On Sunday we took the boys to Silver Dollar City (local fold craft village/amusement park). My aunt is one of the craftspeople out there and she saves her passes to give to us every year. The weather was nice and the crowds were small so we didn't have to stand in long lines and I had a chance to visit with an old friend who plays blue grass music with a group called the Homestead Pickers (I've talked about them here before).
While the boys ran off to ride roller coasters etc, Gary and I puttered around in the shops, watching the glass blowers and the black smiths and the other artists. We stopped off at a wood carver's shop. I was hoping to catch my aunt, but apparently missed her.
I looked at the tiny two and three hundred dollar hand carved nativity scenes in awe. Then gingerly put down the small statue of otters floating among leaves when I saw the $800 price tag on the bottom. Gary and I ooohed and aahhed at the intricately detailed fireplace mantles and heavy oak doors with images of horses and mountain ranges and faces carved into them (I could not imagine hanging a work of art in a doorway with children slamming in and out of it, dogs jumping on it, and husbands carrying tools back and forth). But with price tags of a thousand or more, they both were safely out of our reach.
Just as I was about to announce that I was done looking I spotted a painting from a cross the room.
I stared. Gary followed my line of sight and, in turn, he stared. "Wow," we whispered.
It was a simple enough picture--a scene with a wooden wardrobe, a rumpled bed, and the sun streaming in through a window, and yet it stopped us both in our tracks. It was like it gave off its own light. We went over to study it more closely and then discovered that a scripture was imprinted lightly in the floorboards (you have to be standing really close to see it). It was as though the artist wanted to be sure that the scripture and the painting didn't cheapen the effect of one another.
The words were: I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
My husband asked the man behind the cash register how much it was (over my objections--after the otters, I didn't even want to know). He came back reporting that it was less than I thought and asked me if I'd like to have it.
"Of course," I said. "But we shouldn't."
He agreed. "You're right That wouldn't be very sensible at all."
The man at the cash register piped up with a grin, "I can send it to the front of the park at the end of the day."
"You're not helping," I told him.
"It really is a nice picture," said my husband. "Are you sure you don't want it?"
I am human. I like nice things like everyone else. But I've got a kid who needs dental work right after Christmas, which we'll be able to afford if I stay sensible. "No. I don't want it that much." It sounded hollow and I knew it.
"Will that be cash or credit today?" said the man.
I gave him the evil eye.
"You know that spot on the wall beside your china cabinet?" my husband said. "It would look great there."
"It really is a nice piece," said the man. "You'll treasure it for years."
We left the store without the painting. I gave myself kudos for being a good grown up.
I am no connisseour and have only a working knowledge of art. The kind of knowledge that comes with sitting through the required art class in college (the kind where you watch slide shows and write letters to friends, taking the multiple choice test, your two credit hours, and A as a given). Add to that a bit of understanding acquired from substitute teaching for the public school art teacher regularly for a couple of years, then what I've learned while making sure my homeschooled children are well rounded, and you have the extent of my art education.
The only real works in this house are paintings done by people we know. Two are oils painted by the same aunt who gave us the tickets to SDC (she is very gifted in this way). One of those is of a small barn sitting on a snowy hillside with footprints traveling up the slope away from it. This one was based on a photo my Dad took in Montana and those are Dad's footprints. The other is simply of a shed with light streaming through the trees behind it. It's the view from my grandparents' weekend cabin in Texas (long gone now).
The only other work is a detailed primitive of Noah's Ark. This painting used to hang on the wall in the nursery of a church we attended for ten years. It's large enough to hang over my television. The other day I mentioned moving it to another location and received multiple complaints. So I'll just get it a new frame to freshen it up and leave it where it is. Gary and I were very fond of the artist and the boys have become so simply because of the painting. I guess that's how art works.
While I was listening to blue grass music, my husband disappeared, claiming he needed something to drink. I should have known when he returned that nobody could possibly look that pleased with themselves over buying a cup of Wassail. But at the end of the day a package was waiting for us at the front of the park.
Gary was right. It looks great hanging in that spot by the china cabinet.
I do wish I knew who painted my new picture so I could contact them and tell them how much I like their work. Unfortunately the signature yields exactly two recognizable letters and the man who ran the cash register had no idea who the artist was. He commented that they get a lot of work through there and that there's no way he could keep them all straight.
So I suppose I'll just have to enjoy the piece for what it is. A comforting reminder that we should rise every day with God's praises in our hearts and go to sleep every night knowing he's watching over us.
That and the fact that after twenty years of marriage my husband seems to know when his wife has had enough of being a good grown up.