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Showing posts from December, 2018

Christmas Memories

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I love these quiet days between Christmas and New Year’s.  It’s a resting place to review the old year and get ready for the new; a time for reflection and remembrance. I think of my grandfather, Robert Sinclair Swanson, who died on his sixty-eighth birthday, Christmas Day, 1958. I was ten, so I remember it all clearly.  We called him PopPop. He had had a heart attack years before and was forced to leave his business and “rest.”  Nowadays he’d be given a treadmill and a Fitbit and told to get moving.  The forced inactivity was hard on him and even harder on our grandmother. But that Christmas Day all was well. The whole family met at Uncle Jack's. There were piles of presents; PopPop always insisted that he be given both a Christmas gift and a birthday gift, but since he was delighted with a ball of string or a new pencil his wishes didn’t strain our budgets. There was birthday cake and singing. He carved the turkey and after dinner plucked the carcass clean, ready for th

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

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Here’s a page from my current project; I’m illustrating my favorite Christmas carols and hope to present them next year.  This is “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” with the angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold. We’re coming to the end of a year that’s been so hard for so many of us, full of discord and fear for our neighbors, our leaders and the planet, our home But there have been hard times before this. I have a Christmas card sent by my grandparents, probably in 1943, in the midst of World War II, as Hitler raged across Europe.  The picture on the front is a church window with advent candles on one side and an American flag on the other.  Through the window we see the star of Bethlehem.  Inside the message has those familiar words from Luke; “For unto us is born this day in the city of David…” and “Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory…” It’s signed; Robert, Louise, Dave, Jack, Dan, Janet and Private Robert Swanson, U.S. Army. That was my

The Lawrence Tree

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   I have long adored Georgia O”Keeffe.  My first year in art school the Whitney Museum held a retrospective of her work; I haunted that show and bought the catalogue and a ton of postcards.  She said, “Fill a space in a beautiful way,” and I thought I could do that.  I painted many imitation O’Keeffe’s and read everything I could find about her.  I kept her in my head, sometimes speaking to her, sometimes asking myself, “What would Georgia do?”     The Lawrence Tree is one of my favorites.  It’s painted as if we’re lying at the foot of a great tree, gazing up through her branches at the starry night sky.  I've lain like that, but never thought to paint it.  That's why she's Georgia O'Keeffe.     So, as Arthur and I drove through Taos and I saw a sign that said, Lawrence Ranch NO TRESPASSING    I spoke up. I knew O’Keeffe had been part of a loose and fractious community that included the art patron Dorothy Brett. Brett gave the ranch to D.H.Lawrence and h