Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Hampshire!

The Wilmot Post Office is decorated nicely for the holidays. Besides the garlands and bows, there is a yellow train in the left window. This old wooden building used to include a general store as well. To the left is the recently rebuilt Wilmot Community Center.

The town of Wilmot is rather spread out, but this part of the small town is within 5 miles of our house. For last month’s blog post I drew the library and a mountain view. This month I participated in a craft fair in the red building, and sold cards including this drawing of the post office. And lots of other designs as well. I can turn any of the images on the blog into a card upon request! Contact me if you’re interested.

I keep small paper and drawing supplies in my bag at all times. I am always ready.

I was a printmaker for a long time. I printed etchings and relief prints on a large motorized press. I loved the whole process for decades. Then one day my arms told me that they had had enough of inking each print. I still like the idea of multiples, and now my husband prints reproductions of my drawings on our home HP printer. I do paint again now too.

Our town of New London has about 4,000 residents. We have a wonderful Historical Society. Each December there is an open house in the many buildings.

My favorite is the country store. It is nicely warmed with a wood stove, and serves hot cider, cheese sandwiches and cookies. I drew this decorated window sill in the country store building. I was so taken with its charming arrangement of clove-stuck oranges, pine cones, gingerbread cookies, and evergreens.

I sipped my hot apple cider as I drew. (In the U.S., cider is a non-alcoholic drink, unless otherwise stated.) Mount Sunapee is in the distance. The ground was still bare at this point.

Here is almost bird’s eye view of Mount Kearsarge and Pleasant Lake in New London, NH. I do like to drive up to Morgan Hill to get this panorama. It is fascinating to watch the colors change as the clouds sweep over the terrain, shifting the light constantly.

I hope it is clear that there is a very steep drop to the lake. I think the tops of the tall pine trees indicate that well. There is one little island, called Blueberry Island. Our house is in the woods off to the right, off the edge of the drawing.

One day I saw the firemen rolling out the canvas rink, and filling it with water. A few days later I saw my chance to draw some skaters. The background buildings are: a skate hut (a recent Eagle Scout public service project), the town offices, the band stand gazebo, two brick buildings on the Colby-Sawyer College campus , the town hall of New London, and the Baptist church. The snow has arrived in our hill town.

The tower on the far right is not really quite that tall. It is twice the height of the main part of the church. I left my architectural miscalculation in place. It seems enormous. And a feat for it to remain upright. All the buildings are of wooden construction except the brick ones.

In North American usage, the word ‘college’ means an institution of higher learning, granting undergraduate degrees, such as a Bachelor of Arts. Usually students are ages 18-21. When we lived in England this term caused us much confusion. Our town had a Ladies College, which seemed to mean a very selective high school, ages perhaps 12-18.

This is a toy that my husband played with when he was a child—a Christmas present from an uncle who was really good at picking out that sort of stuff for his only nephew. I got motivated to draw it after drawing a doll last month.

It is a metal steam shovel that is meant to be sat upon. Then you swivel, and pivot the shovel. Last summer we sat on the ground with our 2 year old grandson and watched large machinery like this in operation. Fun for all of us!

If only my father-in-law hadn’t painted it! We know from watching Antiques Roadshow that this greatly reduces the value. Oh well. We enjoy both the American version of the TV show and the original one from England. We lived in England for 3 years, so the show brings back all kinds of fond memories.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts

This is the pastry case at the full block Italian food emporium in New York called Eataly. The place was crowded but too early in the day, evidently, for many people to be buying sweets and desserts. Which means I could see clearly the untouched assortment from a few feet away. No, we didn’t buy any. Next time.

We took the train south to New York City to see our daughter and her husband run in the marathon. Here we have the view from our rented apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. A subway entrance is across the street, and on the far side, the famed Brooklyn brownstones. The beautiful building material is sandstone naturally tinted by iron deposits.

A drawing from memory of some of the 45,000 runners in the NYC marathon. I believe this explains why we failed to see our family members as they ran by. We were probably at a moment of severe distraction. We had never seen a marathon before, so we didn’t realize that runners consume bananas at mile 7, and throw the peels down. That many many runners wear costumes. That most have their first names written on their shirts. This allows the bystanders to shout out personal encouragement.

The runner with the flag is the Chilean miner, running proudly and strongly. The truck in front of him records his every step. The couple at the upper left got married during the course of the 26 mile event. Yes! I also drew the Statue of Liberty, a ballerina in her tutu, and the Blues Brothers. And a wheelchair athlete in the lower right. It was inspiring to watch. We watched in 3 locations, never seeing our family, then walked our way through lovely Central Park to the finish line.

