Monday, February 8, 2016

Massachusetts and New Hampshire

In December we met a friend at the Peabody-Essex Museum in Massachusetts—a great place. The exhibit we saw was all about Strandbeests, which are wind-driven kinetic sculptures created and evolved over the years by the Dutch artist/inventor/philosopher Theo Jansen. Above I have drawn a few of the feet and part of the sail of one of the operational pieces in the exhibit. In the background are parts taken from older, non-functioning beasts. The parts are displayed like fossils. The sculptures are created from thin PVC pipe.

Here’s a link to a video of these creatures in action. There are many, many more videos out there on the Web, along with links to offshoots of the species developed (with the artist’s encouragement) by followers from around the world.

The exhibit has now moved on to Chicago, where it can be seen through May 1st. Jansen’s full international schedule is available here.

One day I drove past our town green and spotted this dragon made of snow.
I put a few sparrows in for scale. I feel quite sure I know who made this temporary sculpture.

A couple of days later, our town’s winter carnival began with the annual Dinner With Jack Frost, a progressive dinner on the town green featuring food donated by local restaurants. And by a famous chocolate company with New Hampshire roots, Lindt!

I drew in the dark and the cold with soft vine charcoal, with touches of yellow added at home. The white paper becomes the snow.

The next four drawings were created on my iPad with a digital art program called Drawing Pad. It is made specifically for children. Perhaps that is why I love to use it.

We can see this one house through the woods. The snow on the roof is just visible through the tree trunks. I purposely made the window look like it is floating in space.

Our woods are filled with trees that are oddly misshapen. A severe ice storm in 1999 knocked off many branches. In most cases the trees survived and sprouted new branches to take over.

Doesn’t this drawing look like it was drawn with a soft pencil? No, it’s a digital version of pencil.

In the winter we see a lot of beautiful colors in the east at sunset. The ridge lights up with gold, and the sky often is filled with pink clouds.

And a brightly colored gerbera daisy to finish this month’s post. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Hampshire, Connecticut, and California

Pleasant Lake is beautiful in the winter too. We live at the far end of the lake, but we pick up our mail here at a small post office.

A tiny salmon colored sunset is just beginning. The picnic table patiently waits for spring, and fun family events.

A few days before Christmas we drove to Exeter, New Hampshire on the coast. It was still warmish with no snow cover. Our usual restaurant was too crowded, so we wandered on and found another called 11 Water Street. Which we liked even better. It has a better view too. I am all about views as you can imagine.

 And here we have the view of the mill pond from my chair. These wooden clapboarded homes were probably once boarding houses for the mill workers. The mills used the water power to produce cotton textiles in the 1800s

Water Street Bookstore in Exeter is one of the delightful local bookstores that carries my book with drawings of every town in New Hampshire.

 Thanksgiving Day we enjoyed a wonderful meal prepared mostly by my brother’s mother-in-law, Elma May

After the meal, as a sort of dessert for myself, I got permission to draw our host’s enormous HO gauge model train layout. I liked the station building in the foreground as it has enough detail to look real.

 I drew a few tracks but soon just focused on the trains and buildings that appealed to me. Jon, the man in charge of this mini world, told me it is meant to be the rail yards in southern New Jersey in the 1950s. He liked my efforts.

This is the fourth time I have drawn the Tuba Christmas concert here in New London. As you can see, it is an all tuba/euphonium event—although they have been known to allow the occasional interloper, most recently a double bass (AKA a ‘wooden tuba’). I only drew four of the musicians in the front row. There were many more.

 The players show up in seasonally silly hats, and this characterizes the general tenor of the event. Fun all around! I found it humorous that I couldn’t see the faces of the musicians, but just their head gear and their hands.

The rich sound made by all fifty or so musicians on their beloved brass instruments was lovely. The conductor/organizer has no idea who is going to show up from one year to the next. They come from all around. But it always works out.

This morning I watched the Rose Bowl Parade on television, coming from Pasadena, California. I don’t watch the football game, just the parade. I watched this parade on New Year’s Day my entire childhood on our black and white TV with the announcers describing the multicolored floats.

This float represents the city of Los Angeles. The vertical shape in the front is an iconic building having something to do with music and records. Floats in the parade all get their colors and textures from flowers, painstakingly inserted by dedicated groups of volunteers the night before. The rules are pretty strict.

It was a clear day, and the Santa Monica mountains were in sharp relief. Other notes: I love to draw palm trees, and the round lumps are the bleachers of crowds.

We will next be in Los Angeles in March.


And in other news, there was a wonderful article about me and my book in the Concord Monitor, the daily newspaper in New Hampshire’s capital city, written by their staff writer Sarah Kinney. She made mention of the book’s availability at the well respected Gibson’s Bookstore on Main Street, and by noon of the day the article came out we got a call from Gibson’s asking for refills. Two customers were patiently awaiting my arrival, having been assured by the clerk that the artist was due to show up any second now. It was fun to meet with them.

