Tag Archives: monoprints

A View of the Farm

The Barnyard cropped

I worried off and on this year that I was spending too much time in the past with my long ago relatives. But now that I’m stepping away from it for a while I feel even closer to the farm on Whirlwind Hill and to all the ghosts that kept me company while I wrote, painted, and researched.

Distance, as painters know, can make a painting come together. When you step back to take a look at what you’ve done, all those individual brush strokes suddenly coalesce and the image takes on its own life. What you thought were many little pieces become a complete view.

But there are many different views of the farm on Whirlwind Hill. I’ve written about happy times, good memories, tragedies, and successes. I’ve deliberately left out family quarrels, hard feelings, crop failures, and the stormy times that are an integral part of a long family history. I prefer a more cheerful slant, and chose the moments that worked to carry history into the present and give it an encouraging future.

Because this is my last regular post I’ll close with some painted views of the farm. The farm lives on for me as a feeling – a feeling and a memory of a place that embraced me and still connects me and my brother and cousins to the ancestors who loved and sheltered and protected us.  I send out a huge thanks to all of you who followed my musings and encouraged me this year. I’ve enjoyed every minute of this project and every chance I’ve had to learn more about my readers.

Here is the painting of the farm by Mary E. Hart that hung in the farmhouse parlor. It was probably done around 1860-1870.

Oil painting of the Hall farm done by Mary E. Hart around 1860 as it hung in the farmhouse parlor in 1932.

Oil painting of the Hall farm done by Mary E. Hart around 1860 as it hung in the farmhouse parlor in 1932.

A hundred years later, my mother, Janet Hall Crump, made a copy of Mary’s painting and passed the copy on to me.

"The Hall Farm," Janet Hall Crump, oil on canvas board, around 1960, after a painting by Mary E. Hart

“The Hall Farm,” Janet Hall Crump, oil on canvas board, around 1960, after a painting by Mary E. Hart

She – my mother – was my touchstone for farm memories and the source of endless stories about the family. She gave me not only her love for her childhood home, but also her sense of humor and her appreciation of painting and art. Thanks Mom!

Carol and Janet Crump on Whirlwind Hill, 1947

Carol and Janet Crump on Whirlwind Hill, 1947

In 1998, for my brother Kirt’s birthday, I made him a copy of my mother’s copy of Mary E. Hart’s painting. It always pleases me that the Hall barns were once painted yellow and the house and picket fence a classic white.

"The Hall Farm," Carol Crump Bryner, oil on canvas, 1998, after a painting by Janet Hall Crump

“The Hall Farm,” Carol Crump Bryner, oil on canvas, 1998, after a painting by Janet Hall Crump

In 1985 I painted my own view of the farm, as I knew it during my childhood when the house had brown shingles and the barn had two silos. Because this is a monoprint, the image is backwards, but no less real to me.

"A View of the Farm," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint, 1985

“A View of the Farm,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint, 1985

In the end it doesn’t matter which is the “true” memory or the “real” view, because when I’m on Whirlwind Hill, I’m always home.


March Window

The month that “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” brings with it the first signs of spring. Color creeps back into the landscape, the birdsong can be heard again, and the winds blow away the dark clouds of a long winter.

This is the twelfth and last of my monthly “Windows.” Being able to share these monoprints and the words of my great-grandmother Lydia Jane Hall with all of you readers has been one of my favorite parts of creating this blog. Her words continue to inspire my painting, my writing, and my day-to-day life, and, like her, I welcome the spring that’s coming and the “good old summertime” that isn’t far behind.

"March Window," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

“March Window,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

Saturday, March 2, 1912 – “March coming in like a lion. Hope it will soon be lamb like.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Tuesday, March 31, 1913 – “A beautiful early morning. The high winds of old March are howling now and hope they will cease soon as this is the last day.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Thursday, March 10, 1921 – “A nice day after the shower. The grass is beginning to look green where the snow lays. The children are well and happy out in the open. Their colds do not trouble much, only the use of handkerchiefs.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Tuesday, March 4, 1924 – “A beautiful day. A bright sunshine all day. The snow has certainly gone today, or we can see it is letting go. There is enough left yet. The water has been running off the hills all day. The boulevard covered – the streams are full. Soon the traveling will be good. The green grass will take the place of snow. The birds will come back to build their nests among the green leaves and sing their songs, and they will be welcomed by us all.” – Lydia Jane Hall

See also: April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, January, February Windows.

On Wednesday:  Letters

February Window

The New England landscape in February is short on color. It still has an “Ethan Frome-ish” feeling about it. But it’s a short month, and there are days that brighten its passage. Red appears on February 14th when valentines, roses, and chocolates celebrate the day. My mother always made a cherry pie to celebrate George Washington’s February 22 birthday. We ate our slices after the evening meal garnished with big blobs of homemade whipped cream. I’m sorry the Presidential birthdays were merged into one work-friendly holiday. It seemed right and fun to celebrate George and Abe on their own special days, and then to start looking forward to spring.

