Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Hampshire

Early in the month we drove about an hour and a half to the east to meet up with a friend for dinner and then hear New Hampshire humorist Rebecca Rule entertain us at the South Eaton Meeting House.  The day was very warm and the space unventilated, so we each were handed a paper plate as we passed through the front door.  They served as fans.  Becky was impressed and took a photo of all her ‘fans’ before beginning her talk.  It’s a joke.  Afterwards, we used them as plates for our desserts at the social hour.

The building, constructed in 1844, has beautiful curved plaster walls. The official name is the First Free Will Society Meeting House. In Greek Revival style, it is a simplified rural adaptation.  The town is very proud of it.

Becky does look like a preacher as she stands there retelling old New Hampshire stories.  And, as is her customary procedure, shamelessly soliciting contributions of new stories from the audience, which she will add to her marvelous repertoire and perhaps retell over in the next town.


The long curved shapes are two of the greenhouses at Spring Ledge Farm, here in New London, NH.  

A word about art materials: this drawing was done using soft charcoal for the lines and the darks, and watercolor for the tones. It has an entirely different effect from an ink line.


Beets come in many colors, not just red. Like yellow and orange. We eat the greens too. I have always loved fresh green beans, and yellow ones too.  Yellow beans are often called wax beans, although they do not seem any waxier than the green.

And the stems are so colorful.

At our weekly market we have farmers and also crafts people like potters.  These hand thrown pots have a lovely mixture of blue and green glazes. And some nice bumpy slip texture.


Uptown, as we call Main Street in our little village. It’s on a ridge—you have to drive uphill to get there.  Here you can rent kayaks.


Then you can drive down the hill to put them into the waters of Pleasant Lake.  Our two kayaks are on storage rack to the right.  Mount Kearsarge and Black Mountain are on the far side of the lake. The public boat ramp is over there too.


This drawing is five years old. But nothing has changed. Except that our grandchildren are now old enough to play at the volleyball net.



A week ago Saturday we drove to Concord, New Hampshire, the state capitol. I was there to draw on location at a meetup of sketchers—a sketchcrawl. An artist named Bobbie Herron has started a group there called DrawingAttentionNH that meets on the third Saturday of the month.  You can follow them on Facebook.

We are in a small courtyard in front of the Hamel Center and the New Hampshire Historical Society’s Museum.

Through the iron arch is Main Street, with its summer street fair. The illegible red sign says ‘Fries’.  The crowds hadn't really shown up yet when I drew this. That is OK, as I was focused on the arch, and on the ornate stone building behind.


In Eagle Square you can find a lot of granite. Big piles of blocks of it. (Residents of New Hampshire are called ‘Granite Staters’.) The stones in the foreground are granite, as well as the building behind. So, how to get some color into the scene?  A three member band started to play.  While they themselves were not personally colorful, their music was loud, cheerful, and echoed in the space.  I am attempting here to use color to indicate music.


In the spring, I taught a drawing class.  Here is a demonstration drawing/painting of a croissant. I am judging it a success by the fact that it makes me feel hungry.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New Hampshire and California

Local readers: This Saturday, July 12, we will gather at Sunapee Harbor, NH for another Sketch Crawl. Last month’s was great fun, and I’m looking forward to doing it again. I call our recently formed group the Second Saturday Sketchers.  It runs from 9 AM (or whenever you can get there) to 12 noon. Rain or shine. It is a miniature harbor—you will be able to find us whenever you arrive.  See last month’s post for further details. Saturday is also a designated International Sketch Crawl Day, too! We will not be alone! Check out www.urbansketchers.org to learn more.

Our Canadian branch family came for a visit recently, and one day we headed to Hampton Beach. It is a sandy stretch of shore on the Atlantic Ocean. The waves were a little higher than usual and the occasional brief gusts of very warm air quite confusing. We think this was all due to Hurricane Arthur coming north from the southern part of the U.S. coast. 

The two figures to the right are family members, our daughter and grandson, busily erecting sand castles. The man in the Hawaiian shorts is not related. It was a crowded beach. Sometimes you sit very close to people that you don’t know at all. I added the color at home.


Just for fun, I decided to gather five drawings that I have done on our town green, which all include the wooden bandstand. Four of the drawings show a band or a small number of musicians playing in the bandstand.

 The town green hosts local musicians throughout the summer, at Friday evening concerts and at the weekly market on Wednesday afternoons. All kinds of musical styles. Sousa marches, jazz, blues, big band from the 1940s, and folk are the most common. Above, a woman plays a flute during one of the markets. Next to her is her drum.

