Sunday, August 31, 2014

Flower Power or Sketchbook as Memory

Remember Flower Power in the late 1960s? My mom had a different take on that. She loved fine china with all its complex and flowery designs, and checked out junk and antique stores regularly in search of teacups in Spode or Lalique or Royal Albert...the list of companies in her mind was lengthy. I suspect her collection grew once all the kids went out into the world, because to amass such an extensive collection on my dad's meager teacher's salary was quite a feat. And she would use them lovingly, when friends would come around, on formal occasions, or just for her afternoon cup of tea. There were flowery, decorative stacks of them in the dining room to brighten the grey, drizzly Oregon winters.

Truth to tell, I raised my eyebrows and never quite understood. Give me a big, sturdy mug so I don't have to worry about breaking anything.

Recently, however, with the online classes at Sketchbook Skool, my thoughts have turned towards the sketchbook or art journal as a work of Memory, as a commentary on one's life to be bequeathed to loved ones eventually, to the younger generation. I tend to use my Textile Sketchbook/Art Journal in that sense, but, paper and paint never tempted me much. That may be changing. One of the assignments concerned teacups and suddenly there was a torrent of outpouring from SBS students remembering mothers and grandmothers. This seems to concern women in particular (what is it about teacups?), but the Memories were there.

This forced me to think about 18 of my mom's teacups gathering dust in my cupboard. I looked them over and realized they really are beautiful. I chose one and started a layout over two pages.
Because of the complexity of this design, I got distracted by another cup in blues that seemed just a bit simpler in design. (Hmmph! It still took me 3 weeks to finish.)
I glued a recycled watercolor painting to the corner. I like the yellowed paper and the hard lines of the geometric patchwork design that contrast to the swirly florals. Done with a Bic Crystal ballpoint pen, I had fairly good control over the floral design. Then the moment of truth came when I added the watercolor shadows.
After spending so much time on the finicky flowers, I nearly had two heart attacks when I ruined it all twice...however, if I've learned one thing at Sketchbook School, it's to keep going. And so, it all worked out in the end. And I thought often of my mom--OK, Mom, got it, teacups are useful (to paint). A series may be developing here.

Now, I find it comforting to think that maybe one day my granddaughters will sit and sip tea from their great-grandmother's teacups while looking at their grandmother's sketchbooks. They will remember... Memories of Flower Power...

17 comments:

Norma Schlager said...

Your renderings of the teacups are exquisite! Your mother would be so proud.

arlee said...

It IS beautiful!
I think for my grandmother especially, these tea cups were a link to a more "refined: life--she worked in a factory, first making ladies garments, and then during the war, parachutes. A small way to take away the dirt and stress of an ordinary life.

Suzanna said...

Such beautiful drawings, lovingly done...

Connie Rose said...

Wonderful drawings, Nadia! My fave china pattern from that period was Calico. Remember that one? All best to you.

Linda said...

How about a teacup quilt?

The Idaho Beauty said...

I could add to the flow of teacup memories. I inherited my mother's collection which included a few of her mother's, one that belonged to a dear friend of hers who died young and ones she and I added. I kept up the tradition of adding to this collection for awhile but once I lost people to share the experience of drinking a cup of tea from a pretty china cup with, my collecting waned and mine too are gathering dust. The exception is Easter when I still get one out to have tea in memory of that tradition with my mother.

I can't believe how beautifully you've captured the flowers on that teacup of yours. I felt much better about the elaborateness of the sketch once you revealed how long you spent on it! The term "sketch" implies to me something done quickly, almost off-hand. I think this may go beyond a sketch.

Ann X said...

Oh, you made me think of my late mother... It's her birthday today. She wasn't collecting them, she was creating them all her life.

Ms. said...

aside from the sheer perfection of your paintings, the facts of personal significance are moving. It is lovely to think of passing along the love of one to the love of another through your own act of love.

Bouts Choisis said...

Wonderful drawings and beautiful china! It is lovely to have some links to the past and family history. If anything as pretty ever existed in my family - it has disappeared long ago! lynne.

Anneliese said...

I nearly couldn't believe you sketched the blue tea cup. It is excellent - ready to sip the tea in it.

O'Quilts said...

yes and yes and yes...memories

Julie Fukuda said...

Your post has given more than just pictures and your side of the story ... and, yes, I have tea cups I never use anymore but remind me of grandmothers and great aunts and would be pretty in watercolor.

Janice / Dancing with Sunflowers said...

Your teacup artwork is gorgeous. I also have some teacups that belonged to my mother, my grandmother and also my inlaws. And I SO connect to the idea of our art 'as a commentary on one's life to be bequeathed to loved ones'.

rtquilter said...

Fabulous, nadia! Love them! I have a rather vast collection too which belonged to my Mother in Law mostly! As she was a clergyman's wife, she had a LOT because she entertained so much and people gave teacups as gifts in those days. When I was married, the church ladies gave me a HUGE bridal shower, including quite a few beautiful cups and saucers too so I really have LOTS! love your drawings/paintings! Keep it up!

blandina said...

Dear Nadia, your post inspired me and I subscribed to Sketchbook Skool course. Thank you for the hint, I hope to become as proficient as you are!

Janet M. Atwill said...

This is so sweet. A few years ago I bought a Limoges cup and saucer at an obscure (to put it mildly) antique store in North Dakota. It matches most of my mother's Limoges. It is a link to her and my childhood.

Tonya Ricucci said...

beautiful