Monday, December 26, 2011

New Hampshire!

This month’s theme is verticality. As you drive around the state of New Hampshire, mostly you see trees. Sure, you also see mountains and swiftly moving waters, but they are covered by or surrounded by trees. (OK, three major exceptions in the largish cities of Concord, Manchester and Nashua. But the water is there.) Hardwood forest, evergreens, mixed woods.

Recently I have been thinking that the architecture wants to be vertical as well. Towers and turrets abound. Maybe it is to echo the shape of the trees, or perhaps to get a view up and over the foliage.

New Boston is a town that I glimpsed often in my childhood, if I looked to the right at just the certain moment as we traveled from our house in Massachusetts to my grandmother’s in New Hampshire. We never stopped, nor made the one block detour to view the main square and wonderful Victorian buildings

One of the wonderful aspects of my project of drawing every town in NH is the part where I stop the car, park, and get out. I read historical markers, and I walk around to see what’s what. The lay of the land as they say. Sometimes I find nice shops and I wish I lived closer. Sometimes I do shop, or have a snack. I almost always see a fast moving stream and mills, or signs telling how many mills were once along these waters. Sawmills, gristmills, tanneries, cooperages (barrel making) woolen and cotton mills too. Mills that made toys, clothes pins, and yokes for ox teams.

In New Boston, where I at last stopped and got out, I was attracted to this old fire station. It is so ornate that I got all bogged down in the details in the complex woodworking. When I returned home to finish my drawing I couldn’t decipher all my notes and color coded charts and arrows. (I often finish some of the color in my studio.) So I returned a couple of months later, all determined to capture the energy and essence of the building including the tower, and let the minute details go hang. The second time, the small parking lot in front was full. So I drew the cars (as only I can draw them) and was much freer about the tower part.

As soon as I finished, all the cars left! But I think I captured the feel of it. The blue sign says New Boston in white letters. I do need to buy a white ink pen so I can fill that in.

It was a dark, gloomy, rainy day when I pulled in to Wilton. But I liked it there. Along the main street was a yoga studio, small restaurants, and a shoe discount outlet. (It is a sad thing to have size 7 feet, the most common size. They are usually sold out.) Along the Souhegan River was a mill with a sheep as a weathervane, some mills repurposed as housing, also artists’ studios and a bead store. I bought some beads.

And then I stood under an awning to draw this enormous building across the street. This is a side view of the Wilton Town Hall. And this is the door to the theater that was there in the building from day one, 1886. Travelling shows stopped here as well as vaudeville entertainment. Then it was converted for silent films. Now it is sort of an art house theater. I wanted to go in, and if I lived closer I would surely go to the films there! The little sign out on the sidewalk indicates the upcoming film.

Since the towns in New England are governed at the most local level, it is the town that does the work of record keeping, and taxes, not the county as in most of the United States. Every town, no matter how small, has a library, a historical society building or museum, and a town hall and town offices. As well as schools, and most often police, and fire and rescue.

This is the town hall in Greenfield in the southwest part of the state. I am impressed with large old wooden structures, especially in places where the population is very small. According to the 2000 census there are under 2,000 residents here. It is just a lot of upkeep...think of all that white paint on the wooden clapboards. I drew in a little figure I saw leaving the building. Maybe he was paying his taxes.

This town is well known for its Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center, initially started to help children with the residual effects of polio.

Ooh, I loved the looks of this small town, Temple, near the border of Massachusetts. Again, we are looking at the town hall. A white wooden building. The white birch trees in the town common add to the charming effect.

In addition to the town hall, circling around the town green are: a church, a general store and post office, a pub, an inn, a restaurant, and a graveyard.

Acworth was the one hundredth town that I drew in my Draw-NH project. This project takes a lot of drive. Ha! Here is the elementary school. And another tower, of sorts.

It was so cold when I sketched this. The snow was crunchy, the air still, and I had forgotten my gloves.

The first time we tried to get to this town, we drove in a circle and never got there. That was before we bought our atlas. Even then it was a challenge, as the atlas doesn’t have a special symbol for narrow dirt roads that look like they could just peter out into nothingness.

