Sunday, 4 December 2011

Wayfarers' Nativity


THE NIGHT COMES EARLY these days, leaning up against our old rattly windowpanes, which ooze condensation and owlsong from four o'clock on. The long evenings afford us time to do Things Indoors by the fire, or at our dark desks. In the picture above, you might just be able to make out the image emerging on the paper below the lamp - but only in the reflection in the window.
It's a new winter painting - a ritual I've kept for some years now - to make a new snowy painting at this dark end of the year. No other time of year seems to call me to paint it so regularly, and these winter paintings always end up on my Christmas cards when I send them. 

This year I decided (at long last) to make Winter Cards to sell, which meant completing this snowy painting early so that the cards could be designed and ordered in time for fairs and for you to buy to send...
Which meant that I couldn't labour over a detailed creation for weeks on end, and since I've been trying to force a freer looseness in my work of late to combat my finickity temperament, I made this a watercolour of quick light sketchy strokes, and tried to draw with the paintbrush in splodges rather than with hair-thin lines. I deliberately used a paintbrush slightly too big and determined to finish this in two days. 

So here follows the progress of this work in pictures....

The image - a kind of gathering of nomadic folk, stopping to set up camp and collect firewood amongst the trees in the snow - I drew quickly, without worrying it too much, and without "finishing" the figures at the pencil stage which I am prone to doing:


Then I splurged on some sky, and put colour on clothing, not worrying if the paint ran over the edges, or colours mixed in unintended spots...


My accuracy with the too-big paintbrush was a little haphazard around the trees and I intentionally left watermarks where wet and dry paint met. I put on loose washes over the faces and left a space for the firesmoke too...



Gradually, each little figure was put in, suggested rather than drawn...



All of the painting came straight from my imagination, drawn and painted without reference to anything, except my inner snowy, firelit world.
Some of the scenes were very small...


And then I began to add other details around the figures - small blueish brown splodges for snow-footprints all around the encampment, and twigs in hands and on backs...


Finally, when all the paint was painted and dry, I coaxed the important bits out with a pencil, sending back the darks and tucking in the edges...


Though I decided in the end to leave the trees and their edges with the sky alone - just rough seagreen watercolour, not heeding its proper boundaries...


But I drew in the faces softly where I could...


And then, almost to my own surprise, it was done.


And here it is, Wayfarers' Nativity available to buy as a print in my shop now.
The tribe, whoever they are, gather wood for the fire in the midst of cold white winter to warm the stew in the pot, and to warm the babe in arms, just visible inside the bender. I didn't know this was going to be a nativity painting to begin with, but it has become somehow an alternative to the story we all know, yet really the same: where we all bring gifts to the child of light in the dark days of winter. The gift in this case is the gift of firewood, which in a life on the move, mostly lived under the sky, is the most important gift of all: warmth.


And so to Winter Cards....
I've been busy selling at Advent Fairs and setting up my little December exhibition in the bustling Courtyard Wholefood Shop and Cafe in Chagford, where my cards are for sale next to the cakes. I'll write about this soon, but meanwhile... here are the cards, a selection of eight of my wintry paintings from the past few years, packaged all together, or as single cards and packs of four.


They are printed on lovely heavy white card stock, with a very subtle matt sheen and come with recycled brown envelopes. The eight designs included are: 

Baba Yaga
Balalaika
Telling Stories to the Trees
Father Christmas
Picking Up Sticks
Winter Crow
Wintersong
Wayfarers' Nativity




The cards are all wrapped up and sitting in the shop waiting to be posted out to you. I hope you like them. If you live overseas and would like to send these on before Christmas, you might be wise to order them soon before the postal services get too hectic.

Days are getting chillier here on the edge of the moor, and the first noticeable frost crept into the fields around our house on the first day of December. Macha has taken the warmest spot on the rug by the fire, and we busy on, readying ourselves for dark lamplit evenings, mulled-wine-stitched musical gatherings, and gathering plenty of firewood to warm the Winter Child. 



***POSTSCRIPT***
Also, I have a giclée print of Baba Yaga up in an auction which is running til December 18th in aid of our dear Terri Windling who has struggled financially lately due to a combination of health and legal difficulties. Her worldwide circle of friends and fans have gathered an enormous amount of creativity and support and this auction is full to bursting - a veritable Goblin Marketful of delights. Please go and support it in any way you can - either by bidding or offering or word-spreading. Terri has inspired and helped so many of us, she deserves this support. 


