Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Hampshire

These wild turkeys were taking an afternoon walk, as turkey families often do. The icy crust on the snow was about an inch thick, and it only held the weight of each turkey for a second or two before breaking. The followers were starting to question the wisdom of the leader. One independent thinker took a quick flight to the top of the wall, but no one followed after.

One day, before our lake froze, I stopped briefly and sketched the water, rocks, waves, and hills. I included parts of the car frame and the mirror as well. The little pine tree is really across the street, mostly in the mirror.

At this time, the lone lake loon family was still on the lake. (Say that three times fast.) In the winter, naturalists tell us that the New Hampshire loons just head over to the ocean waves and become grey sea birds. It is a journey of 90 minutes in the car to the Atlantic Ocean. I wonder how long it takes a loon?

   A young evergreen and a young copper beech tree are growing very close together right outside our window. Surely their roots are intertwining. These are the colors we see in the winter, these and the pink, purple, and gold sunsets.

At the top of our hill is an old stone wall (our ancient property line), and a thicker forest on the other side.

A large chunk of granite, casually left behind by the last receding glacier, sits at the edge of our road. We pass it daily. In the warm months, it has a thick mat of very green moss on the roof-shaped top surface. Now in winter, the snow forms a white thatch. We call it the elf house rock.

  Our granddaughter Noelle had been doing a few watercolor sketches. Then her thoughts turned to water and patterns.

A watercolor of store bought flowers is a chance to play with color in the wintertime. Look for beauty. Look closely

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Alberta and New Hampshire

I have made mention of this before, but now with a few months of experience and customer reviews behind me, here’s a complete announcement of my second book

Pep Talks for the Would-Be, Should-Be Artist

The book was born of many conversations I have had, often with buyers of the first book or with those who caught me in the act of sketching, in which people told me how they had once enjoyed making art but just couldn’t get started back into it. They didn’t have the time, they didn’t have the right material, they set standards they felt to be unachievable, and they faced many other impediments. It was for them that I wrote the book.

It's not an instructional book in the sense of “Step 1: Draw a circle. Step 2: Add arms and legs. Step 3: Color it in with green water colors.” Its messages are at a higher, more motivational level. Here’s Pep Talk #14; others are similar:

“Drawing is a form of looking carefully, seeing with new eyes, and recording your discoveries.
“If you learn to enjoy the process, the end product will take of itself. Go for quantity. Your work will improve with practice.”

Each of the 30 Pep Talks is accompanied by drawings that relate to that piece of encouragement, and more drawings then continue these themes through the book for a total of 80 images in 105 pages.

Within days of starting to offer the book at art/craft/farm markets, it became apparent that my target audience was wider than I had anticipated. Buyers were not limited to those needing to get back into art, but they included those just starting out, or those who knew somebody just starting out who needed an extra bit of encouragement to keep at it.

As with the first book, this was a family undertaking. Our daughter Karin, a graphic designer, built the book all the way from the concepts of layout through to the press-ready digital files. My husband Bruce was the indispensable guy in the middle, scanning the artwork, proofreading the text, and managing all the digital information. And the book was published by our friend Tom Holbrook of Piscataqua Press and RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who also published the first book. We all learned a lot from that experience, which helped us slide right through this one. Big thanks to all.

And now, on with the blog!


We walked along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River on a Sunday afternoon. The green swirling waters begin in a glacier in the Canadian Rockies, divide the city of Edmonton, and eventually flow into Hudson Bay. And then go north to the Arctic Ocean.

As you can read in my notes, the mud is white on the far side of the river and a slippery black mud beneath our feet. And it was muddy, as it was raining.

I hope the gold prospector found many flakes on this day and maybe a nugget as well.

The drawing above and the next three were penned in 2011. They were used as illustrations in a small booklet made in our town. I have just added a few touches of color for blog presentation, and I present them here.

The mountain is called Mount Kearsarge, and it is in view from all parts of our village. The clouds and weather are often seen in conversation with the peak.

These pots of geraniums sit in a row on the porch of the town information booth on Main Street. They too seem to be having a conversation. Passing along the day's news. Asking if the other is thirsty.

