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Surreal Night in Transylvania - how the painting was born

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If you ever travel to Romania, you need to know that although many places across the country are beyond beautiful, there is one part that will never fail to charm you forever. And that is Transylvania.

 

gouache painting surreal home decoration night black birds art by Christine Onward
Original painting by artist Christine Onward, products for sale Here

I spent time with this painting thinking about Transylvania: the dark blue skies of the summer nights with the orange moon above, larger than all mountains, fantastically reflecting on the forest trees. And the stars, looking straight at you, shining straight into your eyes, and the crickets endlessly singing songs of love for their dear ones…

 

If done with passion and from the heart, painting has the power to take you to some of the most amazing and perhaps long forgotten memories from the past.

Painting this design took me to cousin Ghita and the night when we were waiting for the wild boars.

NIGHTS IN FASCA – Transylvanian adventures with cousin Ghita

 

I am 11 or 12 years old. Cousin Ghita, my best mate and most honest accomplice, 11 years old too. Days are long in summer, so many soccer games to play, so many trees to climb, geese to fly to the river, cows to run to the forest…

Wild boars have been pestering everyone across the village. We have to guard the maize from them all night until the sunrise. Then we are allowed to rest.

I jump with joy, looking forward to spending the whole night under the starry skies, covered in that large sheep skin, laying in the hay smelling of summer flowers…  

But uncle decides I’m not allowed to go. What has a city girl, all silly and clumsy as me, got to do with wild boars? I must stay in my room. And I’m not allowed to protest in any way. Because it's terribly rude to not obey your relatives in Transylvania. Uncle is merciless these days.

Late in the night I try to sleep but the thought of the wild boars sneaking through the trees straight into the corn field is not easy to ignore. I hear voices at the window, like whispers calling my name. I'm not scared. It's just whispers, calling my name from outside.

I jump out the window, without no shoes, just bare feet. Cousin Ghita is waiting for me with neighbour Cornel both holding the big sheep skin coat so that I don’t get cold.

We have to march quickly down the hill, to check Cornel’s maize.

I walk in Cornel’s shoes. He doesn’t need them. He hated them anyway. To me the shoes are too large and too noisy. But I mustn't say anything, or I scare the night.

Cornel carries a little light pointing at dark animal pathways, secret holes in the trees, plants leaving chaotic shadows under our steps…

Cornel likes talking about dead men. How they also took this way to go to the valley. You can never hear their steps in the grass, because they are dead. But you can feel them cold, like a breeze, sticking to the back of your neck until you get stiff and can’t move anymore.

I walk slowly behind Cornel and in front of cousin Ghita. If there were to be dead men passing by, then there will definitely not be my neck for them to stick to, because I am wisely walking in the middle of the line, not behind, like cousin Ghita.

There are no wild boars roaming through Cornelu’s maize. It’s silence. Only deep in the forest there is a chilling whisper of leaves and sometimes night birds shouting sadly at long forgotten ghosts…

We return to the little hut that uncle built for the boys at the corn field. I hide inside, hoping that cold breeze bodies don’t get stuck to the back of my neck. The ship skin coat smells revolting, but it’s warm and soft. I can close my eyes and listen to cousin Ghita and neighbour Cornel chatting away outside…

Apparently if the devil follows you in the dark, it will definitely want to call you by your name. But you should know it’s the devil. Don't ever turn your head to see who called you in the dark. Keep walking or you’ll lose your mind and voice forever...

As my eyes are slowly going down to sleep, I hear whispers of my name inside the tent. A terrifying low voice whispers my name, calling me to follow it in the dark!

I jump outside, hardly being able to breathe from fear, and start screaming: “It’s here! It’s here!” I hit the empty metal pot, making terrible noise while the boys are laughing their heads off.

The next minute, up on the mountain and all around the village hills I see fires lighting up. It was my shouting that woke them up. Everyone is banging onto metal pots to scare the wild boars. A concert of bangs, and shouts, and howling echoing from all corners of the village! It felt like it lasted forever.

At sunrise uncle finds the three of us in deep sleep around the sheep skin coat, “like newborn lambs”.

“What a happy gang, he says. The whole village is in frenzy. There's been talk that boars have been going through everyone’s corn fields. All night long the boars moved along the line of the mountains... And here you are, sleeping like angels. Bet you have no idea what happened last night”

Cousin Ghita looks in the distance, like a wise old man and sighs deeply.. in the most dramatic voice he says: “Bet nobody does”. I can hardly keep myself from laughing. Cornel keeps busy trying to recover his shoes from my feet.

Here is Fasca,the village of the wild boars, shining fantastically in strange shapes and colours under the moon light. I’d tell you more stories if you want. But we’ll have to ask cousin Ghita for permission first.  Maybe he would like to tell you more Transylvanian stories, much better than mine.

gouache painting surreal night stars art painted by Christine Onward

 Art by Christine Onward. More products for sale here

 

 

 

 

 

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