I’m currently reading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel, The Secret Garden. It’s been on my Book Bucket List for years, ever since I watched the 1993 film version in my childhood. I remember being mesmerized by the story of a spoiled but lonely little English girl from India re-discovering a long-forgotten garden at her uncle’s estate. I loved the film so much – still do, actually – and usually if that is the case, I like to read the original story to see where those imaginings or events came from. Fangirling, book-style!
So far, it’s highly enjoyable. Burnett’s writing is relatively easy to read, with her book set in almost complete third-person omniscient, sometimes just lapsing into Mary’s point-of-view, and the flow is remarkably smooth. It’s quite refreshing; a lot of classics tend to be very thick in tone or flow, or so word-heavy that I’m lost in the details. In fact, the flow is so easy that I really like to read this aloud, much to the dismay – or joy? – of Lucy Cat. It’s so hard to tell in felines. The dialogue is also entertaining, switching from proper British English to Yorkshire, depending on the character. If you remember the 1993 film version, the book pretty much illustrates the same accents.
But to the point! I recently reached the point where Mary hears the crying from the hallway, and no one will tell her where it’s coming from. So one night when she hears it again, she follows the sound through the dark hallways of Misselthwaite:
”The door of her room was ajar and the sound came down the corridor, a far-off faint sound of fretful crying. She listened for a few minutes and each minute she became more and more sure. She felt as if she must find out what it was…There was a candle by her bedside and she took it up and went softly out of the room. The corridor looked very long and dark, but she was too excited to mind that. She thought she remembered the corners she must turn to find the short corridor with the door covered with tapestry…The sound had come up that passage. So she went on with her dim light, almost feeling her way, her heart beating so loud that she fancied she could hear it.”
For some reason, I really like this moment. There’s rain and wind outside in the dead of the night, and everyone is asleep, except for this little ten-year-old girl, and the source of this crying. It’s spooky and exhilarating at the same time. Much like when you’re a child, and for some reason or other, you were awake when everyone else was asleep. I used to love that; it was like re-discovering a place that no one else was privy to. Much like Mary was doing now. Picturing her wandering through those dark and winding corridors, led only by a faint memory of directions and a mysterious crying, it made my heart beat faster, as well!
So, in the essence of wanting to keep that moment, I decided to make a little art project of it. Being an art person, I love holding onto a visual of something, whether a scene, a feeling or a moment. Unfortunately, I don’t have all my tools for oil, so acrylic paint had to do, instead. I had another spare canvas board to use and one afternoon-turned-evening, I doled out this moment.
Still working on the placement of shadows when I don’t have a literal model, but I’m quite satisfied with the piece overall. It came out a little more eerie than I was hoping, but it is an eerie moment in the book, as well. Comments? Critiques? Sweet nothings?
Lastly, for my painter friends out there – what do you usually do with used solvent for oil painting at home? I was spoiled at my university because we had a big barrel that was taken care of for us, but home’s a horse of a different color entirely. Suggestions?
Love as always,