April Window

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.

April Window. monoprint, Carol Crump Bryner, 1986Wednesday, April 9, 1913

“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

21 thoughts on “April Window

  1. Netzy

    Oh Catol, beautiful, beautiful!!! You have captured scenery that your sweet Lydia Jane would have seen. These are so unique and portray what your Great grandmother would have seen in her mind’s eye. She was very brave to share her private thoughts within her journal- knowing that others would be reading her words in the future. It’s sad that she became lonely, however, she now has her picture with her.

    1. Carol Post author

      Hi Netzy. i think it WAS brave to write these journals. She only ever hinted at feelings, but once in awhile they peek through.

  2. Nancy

    Oh, Carol. These are wonderful!! It is so exciting!! I know all the work you have done and so appreciate how you have maintained and treasured our family history. Thank you for sharing with all of us. And I love your artwork.
    Love, Nancy

    1. Carol Post author

      Thanks Nancy. The fun part of doing this is remembering all those adventures we had on the farm. So glad you’re enjoying it.

  3. Katy Gilmore

    Oh yes I remember these monoprints! I was in awe of this project – oh those many years ago – and it’s lovely to see the image again (and know there will be monthly more) in this modern setting. The line drawings seem the most perfect way to illustrate this story, the farm above, the little homestead building – but your monoprints bring color in just the right faded intensity as we begin to picture this life on Whirlwind Hill and meet Lydia. Such an April scene. Thank you!

  4. vagabonde

    This is a short quotation but it contains so much feeling. Your prints are perfect for the quote – plain and a bit vague like someone looking at the view without really seeing it, but just thinking.

  5. Margaret Norton Campion

    I, too, was struck by the impact her brief entry had. (A good reminder for someone trying to write.) Got a small lump in my throat. I know that back then, going into town felt like quite a trip. What a different time.

  6. Mary Jenne

    I’m catching up, Carol. Your writing resonates in many ways for me. The thread of subjective memory is one I think about often when I’m writing bits of memoir. And interesting how three words, “miss my girls,” can convey so much. Lucky family to have you writing and illustrating this blog.

    1. Carol Post author

      Hi Mary – So nice to hear from you. You’re right. Lydia has much to teach me about using words efficiently. She was a master at it, and sometimes when I read a few lines of hers after I’ve written something especially cumbersome, I am in awe of the powerful presence of her words..
      Thanks, Mary!

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