Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chairs, Chairs, and More Chairs!

I just finished the final page in a sketchbook that I've been working in, off and on, for almost two years. I thought I'd share a few of the pages, before it takes its place on a shelf in my studio.

During the winter of 2010, I started a series of chair sketches. It was a rough winter with enormous amounts of snow, and I was spending a lot of time in the house. One day I was looking for something to sketch, and my glance happened upon the rocking chair in my kichen. I started thinking that so many of the furniture pieces in our house tell a story of a person we knew or an event in our lives, and it  might be fun to record them in my sketchbook.

This rocker (below) was a hand-me-down from a guy who worked at the National Security Agency with me in the 70s. It had been in his family for ages, but he gave it to me and Fred to fix up for our home after we were married. Fred repaired it, I painted it, and, three years later, we took turns sitting in it to rock our newborn baby daughter to sleep.

Watercolor, pen & ink, 9" x 12"

These kitchen chairs were one of the first things I bought for our new house in 2001. I've spent a lot of time in them in the past ten years. Stories are told, bills are paid, food is shared, and plans are made in these chairs. I was sitting in this chair when my son-in-law told me I was going to be a grandmother.

Watercolor, pen & ink, 9" x 12"

We have a pair of these cushy yellow chairs in our living room. When you sink into them, you don't ever want to get up - they're that comfy. The old oak rocking chair was a wedding gift from my college roommate - we only hear from each other in Christmas cards now, but I still think of her when I see it.

Watercolor, pen & ink, 9" x 12"

This blue and white painted chair usually sits at my kitchen desk, but has seen a lot of service lately as the base for my grandson Nicholas' portable high chair. The tan office chair is the one I'm sitting in now as I type. I spend way too many hours in it!

Watercolor, pen & ink, 9" x 12"

This floral slipcovered chair now sits in a sunny spot in my bedroom, but years ago it was my father's favorite. Its original rusty orange upholstery was all the rage in the 1970s. Now when I catch a glimpse of that faded orange, it brings back memories of coming in from a date, quietly creeping through the house so I wouldn't disturb anyone, and seeing my dad, asleep in this chair, "watching" Johnny Carson.

Watercolor, pen & ink, 9" x 12"

This little swivel dressing table chair is one of my favorite flea market finds. It came from an old train station. The other two on this page remind me of our son, Matt - we had fun decorating his room together in our new house when he was in high school, and these two chairs were part of our budget decorating scheme. It was something we could share, during a time when he was mostly going his own separate way.

Watercolor, pen & ink, 9" x 12"

I had reserved a couple of blank pages in my sketchbook to finish this series, then never got back to it for a year and a half! But it's finished now, and here are the final two pages that I did last weekend. I like how the dining room chair turned out ...

Watercolor, pen & ink, 9" x 12"

I've saved the best, or at least the cutest, for last. I found these two chairs at our local second-hand shop looking pretty forlorn. They were a faded dusty rose color and looked like they'd come from a little old lady's parlor - in good shape, but definitely needing a face lift. I worked my slipcover magic and now they're cute as can be. I have them in the sitting area of my black and white toile guest room. One of my students said they look like they have their party dresses on!

Watercolor, pen & ink, 9" x 12"

So, that's the end of my chair series, but, believe it or not, I have a couple more chairs that I haven't drawn yet - there's the old wicker chair that Fred pulled out of someone's trash and fixed up, and a couple more that I've slipcovered - but I think I've had about enough of chairs for now. Any ideas for what my next series should be?


Karen said...

I absolutely love the chair series!

I have a chair covered in big blue flowers in my study that was in my office at work for 18 years. When my replacement took over she cast the chair out, saying it was "old and stinky."
It's taken on a new life as a comfy, loved part of my home.

Next? How about beloved items from the rooms in your house (with stories).

Colleen said...

Love the chairs Leslie!

suz said...

what a wonderful idea - love the series!

Leslie Fehling said...

Karen, I love your idea for my next series! Thanks for the input.

I'm so glad you all enjoyed these sketches.

Katiejane said...

Hi Leslie! I stumbled across your blog and have been enjoying myself reading about the life and history of your chairs! You do have a lot of chairs, but your sketches of them and the stories behind them make for rich and entertaining reading. I very much like looking at your art and I will be returning regularly.

Claire M said...

I am fascinated by this series of chairs that have had a place in your history. Each one of the sketches captures the chair with character. I enjoyed the variety of your collection and the personal reflections - like picking out a chair with your son. I think this collection of chairs, along with your personal reflections, would make another wonderful keepsake book.

What next? one thing on my virtual to-do list (meaning 'in my mind') is to do some of the family china/crystal (my mother's or mine).

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