And welcome to my newsletter for January, 2011! 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 "Hobbiton", "Chetwood", and "The Messenger". The first two are Tolkien-inspired works, while the third is the first time I've attempted to render an interpretation of the Annunciation in many years. 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.
As always, these and all of the works in my online galleries are available as signed and numbered limited-edition Giclee prints.
Do let me know how these new images strike you!
I'm spending New Year's Eve at the Troll fells; it seems a proper place for pondering the demise of a decade. Since time slips strangely through sub-created realms, a late May sun shines yet upon husky hills betwixt sodden spring squalls, while back home all is wasting winter. I find a footpath, made I know not by whom, and follow it to a rock overhung with underbrush. And just past these, I spy a heavy stone door .
I've been stricken with a cold, contracted while walking the streets of Seffner at Christmastide. I hoped the warmth of weather and kin would protect me from winter's wrath, but it was not to be. On New Year's Eve, after I return from my wanderings, I am too tired to do aught but amble early to bed. Explosions erupt at midnight...a seraphic summons. I wake in wonder to gaze past frosty panes at revelers firing rockets, Roman candles, and bouquets of electric bees: all meant to welcome in a new year that we pray will prove an improvement over the one just passed.
It was a tough year. We lost my sister, Lisa, and my Uncle John. Cousin Chuck lost his dad. So many others were washed away in time's grim tide. Anger swept inept and out-of-touch officials from office on the chance that some change, any change, might rekindle a hope that is more than just a stale demagogic slogan. Terrorism triumphed, while wars that seem pointless persisted .
And yet, it oft seems that in dark times we discover we are made of tougher stuff than ever we supposed. Like Halflings, our love of food, friends, and frivolity belies an endurance that emerges in emergencies, that blossoms in the blackest night.
The tiniest trifles are the cherished charms we hoard against such tough times: hearty hugs from fresh faced imps; Lorraine's face aglow as her new cuckoo clock clucks; fireballs in the black on New Year's Eve; springtime sword fights with wandering waifs; the froth and fume of muscadines bubbling in the basement; long walks under live oaks in the gloaming; the glint of a crucifix in candlelight. These and so many more moments go to make up a year, to make up a decade, to make up a lifetime. Only such gifts of grace endure....
Back at the Troll fells, I set up my easel and try to set the scene in oils. At once, this place is wild yet wondrous, forbidding yet fecund. Who or what might return to this cave while I my pigments ply? Or is this nook still filled, harboring a someone not yet roused from saturnine sleep? In this New Year; anything might be hidden here: caterpillars cocooning...or gold glistening...or the broken body of a spurned Savior....
In sub-created realms, as in real ones, we may not know what is hidden beneath each stone, but we can usually choose how we will react to what we find there. Might there be treasures or trolls? Should we be heartened or horrified? Will we gird our swords or beat them into plough shares?
This ending, as all endings save the last and most triumphant one, is still up for grabs. I will wait here for it to come, marking this moment in pigment, until either the rock is rolled away, or I hear that gentle knocking at the door of my own heart.
Idhrin-eden 'elir (Happy New Year!)
We are in the last days of a print giveaway contest on Facebook. From all who post their three favorite images from my website at www.JefMurray.com, one will win a free signed and numbered print of their choice. So far the response has been great, and it's wonderful to see the variety of folks' favorites! The contest ends on January 5 at midnight, with results announced on Epiphany.
There are two new 2011 Tolkien-themed calendars that are still available. Both feature some of my painting and sketch images, as well as those of many other very talented artists:
The 30th Anniversary 2011 Beyond Bree calendar is available at
http://www.cep.unt.edu/bree/Flyer02.pdf . This special calendar
features work by Sylvia Hunnewell, Ted Nasmith, and many others; it
focuses on the Istari the wizards of Middle-earth.
The 10th Anniversary 2011 Northeaster Tolkien Society calendar is
available from http://herenistarionnets.blogspot.com/p/nets-calendar.html . This calendar features the art of Anke Eissman, Sue Wookey, and
A new EWTN TV special is being prepared on J.R.R. Tolkien. Featuring Joseph Pearce, this production will also include dozens of my illustrations of Tolkien's world. Stay tuned for details on when this will air .
For folks interested in my original paintings and sketches, 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, 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.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011