Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Hampshire!

I was unsure what to draw in Alexandria. Several scenes appealed to me: a building, a vista, a field, but I kept driving for some reason. I had not noticed on the map that the northwest edge of the town borders Newfound Lake.

Suddenly I was out of the woods and staring at the water and islands as the lake came to view on my right. I parked the car immediately. The blue waters were clear of winter’s ice, except for this eastern end of the lake. The strong wind and wave action had broken up the ice into minute pieces, all uniform in size. and sparkling like diamonds. And floating on the waves like a blanket of jewels. I am forced to describe in detail because that sort of sight is not possible to paint, draw, or even photograph. But I saw it and will remember it.

The white area just above the fence is the floating jewels. Squint and imagine.

A few miles to the east of Alexandria is Bridgewater. When I drew this I had driven entirely around the lake, without any intention of doing so, really.

This is another view of the eastern end of the lake with the last remnants of ice floating and considering melting. I just love the soft purple shades of the hills at this time of year. The new leaves are still tucked away, waiting and being cautious. The greens are the pines, firs, and hemlocks.

I have long time memories of this diner in Milford, the Red Arrow, on the Souhegan River. My husband and our dog took naps in the car while I walked around and found this spot to draw. A lot of my earliest memories include riding around with my father and grandfather when they were doing work in the the stones and carving in names and dates. I didn’t go in to the diner this time.

The small building on the left hangs over the river. It is a dining room part of the diner now, but maybe it was a mill structure to begin with.

The gold eagle is atop the Odd Fellows Lodge, a world-wide fraternal and benevolent organization. I read that the phrase ‘odd fellows’ refers to the origins in England. Members were from minor trades that didn’t have their own guilds, so it was a collective place to be. It is not a guild anymore. And women can belong, so it’s not just fellows.

We had lunch in Goffstown Village in a restaurant on the banks of the Piscataquog River. I can’t draw on an empty stomach. Too distracting. After a nice lobster salad, I stepped outside, walked a few feet, and drew the river and the mills reflected on the very calm water. The colors are those of early spring.

New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the U.S., by percent.....85%. This is why the houses, churches, and other buildings are usually made of wood, as it is the most abundant local resource material. And the trees grow back quickly I’ve been told. Something about the mineral soil is just right for growing trees. We have a small clearing behind our house in the woods. Little trees try to sneak in. Some might become Christmas trees!

Many of the buildings along the rivers are former saw mills, as well as textile mills. There is a dam at the far right of the picture. I saw in an old post card that this bridge was once a wooden covered bridge. But now it is modern concrete with quite decorative lampposts.

It is quite an adventure driving to every town in New Hampshire. I study maps and take along an atlas in the car, and sometimes GPS. I (sometimes we ) bump along back roads. Back roads is what we mostly have of course. This month the ‘Frost Heaves’ signs go up to warn of roads even more bone rattling than usual. The signs come down and the bumps flatten out, usually by themselves and mostly by summer.

The drawing above is the town common in Hebron. I had just bumped out of the woods from Alexandria into this open space. The common is surrounded by smallish, white, wooden buildings. No building was very unusual or large, the town offices (former Hebron Academy) being the most ornate. But a harmony existed and a pleasant feeling of shelter in configuration of the 360 degree arrangement of the structures around me. And this makes it a challenge for me in deciding what viewpoint to focus on.

So I went into the general store, bought a coffee and apple turnover. And a USA Today. And read that, which we know doesn’t take long. Then I brought my coffee outside, and decided to take shelter from the wind in the band stand in the center of the common. I drew an old maple tree, the structure of the band stand that resembles the tree, the library, and the office of the town clerk/tax collector. There are fewer than 700 residents, so a large library isn’t needed. NH has no sales tax, nor state income tax, but it does have a property tax.

Any town library user can borrow books from any library in the state now, so that is good. It evens things out.

After drawing the small scale library in Hebron, I had an idea to pull out my stacks of drawings of a few more libraries for compare and contrast.

This is the large, solid looking library and town hall of Dunbarton, with under 3,000 in population. This large ornate white wooden building is right in the center of the town common. It was built in 1908 to replace an earlier one that burned down. I believe it was rebuilt to look the same. The large twin doors with roof railing were lovely, and the bright sunshine and shadows helped me to draw them. Surrounding the doors there are complex leaded windows in clear glass. That much detail was beyond me and my little pencil.

I loved the looks of this dignified structure. There is a fund raising effort to restore the top floor for public use. And an elevator needs to be added. The librarian was very friendly, was interested in my DRAW-NH! project, and said she’d buy my book when it’s published!

There were several monuments on the lawn honoring veterans.

The library in Lempster is the building at the far right. The center one is the town offices. This town has decided to use its topography to generate electrical power. The 12 modern windmills (or windfarm) on Bean Mountain are a first for this state. They have been in operation since 2008.

The unusual name of the town is thought to be a spelled out version of the pronunciation of the town of Leominster (‘Lemster’) in England. The town of Leominster in nearby Massachusetts is pronounced ‘Lemenster’ with the accent on the first syllable.

Here is another library that I drew in the autumn. This is the Reed Free Library (not a misspelling!) in Surry, in the southwest corner of the state. In the background is Surry Mountain, once mined for copper, gold, and silver. I love historical markers that tell you these things.

You see the fall colors on the hills...yellows and reds of the maples and birch trees. The pink is my vision of a copper beech in full sunlight.

