Mystical Realms Newsletter for March, 2010
And welcome to my newsletter for March, 2010! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested in keeping up with me! To receive these newsletters regularly, 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.
I have posted three new painting images on my website. These are "Brandywine", "The Lonely Mountain", and "Eowyn & the Witch King". You can see all of these by going to http://www.JefMurray.com and clicking on the "Newest Works" button on the top of the page.
In addition to the new paintings, I have finally posted a number of graphite sketch images, most of which are Tolkien-themed. You can see these by clicking on the new "Graphite Sketches" gallery button on my website. This new gallery will also feature book illustrations (from "Black & White Ogre Country", "The Magic Ring", etc.) as they become available.
Do let me know how these new works strike you!
Morning had not dawned when I heard the first bell chime. Raising the bedroom shade, I saw the Sap Moon setting, ochre tinted as she slipped through scudding clouds. I blinked, then went back to the banalities of morning ablutions.
Lorraine called a moment later. In the eastern sky, vivid cadmium clouds were aloft, flame on azure, and gilt glowed on the horizon. "Huh!" I thought, standing in a tank top in freezing morning air to see the colors clearly. My foggy-headedness was shocked not so much by morning chill as by ocular assault. Bell number two.
Later still, I climbed stone steps to reach the library. Suddenly, I was surrounded by sound: Carolina wrens the size of peas pierced morning air with their triple-toned tune; dozens of robins and northern cardinals clamored their solos; distant crows added rhythm to the revelry. This was the third bell, and by now I was more than awake.
"Further up and further in!" I sang as I conquered the last of the stairs, breathing deeply of the brisk morning air. The conflagration of clouds had faded, but here on the plaza the cacophony of song had reached its climax. I contemplated breaking off a baton from a still-bare maple tree to conduct the finale, but thought better of it as someone else appeared at plaza's edge. "Leave the conducting for Jewel the Unicorn," I thought as I headed indoors, yawning once again.
"Further up and further in!" must become my new battle cry. How often, after all, has splendor swirled and glory gathered `round, only to remain unseen by my duty-dulled eyes? We are, each of us, forests within which no falling tree makes a sound because no one is there to hear it!
"We're sleepy heads," I think, remembering the honeybees in our back yard. A cobalt blue Tengwar "V" for "Vinyamar" graces the peaked roof of the bee hive. Vinyamar was the first Elvish harbor built in Middle-earth, and it means "New Home" in Quenya. My bees are snug in their haven tens of thousands balled up in the cold, dreaming honey-drenched dreams. But they, too, want waking. They need to rise and head "further up and further in," to the nectar and pollen that soon will beckon from every splashed blossom of gilt and crimson and violet .
But, bees, it seems to me, don't get stuck in their slumbers. They aren't sullen somnambulists, groping through the gloaming. " Like I am," I muse.
But maybe all of this is Morgoth's mission to prevent us Big Folk from seeing the Undying Lands, even as we are hurtling towards them. This perhaps is the labor of the Lady of the Green Kirtle, whose cloying incense clouds and confuses. "Hoodwinked!" we think and then pull up the covers and drift back off into troubled tossings.
What, then, to do?
I scratch my head, trying to remember times I didn't feel in a fog. Once as a child, I lay on my bed at first morning light, looking up at shafts of gold falling through mote-filled space. I couldn't take my eyes off the dust dancing in the light it was so alive! And another time, I spied a gopher tortoise in a patch of sun, warming itself so that it could begin to move once more through the chill underbrush; I remember the proud pose and each wrinkle of his ancient skin. And yet another morning, in the misty dawn at my grandmother's house, I heard a neighborhood cock crow and smelled the bacon frying .
All these moments were magical.
This "reviving" business, then, must be all about attending to what is before our very eyes and ears. About pushing "to do" lists aside and simply seeing, and smelling, and hearing, and tasting and touching! Waking is a game of hide and seek, you see, and we're all "It!" But, we have to remove our own blindfolds in order to play properly and all of creation is just waiting for the game to begin .
St. Paul says "For now we see through a glass, darkly." But maybe the problem is more that we can't see at all because our eyes are glued shut with slumber. Mystical realms surround us, shining beneath the soot, but we forget the incantation we need to wipe the grime away, to rub the sleep from enshrouded eyes.
But, still, the bells toll. Our wakeup calls come with every clock tick. And even if we can't stay awake, all of creation still is singing, is dancing, is gathering all good together, every moment, every day. Though the wonder and the magic seem sometimes distant, they are, in fact, at our very fingertips, right here, right now, and forever.
Aslan is calling; the Emperor-Over-the-Sea is among us; let us awaken and rejoice!
- The next full exhibition at Moreton in Marsh, "The Edge of the Wild", will be held August 13-16th. This is a free event, and it will feature not only the latest works from Ted Nasmith, Ruth Lacon and myself, but will also serve as a celebration of the new Hilary Tolkien book, "Wheelbarrows at Dawn: Memories of Hilary Tolkien," edited by Angie Garner and Neil Holford. In addition, copies of my own new book, an illustrated edition of "The Magic Ring" by Fouque, will also be available at the exhibit. Details and updates will be announced on the ADC Art & Books website (http://www.adcbooks.co.uk/), on the "Edge of the Wild" Facebook page, and on my website (www.JefMurray.com) .
- Volume 3 of "Silver Leaves", the journal of the White Tree Fund (http://www.whitetreefund.org/) is at last nearing completion! It 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 in addition to several of my painting images, plus the work of many other worthy artists.
- 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.
- I am sorry to say that I will not be attending the Festival in the Shire as I originally intended. This is because the new dates for "The Edge of the Wild" make it impossible for many of us to be at both events. But, I hope that, should the Festival become a regular gathering, I may be able to attend next time `round.
- 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.