The farmhouse where my great-grandmother Lydia Jane Hall lived for sixty-two years was a house of many rooms – each room having its own set of long windows, each window its own special view of the surrounding countryside. Lydia kept a daily journal and made patient and sensible observations about the farm and the world around her. Because I’ve read and loved her journals, I feel close to her. I like to picture her sitting at one of the long windows looking out at the seasons of the farm.
During a 1985 workshop at the Visual Arts Center of Alaska, I made a series of monoprints to illustrate some of the journal quotes using views from these windows. I’ve taken a certain amount of artistic license with the “views.” Although these were real places on the farm, they’re not necessarily something one would have seen from a window. They’re places a housebound woman might have been remembering when looking back at her life on the farm.
To make my monoprints, I painted on a piece of battleship linoleum, placed a sheet of printing paper over the painting, and rubbed the back of the paper with the bowl of a wooden spoon so that the paper would pick up the paint from the linoleum surface. There’s usually only enough paint to make one print – thus the label monoprint. The images often appear ghostly – the effect I wanted for these windows from the past.
Because each print illustrated a quote from a single calendar month, I’ll post one a month for the duration of my blog.
In this April entry she writes about being lonesome. Her daughters Hattie and Ellen had married and moved to town. They visited and helped out as much as possible, but they had their own homes and families, and Lydia missed their cheerful presence.
“A cold morning – getting warmer toward evening. Men harrowing for oats, trimming trees, etc. – alone and lonely. Miss my girls.”
On Monday: At the Top of the Tree