Thursday, March 1, 2018

New Hampshire, Maryland, and England

I decided to have a theme of animals for this post. I looked through the last nine years of blog posts (that took a while!) and selected a few drawings that I especially liked. Only one drawing is based on a direct animal observation. You'll see what I mean.

Starting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I sketched some funny old metal mailboxes, with a very tropical flamingo on one of them.

On the right is a nicely carved salamander above a shop doorway, also in Portsmouth.

In Baltimore, Maryland's Inner Harbor, you can rent a small dragon boat to pedal around the waterfront. The pointed glass building is the National Aquarium.

Last winter, I stopped my car to draw this snow dragon on the New London, New Hampshire, town green. I knew which local artist had made it because I recognized her style based on her children's books. I added a few sparrows for scale.

The dragon was only there for a few days. It then got transformed into a ski jump for the upcoming skijoring competition (skiers pulled by horses).

And one more dragon on the town green. This time it is a large inflatable sculpture that has a tunnel full of children. See them peering out of the round windows? It is part of a summer festival called Hospital Days. It raises money for our local hospital, 100 years old this year.

Here are the real animals, a flock of sheep in a field in the Cotswolds, in England. The guy in front kept a careful eye on me while the others grazed.

And another sheep, a puppet owned and operated by Lindsay Aucella. And a tiger. She has a wonderful business with her puppets, and travels widely throughout New Hampshire. Lindsay comes to our town, at the small beach on Pleasant Lake, once a year.

Learn more at her website.

These stuffed animals sit in the sun on a window seat in our house. A Paddington bear made by my mother, a regular teddy bear, a striped something, and a Curious George monkey.

Once we owned a rowhouse in Baltimore near an Hispanic grocery. The ceiling was filled with pinatas. They are constructed by hand with crepe paper and cardboard, and filled with candy.

Our doorknocker is a carved wooden woodpecker. This drawing is a few years old, but the woods look just like they do today. Deep snow and copper beech leaves clinging on until Spring. The melted circles around the tree trunks say that Spring might be coming soon and daffodils will pop up there.

One year our town had a fundraiser which involved fiberglass statues of gnus. Various people painted them, and then they were raffled off. Call me a grouch, but I think they are an eyesore. But I do like this home made parody of the project. An elk on the lawn of the maker, named for a village in our town called Elkins. So instead of a Gnu of New London, it is the Elk of Elkins.

Shortly after I drew this, the next generation of baby elk appeared on the scene.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Panama and Costa Rica

Last year I started experimenting with accordion sketchbooks. On this sunny day in Panama,  I planted myself on the bow of the ship National Geographic Quest, got out my art supplies, and started in. Pen, watercolor, and white pencil.

All the land you see is national parks and protected jungles in a rain forest. The little island to the right is called Granito De Oro which means grain of gold. The island is a ‘one palm’ island with a yellow sand beach. After I finished painting, I took a Zodiak (powered inflatable invented by Jacques Cousteau) over to the island and did some drawings there too. It was crawling, literally, with hermit crabs.

On another day of our week’s expedition, we roamed around a botanical garden, Casa Orquideas, in Costa Rica that is carved out of the tropical jungle. It is for sale by the aging owners if you are interested. Here is a video of the pages in my sketchbook that I made while there.

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One morning I painted this bird sanctuary, Bona Island, from the comfort of the lounge area of the ship. After lunch, we got a naturalist-guided up close tour in a Zodiak. We went around the left hand side where multitudes of frigate birds were puffing out their red chests to impress the ladies. I also saw, at a distance, my first iguana.

And then, just around the corner from the protected land and the bird sanctuary, was this:  a massive line-up of ships getting ready to sail through the Panama Canal. And in the distance, Panama City with its skyline of tall, gleaming, white, residential highrises.

Our ship moored overnight halfway through the canal in a huge man-made lake. This is my very first drawing of a container ship. It was probably even longer than this, but it was moving fast so I drew fast.

We got to spend some time in Panama City, mostly walking from the shoreline park to the old town (Casco Viejo) The brick streets were narrow, which provided shade from the tropical sun. Our group stopped very briefly on this corner, the site of the ruins of a monastery and school. We saw lots of rebuilding of the old stone buildings in the area, and the main square looks grand again.

I drew this building, the Biomuseo, while on board the ship. Partially because it is a very colorful structure designed by Frank Gehry, and also I knew we would be visiting it the following day. In English, the name is the Biodiversity Museum. Panama as a land bridge erupted from the sea 15 million years ago, and changed animal migrations and sea currents, allowing species from the two continents to mix and interbreed.

Three objects from an archeological section of the museum. I like clay vessels that incorporate animal faces or bodies.

Panama, and specifically the San Blas Islands, is well known for a native art craft, the mola. It is an elaborate form of appliqué. Here, the blue is the bottom layer, with the deep red sewn on top of that. I believe the other colors are added in smaller areas on top. I learned that this type of art originally comes from designs painted on the body.The women sew two panels and attach one to the front of a blouse and the other to the back. This style is still the form of dress on the islands today.

I saw this block of colorful signs and shopfronts across the street from our hotel. I can’t resist this sort of melange of color, letters, words, and images. And it is very telling of a specific place and memory.

The video shows best in Full Screen mode. Once you start it, click the Full Screen icon at the lower right. Tap Esc to return to the blog.

Subscribers who receive the blog in email via Feedblitz might not be able to view the video without clicking through to the blog site itself.