Sunday, March 23, 2014

New Hampshire and Vermont


We’ll just start out with some snowy images, because spring is late this year. I drew this last week while sitting in the Cleveland Library on the campus of Colby-Sawyer College, here in New London, NH. 

The home of the college president and his wife is across Main Street. The only color I could see on this overcast day was the dried plant stalks of last year’s experimental  garden. Mount Sunapee is in the distance.

The metal buckets are attached to the maple trees for collecting sap. It is boiled down into syrup in a sugar house on campus.

We have a lot of wood clapboarded buildings in New England, but many red brick ones too.  Here are four.

This is New London’s town hall, called Whipple Hall, on Main Street next to the town common.  It was built in 1918. It is beautiful inside with tall windows and a stage, and  used for many voting,  plays, concerts, flower shows, and as the local courthouse. It is not large enough any more to hold the annual town meeting, as the town’s population has grown to over 4,000 inhabitants. The town meeting is now in a school gymnasium.

The front façade and west side have five bas-relief sculptures  Some day I am going back with my binoculars to see it better. Four of them have fabric draped cow skulls carved onto placards.

The police department is in the rear, thus the antenna tower.  Old Glory sits atop the tall flagpole, off the top of the drawing.

Last weekend we took a drive to nearby Woodstock, Vermont, which is the county seat of Windsor County.  And here is the Windsor County Courthouse, 1855. Woodstock is full of fascinating architecture, well worthy of a drawing session. The day was cold and I drew this from inside the car. 

Piles of snow are fun to draw.

Another brick building, but in another season.  The glorious fall season, as we call it. Some call it autumn.

The Moore School is in Candia, New Hampshire, just east of Manchester.  The school goes from kindergarten through 8th grade.

The Brick Farm, an ice cream business in Unity, New Hampshire.  The wooden ice cream cone sign is simple and effective.

We’ve had a lot of storms and stay-inside days.  Here is a little parade of cups I laid out one day to draw.  ‘Wicked’ is New England slang meaning ‘very’. The cat letter opener was carefully painted in Venice. The middle cup is from Bavaria, and the one on the right is from Tim Hortons donut chain in Canada.

I don’t remember why I decided to draw two sweet potatoes. Probably because I had never drawn them before, and because I was about to cook them for supper. I never saw sweet potatoes when growing up.  Only southerners ate them.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Upcoming drawing class

Here's some news from my world.  I will again be teaching a class in drawing at Colby-Sawyer college here in New London, starting on April 25th.  The class is sponsored by their Adventures In Learning program, an adult education undertaking.  Last summer my class was called Colorful Journey, and it involved walking around the college campus and drawing on location. This year, the class is called Drawing On your Memories, an indoor class of still life subjects. We will also explore adding written journal-like writings in the composition too.  It will be fun to see some students from last summer, as well as welcome new faces too. 

Class size is limited, so check out the catalog soon if you would like to find out more.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Hampshire and Italy

Near the Rialto Bridge in Venice, thousands of carnival masks overflow the stalls onto the narrow streets.  As I write this, carnival season is in full swing in this island city in Italy.

I drew this from a photo that I took in 2007, looking down on the roof of a mask stall from the bridge. This is the exception that proves the rule:  I don’t work from photographs.

In New England, and especially New Hampshire, rather than big Mardi Gras festivals we are just gearing up in expectation of sugaring season.  Which is the boiling off of the sap from maple trees into syrup and sugar. I drew this sugar house in Newbury, NH last year, after being inside enjoying free samples and buying some products too.

 Forty gallons of sap boils down to one gallon of syrup. I like the darkest grade of syrup as it has the most intense maple flavor.

If you are a local reader, save the dates of March 22 and 23 for the 2014 New Hampshire Maple Weekend, when maple producers all around the state will have their open houses, offering tours and great free samples, and product sales.

There is still plenty of snow on the ground in New Hampshire. On a cold, sunny day I sat in the car to draw the Barrett House in New Ipswich, along the Massachusetts border. 

 Also known as Forest Hall, it was built about 1800 for a young bride and groom.  The groom’s father invested well and made his money from a glass factory, a toll road, a canal, and a cotton mill—New Hampshire’s first.  In a spirit of friendly competition, the groom’s father built the house, while the bride’s father provided the furnishings.