I love this view on Main Street, New London, New Hampshire. There are about 6 layers of mountains that look ever more blue as they recede in the distance. They are not tall mountains, just beautiful ones. Old mountains with trees to the tops. It is hard to know which animals will be in the field when I pass by. On this day, sheep, llamas, and donkeys. I just drew a sampling.

I always say that my car stops here by the side of the road all by itself.

I say that everyone in our town has a good view of Mount Kearsarge, and that includes the animals. I think alpacas are very cute. With their topknots, big eyes, and long eyelashes, I think they all look like Lucy Ricardo.

One day we drove to Beverly, Massachusetts to the Montserrat College of Art. The main building is the brick one in the rear of the drawing. Originally a junior high school, it now provides classroom and studio space for a generation of up and coming artists, and includes a fine gallery open to the public. I loved the very yellow leaves against the yellow house. We came here to hear a lecture by Gabi Campanario, the founder of Urban Sketchers. He has a weekly sketch/article in the Seattle Times. It was great to meet him. He has done a lot to reinvigorate the old tradition of artists as observers and recorders.

There was a wonderful exhibit in the gallery of artists’ drawings and sketchbooks organized, I believe, by Fred Lynch, who is a professor of illustration at the college and a major contributor to Urban Sketchers.

This is the Blackwater River as it flows through the nearby town of Wilmot Flat. You see a reflection of Mount Kearsarge in the water. As much as I love the brightest colors of fall in New England, I also enjoy the more subtle colors of very late fall, just before the first snow. Copper browns, wine reds, soft golds, and purples.

In another part of Wilmot stands their town library. It is attached to the town hall, but I couldn’t fit that into the frame of the drawing. I did get in Bog Mountain, off in the distance. On the right side of the drawing you see the old sheds with stalls for horses and carriages. Above each stall is the name of the family that used this space. They are all empty now, but ready for the next Sunday church service. Of course now all the people walk or come by car. Time has just frozen here. I find this oddly touching. Such a reverence for the past, and the families that have come before us.

Here I drew, from memory a very quick sketch of Sarah Josepha Hale, as portrayed by Sharon Wood. She has on a lace cap with side ribbons, over her ringlets. At her throat she wears a cameo brooch. Lace peeks out of the cuff of her bell sleeves. Her voluminous black dress is satin, and rustles when she moves.

But who was Sarah Josepha Hale and why is Sharon Wood portraying her? Where to start! We enjoy very much the presentations sponsored by the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Experienced and entertaining speakers present a subject for an hour or so. Many of the speakers are professors at nearby colleges (many with books to sell), and others are independent historians. Many are storytellers and humorists.

Some like Sharon Wood and her husband Steve (who resembles and indeed portrays Abraham Lincoln) are historians and also re-enactors. You can learn more about them at their Web site.

Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879) was born in nearby Newport, New Hampshire. She was widowed with five small children, and became a writer to support herself. She wrote novels, poems, and magazine articles. She wrote the children’s poem Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Most notably she was the editor of the magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book for 40 years, and advanced the careers of American writers, both male and female.

This month Sharon Wood presented Hale as a persistent promoter of Thanksgiving as a national holiday. She wrote countless letters, including correspondence to 5 presidents. Abraham Lincoln was won over by her appeals and declared it so in 1863, during the American Civil War.

This doll came into our house recently, when my mother moved from Massachusetts to Wisconsin to be near my sister and her family.

I don’t collect dolls or know much about them, but she has some appeal to me. I am guessing she is over 100 years old. On the back of her skull are the words “Made In Germany”. Her body is porcelain and fully jointed. Her shoes are of pale blue leather of exquisite detail. Her knee socks are knitted with an argyle pattern. The clothing is machine stitched with the tiniest stitches I have ever seen.

Her dark brown eyes open and close and she is what I call ‘an eyebrow doll’. She has long dark expressive eyebrows. Lovely, but I have yet to see an actual blond child with adult sized dark eyebrows. None the less, it speaks of the fashion of the era. Her mouth is open with two tiny teeth. I couldn’t draw this successfully...she looked like a beaver every time I tried. So I closed her mouth. I also fluffed up her hair a bit and added a bow on her head. I tried to imagine what she looked like new, under the tree, on Christmas day. And what little girl was thrilled to unwrap her.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Hampshire, Connecticut, Michigan, Wisconsin, Vermont, Maine!