Mason is the name of this town. I was curious to get there as it is a family name. I have drawn once again an elementary school. It has a new wing addition to the right. The two doors have beautiful windows surrounding them. It was dusk by the time I got here, so they were all aglow with interior light. You’ll have to imagine it. A sign of an old building here in NH is two front for males and one for females. A long abandoned tradition of course.

This is the main drag in Dublin, NH. I had a compositional problem: how to draw the lovely church steeple on the right, and also include the horizontal sprawl of the red building on the left. Which is the headquarters of Yankee magazine. My solution: cut off the street and have lots of sky to play with. I have to say that it looks OK to me now. An artist’s one knows the trouble I’ve seen. Said with a twinkle in the eye.

All the buildings are constructed of wood. The middle building is an unoccupied house, with signs that it may become a community center soon.

I had a little trouble connecting with Grafton. Since it is located close to New London, two towns away, I could turn around and come home again if I didn’t feel sufficiently inspired to draw. But this time, I spotted a sign that said Grafton Turnpike Road. When you see the word ‘turnpike’, you know it is one of the older roads in the town. The word means a private road where a toll was collected. When you paid your money, the wooden pike was lifted or turned aside so you could pass though.

So I turned a sharp left and ascended the hill. On my left was a swiftly moving stream, so I knew mills had once been here. A lots of mills went into decline in the late 1800s but still hung on until the hurricane of 1938. Then they were washed away by the floods. One mill remained here that I saw, a building in poor shape with a sign that said ‘Carding Mill’ - a mill that dealt with the early stages of the textile manufacturing process, preparing raw cotton or wool to be spun into thread. That indicates that there probably was once a weaving mill nearby as well.

I turned around when the road became dirt. But as I went back down the steep hill, I saw this church, with the sun glinting off of the white shingles.

The entire building was covered in white wooden shingles. Where I have drawn the zigzag lines is where the shingles went into an even more raised and crazy eye catching pattern. And the late afternoon, early winter rays of the sun were caught too and had a mesmerizing effect. Think of wind ruffled dove feathers.

I am very sure that when this building was shingled, it had a fashionable brown stain. Somewhere along the lines of time, it became even more fashionable to have a white painted edifice. Sunlight on natural colored shingles would have a more subdued effect.

I read that this church was moved twice. Such expertise that takes.

This very long brick building is the Monadnock Paper Mills in Bennington, NH. New England used to be full of paper mills, but this is one of the few left. It has over 300 products and an excellent history of green practices. And I discovered that the paper we use to print my designs onto notecards is made here. The Contoocook River flows under the bridge.

Monadnock is the name of a nearby mountain, and in native language it means an isolated single peak.

We are looking at a canal in Somersworth, NH., built along side of the Salmon Falls River. On the other side of the river is the state of Maine. When the mills were first built, most of the workers walked over the bridge from Maine. As more workers were needed, they were hired from Ireland and from Quebec Province in Canada.

The yellow mill in the background is the General Electric Company, which manufactures electrical meters.

It was a salmon colored sunset on the Salmon Falls River.

These last two drawings don’t fit in with the vertical theme, but they are seasonal so I shall toss them in.

Early in December we took a ride north to Meredith. It took us a while to find the holiday shoppers, free food, and general gaiety. This drawing was done in a little kitchen supply store called “So Little Thyme”. This shop was formerly an old time pharmacy. I do like to draw a street scene looking through multi-paned windows.

The yellow wooden house across the street now belongs to a cafe with its wavy red awning. This may be the only time I get to draw 3 ceramic roosters all lined up in a row.

This stone horse trough sits on the town green in Mont Vernon in the south central part of the state of NH. In the background are 2 granite benches, and an unusual looking bandstand.

I was really taken by this winter arrangement, made for public enjoyment. It showed real style, solid design, and fine knowledge of plants. The three purple rose-like plants are kale, which loves cold weather. The grey is dusty miller and the yellow-green is a golden cypress. The rest is evergreens and berries.

I added this image from last year, in case you thought no one lives in New Hampshire. It is our town skating rink, set up each winter on the green here in New London, NH. In the background are the skaters’ warming hut, the town offices, a college building, the gazebo or bandstand, the brick town hall, and the Baptist Church. Set out of the way at the far corner of the rink are a couple of plastic milk crates, used for support by the little kids just learning to skate.

I saw that many kids and families were out there today as we drove past.

Happy New Year!