Friday, September 29, 2017


My talk at the Plaistow Library is scheduled for Wednesday, October 4th, not October 3rd as noted in my previous post. Sorry for the confusion.

Please let me know if you plan to attend, so we can get the attendance number up past the threshold. Stay tuned for updates.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Upcoming library talk

I just learned that the signed up attendance for my talk scheduled for October 3 at the library in Plaistow, NH, has not yet met the library’s typical minimum requirement. If any of my local area readers do hope to be there, please let me know so we can get the numbers up to where they need to be.


Sue Anne

Friday, September 22, 2017

New Hampshire and Maine

A quick note to my New England readers - I’ll be giving a talk at the library in Plaistow, NH, at 6:30 on Wednesday, October 4th. I’d love to have you join me there. You can find more details on my Facebook page,, or email me.

And readers from everywhere can follow my colorful journey through quick Facebook updates almost every day. You don’t have to belong to Facebook to get to the page.

Now, on with the blog.

I took part in a few drawing sessions this summer. One of the exercises was drawing with my non-dominant hand. The top two drawings of ink bottles were made with my usual left hand and the other two with my wobbly right hand. When you use your non-dominant hand, two things happen: your expectations are lowered considerably, and you really have to focus. It is actually fun to try.

This day I sat in the warm sun, on the ground, surrounded by wild flowers. It is a strong summer memory.

I bought sunflowers for a house guest who loves yellow. I love the curve of their stems, as well as the color.

We took a short trip to Boothbay Harbor, Maine. I seem to love low tide. It smells so good, and the seaweed makes great drapey shapes. You see the line of high tide on the rock.

It was a foggy day in Maine. The water in the harbor was the whitish color of the cloudy sky. Every buoy floating on the surface marks the spot of a lobster trap.

I really like to draw storefronts where the wares are hanging out all over the place. The gas tank is a decorative item with Yankee humor.

Buildings on stilts fascinate me. How do they do it?

A simple quick drawing of a small peaceful harbor. It has all the elements of Maine: rocks, water, driftwood, a boat, and a lighthouse to warn boats of all sizes during the foggy nights.

I drew these fine tomatoes during a tomato tasting at our local farm on Main Street, Spring Ledge Farm. I think there were forty kinds or so.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

New Hampshire

I have been drawing and painting a lot of buildings lately. I need a break from all the rooflines and angles of perspective. So on this blog post, I choose to focus on plants and flowers.

These two flowering plants in pots were not next to each other really. The two drawings are part of my collection of colorful planters on the street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They make a nice contrast with each other.

On the right is another planter from Portsmouth, NH. All three pieces are cast iron. The two on the left are fancy fence posts.

A wonderfully large hollyhock bush shows off next to an open doorway in Portsmouth. The chair on the lawn is part of a sale. I believe it is an enticement to enter the house and look at the offerings. I didn’t.

And finally, a grouping of wildflowers blowing in the breeze on Star Island, eight miles off the coast of New Hampshire. Star Island is a part of the Isles of Shoals.

 Fishermen from England sailed all the way across the ocean to catch the plentiful cod here. The fish were salted and dried and hauled all the way back. This was in the 1600s.

Since the 1800s, summer visitors have been arriving to spend quality time on this rocky outcropping. An enormous old wooden hotel is still there, looking proud to offer respite.

Monday, July 31, 2017



Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington, USA

Farmers' Market, Portland, Oregon, USA

New London, New Hampshire, USA

Concord, New Hampshire, USA

Concord, New Hampshire, USA

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA

Windsor, Vermont, USA

Füssen, Germany

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

New Hampshire

The .art Internet Domain was recently activated, and I jumped in on Day 1 and registered the name to use as the primary address of my blog.

You will see me using this address in the future, although I will retain the original address so as not to interfere with my readers’ established address lists.

I had a little spare time while in the New Hampshire town of Jaffrey last week. So I drew their one room school house, which is located on the town green. When children walked to school in the 1800s, schoolhouses were scattered all around and numbered in the dozens in the larger New England towns. A few still exist. Most serve as mini museums of the old ways of education. Others are now private homes.

Behind the Jaffrey Meeting House, also on the green, is this graveyard. The markers shown here are from the early 1800s and are mostly slate, but some white marble. All the graves and their inscriptions are facing the majestic granite topped Mount Monadnock.

