Friday, September 30, 2016

Massachusetts and Alberta

We took a little road trip for a few days. I brought an accordian sketchpad with me and drew on both sides.

It makes a nice story board kind of memory.

In mid-September we drove about an hour south of Boston, Massachusetts, to the town of Plymouth. Sitting in the fine natural harbor was the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that made the journey in 1620. From Plymouth England to Plymouth, Massachusetts. The very tops of the masts and rigging are cut off by the edge of the paper.

You can go on board and see the tight quarters for the two month voyage. One hundred twenty-three people, plus animals and food supplies. On the sea, two people died and two babies were born.

The settlers, later known as the Pilgrims, were headed for current day New York City. They missed. Another immediate problem, they landed in December too late to go ashore and build shelter. So they lived on the boat over the winter.

In addition to the accordian sketchpad, I was also trying out another pad of paper and watercolors given to me in England at the Urban Sketchers Symposium.

These two buildings were across the street from our hotel. This paper has a rough embossed texture which creates a nice dotted line when drawn on with pencil.

I had a dandy time exploring on my own this day. I was impressed with this life-sized bronze statue erected on the tricentennial of the Pilgrims’ arrival. Her cloak looks wind blown by cold sea breezes.

And here is the rock they supposedly stepped out on. It is probably accurate as the shore is very sandy in general. See the leaf for scale? This rock was much larger before tourists were allowed to chip off chunks as souvenirs. The date was chiseled in during the late 1800s.

I sat on a bench to draw the lamp post and the harbormaster’s office. Tourists kept walking up to me on this day and chatting. They wanted to meet a real Yankee. Perhaps a descendant of a Pilgrim. They didn’t seem too disappointed to learn that I was a tourist too. At least I was from nearby.

My last stop on the day was Burial Hill, the site of the original settlement and fort. I met more people there and gave an impromptu art lecture on the history of gravestones.

Besides the free watercolors, I was using a water soluble graphite pencil.

The next day we drove about ten minutes south of town to a reconstructed site called Plimoth Plantation. There various members of the Wampanoag and Mashpee tribes were demonstrating building techniques and cooking methods. Here I drew the framework for a longhouse. When finished, it is covered with bark.

I regret that I didn’t draw any figures in the native village. Feeling too shy I guess, but most people do like the attention. A young woman in deerskin was stirring these two pots over the fire.

It was a blisteringly hot day. but I sat down on the dry grass to make my attempt at the fort. It looks rickety but on the second floor sit about six cannons. 

You can see the seam in the middle of the paper.

The colonists’ village is basically one street headed down to the shoreline. The dirt floored houses are small and crude. The roofs are thatch.

Behind the row of cottages, I came upon these two small structures. From my notes, you can see that the one on the left is a chicken coop and the larger building is the communal ovens.

Here is my very first attempt at drawing chickens and a long horned cow.

The Plimoth Plantation employs people dressed in historical garb, who go by an authentic name of a settler. They are fun to talk to as they are in character and know nothing beyond 1630 or so.

 Recent research shows that: 1. No, the Pilgrims did not dress in black and white. They liked colorful clothing. 2. They did not wear pointy black hats with buckles on them. The women and the men wore rounded wide brimmed brown suede hats, no buckles. And some lacy collars.

A small dark room at the stern of the ship.

Another drawing of the ship. I wanted to capture the design of the flower. The previous drawing is just behind those windows.

One day I drew a pot of flowers as I sipped my morning coffee.

Last night I went for a little walk at 7 PM. This is what I saw across the street from our condo complex in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A whole field full of yellow-orange earth moving machinery. All in motion in a sort of dance of the dirt. I don’t know what they are doing other than preparing a site before cold weather sets in.

The trees were yellow too.

Monday, August 29, 2016

England, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts

 We had just arrived in Manchester, England, to participate in the seventh annual international symposium sponsored by Urban Sketchers. There were over 500 artists there, from 44 countries.

 On our first look out our hotel window, we saw this view of the magnificent Palace Hotel across the street.  I like to draw complex edifices, even though it is impossible to get them right. So I get to just play with shapes and colors.

Upon looking at other artists’ blogs from the event, we found that a number of them had had this same hotel window experience, and had also recorded this view as their initial impression of Manchester.

We are both keen followers of the history of nearby Manchester, New Hampshire, named in homage to the original Manchester.

One feature of the symposium was a set of loosely organized sketch crawls to locations in Manchester. Its architecture and prosperous splendor bear witness to its role as capital of the Industrial Revolution.