We did a bit of traveling this month...we drove from New Hampshire to Wisconsin, where my sister and lots of family live. This is the mid-western branch. Both my sister and her husband are transplanted New Englanders. It was a good trip.

This is our state house in our capital city, Concord, New Hampshire. It was built in 1819 of granite. There are 400 members in the lower house, or one for every 3,000 people in the state. With 24 senators in the upper house, it is the fourth largest legislative body in the world! And the pay is $100 per year. This means no one is a professional politician. (I’ve read this keeps corruption down to about zero.) New Hampshire has a different way of doing things.

During a quick trip down to Hartford, Connecticut, I decided to draw a portion of the house of author Mark Twain. I have visited the interior several times and this day just attempted to draw the ornate facade. I had to move from my first drawing location, after too many large acorns landed on my head.

The style of the house, built in 1881, is Victorian Gothic. It has a slate roof, and bricks of brown, black and red. In the top floor of this house Twain wrote, during 17 years, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, The Prince And The Pauper, and four other major works. He and his wife raised their children here. The top floor, indicated by the row of small arched windows, is his billiards room. This was reserved, he said, for writing, male guests, cigars, liquor, and swearing. In 1881, the interior was redone by Louis Comfort Tiffany. In the front hall is the first telephone in Hartford.

The Bluff Walk, St. Joseph, Michigan. In the distance is Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes that separate the U.S. from Canada. It is so vast that it has the appearance of an ocean. We discovered this resort town by serendipity, and wandered happily there for hours. The peaked building houses a carousel. The town recently acquired it, as it is restoring its beachfront to again appeal to visitors. We rode on the traditional carved wooden horses. There were other animals too, such as fish, mermaids, otters, tigers, and a praying mantis. You can see a wonderful display of all the animals, accompanied by the actual carousel music, at the Web site of the Silver Beach Carousel Society.

Sons of Norway breakfast in the town where many of our family members live, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. Many towns in the American mid-west were settled by Scandinavians in the 1800’s and continue their ties and traditions.While we ate our three kinds of pickled fish, waffles, and other delicacies, I drew this view. It shows a small pumpkin hollowed out to form a vase, fall flowers called asters, and on the table behind, a layered cake called ‘kranskake’. I believe this translates to crowncake. The layers are ring shaped and hollow, and made of ground almonds, egg whites and sugar. While sometimes called a Norwegian wedding cake, I read that it is generally made for any festive occasion. It is traditional to stick flags and or flowers and candies all over it.

And here we are on a side street in the town of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, a few miles west of the capital city of Madison. The yellow brick building with the turrets is the town Opera House, although it is no longer used for that purpose. The tavern on the far left has sign on the window that says ‘better burgers’. I believe this implies that everyone in town knows that the brewpub across the street, the Grumpy Troll, has the best beer and ale. The white bubble shaped object is a water tower.

Doesn’t the Copeland Opera House in Shullsburg, Wisconsin look like a theater set itself? The small town started with lead and zinc mining. Since the ore was very close to the surface, mining is probably not the correct term.

Once a small town got sufficiently prosperous, a theater was usually built and most often called an opera house. Operas may have been on the ticket sometimes, but it was mostly a community venue for stage shows, singing, local talent shows, and any traveling entertainment. Stage set remnants, I guess, are in the windows. It was built in 1882.

Mount Ascutney, Vermont, seen from across the Connecticut River. The river forms the border between Vermont and New Hampshire. This little park is in Cornish, NH. I always want to say ‘hello’ to a mountain when it pops up into sight. To me, a mountains seems a benevolent presence, overseeing our lives. It remembers the past and greets the future with optimism.

This is another view of Mount Ascutney, from the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, in Cornish NH. The home is indicated at the left by the stairs. The plants in the foreground are red bee balm and purple aster.

This was the summer home of the famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) As well as the home, his studio is here and several outdoor sculptures.(I didn't feel it was respectful to make a sketch of a masterpiece, so I only drew the land.) He designed coins for the U.S. mint, as well as bas relief sculptures, and free standing ones too. His most famous bas-relief stands in Boston Common (Massachusetts) directly in front of the state house. It depicts Col. Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the few entirely African-American units in the American Civil War, 1861-65. This story is widely known, as it was the subject of the 1989 film Glory starring Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman. Here is photo of this sculpture. It has the illusion of 6 figures deep within only about 12 inches (30 cm) of actual depth.

The Augustus Saint-Gaudens bas-relief sculpture on the Boston Common.

