Friday, January 29, 2010

Self-Portrait: The Wolf and the 7 Little Kids


So my first painting assignment, in my first real painting class -ever- turned out to be my first painted self-portrait. And as she was giving us the assignment, I asked, "Does it have to be a physical representation of us, or can it be what represents the -idea- of us?" And the rules were thus: It has to be a 12x12 canvas. You have to be on it physically -somehow- with no rules on how you do it. And you're free to fill the 'free' space however you choose.

From the moment she unwrapped a 12x12 framed canvas to show us what we needed to be looking for, my fingers itched with the want of a pencil. It started with a thought that went, "Oooo! I wanna turn that 45 degrees on it's corner!" ...and went from there (;

On that wide 12x12 canvas, the figure of me is perhaps 3 inches tall. And my face would easily fit on a quarter. Pretty much, it sums up a big belief of mine about myself: My physical appearance has very little to do with my -self-.

To be honest, I hardly ever look at my face in a mirror as a whole. I've always focused on the pieces-- my teeth, to make sure they're brushed properly. My hair, to make sure it's tidy. My eyes, looking for eye goo. My ears, to check my earrings and make sure they work with what I'm wearing. Otherwise, I simply don't look at my face. As for my body-- the -only- time I look at it is in dance class-- and even then, I'm not usually looking at the whole. I'm making sure my hands, arms, legs, feet (etc) are as close to where they're supposed to be as I can get them, for the moves we're doing.

So physically, I'm pretty small in my self portrait (lol).

BUT! Being a mother is a -large- part of how I define myself. So both of my boys are in my painting. And being in the SCA is a large part of who I am as well. So that provides a large background into how I see myself as well. In that SCAdian inspired background, for a medieval recreation group where, if it was done in the middle ages, someone, somewhere in the world, is doing it today-- I put in the unofficial heraldry of my family. My husband's badge at the top.



My oldest son's device to the left



and my youngest's to the right



....and by happenstance, lucky enough that they face each other. And mine on the bottom.



Another large part of how I define myself, and something I've only recently (say...in the last 3 months) come to realize about myself, is that I -am- a storyteller. I was raised in a family of storytellers. Some of my fondest memories, growing up, were listening to my mother, aunts, Grandma Betty and very rarely Grandpa Ervin, telling stories when we went to visit for the summers. And I tell my children stories all the time. Some of them are read from a book. Others are classics that I remember. And still others are made up on the spot.

So I knew that I wanted to be telling my children a story in my self portrait. And I realized that I wanted to tell them a story that had been told to me when I was a child.

The story I'm telling my boys in my self portrait is called, "The wolf and the 7 little kids". It's one of their favorites. This is a story I remember loving and being told when -I- was a kid, so I've passed it on to my boys. (: It's originally a Brothers Grimm tale, so I'll copy the original at the bottom as well.

The wolf and the 7 little kids
(as told by Janin Wise)

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in the deep, dark forest, there lived a momma goat who had seven kids. One day, she had to go to the market and buy groceries. She gathered her children round and told them, "When I leave, lock the door behind me and open it for no one other than me. There's a big, bad wolf out there, who will try to trick you and will gobble you up!" After she made them promise to do as she said, the momma goat headed out to market and her kids locked the door fast behind her.

Well that big, bad wolf happened to be watching, and he saw that momma goat leave. And he knew that house was full of nice, tender, juicy little kids. Just thinking about it made his mouth water!

So he walked over to the door, knocked on it (knock, knock, knocking on the dresser, wall, etc-- what ever is handy) and said (in a deep, gruff voice), "Children! It is I, your mother. Please let me in."

But the kids responded, "THAT's not our mother's voice! Our mother has a soft, gentle voice! You're the big, bad wolf!"

So the wolf ran off to the river and gathered up some chalk that he swallowed to soften his voice. Then he returned to the house and knocked (knock, knock, knocking) again, and said (in a soft, sweet voice), "Children! It is I, your mother. Please let me in."

But the kids remembered their mother's warning about the sneaky wolf, so they said, "Show us your paws!"

And the wolf held his large paws up to the window, and the kids saw them and said, "Your not our mother! Our mother has dainty white paws! You're the big, bad wolf!"

So the wolf ran off to the baker's and stole some flour that he rubbed his paws with. Then he returned to the house and knocked (knock, knock,knocking) again, and said (in a soft, sweet voice), "Children! It is I, your mother. Please let me in."

And the kids responded, "Show us your paws!"

And the wolf held his paw daintily up to the window, where the little goats saw that it was white, and believing it to be their mother, opened the door.

Well! No sooner had they done so that that big, bad wolf RUSHED into the house after them!

The kids screamed and fled, looking for places to hide!

One hid in the pantry. Another under the table, two tried to hide upstairs, the littlest in the grandfather clock, and three didn't even MAKE it to a hiding place before that wolf gobbled 'em right up!

One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! He gobbled them up!

Then he gave a BIG burp (Buuuurrrrpppp!!! And smacking my lips) "MMMM-mmmm! That was -delicious-!"

And as he patted his stomach and headed out the door, he decided to go take a nap under the tree and let his dinner settle a bit before he was on his way.

Well, not long after that, the momma goat came home and saw her door flung open wide, and knew that trouble had found her children. So she rushed into the house calling for them. "Children! My children! Where ARE you?!?"

Just then, a small voice answered from the grandfather clock, "I'm in here mother." The littlest kid had escaped the notice of the big, bad wolf. After she helped get him out, he told her what had happened and how the big, bad wolf had tricked them into opening the door.