Then Gibson’s called back the next day, asking for more!

You can read the article here, and the link will remain posted in the sidebar over on the right side of the blog along with links to other great pieces of commentary.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont

One day the reflections of the birch trees on the pond called my name. I returned with my iPad for a quiet time of observation and reflection of my own.

So far, this long autumn has provided no snow to the woodlands. The various shades of brown are lovely: reddish, purple, green, and yellow.

My love of brick buildings continues. The handsome Rice Public Library in Kittery, Maine, dates from 1888. I drew it as accurately as my wobbly hand allows. The chimneys are really curved like that.

One of our favorite restaurants in Hanover, New Hampshire, is the Thai Orchid. The view from the second story window faces this red brick building, the town hall. I drew as much of the graceful old elm tree as could fit onto the page. The ivy is crawling around the side of the town hall to meet the elm branches. The leaves have fallen, but no snow yet. Cold enough for a puffy blue coat though.

After our lunch of Thai food, we headed south to White River Junction just over the state line into Vermont. I drew the side of this hotel with its out of date signs, lovingly preserved. 

A ninety degree turn to the left got me this brick corner fa├žade. There was just time for a quick skyline and major highlights kind of drawing.

Last week, our local garden club members gathered to clip evergreen boughs into 6 inch lengths. On the other side of the room, unseen here, are the wreath makers who fasten the clippings onto circular wire forms. I liked how the group of workers formed a circle too.

The wreaths decorate doors around our little town. They look cheerful in the dark cold months and stay up until March.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Just a very short mini blog posting this month.  This is a drawing of the quiet pleasant socializing that happens every day in a coffee shop. I sketched it last month in Canada but I dedicate it to the people of Paris.

And a bouquet of flowers representing the desire for beauty to overcome sadness.

A note to subscribers who read the blog via Feedblitz. There’s a new note in the sidebar that you can only see if you go to the blog itself. It’s a link to a new page on the blog, containing all 45 of the drawings I did behind the scenes at the New London Barn Playhouse last summer.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Hampshire

The New London Barn Playhouse has been going strong since 1933 here in my home town of New London, New Hampshire. This summer I drew backstage props and costumes for each of the six shows. In addition I drew the sound and light equipment, scenery design, and the pit. I used my favorite iPad drawing app, and my art tool was my left index finger. This was an ideal setup for the project, as it worked well in the dim lighting, it afforded a wide choice of colors and textures, and it was fun!

I was given full access to the backstage area during times between performances, under the condition that I could look but not touch. Everything required for a performance is situated in its exact position, and moving it even a foot or so could utterly disrupt the high pressure action that takes place as actors scramble from one scene to the next, change costumes, grab new props, and the like.

I gained a lot of appreciation for the dedicated work that goes on behind the scenes, and of the number of highly skilled people, both on stage and off, that it takes to put on every performance. These include acting interns, backstage interns, apprentices, visiting professional actors, paid staff, and volunteers from the local community. The interns are generally college students or recent graduates just starting out on their careers. Many of them stay very close to The Barn, returning for guest appearances as their careers progress.

Over the course of the season I drew 45 images of the costumes, the props, the sets, and other behind-the-scenes aspects of putting on six shows in rapid succession with no time to breathe in between. Here are 16 of my favorites.

New London residents are very fond and supportive of their Barn. Well wishers and fans send bouquets of flowers which adorn the front porch next to the box office. The porch is a special part of The Barn’s tradition. After the final encore of each performance, the actors run down the aisles to the porch and set up a receiving line to greet the audience on its way out.

The Barn’s slogan is “See you on the porch.”

The first show of the season was Gypsy. Here we have four containers of fake Chinese food used as a prop. Even though it might never be seen from the audience, the quality of the fake food is just as good as that of the leading lady’s gown. It looked really tasty.

A cow costume is part of the story of Gypsy. The main characters are a stage family in the vaudeville era. Two of the daughters performed as a dancing cow.

The second play of the summer season was The Sound Of Music. Maria carried this valise as she walked to the home of Captain von Trapp.

The racks of costumes backstage, here from The Sound Of Music, were a delight to study and draw. The brown dress to the left was Maria’s, the ‘one the poor didn’t want’.

The palm trees form the set of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The play takes place on the Riviera.

This fringed blue leather jacket, red belt, and red flouncy skirt are waiting for their big number in the play Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. A scheming American tourist (from Oklahoma) believes she has tricked a rich European prince into marrying her. He too is a scoundrel.

A yellow wall of the hair salon forms the back part of the set from Steel Magnolias.

Lanterns were a prop used in the graveyard scene of the play The Mystery Of Edwin Drood.

The Victorian era clothing worn in The Mystery of Edwin Drood was gorgeous.
I especially loved this Chinese embroidered robe.

The final play of the 2015 summer season was Forever Plaid, following the short career of a Pop Music group of the 1950s.