French’s Beach at Lake Massasecum, Bradford, NH. The autumn foliage has lasted for weeks. It is about over, but what a glorious show. The green pine trees set off the colors of the maples, oak, birch, and beech trees.

One of my favorite foods ... a lobster roll. (Pronounced locally as ‘lobsta rawl’) This one from Warren’s in Kittery, Maine begged to be drawn. What with large chunks of lobster including claw meat, frilly lettuce, and buttered toasted roll! Combine that with a water view out of the window, great day.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Hampshire

I was sitting on the tiny wharf at Pleasant Lake, and turned around. This is the view: colorful kayaks, the building on the right called the annex, and the Inn at Pleasant Lake.

At the other end of the small lake is our post office. Here is the view from the parking lot. I don’t have to search out beauty around here, as it surrounds me. The leaves are just starting to turn their fiery autumn colors on Morgan Hill in the background. Our house is in the woods on the lower hillside, approximately where the birch trees cross.

This is Main Street in Newport, two towns over to the west. The middle building with the turret is the old court house, now the location of a nice restaurant. I love to draw red brick buildings. Bricks are an amazing thing to make with the local clay.

This imposing building just a few buildings down the street from the last drawing is called the Eagle Block. It was recently saved from demolition. Once a hotel, it now has a great Irish pub on the ground floor. Both buildings date to 1826.

Here we have the view from our coffee shop in New London, called Ellie’s Deli. I love birch trees.

This month the New London Garden Club hosted a flower show with competitions and exhibits, which was held in the Town Hall. The Town Hall is where we vote, and also the site of concerts and lectures. The windows are large and the color of the walls is wonderful. It is a sort of celestial blue.

Some of the vegetable entries.

More vegetable entries.

Some entries in the grasses and shrubs categories.

And there are always many entries for dahlias. I loved how the sun was shining through the petals, with sort of a stained glass effect.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Alberta, Maryland, and New Hampshire

Here are three wonderful children coloring the sign for their upcoming lemonade stand. They happen to be our grandchildren.

I turned the corner and this color combination just smacked me in the eye. It is the red tiles of the Scotia Bank building in Edmonton, Canada. And the yellow brick, lush red roses, and prairie sky.

As I was standing there, I started to muse on the wonderful abilities of plants to adapt to differing climates. How is it that a rose can thrive in cool damp England (where we lived for 3 years), and Maryland (30 years: humid in summer and sometimes cold in winter) to Edmonton which is hot, dry, and cold. I have wondered this same thought in Arizona. One of nature’s miracles.

North Lakewood Avenue in Baltimore, one block north of Patterson Park. All these rowhouses were built by the same builder about 1900. They are brick with marble trim and steps. Our daughter and son-in-law own the house on the corner. The yellow pressed tin is original decor, while the interior and the roof deck are contemporary. There's a great view from the roof!

Their house was once a store for the Catholic school and church across the street. The family lived in the top floor.
Many street corners in Baltimore were occupied by small neighborhood stores. Some still are, and many have become homes, often a bit larger than others on the street.

And here are the next four houses on the street. I have been wanting to draw the blue balcony for quite a while. There are three or four more of these balconies in the block. You have to look at a whole line of rowhouses to understand what the architect had in mind. It is all a repeating pattern, and you can see the original, unifying theme as you look down the street. Sometimes you have to close your eyes and visualize what that theme was intended to be, as parts often have fallen off and were not replaced, replaced poorly, or simply covered up. They all once had dentil molding along the roof lines, for example. I haven’t seen another block with quite like this. Even the houses across the street have a different theme.

The house on the far right is now covered in Formstone. It is a facing made of tinted concrete, and is attached to the bricks. It even covers the marble! The surface is marked with indentations to resemble stones. Done in the 1940s and 50s, it was quite a fashionable thing to do and addressed a not uncommon problem of porous brick.

The hot competition among companies in the trade served as inspiration for Barry Levinson’s 1987 movie Tin Men, though Levinson apparently figured that the aluminum siding wars of the 50s and 60s would have broader appeal and recognition than wars involving something so localized as Formstone.

Many people now remove the Formstone, some with adequate results but many with damage to bricks, marble, and even structure. We ourselves own a corner rowhouse covered in Formstone. We didn’t put it there, but we have no plans to remove it. It’s part of the quirkiness of Baltimore (Bawlmer). It’s even the name of a recently introduced local microbrew ale!

This is Fells Point, at the corner of Broadway and Thames in Baltimore. It is pronounced ‘thames’, not the British ‘temz’.