She happened to look outside and saw that wolf napping-- and noticed that his stomach was moving. So she grabbed her scissors and her needle and thread and had her youngest kid follow her out there, all the while telling him to remain quiet.

She slipped up on that wolf, and gently, gently cut his stomach open.

And lo and behold! Her children were just fine! That wolf had been in such a hurry to gobble them up that he'd swallowed them WHOLE!

So she gently helped her kids out, then she had all seven of them head down to the river and bring back the biggest boulder each of them could carry. Then she placed those boulders, One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven! in that bad, old wolf's stomach and sewed him back up.

Then she, and her seven kids, slipped back up to their home and closed and locked the door.

Now it wasn't long after this that the wolf woke up. And BOY! His dinner wasn't sitting well at all! He felt over full and his throat was SO dry! So he decided to head down to the river and have himself a drink.

And just as he was leaning over to take that drink, those rocks tipped him forward into the river, and he drowned!

And THAT was the end of that big, old, bad wolf!


The Wolf and The Seven Little Kids
--by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm


There was once upon a time an old goat who had seven little kids, and loved them with all the love of a mother for her children. One day she wanted to go into the forest and fetch some food. So she called all seven to her and said, “Dear children, I have to go into the forest, be on your guard against the wolf; if he come in, he will devour you all—-skin, hair, and all. The wretch often disguises himself, but you will know him at once by his rough voice and his black feet.” The kids said, “Dear mother, we will take good care of ourselves; you may go away without any anxiety.” Then the old one bleated, and went on her way with an easy mind.

It was not long before some one knocked at the house-door and called, “Open the door, dear children; your mother is here, and has brought something back with her for each of you.” But the little kids knew that it was the wolf, by the rough voice; “We will not open the door,” cried they, “thou art not our mother. She has a soft, pleasant voice, but thy voice is rough; thou art the wolf!” Then the wolf went away to a shopkeeper and bought himself a great lump of chalk, ate this and made his voice soft with it. The he came back, knocked at the door of the house, and cried, “Open the door, dear children, your mother is here and has brought something back with her for each of you.” But the wolf had laid his black paws against the window, and the children saw them and cried, “We will not open the door, our mother has not black feet like thee; thou art the wolf.” Then the wolf ran to a baker and said, “I have hurt my feet, rub some dough over them for me.” And when the baker had rubbed his feet over, he ran to the miller and said, “Strew some white meal over my feet for me.” The miller thought to himself, “The wolf wants to deceive someone,” and refused; but the wolf said, “If thou wilt not do it, I will devour thee.” Then the miller was afraid, and made his paws white for him. Truly men are like that.

So now the wretch went for the third time to the house-door, knocked at it and said, “Open the door for me, children, your dear little mother has come home, and has brought every one of you something back from the forest with her.” The little kids cried, “First show us thy paws that we may know if thou art our dear little mother.” Then he put his paws in through the window, and when the kids saw that they were white, they believed that all he said was true, and opened the door. But who should come in but the wolf! They were terrified and wanted to hide themselves. One sprang under the table, the second into the bed, the third into the stove, the fourth into the kitchen, the fifth into the cupboard, the sixth under the washing-bowl, and the seventh into the clock-case. But the wolf found them all, and used no great ceremony; one after the other he swallowed them down his throat. The youngest, who was in the clock-case, was the only one he did not find. When the wolf had satisfied his appetite he took himself off, laid himself down under a tree in the green meadow outside, and began to sleep. Soon afterwards the old goat came home again from the forest. Ah! What a sight she saw there! The house-door stood wide open. The table, chairs, and benches were thrown down, the washing-bowl lay broken to pieces, and the quilts and pillows were pulled off the bed. She sought her children, but they were nowhere to be found. She called them one after another by name, but no one answered. At last, when she came to the youngest, a soft voice cried, “Dear mother, I am in the clock-case.” She took the kid out, and it told her that the wolf had come and had eaten all the others. Then you may imagine how she wept over her poor children.

At length in her grief she went out, and the youngest kid ran with her. When they came to the meadow, there lay the wolf by the tree and snored so loud that the branches shook. She looked at him on every side and saw that something was moving and struggling in his gorged belly. “Ah, heavens,” said she, “is it possible that my poor children whom he has swallowed down for his supper, can be still alive?” Then the kid had to run home and fetch scissors, and a needle and thread, and the goat cut open the monster's stomach, and hardly had she make one cut, than one little kid thrust its head out, and when she cut farther, all six sprang out one after another, and were all still alive, and had suffered no injury whatever, for in his greediness the monster had swallowed them down whole. What rejoicing there was! They embraced their dear mother, and jumped like a sailor at his wedding. The mother, however, said, “Now go and look for some big stones, and we will fill the wicked beast's stomach with them while he is still asleep.” Then the seven kids dragged the stones thither with all speed, and put as many of them into his stomach as they could get in; and the mother sewed him up again in the greatest haste, so that he was not aware of anything and never once stirred.

When the wolf at length had had his sleep out, he got on his legs, and as the stones in his stomach made him very thirsty, he wanted to go to a well to drink. But when he began to walk and move about, the stones in his stomach knocked against each other and rattled. Then cried he,

“What rumbles and tumbles
Against my poor bones?
I thought ‘t was six kids,
But it's naught but big stones.”

And when he got to the well and stooped over the water and was just about to drink, the heavy stones made him fall in, and there was no help, but he had to drown miserably. When the seven kids saw that, they came running to the spot and cried aloud, “The wolf is dead! The wolf is dead!” and danced for joy round about the well with their mother.


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