Friday, September 27, 2013

Sketchbook Challenge Blog Hop ~ Susan Brubaker Knapp

My house, my home
Susan Brubaker Knapp here. I took this month’s theme very literally, and decided to sketch my house. We have lived here, in a town north of Charlotte, NC, for the past 17 years. Our house was built in 1916, and is a combination of Queen Anne and Craftsman/Arts and Crafts styles. We live in a neighborhood where most of the houses were built from 1890-1920.

In the years since my mother died, I have been pretty obsessed with genealogy. I just love it when I can find photos of the homes where my ancestors have lived. It somehow helps me understand them better when I can see them in their environment. Here are some of the house photos in my family collection:

The Paulson home in Beaver Falls/New Brighton, PA
My grandmother Dorothy is the girl leaning on the pillar to the right of the steps; the one with the big bow in her hair. Her mother (my great-grandmother Gertrude Drusilla Funkhouser Paulson; I love that name!) is seated in front of the door, and some of Dorothy’s sisters and brothers are also in the photo. The little girl on the steps grew up to be my mother’s piano teacher!

The Thomas and Elizabeth Carter home in Amelia Courthouse, VA, about 1910.
My great-great-grandfather Thomas Carter built this farmhouse about 1870, when he was about 30 years old. He had moved from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It was home to Thomas and Elizabeth’s 11 children. It is still standing (I visited earlier this year), but sadly, it has gone out of our family’s hands.

William and Eliza Carter in front of their home in Newtown, PA, about 1915.
William Carter was my great-great-grand uncle. He came from Northern Ireland around 1850, and lived most of his life near Philadelphia in Bucks County, PA.  

I feel so much more connected to my ancestors, to my genes, to my country’s history, when I can see where they lived. So do yourself, and your descendants, a favor. Take a photo of the places you live. Better yet, take a photo of you, and/or your family, standing in front of your house. Have a print made, and be sure to write the names and date on the back. Your descendants will thank you!

Leaving a sketch of your home is an even more wonderful legacy to leave your descendants. That way, they have a piece of your creativity, your art, to hold in their hands long after you are gone, perhaps long after the house is gone. 

A sketch of a home is also a great way to mark a special occasion, such as a marriage, birth, or anniversary. I sketched the historic home my husband and I rented in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a wedding gift to him in 1994. The house was part of Thomas Jefferson’s father’s Shadwell Plantation, and dated to the 1700s. It was incredibly special.

I included the peacock feathers because our landlords kept peacocks on the property, and we had a special bond with a peahen named Emily. Here’s a closeup of the house sketch/watercolor:

I gave this sketch to my husband on our wedding day. He told me recently that it is one of his most prized possessions. It made me feel really great to know how much he appreciates it.

So come on over to my blog, and I’ll show you how I sketched my current house!

And I’ll be giving away a Moleskine sketchbook – in a cover I will custom design and stitch – to one lucky person who leaves a comment on the post!


  1. Thank you for sharing some of your family's history. Stay well.

  2. I love that you were able t go back that far and find your ancestors and photos even! Your sketch is great. Have a great weekend!

  3. It must be wonderful to have such a record of, and connection to, your family history. The gift to your husband is so special, and will add another link to the history of your family. I really appreciated your sharing.

    1. Thanks, Jo! I am very lucky to have so many photos of my ancestors... I have been doing a lot of genealogy work in the past two years, and have unearthed some photos from cousins I didn't even know I had!

  4. Memory--what a wonderful connection to family. Lovely sketch and watercolor of the house. I can see why your husband loves it. Janet Wright, Wa

    1. Thanks, Janet... handmade gifts are always the best, aren't they?