Sunshine In More Ways Than One

B. Nabors God Drawing Water

God Drawing Water painted by B. Ruth

B. Ruth’s comment on my recent post Sun Drawing Water:

Yes, I have heard that all my life…but that “God was drawing water!” One time I painted a lake scene with dark clouds…I showed it to my art teacher, he said “Did you purposefully draw the rays of the sun thru the clouds going down to the ground?”…”Course I did…they are drawing water!” He laughed and said, “I don’t know about that!” and a few other comments about my shafts of light..Kinda broke my heart, as I was sorta proud of the effort…You know what, just for spite, I didn’t change it and still have that painting today…”Please teachers, give students some kind of encouragement, even if you differ in their beliefs…After all, art is in the heart and mind of the artist as well as the viewer!!…

My first emotion after reading B.’s comment was a touch of anger at an art teacher who would squash a student’s artistic creativity by bringing into question her beliefs.

After I got over being a little put out by B.’s teacher, I noticed she most often heard the sun rays referred to as “God drawing water” instead of Granny’s phrase “sun drawing water.”

My thoughts on the sun drawing water made me think of other sun related sayings in Appalachia.

Sunshine folklore from appalachia

  • If the sun shines while its raining (like in the photo above) it’s said the Devil is beating his wife.
  • If the sun rises brightly on Old Christmas-the coming summer will be good for fruit trees and bushes.
  • If the sun shines while it’s raining-it’ll rain at the same time the next day.
  • It will rain the following day if the sun sets with clouds.
  • Red sky in morning sailors take warning Red sky at night sailors delight (I know this one is common all over the world)
  • If you lay a black snake over a fence or tree with its belly facing the sun-it will soon rain.

We even use the sun in a few of our colorful sayings:

  • Why he thinks the sun rises and sets in his hind end!
  • Happy as a dead pig in sunshine.
  • The sun don’t shine on the same man all the time or The sun don’t shine on the same dog all the time.

In Appalachia we often say sundown and sunup instead of sunset and sunrise.

I’m positive I left out much on the subject of sunshine-please add any folklore or sayings by leaving a comment!



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  • Reply
    October 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    B. Ruth, I like the painting. It’s lovely. And I’m fond of chartreuse! Heehee… I paint too and there is a big difference between constructive criticism and destructive, I’ve had both and because of the destructive kind when I was in junior high…I quit painting for years and now I’m trying to make up for lost time. One of the best comments I’ve heard from an art instructor online was that as an artist, seems like we can always find things that maybe we think we could have/should have done, but the best thing we can learn is when to quit “fixing” our paintings….I think you did a great job of making that decision!
    Speaking of sun saying, my Gram used to say “a sunshiny shower won’t last half an hour”
    She also used to say if the birds came to the feeders in the rain in the morning it meant it would rain all day. If they were content to wait it out, meant the rain would soon be over. She was usually right, at least where I grew up in Wyoming.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    October 2, 2012 at 12:07 am

    and folks…thank you for the kind comments…The instructor was really a good teacher…I knew my brush work, color, (he always said I used too much chartreuse in my paintings)weren’t Rembrant quality. I knew that, since an old Dutch boy took that job long. long ago! Also my Momma didn’t name me”Rembrandi”! It was my idea (remembering my Granny) and symbolism “put down” that bothered me more than anything…I got over it!
    When we began discussing the sun drawing water and then remembering the way I heard it from my Grandparents that God was drawing water…I recalled the painting stored away…
    Thanks again, Tipper

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    October 1, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Tipper, We have heard the same about the Sun drawing water. The picture is beautiful. Wish I could do that.
    Peggy L.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    October 1, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Beautiful painting, BRuth! Thank you so much for sharing it-maybe your old teacher should have been lookin’ on the sunny side.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    On the subject of those that would destroy a childs confidence in art, let me paraphrase, “Forgive them for they know not what they do”! A good art teacher automatically knows that it is all in the heart and little hands. Wonder what Vincent Van Gogh’s art teacher would have said to him if he had had one when he was little? Sometimes it is best to just get out of the way and let the kids do their own thing. OK, OK, I’ll leave now.

  • Reply
    Sallie aka granny Covolo
    October 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Loved the painting…but I had never heard the saying “God Drawing Water” But had heard “The Sun Drawing Water” The teacher was wrong to try and force her beliefs on B.Ruth~ I heard the one about the devil beating his wife all my life.. My mom knew old the “old sayings”..I wish she was here to read your column.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    October 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Tipper–Old Christmas is indeed Jan. 6 and was commonly celebrated in the mountains in the 19th century. I’ve got scads more on it (somewhere) if you want it, because I’ve written on the subject more than once.
    As for rain, there are proverbs without number.
    *If rain starts before 7, it will quite before 11.
    *Equating the way a fire is burning with prediction of rains to come.
    *Raindrops hanging on a clothes line are waiting for more rain to come.
    *All sorts of things about fools and failure to in out of the rain.
    *Equating numbers of fogs in a month with rains (or snows) to come later. The month varies according to sources.
    There are even books on weather wisdom. I have three or four in my library.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    October 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Rush-Old Christmas is according to the old calendar-and I think it was on Jan. 6th : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    October 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Ethel-yes that is old Christmas-I think its January 6th.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    October 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    B. Ruth’s painting is absolutely beautiful and very inspirational.
    That so-called teacher must have had a bowl of broken glass with a splash of mean for breakfast the day he/she made those comments! It is sad that some of those we trust to instruct our precious children feel free to trample their self-esteem.
    I have heard all the sun sayings except the one about Old Christmas. Does that refer to the date of Christmas by the Old Calendar?

