poetry and prose about place

another book, another cover

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True to my mantra of having multiple projects on the go at one time, I have been quietly working on a new book, of the genealogical variety. The book, titled Ella: 1859-1933, is an historical account of my great-grandmother’s life, revealed through family stories, Census and City Directory records, military and other official government records, and study of other genealogical sources (I have blogged before about my great-grandmother Much of the information is the result of study by Dr. Jane Margaret Norman, my aunt, who began looking for evidence of Ella’s life in the 1970s and found out most of the known information on Ella’s life. The book will be of interest to Ella’s descendants and others in the Hawk and Kresge lineage.


Ella (Hawk) Norman


A Brief Synopsis of the Book:

Ella Hawk (her maternal grandfather was a Kresge) was born in 1859 to a Pennsylvania German family. When she became an adult, she followed the path of many who felt the lure of the West. By 1880, she lived in Laramie, Wyoming where, in 1886, she met and married Frank Norman. She had one son, Leo, and lived in the West for another 24 years. In 1911, she returned to Pennsylvania to live with her mother and sister. Her son served in the navy and eventually met and married Katie Clark, a trained nurse. In 1927, Katie returned to Canada to raise her young family. Katie and Leo were my grandmother and grandfather.


The book includes a detailed presentation of these events, as well as the genealogical references. I will also include three poems as a memorial to Ella’s family and the account of a trip we took to Wyoming to see where Ella and Frank were married.


my grandfather, Leo Norman, Ella’s son


Book Cover:

I include two references to flowers in the book, to red poppies, and pink and blue columbines. So I decided early to include these flowers on the cover of the book. I also wanted to show Ella on the cover but as a silhouette, walking in the garden. I know, from my Uncle Francis’ memories, she wore wide-brimmed hats, so the figure will be wearing such a hat.


Proof cover- a photo of the columbines in my own yard show roughly what I want for the final cover


At first, I painted apple trees in the background, but the symbolism of the trees escaped me. So I removed the trees and added a scene from the Laramie area, featuring the nearby mountains (the Snowy Range), and a suggestion of foothills and plain. Now the silhouette of ‘Ella’ looks from her garden in the East towards the West. My uncle (her grandson) told me she never forgot the West and wished to return some day.


I completed the basic elements of the cover painting in one sitting. But a lot was left to be done: layers of colour to be added and detail in the mountains and flowers. My main objective was to add colour in such a way to make the poppies appear far away and the columbines close by.


Colour will do this. In general, cool colours (like red) look far away and warm colours (like blue) appear nearby. This generality is modified by the tone (darkness or lightness) of the colour: dark colours appear to get closer while pale colours appear to recede. Saturation of colour will also affect its appearance of advancing or receding: a pure colour will appear nearer; adding a bit of another colour will cause it to recede.

for more information on colour in art, see How Colors Advance and Recede in Art Science of Colour.


first layer of painting


second layer of painting – mountains, poppies, figure and leaves have been retouched


The final painting: I added colour to flowers and leaves and a lighter green to the foreground.


the final cover


I will revisit the cover design in about a week, and perhaps tweak the border colour and other aspects. let me know what you think.


All my best!!!!


Written by jane tims

July 30, 2022 at 7:03 pm

Posted in family history

Tagged with , ,

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