Pen and Ink...and maybe some paint

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Jane Eyre Challenge

Welcome to the Jane Eyre Challenge! While reading Jane Eyre I was inspired to offer this as a challenge. Many of you are probably Jane Eyre fans. Some may have seen only the movie versions and others may have read the book. I do love several of the movie versions, but I first met Jane through the book and I continue to prefer it to the movies, though I'll always imagine Mr. Rochester looking like Orson Welles! (I think he fits the book's description to a T!)

Anyway, as I read Chapter 13 I came across the descriptions of three strange pictures which Jane had painted. Mr. Rochester has just met her and he is examining the paintings and trying to learn more about her. I thought it might be quite a challenge for each of us to choose a painting and paint our interpretation of what it might have looked like.

Now, I can't remember if any of the movies showed what they thought these paintings looked like, but if so, I hope we'll try to come up with our own ideas. If a whole painting is too daunting, then it is perfectly okay to paint some aspect of the whole picture.

Below you will find the descriptions Jane gave of her three paintings. When you complete your painting you can come back here and attach a comment to the Jane Eyre Challenge page (the link is in my right hand column) with a link to the blog page where your painting is posted. I would love it if you would put a link to my blog in your blog post. I do not have a commercial blog; no Etsy shop or anything of that sort. I just love to paint and draw and would like a little more traffic on my blog! :D This is an open ended challenge. No time limit. Maybe it will go on FOREVER! Woo-hoo! Sorry, no prizes! Just the fun of creating something with your own two hands. I'm partial to "real" paintings and drawings made with real materials, but if you prefer digital or other media, give it a try. We'd all love to see your results!

I hope you will enjoy trying this! I look forward to seeing some wonderful paintings!

And now, here's the excerpt from Jane Eyre. (I hope you'll read the book if you haven't already!)

He spread the pictures before him, and again surveyed them

While he is so occupied, I will tell you, reader, what they are:
and first, I must premise that they are nothing wonderful. The
subjects had, indeed, risen vividly on my mind. As I saw them with
the spiritual eye, before I attempted to embody them, they were
striking; but my hand would not second my fancy, and in each case it
had wrought out but a pale portrait of the thing I had conceived. [I know exactly how she feels!] Lisa's note!

These pictures were in water-colours. The first represented clouds
low and livid, rolling over a swollen sea: all the distance was in
eclipse; so, too, was the foreground; or rather, the nearest
billows, for there was no land. One gleam of light lifted into
relief a half-submerged mast, on which sat a cormorant, dark and
large, with wings flecked with foam; its beak held a gold bracelet
set with gems, that I had touched with as brilliant tints as my
palette could yield, and as glittering distinctness as my pencil
could impart. Sinking below the bird and mast, a drowned corpse
glanced through the green water; a fair arm was the only limb
clearly visible, whence the bracelet had been washed or torn.

The second picture contained for foreground only the dim peak of a
hill, with grass and some leaves slanting as if by a breeze. Beyond
and above spread an expanse of sky, dark blue as at twilight:
rising into the sky was a woman's shape to the bust, portrayed in
tints as dusk and soft as I could combine. The dim forehead was
crowned with a star; the lineaments below were seen as through the
suffusion of vapour; the eyes shone dark and wild; the hair streamed
shadowy, like a beamless cloud torn by storm or by electric travail.
On the neck lay a pale reflection like moonlight; the same faint
lustre touched the train of thin clouds from which rose and bowed
this vision of the Evening Star.

The third showed the pinnacle of an iceberg piercing a polar winter
sky: a muster of northern lights reared their dim lances, close
serried, along the horizon. Throwing these into distance, rose, in
the foreground, a head,--a colossal head, inclined towards the
iceberg, and resting against it. Two thin hands, joined under the
forehead, and supporting it, drew up before the lower features a
sable veil, a brow quite bloodless, white as bone, and an eye
hollow and fixed, blank of meaning but for the glassiness of
despair, alone were visible. Above the temples, amidst wreathed
turban folds of black drapery, vague in its character and
consistency as cloud, gleamed a ring of white flame, gemmed with
sparkles of a more lurid tinge. This pale crescent was "the
likeness of a kingly crown;" what it diademed was "the shape which
shape had none."

"Were you happy when you painted these pictures?" asked Mr.
Rochester presently.

"I was absorbed, sir: yes, and I was happy. To paint them, in
short, was to enjoy one of the keenest pleasures I have ever known."

I will look forward to being surprised by some unexpected entries in this challenge, long after I've forgotten I put it on my blog, lol! I'm going to have to look up images for the Eastern Star and cormorants and such. The one with the iceberg, I'm not sure I understand at all. It will make for some interesting research! :)

Go for it!


  1. Reader, I think we can assume that fraise will not be painting, but she will be following with interest!

    1. You phrased that in such a Jane-esque manner! Now I just have to figure out how to spread the word about the challenge. Never done this before! :(

  2. Wow - that's quite a challenge. I'm not sure my water color/painting skills are up to it. But I might be able to do something in mixed media. Will definitely book mark it and think on it.

    1. The more I read over the challenge the more daunted I am by it! I may try just part of one of the paintings! Thanks for checking it out, Rinda!

  3. OK, I just found this challenge, after I left my previous comment. Every time I read Jane Eyre I become her, of course, but I've never thought about joining in her paintings! I am glad this has no deadline, for it will take me a while... and I suspect my renditions will contain but elements of a particular description rather than the whole. But I commend you for putting out this challenge!

    1. I'm excited to see what you come up with! :D

    2. OK, Lisa, I got as far as the sky on the first one... Not sure how to proceed. Will keep looooooking at it, hoping that a creative wave will sweep me along!

    3. LOL! Wish I could help you. I got as far as my pencil cormorant sketch and haven't gotten any further. Trying to get in on too many other challenges!I looked up images on Google of sunken ships, cormorants, stormy seas, etc. Hope you get inspired!

  4. I will look forward to being surprised by some unexpected entries in this challenge, long after I've forgotten I put it on my blog, lol! I'm going to have to look up images for the Eastern Star and cormorants and such. The one with the iceberg, I'm not sure I understand at all. It will make for some interesting research! :)

  5. What a fantastic idea for a challenge! Hmm.

    1. I hope you will be inspired to create something for the challenge! No hurry!

  6. how cool that you found my post about jane eyre and that i get to find out about your jane eyre challenge. :) the book is still out at my library, but it seems like it might be worth it to buy if you're reading it for the third time! what a great idea for a challenge. i'm going to have to do some research! i look forward also to looking around the rest of your blog. :)

    1. I've come across copies of the book at my library book sale. I think it's a fantastic book! Hope you join in the challenge!

  7. OMG this is the COOLEST EVER!! I read this book when I was 13 and remember distinctly spending much time thinking about these particular paintings- ----- I will bookmark this & seek to go back to it in the future, def interested!

    1. Thanks for your enthusiasm! I hope you'll enjoy creating something for the challenge! I'll be so excited to see what others come up with. I've begun something, but it may take me a while to finish.

    2. I look forward to seeing the results of this challenge. Not sure I want to paint any of those scenes myself though.

      Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors

  8. This is as far as I've gotten. It may be finished for all I know, lol!


Thanks for dropping by! I'd love to hear your thoughts! :)