I read that this house was one of the locations for the 1979 Merchant Ivory film The Europeans, based on a novel by Henry James. The building, open to the public in the summer, is operated as a non-profit museum by Historic New England. I might return, even though it is not an easy drive from our town to here.  All back roads. But scenic.

 I thought the Barrett House with its white façade and green shutters was an adequate segue to this one, the town common in Wentworth, NH.  The white clapboarded, steepled building is the Wentworth Congregational Church. 

I squeezed in half of the town bandstand on the far left.  It is very close to the viewer and not really as tall as a church.

 After this posting, there still remain ten towns from my DRAW-NH project that I have yet to post online.  Every month I whittle the number down by a few. 

Last Saturday’s indoor market was not well attended. It takes place in the winter months in Whipple Hall (the town hall) here in New London, NH.  In my spare time I sketched the First Baptist Church through the window of the town hall.  There is no second or third baptist church.  It is February and the winter has been long, cold, and icy.  So who could blame me for imagining spring leaves on the trees?  

So you see my thought pattern green cupola to the next. This time the cupola sits atop the Stevens Memorial Hall in Chester, NH, built 1910. The building serves as the town hall and meeting space.  To the right is a small corner of the town post office.  

I sure was taken with the large blue spruce tree at the edge of the entrance way.

I needed more color on this day.  My eyes found my begonia plant, nicely grown by someone in a greenhouse and shipped to my local grocery store for mid-winter purchase.  It has lived in our home on the coffee table for a month or so, quietly doing its blooming business.

As much as I like color, I find it wonderful good fun to draw with soft charcoal. It makes a velvety black.

Main Street in Colebrook, New Hampshire has an unusually colorful row of painted wooden, false fronted buildings.  I didn’t make any of this up.  No need to.

 We catch the reflected colors of sunset from our window which faces northeast.  Not west, but east.  The deciduous trees on the ridge are still dormant, or sleeping, without their leafy canopies.

I drew this yesterday.  There were more pink clouds today! Lovely.  We miss seeing our ridge once the intervening trees (omitted here by means of artistic license) have sprouted their leaves and overtaken the scene.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A note for those who view the blog via Feedblitz

I've had some reports that the email version of the blog that's sent by Feedblitz does not permit viewing of the included video.  Others say that they can see it.  Mac vs. PC, perhaps?  It won't show up on iPads either, due to format restrictions.

Go directly to the blog on the Web to view the whole thing.

New Hampshire and Massachusetts

These first few drawings have been done in January, which is a very monochromatic time of the year here. Snow on the ground, and white or grey skies.  And so my eye just goes on a hunt for color.  A flat white bowl full of tangerines from Spain fit the bill. The shiny ceramic tart pan reflected some of the orange color too, which was nice. I absolutely love the lemony-orange taste of tangerines.

More hunting for color.  Here is my tea pot, made in England.  I enjoy knowing where things come from, so I am hoping my readers do too. The delicious tomatoes, (grown hydroponically in Maine), a jar of olive oil, and purple rubber bands (originally wrapped around an asparagus bunch from somewhere in South America) complete my colorful January kitchen still life.

I  have quite a large collection of drawings of Boston, but I believe that this is my first bar/restaurant.  It is called Jacob Wirth’s, a German restaurant located in what is now Chinatown.

 A small bit of the flag of Bavaria shows in the the upper left.  The walls were lined with old menus, dating from its establishment in 1868. All the customers at this late lunch hour looked like graduate students, going on about their dissertations. Boston has the largest population of students of any city in the U.S.

As another way to get through January, our town hosted a small scale winter carnival on the Town Green.  The first night’s event was called Dinner With Jack Frost.  The crowds were lining up near the bonfires for warmth and to get food handouts from seven area restaurants. The taco stand was new this year and proved most popular with families and young children.   

In the background to the left is the New London Inn, and to the right is the town offices. The building, which looks like a church but isn’t, was built as an academic building for the local college way back when.

The carnival continued the next day, with a mini-golf course carved out of the snow that attracted children, parents, and grandparents.  Again this year, ski joring thrilled the crowds. This is a Nordic sport in which skiers are pulled by horses around an oval course. The skiers are holding onto a rope attached to a horse, with rider. Ramps are skied over and rings are caught, usually.     

This sport is so hard to describe that we decided to add a video taken by Bruce.
For various formatting reasons, it might not appear on iPads or in the email version of the blog sent by Feedblitz.  