Local residents and summer visitors bring their chairs and  picnic suppers. The events are free.

Our attractive bandstand has small sculptures of squirrels and French horns too.  It was recently renovated, and the shingles on the roof are still acquiring their weathered-in appearance.


Once a year, the New London Garden Club hosts its Antique Show fundraiser. At this time, the bandstand is filled with antiques and other old stuff. The date this year is July 26 should you be in the area.


I drew this scene of the New London Market On The Green in 2010, a year before we became vendors. The yellow dog is unknown to me, but you can see my husband behind it with our departed small black and white dog named Hank.


Another view of a Friday night band concert on the green. Hank is in the foreground next to our picnic blanket. The adults listen to the music and the kids run around (and pat dogs). It is a nice sort of freedom, and a blending of the generations.

This year our three grandchildren brought a ball to kick around.  And, as children do, they made lots of new friends.


One last sketch on the green from my collection. I loved how no one was paying any attention to me as I was drawing. Except for the yellow dog.


And now some more sketches of downtown Los Angeles, frequently known now as DTLA. 

 This is a view from the top of Ten Ten Wilshire, a tall building where our daughter has an office. The crane was part of the 73-story Wilshire Grand project. The day that the cement mixers drove up en masse for the footings and foundation for the big project was officially called The Big Pour.


Here we have the Roxie Theater on 518 South Broadway, DTLA. It opened in 1931 for film presentation, rather than stage events. For architectural purity, I chose to draw it without the street level film marquees.


I love to draw crowds and markets. Just around the corner from our daughter and son-in-law’s apartment is this Sunday market at 5th Avenue between Broadway and Spring Streets. 

Note the several pairs of things in the composition. Pairs of earrings, two scarfs, twin leashed dogs, and a double stroller with two young children. These things just happen.

See the figure with the striped shirt?  At first, I couldn’t tell if she was walking towards me or away. I purposely tried to capture this spacial ambiguity.

The Eastern Columbia Building at 849 South Broadway, constructed in 1930, is our daughter’s favorite she tells me. I think it was originally a department store. The thirteen story, bright turquoise, blue, and gold terracotta clad building was restored and converted into 147 condominiums in 2006. It is Art Deco style with panels of wheat sheaves. Or maybe chevrons.

The two different times on the clocks show how long I was drawing the top of the façade.

One day at the market, I drew the afternoon sunlight glowing through jam jars made by the Cutting Farm in Springfield, NH.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Second Saturday Sketch Crawl

For blog readers in the local area - The Second Saturday Sketch Crawl will take place in Sunapee Harbor from 9 to 12 on Saturday, June 14.  It’s the first of what will become a monthly event.  All are welcome - all ages, all media, all levels of experience.  Pass the word around.  Copy my announcement and plaster it up on your favorite bulletin boards.  

No rules, no cost, all fun.  No actual crawling involved!  Draw whatever catches your eye! We’ll get back together at about 11:30 to share our work with each other.

Bring sketching supplies, a chair or blanket if desired, and dress for the weather.  Note the large tent in the drawing below, which will provide cover should the weather fail to cooperate.

There won’t be any formal instruction; just the help and support you can get from being with fellow artists and sharing your ideas.

Email or call me for further information, including suggestions on where to park to get around the two-hour limit.



Sunapee Harbor

New Hampshire, California, Maine, and Wisconsin

The town of Hill, New Hampshire was once called New Chester, changed to Hill in 1837 and named for Isaac Hill, a governor of the state. In 1941, the village settlement was moved to higher ground because the Franklin Falls Dam was under construction.

 I drove all through the back hill roads of Hill before I found this little church, built in 1800. The doorway appealed to me, next to the shrubbery with matching pointed shapes.


Madbury, New Hampshire is 12 miles square but shaped like a wedge. The narrow end of the wedge ends at Cedar Point on Little Bay. Madbury’s original village settlement was called Barbadoes (really spelled that way), after the town’s West Indies trading partner. Lumber was shipped to the Caribbean island in return for molasses, a key ingredient in rum.

 As I was drawing, I could see volunteers setting up voting booths in this building, the  Madbury Town Hall. The 2012 Presidential election was approaching.


The first settlers to Barnstead, New Hampshire came from Barnstable, Massachusetts and Hampstead, New York in 1767, and they cleverly combined the two names. This post office building faces the town green, called The Parade. Town militia practiced their formations there.