Here I stood on a bridge, leaned on the stone railing, and sketched the canal in the Castlefield section of the city. It connected Manchester to the sea and made it a port city. It was a complex scene, what with water, boats, a lock, various overpasses,  a canal tunnel, and a purple train zipping by on a bridge. The city is filled with impressive and ornate Victorian brick buildings, and loads of new ultra modern stuff too.

Not shown in my drawing are all the other sketchers, lined up along the walk and capturing their own impressions of the scene.

This Manchester pub, Peveril of the Peak, is from the 1820 era, but was later clad in colorful tiles in Victorian times. I just LOVED the color shift from mint green to pea green. The back area interested me too, with the small garden and utilitarian courtyard.

Sketchers can be seen at the left, capturing the impressive side door to the establishment.

I had to look it up: the name of the pub refers to a novel by Sir Walter Scott.

After we left Manchester, we traveled south to the Cotswolds, a scenic region about 90 miles west of London. As a family, we lived in the area from 1980–83. While we had lived on the edge of a large city, this time we booked a room in nearby Guiting Power, a village of about 500.

The buildings are almost all constructed of yellow limestone, generally called Cotswold stone. I sat on the damp grass on the small village green to sketch this.

The Cotswolds attracts a lot of tourists in some of the larger villages. But here we were with nothing but hills of wheat and fields of sheep. The one in the front kept his eye on me the entire time. I thought he would come over to greet me close up. 

FYI, the stone walls are built with stones standing vertically along the top. It discourages climbing. And possibly jumping over by the sheep.

One day we drove to the village of Broadway. I drew this after a delightful lunch inside this imposing structure, the Lygon Arms Hotel, circa 1532. Most buildings of Cotswold stone are not this large. but rather cottages. I was told that it is a strong stone that hardens as it is exposed to air.

 Just a few miles to the west of the Cotswolds, the land and the looks both change. The land flattens as it nears the long Severn River. And the use of yellow limestone stops and is replaced with brick and the Tudor era black and whites. This row is in Tewkesbury, very near the abbey.

 Back in North America we are. I drew this at the town market in New London, because business was slow. Have the tourists gone home? I couldn’t resist drawing a young girl with pink eyeglasses.

Behind the tents is our town hall and also a monument to the soldiers of the Civil War. A stone sculpture of a soldier, on a pedestal.

A new friend took us to see a couple of one room schoolhouses. This one, just over the state line in Dunstable, Massachusetts, is sheathed with wooden clapboards painted reddish brown. Sometimes called barn red.

The next schoolhouse, just north in Nashua, New Hampshire, is quite different architecturally. A nice red brick construction with green wooden doors. Massive slabs of granite form the structure of the windows, the foundation, and the steps.

The small nameplate says Dist No.1, 1841.

Our friend has been instrumental in the preservation and upkeep of this building.

And to finish, a sweet charcoal drawing of budding waterlilies in a kitchen glass by our 13 year old granddaughter. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

New Hampshire

The theme of this month’s posting is simply summer time. Here in our little town of 4,000 people we are so lucky to have a summer stock theater called the New London Barn Playhouse. Fourteen young theater students from colleges all around the country intern for each summer season.  Six different plays are performed along with guest artists. Most of them live in New York city and seem very happy to spend a few weeks in fresh New Hampshire air.

After each performance in the old barn, the actors line up on the porch to be greeted by the audience as they leave.The first introductory performance is called the Straw Hat Revue. I drew outside in the dark, and finished the color at home.

A fence next to the lake makes a fine spot to drape a towel. I loved how different the colors and patterns were.

I finally got to visit the famed Fuller rose gardens in North Hampton, NH. The delphiniums and the Atlantic Ocean were the same color on this day. It was a curious sensation to be in a walled garden, yet have a wide view of the sea.

Locally grown strawberries and rhubarb make a fine pie. The fruit comes from Spring Ledge Farm.

  Rollin’ In The Dough, a bakery from the town of Franklin, tempts us all with breads in wire baskets and all manner of sweets. They were our next door neighbors at the Market On the Green.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My Next Book

Here it is.  A proof copy of my new book, our winter project. At 106 pages, it is entitled  Pep Talks For the Would-Be, Should-Be Artist. After a few tiny changes, we will get the presses rolling.

I took a photo of the book under my cut and paste manuscript. We are happy and excited.

