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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fullness of Joy – Where does it come from?

"Namesake" acrylic on canvas
My husband is a hummer. Sometimes it can drive me crazy, especially if he does it when he’s nervous. At other times, it’s his way to stay on task as he moves through his day.

People use music for a variety of reasons. We were in Home Depot the other day and an employee belted out a welcoming song and invited us to have a great day. The first time I heard him, I was surprised and somewhat embarrassed.

I’d forgotten all about him until a return trip to the store and the sounds of singing reminded me of his presence.

“Oh, you’re the singer.” I teased him to ease my own discomfort.

He smiled, waved and continued to sing a happy tune. His playfulness was infectious. In fact, I couldn’t resist. I walked back to him and shook his hand warmly between both of mine. In my exuberance, I felt like giving him a hug, but refrained.

"A Joyful Heart" 11 x 14 pastel on bristol; matted and ready to frame
Later in the day, we met another young man behind a deli counter. While he sliced our Swiss cheese and Virginia ham and offered us generous samples, he told us how much he loved working there and serving his customers. He didn’t have to tell us that it was obvious. Not only was he asking questions and making sure that we got exactly what we wanted, but he gave us a dose of happy wrapped in a smile.

Both of these men change lives every day. How rare it is to find people that are not only uninhibited, but full of joy.

When my oldest son was three years of age, he had a way of holding his hands together when he was super happy and didn’t know how to express it. His dad and I called it “fullness of joy.” Although his hands were awkwardly twisted, they seemed to say what his words could not.


After I painted my tiger painting “Namesake,” I was reminded of a poem I’d heard long ago about a tiger burning bright. I did an online search and found William Blake. Because he was a man of great faith, I suspect he was a man who experienced deep happiness.

He openly acknowledged his muse: “I am under the direction of messengers from Heaven daily and nightly.”

Here is his famous poem “The Tiger”  
TIGER, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare seize the fire?


And what shoulder and what art

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand and what dread feet?


What the hammer? what the chain?

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?


When the stars threw down their spears,

And water'd heaven with their tears,

Did He smile His work to see?

Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?




The Bible had an early and profound influence on Blake. It would remain a lifetime source of inspiration, coloring his life and works with intense spirituality.

One of the most traumatic events of William Blake's life occurred in 1787, when his beloved brother, Robert, died from tuberculosis at age 24. At the moment of Robert's death, Blake allegedly saw his spirit ascend through the ceiling, joyously; the moment, which entered into Blake's psyche, greatly influenced his later poetry. The following year, Robert appeared to Blake in a vision and presented him with a new method of printing his works, which Blake called "illuminated printing." Once incorporated, this method allowed Blake to control every aspect of the production of his art.

While Blake was an established engraver, soon he began receiving commissions to paint watercolors, and he painted scenes from the works of Milton, Dante, Shakespeare and the Bible.

What “Tiger” is burning brightly in your life? Where do the influences come for your art? Do you tap into the dark side or the light? What triggers your passion to create?

Tiger LIly