The land was good for agriculture, and the local farmers were part of the sheep boom of the early 1800s. In 1830, it is said that 2,500 sheep roamed the hills and fields here. After the boom busted, many of the fields were abandoned. The forests which were laboriously cleared by the settlers filled back in again with mixed woodlands.


 My artist’s eye appreciated this view from Route 16, looking east. The fence makes a foreground, the flat fields and meadows make the middle ground, and the blue mountains make lovely layers in the background. The curve in the road leads your eyes into the picture frame. 

Dummer, named for a governor of Massachusetts, was granted in 1773, but it was not settled until 1812. The first settler with his family was William Leighton from Farmington. The Upper Ammonoosuc River provided power for sawmills.


Now for some more drawings I did in April while in Downtown Los Angeles visiting family. 

 Bridal and formal wear shops abound in this part of DTLA. Here we are on Broadway at Third Street. These shops also cater to the local Spanish speaking population, immigrants from Central America. La Quinceañera is a day marking a girl’s fifteenth birthday in Hispanic cultures. A church service and a big party and a big dress are traditional.  Christening robes for infants, and first communion clothing are also sold in these shops.  It is an excellent place to buy hats too, at the price of four for ten dollars.


 The  view out of the window of our daughter and son-in-law’s apartment in Downtown Los Angeles is all urban with blue sky. The small building with the colorful mosaic tiled roof is the Central Library Goodhue Building, built in 1926. The architect Bertram Goodhue combined styles of both ancient Egypt and Mediterranean Revival. The interior decoration is equally impressive.  We took a tour. 

The green foliage is a roof top garden two blocks away.  



The memorial to Astronaut Ellison Onizuka, the Japanese-American astronaut killed in the Challenger explosion in 1986, is a 1/10 scale model of the space shuttle.  The 27 foot high replica commands attention in its pedestrian passageway in the Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles. In the distance, City Hall repeats the shape of the rocket.



We ate a delicious Japanese meal at an outdoor café in the Tokyo Plaza in Little Tokyo. This striated boulder was facing our table. Small shrubs surrounded it and around that, two semi-circular benches.

 I enjoy patterns, probably because repetition makes a small detail more obvious, and more of a visual treat. So I happily drew in the umbrellas shading the tables (but left out the tables) and then set about capturing the dozens of delicate lanterns of red and white paper.

   The use of red and white together symbolizes a happy occasion. And these days, a green paper lantern at the door of a restaurant may mean careful use of locally sourced ingredients.

After lunch, we visited the nearby Japanese American National Museum.  Most of the exhibits depicted the shameful World War II internment of 110,000 Japanese-Americans (62% were American citizens) in camps in California and Nevada and five other states.  President Roosevelt gave out the order in 1942. It wasn’t till the time of Presidents Carter, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush (1980s) that the United States acknowledged its error, apologized, and paid reparations.


We took a three day trip to Maine last month.  I drew the view from our table at the Buffleheads Restaurant in Biddeford.  A bufflehead is a kind of sea going duck with a big round head.  This is the open ocean looking directly across to France, a mere 3,200 or so miles away.

Quite unknowingly, we got to the restaurant on Twofer Tuesday. Two meals for the price of one. We soon realized why the parking lot was so full.


 The farmland west of the capital city of Madison, Wisconsin is bucolically scenic. The area is described geologically as ‘driftless’.  Which means the glaciers never arrived here (at least the last time around), and hence didn’t deposit any drift.  Drift is rocks, pebbles, boulders, clay, sand, and gravel. The hills are rolling and some roads winding. The rich soil sits on yellow limestone layers.

The crops are corn and sorghum. Usually one can see 5 or 6 silos and barns and farm buildings all from one view point. I drew this vista from our moving car. I was not driving.


I enjoyed the sunny weather at an outdoor event in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.  The table arrangements were blowing gracefully in the stiff wind coming right off of the prairies.


And here is another drawing sneakily accomplished in an airport.  I just liked her red shoes, green shirt and Snow White sticker on her Apple laptop. She did not see me. The young woman then sat next to me on the airplane and I could have shown her the drawing, but chose not to.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Alberta, California, New Hampshire, and In Between!

We took our three grandchildren to the Terwilligar Recreation Center, in Edmonton, Canada. Three times.  The entire indoor rec center is amazing with four hockey rinks, an enormous swimming pool, and all sorts of other sports fields and equipment. This indoor playhouse, within the rec center, for children ages 4 to 11 is four stories high with plenty of climbing stairs and ramps inside to burn off energy and build muscles.


