Jef Murray sends this along...


Welcome to my newsletter for November, 2007. 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 at: . Notices of new paintings and events are at the bottom of this email.

Epiphanies =========

I bought a new rain gauge. Since Atlanta is in the midst of the worst drought on record, I don't know if this speaks more to my folly or to my faith.

But with the coming of autumn and the lack of rainfall, I've gotten antsy. I'm wary. And somehow, measuring the mood of the weather makes me feel more alert. It's a puny way of recollecting that the oceans of the air are always changing, that our world is vaster, and wilder, than we reckon. Tomorrow, the hurricane _could_ be right outside my door, even if each morning has lately dawned the same…blue, and blank, and bleary.

I know others feel this. In north Georgia, where my mother and sister still dwell, the popcorn pop of gunfire can now be heard most weekends; hunters track the mule deer that have populated the Appalachian peaks. And towing home some token of the wild, whether a trophy rack or a locker of venison, helps hunters shake off the drabness of domesticity.

It's not clear to me whether this is a male thing, or whether we all experience it…this tug of the wild and the need to drag bits of it back home to our concrete canyons. It's the call of Atlantis…we need more in life than crisp hedges and primped lawns. We're all, I suspect, more Ent than Entwife.

I was trying to express a bit of this strange autumn dis-ease of mine to a group of other artists, but failed miserably. The discussion was on eastern versus western art, and about iconography in particular.

Icons are not supposed to be a creative effort of the individual…they are intended as a means of prayerfully reproducing images that were fixed in time hundreds or thousands of years ago. Their production is a tame toiling; the unkind might even say icon "writing" requires technique more than talent. And some professional iconographers bristle at the thought of altering an icon or creating new ones…of messing `em up and seeing what happens if you don't follow the rules. The rules _are_ the icons (!), and to be a good iconographer is, it seems, to be completely content with respecting the rubrics.

I respect iconography immensely, but I expect I could never be an iconographer; I always aim to amble past the fence posts. I want the wildness, and can't resist seeing whether a blur here or a brushstroke there might lead to something new. I want the work to come alive and not be struck sapless in the very commotion of its creation.

I know I'm too antsy.

I dug a posthole in our yard so that I could mount my new rain gauge. While spading up the dust, I found a grub several inches below the surface, where there was still a trace of moisture to be found. Soft, and white, and helpless, it curled in on itself, waiting in the deep earth for wildness to return, for the hurricane to come and plump the soil.

And I thought that here I was, too, curled up in the static earth, warm and woozy, but also withering. Without the rains, without that undeserved bolt of wildness and bluster, I, too, would parch and pale.

I dug a new hole and moved the grub, gently pressing new earth around it so that it could await, in its deep dreaming, the coming of new life.

"God is in the rain" says a line from folklore. And even when there is none, it don't mean it won't come again. The storm will, I know, someday mount anew the western sky and rumble through our forests and hammer our hills. It'll douse doorways with flung foam and will rend the heavens.

And when it does, and whilst the deluge gluts my new rain gauge, I'll ponder the grub, and hope that it, too, has endured its time of waiting and watching. I'll remember that, without wildness, there can be no witnessing; without grace, there can be no glory.

Nai Eru laitalyë (may God bless you),


Events =========

- I have added eight (8!) new paintings to my website at These include three new Tolkien paintings, two new sacred/religious works, one new "fairy tale" painting, and two new wildlife silhouettes. You can reach them through the links, below. Please let me know what you think of these!

- "Treebeard" can be seen at ... olkien/378_Treebeard.html
- "Into the West" can be seen at ... en/381_Into_the_west.html
- "The Party Tree" is at ... lkien/384_Party_tree.html
- "St. Michael" can be seen at ... d/379_St_ichael_icon.html
- "The Four Rivers (of Paradise)" is ... cred/382_Four_rivers.html
- "Homecoming" is at ... tales/385_Homecoming.html
- The new alligator wildlife silhouette is at ... ldlife/380_Alligator.html
- …and the new dragon is at ... th/383_Purple_dragon.html

- The latest (Nov/Dec 2007) issue of the St. Austin Review (please see ) focuses on popular culture and includes a number of my sketches, plus one of my Narnia paintings ("The Repentance of Edmund") on the cover (see ... Repentance_of_edmund.html
). It's a great read, perhaps despite my input.

- I feel greatly honoured to have been asked to develop the logo for the MythCon 39, the Mythopoeic Society's annual conference, scheduled for August 15-18th, 2008 at Central Connecticut State University. You can see the logo at: ... ketch_mythcon39_logo.html
. For more information on the Mythopoeic Society or the convention, visit .

- I am delighted to have been asked as a guest of honour at the upcoming Tolkien celebration, "A Long-Expected Party" (ALEP) in Kentucky in September, 2008. I was also asked to develop one of the logos used for the event. You can see it on my website at: ... hes/Sketch_ALEP_logo.html . The official website for ALEP (and registration info) can be found at: .