It’s February! And love and friendship are in the air.
Certainly, there’s the romantic…but this time of year always makes me rekindle the old-fashioned, dust off the vintage charmers, remember when we used to take time to consider kindred spirits of our lives… some silver, many gold… just to send a cheery, silly, funny or endearing — you’re on my heart!
I love the unexpected finding of miniature envelopes from faraway winging into my mailbox…like those from one of you bloggers who still enjoys finding those little pieces of 30’s and 40’s art like this little flyer! The placing of these on my mantel… the smiles they bring every time I pass.
And sometimes… there’s hidden treasure to inspire a deeper thoughtfulness, a simple caring…
Such was the message that popped into my email a few weeks ago and brought a sort of co-conspirator valentine opp into my life… a chance to be part of creating a special memory for someone…
and began with someone’s insightful idea and a cottage dear…
Giving the gift of a home portrait can be valentine treasure.
“I have been searching for someone to do a pen and ink (with a touch of color) portrait for someone we purchased an old home from, as a closing gift,” the email began, “and when I came across your website, I knew I had found my artist!”
Examining the charming cottage photos she’d included, thinking of her thoughtfulness in understanding how selling might be bittersweet for the former owner, and the timing of when I’d probably have this ready for her to give — sweet memories of the kind of valentines we used to give more often just to tell someone we care, we cherish them, wafted over me much as the scent of forgotten flowers pressed in a book.
I’m certain this new owner wasn’t really thinking in terms of valentines as she envisioned this gift to the seller. But… mmm… isn’t that really what this would be? An unexpected gesture tailored and designed like white lace and cut out card to say, I know how you feel. I want to lift your heart. I’m thinking of you and hope you remember me as we cherish this place, too…
I hadn’t really thought of a home portrait in that light before. But working on this one…I especially planned it to bring bits and pieces of the previous owner’s story (at least what I could glean from photos) into illustration so every time she looks at it, she’ll be transported to all the love and joy this place holds for her.
Of the various views of this wonderful 1926 bungalow, I chose this one because I love the way it makes me feel like I’m standing there at the walkway, ready to go up and ring the bell. (Do you feel that too?) I love the owner’s pride I see in the details on the porch…the pretty potted plant atop the divider wall, the cheery wicker table and couch with pillows, the pink camellia bushes on either side. The warm glow of the lamp I could see in the window. Details I knew would sing to her of this place she held dear. And being the “detail” artist I’ve always been, I imagined in a few blown camellia blossoms down the path, a small bluebird pecking…in that story tale sort of way… 🙂
I’d already asked if she’d like me to include the owner’s address at the bottom, as I often do for that classic look on the original piece…but as I finished, suddenly a new idea was winging round my thoughts. What if I could find a lovely literary quote in place of writing the address? One that would speak to the seller’s heart for this home?
Searching online, I came across a few… shot them off to my customer and found that she, her husband and I separately chose the same one!
And so it came to be that I penned across the bottom edge:
“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
“O, so sweet….so perfect!!!,” the customer exclaimed when I sent her a thumbnail of the finished piece. “You have perfectly captured the essence and charm of this home. Thank you so much –what a lovely gift you have created! I am so happy to be able to gift this incredible portrait of our new home to the previous owner, as she moves on to the next chapter in her life. I know that when she looks at it, she will be flooded with lovely memories.”
The storyteller in me sketches in a bit of what those memories might have been… perhaps the camellia covered Craftsman home where she settled as a young bride or mother…
I’m not even sure whether the seller is someone the buyer knew before the purchase or just someone in whose eyes she read the sadness of leaving. Yet… Somehow I think… if they are really only mere acquaintances... this house portrait seems all the more of a lovely valentine to give and to receive. Kindness laced with a thoughtfulness we need more of these days…one to another.