The resident cats in the home of our daughter have a bunk bed. Top bunk is Squiggy, and Leo gets the bottom bunk.  Leo’s tail is amazingly long and fluffy.

I don’t usually draw people when I am traveling.  People often looked bored to me, and I don’t enjoy drawing boredom.  However, this young woman was traveling with her young child and two grandparents.  They gave her a little rest time, and I liked her face in repose.  And I remember the days of air travel with young children too.

 And then I got bolder and sketched this man, one seat back and across the aisle.  He was very absorbed in his work and never looked up. I am still not sure if his black leather hat is drawn correctly. Maybe close. He looked like he should have been panning for gold. His very thick and fluffy ponytail, a bit like Leo the cat’s, was even longer than this.



Our second  flight of the day was to Los Angeles to spend a week with our other daughter and her husband. And their two pugs, one great dane, and one cat.

I spent a week drawing their neighborhood, downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). Here was my first effort at the Grand Central Market on Broadway and Second Streets.  The proprietor kept an eye on me and was appreciative of my efforts.

I have no idea how to cook and eat cactus leaves, but I bet removing the spines comes first.



In DTLA, there are loads of art deco buildings including several theaters on Broadway.  They are used now for special events as well as rented out for filming.  This ornate, highly sculpted building has the fascinating name of the Million Dollar Theater.   This truck was setting up for a shoot, which I saw happening the next day.  The amount of work and mix of skills and equipment involved in setting things up was impressive, and the setup time vastly exceeded that of the actual shoot.

Film and TV shoots are common in the neighborhood.  We have gotten used to seeing ‘New York City’ police cars on the nearby Los Angeles streets.


 Next up, I drew the Chester Williams building on Broadway and Fifth. Or rather a very small detail of it. Parts of the ground floor have recently been refinished and restored as a pharmacy.


My husband and I stood in the middle of a narrow (but nicely treed) median strip as I drew this funicular called Angel’s Flight. It is located just behind the Grand Central Market. It connects two neighborhoods, Bunker Hill and Downtown, at an elevation difference of 298 feet.  Built in 1901 and originally located nearby, it then cost a penny to ride one way.  It was relocated here in 1996 as part of a redevelopment program and now costs 50 cents to ride.

B.P.O.E. means Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, a fraternal and service organization.  Its local lodge was adjacent to the original location of Angel’s Flight, but the connection between the two is still unclear.  Link for further detail.

Angel’s Flight is currently closed for some safety issues, but I took the ride up thanks to YouTube.


Back in New Hampshire, I am still posting my drawings of towns drawn during my two year project of drawing every town in the state, all 234.  I have just a few left in the box. Here we are in Bartlett. 

New Hampshire historical marker number 77 at the roadside states that “This rustic cottage was once the home of Thomas Murphy and his wife, Lady Blanche, daughter of the Earl of Gainsborough. Thomas was the organist at the church on the Earl’s estate. The commoner and the lady eloped to America, where Thomas taught at the Kearsarge School for Boys in North Conway.  Lady Blanche, a noted writer and contributor to such publications as Harper’s and The Atlantic Monthly, died here in 1881.”


The town hall in Easton flies the flag of the Lupine Festival.  This town is deep within the White Mountains.  When the long winter is over, Easton is happy to join the nearby town of Sugar Hill for a combined week long celebration of the beautiful spiky blue wild flowers.


It is only right to repeat this drawing of Mount Lafayette in the town of Sugar Hill that I originally posted two years ago.  Here are the lovely blue spikes of lupine at the edge of a field. After this year’s long hard winter, they will most likely be late to bloom.  But bloom they will.


Stoddard is in the southwest corner of New Hampshire.  I drew the late afternoon sun peeking around the edges of these old wooden buildings. Stoddard was once a very busy center of hand blown glass bottles.  The local sand produced lovely shades of amber, brown, and red glass.  Unfortunately, after a certain date, the fashion shifted to a demand for clear glass.  And the industry moved elsewhere.  Now, of course, the beautifully colored Stoddard glass bottles are collectors’ items.


According to the 2010 census, Sullivan, named for a Revolutionary War General, has a population of 677 people.  The town just east of Keene was made up of land from Gilsum, Keene, Nelson, and Stoddard. This monument to the memory of soldiers lost in the Civil War extends beyond what is seen here, and includes a stone obelisk. The fenced area is across the street from the stately Congregational church.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

New Hampshire and Vermont

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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 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 functions...like 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.