Letters of Love / Initial Clues

Inspiration can come from anything and everything around you. It can come from a person you know, a place you visit or an object that you see. But most of all, inspiration comes from inside of you. It is a spark in all of us that needs to be nurtured. Without inspiration, we wouldn't have the tool that has led to every great work of art, every great piece of music, every great clip of film, and every great architectural structure. Inspiration is a powerful tool and when used, the possibilities are endless.

"Letters of Love", my next series of artworks, will draw upon the inspiration I found in a dusty box of letters written between 1894 - 1928. Letters from my ancestors, written for 34 years, will take us back to a slice in time at the turn of the 19th century. It was a time when my Great Grandfather ( I think ?) was traveling America by steam-ship, train, and horse & carriage writing letters to the love of his life. Passed down for 3 generations, this box of Love & Memories sparked me "in the heart of my heart" and sent me on the path to new discoveries. It's true - the possibilites ARE endless!

First, some photos for visual reference.

  Could this be my Gr. Grandmother on the left as a child ? Is that her younger brother? And who is the stately looking man who is obviously in charge! Great Great Grandfather is that you? I love the ribbons in her hair and on her collar - perhaps some ancient fabrics could be incorporated into an artpiece. The shoes are amazing- and you know I love to make some floral footwear!

Could this be my Gr. Grandmother on the left as a child ? Is that her younger brother? And who is the stately looking man who is obviously in charge! Great Great Grandfather is that you? I love the ribbons in her hair and on her collar - perhaps some ancient fabrics could be incorporated into an artpiece. The shoes are amazing- and you know I love to make some floral footwear!

  I believe the letters are between these two lovebirds. Hopefully I'll know more once I have sorted through all the photos...In the meantime, aren't these old stamps great ? I think they could be really cool used as graphics or background material with pressed botanical collage on top!

I believe the letters are between these two lovebirds. Hopefully I'll know more once I have sorted through all the photos...In the meantime, aren't these old stamps great ? I think they could be really cool used as graphics or background material with pressed botanical collage on top!

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Next, these are the first clues I've uncovered.

1. The letters date from 1894 – 1928  with several gaps in between.

2. My Gr Grandmother’s first name was Annie but I think my Gr Grandfather called her Fanny!

3. A lot went down in 1904 (107 letters found in this year).

4. I determined the couple were married on April 24, 1904 due to the name change on the envelopes postmarked 1905 and the first letter I just happened to read. (see photos & translation below.)

  Notice the name change on the envelopes from 1904 to 1905. Wedding Bells!  And look at that beautiful handwriting - more great visuals and possibilities to inspire my creations..

Notice the name change on the envelopes from 1904 to 1905. Wedding Bells!  And look at that beautiful handwriting - more great visuals and possibilities to inspire my creations..

5. According “The National Society of the Daughters of The American Revolution” my Great Grandmother (Fanny or Annie), accepted in 1909, was a descendant of Dr. Cornelius Baldwin. Who in the world is that ? I don’t know, but apparently he hung out with George Washington, Lord Fairfax and Lafayette. Photo of DAR document reads as follows:

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  “My ancestor’s services in assisting in the establishment of American Independence during the War of the Revolution were as follows: He was commissioned Surgeon of the 8th Virginia Infantry Regiment on May 20th 1777 – Later he served in the 3rd and 1st Virginia Regiments and on special duty – He was the personal friend of General Washington, Lord Fairfax, and the Marquis de La Fayette. He was one of the Founders of the Society of Cincinnati.”

“My ancestor’s services in assisting in the establishment of American Independence during the War of the Revolution were as follows: He was commissioned Surgeon of the 8th Virginia Infantry Regiment on May 20th 1777 – Later he served in the 3rd and 1st Virginia Regiments and on special duty – He was the personal friend of General Washington, Lord Fairfax, and the Marquis de La Fayette. He was one of the Founders of the Society of Cincinnati.”

6. I found some pressed flowers in the old box. Far Out!

  On the left is a Dogwood bloom, Virginia's State Flower. On the right, a corsage with silk ribbon and tulle. These will almost certainly be incorporated somehow in my botanical collage.

On the left is a Dogwood bloom, Virginia's State Flower. On the right, a corsage with silk ribbon and tulle. These will almost certainly be incorporated somehow in my botanical collage.