It seems to me that New Hampshire has a lot of sculptures.  Mostly of people. Here is a bronze statue of General John Stark, 1728-1822, in the town of Stark, New Hampshire.  He and his forces were the victors at the Battle of Bennington, Vermont, a key event in the American Revolution. I think he is pointing at Hessian soldiers, or maybe Vermont. There is lots of information about him online.

I drew this statue on a broiling hot day, standing at the base, squinting upwards. No one else was around in the quiet little village of white painted buildings.

It is so difficult to draw sculptures, but I persist in trying.  On this day it was raining, and the statue is in the middle of a small traffic circle. So there were two additional challenges!  The combination fountain and horse trough is located in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, and represents an Indian boy, hugging a goose. Around the edges are the words ‘For Dumb Animals’.  ‘Dumb’ meaning unable to speak for themselves. That word is not used much anymore.

Here is some information that I found online about this sculpture which was put in place in 1907. It was commissioned by summer resident Herbert Dumaresq, whose property was named Kona Farm.  The artist was Samuel Russell Gerry Crook, a student of famed sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens.

And lastly, here is a contemporary sculpture, on loan, in the town of Hanover.  This bronze and steel sculpture, called Crouching Spider, is in front of a visual arts center on the campus of Dartmouth College. The heavy piece was balanced on eight spider toes.  I only drew four of them.

The artist is Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010)  This view is just a small section of the enormous sculpture. The legs were about 6 or 7 feet high. A sign explains that the sculptor made this in memory of her mother who was a weaver. The shadows were fun to draw.

The painted aluminum panels on the building in the rear are by Ellsworth Kelly. They were designed to fit onto the unusual building shapes.

I do get a chuckle when people tell me that they cannot draw a straight line!  Me neither. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Alberta, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts

This is Squiggy, who lives in Canada. He loves his high perch. The popcorn box was just sitting on the table and I liked the design of it.

The old library in Jackson, New Hampshire sort of reminds me of a gingerbread house. Jackson now has a new library, so to speak. An old barn was moved and marvelously renovated into a new town library about a half mile away.  This building is still in use for community activities.

Gingerbread houses are very popular this time of year, at least in the U.S.

I call this drawing “Seasonal and Unseasonal”.  The many cards on our table tell us that it is the Christmas season, with wishes for the New Year 2014.  The cantaloupe melon is not in season here in New Hampshire, but was grown somewhere warm and shipped here.  It was ripe, delicious, and tasted of summer. 

Tuba Christmas happens every year in New London, and in lots of other places around the world as well.  This is the third year that I have drawn it.  The conductor never knows who is going to show up or what sort of tuba-ish instrument they might be bringing with them.  One rehearsal in the morning, and it’s on with the show.  Fun and humor abound!

I had an index card with me when we were driving from New Hampshire to Connecticut.  I was using it as a book mark. These are some mountains, or maybe hills, in Massachusetts just north of Springfield.  I drew quickly as we passed by these bumpy shapes. I have always loved the way the light hits them, and it was a pleasure to try to capture them with my pencil.  It was Christmas day and the sky was filled with contrails, showing that many people were traveling.

Happy New Year 2014!

Friday, December 6, 2013

California and New Hampshire

Our older daughter and her husband just moved to Los Angeles, California, from Baltimore, Maryland. From East Coast USA to West Coast USA.  On our very first visit to their apartment in the upcoming area of Downtown LA (DTLA), I sketched two buildings.

 In the drawing above you see the undulating, steel-paneled sides of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Donated by Disney’s (now late) wife, it is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Designed by the Toronto born architect Frank Gehry,  2013 is its tenth anniversary.

   We took a tour and plan to return for a performance during our next visit.

Gehry is the same architect who designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain, the Stata Center at MIT, and (earlier in his career) the Merriweather Post Pavilion, Rouse Company Headquarters, and Fire Station in Columbia, Maryland, where we used to live.  All were innovative by the standards of the time.  James Rouse, the developer of Columbia, the Baltimore Inner Harbor, Boston’s Quincy Market, and numerous other projects was an early supporter of Gerhy. 

Here I drew the view of the Los Angeles City Hall, 1928, from the tenth floor roof deck of the Judson Building on Broadway in Downtown LA.  At 32 floors, it is the tallest base-isolated building in the world.  It has been retrofitted to withstand 8.2 earthquake.  Did I mention that LA is in a big quake zone?

