Friday, 31 December 2021

Betwixt and Between


old life and new in the garden
© Teresa Newham

It's a special period, the time between Christmas and New Year. Things are just starting to stir in the garden; the church is still celebrating Christmas Time, harking back to the old tradition of daily feasting and jollity during the Twelve Days of Christmas; some people call this week Betwixtmas and spend it watching Netflix in their PJs; and many of us fortunate enough not to be working have been taking time out to rest, contemplate, dream and plan.

all Christmas-carded out
© Teresa Newham

Since the excitement of Open Studios and the Harpenden Arts Club exhibition back in September and October, my art life has consisted almost entirely of printing up old Christmas cards to sell in aid of the church building fund, and creating a new one for friends and family. This week I put the few remaining cards into storage, freeing myself to think about other projects.

waiting since September
© Teresa Newham

I'm hoping to get started soon on a design for a linocut which has been sitting in my sketchbook since September.  As quite often happens, the delay in getting around to doing anything with it  has been a blessing, as several ideas have floated to the surface in the meantime.  I also want to see if I can adapt an old sketch and turn it into a Japanese Woodblock print or two - it's hard to resist the lure of the Skelligs . . . 

an old sketch to simplify
© Teresa Newham

Mainly, though, I've been content to relax and leaf through my books, including A Year Unfolding by Angela Harding, which I was given for Christmas.  There's a new Moleskin watercolour sketchbook which I'm looking forward to using outdoors when the weather improves. Laura Boswell's latest video The Twelve Gizmos of Christmas has given me a few ideas, and the February (!) edition of Artists and Illustrators dropped through the door this morning. Time to look forward to a Happy New Year!

enticing and inspiring gifts
© Teresa Newham

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Mary's "Yes"


Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord
hand-printed linocut by Teresa Newham

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38)

The subject of this year's Christmas card is the Annunciation - a feast which we celebrate on 25th March, fully nine months before Christmas, but which is central to the story of the Nativity. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary, a young girl aged fourteen or so and tells her that she is blessed and is to give birth to the Son of God. Mary wonders how that might happen, because she is a virgin.  The angel explains that she will conceive by the Holy Spirit.

At this point, Mary might have said no, or simply run away.  But she doesn't - she agrees to do what God is asking of her, and by her faith and courage she allows salvation to enter the world. 

On this, the shortest day of the year, I pray that we may all be granted the faith and courage to move forward, to celebrate Christmas as best we can in the circumstances we find ourselves.  Wherever we are, whatever our faith, may we be blessed with peace, hope and love.