7. Saving the best for last, which oddly, was the first letter I read!

*see translation below*

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  The handwriting is a treasure chest of gold. I think the letters - especially the ones I can't read, would make an incredible design for texture and style. Perhaps certain words can be "called out", circled, underlined, or marked with flora in some way,  to help further communicate the story "Letters of Love".

The handwriting is a treasure chest of gold. I think the letters - especially the ones I can't read, would make an incredible design for texture and style. Perhaps certain words can be "called out", circled, underlined, or marked with flora in some way,  to help further communicate the story "Letters of Love".

Wytheville, VA.     March 17, 1904

My own Dearest Fanny,

I have no news to tell, my sweetheart & am now regretting that I cannot be in Richmond to make that visit I had intended to make as this is about the time I expected to go & would probably have already told you goodbye, for just a minute, twice to-day, & have been expecting to do the same again tonight. All the same I look back on the last times I saw you as happiness enough & all that anyone can ask. Though I prefer anticipation to history.

I find it hard to realize that just about this time a month & 10 days hence I am to be married, & above all things to you, whom I have so long regarded as out of my reach. I feel proud every time anyone congratulates me or mentions our approaching “show” & wonder if men often care for & love their sweethearts as I do you, or admire them as much.

I know that your big hat is all right as everything else you ever wore & believe that you would look just as pretty to me in Calico as in your China silk.

I have heard it said that no man is any account for six months before & six months after he is married. So far I can see the truth of the saying as every day it is harder for me to do anything & business of any sort is a most uninteresting subject. Most of my thoughts are occupied by you, my darling, & every minute & every hour you seem dearer & better & prettier than I thought you before –

This letter I hope you won’t call silly. I never thought that I would write this kind but it’s all because I love you.

Goodbye

Rob-

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  Wytheville, Va is a tiny town nestled in the foothills between the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountains. It is named after George Wythe, a signer of the United States Declaration of Indepence, and mentor to Thomas Jefferson and is known as ‘The City of Lights.’ Just like Paris! The town has long been a crossroads for travelers. Around this time, it was home to about 500 residents.   [ 4]

Wytheville, Va is a tiny town nestled in the foothills between the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountains. It is named after George Wythe, a signer of the United States Declaration of Indepence, and mentor to Thomas Jefferson and is known as ‘The City of Lights.’ Just like Paris! The town has long been a crossroads for travelers. Around this time, it was home to about 500 residents.[4]

What is GROWLOVE?

GrowLove is a collaborative project I'm starting out of a desire for more. More money? Nope .... More material things? Definitely No … More meaning? Yes! More Fulfillment? That's It! More love? Sign Me Up!

With all of the blessings and opportunities I've received in support of my creativity, I've always known that there's more to life than just creating art. There's no doubt that art-making, for me, is a valuable and wondrous practice.  Doing it makes ME feel better. It brings me personal satisfaction, feelings of euphoria, and a great sense of accomplishment. But at the end of the day .... then what ? Does any of it really matter ?

Sure it feels amazing to contribute something you’ve made and share it with a tiny corner of the world. But when I look at our world as a whole, with all it's creatures great and small, trying to live, work, and exist together in unison -- does making art actually contribute in a real, actionable and meaningful way? Yes, I think it can, AND......

GrowLove is a response to these questions. We are interested in supporting a variety of causes including :

CHILDREN WITH ILLNESS

FIGHTING TERMINAL ILLNESS SUCH AS CANCER, HEART DISEASE & DEMENTIA / ALZHEIMERS

EMPOWERING WOMEN

DISASTER RELIEF

ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVES

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

FIGHTING HUNGER

HEALTHCARE

EDUCATION

During the past 7 years of "growing" my work, I've looked for ways to share my gift with others. Donating art pieces to Lopez Island Hospice, Seattle Children's Hospital, St. Andrew's School for low income Families, fundraising for the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center and Emergency USA - a life support for civilian victims of war and poverty - and most recently, sending an original Wonder Woman piece to little Maya who was diagnosed with Leukemia at 4 yrs old...these are all tiny things, but it's a start.

Because the Wonder Woman story was such a hit with all the gals who saw it, my next small step was to create some posters and give them out to anyone looking for some inspiration. This gift is more about the message, not the print...Here's the letter I wrote that goes with the poster:

GrowLove is about actively bringing joy and positive messaging into the world - even if it only lasts a minute. The power of love is the strongest and most positive force we have, and it’s contagious. The act of giving back (even in the smallest way) immediately opens doors for more of the same. Join me in planting a seed for someone, something, one tiny thing, that you can feel good about. Then watch it grow.