The sign with the raven is for an outdoor film series. The raven is one of the symbols of Baltimore, because the short story writer and poet Edgar Allen Poe lived and worked here, and died here. The Ravens is the city’s football team.

The buildings are being gutted and rebuilt to become part of the lovely Admiral Fell Inn across the street.

Here we have a view of the same corner buildings, looking in the other direction. I drew from the corner door of the Admiral Fell Inn, under the shade of the turquoise umbrella. It was a very warm day, actually too warm to be out sitting at the sidewalk cafe. I believe the large brick building in the background was a customs house. The man on the canvas flag is probably Admiral Fell.

I bought this bouquet at the New London Garden Club antique show. The container is an old and dented pewter sugar bowl.

Many times I think about what I will draw in advance. Other times I drive past, look, slam on the brakes, hop out, and draw on the fly. This is because I feel that whatever it is I am attracted to will soon disappear.

This wooden object seems to be a sled or sleigh, for snow or ice. It seats two people.
Our neighbors who run the inn at the bottom of the hill were cleaning out their barn, and I saw this in their yard. There may well be one of these in everyone’s barn. I was struck by how soon the familiar becomes the mysterious. I need to talk to an older generation.

This very old, twisted apple tree produces both yellow apples and red ones. I like its gnarled shape suggesting advanced age—but the abundance of fruit!

I call this drawing ‘A Peek At The Peak’. Our town’s main street (Main Street) follows along a mountain ridge. You glimpse hazy-blue mountains on all sides as you drive or walk down the street. I love having a vista and miss it when I am not here. This is Mount Sunapee, which has ski trails on it and a resort.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Hampshire, Vermont, and Quebec

Here is the New London Market on the Green, with musicians in the bandstand. (Actually there was one official musician, and she cleverly enlisted kids from the audience to provide the accompaniment, mostly percussion!) The green, also known as Sargent Common, is a large open space in the center of town on Main Street. It is used for fairs and festivals, as well as kids and dogs running around.

The Town Green at a Friday night concert. The building on the far left is the town offices, on the far right the Whipple Town Hall. Click the picture (or any of the pictures) to make it bigger...there’s lots of detail in this one!
The dog in the front is our Shih-tzu Hank. Children love to come and pat him. One group told us that their objective for the evening was to pat every dog there!

Across the street from the green is this large yellow wooden building. A former pharmacy, it now houses several small businesses including the local sports shop, selling and renting kayaks as well as bicycles and other equipment. Recreational kayaks are very popular in our area. They have a wide, flat bottom, are easy to paddle, and are very stable.

My feet, in my Oldtown Otter kayak. The lake loon family is off to the right, and Mount Kearsarge is in the background. This is the first time I’ve sketched while in the kayak.

This bouquet is composed of Pick Your Own flowers from Spring Ledge Farm in downtown New London.
Our middle of the room fireplace is in the rear with its mesh metal curtains.

We stopped to check the map on our way home from Burlington, Vermont. I loved the shape of the mountain in the distance, named Camel’s Hump. You can even see it from New York, on the other side of Lake Champlain.

Vernacular architecture fascinates me. This style is common in the province of Quebec. The owner of this house came out to greet me—and ask me what I was doing in his field. He proudly told me the house was three hundred years old. It is located in the village of St. Ferriol des Neiges, a few miles east of La Ville de Québec. The roof is now seamed metal, but maybe it was slate originally. The woodwork around the door and windows is ornately decorated and looks appropriately old. The surface is stucco, probably over field stone. We saw many similar houses constructed of stone without the stucco. I can envision my Québecois ancestors living in a home like this.

The Québecois are a proud, hardy people, with a genuine joie de vivre. They have maintained their culture and language for going on four centuries in this North American outpost, so far from France. I'm proud to have some of their blood flowing in my veins. Along with the Anglo-Saxon stuff, and a few drops of Native American too.

This present day Basilica of Sainte Anne de Beaupré was built in 1926 to replace one lost by fire. It is enormous. I tried to convey that in my drawing by allowing myself to get totally lost in the details of the grey stone façade. You can sense the scale by comparing the building to the size of the people on the stairways. I made a little inset drawing to show the overall shape. The word “accueil” means welcome, and the Quebec Province flag is flying proudly at the Welcome Center. Everyone we met in Quebec was kind and patient, and usually pretty good with English (or French French!). I got a minimum of sketches done because I was feeling unwell and therefore lacked powers of concentration. Next time.

I like this sign at a farm stand near Claremont, NH. Of course it changes from one week to another.