 I loved the desert plants on the roof.

The dome of city hall in nearby Pasadena, California appealed to me.  Built in 1927, Mediterranean revival and Spanish colonial revival styles mix.  It rises 6 stories.

 During 2004-2007 the building was renovated, including lifting it off its foundation to make a more earthquake secure base.  That is important in this area, and an essential consideration in new construction.

This is only the top 2/3 of the tower.  I was mostly interested in the shapes of the open windows and archways.


 And now, back to the east coast, and the state of New Hampshire.

 This month is a mix of my interest in bell towers and a recognition of the onset of winter.

Most years I draw some skaters on our small, outdoor, town ice rink.  And It is really larger than this.  Artistic license!  The little guy is learning to skate by pushing a plastic milk crate around until he gets his balance.

This is the bell tower of the Busiel Mill in Laconia, NH.,1853.  A sign says that workers here made hosiery, then clocks, then electronic relays, and organs. The building is still in use I believe, but not for manufacturing.

We saw the Lamb Knitting machine in action in the Belknap Mill in Laconia.  The Belknap Mill is just across a walkway from the Busiel Mill above.  Laconia’s mills were major producers of knitted goods   Every mill city had its specialty.

 Purple-ish, tweedy shoe laces were inching their way out of this machine and circling into the box on the floor. The mill is a museum now, well staffed with knowledgeable and entertaining guides.

The large Canterbury Shaker Village is located in Canterbury, NH.  Shakers were a Protestant religious sect that flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries, in both England and the US.

Although the sect has faded away, the Shakers are well remembered for many fine qualities:  their music, building skills,  business sense (they sold seeds for example), furniture making, inventions, and quilts and tinware.

Above, I drew replicas of the tinware, quilts, and other crafts that are for sale in the village.  Next to the three candle holders are a scoop for flour or sugar and a match holder.  Shaker designs are known for their simplicity, elegance, and functionality.

The town green (or common) in Chatham, NH is very green. The building on the left is the library and museum, the center is the Congregational Church, and on the right is the Town House, site of the town offices.

The easiest way to get to Chatham from New Hampshire is to drive into Maine and back into New Hampshire. The population is under 350, in an area of 56 square miles, or 147 km².

The little town was named in 1767 for William Pitt, Earl of Chatham and Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Effingham NH, population about 1500, was named in 1749 for the English family of the Howards, the Earls of Effingham.

 I drew the town Meeting House, dated 1798.  The signage notes a Paul Revere bell in the steeple.  This is bragging stuff here in New England.  But I read that his foundry did produce excellent quality bells, all numbered and locations noted.

 And there is indeed a town of Effingham in England, in the county of Surrey.  (A quick read of their history included the stone age, and Roman occupation.)

Rumney, NH is a town of about 1500 people, located at the southern edge of the White Mountain National Forest.

The West Rumney Community Church is one of the few cedar shingled buildings in New Hampshire (from my observation) which retains its original brown stained color.  I admire its architectural purity.  Most shingled buildings built in America between 1880 and 1890 have now been painted white.

 But recently this style is again popular, with brown cedar shingles and green trim.

Rumney is home to the “Polar Caves”, an intriguing rock formation.

The town of Hebron, NH curves around the north end of Newfound Lake. Approximately 600 people live here, within sight of the island-studded blue waters. On most days, a good stiff wind  produces white caps on the waves. The Newfound Audubon Center is one of five Audubon wildlife parks in the state, especially interested in documenting the long (South America) migration patterns of native birds.

 I wanted to include another New England bell tower which is neither a church nor a factory.  This building is currently the home of the Hebron Town Offices.  When first built, I believe the wooden clapboarded steeple was the bell tower of the Hebron Academy.  A bell tower was a village’s system of calling out to its inhabitants, either for church services, school classes, factory shifts, or any emergency like a fire.

The surrounding structure which makes a picture frame for the composition is the town bandstand on the town green or common.

And lastly, a memory drawing of a favorite holiday family moment.  I am the pointing girl at about age 10.  My sister is the smaller girl about age 5.  The others are an aunt, two uncles and a cousin. 

We are all gazing at nature’s splendid light show.  Ice crystals on the trees, plus the angle of sunshine, plus the steady gentle breeze produced colored light flashes. The crystals were prisms, and we all watched and called out the clear bright colors we saw.  It was the best present.