And here are the foursome singing close harmony.

The Barn’s newly acquired sound board. The ushers have to guard it from children’s inquisitive fingers.

The light board sits high in the back of the balcony. There can be hundreds of light changes per show. The mind boggles.

I drew the large spotlight in very low light. The blue light behind helped my vision.

During intermission I leaned over the balcony just a bit to draw the pit. Here is where the musicians make their magic. The computers provide preprogrammed sound effects.

See you on the porch!

Monday, September 7, 2015

New Hampshire, Maine, and Alberta

I liked the backlit view of Mount Sunapee from the veranda of the grand summer house called The Fells, in Newbury, New Hampshire. The old fashioned word veranda appeals to me too.

A childhood friend of my husband sent us a whole lot of great food items from his adopted state of Louisiana. We were very thankful and of course I was taken by the colorful packaging as well.

Most of the time I am not overly aware of shadows. And I often omit them if they confuse the eye rather than clarify space. But I was taken with these late afternoon shadows on the window box at Spring Ledge Farm in our town of New London.

A funny story....I went to pick blueberries and I planned to draw the berries on the bushes too. When I got to Bartlett's in Newport, I realized I had grabbed a handbag that didn't contain my change purse. I couldn't go in to pick my beloved berries! But I could peek through the netted fencing and make a drawing. 

  Later I returned with cash. And picked twelve pounds of berries. Blueberry pie is a family favorite.

 See?  Yum.

We are subscribers to the New London Barn Playhouse. One intermission I leaned just a little over the balcony to draw the pit, where the musicians make their magic.

Once at home I then redrew the sketch by hand onto my iPad with my drawing app. You can compare the two. The first drawing is the usual pencil on white paper which has its charm.

  The second is done digitally. It is painting with light and enormous fun. My drawing tool is my left index finger. I made a book of 44 ‘behind the scene’ drawings at The Barn this summer. Almost all of them were done on site with my iPad.

We like to visit Warren’s Restaurant in Kittery, Maine, from time to time. On this occasion we were waiting for other friends so I took a little time to draw the view out the window on the tidal Piscataqua River.

I was explaining to my ten year old granddaughter, who lives far from the ocean, that had it been low tide, the boats would be tilted and I would have been drawing mud.

Sometimes we are in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, spending time with our family which now includes four grandchildren. This is a sunset view from our condo in Edmonton. There are three long condo buildings, all of which have these reddish structures that provide sheltered balconies and a modern look. Canadian sunsets are so gorgeous.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New Hampshire

Traveling puppeteer Lindsay Bezich came to our little town beach at the Elkins end of Pleasant Lake. She retells folk tales through funny voices, wild antics, and very cleverly designed large puppets. She adds her own twists and subtle messages about courage and learning how to be happy good kids.

It’s windy at that end of the lake, and the front four children are wrapped in one large beach towel. It was a funny sight.

This time it’s only one child wrapped in a towel. Lindsay’s tiger specializes in rhyming, which is why his super hero cape is emblazoned with an R. The kids loved all the silly rhyming games and songs.

 We just love how this huge puppet clings to her neck and waist and turns his attention to the audience. Her left hand gives life to the tiger’s head.

Our community of about seventy homes was begun 50 years ago. Last week we had a large and lovely party for ourselves at the edge of the beach and lake. Mount Kearsarge looks on and approves.

Readers of a certain age will remember the singer Kate Smith and her late afternoon show in the early years of television. Her theme song When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain is based on this very view, written by visiting composers Howard Johnson and Harry M. Woods observing the scene from the inn located just behind us here. Kate Smith sang this song on the radio and TV for thirty years.

We sang it at the party. Unfortunately the lunar cycle didn’t align with the date of the party, and there was no moon emerging over the mountain at the conclusion of our song. That would have been special!

I have been planning on drawing this building for a year, the Inn at Crystal Lake in Eaton, New Hampshire. Eaton is just south of Conway, a couple of miles from Maine. 

The shrubbery is left uncolored intentionally. The colors of the wooden clapboarded building, wooden shutters, and three red doors is perfect.

I love red brick buildings. This one is the Henniker Community Center, New Hampshire. The sign says it was originally a Baptist Church in 1834.

It’s the main intersection of Henniker, New Hampshire. I have been wanting to draw this wooden pharmacy/general store building for a long time. Probably since I was a teenager spending my summers in nearby Bradford. I stood in the road to draw this on a hot day with no moving traffic. Or moving air.

The roof line is called mansard, very fashionably French.

A lupine blossom was a demonstration sketch for the summer drawing class I’m teaching at Adventures in Learning at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH.

I happily spent a few minutes on a grey day drawing colorful food at the Pleasant Lake Cheesecake Company, Newport Road, New London, NH. With color notes and a clear memory, I added the color at home.

Everything in the shop is a gorgeous sculpture. The red paper surrounds a cupcake sized creation.