I find that drawing certain objects unearths a stream of memories. As I draw each item, I try to observe it as seeing it for the first time, in order to notice its lines, values and textures but at the same time, I experience nostalgia, knowing that there is a story behind each piece.
When I was a young child my grandmother would send huge parcels at Christmas time from the Isle of Man. When my mother untied the string and loosened the brown paper, the contents were wrapped in a pillowcase that had been sewn shut. The rest of the parcel unpeeled like an onion, a marvellous sight for my brothers and me.
The first layer consisted of navy blue Burberry children’s raincoats with plaid lining, then came odd assortments of my grandmother’s linens, tablecloths and napkins and these encased the more interesting gems in the center.
There were always books, a School Friend or Dean’s Favorite Annual for me and Robin Hood and the Black Arrow for my brothers. There were also wonderful stories about girls my age hunting for treasure and helping smugglers.
Occasionally, there were precious items like silver picture frames or my father’s school day trophy cups. Once my mother got enormous bloomers, which made us all laugh, and another year, a large black wool bathing suit that had legs to the mid thigh.
At last, we uncovered our annual haul of Cadbury’s chocolate bars. They always appeared slightly misshapen, like they had melted at some time and then hardened again. The center contents were random and some years, surprising. I once got a sealing wax kit, and one year to my delight, there was a real jewelry box from India for me.
I have admired the box all my life, not because it has any real value, but because of its beaten metal covering encasing a large jewel of some sort, the beautiful cerulean blue paint color on the inside, the padded silk lining on the tray and of course, its very own key.
It’s odd how objects in jewelry boxes tend to sit untouched for years. When my children were small they enjoyed poking through the box and examining the unexpected, haphazard objects inside. Now that I have a granddaughter, certain items in the box will distract her attention as I untangle the mop of curls on her head after a sleep over. She softly mutters, “Ouch”, as I tug the comb through her hair and I remember my mother doing the same to me.
I like to draw things that evoke emotion, whether an appreciation of beauty, curiosity or laughter. The most amusing thing in my jewelry box is a folded, lined piece of paper with a modeling clay animal stuck on it. My daughter gave it to us when she was about four years old. When we turned it over later on in the day, we discovered it had a little green tail on the other sideof the paper!
“Art is not what you see but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas