I am bringing you a new kind of post today… a bit more reflective than my usual posts. But before I dive into sentimentality let me begin with a bit of background about this art piece I am sharing today.
Last November I joined Bonnie Christine’s Flourish Design Tribe. As part of the group we have the option of participating in a monthly challenge each with a new theme. For my illustrations I have decided to focus on a house or other building as the main feature. And I am trying to keep them seasonal as well (with the thought of maybe making a calendar with them when I am done).
I actually drew my first house for December 2019. And for January, I used row houses to illustrate my word for the year: Knock. Here is a little look at those illustrations:
You can read more about each of them on their Instagram posts: December and January
For February our theme was: A Favorite Memory. I found it hard to narrow down to a specific favorite memory (and still fit my architecture criteria), so instead I decided to focus on SOME great memories. The theme of house/building was not too constraining this time since I can think of many fond memories from many, many buildings past and present. I settled on my Grandparent’s house from my childhood because it held many great memories AND was great style inspiration for the Valentine’s themed house I knew I wanted to create. I shared a brief description of the illustration on Instagram (and elsewhere). But I wanted to expand on that here. So first, here is my official description:
In keeping with my running theme of buildings/houses that are seasonal for each month, I chose to do a Valentine themed rendition of a home inspired by my paternal grandparent’s house which held a lot of fond memories for me. While there are several houses I could have chosen, I thought the base look of this one fit a “heart” cottage theme well. This is a great blend of my architecture and illustration selves with the high detailing of the house mixed with the playful whimsy of the Valentine elements.
This is a great succinct explanation but it fails to capture the nostalgia connected to this image for me. The memories themselves. I could share the usual stories of holidays and sleepovers etc. But I think what is uniquely fun about this house is the CRAFTING memories it holds. My grandparents, for lack of better description, were crafters! Multi-talented. And going to their house often meant that we would get to create something! Either with one of my grandparents or on our own just using their VAST “stash” of supplies…. usually scraps left over from one of their projects.
My grandfather was a carpenter. Half the basement was dedicated to his wood working shop and his amazing tools! I learned to use a band saw in that basement. I crafted (with assistance) a working marionette for a school project. There were always little wood scraps galore that could be re-purposed. And my grandfather’s ingenuity was as skilled as his hands!
My grandmother (granny) was the one I spent more time crafting with however. She was crafty on so many levels! Painting… Gardening (and flower arranging)… etc etc Most especially, she was a master seamstress! And so much of my early sewing memories involve her. She had not one but TWO sewing spaces in the house! An upstairs sewing room and extra room in the basement (which could be closed off from the sawdust of grandpa’s wood working). That room has PILES and PILES of fabric! Not so lovely as the Instagram worthy “stashes” of today… but then again, Instagram was not around back then.
She could sew it all: Clothing, costumes, home decor of all kinds, toys, you name it! I had quite a few doll clothes I requested that she make. She could also knit, crochet, hand embroider… I think you get the picture. I mostly watched. As she sewed up the creations I requested and “designed”. But she taught me to sew too. And crochet. And then after college I taught myself to knit, finally, which was news I was happy to share with her.
Both my grandparents have passed now. But I have crafting mementos from both of them! From grandpa a wooden pencil holder (the kind that has individual holes for each pencil/pen etc.) that he made me as a gift when I was a kid. From granny, a whole bunch of knitting needles, some handmade items (including a SUPER awesome poodle skirt she made me, complete with a POODLE ON IT), random notions, some fabric… probably more.
As I have become an avid seamstress myself. These sewing memories hold extra value to me now. One of the items I made with fabric I got from granny are sewing pattern weights. I love that a memento from her sits on my sewing table and are used all the time! I also made my sister a set of the weights and a little bag to keep them in. Here are hers:
So back to the house illustration. I said at the beginning that one of the reasons I chose this house is that the style fit my vision for the Valentine’s themed house. But given how crafty my grandparents were, I think a re-imagined whimsical design of their house is very fitting! A crafted version of a craft filled house!
As I have mentioned many times in this space, my degrees are actually in Architecture and this illustration is a perfect amalgam of my architecture and illustrator sides! I spent a great deal of time detailing out the architectural features. And had so much fun infusing the house and landscaping with Valentine flair! The end result is an illustration that I love that just so happens to invoke memories when I look at it! Double fun!
I was going to end with a photo of my grandparents but I can’t immediately find a digital one where my grandma has a nice smile. And I can hear her voice in my head… she wouldn’t want the photo I did find attached to this post. 🙂 Ah memories….
Thanks, as always, for reading!