Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Raspberry Cordial with Anne Shirley

Acrylic polymer emulsion on gessoed hardboard
14 x 11'', created July 8-23, 2008, #147

Continuing my book and authors series, this one celebrates the work of Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942), and more specifically her novel ''Anne of Green Gables''. The book was originally published in 1908, 100 years ago. It's quintessential Canadiana with a maritime flavor. The story tells the tale of Anne Shirley, an eleven year-old orphan who is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island . The Cuthberts had requested a boy to help with the work around the farm. The outspoken red hair girl with a vivid imagination would soon leave an indelible impression on everyone around her. Anne of Green Gables is the first of a series that includes another seven volume that follows Anne from the age of 11 to 53. These were published between 1909 and 1923.

The inspiration for this painting comes from chapter 16, Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results. Here we follow Anne serving her best friend Diana what she believes is Raspberry Cordial while recalling stories she had made up in her head. After her third glass, Diana becomes violently ill. Actually, she is drunk. What was on the pantry shelf was not raspberry cordial, but homemade currant wine. The sequence is extremely funny, especially the paragraph when she recalls that it is an uphill battle for Marilla to teach how to cook.

The book, Anne of Green Gables was an instant hit from the get go. Selling nineteen thousand copies in the first five months, and going into it's tenth printings in the first year. It has been translated into 35 languages, and hold the title of being the best selling book by a Canadian author with an estimate 50 million copies. It's popularity known no boundaries. In 1965 it was adapted to musical theater and is the longest running musical in Canada and possibly in the world. It has been adapted for several made-for-TV movies and the highly acclaim 1985 Emmy Award winning 4-hour mini-series featuring Megan Follows in the lead role.

The spirit of Anne is very much alive and well on Prince Edward Island. It remains one of my favorite vacation destination. I've probably visited the Island two dozen times. I only live an hour away by car. The musical stage show continues it's record-run at the Confederation Theater in Charlottetown. The capital city is also known as the birthplace of Canada. In the Cavendish area, the historical house from which the author took inspiration for the setting, attracts 250,000 tourists from around the world annually. The Village of Avonlea located in Cavendish is a must see for any Anne fan. Here, pages from the book comes to life with wonderful actors playing the characters from the fable. You can also visit Lucy Maud Montgomery's home when she lived in Cavendish, her grave site, and her birthplace in nearby New London. A lot of festivities mark the 100th anniversary of the book that includes a set of two stamps issued by Canada Post, and the release of a 25¢ coin by the Royal Canadian Mint.

The book cover illustration featured on this painting was done by Scott McKowen. The talented artist who lives in Ontario, created the drawings for a series of classic books published by Sterling Publishing. The drawing done in scatchboard (an engraving medium) evokes the look of the art during the time these stories were written. Other books in the series includes Oliver Twist, Peter Pan, The Swiss Family Robinson, Gulliver's Travels and many more. McKowen was featured on the blog ''Lines and Colors'' in 2007.

The glass sitting on the book is made by the oldest glass factory in France, La Rochère was founded in 1475. This 8 oz art-glass features their Bee motif.

I most recently spent 5 days on PEI during the month of June, where I did a solo trek of 662 km (411 miles) in 5 days on my hybrid bicycle. Day 2 and 3 included the 270km of rolling hills that stretches from one tip to the other - North Cape to East Point.

I leave you these wonderful words from Anne....''I love bright red drinks, don't you? They taste twice as good as any other color''.
-private collection