Thursday, February 21, 2013

La Belle Iseult

Time to take a break from the princesses to show you...a princess.

But she's a princess of another sort. 

Hopefully some of you will recognize this artwork by William Morris:

It's called Guinevere, or alternately La Belle Iseult, and it was the only painting William Morris ever completed in his early days of knowing Dante Gabriel Rossetti and dreaming of becoming a painter like him.  It also commemorates his meeting his future wife, Jane Morris.  According to "legend," he was a bundle of nerves when he had her pose for this painting for him.  And one day he grew so frustrated at his (to him) unsuccessful attempts to capture her beauty, so he painted on the canvas "I cannot paint you, but I love you."

True or legend, either way it's a wonderfully romantic story.  And the image is an icon of Pre-Raphaelite imagery...the only painting ever completed by a man who went on to have arguably the most influence of any of the Pre-Raphaelites (in decorative arts, in writing and poetry, in socialist politics, and more).

So when my British friend, Bryony, showed me a picture a year or so ago of a statue in her living room she had bought years ago from Past Times, I instantly recognized the figure.  The statue was long since discontinued, but I kept an eye on Ebay both in England and the U.S., hoping perhaps one might come available through a secondary source.  A couple of weeks ago, Bryony messaged me to let me know the statue was up for bid on, but only to British bidders.  She offered to bid on my behalf and send it to me.  And that's just what she did.

So might I present to you...La Belle Iseult, the crown of my living room.  <3

It's a little hard to get a sense of scale, but she's only slightly smaller than the princesses drawn on the walls of the dining room, and she looks like one of them made three-dimensional.

The detail in the statue is extraordinary.  Observe, for instance, how they reproduced the pattern Morris created on her original gown:

And notice also the way one sleeve is flipped up, and the other is down, just as in the painting.  She wears a crown, adorned with a wildflower garland.  Again, just as in the painting.

I think my whole living room nodded in approval when she arrived today.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

One More Princess This Week

Its been another slow week for Princesses...just one has joined the wall, and her only today.  But she is princess #8, and that means there are just four more to go.  Then after they're all there, I won't have any more excuses to avoid starting the phase of painting them directly onto the walls.  (gulp)

May I introduce Princess Jessica.

Here's a little peek at the behind-the-scenes inspiration images for the princesses so far.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I have a sickness.

Maybe some of you have it too.

It has no official name that I know of, but I call it Housedecoratingobsessiveitis.

Symptoms may include

-watching videos of a house tour you recorded a couple of weeks ago on repeat with volume on mute (because who wants to listen to their own voice?) to see if the rooms flow well together and to brainstorm new ideas for decorating. 

-saying things like "I'm not sure the color story of my rooms flow quite well enough together.  Perhaps I need a little more of the main color of this room showing up in details of the adjacent room to help the flow."

-asking your mom to expertly tea-stain a Union Jack tea towel just because the crisp red-white-and-blue colors didn't quite go well enough in your antique-y kitchen theme.

Also, you might notice a slightly different look around the blog.  I changed out the header, as really although we are first-time home owners, we've been here two years now, so we're not *quite* "new" anymore.  I also got so tired of tiny images on the blog, so I moved all of the side bar items (blogger's bio, archive of past posts) to the bottom of the page, and widened the margins to allow for larger images.  So look!  Oooh bigger prettier images, hooray!!!  Let me know what you think of the new format!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kitchen Curtains

One thing that bothered me after watching through my 2 year anniversary videos was our kitchen.  We never changed the curtains that were left by the previous owner, because while I didn't love them, I also didn't hate them.  But looking at the video, they seemed so incongruous, especially with the work in the dining room, I had to run out and get a new pair.

A close-up of the curtains, and a new print I saw on Facebook and had to put on the wall in the kitchen.

The old curtains, for those who have forgotten.  RIP

Friday, February 8, 2013

Seven Princesses

Seven princesses all around me...
Seven princesses in my house

See I was drawing when I woke up this morning
I'll be drawing when the day is done...

--If you know what song I'm parodying there, kudos to you!

Well I didn't want to drive anyone away by posting constantly with every new princess I put on the wall.  Last week, I was very bad and took a break for seven whole days from touching this project.  It was just too cold to resist the urge after work each night to curl up on the couch under a blanket with tea, purring cat, and husband.  But this week I've done much better, and have three more completed princesses, bringing me to a total of seven.

The first princess is Princess Petra.

And here I am starting on a new wall with the next two princesses!

Princess Edith was so named because something about her reminds me of Lady Edith Crawley.

The seventh princess, completed just this afternoon, is unnamed as of yet, but Tom hasn't come home from work yet...we'll see if he has an idea.

It's coming along, slow but sure!  Over halfway there now!

I have to take this opportunity at the mid-point of this phase of the project to give my thanks to all the women on Deviantart who offer stock images for art reference.  Without their lovely inspiration, this project would possibly never have gotten off the ground.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

2 Year Anniversary

Today (well, Friday Feb 1, technically it's now Saturday since YouTube takes *forever* to upload videos) is the two year anniversary of our first night spent in our new home at Catty-Corner Cottage!  And to celebrate, a special treat...

First of all, a look back.  This is a sampling of photos of the house before we moved in:

And now a special treat.  I now present...a virtual tour of Catty-Corner Cottage through 3 short videos: