I feel like an outing on this first day of April. How about you? But not just any outing for me. I think I’ll go to England or Scotland… or maybe I’ll go to both places. After all, I have an hour or two free.
You see, I am very blessed to have a wonderful imagination. I suspect we are all born with wonderful imaginations but some of us fail to exercise them, and as with so many things, we “use it or lose it”. I use my imagination regularly. Do you? Oh, I hope so. Imagination is a terrible thing to waste.
So today I decided to leave Hudson for a few hours and take a little trip. I feel like spending some time with my lovely “dead friend” and nature artist Edith Holden. What is a “dead friend” you ask ? A “dead friend” is a person from the past who we get to know, admire. and enjoy. We meet these people by reading their biographies, autobiographies, and/or by studying and becoming familiar with their work. I bet you have a few “dead friends” of your own, at least I hope you do. “Dead friends” add so very much to life, more than a great many living, breathing people we meet.
I met Edith years ago when I discovered her beautiful book, Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady. This book was published in 1906 by her husband Ernest. It was published after Edith’s untimely death at age 49. You see, Edith drowned in the Thames while gathering buds from chestnut trees which she intended to paint.
Edith was born at Kings Norton, Worcester, in 1871 and was one of seven children of a Midlands paint manufacturer. Her family lived in the small village of Olton Warwickshire and it was there that she wrote and illustrated her Nature Notes.
I think I’ll join Edith on one of her trips to Scotland where she studied painting for a year. Would you care to join me? Ok, let’s go!
And here we are (That was fast!) at the home of her art teacher and his family. They invited Edith to stay with them since she was so very far from home. Romantic and peaceful setting, isn’t it?
But let’s pop into the art studio and catch a glimpse of Edith working with her classmates. I personally love how people ‘dressed up’ back in the old days. No blue jeans and t shirts for them.
Of course one can’t get very good at drawing nature while sitting in a classroom so after a certain amount of instruction in basic technique off to the outdoors we all go. Put on your sweater for it’s early April and the air is chilly.
Do you ever draw? You should. It’s great fun and anyone can do it. As I said, practice makes improvement. I love to draw flowers creating original stationery for some of the letters I write. Maybe you’ve received one such letter. Flowers are easy to draw. Try drawing this one:
Ok. Here’s what I came up with. I wonder what drawing you came up with.
If you have not made your drawing yet, it’s ok. You can finish reading my post and then get busy. Art play is really a lot of fun. You’ll see. But if you think flowers are tricky I wouldn’t suggest you try animals… not yet anyway.
Edith drew all sorts of animals and she was wonderful at the task. She drew snakes, birds, butterflies, bees, mice, so many creatures – even the occasional cow.
Between reading Edith’s book and viewing a wonderful four-video series I own all about her life, I can experience a faux visit to Scotland and the English countryside any time I like, getting close up looks at its flora and fauna.
I can sit beside Edith using my imagination and watch her sketch picturesque vistas. She’s encouraged me to try my own hand at sketching. Friends always encourage each other you know.
We then explore streams with all their exuberant life forms and I don’t even have to get wet.
My time spent with Edith, looking at nature and looking at her drawings of nature, soothes my soul.
I’ve read that spending time with things of beauty helps that beauty enter into us. The beauty becomes us. I can sometimes feel that happening. Can’t you?
To be off with Edith is a wonderful escape from one’s daily routine. And when we’re tired from all our walking we can sit quietly together, meditate, or share our favorite lines of poetry.
Yes, spending time in England and Scotland with gentle “dead friends” like Edith Holden is a wonderful experience.
And Edith’s spirit stays with me long after these imaginary visits. As I walk the garden paths in my own town, in my own time, I can still feel her calming presence dignifying my every step.
So now I’ve introduced you to Edith, but it’s up to you to cultivate your own friendship with her. Perhaps she’ll inspire you to create your very own nature notes or you might get yourself some watercolor pencils and take up sketching, creating art for your home or floral note cards to send to your friends.
Why here’s an idea for you. Take a walk outside and sit yourself down to sketch a flower, plant, or creature and then send your picture to me with a note – or better yet, a letter. I would love that! Here’s my address:
204 E. Streetsboro Street
Hudson, Ohio 44236
I’ll be watching my mail box, and of course if you write to me I’ll write back to you. So from me and Edith too — a fond farewell. We’ll leave you with the entry from Edith’s nature notebook dated April 1, 1906.
STILL, WARM, CLOUDY DAY. GATHERED SOME WILD DAFFODILS IN A FIELD.
Happy Art Play in Nature
Note: Pictures used for this post are attributed to Central Independent Television’s video entitled The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady starrring Pippa Guard as Edith