Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Behind the Scenes!

We now have a very fine atlas of our state. This allows us to find some of the small villages, plus locate the commercial centers of some larger ones. Last week, when driving along farther north, I drove through two towns and never did find the settled areas, so that won't happen again. The atlas is 3/4 of an inch thick and has 148 double page maps and an index 55 pages long. Every street in the state!

I feel odd using the word ‘town’ when the settlement may have 1,000 or fewer people in it. (Some even zero!) But that is the nomenclature of New England. You are always within the borders of a town, even if you are in the wilderness. Am I making any sense? When we lived in Maryland, it took us a while to get used to being in no town, but always in a county.

It was a very rainy day here yesterday in New London, described in the news as a rare summer Nor’easter. We thought we would go for a drive, to draw, despite the poor weather. Our town is located on a mountain ridge and it often has rain, sleet, hail, or snow when the surrounding towns do not. But yesterday it was rainy everywhere. So how do you draw in the rain? Through a window of a house, or in a sheltered doorway, or from a car. I drew from the car, looking between the raindrops. My husband, the driver, had to do some fancy maneuverings to get the car in exactly the best position for the just right composition. This building is the Hall Library in Northfield NH, shared with the town of Tilton. I do so love late Victorian tour de force brick edifices! Such a combination of masterful solidity and frivolity with a dash of brio.

As with many buildings of this era, there is a new addition out the back. That way it doesn’t spoil the looks of the original architecture. And this one was done in a tasteful and harmonious fashion.

This is in Boscawen, a small town just north of the capital city of Concord. I felt like drawing the fire station in the center, with its brick tower, built for drying hoses and to provide a home for the fire bell at the top. Next to it on the right is mill housing. Any long building of that era with multiple doors was probably built as housing for mill workers. The square building on the left was most likely a boarding house.

The Merrimack River is at the bottom of the hill behind the trees. It was the engine that powered industry in the major cities of New Hampshire and northeastern Massachusetts. There were flour mills, textile mills, a tannery, and probably more types of mills too, such as lumber mills. As far as I know, all those here are closed and now abandoned. We drove around down by the river, and we saw no signs of renewal there.

The town center is located a few miles to the northwest. It’s more like the downtown of a New Hampshire country village. Among the offerings there is the best source of genuine southern barbecue that we’ve found since we moved here from Maryland.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Behind the Scenes!

I liked the unusual window treatments on this Community Church in Goshen, N.H. That is why I did a close up view. It is all white painted wood and clear glass.

This is the main square in Bristol, N.H. I drew this while sitting on a park bench. I liked the buildings, and enjoyed the mountain ash tree that partially obscured them. I have memories of coming to this town with my father and grandfather when I was a child. I had not been back in many a moon.

The circle is a business sign on the green Victorian building. I never pass up an opportunity to draw a large ice cream cone sign..on the left.

Today I drew this building at Bradford Center, N.H. It is the Congregational Society Meeting House, 1838. When the railroad was built, with the depot a few miles away, the whole town shifted to the new center of action and growth. But this building has been cared for and valued and occasionally used ever since.

I met a young couple yesterday who told me that they were married here. And asked if I had drawn it yet. And so I did.

The wood trim around the doors is ornate and unusual, but I will have to do a closeup to get that in. The white building is wooden clapboards, and shutters in green. The panes of glass are clear.

It was raining heavily as I sat in the car and drew the library in Grantham, N.H. It is newly painted, and renovated I think. And it looks grand.

Lately we have been attending a lot of craft shows, as vendors. People tell us all kinds of fascinating stories. And most have suggestions of beautiful places to draw, most of them unknown to me. So it is an enjoyable time for us both.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Massachusetts and New Hampshire!

