For a few weeks I've had a little house in my head. Literally, quite little. Were it a real
house I imagine it would stand no taller than seven to eight inches (and even that may be stretching it). A miniature great Victorian with sprawling wrap around porches, many windows with wrought iron over glass panes, chimneys sticking out at all angles. Each roof would be red, as I saw it, the cheery rosy spotted caps of toadstools.
A gnome home. A home for gnomes. I've come to adore traditional gnomes the past few years. My sister Gracie is partly to blame, as she gave me a lovely book The Secrets of the Gnomes by Wil Huygen and RienPoortvliet. Before reading this wonderfully enjoyable book I painted cynical illustrations of two very 'natural' looking gnomes eying a traditional lawn gnome statue with resentment, as though they had come across the effigy on their backyard journeys and found it too simplistic and offensive to their teeny race. I figured I might try to re-work gnomes into a more respectable species.
What I failed to realize before reading more about traditional gnomes was just how respectable a mythical race they were. Their itty bitty lives are believed to be full of ritual and responsibility. They care for the forests and are friends and protectors to the creatures dwelling within. They work hard, they are clever, devoted, and excellent craftsmen. In short, they perform every task with the utmost care.
For sometime I have imagined what their homes and culture would be like if the creatures were real. Skilled in weaving, carving, and painting as they are I feel like many of their clothes and belongings would be ornately decorated. I'm sure they would keep their clothes simple for all the work in the forest they must accomplish in a day--however if they are so talented and tireless how could they resist embroidering the occasional shirt?
Being sensible I have no doubt that most of their homes would be underground burrows
and the like, however I'm sure that one or two would not be able to resist building a fine above ground home out of natural materials. And so the idea of the toadstool cottage began to take shape in the back of my thoughts.
Today I sketched it out, penned it, and applied light watercolor washes. I added a gentleman gnome walking a harnessed snail, and a lady gnome shaking out a sheet from the second story window. Little pointed hats peek out from other windows, indicating little children. I'm thinking of doing a series of illustrations on this family, but we'll see. I think about doing a lot of illustrations that sadly sometimes get pushed to back burners. However, I have a feeling I will keep returning to gnomes.
I have prints of this illustration for sale in my etsy shop! Click on the link below to see.