  • Reply
    October 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    B. Ruth’s painting is wonderful!
    Even back when I was in High
    School some of our teachers were
    beginning the attitude of an
    Atheist. That just wasn’t right!
    We’re not seeing any sunshine
    here today…Ken

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    October 1, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I am truly blessed – I am learning so much from your site. I had never heard the sun drawing water, much less some of the other references. I did hear some of the additional sayings. I love the pictures of the sun’s rays; they give me such a peaceful and yes, God’s presence. Thanks once again for a beautiful start to my day.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Yes, teachers of all subjects can be crippling to young and tender hearts. Critique was one of my least favorite aspects of art school. How to deal with the barrage of criticisms from teachers and students alike year after year and the constant comparison with current cultural norms and expectations. Quite oxy-moronic to strive to be individually expressive and insightful and yet deliver the expected. 😀 I adore B. Ruth’s painting and know some modern art galleries that would love it too! I was wondering if the reference was from Washington Irving’s book, “Old Christmas”. I have never heard the phrase before. An interesting piece of social literature – maybe a quote in it?

  • Reply
    October 1, 2012 at 10:51 am

    When shafts of light would break through the clouds lilke in your pictures I was always told that meant someone was going to Heaven.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    October 1, 2012 at 10:26 am

    The meanest teacher I ever had was an Elementary Ed. Art teacher at the Univ. of Ga. in the seventies. She was in the middle of a divorce. Maybe your teacher was having a bad day. Your painting is beautiful sun or no sun.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    October 1, 2012 at 9:49 am

    This is what Jesus said about a red sky in the morning:(Matthew XVI: 2-3,)“When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering.”

  • Reply
    October 1, 2012 at 9:32 am

    I believe beauty lies in the eyes and heart of the beholder: I like both the painting and its title. How about some ‘sunny-side up’ eggs for breakfast? Be sure to keep on the sunny side today, and never let the sun set on your anger.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    October 1, 2012 at 9:10 am

    my grandmother always said if it rained while the sun was shining that meant it would rain at the same time tomorrow. And a dear sweet woman named Livvy told me when it thundered the devil was behind the door beating his wife with a frying pan!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 1, 2012 at 9:02 am

    What is it they say, those who can do, those who cannot teach?
    Can you look at the painting without looking to the left and above it? B.Ruth made you do that! That is what art is supposed to do. That art teacher was a fool. What was that fool’s name? Nameless Fool!

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    October 1, 2012 at 8:56 am

    After seeing this oil painting online, I see things that I could have done different…but then it would not have meant the same to me…I hate it when that “old devil self-doubt jumps up”!
    I’d just love to send him “somewhere were the sun don’t shine!” Whoops, I guess he’s already there, but escapes on occasion to torment us!
    Thanks Tipper, and you know I had never realized that I say..”What a beautiful sunset or the sunrise service seems later this year! I never say I’ll be home at sunset, but at sundown. Also we’ll have to be there at sunup (not sunrise) or we’ll miss the best fishing.!”

  • Reply
    October 1, 2012 at 8:46 am

    sundown and sunup are familar to me and the red sky quote but not the others.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2012 at 8:27 am

    I have heard all those sayings at one time or other. I used to hear one usually reaserved for criminals. It says that if that guy doesn’t shape up, they will put him where the sun don’t shine.
    I could tell by some of her comments that B Ruth was an artist. After seeing that painting, looks like I was right! NICE!

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    October 1, 2012 at 8:23 am

    The photograph does look heavenly- like angels are fixin’ to visit you.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 1, 2012 at 8:03 am

    The first thing that comes to mind is “take it and stick it where the sun don’t shine.” But it’s early and I’m not working today so I’m sure I’ll think of many more.
    B.Ruth’s painting might be a rather mundane student work had it not been for the “God drawing water” rays. That’s what gives it life. It draws the viewer outside the frame and forces him to use his own imagination. I looked at the title and the painting and thought “if I could see just a little further, I might catch a glimpse of the face of God.
    The title could just as well have been “B.Ruth Drawing God”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 1, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Tipper, I like all things sun…You are my sunshine. You and I were both born under the sign of the sun.
    Yep, the devil beats his wife when the sun shines through the rain. I know it’s true, I’ve heard it all my life.
    I’ve also had some idiot teachers like B Ruth’s. I don’t know what you say about them, they should not call themselves teachers. I will refrain from saying exactly what I think they should be called.
    It’s dark and rainy here this morning….nice day to think of the sun shining through.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Jones
    October 1, 2012 at 7:41 am

    B. Ruth’s painting on “Sun Drawing Water” is beautiful. Even though her art teacher took exception, I see beauty and meaning in it and I’m glad she kept it! It is important for a teacher to find something to commend in a student’s efforts–else that student will lose interest and motivation. I thought as I read today’s post of how rich our language is because we seek to lace it with metaphors and similes. Sometimes it is good for us to “think up” some new ones to put alongside the tried and true ones we’ve heard all our lives. “Be sure the sun will break through the clouds. It won’t be cloudy forever.”

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    October 1, 2012 at 7:22 am

    I’ve heard all those except the one about “Old Christmas”. And I like the painting…and the idea that it’s God drawing the water, though I always heard it as you did…the sun drawing water.

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