"February Window," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

“February Window,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

Sunday, February 11, 1912 – “Four degrees below zero in morning. Zero at nine o’clock. Severe winter weather. All at home from church.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Sunday, February 22, 1914 – Morning clear. Cold, near zero in afternoon, cloudy. South winds and very chilly. Looks like storming. The traveling very badly drifted. Snow blowing in, filling up the paths.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Friday, February 22, 1924 – “A very nice morning for Washington’s Birthday. The ground covered with snow. Quite a snow and crusty good sleighing and sliding. Hard for autos. Moonlight evening. Good time for sleigh rides. Several horse sleds have been out but no ox teams. How the times have changed since the days of Washington. Very progressive. Ellsworth and Agnes have been spending the evening listening to the President’s speech through Radio.” – Lydia Jane Hall

See also:  April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, and January Windows.

On Monday:  Tractors

January Window

Garrison Keillor said in one of his “News From Lake Wobegon” segments – “January is hard on people.”

Even though the daylight hours begin to increase, the promise of spring seems far off. The mornings are cold, and the nights are colder. The ice and snow that makes winter such a joy for children can be trying for the elderly. My great-grandmother, Lydia Jane Hall, saw winter life on the farm from her seat by the window. She lamented the frigid temperatures that made her suffer, but also praised the beauty of a deep January winter.

"January WIndow," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

“January WIndow,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

Monday, January 29, 1912 – “Cold. Snowed all day. Washed. Put out clothes, but didn’t dry. Brought them in frozen stiff, and dried them in the house. Ellsworth cutting cornstalks.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Tuesday, January 25, 1921 – “Very cold this morn. The night was so cold and the wind blew fearfully – couldn’t sleep. My room so cold. Agnes took the horse and carriage. Took Lydia to the dancing school. Said she wasn’t cold coming home.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Tuesday, January 22, 1924 – “Very cold morning. Below zero. Children going to school. Men getting wood and working in the barnyard. Work going on indoors as usual. Very cold – making beds upstairs – hands ache with the cold. Cloudy in afternoon – wind rising which makes us think and hope there is no blizzard coming. Night here and we are tucked away in bed with the bright moonlight shining.” – Lydia Jane Hall

See also: April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December windows

On Monday:  Electricity

December Window

As I turn over the calendar on December first, I think of this nursery rhyme I read to my children when they were little:

“The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow,

And what will the robin do then, poor thing?

He’ll sit in the barn, and keep himself warm,

And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.”

Snow and cold and darkness were hard for my great-grandmother, especially when she became dependent on a wheelchair. In her journals she laments the absence of loved ones, but also takes joy in the presence of every-day comforts – a furnace, some sunshine, and her grandchildren.

"December Window," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

“December Window,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

Sunday, December 1, 1912 – “A nice day. My mother’s birthday – Ninety-two years old. Would like to see her today. She is a well preserved old lady, her great trouble being rheumatism which keeps her from getting around freely. I truly sympathize, being twenty years younger than she is in years, but sometimes think not so many in feelings. Snow still on the hills.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Friday, December 30, 1921 – “Nice day. Quite cold, below zero this morning – windows covered with frost. Couldn’t see out of them. The North window still has some left on it. I have been sitting in the Sitting room this morning in the sunshine to keep warm, the children with me. With the furnace fire and doors closed was very comfortable.” – Lydia Jane Hall

On Wednesday:  Afternoon Coffee

November Window

Every November, on Thanksgiving day, my great-grandmother, Lydia Jane Hall, gathered her family around the big dining room table to give thanks. It was hard for her when her children married and sometimes didn’t come back for this celebration. But her well-loved tradition lasted for over forty years after she died. The centerpiece of the meal was the turkey, which was often raised right there on the farm.

"November Window," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

“November Window,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

Thursday, November 26, 1914 – “Nice Day. All the family home excepting Alice and husband and baby. We had a very nice time. Two nice turkeys well baked by Agnes, rolls and doughnuts made by Ellen, fine Indian meal pudding, pumpkin and mince pies, cranberry sauce, oysters, pickles, cheese, and coffee.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Thursday, November 24, 1921 – “Stormy. Quite heavy ice storm – unpleasant for Thanksgiving day. We had a very nice turkey well roasted with cranberry sauce, all the vegetables, nice biscuit, pumpkin pie, a nice box of chocolate candies from Ed & Carrie. They took dinner with Alice. We missed our family gathering today which we have had so many years together. We certainly have been blessed for which we are thankful.” – Lydia Jane Hall

See also: April, May, June, July, August, September, and October Windows

On Monday:  Siberia

October Window

The voices of my ancestors keep me company while I write these posts. Some days this process of living in the past makes me sad, and I feel all too mortal. But the cyclical nature of dying and birth, summer and winter, war and peace, loss and recovery, helps me understand these people who paved my way, and gives me clues about how to live my own life.

The strongest voice I hear is my great-grandmother’s. Lydia Jane Hall left me a cherished legacy – her words. She always said just enough. This October entry is her last. She died in 1926. But the joy of these cycles is that next month I can go back to an earlier year when she still had many more words to share.