We took a weekend trip out of the woods of New Hampshire and into the major city of Boston. It only takes about ninety minutes by car, but it is a total transformation of surroundings. We usually enjoy a walk through the Common and the Public Gardens and then a stroll down Newbury Street in Back Bay, a fashionable high end shopping street. Where we buy nothing except maybe a coffee. This time, in the heat, we bought ice cream. The brick row houses from the late 1880s are on filled land. It was once part a bay in the Charles River. I love the slate roofs.

To get this view, we sat on the stairs of an empty business space now up for rent. We were below street level, thus the railing. The modern era building in the rear is called the Prudential Center, named for an insurance company.

We drove into Boston to go out onto one of the islands in the harbor. We waited here along the granite quay for our boat. I like this view for the difference in scale. I could see where each chain link was welded; I could appreciate the window patterns on the tall buildings. The sun was warm, the air cool. I could smell donuts and coffee. All the senses were going full steam here.

On the lower far right is part of a steam boat named Samuel Clemons, the actual name of the writer Mark Twain.

And here we are on Lovells Island, with the skyline of Boston on the horizon. The many islands in the harbor are a National Park, and there is public transportation to reach quite a few of them. We were doing a service project of eradicating invasive species. I have drawn the sumac, the thistles, and some, unfortunately for us, unripe blackberries.

We had planned to view the exhibit of glass by Dale Chihuly in the Museum of Fine Arts, Back Bay, Boston. The line was around the block and the heat intense. So I drew the building and the crowds, and we never went in. We plan a return trip tomorrow.

Two weeks ago we drove up along the Connecticut River to draw a few towns. The Brick Store, the oldest general store in the United States, is located in Bath, N.H. I have never seen a general store in brick before. They are usually white painted wood clapboards, or weatherboards as they are called in the U.K. The columns were a touch of grandeur in the wilderness. I included the war memorial in the foreground, and the small yellow smoke house attached to the left of the store. I bought smoked cheddar. It was wonderful. When can we go again to Bath?

We used to live fairly close to Bath, England. There is no resemblance at all.

To add to our collection of New Hampshire Opera Houses, we stumbled upon this one in Woodsville, a part of Haverhill, dated 1890. It’s now divided into apartments, in contrast to some of the other opera houses in the state that are still used as performance space. We sat under a tree, with a small picnic lunch. And I drew this corner building. For fun, I included the digital sign of a local bank, giving the time and the temperature of 90 degrees F.

I do have a penchant for conical towers, I admit it. These three are part of the Maplewood Golf Course in Bethlehem, NH., built c1905. (And of course, the mountains echo the shape.) There was a grand hotel here too at one time, though it succumbed to fire in 1961 as have so many of the others. I was thinking that these summer resorts were built just before the invention of the automobile. That changed people’s vacation habits. But it is still a beautiful town in a lovely location.

The town hall, 1923, in Landaff, NH is on the top of a hill, surrounded by hills. The tiny settlement was very peaceful. No one came out to greet us, as we thought they might.

Now we are at the Riverwalk in Littleton, N.H. (Those people in San Antonio have really started something.) The Ammonoosuc River once powered the old grist mill, and the yellow building is now home to Fiddleheads Artisan Gift Shop and Miller’s Cafe.

I suppose there are covered bridges in cold climates worldwide. The roof protects the floor from heavy snows. But that having been accomplished, the bridge keepers then had to spread a packed down layer on the bridge’s roadway in order to provide a running surface for sleighs and sleds.  The pines are getting very tall and skinny here, a sign we are getting way up north. The row of cars are parked along the main shopping street.

This is the view from some senior housing. Very pleasant indeed.

June 2013 update: The grist mill is being converted into a brewpub.  What a great location!

I did a quick sketch of this rail road station in Lisbon NH because I just loved the roof line and the unusual windows and trim. The yellow flowers are called black eyed susans, such a fun name.

The station has recently been wonderfully restored, and is open to the public. And can be rented for private events.

And we will end this colorful journey with a view of cornfields, and some oddly shaped hills and mountains. They are very blue because of a heat haze.

It was the unusual shape of the hills that caused us to stop here in North Haverhill, N.H.