Hobby Lobby set a new record this year. A week after July 4th, they were clearing shelves and setting up Christmas trees. A week after July 4th! So I don’t feel too silly telling you I finished putting a Christmas picture together for the fireplace mantle this weekend.
About three years ago I stumbled on a painting by Gerrit van Honthorst called “The Nativity,” and I fell in love with it. It’s the typical Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, and two shepherds nativity scene, but the two shepherds are two young boys who are absolutely enthralled with the baby.
Honthorst was a Dutch painter in the 1500’s whose paintings tend to be dark, interior scenes with a light source only from candles. The center of his paintings is usually lit, but the edges often fade into darkness. In “The Nativity” the source of light is, of course, the Baby Jesus.
It’s the expressions on the two young shepherds’ faces that drew me to the painting. Most nativity scenes show Jesus surrounded by somber worshippers, but Honthorst’s painting shows Jesus being looked on by two young boys who appear to be absolutely delighted with the baby. The expressions on their faces remind me of how young children look at Christmas.
It took me two years to crank open my wallet enough to buy a print of the picture, especially since it would only be on the mantle for two months out of the year. But then art.com had a 30% off sale and life is short, and you know how it goes.
I had a frame I found at the Goodwill store this summer that’s been lonely for a picture to fill it. Hobby Lobby had their mats 50% off, so it was easy to spend a few more dollars buying the mats so the picture would fit in the frame.
Here comes the fun part. I painted the frame white this summer, because I wanted a beach picture, but that never worked out. After I got the mats home for my Nativity picture, I slipped the picture under the mats and laid the frame on top. It was obvious the frame needed to be painted black. So I hauled it out to the garage and spray painted the frame yet again.
I was so eager to get my frame painted that I didn’t notice that it had picked up all sorts of fibers from the rug I had laid it on in the living room. As I sprayed on the black paint, tiny hairy fibers became very visible all over the frame. It was too late to do anything about it, so I let it dry (kicking myself for being in such a hurry) and then grabbed some sandpaper. As I sanded off the fibers, the frame took on a really neat distressed look. I took it back inside and laid it over the matted pictures. The distressed wood looked perfect framing the stable scene.
So what’s the takeaway? Get on art.com’s email list? All good things come to those who wait? Dust the fibers off before you spray paint? Haste doesn't always make waste? I don’t know; take your pick. And check out my Christmas picture while I go get some Halloween candy.