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Mystery lady has own mysterious manner

June 23, 2012

Carole McReynolds Davis
Contributing Columnist

On May 9, 1995 I spotted an extra special magical mystery lady.
I caught her expression, her very being, within a few wonderful moments. Those seconds are what we artists long to find but seldom discover.

Yet still we search and sometimes do have the joy of suddenly finding true reality. I discovered exactly what I was looking for that day. I captured my lady in a profile, hat, neck shoulders and arm forever on my 25-by-20-inch gray paper using pastel chalk.

She had her own mysterious manner. She reminded me of an artist herself. She is a puzzle shrouded in secrecy. She is like a girl newly arrived in a small Mississippi town or city. She has no permanent or fixed address. Could she be a gypsy? Her story is hidden in her face and its features.

At the bottom of her portrait, which I discovered in Jackson, I simply titled it, “Victorian Hat.” She has such a mystic look about her, and I wondered what her life experiences have and will be?

She looks like she could have lived during the Victorian Era (the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837-1901). Her whole body and manner of dress is of the Victorian style. She is most elaborately dressed for a very formal occasion.

I love the Victorian period of time. I just turned 70 years old on March 4, and my sweet husband Frank gave me a beautiful gold oval-shaped Victorian cameo ring with the most elegant portrait of a lady in white dating back to the 1800s. I had found it in a darling antique shop in our sister city of Columbus. Sometimes I dream that I might be living back in the Victorian era wearing those fabulous Victorian hats and dresses!

In her portrait, the mystery lady has one sparkling, jet-black eye, an almost turned-up pug nose, and her fabulous protruding pretty lips. I would absolutely die to own and wear her Victoria hat on top of my head.
She is dressed to kill, and dressed to create a very striking impression on any one passing by or in the room with her.

She is dressed in her most sophisticated clothes, and dressed up to the nines. The left side of her portrait starts with her hat, which looks as if it were simply growing on the tip top of her head! There’s a soft lace around the crown of the very lady-like hat. The dusty rose colors blending into the yellows and touches of green and gold.

(This is the dust from the pastels themselves as they slide across the gray paper. Dust is characteristic in pastel drawings.) The lovely Irish lace almost covers up her one determined dark black eye.

Her nose is very elegant and attractive. Her proud lips looks almost like a Mona Lisa smile. Her smile tells me that she is one spunky lady, and she knows exactly who she is and where she is going every second, minute, and hour of the day. She seems very sure of herself, holding her shoulders back with great assurance.

Her skin is stunning and lovely. Her cheeks are one of the brightest parts of her face. Her bottom lip is a pretty shade of coral red lipstick and the top lip is a almost a red-wine-colored lipstick shade. It’s the same tube, but her top lip is always in the shadow underneath her nose.

Her long flowing black/brown hair is just slightly curly and gracefully falls on her neck and shoulders. I loved the one strand of pearls as they catch the lights and shadows dancing cross her neck line. Pearls are always elegant and most tastefully indeed.

The long veil has colors of pink, light purple, and gray like the background of the gray paper on which she is sketched.There’s the deep purple neck scarf tied to the her neck in a knot in the back (not the side or the front) of her dress. It just dares her to be herself!

Her dress is long-sleeved white and see-through on top. I think it’s a combination of net, lace and maybe a touch of cotton, all in polka-dot rounded designs. Her body size not petite, but almost plump. She is very charming, queenly and regal.

Where was she going? What was her final destination for this one day in her life? I think she was dressed up for her own wedding day. She might have been wed within seconds, minutes or within the hour.
This pastel portrait is a puzzle shrouded in secrecy. Her hat caught my eye back in 1995 and she has been an absolute and complete mystery since.

She might be wondering if she’s making the right decision to get married. Of if it will last. Or if she’ll be able to combine a marriage, children and a career too. Each one of us, as we grow older, will have to answer all of these questions within our own hearts and souls. I suppose this is simply called breathing and living life to its very fullest. Forgetting yet remembering, and learning from our past. Hoping for a bright future, then just settling down and living one day at a time.

We are all just taking one sip of coffee from a dainty Victorian coffee cup as we visit with one dear close friend.

Carole McReynolds Davis is a local artist. Email her at

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