The author Willa Cather is buried here. I read that she came to this quiet little town to write. Her favorite inn is nearby.

The above drawing and the next three to follow are a preview of the next book I am working on. My goal is to do one hundred drawings of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. For those who wish to count along with me, I have now 35 drawings. I am budgeting one trip a week, or more, till I reach my goal. The miles mount up. And the seafood lunches are delicious.

These buoys and floats are hanging on a fence in South Portsmouth. They are no longer used and now make a fine display, but they have not been prettied up. The paint colors are nicely faded.

On a sunny spring day, I found this wooden, teal colored, garden fence. My favorite part is the tiny view of red bricks on the other side of the fence.

This block has a row of mixed architecture. I wouldn’t give it high marks for harmony, but it caught my eye. Mostly the sagging roof caught my eye. The one on the right is art deco style and is about a hundred years younger than the other two.

I also delight in small details in the streetscapes. These three mailboxes have been heavily painted over, but they still open and they work. I am amused at the tropical theme bas-relief sculpture on them. New Hampshire is a long way from palm trees and flamingos.

At first I thought the bas-relief on the right was depicting a crocodile, another non New Hampshire animal. But after spending a few minutes drawing it, I feel certain that it represents a lizard or salamander, and we have plenty of those in these parts. The lizard is on a building from the late 1800s, a little above eye level.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Alberta and New Hampshire

 Here’s a really nice display of New Hampshire themes at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire, the state capital. My book Colorful Journey is right in the center of the photo, behind the two cups. Gibson’s is a really fine independent bookstore, and large too. I just happened upon the display as I went in after two months away.

  Here is where the ‘away’ was, Edmonton, Alberta, in western Canada. Where our adorable four grandchildren live, with their parents.

Anyway, back to art. I set off to the pop up garden centre (British/Canadian spelling) in the parking lot at Super Store with my sketch pad and the goal of five drawings. Picking a number of drawings to do is a way I motivate myself. In the rest of my life, I am definitely not a number oriented person.

Here is a row of lettuce growing in pots. Just after I finished the pencil sketch, they were moved to a less windy location.

Rows of objects is one of my recurring motifs. It is a theme and variation theme.

More rows of flowers in flats for sale for eager gardeners in Edmonton. Mind you, they are not safe from frost yet, but the tender annuals are for sale anyway. Buyer beware.

But they were fun to draw and color and reminded me of Holland, in a miniature sort of way.

More rows, and lineups of pots too.

Who does not love a topiary? And one made of lavender. Think of the people who have been growing, caring, and pruning these plants for how long.

See how easy it was to find inspiration at the pop up garden centre?

OK, this is a line up of only two objects, also closely resembling one another. Our two year old grandson’s suede shoes. Shoes are very evocative. Vincent Van Gogh painted muddy field boots. Actually, I drew these shoes right after scraping mud off of them.

The tangle of bright laces was so much fun to draw. Once you take the time to look carefully at something, you can never unsee it.

And what could this be? A rocket ship from a very colorful alien planet? No, it’s a plastic slide for a two year old who calls it his ‘whee’. It is all interlocking pieces. He rolls a ball down it, he slides down it, and he loves to hide underneath it.

One more bit of color. Our daughter’s front garden greets us. How we waited this year for the tulips to open.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Twas a month of being under the weather. The outside air was grey, damp, cold, and persistently snow-flake filled. And various viruses were setting up competing shops in my throat, mostly. So here is my artist’s solution. I bought a bunch of orange lilies, all tightly budded. When lilies bloom, they do it with drama, flair (literally and figuratively), energy, and life. I drew them over and over again, about 24 times. Watching them open, watching til the petals fall off after giving it their all. And drawing that too.

I drew them on my iPad with a my digital art app, without a plan of progression. I present a selection of my thought process.

And the last drawing is a another bunch of lilies, bought for a birthday party. The weather has improved. My cough has been beaten back, and we all get to witness the lilies do their dance again.


Friday, March 31, 2017

French Polynesia, Part 2

The locals, and the tourist industry too, call the island of Taha’a the vanilla island. We had a tour of one family run farm. I think they are all family run.

 I drew the supporting plant and the thin green vanilla vine. Each plant has to be hand-pollinated, as the bees in the islands don’t recognize the plant. I think this means it is not native to the islands. So whole families are in the vanilla woods with little brushes to move the pollen to the appropriate part of the flower to start the growth of the bean. The farmer we met called them vanilla sticks. 

