A Little House Musing

Oh, it’s a double feature today! Looks like this Tuesday is going to be an epic celebration of two of my favorite old timey ladies.

Not sure if you had this marked on your calendar or not (lol) but today would have been Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 145th birthday. That childhood deep in the Big Woods just gets farther and farther away, doesn’t it? But Laura seems forever young.
The birth date seems to come at a time when I am totally immersed in all things “Little House” as I work on the painting series and move my more homestead-y themed entries from the old blog to this one.
Leafing through my books for some art inspiration, it occurred to me that Garth William’s illustrations seem to be unconsciously burned into my brain because these are like my girls, my drawings. It’s amazing what loves and obsessions from your childhood stay with you, no matter how un-hip it may be to keep loving them. Some people keep their legos. Others maintain a pretty steady love of all things Star Wars. Me? I just cant keep from being smitten with the sunbonnet culture of little wagons and little houses.
And while many children love the Little House books, my love was a bit hardcore. I mean, I was ordering calico-clad dolls from the Mansfield museum as a kid, wearing plastic jewelry that depicted the home site, collecting all manner of random bios and books and even dutifully trying to read the works of Rose Wilder Lane although they went way over my 12 year old head. Still, I tried!

I just finished reading The Wilder Life by Wend McClure the other day, and I instantly felt a kinship to her kooky story of being a grown woman with a little house obsession and the hilarity and contemplation that ensues because I am so there with her. I think many of us feel like Laura is ours, that we have a special and intimate connection to the stories that lead us on road trips to rural towns we would have never gone to otherwise, after a childhood of penning our own pioneer tales in notebooks with horrific spelling and illustrations of wonky pioneer girls on some amazing adventure through epic amounts of grassland.

I know now that Laura wasn’t really all mine, and she’d in fact ‘belonged’ to decades of children before I was even born. And now I’m pretty glad for that, since it seems to mean that there are now decades worth of people who ‘get’ the paintings I make, who enjoy seeing paintings inspired by a distant past that we somehow all share. I think that’s so wonderful.
Above is a little painting I’m working on today. It’s a walk-to-school image. To be honest, I had a hard time sitting down and thinking through a painting because all of the Little House stories can get to be a little overwhelming. So much happened. And Williams’ illustrations are so iconic, that I at once want to compliment them and do my own thing. I want the paintings to be mine, but its hard when the illustrations are as embedded in your brain as the words. But I’m trying my best!

Anyhow…I suppose I better get back to painting. And just wanted to say I’m so glad so many of you are as into this subject matter as I am. These stories are so simple, yet deceivingly complicated. And I’ve found out that so is trying to capture them with paint. But I keep trying!~ Thanks for coming along!

8 thoughts on “A Little House Musing

  1. Heather, it is SO good to catch up with you and read this well crafted and thought-provoking post. It feels like it's been far too long but as you saw from my blog we had a new addition to our family by way of our little Gaspard, our Cavalier King Charles. Sigh. So much pleasure! I may get in touch with you for advice!Warmest wishes from freezing France.Stephanie


  2. Heather, I think you have hit the main artery in that Little House on the Prairie is STILL about us today. They are timeless in their description of how families tackle the challenges of living and loving. And your paintings are so beautiful and even a bit haunting because I am drawn right back into their lives from February 2012!I am so loving this series you are creating!


  3. I love this post! I still remember picking up 'Little House in the Big Woods' when I was in primary school and becoming so obsessed with the whole series. It's such a different world to me as well, because the pioneer stories in Australia are so different to the covered wagon, life on the prairie themes of Laura's world. It's so nice to see your interpretations of the books through your paintings!


  4. I didn't know that Laura Ingalls Wilder and Charles Dickens had the same birthday! February 7th is one special day.Love the painting. I like how it looks as though it's painted on a chalkboard.


  5. Oh, wow! Happy birthday, Laura! I just finished re-reading that series of books last week, and in the process I fell back in love with the Ingalls and life back before the country was settled. Can't wait to see all the LH-themed paintings you'll come up with.


  6. I've not been blog hopping much lately, so I'm catching up and holy moly, you've been busy. I love this painting and it sooo very perfectly captures the feel of the Laura. What a gorgeous painting. I can't wait to see it all done and see the others you come up with. One story that always sticks in my mind is The Blizzard. When they were trying to get home and couldn't see through the blinding snow. So many gorgeous works of art on your blog. I love to see what you are up to. Your commissioned piece, is amazing. And so is your new Spring beauty. ๐Ÿ™‚ Cheers to you!


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