Tag Archives: art

Autumn Leaves

There’s something about an autumn leaf that makes picking it up and taking it home hard to resist.

My mother should have been a naturalist. Her knowledge of birds, trees, flowers, and animals was wide, and she collected specimens like a museum curator. And she never met a fall leaf she didn’t like.

"Autumn," Janet Hall Crump, watercolor, October 1982

“Autumn,” Janet Hall Crump, watercolor, October 1982

When we went for walks together in the Octobers of the past we brought home leaves and pressed them between sheets of waxed paper. To this day I still find her handiwork gracing the pages of many of the big books in the house. In summer she did the same with flowers. Her letters to me in Alaska included dried field flowers she picked – buttercups, Queen Anne’s Lace, cornflowers. She sent me feathers, flowers, and reports about the flora and fauna activity on Whirlwind Hill.

Fall leaf in bird book

Fall leaf in bird book

My grandson Henry inherited her love of collecting. He picks up treasures everywhere and proudly displays them on the shelves of his room. So on a fall Saturday I suggested we go out and collect some autumn leaves. We carried a brown paper bag with handles and put in the leaves one by one as each was discovered on sidewalk or grass. Every time we thought that maybe we had gathered enough Henry said, “I want to stop, but I just can’t help myself!” With a promise of cookies and milk for him and a cup of tea for me, we took our bounty home and spread it out on a cloth.

Autumn treasures

Autumn treasures

The colors were vibrant. I thought we should paint some portraits of the best leaves, but Henry wanted to do leaf rubbings. I had never done a leaf rubbing, so he showed me how. What a treat it is to have a grandchild teach an old timer a new trick. We tried to fill the page with interesting shapes. We weren’t always successful, but in the end were happy with our project. And, of course, we followed my mother’s example and pressed a few leaves between the pages of books, maybe to be found in the future by Henry’s own children.

Carol and Henry's leaf rubbings, October 18, 2014

Carol and Henry’s leaf rubbings, October 18, 2014

On Monday:  Ghosts

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