Cezanne’s Studio

Still Life with Open Drawer by Paul Cezanne, 1879

I read an article that talked about the color of Cezanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence, France. It had gray walls, which lessened the 3-d effect of real objects. In other words, painting a bowl set against a gray wall has a flattening effect (which is apparent in Cezanne’s paintings). It is easier to jump from the color of the bowl to the color of the wall. The wall color is actually important. Very interesting! I’m easily fascinated by the importance of negative space. I could go beyond art with that topic. But I won’t, at least today.

Check out the article. It has pictures of the studio. When I walk into the room of someone dead and famous, I usually don’t think, “Whoa, this is a room of a famous person.” I tend to think, “Whoa, this room is pretty ordinary and real-looking,” which makes the famous person seem more ordinary and real. And I like that! I don’t know everything about Cezanne, but I do know he was a gruff, temperamental type of person. And he didn’t mind repetition. He spent much time painting the same mountain over and over. I think it wasn’t about the mountain. It was more about the colors.

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The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower

Here’s my new favorite Thanksgiving book: The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland’s Good Fortune by P.J. Lynch (2015). It’s a picture book with big, detailed, dramatic illustrations. It’s a history book with lots of great info about the Pilgrims, their voyage, their landing, and their community in the new land. It’s a story about one passenger of the Mayflower: young John Howland, indentured servant to John Carver. And yes, he did fall overboard. It gives perspective to the varying attitudes of those on the Mayflower – those committed to making a new place to live in the new land, and those there only because their work brought them there – and how those attitudes can change (or strengthen) under dire circumstances. My children also enjoyed this book; I caught them studying it later on their own.

Here’s an excerpt from near the beginning of the voyage:

“You’re the boy that runs the messages, ain’t you?”

“Yes, sir, I am…. John Howland’s my name….”

“Never mind that! Just get below and tell your boss that Bob Coppin – that’s me, the first mate – orders that the passengers are to keep down ‘tween decks now we’re under way. We’ll let you know when you can come up for air. And keep it quiet with all that praying!” With that, he stomped off, laughing.

“I’ll be pleased to take your message, Master Coppin,” I called after him. “You will find, sir, that we are a civil people, and we hope to give no offense to God or man. We hope only for a measure of civility in return!”

The first mate stopped laughing. He turned around and looked long and hard at me. Then he gave me a nod and said, “Right you are… Master Howland.”

If King David blogged

The ladies’ Bible study I attend is watching a video series by Dr. Godfrey called Learning to Love the Psalms. Our last lesson taught about the peculiarities of Psalm 39, the last verse in particular: “Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!”

Many times we hear of the psalmist asking God to turn His face toward him, but now David asks God to look away. He is overwhelmed and worn out. He doesn’t want to be disciplined right now. He can’t take the pressure. He’s done for the day. He wants to smile and be happy, but the things God is putting him through are hard. Really hard.

If King David blogged, Psalm 39 would be his overwhelm post. I’ve had plenty of those myself. Words run out because containing them is too difficult. Holding life together has become an impossibility. What God expects is more than I can do. I just want to rest and let someone else take the limelight. Concentrate on someone else for now, God. Don’t forget me, but don’t look at me right now.

I’ve been there. It’s good to know David has been there, too. It’s good to know that Psalm 40 comes next. Listen to this: “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God” (40:3a). God brings us to the brink of impossibility, and then He puts praise toward Him in our hearts. That’s pretty good of God. I sure wouldn’t be able to praise Him without Him putting that praise there.

So, praise the Lord.

On Montmartre

Terrace and Observation Deck at the Moulin de Blute-Fin, Montmartre, Vincent Van Gogh, 1886

I’ve posted about this van Gogh painting before. It’s hanging right above my computer screen, so it is probably the most-looked-at painting in my house. My copy is a little grayer and bluer than this image. Not only is the weather appropriate for today (windy, rainy, gray, cold), van Gogh himself is appropriate. Here’s a guy who had a severe mental illness. Yet he struggled through, battling against all the negativity around him. He didn’t win every battle (at least I assume cutting off your own ear consists of losing some sort of battle), but he kept doing what he knew was right: creating art. Where was the encouragement? Where was the motivation? It had to be spiritual because I can’t understand it any other way. Even when we’re backsliding into the same old patterns, God ensures His plan continues.

Beauty and inspiration come from weird places. But behind all the weird places is a Master Designer.

