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.


  1. Sue Anne, your art is really wonderful. I never knew that Mark Twain had such an extraordinary home. I want to try carving a pumpkin to use as a vase now.

  2. Hey I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading your blog. You have good views, Keep up the good informative info. I am almost brand new to blogging and really like your post, it is really on target Thanks for all of your time & work.