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An Art Lesson inspired by An Ukrainian Easter Egg

Here is a photo of my Ukrainian Egg collection that was hand dyed by a Ukrainian lady, Rose Tertichny, in the late 1970’s in Keokuk, Iowa. I keep them in a curio cabinet, year-round to enjoy.

Rose’s dining room table was a factory assembly line. In her thick accent, she shared the custom and demonstrated the process creating traditional designs called Pysanky which means “to write”. She showed us how the egg contents were blown out and cleaned. Then she carefully drew lines with melted bees wax which acted as a resist. The fragile eggs were carefully dipped in tea cups filled with rainbow-colored dyes, then more delicate line work added then dipped into yet another tea cup bath or two. For centuries, the Ukrainian people have celebrated a Pysanka Festival over the Easter Holiday. The eggs are given to friends and family. When presenting the egg, the phrase “Christ is Risen” is said. The egg is received saying the phrase, “Indeed He has”. I’ve kept her hand written note all these years with the spelling in her Ukrainian language along with the English translation. It reads:

"Christ is Risen" (Христос воскрес)

"Indeed, He Has" (Воистину воскрес)

Our hearts are heavy watching what is happening to the Ukrainian people. The world is outraged and is joining efforts to stop Russia’s horrific acts upon the citizens of Ukraine. Humanitarian assistance is coming from many directions in response to the urgent cries from their brave leader, President Volodymyr Zellenskyy. (Note: There are many organizations such as the Red Cross sending humanitarian aid where we as individuals can donate funds to assist.) These Ukrainian steadfast citizens are resisting being overthrown.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word Resistance as: The refusal to accept or comply with something, the attempt to prevent something by action or argument. The Latin origin means “to hold back”.

My thoughts turn to the past two years, where the topic of resisting has been heard more than I can ever remember including civil rights, politics, world-wide covid pandemics. It sometimes feels like everyone is resisting something, doesn’t it? There are times when this may a good thing, if applied correctly and carefully with discernment and not for self-serving reasons. Even in Biblical times King Solomon mentions this thought in his writing.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 KJV

I recently taught this Ukrainian Easter Egg in Watercolor honoring the Ukrainian people.

I chose their flag hues of yellow and blue and selected one of my Ukrainian Easter Eggs as a reference. I first drew the pattern and then carefully covered the design with liquid masking fluid to “hold back” the colors. When the maskit was removed, the white starburst of hope was revealed. The writing around the egg is that of Mrs. Tertichny’s sentiments fondly pondering her homeland. My students all created beautiful paintings in honor of Ukraine’s people.

Resist on Ukrainian People, Resist on. The world is lifting up prayers for God’s intervention.

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