gave it me,
I'll come and gang by Carterhaugh,
And ask nae leave at thee."

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has broded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she is to her father's ha,
As fast as she can hie.

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ba,
And out then came the fair Janet,
The flower among them a'.

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess,
And out then came the fair Janet,
As green as onie glass.

Out then spake an auld grey knight,
Lay oer the castle wa,
And says, Alas, fair Janet, for thee,
But we'll be blamed a'.

"Haud your tongue, ye auld fac'd knight,
Some ill death may ye die!
Father my bairn on whom I will,
I'll father none on thee."

Out then spak her father dear,
And he spak meek and mild,
"And ever alas, sweet Janet," he says,
"I think thou gaest wi child."

"If that I gae wi child, father,
Mysel maun bear the blame,
There's neer a laird about your ha,
Shall get the bairn's name.

"If my love were an earthly knight,
As he's an elfin grey,
I wad na gie my ain true-love
For nae lord that ye hae.

"The steed that my true love rides on
Is lighter than the wind,
Wi siller he is shod before,
Wi burning gowd behind."

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has broded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she's awa to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can hie.

When she came to Carterhaugh,
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she fand his steed standing,
But away was himsel.

She had na pu'd a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Says, Lady, thou pu's nae mae.

"Why pu's thou the rose, Janet,
Amang the groves sae green,
And a' to kill the bonny babe
That we gat us between?"

"O tell me, tell me, Tam Lin," she says,
"For's sake that died on tree,
If eer ye was in holy chapel,
Or christendom did see?"

"Roxbrugh he was my grandfather,
Took me with him to bide
And ance it fell upon a day
That wae did me betide.

"And ance it fell upon a day
A cauld day and a snell,
When we were frae the hunting come,
That frae my horse I fell,
The Queen o' Fairies she caught me,
In yon green hill do dwell.

"And pleasant is the fairy land,
But, an eerie tale to tell,
Ay at the end of seven years,
We pay a tiend to hell,
I am sae fair and fu o flesh,
I'm feard it be mysel.

"But the night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday,
Then win me, win me, an ye will,
For weel I wat ye may.

"Just at the mirk and midnight hour
The fairy folk will ride,
And they that wad their true-love win,
At Miles Cross they maun bide."

"But how shall I thee ken, Tam Lin,
Or how my true-love know,
Amang sa mony unco knights,
The like I never saw?"

"O first let pass the black, lady,
And syne let pass the brown,
But quickly run to the milk-white steed,
Pu ye his rider down.

"For I'll ride on the milk-white steed,
And ay nearest the town,
Because I was an earthly knight
They gie me that renown.

"My right hand will be gloved, lady,
My left hand will be bare,
Cockt up shall my bonnet be,
And kaimed down shall my hair,
And thae's the takens I gie thee,
Nae doubt I will be there.

"They'll turn me in your arms, lady,
Into an esk and adder,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I am your bairn's father.

"They'll turn me to a bear sae grim,
And then a lion bold,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
And ye shall love your child.

"Again they'll turn me in your arms
To a red het gand of airn,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I'll do you nae harm.

"And last they'll turn me in your arms
Into the burning gleed,
Then throw me into well water,
O throw me in with speed.

"And then I'll be your ain true-love,
I'll turn a naked knight,
Then cover me wi your green mantle,
And hide me out o sight."

Gloomy, gloomy was the night,
And eerie was the way,
As fair Jenny in her green mantle
To Miles Cross she did gae.

At the mirk and midnight hour
She heard the bridles sing,
She was as glad at that
As any earthly thing.

First she let the black pass by,
And syne she let the brown,
But quickly she ran to the milk-white steed,
And pu'd the rider down.

Sae weel she minded what he did say,
And young Tam Lin did win,
Syne covered him wi her green mantle,
As blythe's a bird in spring

Out then spak the Queen o Fairies,
Out of a bush o broom,
"Them that has gotten young Tam Lin
Has gotten a stately-groom."

