Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Joe's Journal

From Joe's Journal
9" x 12"
As I was reading the journal of Margaret Josephine Miles, I could just visualize the people, the places, and events that she wrote about. This journal made history come alive, to me, finally.
I first sketched an image of "Joe" writing in her journal in her room in her father's home in Alabama.
This drawing is another one of those images that I imagined as I read near the end of the journal -and "Joe's" life in North Carolina.
I started out to draw several ladies, standing in front of "Joe's" house, but this drawing is what happened. I just moved my pencil around, and it appeared!
Of course, I have never seen any of those family homes from Georgia, Alabama, and in their early years in Texas-not to mention the homes in North and South Carolina, Maryland, etc.
Since she was a preacher's wife, and they depended on their congregation to live, their homes were not always the best, and they were often without food or money for necessities.
But, she felt her husband had to always make a nice appearance. He always was dressed well and had a nice buggy and horse. The clothes she had worn before she married had worn out and, with shortages and lack of money, she had to wear homespun. She quit going to church because she didn't have a proper bonnet to wear, only her sunbonnet, and her clothes were worn out homespun. They had little money for food, while her husband was probably invited to join community members for the best meals. She did without, along with her small son.
Robbie Lee Gillis Ross, Joe's granddaughter, believed that Joe died from malnutrition and lack of decent medical care when she had her last child. She died a few days after the baby was born. That was a common thing, but, from the things she said in the journal, it seems that she suffered, as did many people of that time due to the terrible war.
As I sketched, the figures and distant buildings, even the large tree, just appeared with my random pencil marks. The church just happened as I was trying to add a hedge. I thought that was appropriate since Joe's husband, Rev. Gillis, was a Methodist preacher. I have no idea if their home was next to the church, but, it probably was close since many churches and parsonages are built that way.
I imagined that, like when I was growing up during the years of WWII, when there were also many shortages and much sacrifice, many houses would be of unpainted wood, turned dark by the weather. A few places might have been whitewashed, and some places belonging to wealthier people, would have been painted white. I thought that Joe's house was probably one of those that went unpainted, with rustic wood shingles on the roof.
I thought of adding more figures, but made myself stop at this point. I may add more later, but I didn't want it to get too cluttered.
While I drew this, Ashton was doing homework. He was writing a letter to his parents, pretending that he was a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, for his history class.
We had a lot of history going in our den!
"Joe's Journal" was done with an HB pencil on acid free Canson 65 lb. sketch paper. And this about fills my current sketchbook.
I did splurge and buy a sketchbook to start the new year. I intended to get one the size of my scanner, since things sometimes get cut off when I scan from the 9"x12" book or larger paper. The only one that I could find, at a reasonable price, was sealed in plastic. I looked at a couple that were almost 3 times the price but decided against paying that much. I carefully read all the details, tried to look at the paper through the plastic. I wasn't too thrilled about a soft cream colored paper, but thought I could live with it. Unfortunately, when I got it home and unwrapped it, the paper has a tooth to it (meaning that it is rough). I hate to touch rough paper! (Heavy watercolor paper is okay, but rough drawing paper is not, to me.) So, that sketchbook is not going to be used! Now, I've got to try to find another one with good, smooth paper.
I hate to order things or buy things sealed in a package. I have to touch them and examine them to make sure the texture is right and there are no flaws or damages. I bought so many things from catalogues when I was teaching, that were damaged, leaking, dried out, of poor quality, scratched, bent, etc. Leaking things damaged other things in the same boxes and were hard to replace. Now, if you order something and it is wrong, you have to pay shipping there and reorder the thing you wanted, plus more shipping charges back to you. It's cheaper to buy what you can examine and touch before buying! Sometimes it is worth paying a little more to get the right thing.
After my recent sketchbook experience, I am reminded of that. Don't buy anything you can't see and touch first! (And that have the prices clearly labeled!)
I could draw in my watercolor pad or on other paper, if needed, but that won't be in my 2009 sketchbook.
You can find information about Alabama, including the journal, on the Alabama Department of Archives and History website. http://www.archives.state.al.us/ You can just find a listing for the journal. If you want to read it, you have to have a copy made.
The ADAH calendar does list Janary 19 as Robert E. Lee's and Martin Luther King's birthdays.
In Texas, it was Confederate Heroes Day along with the observance of MLK's birthday. Of course, we didn't hear anything about Confederate Heroes or Robert E. Lee yesterday.
It's awfully dry here, windy, and cold, for us. 59 degrees. It wouldn't be so bad if the wind were not blowing. We have another of those Red Flag Warning Days, when there is fire danger. There have been fires in our area , grass and house fires. And cold air is blowing across the floor. Vents in the floor would have been so much better, instead of these in the high ceilings. It's supposed to drop down into the 30s again. We did miss that Polar Express, though.

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