The Longest Day
Today is Summer Solstice, when the sun seems to stop in the sky, stop moving north and head south for the winter. Whether the sun was Apollo, Ahura Mazda, or Ra, it always takes him a long time to turn around. So today is the longest day, the period of the most daylight in the temperate zone.
Right after the solstice, on June 24th, in the western Christian calendar (created by Pope Gregory hence called the “Gregorian calendar”) comes St John’s Day, named for John the Evangelist, the author of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse (re-valare or apo-calyptein: “remove the veil.”)
John the Evangelist
While living on the Isle of Patmos, St John had a wonderful dream that, as many have observed, sounds as if he had ingested some major hallucinogens the evening before. Despite his over-the-top literary images, this is one of the most beautiful pieces of literature in the Bible. The Book of Revelation has actually inspired two of my own books — THE EIGHT and THE MAGIC CIRCLE — with its visions of what will happen at this exact turning point in history: the end of the “aeon” or 2000-year cycle.
As research to complete my next, long-awaited, novel about painters, I was encouraged by all my artist friends to get back, myself, into painting (one of my former professions) which I had not done in decades. “Katherine, you cannot write about painting until you get the scent in your nose again,” they all told me. So, being the queen of compulsive self-indulgence, I plunged right in, first at fine-arts school, with hands-on workshops and classes in Materials and Methods of the Old Masters, egg tempera on panel, early oil, late oil, impressionism; then I went deeper into master classes in “Disegno and Colore,” Renaissance drawing, you name it.
Here is my “underpainting” for a copy of El Greco’s famous painting of St John on Patmos. In an underpainting, you lay in the colors that you will see shimmering through the top layer of the fabric or skin, which creates a richer effect than adding these tones as an afterthought. However, once I’d come this far, I liked these wild undertones so much, that in my version, St John might never get a topcoat at all! And notice the fascinating little dragon emerging from his chalice. More about that soon.
I’ll be sharing more of the progress of these research projects on my recently restructured web site; beginning in July, 2013, they will appear under “THE QUEST.”