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Working in a Fallow Period

For some reason, my post didn't go out as planned this morning and that gave me a chance to read the New York Times. the headline says, "It's terrifying"

More than 16 million people have lost their jobs and New York's death toll from the Corona virus is higher than in any country. This quiet time is a luxury for me; I'm thinking of everyone who can't say that.

My friend, Leigh Behnke, painter and instructor at School of Visual Arts, is wrangling 65 students scattered over India, Indonesia, China and the US, keeping them focused, encouraged, and working. Here's Leigh at her neighborhood's evening celebration and thanksgiving for all the workers on the front lines.

Leigh Benhke cheering from the window during Covid

photo by Renee Monrose, from across the street

And here's one piece she shared with me, to share with you.

Falling Fury

Fallin fury, a floating figure in a blue living room

See more, and read about Leigh at Leigh Behnke

Last week I showed you some work in progress --here's the next phase. You may remember that I'm illustrating a Christmas Carol--People Look East. This is the verse that says;

Furrows be glad that earth is bare,

one more seed is planted there

Give up your strength the seed to nourish

That in course the flower may flourish.

pen & ink drawing of a toy theater in shades of ochre, yellow  and brown

Winsor Newton Yellow Ocher may be my very favorite color--it has so many variations. I use it for the first tentative lines of a drawing because it's pale and neutral and it dries quickly so I can erase the pencil sketch. It can look like dark brown with a fuller pen, and when diluted it has many different hues. My phone camera didn't capture the color perfectly here; it actually looks kind of like butterscotch. There will be a seed in center stage.

Then I started the next verse,

Stars keep the watch though night is dim,

One more light the bowl shall brim

Beyond the clear and frosty weather

Bright as sun and moon together

I took the arch from Leigh's window, so, thank you, Leigh. This is not difficult or challenging work, it's just time-consuming. Well, these days I have a lot of time. I propped this where I could see it as I fixed dinner this evening and, I have to say, it's very satisfying to see its progress.

You may say this is a fallow period, while I think of the next big thing. I do have a new project in mind and I'm thinking about it all the time. This is a good time to let it germinate.

"People Look East" has been my earworm for these weeks; in my thoughts as I draw and when I wake in the middle of the night. It's an advent hymn, heralding great things to come, exhorting all people and all nature to make ready; for a guest, a rose, a bird, a star and finally, the Lord. How can we get ready for what is to come? I get a daily quote in my email from Happiness guru, Gretchen Rubin. Today's is from Virgil, "Endure, and keep yourselves for days of happiness." How can I help the ones who work to keep us safe and fed? I'm trying to think of something besides very big tips for deliverers, and sending all the money we're saving on dining out to organizations like City Harvest. Many restaurants are creating funds for their laid-off workers.

This will not be the Passover celebration or Good Friday commemoration we expected but let us celebrate and remember as we can. As we practice social distancing, let's keep in mind what binds us together. Here's a repeat of the prayer I posted last month; Hope remains. Make your hope contagious. Inspire courage in one another. Be polite to each other, it makes life easier. If you despair, act courageously. If you are scared, stand up straight and march forward. Allow yourself rest. Maintain your health, we have lots of work to do."

Amaryllis flower in the window on a stormy gray day

My Christmas Amaryllis bloomed this week--how hopeful is that?

April 10, 2020

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