48 comments:

Periannath said...

Every time I visit I find beauty and magic here in equal measure as I tingle with the wonder of it all. I'm grateful each time you post!

Wishing you a cool yule.

Charlotte said...

I have just loved watching the layers and layers of colour build on your painting. It is a privilege to share the process and watch the magic unfold. I love the Breughel-esque subject and the hearth and home community of the finished piece. Thank you for the window into your lovely warming home.
Warmest winter regards
Charlotte

Heather said...

I have run out of superlatives for your work Rima and echo the opinions of the previous two comments. Your 'alternative' Christmas cards are so special and I envy the people who will be receiving one of them.

Trish said...

Did Wayfarers Nativity take you only 2 days to create? It is wonderful, I love it. How you paint such tiny scenes within a painting I do not know! I love the boots on the person in red, I would love a pair of those. And I also envy the people who receive your cards.
Stay warm Rima.

Em said...

These are so lovely and remind me of a time in my life where the only heat to be had was from a woodstove. We gathered twigs and larger branches, made them small with an ax (and, truth to tell, a chainsaw) and slept near the stove on the colder nights. The cat couldn't be moved from a hassock that had been placed in front of the stove for seating and we humans ended up on the floor.

To this day, when I see discarded wood, I have to remind myself that I don't need it to keep warm. At least not at the moment.

Thank you, also, for showing the progress of the painting. I paint too and love to watch someone else's process.

Ms. ∆×∆p×≥h/4π said...

Dear wonderful creatrix of the spirit, the pen and brush--as always, I am brimming with admiration and elation at the work you produce. I sent an email just now to inquire about a purchase. Much warmth. Ms.

Suzette said...

Your work is always magical. You have inspired me to be more creative in my own life and to let my true nature take flight.

Linda Byrd said...

Oh Rima, how you've tempted me! The cards are lovely and I've just ordered a packet as well as some prints that have called my name for quite some time. Have a wonderful yule.

Jeri Landers said...

Rima, What a style you have, it is so marvelously unique. I just ordered your cards, but I am going to be quite selfish and keep them all to myself. It is a nice way to have some of your artwork in a compact package.

Snippety Giblets said...

Lol at forcing looseness - something I can never quite manage in crafts or in life ! Lovely result. Love the pic of Macha by the fire too. She's not daft !

Much love to you from all us here xxx

Purpletreebird said...

Wonderful winter scenes, of your cosy house and your beautiful paintings!
Jess xx

gz said...

Beautiful painting, and fascinating to see the working process.

The first of December brought the chilly weather here too, but no snow as yert.

Daniela said...

Rima, your Wayfarers' Nativity is gorgeous. It reminds me of worlds I created in my head to play in as a child during some very snowy magical German winters. XX Daniela

Anne-Marie said...

Your painting is beautiful. How delightful to see such detailed progression of your work - thanks for sharing!

Annette said...

Your artwork is stunning, as always. =) Have you thought of creating a tarot deck?

FaunSerpentine said...

It is great to see the beauty of your work, I also like how it is portraying something so normal.....

Shelley Noble said...

The comments here describe the privilege of see and hearing your looser painting process better than I could.

The new work is gorgeous, Rima.

Thomas said...

Hello Rima,

Thanks for sharing your work and thoughts once again. As usual, it brings awake dreams in our days.

mirsini's creations said...

Hi Rima!! I LOVE your paints and your blog and all your posts are magical!!!!! You are a unique artist!!!!!!!! Your christmas cards are wonderful!!!!!
Have a great week!!!! :o)

Clare Wassermann said...

your painting took my breath away and I so loved the process xx

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

How lovely to see the creative process, and the beautiful result.
Yes firewood is a truly valuable gift for me too.

Tammie Lee said...

I loved seeing these images of your piece as it unfolds. I somehow wished you had better light.... the days are shorter indeed. Such a magically wonderful piece and your cards look beautiful.

Thank you for posting about Terri. You have inspired me to participate in the auction.

Swan Artworks said...

Such a lovely painted scene... and I really enjoyed seeing your process, stage by stage... my favourite little scene is the cooking fire outside the bender and I really like the loose spontaneous way you have painted it.
I do love your palette too, all those lovely umbers and ochres and dark earthy tones of red and brown. Those colours have such timelessness and rootedness... :)

by Teresa said...

