Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Hampshire

A multi-season trip along Main Street in New London, New Hampshire,
posted in anticipation of Spring

At the south end of Main Street sits Mount Kearsarge and her sister mountain on the right, Black Mountain. The woodlands are mixed growth of evergreens and of deciduous, which turn all showy colors in the autumn. Mount Kearsarge is a monadnock, meaning an isolated peak in native language, not a part of a range.

Our beautiful Pleasant Lake is at the base of the mountains. The lake has only one small island called Blueberry Island.

As we travel up Main Street towards the center of the town of New London, we pass by this field. Various animals graze here on most days. On this day it’s a llama, some sheep, perhaps a donkey. The distant hills are almost always a wonderful blue color.

 I like to draw and paint in the winter because I can see farther distances through the bare trees. Our local ski resort is called Mount Sunapee. The ski trails are carved out of the end of a long high ridge. I don’t ski. I just draw.

 Another view of Mount Sunapee from farther along Main Street. I did have to stand in the middle of the intersection with Pleasant Street to draw this. There was no traffic, and I am good at getting the basic shapes down fast.

Halfway up Main Street we have a park called the town green, or more formally the Sargent Common. 

Two winters ago I drew the first day of the winter carnival, where the biggest event was ski joring. Skiers are pulled over jumps, and for added challenge try to grab a ring as they whoosh by. 

Here it is shown with snowmobiles. It was also done the traditional way with horses. There’s one over at the left awaiting his turn.

The Colby-Sawyer College campus sits on the high edge of Main Street. The students are usually ages 18-22 and receive a BA or BS when they graduate. There are 1000 students who come here from around the world. The school of nursing is one of the most highly regarded curricula I believe. One class teaches the science of making maple syrup.

Those are traditional metal sap collecting buckets attached to the sugar maple trees. The sap starts to flow in March when the days warm a bit. This is considered the first sign of spring, the sap buckets. Spring is often late and merges right in with the beginning of summer.

Forty pounds of sap must be boiled down to get one pound of maple syrup. There are newer methods for doing the whole process.

Our town library is in a former home. The yellow clapboarded wooden building was also once the town hospital. A modern addition juts off the back on the left. 

Our small town has no need for stop lights. Farther up Main Street we have a new roundabout, or as they used to be called, a rotary. But that is only a word used in New England. Elsewhere, they were called traffic circles.

I drew the traffic light which blinks red on Pleasant Street and yellow on Main Street.

Two summers ago I drew the New London Barn Playhouse. The wooden cow barn became a playhouse in 1934. Playhouse is an American word that means live theater. After each performance, the actors gather on the porch as the audience streams out.

Seasoned professional actors come to New London to perform with the summer interns: 16 young actors from around the country. They are usually aged 18 to 22.

You can learn more about The Barn from my Summer 2015 project of drawing behind the scenes, available at this link here on the blog.

Continuing up Main Street we get to Spring Ledge Farm. Vegetables, flowers, and herbs are grown from seed in greenhouses and in several fields. The land is preserved as land for agricultural purposes only.

 I feel that we all need a flower come January or February. Here is a Stargazer Lily drawn with a digital app on my iPad. My left index finger pushed around the colors made of pure light.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Hampshire

These wild turkeys were taking an afternoon walk, as turkey families often do. The icy crust on the snow was about an inch thick, and it only held the weight of each turkey for a second or two before breaking. The followers were starting to question the wisdom of the leader. One independent thinker took a quick flight to the top of the wall, but no one followed after.

One day, before our lake froze, I stopped briefly and sketched the water, rocks, waves, and hills. I included parts of the car frame and the mirror as well. The little pine tree is really across the street, mostly in the mirror.

At this time, the lone lake loon family was still on the lake. (Say that three times fast.) In the winter, naturalists tell us that the New Hampshire loons just head over to the ocean waves and become grey sea birds. It is a journey of 90 minutes in the car to the Atlantic Ocean. I wonder how long it takes a loon?

   A young evergreen and a young copper beech tree are growing very close together right outside our window. Surely their roots are intertwining. These are the colors we see in the winter, these and the pink, purple, and gold sunsets.

At the top of our hill is an old stone wall (our ancient property line), and a thicker forest on the other side.

A large chunk of granite, casually left behind by the last receding glacier, sits at the edge of our road. We pass it daily. In the warm months, it has a thick mat of very green moss on the roof-shaped top surface. Now in winter, the snow forms a white thatch. We call it the elf house rock.

  Our granddaughter Noelle had been doing a few watercolor sketches. Then her thoughts turned to water and patterns.

