Once upon a time there was a young lady called Holly. She fell in love with a young man named Douglas Hobbie, and they got married. Douglas and Holly were still in school, so money was always a little tight. They didn’t have a car or a couch or fancy China, but they did have a cat, a kitchen table and a lovely baby girl.
Holly loved to paint with watercolors at that table, especially she liked to draw little girls: happy, modest, spunky, small people with personalities that oozed out of them. When a friend suggested that she send some of her drawings to a card company, she gave it a shot. Two days later their art director called with a deal… money for paintings.
Holly was a little surprised but she decided to go for it. It seemed like a good way to make some welcome cash. Some days she could turn out two designs for the card company and some days she didn’t get anything done. It was a bit of a shock when her work became wildly popular. About that time there was another new little daughter, which required a lot of extra time and energy. A few years later, a fine baby boy was born.
Holly was a mother first. She delighted in observing the details in her children, watching their personalities develop and cultivating their gifts. She taught them “to feel reverence when face to face with something as common as a buttercup”. Always she found time to sketch them, their friends, their special toys, even their bedtime blankies. Her children were normal, but to her they were extraordinary. Home had a shining quality, the moments stacked on moments, celebrated by noticing what was really happening.
Being so absorbed in the busyness of family didn’t cramp her style, but rather enhanced it. It made her paintings iconic. Something about the way she invested herself into her real work spilled over in the energy of her paintings. Eventually someone said, “There needs to be a doll.” When nobody listened, he went home and stitched one up himself to show to the toymakers. That is how it happened that when I was a little girl, I had a beloved floppy ragdoll in blue patchwork clothes, and so did pretty much every other little girl in the early eighties. 🙂
I have been so fascinated in reading Holly Hobbie’s memoirs. As a mother, her story takes on a different aspect than it did when I was a small bonneted girl myself. 🙂
I still really like you, Holly Hobbie. (I like your Toot and Puddle books too.)
(Book Review: The Art of Holly Hobbie, Drawing on Affection)