Rima, as a fellow artist, I really enjoyed seeing you build this painting bit by bit. I've done paintings using ink from an octopus by building it up slowly with a light wash for the sketch and adding detail bit by bit until the last part done with pure undiluted octopus ink. May I ask, what brand of watercolors do you use? I just got some M. Graham watercolors but haven't begun to use them yet. Your friend across the world in Oregon, USA... Teresa

Ronnie (RR) said...

I love to see how your work starts out to how it ends, this one especially. Its beautiful Rima and I am sure the cards will sell quickly xx

Faebyl said...

Love it, your work always comes out to perfection:)

Karen said...

Beautiful work. The cards look wonderful.
What a special place Chagford must be. Winter wishes to you Rima x

Leslie said...

It lightens my soul every time I read your blog. Thanks, Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year to you.

Birdie said...

This year's card is especially lovely. Thank you for taking us along on its journey into being.
~best wishes~

Gio M. said...

Thankd for the process, loving it.

Helen said...

I love your usual detailed approach but also this quicker, lighter work. Glad that you are enjoying these short, hard winter days!

M. Bloom said...

I loved seeing your painting come alive, step by step... all your work is breath-taking...

Scrytech said...

My Dear, your RSS feed is my link to a saner world. Thank you so much for offering these lovely cards.

Hita Hirons said...

How lovely, Rima! What beautiful soft colours you have used and how delicately you have treated the faces of your wayfarers. Your collection of winter cards is a real treat for the eyes and the heart. And your photos of your warm home with all the cards waiting to go out to their lucky new owners gives me a marvelous feeling of anticipation! Lots of love to you, as always xxx

Amanda said...

Wow, wow and wow I just found your gorgeous blog. Love your blog and adore your artwork. Will have to have a further look at your cards(-:

Zen Forest said...

Rima,
Wayfarer's Nativity is perfect - what a great scene. I am stooped picking up logs and sticks that way quite often these days ;)

I would love a print after Christmas sometime!

I've been working on a business -- wooden things! There'll be buttons and book ends and earrings and all sorts of who-knows-what (also wooden canvases for painting on! if you have any advice as to what makes a good wooden canvas and what doesn't - do send it my way!)

xo-
From our log home to your thatched one. Cheers!

Tiff

Rebecca S. said...

I'm so glad I stopped by...it has been a while. I was so warmed by your winter Nativity painting. It reminds me of a Canadian book called Northern Nativity by painter William Kurelek. I wish I could order your cards...maybe next year. All the best of the season to you and yours, Rima.

Greenconsciousness said...

I find it very confusing to know how to buy these cards --I don't use etsy or paypal -- I want to use a debit card to buy them and none of the links in your post seem to go to a place where the price is listed and I can just buy them and have them delivered quickly. ????

Rima said...

Thank you friends as ever for your lovely lovely words which warm me indeed :)

I'm shutting the shop today (December 19th)... and will reopen it in the new year.

Teresa - I use Windsor & Newton watercolours :)

Greenconsciousness - sorry you found it confusing to buy from my shop...
You need to sign up to etsy to shop from it, but you don't need a paypal account to check out with paypal. The link I put in the post to the cards section of the shop (http://www.etsy.com/shop/thehermitage?section_id=10805254) shows you clearly which cards I have left and their prices. Etsy is really very easy to use.
If you read this before I make my last trip to the post office this afternoon, I hope you have luck.

Otherwise, I'll have more Winter cards available in the new year when I reopen... since Christmas need not be the end of sending winter greetings :)

Happy week of Yule everyone x
... more soon :)

acornmoon said...

Have a Happy Christmas, or week of Yule as you call it. Thank you for another year of sincere and magical artwork.

Katalin said...

I wish you a happy Christmas :)*

Olgi said...

Beautiful-beautiful artwork!!!!

Sweet Harvest Moon said...

The cards are so beautiful!

elfine said...

Bonjour Rima
C'est toujours une grande joie de découvrir vos merveilleuses pages.
Merci de nous faire partager les détails de votre travail.
Très bonne année 2012.

Bella said...

It is always good to see how others put a piece together. I think you are brave to show us - what if you made an error? I wish you all the best for 2012

Anonymous said...

Wow! You're good. Amazing, really. And chronicling your process: what a generous idea. Loved your photos too. And your marginal art. Here's hoping you inspire many.

Martin, exilant

Aleksandra said...

always beautiful to see,thank you! :)

Endless Ending said...

wonderful...