Tatiana and Olga 2010

Tatiana and Olga  2010

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Art Projects Update

I have been in such a Haworth dreamland since my return from England that I'm behind in my other  pursuits such as this blog. I have been furiously writing and painting from a cloud  ...now it is  time for an update

Alexei: Painting Update

Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia
In my painting of the Tsar and his son, my  portrait of Alexei  is going in a completely  different direction than I thought it would,

He was happy and laughing for years...now he looks more thoughtful and somber  as if he could see the future. I wanted the laughing Alexei ,  but the art gods have decreed otherwise. Even this photo is a bit happier than the portrait currently  emerging .

It's hard to explain being excited about a picture one has painting for over two years . There has been moments of disrepair of course, but if one keeps going, another shore is reached.

One is asked to go deep to solve the problems , to thoroughly investigate.  If you care about your subject that is not a difficulty, it's an opportunity.  One learns things one would not if all went smoothly.

What is interesting is my breakthroughs often happen right after I say " I'll never get it" It's almost as if  giving up  the idea I know what I'm doing,  frees me up to find another way .

Bronte Novel Update

Not surprisingly in Haworth and now afterwards  I have been writing my Bronte novel  furiously .

There were two major rows over Mr. Nicholls between father and daughter. In Jan of 1854  Charlotte told her father she had been writing to and meeting with  Arthur Bell Nicholls . This news was not greeted with joy. She now wanted Papa's permission to gain " a better acquaintance" . After a time, Patrick grudgingly agreed.

Weeks later Charlotte went to her father and told  him she was marrying Mr. Nicholls , he was returning as Haworth's curate and they would be living at the Parsonage with him.  This caused an uproar. Neither Bronte gave an inch. Only Tabby's intervention broke the impasse.

This week  I spent four days writing about  that last  battle  and what fun it has been . It's the greatest fun to bring 45 + years of Bronte  reading and pondering to bear on such a scene.

The historic threads  and patterns run deep, my novel is written by a Bronte fan and it's for the Bronte fan, in that they will see how  I constantly bring in the history . Happily   my writer/ editor  husband, assures me it will appeal to a wider audience.   

I had a disappointment in my research. Last year I was informed Arthur first officiated at Haworth in 1844 . This was news! All the books say it  was May  of 1845!

I am very interested in how Arthur even got to Haworth . No one seems to know. We are told he most likely read an ad for the position, but that is conjecture 

 I wrote back to my source to double check. It took them some months  to answer.  During that  time I wrote a scene where Rev Bronte's curate in 1844, James Smith, invites Arthur to Haworth to see the place in hopes he will take over for him and I wrote a scene were they discuss Haworth and  the  Parson's family .

I based the  idea of a connection between these  Irishmen  on more than the 1844 date , which would include  a large part of Smith's curacy. But also because Arthur Bell Nicholls told Clement K. Shorter antidotes about Smith  in the 1890's ( such as Smith  would  also fire  pistols into the church yard ) Arthur somehow knew Smith ...so why would Smith not be a  link that got Arthur to Haworth ?

Then I heard back : A mistake had been made. The May 1845 date was correct. ... and when one thinks about it,  it's hardly likelly  140 + years of Bronte research would miss an earlier year! lol

But now I had this lively  scene that seemed without a foundation ...what to do?

 I did more research and it turns out both Arthur and James Smith got their decrees from Trinity in Dublin. They were alumni. It  seems impossible  to me they were unknown to each other and  Smith did not have at least a hand in Arthur Bell Nicholls arriving in Haworth. 

Luckily I'm writing a novel, I have some leeway .. so the scene stays

Smith left Haworth under a cloud of debt and it was even thought he took off with money meant for a charity. I can see  in that case Arthur would not want  to underscore Smith's  role in his  coming to Haworth, But again that is speculation...yet the silence on just  how Nicholls got there is strange

The Parsonage in winter

I could not be upset with being given this  misinformation because it got me thinking  along these lines and writing about a connection between these two  Irishmen. Eventually I found other reasons for the possibility .  So it actually helped me to be misinformed! But always double check and check again!

Since writing the scene between Charlotte and Partick,  Rev Patrick Bronte has stepped forward like never before. The more I learn of this man, the most I like him. One comes to love him really. His letters after Charlotte's death are remarkable documents and they show a  great closeness between  Rev. Bronte and his son in law  existed from this time

This book is about their relationship as well  as Charlotte and Arthur's . When CBN dies ,Arthur becomes an apprentice  in grief  and learns how to survive it  from a great Master in the art. Who but Patrick would understand Arthur's level of grief?  Bronte , who had  lost all his family , called Arthur's grief "very great" . He should know.

The echo of Arthur's grief  over the loss of Charlotte is something that helps fuel this novel.I have always felt it  keenly. Now I am telling its story

Patrick Bronte and Arthur Bell Nicholls.
Two Irish farm lads who made good

Arthur  is often praised for staying with Patrick after Charlotte's death . In my book that amazes him. First, he had promised Charlotte he would care for Patrick, and fought hard for the right . Her tragically  early death did not void that vow. 

Secondly  imo  Arthur could  have gone mad without  Rev. Bronte to care for and guide him.  Indeed  when Patrick himself dies 6 years after Charlotte , we know Arthur was inconsolable.  I'm sure this was in part because  his last  task  for Charlotte was finished , she was truly gone. But  it was for Partick's sake as well .  Arthur later called Patrick " My greatest friend "

So this is a novel about Charlotte Bronte and Arthur Bell Nicholls and others in  the Bronte circle But it is also has as very  important characters ,  Patrick Bronte and the 2nd Mrs Nicholls, Mary Anna Bell Nicholls ...all have great love stories  to tell

Okay! Back to work!