We got the full lecture why Tahitian vanilla is far superior to Madagascar vanilla. In essence, it is left on the vine until ripe, then massaged a lot to distribute the  oils throughout the entire bean.

The coconut shells keep the chickens away from the plants. 

I never saw a sprouting coconut before, so it was a must draw.

The chickens are everywhere to eat the centipedes.

Occasionally I draw from memory if the memory is strong enough. The last stop on our cultural tour around the island of Taha’a was this beach along a lagoon.

The holes are the homes of land crabs. The guide told us that the crabs come out of their holes during a full moon. At this time, the locals collect them and bring them home for a delicious treat. But first, the crabs need to be kept in a box and fed shredded coconut for a month to improve the taste of the flesh.

On the right is my memory of the flat black stones that make up a marae, an ancestral burial ground. One guide pointed out to us on the first day that no moss or anything grows on the sacred rocks. I looked carefully. She was right. Sort of spooky.

One day the cruise ship program called for a barbeque lunch picnic on a motu. I think motu means small uninhabited coral island. We had to wade to the land through waist deep water for an extra bit of cooling fun.  

A couple got married on the motu. The bride wore a white bikini with a short lacy coverup.

 It made an entertaining contrast to draw the cruise ship in the lagoon with a two person kayak in the foreground.

 We got to the picnic late, but there were still some coconuts to sip from.

The glass bottom boat was small. I recall a full load of eight passengers and a hilariously cheerful and good spirited young driver/diver. Twice he swam under the boat and clowned around under the glass window. With the fish.

These are the animals we saw from the glass bottom boat. Upon seeing about fifty other people in the shallow water, I jumped in, street clothes and all, to pet the sting rays. We were not feeding them, but they were crowding all around us like puppies. No one got stung.

And more exotic animals we don’t see in New Hampshire. The striped fish looked like the kinds you see in aquariums.

The volcanic profiles of the islands are fascinating and fun to draw.

We did go ashore in Bora Bora because we had signed up for something called an aquabike or underwater scooter. Honestly, we didn’t understand what we were signing up for. A better description is a two person submarine, where your head stays dry in a bubble of air, and the rest of you is wet. Bruce drove, and I gripped my seat. We were ten feet below the water surface for 30 minutes. Bruce followed the diver as he showed us the underwater sights. Fish food hung from the scooter so we had a lot of gorgeous looking freeloaders to watch.

Our diver guide was the grandson of the inventor. These machines exist in only two places in the world, both operated by this family.

The last island the ship sailed to was Mo’orea. This is the view from Tahiti. These two islands are close enough that many people commute by ferry from the quieter island of Mo’orea to the more bustling Pape’ete, capital of French Polynesia on Tahiti.

We didn’t go onto Mo’orea as it was raining and I had some paintings I wanted to finish before an on-ship presentation.

 The crossing between Mo’orea and Tahiti was the only rough water we encountered. It reminded me of the English Channel in that regard.

Even the tugboat was colorful and worthy of a sketch.

 On our last day we had another two hour tour of Tahiti, south of Pape’ete.  It was like a bookend to the first day’s tour to the north of the city. Here we are on a very windy day on a black sand beach. The people on the water with their windsails and kites seemed to be having a grand time.

I often finish out a post with something botanical and colorful. I so enjoyed the tropical flowers that could be found along the roadsides, on crowns on people’s heads, around the calves of the bellhops, circling the hips of the dancers, fashioned into bras for the nighttime shows, and above as decor on a bar. It was a feast for my flower-loving eyes.

French Polynesia did not disappoint. I think about it everyday.

A note about the native language. As seen in my writing above, it often features an apostrophe between two identical vowels. This appears to be optional, but highly recommended for clarity. It indicates that the vowels are pronounced separately, with a brief stop in between, and not combined into a long vowel as in English and other languages. We learned in an onboard talk by a Dartmouth linguistics professor that this is often characteristic of languages that are a bit higher in the family tree than the more contemporary ones, and that the concept goes away as languages evolve into more simple forms. Yes, I got a few of the apostrophes wrong in the notes on my drawings.

We also learned that the language is spoken without stress on specific syllables. It was rather jarring to hear the familiar word Samoa pronounced that way.

Sam oh ah, with no stress