Mystical Realms Newsletter for January, 2010
Idhrin-eden 'elir (Happy New Year!) And welcome to my newsletter for January, 2010! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would like to keep up with me. To receive these newsletters directly, please drop me an email or subscribe online from my website (http://www.JefMurray.com ) or at: http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms . Notices of events and items of interest are at the bottom of this email. There's lots of news to share!
There are 2 new paintings posted on my website, both Tolkien-themed. These include a new painting of Lothlorien (with a gothic theme), and my first painting ever of the Argonath. You can see these by going to http://www.JefMurray.com and clicking the "Newest Works" gallery button at top left, or by clicking: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmurra2/jefmurraystudios/new.html
I welcome your thoughts and comments on these new works!
I know of no one sad to be shut of 2009. It seems strange were there no blessed events in the year just ended to mitigate our collective misery? No glimpses of grace to diminish despair? It seems we're all suffering uncertainty and praying that, with a calendar tick, we can shed our accreted sins.
But to shed sins, we want repentance, not denial. The old lesson of "if something doesn't work, let's do more of it" has to be grappled with but I see few yet up to the fight. Maybe that will come only after the next plunge in providence .
On Christmas Eve we walked under live oaks with Spanish moss fluttering. We spent the holiday in Tampa with more relatives and friends than we'd celebrated with in years. In shirtsleeves on Christmas Eve! What a blessing! And this even as we heard from family members in the Great Plains who shoveled out from snow drifts many feet high. Rumours of nephews hurling snowballs on rooftops nymphs cavorting with angels and antelopes atop hidden homesteads!
But now the bitterness begins for us in the Deep South: teens at night and near freezing during the days. Barely warm enough to thaw the birdbath, so we'll spread seeds and bread for wayward beasts, lading the hoarfrost with loot .
But what of ourselves? Except for the blindly hopeful, I see no one who honestly believes this year will bring boons. These seem dark times. We're all in the thickest part of the woods together, and no one knows the way no one has left a trail of crumbs to help us home again.
In the midst of the Christmas bustle, after having sketched pretty Jordan (aged 5!) as she was herself drawing Sponge Bob for her mom, I saw a new CD by Susan Boyle that was given to my cousin. "You've not heard of her?!" he asked. "No", I said, and before I knew it I had a Mac in my lap downloading her audition video from YouTube.
J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis often used the term "eucatastrophe" to describe an event that goes against all expectations one that gives us a sense of how things should be how they _ought_ to be in a world that seems too often have lost its sense of balance and virtue. And as I watched Susan Boyle and the judges, who clearly had little sympathy for her, I wondered how and why someone as seemingly simple and unassuming as this Scottish lass could garner the courage necessary to confront such a cynical world.
That is, until she opened her mouth and sang.
And with those first notes, all smirks and cynicism fell away. All one could do was listen, and it was like the gates of Heaven had opened. Luminance shone forth and burst upon judges and audience alike, and what had been a tawdry talent show was brushed with brilliance, grace gushing from this tiny figure on an immense stage.
This is eucatastrophe. This is divinity striking one unawares, reminding us that even in the worst of times and in the most hopeless of situations, beauty abounds.
We will need Susan Boyle in the coming months. Our trials are not over, and even if some of us can begin to rebuild in 2010, others will face fresh frustrations as the tides of politics and panic shift and pivot. With war bugles braying and political power grabs growing, we will need the light of Eärendil to guide ourselves by. We will need folks to sow breadcrumbs for themselves and others so that we can all find our way back home.
But most of all, we will need those occasional unexpected glimmers of grace and goodness. For these are the tokens that speak to us of evil passing away, and of the Shadow fading like a dark cloud before the coming of the dawn.
Idhrin-eden 'elir (Happy New Year!)
- Renowned medieval and fantasy scholar Amy Sturgis and I are in the final throes of assembling a new illustrated edition of Friedrich Heinrich Karl La Motte-Fouque's Gothic/fantasy masterpiece, The Magic Ring. Fouque's works were lauded by Edgar Allen Poe and George MacDonald, and this novel in particular is believed to have been an influence on J.R.R. Tolkien's magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings. To be published by Valancourt Classics in March, 2010, this new edition will feature scores of illustrations plus striking front and back cover images, making it the first ever to fully capture, visually, the immense scope and powerful story elements of this long-neglected work. Look for more details on this new work in the coming weeks!
- The folks at the Festival in the Shire just launched an online journal (http://www.festivalintheshire.com/journal/ ) that will include articles, interviews, and general information related to the event and its guests. In this inaugural issue, Colin Duriez and I discussed my paintings and the process of sub-creation. You can read the interview at http://www.festivalintheshire.com/journal/intmurray.html .
- The current issue of the "St. Austin Review (StAR)" (January/February), focuses on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and includes a lot of articles and images of interest to Tolkien and Lewis fans. See http://www.staustinreview.com/ for more details. This issue also includes an enormous number of my paintings and sketches, both of Middle-earth and Narnia, including the cover image which incorporates my latest painting of Lothlorien.
- Volume 3 of "Silver Leaves", the journal of the White Tree Fund (http://www.whitetreefund.org/) , will feature Tolkien/Fantasy Art and Artists as its theme. The issue should be available for preorder almost any time, and should prove a worthy follow-on to Volumes 1 and 2. I've not seen the final layout, but I believe it may include a short article of mine plus a few of my painting images in addition to the work of many other artists.
- The next full exhibition at Moreton in Marsh will be entitled "The Edge of the Wild", and will include art by Ted Nasmith, Ruth Lacon, Peter Pracownik, and myself. It will run Friday, March 26, 2010 at 7:30 pm through Monday, March 29, 2010 at 5:00 pm. You can find out more on Facebook by searching on "Edge of the Wild", or by checking out the ADC Books website at http://www.adcbooks.co.uk/
- The latest "Beyond Bree" calendar is out! It features artwork by myself, Ted Nasmith, Tim Kirk, Kay Woollard, Sylvia Hunnewell, Louise Ying Chen, Octo Kwan, plus more! To order yours, please contact Nancy Martsch at beyondbree@...
- The new Heren Istarion calendar is also out! Again designed by Phil and Megan Goss and set in Shire Reckoning format, it includes artwork by Henning Janssen, Ruth Lacon, and a little bit from me (including the cover image). For more info, contact Anthony and Jessica at www.herenistarion.org .
- For folks interested in original paintings and sketches or prints of my work, please take a look at the ADC Art and Books online catalog at www.adcbooks.co.uk. It features Tolkien-themed works by Ted Nasmith, Ruth Lacon, Peter Pracownik, and myself. In addition, you'll find collectible items (e.g. Black & White Ogre Country: The Lost Tales of Hilary Tolkien) and rare books featured in the catalog and on the website.