A watercolor of store bought flowers is a chance to play with color in the wintertime. Look for beauty. Look closely

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Alberta and New Hampshire

I have made mention of this before, but now with a few months of experience and customer reviews behind me, here’s a complete announcement of my second book

Pep Talks for the Would-Be, Should-Be Artist

The book was born of many conversations I have had, often with buyers of the first book or with those who caught me in the act of sketching, in which people told me how they had once enjoyed making art but just couldn’t get started back into it. They didn’t have the time, they didn’t have the right material, they set standards they felt to be unachievable, and they faced many other impediments. It was for them that I wrote the book.

It's not an instructional book in the sense of “Step 1: Draw a circle. Step 2: Add arms and legs. Step 3: Color it in with green water colors.” Its messages are at a higher, more motivational level. Here’s Pep Talk #14; others are similar:

“Drawing is a form of looking carefully, seeing with new eyes, and recording your discoveries.
“If you learn to enjoy the process, the end product will take of itself. Go for quantity. Your work will improve with practice.”

Each of the 30 Pep Talks is accompanied by drawings that relate to that piece of encouragement, and more drawings then continue these themes through the book for a total of 80 images in 105 pages.

Within days of starting to offer the book at art/craft/farm markets, it became apparent that my target audience was wider than I had anticipated. Buyers were not limited to those needing to get back into art, but they included those just starting out, or those who knew somebody just starting out who needed an extra bit of encouragement to keep at it.

As with the first book, this was a family undertaking. Our daughter Karin, a graphic designer, built the book all the way from the concepts of layout through to the press-ready digital files. My husband Bruce was the indispensable guy in the middle, scanning the artwork, proofreading the text, and managing all the digital information. And the book was published by our friend Tom Holbrook of Piscataqua Press and RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who also published the first book. We all learned a lot from that experience, which helped us slide right through this one. Big thanks to all.

And now, on with the blog!


We walked along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River on a Sunday afternoon. The green swirling waters begin in a glacier in the Canadian Rockies, divide the city of Edmonton, and eventually flow into Hudson Bay. And then go north to the Arctic Ocean.

As you can read in my notes, the mud is white on the far side of the river and a slippery black mud beneath our feet. And it was muddy, as it was raining.

I hope the gold prospector found many flakes on this day and maybe a nugget as well.

The drawing above and the next three were penned in 2011. They were used as illustrations in a small booklet made in our town. I have just added a few touches of color for blog presentation, and I present them here.

The mountain is called Mount Kearsarge, and it is in view from all parts of our village. The clouds and weather are often seen in conversation with the peak.

These pots of geraniums sit in a row on the porch of the town information booth on Main Street. They too seem to be having a conversation. Passing along the day's news. Asking if the other is thirsty.

As Autumn comes to a close, I present this wooden basket full of gourds in all their weird shapes and colors.

This young spruce tree grows on the front lawn of the town library. The evergreens keep us going through the winter months.

This collection of stuffed animals passes the day on our south facing window seat. The sun warms their backs all winter.

The one with the hat, Paddington, is a well traveled bear. Our daughter carried him all over Europe when the bear was young and so was she. Paddington was held high over her head in a castle in Germany. She was too short to catch the view from the tall windows, but he enjoyed it very much.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Alberta and New Hampshire

I play with an art app called Drawing Pad from time to time. It is designed for children, which is probably why I like it. And I do use my left index digit as a stylus, so digital has two meanings here.

By choosing different options, I can create marks that mimic pencil, watercolor, chalk, paint, textures, you name it. In many cases, I do not think it is obviously a digital drawing. You can look over the next images to decide for yourself.

This is a very striking piece of digital art work created by our eight year old grandson. Beautiful, don’t you think?

This little apple tree was started from a seed. I was looking for something colorful to draw, and my eyes landed on this pot.

I have drawn Stargazer Lilies many times over the past few years. Their petals curl around into intriguing shapes. It is a challenge to find a way to draw their spots. I once sold a print of this image to a little girl named Lily.

Sometimes you just need flowers and you just choose a ready made bouquet at the grocery store.

The next six drawings happened at that very same grocery store in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The neighborhood population is rich in immigrants, and the offerings in the produce department reflect that. Yes, I stood in the vegetable section with my iPad in my right hand, drawing away with my left index finger. No one commented or even seemed to notice. And yes, it was my idea of fun.



In a sunny but chilly day in a coffee shop, I chose to draw my woolen hat. It was a challenge to reproduce the knitted pattern and texture. I am a knitting failure, but I appreciate the craft when done by others.

And two days later after the hat drawing, this blizzard arrived. And went on for four days.

The drawing comes from a scene in New Hampshire. Our snow season was slow to begin last year, and the woods were all kinds of soft browns punctuated by the vertical whites of the paper birch trees. The small, still pond shimmers in the late afternoon sun.

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.