Book design by our daughter, Karin Tracy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A new interview

Yesterday I had a delightful interview on local radio station WTPL with Ela “The Pearl” Monroe. (That's her radio name.) She has visited 200 libraries in the state, on track to seeing them all, and she was put onto my trail by a friend who has similar interests in every schoolhouse in the state. We’re a pretty tight little group!

We finally crossed paths at a New Hampshire Humanities event a couple of weeks ago, and she extended a kind invitation to come down to their studio in Bow, right next to Concord, for a half hour interview on their daily talk program. Wow, she had really done her homework! We had a great time together, and I’m so happy with the way it all turned out.

You can find a link to the interview in the Recent Publicity section in the sidebar to the right, but to save you even that inconvenience, here’s one right now:

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Alberta, British Columbia, and Massachusetts

We were waiting for our plane to Toronto. I drew the view of Boston’s Logan airport. On the far right is downtown Boston. It is across the harbor, but the water was not visible from this angle.

And for contrast, here is the view from our waiting lounge at the Vancouver airport in far western Canada. The mountains are not the Rockies, but the equally impressive Coastal Range.

Our eight year old grandson Wyatt is posing for me behind an all metal table hockey set that was designed and built by his great grandfather on his paternal side. One door knob handle turns to work all the players on one side. All the gears on the underside are connected with strips of inner tube rubber. Quite ingenious.

Our older granddaughter Noelle was having a late morning, still in her pajamas. She was drawing, so I drew her.

This is her drawing of the view out of the window of the condo across the parking lot to a matching condo. Then she added an imaginary tree full of song birds and two more courting on the railing.  To me, it seems the flower is saying “can I be a bird and fly away too?”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Southern California and Western Canada

We took a spring trip to California to visit our older daughter. Here are a few sketches. I have a long history of drawing signs. This group is in the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles. I can read only a few of those words in Spanish.

More words in Spanish. I get the word terraza must mean terrace. It is the name of a restaurant in Palm Springs. Our granddaughter Roxy, age 11, drew it off of the menu.

The weather this day in Los Angeles was rainy, and windy with an electrical storm in the distant black clouds. Nonetheless, there was a traffic jam as cars were wending their way up to the Griffith Observatory. We parked down the hill and walked up. Here is our first view of the building. It is a fine public museum as well, and it was packed. And not just because we were trying to escape the wild weather.

 The building is really yellow. It can be a challenge to get the colors accurate through the process of scanning.

The view from the observatory was splendid. This is looking west, and the buildings are not downtown Los Angeles, but maybe a place called Studio City. How flat is the valley, surrounded by very rugged hills. And mountain ranges. The lumps are cars of course.

One day on our spring visit to Southern California, our daughter drove us east to Joshua Tree National Park. The trees are actually tall yucca and they were in bloom. I read that this type of plant grows a mere one inch per year. This one was about 10-12 feet high, or well over a hundred years old. The rock formations are fascinating to draw and climb. Nothing wobbled.

Here’s another drawing by Roxy. We are both fascinated by rows of palm trees and unusual buildings. This is in Palm Springs.

On this day, the park in front of the Fashion Museum in LA was full of new students (I think) enjoying a free lunch and a lounge on the lawn.  The bodies of groups of people meld and merge into one large shape.


As another example of figures melding and merging with their surroundings, here is a drawing by Wyatt, our eight year old grandson. It is a profile portrait of his father who was himself preparing to draw a cartoon character, the Hulk. The computer screen is on the far left. Next up, a large box of crayons, then in the center his sister Roxy who was working on her own drawing. It is an excellent likeness of his dad, a less accurate vision of his sibling.

Our granddaughter Roxy loves basketball. Here she is on the far right. I was torn between watching the practice and gazing at the large, beautiful school gym mural.

The children clearly went out into their neighborhood to draw nearby buildings and landmarks. Since this is not her school, I do not know the history of the mural, but it was splendid, and double the size you see here.

While spending time with our one year old grandson, I sometimes use an art app on my iPad to draw colorful toys on the floor. I am continuing to learn new ways to make these digital images.

And another toy, about two feet high. It is meant for learning walkers to have bright shapes to keep their attention as they practice standing, and moving while holding on. It appears to be a robot in my rendition.

And one last grouping of colorful small toys on the floor.

A neighborhood playground is still nice to draw even if all the kids are in school. It is an extra challenge to draw on the iPad outside as the screen goes rather dark.

Another drawing during childcare time. This time a soft fuzzy baby blanket and a ball. The family’s floor is not really all blue and scribbly, just more exploration of my digital art app.