I was focusing on the southwest corner of the state last autumn. Here is the Silsby Free Library on the left and the town offices on the right. They are on the main street in Charlestown.

It was a very warm day when I drew this last September. When I look at one of my drawings I can almost always remember the weather, and usually what I ate for lunch. (A sandwich on a bench.) And other things like what music I was listening to, or other little details which are all wrapped up together in the memory files. That is one reason I like to draw when I travel.

Amherst has a lovely harmonious village green with dozens of Federal style (or Georgian) homes, churches and town office buildings surrounding it.

And that makes it really hard to choose one view. So once more, I chose the library.

It is off to the side of the green, and it’s a fine stone structure first built in 1892. And it was enlarged in 1911, 1971, and 1987. The front door is especially attractive with its copper and green glass details. Mexican tile roofs are a rarity in New Hampshire. The modern addition is off to the left.

The girl on the bench is enjoying an ice cream cone. I think there may have been an ice cream social at the library that day. It was very crowded.

The weather has been very odd this spring: unusually snowy, then exceedingly warm and dry, then wintery and colder than average.

We drove to Merrimack one Sunday when the weather was hot, and like summer. But there were no leaves yet on the trees and the grass was still hibernating. Twin Bridge Park in Merrimack was absolutely full with happy families enjoying the sunny warmth. The baseball diamond was still waiting for the season, but look at the castle-themed playground. And the kids on the swings! I felt their joy as I drew them.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

British Columbia, New Hampshire, and Maryland!

We are all starting to have a hankering for spring, so I’d better get these snowy pictures out to you. This is a view drawn in January of the ridge in Kettle Valley, a neighborhood in the southern part of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Our grandchildren live here, and this is the sight as they walk to school. The turreted buildings house a coffee shop, gym, and pre-school among other necessities.

The climate is dry, and the stubbly trees are remnants of an unfortunate forest fire in 2003. A part of a natural cycle they say. Many houses were destroyed, but everyone evacuated safely.

I drew this looking west from the top of a sledding hill behind our grandchildren’s house. Parts of the scenery include the west bank of the Okanagan Valley and Lake Okanagan. There are vineyards and orchards near the lake on both sides. And on the lower left I drew two children’s parks and the tennis court. Do click on the image to enlarge it. The houses are actually crayon-box colors like this.

One day after running a few errands, I stopped at this beach for a quick sketch. I call it Apple Beach, but I believe the correct name is Gyro Beach. The apple is a concession stand, selling snacks in warmer weather. This region is apple growing territory. It was a hazy day and I tried to capture that in watercolors. The hills in the background were very indistinct as the long lake bends around to the left.

The serpent-like shape in the lake is my imaginary version of Ogopogo. Sort of the Loch Ness Monster of British Columbia, but friendly.

I was visiting during sledding season. Here is part of the school that our younger granddaughter attends. Most of the students carried their sleds with them to school. The fashionable sled this year is lightweight, and decorated to look like a surfboard. The children sped down the hills before the school bell rang, during recess, and after school was let out. And then we walked home and they went sledding some more.

After our younger granddaughter gets out of school, we wait for her sister’s bus. Here she is in her pink and purple coat with a friend also dressed in the same colors. You can see the incredibly rugged terrain here, and see too the small house on the top of the hill. Actually, it is most likely a large house with a great view.

Higher up from the valley is a community called Joe Rich. This is the view from a dining room, on a very snowy day.

Our grandchildren love our iPads and have figured out how to do lots of things with them. Here is the three year old, sitting on the bed, being creative. The cats are watching, and keeping warm. And one is listening to the pencil sounds on my paper.

On my way out of town, I experienced a 12 hour delay. Oh, joy! I ate (three times), I read, I shopped, and I pulled out my watercolor set. Here is my corner with my purple coat, sketches, water bottle, red suitcase and grey duffle.

I usually don’t care to draw people who are waiting or traveling. But I had to do something to fill the hours. Here are three waiting people, my red suitcase, a red coated airport greeter. (Who didn’t greet me.) And the little sparrows that live in every airport.

It is very foggy out. That is why my flight was cancelled...the incoming flight the night before couldn’t land in the thick fog.

On our first day back in New Hampshire from a trip to Baltimore, we drove to the town of Lempster to hear Rebecca Rule speak. She is a story collector and a story teller. Both orally and in book form. It is a good idea to go to one of her presentations first if you can, before you buy her books. Then you will be able to hear her talking when you read! It makes it even better.

We have heard her speak several times. But this time I was inspired to draw because it seemed so very New Hampshire-ish for the speaker to be sharing the stage with local historical a black wooden hearse, set off with yellow fringe curtains. Note the iron runners for winter transportation of the body. I’m guessing the two vertical objects behind the hearse are part of the horse pulling part of it all.

One day I decided to drive the short distance to nearby Andover (NH) to draw the ski hills which are right off Main Street and part of the campus of Proctor Academy, a private high school. The building in the foreground is the old carriage house according to the sign.

And now for something completely different. This is the southwest corner of Calvert Street and 31st, in the Charles Village section of Baltimore, Maryland. It is not too far from the campus of the famed Johns Hopkins University.

I knew when I saw the roof lines that this is what I wanted to draw on that day. I drew quickly with the sheer joy of allowing myself to get lost in the complex architecture. There are little bits of accuracy here and there. Hopefully enough to convey the spirit of the block....the ornamented brick facade, with tile roofs and a vaguely Dutch shaped repeating roof folly. Thanks, A.G.