An Afternoon Nap

An Afternoon Nap by Harry Mitten Wilson (1877-1923)

Sleep is a weird thing for me. I’ve had insomnia. I’ve had sleep with consistent nightmares. And sometimes I sleep just fine. Sometimes I love it; other times I dread it. Lately, I’ve been wanting to sleep, which I know is a sign that I want to skip as much awake life as I can. I do force myself to not go to bed right away. But last night I didn’t. I went to bed early and allowed myself to stay resting (if not actually asleep) until my normal get-up time. So if I’m still easily tipped off-kilter, at least I’m also well-rested. That must count for something.

Actually, I learned today that my real need is dealing with sin, not dealing with relationships or feelings. I knew that already, but it’s good to learn again. And Jesus already dealt with the sin and took care of my real need. So I’m good to go. Did you hear that brain? You’re good to go.

I like this painting for its beauty. It’s like she’s dreaming this sweet-smelling summer world, and she’s in it, too. Best of both worlds. She’s good to go. It could be a really ugly painting with dead flowers and storm clouds and whatnot, and maybe you couldn’t even tell that the girl was sleeping peacefully. Maybe she was really ugly, too. She could still be good to go, on the spiritual side. You never know by looking. Or feeling. But sometimes art is symbolic of spiritual things. If this one is, then perhaps she’s resting in a beautiful psalm, like Psalm 23, which my daughter is memorizing. “He makes me lie down in green pastures… He restores my soul.”

Morning Quiet Time

I am spending my morning quiet time writing to you. Normally I spend it in my room, but this morning the thought of being alone in my bedroom seems like a bad idea. I’m not handling life well this morning, and I’m hoping this little blog writing session will smooth out some of the wrinkles.

So what are some of my problems? Well, my son and I went to the dentist yesterday. My hygienist was extremely kind and understanding. She asked if I flossed, and when I said “Not often” she whispered, “Don’t worry; I have to ask that.” Eddie’s hygienist could have been the spokesperson for the American Dental Association. Hardly even a real human. None of my children have ever had cavities. I haven’t had a cavity in at least fifteen years. I make decisions like going to the dentist once a year instead of twice, and getting x-rays once every two years. Because dentists are super expensive, and we don’t have insurance for it. I kept putting off paying $50 at a crack for those sealants they put on the kids’ molars. That’s what really set off Miss ADA. She took a large picture of the tartar in my son’s back tooth and exclaimed about it as she showed it to me. She bullied me into agreeing to the sealants. She left and I started crying during Miss Understanding’s polishing routine.

You see, I never really know how we pay for anything. I know we’ve had a negative net income for at least two years (probably longer). I know my husband chooses which bills to pay and which to ignore. I know he comes home and stresses out over the cost of protein and how not feeding the cows protein is affecting the milk production. And all his expensive machinery breaks in expensive places. How do I even dare go to the dentist? How can we afford to eat? How am I going to justify buying Christmas presents this year? I have begun freelance writing online, but it’s not very lucrative, and honestly, I don’t have enough time to write as much as I should to actually make something substantial. So far I’ve written 14 posts and sold 1 for $9. That’s less than one-fifth of one of those sealants.

I want a budget. Except my husband is one of those fly by the seat of his pants sort of guys. Any budget designed by him would be irrelevant within a week.

The Bible says not to store up treasure on earth. But I want a savings account with something in it. We don’t even have that.

The Bible says look to the lilies. There are none. It’s October. (Yes, I’m purposely being stubborn here. I shouldn’t worry. God provides. I know that in my head, but right now I’m having a really hard time understanding why I shouldn’t worry about finances.)

Plus, I have church lunch this coming Sunday, a party my children would love to attend on Saturday, I have to bring snack to 45 homeschool co-op kids on Tuesday, and my Sunday School class of preschool and kindergartners just became three kids larger. Plus my sculpture project for Tuesday is dependent on my husband cutting some boards for me, which he has been talking about for months but hasn’t done yet. I should have told him, “No, I’m going to buy a handsaw and do it myself.” I really should have. I am really tired of being dependent on him. But what choice do I have? I have none. My business idea made nine dollars. And oh yes, I’m supposed to be teaching my kids. It’s Week 10 of our homeschool.

Okay. Morning quiet times need some sort of prayer in them. Dear Lord, I need help putting things in perspective. All this stuff I’ve written about is weighing me down, but it weighs less than a feather to You. You’ve died for my sin of not trusting. Please forgive me. I’m such a failure, and You’re such not a failure. Help me to be invisible so everyone else out there (the people who actually see me, and not just blog-world) sees You, not my stupid self. Thank You for caring enough to listen. In Your Name, Amen.