Jane Eyre series

One of the projects I’ve wanted to tackle for a long time has been to do a series of illustrations for Charlotte Brönte’s  Jane Eyre. I recently re-read it and was amazed at how good it was. It’s a Victorian page-turner! I’m a big fan of the Victorian gothic imagery and the romantic melodrama. Having recently returned from a trip to England, I was also inspired by the moors, the tors and the hedgerows. Here are the illustrations:

1894 Yachting Outfit

I picked up an all-consuming, expensive habit in the past year: historical costuming. I joined The (Im)Propriety Society, a group of historical sewing enthusiasts with an Ottawa-area chapter and we get together in our historical get-up and nerd out on sewing. This past long weekend we had an outing at the Brockville Tall Ships festival where we went for a sailing cruise on the Empire Sandy and posed for a million photos (that’s because everyone looked fabulous). I debuted my 1894 yachting outfit, which I slaved away on for approximately 2 months in the evenings and weekends. I am very pleased with how it turned out. I’m especially proud of achieving the right historical shape and how the skirt drapes so well (thank you flatlining and hair canvas facings). And the gold accents don’t hurt either.

For the dressmakers out there, here are the specs:

Shirtwaist – cotton voile with a swiss dot, finished with bone buttons (and a mother of pearl at the collar), pattern is Truly Victorian Shirtwaist (TV494)

Vest – quilting cotton, flatlined with white cotton and a white cotton lining, bound in white twill tape. Buttons are vintage brass and the anchor embroidery is my own design (based on historical examples) and done in gold thread on my embroidery machine. Pattern is Truly Victorian Ripple Jacket (minus the sleeves) (TV496)

Skirt – quilting cotton flatlined with cotton sheeting and faced with hair canvas, bound with twill tape (which frayed like mad during the day). I designed the pockets based on the same source Bernadette Banner did in her video. Pattern is Butterick 6537.

And of course everything is worn over the proper underpinings (chemise, drawers, corset, corset cover, petticoat). My boots were Oakhill Farm granny boots and the hat is an original Edwardian straw boater from circa 1910.

Sketches from Devon and Cornwall

Joel and I spent two weeks in the Devon and Cornwall area of England recently. We had excellent weather for plein air sketching. Words can’t describe how inspiring I find the landscape in those parts. Lovely! That’s all I can say. I especially love Dartmoor National Park.

These sketches are available as prints in my Etsy shop.

This is a view of Dittisham, in the south of Devon. We took a tiny “ferry” boat to go over to Greenway from here (Agatha Christie’s summer home). I highly recommend the experience to everyone. It was a beautiful day, ideal for sketching. I was sitting in the churchyard while sketching this.

While in Devon, we stayed in Dartmoor National Park near Dunsford. We sketched this house, name the Olde Court Farm in Dunsford. The owners informed us the house is over 700 years old! That is madness to my Canadian ears. The owners were such lovely people, they served us mint tea (from her garden) and delicious cake while we were sketching! It does not get better than that.

Our AirBnB was across from the Teign River and these old stepping stones (the Old Stables on AirBnB, check it out). We decided to paint them one day. It was very relaxing to wake up to the sounds of running water. You could cross the stones to get to a network of walking paths on the other side.

This was sketched on a drizzly day in Lustleigh, in the Dartmoor Park. I like how much the cottage is leaning (not an exaggeration, I measured). I like what the rain did to the sky and pavement part of the sketch. There is a fantastic tea room next door, The Primrose Tea Room, where I had one of the best afternoon teas of my life.

This is a view from the harbour of Porthoustock in Cornwall. We started drawing this at around 7pm so it was pretty quiet there. Of all my sketches with boats in them, this is the only one that turned out. I’ve since given up drawing boats and put them in the same category as drawing cars, i.e. unpleasant things to draw.

Ah, the Tin Coast in Cornwall. Another great day for sketching. If you’ve watched Poldark like I have (and are mildly obsessed with it) then you will recognize these chimneys. They are all over the coast in this area of Cornwall. This was at the Levant Mine complex, an old tin mine ruin.