"October Window," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

“October Window,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

Saturday, October 11, 1924 – “Nice cool morning. The foliage is changing. The winds are blowing, the bright colors are coming. Nature is putting on her bight robes. Beautiful but sad, when the change comes, we are passing on. ‘Time waits for no one.’ ” – Lydia Jane Hall

See also:  April, May, June, July, August, September windows

On Monday:  The Parlor

The Room With Nine Doors

I was proud of my grandparents’ living room. It seemed huge, and it had nine doors. How could I not brag about a room with so many ways in and so many ways out?

For the first year of my life the living room was where my extended family rocked and cuddled and cared for me. As I grew older, my brother and cousins joined me there to play hide-and-seek, watch television, and listen to the aunts and uncles chat over Sunday afternoon tea.

Me in my playpen near the doors to back staircase and back bedroom

Me in my playpen near the doors to back staircase and back bedroom

My grandmother let my mother and her siblings and friends push aside the carpet for roller skating, parties, and dancing. This was only possible because in the 1920’s my grandparents tore down walls and turned what had been two or three rooms into this one large space.

First Floor - Hall Farmhouse (after 1927), Carol Crump Bryner

First Floor – Hall Farmhouse (after 1927), Carol Crump Bryner

My great-grandmother wrote in her journals about the parlor, the sitting room, the front room, the west room and the downstairs “chambers.” She never mentioned a living room. I don’t know what the old footprint of the rooms was, but there was originally a large central chimney with a fireplace on each side, one for the parlor and one for the sitting room. These fireplaces were removed during the expansion and a new chimney and fireplace built at the west end.

Fireplace and window, 1951

Fireplace and window, 1951

The two windows at the west end of the room that looked out onto Muddy River and the orchards were the inspiration for my “Window” series of monoprints, and the memory of the many doors in the living room fueled my ongoing fascination with views into and out of rooms. A door at my grandma and grandpa Crump’s house in downtown Wallingford is the subject of a 1990 painting.

"Door to Grandma Crump's Sleeping Porch," Carol Crump Bryner, oil on canvas, 1990

“Door to Grandma and Grandpa Crump’s Sleeping Porch,” Carol Crump Bryner, oil on canvas, 1990

Here’s a list of the nine doors in the farmhouse living room:

  • The door into the dining room.
  • The door behind the desk (an unused door into the bathroom.)
  • The door to the back staircase.
  • The door to the back bedroom
  • The door to the side yard.
  • The west door to the parlor
  • The east door to the parlor.
  • The front hallway door
  • The door to the closet under the stairs

Some doors, like the door to the bathroom, remained closed. Others, like the door into the dining room, stayed open. But with so many doors there was always the sense of life going on inside and out and the feeling of endless places to explore. In a room whose function was never strictly defined, there was always something to do. The possibilities felt endless.

"Interior," (the farmhouse living room), Carol Crump Bryner, linocut, 1976

“Interior,” (the farmhouse living room), Carol Crump Bryner, linocut, 1976

On Wednesday:  Baked Beans

September Window

September is a bittersweet month. Summer wanes, the sun casts longer shadows, and the foliage seems to look tired as it stores energy for its fall extravaganza. Lydia refers to this time of year as the start of the melancholy days – a time for going inside.

"September Window," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

“September Window,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

September 16, 1913 – “A nice cool day. Am sorry to have the melancholy days come, when all shut-ins have to be housed. ‘I love the good old summer time.’ Still getting potatoes. Ellsworth went down to Delevan Ives’ place to a corn roast. The Oyster Club.” – Lydia Jane Hall

September 28, 1914 – “A very nice cool fall day – Edgar’s [her oldest child’s] birthday, very much the same kind of a day – fifty years old – it doesn’t seem possible that so many years have flown by since then. So they go and children & grandchildren and great-grandchildren come to us – all we hope to be useful men and women.” – Lydia Jane Hall

September 26, 1921 – “Nice day. Men busy gathering apples. Agnes took Lydia to school – all had a ride. Mr. Biggs [my great-grandfather] fixing the flowers, tying up the dahlias, helping Ellsworth with the apples. All busy baking, getting meals, etc. Many hands make light work! All well and happy, seemingly.” – Lydia Jane Hall

See also – April, May, June, July, August Windows

On Monday – The Muddy River Schoolhouse

August Window

Before air conditioning and before electric fans, people who lived in old houses with heat-trapping upstairs rooms relied on cool breezes and leafy shade to get them through hot summer days. My grandfather wore long underwear winter and summer. He coped with the dog days of August by moving slowly, keeping a cotton bandana around his neck, and wearing his summer underwear beneath denim overalls that had faded to the exact color of his blue eyes.

"August Window," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

“August Window,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

Sunday, August 9, 1914 – “A very warm day – sitting in the yard all day to get the breeze.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Thursday, August 4, 1921 – “This day much nicer, clear sunshine, floating clouds, much warmer and could enjoy sitting outside. Have been out most of the afternoon visiting with old friends…Ellen and children came out – spent the afternoon. It is her birthday (42 years). Men been picking apples. Brought in one load of hay.” – Lydia Jane Hall

See also:  April Window, May Window, June Window, July Window

On Monday:  The Cottage