On a 1985 visit to Whirlwind Hill, I needed a calming focus while I spent two weeks with my two young children and my wonderful, but very talkative mother. I decided to draw all the chairs in my parents’ house. I made a good start of it, but I didn’t get very far. Still, it was a good exercise in looking, and I came to appreciate the intricacy and the beauty and the history of this furniture.
The farmhouse living room was a hodgepodge of chairs, sofas, lamps, and tables – some antique, and some not. Above all, the space was comfortable and light – a perfect multi-purpose room. My parents’ living room was also spacious and bright, and some of the furniture in it came from the farm. Chairs were moved around to meet the demands of guests, Christmas trees, pets, and playing children. Below is a photo of the farmhouse living room in the 1950’s.
Here are a few of the chairs I drew on that 1985 visit. My drawings were too big to scan, so I apologize for the quality of the photos.
The Fancy Chair
With their low pink seats and straight backs, this chair and its mate are rarely used for sitting. They flank the living room fireplace in a rather useless, but decorative manner.
A Wooden Chair
This little wooden chair is also uncomfortable, but it holds a special place in Whirlwind Hill lore because it is very, very old. At least I think it is.
The Low Rocking Chair
Now that I look at this drawing, I’m trying to place the chair but can’t remember seeing it lately. I’ll have to look next time I’m back on Whirlwind Hill.
The Upholstered Rocker
I like to picture my mother rocking me in this chair when I was a baby on the farm. Did this really happen? I have a vague memory of her telling me that it did.
The Chair with the Velvet Seat
For a long time this chair sat at the end of a long hallway leading to the bedrooms in my parents’ house. There was an oval mirror hanging above it and a long patterned runner on the floor. I did a linocut of this scene, and it’s now hanging in that same hallway.
The Queen Anne Chair
My mother was proud of this chair. It had a long history on the farm. My great-grandmother, Lydia Jane Hall, was photographed sitting elegantly on its seat. No one sits in it now, (it, too, is uncomfortable) but maybe someday one of my great-grandchildren will look at this photo of me and my great-aunt Hattie sitting on the chair and say, “That’s my great-grandmother Carol sitting in the Queen Anne Chair.”
Drawing is way to explore and learn and really, really look. Painting seems to me to be a medium that brings objects and scenes to life. In my next post I’ll share a few of the many (I count close to one hundred) paintings I’ve done of chairs.