Sunday, September 13, 2015

Heraldry and the Smith Coat of Arms

I started with a bookplate that was proudly passed on to the family by my great grandfather Charles Edward Villiers Smith.  On that bookplate was the Smith family coat of arms and I became intrigued with heraldry.  I recently learned a lot about the rules that govern the design of a coat of arms and discovered that, although the families portrayed are correct, the order in which they are displayed on the bookplate are slightly incorrect.  The rules of heraldry are very intricate, and when portrayed properly, can tell a lot about the family pedigree.  There is much information on the Internet and in books that explain the rules and symbols, but I am not knowledgeable enough to write a lot on the subject.

The following coat of arms shows a descent from six families in the correct order.  Each cell on the shield shows the arms of a particular ancestral family.

Reading from left to right as you would a book the arms on this shield represent the families of:
1.  Smith
2.  Orlebar
3.  Boteler of Biddenham, second son
4.  Hervey
5.  Chernocke
6.  Boteler of Biddenham, first son

This second version is the one that is on my great grandfather's bookplate and was handed down to him from his father and ultimately from his grandfather.

This is exactly like the old bookplate and was first used by Boteler Chernocke Smith, my gr-gr-gr-grandfather.  The first problem is that the shield is divided in thirds, which is incorrect.  It should be in half with the husband's arms on the left half and the wife's on the right half.  Another thing is that the right third does not even make sense.  Even if it was half of the shield, his wife was not of that family, although he was descended from that family.  Finally the arms of Hervey and Orlebar should be reversed to properly reflect the pedigree and rules of heraldry.  So it is a muddle, but it is what it is.

The families represented in the four small cells are:
1.  Smith
2.  Hervey
3.  Orlebar
4.  Chernocke
The entire right third is Boteler of Biddenham

All renditions of my family arms have a crest on top, which is an oak tree with golden acorns.  The motto on a ribbon across the bottom says "Non deficit alter."  Translated from the latin it means, "Another is not wanting."

At one point in history coats of arms were carefully guarded and registered.  Families had to prove to men from the College of Heralds that they were entitled to bear arms.  They did so with pedigrees that were carefully recorded and became the Visitations that are so useful today to genealogists researching medieval English ancestry.  Later as the culture changed it became less legally important and registration was expensive.  Family arms can still be registered if desired, but it is still very expensive.  My family did not register their coat of arms, and that may be why they are a bit wonky.

No matter, my gr-grandfather was proud of his family heritage and his coat of arms, even though he left England at age 19 and was a pioneer in Nebraska where he married, raised a large family, and is buried.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Carter Coat of Arms

I have been working on a different kind of digital art lately. I have been interested in genealogy for many years and am descended from an English family that had a coat of arms. My husband also is from an armigerous English family. Believe it or not our families lived about four miles apart in the 17th century. So I have been updating my rendition of the coats of arms. This one was used by the Carters of Kempston, Bedfordshire, England. The earliest immigrant of the family was Capt. Thomas Carter who arrived in VA in the 1690's.

This painting wasn't all brush work.  It took some drawing, some painting and a lot of playing with gradients in Illustrator.  The dogs were done with digital brushes in Photoshop and then moved into place in Illustrator.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Flower the Mule Deer

At last, my digital painting of Flower the Mule Deer is complete.  It took longer than planned because of too many other projects that needed attention.  I painted this beautiful buck from a photo that I took in my back yard. I had planted a large wildflower garden and the deer spent a good part of the fall gobbling up everything edible in preparation for the winter famine.  They aren't as hungry in the summer so we enjoyed the flowers for a long time before they became wildlife fodder.

Flower had beautiful antlers, five points on each, but they take up a lot of space in a painting or photo.  I chose to focus on his beautiful face.  I spent quite awhile sitting at the edge of the garden, very close to him, admiring his lovely markings.  I hope he comes back to visit next year.

Flower the Mule Deer

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wacom Pen

My new Wacom pen arrives on Monday.  I can't wait to get back to painting.  Don't know about Wacom?  They produce an electronic tablet that connects to the computer and has a special pen for drawing and painting on the tablet.  The designs I make show up on my computer in Photoshop.  There are all kinds of brushes available and you can make your own as well.  With these brushes you can create strokes that emulate oil painting, water color painting, charcoal drawing, ink drawing - the list covers all drawing and painting tools.  It is truly amazing and so much fun to play with.  You can see the pens and tablets at Wacom.

I hope to finish "Flower the Mule Deer" as soon as I get my new pen.  I just hope and pray that it is what is causing the problems.  We'll see!

Friday, January 23, 2015


Yesterday I was planning to finish "Flower" the Mule Deer, but my Wacom pen gave up the ghost.  I have ordered a new one, but it will be a week or more before it arrives.  The old one works a little bit, but is causing so much frustration that I have decided to work on some other creative activities until my new pen arrives.

"Flower" - How he got his name.
Stay tuned.  I will finish him as soon as I can.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Back to the Mule Deer

I have been remiss about maintaining this blog.  The holidays have passed and I have still been too busy to paint, but finally picked up the virtual paintbrush and worked on Flower the mule deer.  These deer are appropriately named for their huge, mule-like ears and I find them fascinating.  I had never noticed that those ears are very hairy.  It took a couple of hours to finish painting one ear, and I thought you might be interested in seeing it.

Ear of a mule deer.

One more ear to go and then he will be finished.  Stay tuned.