Behind The Paintings: St. Lucia

     Hi there, friends! Hope your week is going well. I am enjoying an afternoon of getting things done and preparing for our open house at The Prairie House on December 12 and 13!
   I thought I’d take a little time to sit and relax my Mama brain and we could chat about art. Are ya game?

   One of my most popular— if not THE most popular pieces in my shop is my red background St. Lucia.  I created her in 2011 and prints and postcards with her on the front always sell well, she’s actually when I know the holidays are here. All the St. Lucias are heading to the post office! So I thought since she’s so well liked, you might like to hear a little about her….
     This painting started pretty modestly and I had no idea that she would become as well loved as she in. In fact, the original painting isn’t that large. It’s 6×9″. Which is pretty impressive since I have prints of it as an 11×14″ and it enlarges fine. She’s obviously “the little painting that could!”

   I painted her almost as a sort of ‘afterthought’, one more Christmas painting to do before the season was done. The inspiration for her was, of course, the rendition of the Swedish tradition of the girl dressed as “Sankta Lucia” with the crown of candles and a tray of Lucia buns. I knew all about this tradition because of, well, my Kirsten doll!

   Were you a lover of the American Girl dolls like I was? Back when it was still Pleasant Company? I had a friend with Samantha and once I saw Kirsten in her pioneer garb, ooohhh, my heart was captured. I got her for Christmas in the second grade and loved that doll so much she lost a leg and had to be sent to ‘the doll hospital.’ She came back in a doll hospital gown, which I thought was just the neatest thing.

   So, from that childhood beginning I always had a love for Swedish folklore, traditions and the like. I knew about “St.Lucia” the Swedish girl long before I knew about “St.Lucy” in a religious context. And when I did start learning more about the saints, St.Lucia/St.Lucy was like an old friend waiting for me.

   And so….one Christmas, I decided to do a little painting of her. And I liked it so much it became one of the few paintings I kept for myself (she’s watching me now from the good china cupboard!) and as I shared her at craft shows and here online, I found that others loved her too!

   It’s been so wonderful to meet so many others— literally all over the world— because of St.Lucia. When people see her and read the “god jul” (Merry Christmas in Swedish) they just know what the context is— Scandinavian Christmas, tradition, family, hope. St. Lucia is ‘the bringer of light’ and in the Scandinavian tradition (other countries do this too) the daughter in the home wears the lighted wreath and brings the family coffee and the special “Lucia cakes” in the dark before morning. 

  December 13 is the Feast of St.Lucia and according to old Scandinavian custom, is the darkest night of the year. So St. Lucia, to them, signifies the return of the sun, the return of the light, and dovetails of course with religious themes.

  And so….each year I look forward to sharing this Lucia and St. Lucia paintings that came after (such as St.Lucia Morning and Forest Lucia) with fellow lovers of this little saint. 

  I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about her. 😀
God Jul!~!

One thought on “Behind The Paintings: St. Lucia

  1. Your story about the history of St.Lucia is fascinating. I think it might have been my first print that I purchased from you too. I just love her! Currently, she is in our kitchen beside my little vintage stove where the Tomtes just took over the little New England \”town\” which are also beloved AS paintings for me. I just noticed that the St.Nicholas ornaments showed up by the little church. All I got to say is that those Tomtes better behave because St. Lucia is watching and St. Nicholas won't be leaving any thing good in their shoes if they don't watch out! ~wink~


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