Out then spak the Queen o Fairies,
And an angry woman was she,
"Shame betide her ill-far'd face,
And an ill death may she die,
For she's taen awa the bonniest knight
In a' my companie.

"But had I kend, Tam Lin," said she,
"What now this night I see,
I wad hae taen out thy twa grey een,
And put in twa een o tree."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Haunted Mirror Without a Ghost

I finally did it: I made a haunted mirror, except the mirror is haunted by a landscape instead of a face. I was immediately taken with the idea when I read Grace at Domythic Bliss's post on how to make a haunted mirror. The possibilities are just endless with this. So I decided to use one of my own paintings as the picture. I took a picture of this piece I did a while back:

Moon and Hills, Grace Robert, 2010

... and turned it black and white.

Moon and Hills, Grace Robert, 2010

I happened to have an antique frame I had redone and turned into a shadowbox that lent itself well to the image and fit the size of glass I had chosen as my mirror. Then I followed Grace's instructions and tada! Here's my haunted mirror. It looks marvelous in real life, but it was terribly hard to photograph. If I had a better camera and fancy lenses, I could have done a better job, but here are several photos so you can get an idea of it. It was incredibly easy to do too!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Swans and Ladies

I finished this little border last night as part of a larger project I'm working on for my last semester. I'm not sure how I'll fit it into a larger body of work, or if I even will use it for that at all, but it was so much fun to make and I'm quite pleased with it. It represents some of the Wish Maidens of Odin turning from swans back into ladies.

The Wish Maidens take on many different forms of birds, from ravens to swans, to accomplish the tasks Odin sets to them. It makes me think of Zechariah 5:9, in which two spiritual beings in the shape of women with stork wings (it is unclear if they are angels or merely agents of God as the wind is) carry away a wicked woman. Quite a fascinating verse, with much controversy surrounding it.

In just a few days, I'll be back to another semester. This time, however, I only have 7 hours of classes, which means I will actually get time to *gasp* work on art like I'm supposed to be doing instead of writing papers about art and reading articles about art upon which to write papers. For my research paper last semester, I had far past the limit of books allowed to be checked out at the library, and that was only for a 15-20 page paper. (I won't even mention the number of journal articles I had.) The Interlibrary Loan officer probably came to dread hearing my name, I sent so many requests for books from other libraries.

Then I would come up to the checkout desk with an enormous load, and the librarians would inform me with popping eyes and a confused smile that I didn't have to check out the entire library. The nice librarian who allowed me to check out books past the limit informed me I was the first person to ever do so in all his years of working at the library. This surprised me; before college when I had time to actually read for pleasure, I would routinely check out the limit of books and more if allowed at our local library.

Anyway, now when I walk past the library, I get a sinking feeling until I remember that I never have to take that terrible class again and I can actually go to the library and check out things I want to, oh wonder of wonders! I would rather take another upper level math class than write another paper, and that's saying something.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Memories of Summer, Hopes for Spring, and Snubbing Lady Winter

When I'm not hoping for snow and enjoying grey skies and hot cups of tea, I'm plotting what I'll plant in the spring and remembering happy summer days. I found myself yearning for some warm summer colors, so I sat down with my watercolors and had a bit of fun.

Photo: Me

Photo: Me

In general, summers where I live can be unbearably hot (not the 85 degree 'hot' that northerners imagine is unbearable; I mean 104 degrees fahrenheit or more), but there are perks to them; magnolia blossoms, star jasmine, honeysuckle, and gardenias scent the night air and cause me to feel intoxicated, to the point that I'm ready to vanish into the night in search of the fairies who must assuredly be responsible for the other-worldly vapors.

Photos: Wikipedia, , ,

There's also the rivers and lakes that I do so enjoy. Even if I don't feel like swimming, there are so many wonderful things to see and find; dragonfly nymphs, pretty stones, moss...

Photo: Me

So until I get a winter wonderland for at least several days in a row, I'm going to snub Lady Winter and plot my garden and dream of summer nights, since I'm not to have my fair share of snow.