Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Hampshire and Italy

Near the Rialto Bridge in Venice, thousands of carnival masks overflow the stalls onto the narrow streets.  As I write this, carnival season is in full swing in this island city in Italy.

I drew this from a photo that I took in 2007, looking down on the roof of a mask stall from the bridge. This is the exception that proves the rule:  I don’t work from photographs.

In New England, and especially New Hampshire, rather than big Mardi Gras festivals we are just gearing up in expectation of sugaring season.  Which is the boiling off of the sap from maple trees into syrup and sugar. I drew this sugar house in Newbury, NH last year, after being inside enjoying free samples and buying some products too.

 Forty gallons of sap boils down to one gallon of syrup. I like the darkest grade of syrup as it has the most intense maple flavor.

If you are a local reader, save the dates of March 22 and 23 for the 2014 New Hampshire Maple Weekend, when maple producers all around the state will have their open houses, offering tours and great free samples, and product sales.

There is still plenty of snow on the ground in New Hampshire. On a cold, sunny day I sat in the car to draw the Barrett House in New Ipswich, along the Massachusetts border. 

 Also known as Forest Hall, it was built about 1800 for a young bride and groom.  The groom’s father invested well and made his money from a glass factory, a toll road, a canal, and a cotton mill—New Hampshire’s first.  In a spirit of friendly competition, the groom’s father built the house, while the bride’s father provided the furnishings.

I read that this house was one of the locations for the 1979 Merchant Ivory film The Europeans, based on a novel by Henry James. The building, open to the public in the summer, is operated as a non-profit museum by Historic New England. I might return, even though it is not an easy drive from our town to here.  All back roads. But scenic.

 I thought the Barrett House with its white façade and green shutters was an adequate segue to this one, the town common in Wentworth, NH.  The white clapboarded, steepled building is the Wentworth Congregational Church. 

I squeezed in half of the town bandstand on the far left.  It is very close to the viewer and not really as tall as a church.

 After this posting, there still remain ten towns from my DRAW-NH project that I have yet to post online.  Every month I whittle the number down by a few. 

Last Saturday’s indoor market was not well attended. It takes place in the winter months in Whipple Hall (the town hall) here in New London, NH.  In my spare time I sketched the First Baptist Church through the window of the town hall.  There is no second or third baptist church.  It is February and the winter has been long, cold, and icy.  So who could blame me for imagining spring leaves on the trees?  

So you see my thought pattern green cupola to the next. This time the cupola sits atop the Stevens Memorial Hall in Chester, NH, built 1910. The building serves as the town hall and meeting space.  To the right is a small corner of the town post office.  

I sure was taken with the large blue spruce tree at the edge of the entrance way.

I needed more color on this day.  My eyes found my begonia plant, nicely grown by someone in a greenhouse and shipped to my local grocery store for mid-winter purchase.  It has lived in our home on the coffee table for a month or so, quietly doing its blooming business.

As much as I like color, I find it wonderful good fun to draw with soft charcoal. It makes a velvety black.

Main Street in Colebrook, New Hampshire has an unusually colorful row of painted wooden, false fronted buildings.  I didn’t make any of this up.  No need to.

 We catch the reflected colors of sunset from our window which faces northeast.  Not west, but east.  The deciduous trees on the ridge are still dormant, or sleeping, without their leafy canopies.

I drew this yesterday.  There were more pink clouds today! Lovely.  We miss seeing our ridge once the intervening trees (omitted here by means of artistic license) have sprouted their leaves and overtaken the scene.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A note for those who view the blog via Feedblitz

I've had some reports that the email version of the blog that's sent by Feedblitz does not permit viewing of the included video.  Others say that they can see it.  Mac vs. PC, perhaps?  It won't show up on iPads either, due to format restrictions.

Go directly to the blog on the Web to view the whole thing.

New Hampshire and Massachusetts

These first few drawings have been done in January, which is a very monochromatic time of the year here. Snow on the ground, and white or grey skies.  And so my eye just goes on a hunt for color.  A flat white bowl full of tangerines from Spain fit the bill. The shiny ceramic tart pan reflected some of the orange color too, which was nice. I absolutely love the lemony-orange taste of tangerines.

More hunting for color.  Here is my tea pot, made in England.  I enjoy knowing where things come from, so I am hoping my readers do too. The delicious tomatoes, (grown hydroponically in Maine), a jar of olive oil, and purple rubber bands (originally wrapped around an asparagus bunch from somewhere in South America) complete my colorful January kitchen still life.

I  have quite a large collection of drawings of Boston, but I believe that this is my first bar/restaurant.  It is called Jacob Wirth’s, a German restaurant located in what is now Chinatown.

 A small bit of the flag of Bavaria shows in the the upper left.  The walls were lined with old menus, dating from its establishment in 1868. All the customers at this late lunch hour looked like graduate students, going on about their dissertations. Boston has the largest population of students of any city in the U.S.

As another way to get through January, our town hosted a small scale winter carnival on the Town Green.  The first night’s event was called Dinner With Jack Frost.  The crowds were lining up near the bonfires for warmth and to get food handouts from seven area restaurants. The taco stand was new this year and proved most popular with families and young children.   

In the background to the left is the New London Inn, and to the right is the town offices. The building, which looks like a church but isn’t, was built as an academic building for the local college way back when.

The carnival continued the next day, with a mini-golf course carved out of the snow that attracted children, parents, and grandparents.  Again this year, ski joring thrilled the crowds. This is a Nordic sport in which skiers are pulled by horses around an oval course. The skiers are holding onto a rope attached to a horse, with rider. Ramps are skied over and rings are caught, usually.     

This sport is so hard to describe that we decided to add a video taken by Bruce.
For various formatting reasons, it might not appear on iPads or in the email version of the blog sent by Feedblitz.  

It seems to me that New Hampshire has a lot of sculptures.  Mostly of people. Here is a bronze statue of General John Stark, 1728-1822, in the town of Stark, New Hampshire.  He and his forces were the victors at the Battle of Bennington, Vermont, a key event in the American Revolution. I think he is pointing at Hessian soldiers, or maybe Vermont. There is lots of information about him online.

I drew this statue on a broiling hot day, standing at the base, squinting upwards. No one else was around in the quiet little village of white painted buildings.

It is so difficult to draw sculptures, but I persist in trying.  On this day it was raining, and the statue is in the middle of a small traffic circle. So there were two additional challenges!  The combination fountain and horse trough is located in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, and represents an Indian boy, hugging a goose. Around the edges are the words ‘For Dumb Animals’.  ‘Dumb’ meaning unable to speak for themselves. That word is not used much anymore.

Here is some information that I found online about this sculpture which was put in place in 1907. It was commissioned by summer resident Herbert Dumaresq, whose property was named Kona Farm.  The artist was Samuel Russell Gerry Crook, a student of famed sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens.

And lastly, here is a contemporary sculpture, on loan, in the town of Hanover.  This bronze and steel sculpture, called Crouching Spider, is in front of a visual arts center on the campus of Dartmouth College. The heavy piece was balanced on eight spider toes.  I only drew four of them.

The artist is Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010)  This view is just a small section of the enormous sculpture. The legs were about 6 or 7 feet high. A sign explains that the sculptor made this in memory of her mother who was a weaver. The shadows were fun to draw.

The painted aluminum panels on the building in the rear are by Ellsworth Kelly. They were designed to fit onto the unusual building shapes.

I do get a chuckle when people tell me that they cannot draw a straight line!  Me neither.