As Autumn comes to a close, I present this wooden basket full of gourds in all their weird shapes and colors.

This young spruce tree grows on the front lawn of the town library. The evergreens keep us going through the winter months.

This collection of stuffed animals passes the day on our south facing window seat. The sun warms their backs all winter.

The one with the hat, Paddington, is a well traveled bear. Our daughter carried him all over Europe when the bear was young and so was she. Paddington was held high over her head in a castle in Germany. She was too short to catch the view from the tall windows, but he enjoyed it very much.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Alberta and New Hampshire

I play with an art app called Drawing Pad from time to time. It is designed for children, which is probably why I like it. And I do use my left index digit as a stylus, so digital has two meanings here.

By choosing different options, I can create marks that mimic pencil, watercolor, chalk, paint, textures, you name it. In many cases, I do not think it is obviously a digital drawing. You can look over the next images to decide for yourself.

This is a very striking piece of digital art work created by our eight year old grandson. Beautiful, don’t you think?

This little apple tree was started from a seed. I was looking for something colorful to draw, and my eyes landed on this pot.

I have drawn Stargazer Lilies many times over the past few years. Their petals curl around into intriguing shapes. It is a challenge to find a way to draw their spots. I once sold a print of this image to a little girl named Lily.

Sometimes you just need flowers and you just choose a ready made bouquet at the grocery store.

The next six drawings happened at that very same grocery store in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The neighborhood population is rich in immigrants, and the offerings in the produce department reflect that. Yes, I stood in the vegetable section with my iPad in my right hand, drawing away with my left index finger. No one commented or even seemed to notice. And yes, it was my idea of fun.



In a sunny but chilly day in a coffee shop, I chose to draw my woolen hat. It was a challenge to reproduce the knitted pattern and texture. I am a knitting failure, but I appreciate the craft when done by others.

And two days later after the hat drawing, this blizzard arrived. And went on for four days.

The drawing comes from a scene in New Hampshire. Our snow season was slow to begin last year, and the woods were all kinds of soft browns punctuated by the vertical whites of the paper birch trees. The small, still pond shimmers in the late afternoon sun.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Massachusetts and Alberta

We took a little road trip for a few days. I brought an accordian sketchpad with me and drew on both sides.

It makes a nice story board kind of memory.

In mid-September we drove about an hour south of Boston, Massachusetts, to the town of Plymouth. Sitting in the fine natural harbor was the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that made the journey in 1620. From Plymouth England to Plymouth, Massachusetts. The very tops of the masts and rigging are cut off by the edge of the paper.

You can go on board and see the tight quarters for the two month voyage. One hundred twenty-three people, plus animals and food supplies. On the sea, two people died and two babies were born.

The settlers, later known as the Pilgrims, were headed for current day New York City. They missed. Another immediate problem, they landed in December too late to go ashore and build shelter. So they lived on the boat over the winter.

In addition to the accordian sketchpad, I was also trying out another pad of paper and watercolors given to me in England at the Urban Sketchers Symposium.

These two buildings were across the street from our hotel. This paper has a rough embossed texture which creates a nice dotted line when drawn on with pencil.

I had a dandy time exploring on my own this day. I was impressed with this life-sized bronze statue erected on the tricentennial of the Pilgrims’ arrival. Her cloak looks wind blown by cold sea breezes.

And here is the rock they supposedly stepped out on. It is probably accurate as the shore is very sandy in general. See the leaf for scale? This rock was much larger before tourists were allowed to chip off chunks as souvenirs. The date was chiseled in during the late 1800s.

I sat on a bench to draw the lamp post and the harbormaster’s office. Tourists kept walking up to me on this day and chatting. They wanted to meet a real Yankee. Perhaps a descendant of a Pilgrim. They didn’t seem too disappointed to learn that I was a tourist too. At least I was from nearby.

My last stop on the day was Burial Hill, the site of the original settlement and fort. I met more people there and gave an impromptu art lecture on the history of gravestones.

Besides the free watercolors, I was using a water soluble graphite pencil.

The next day we drove about ten minutes south of town to a reconstructed site called Plimoth Plantation. There various members of the Wampanoag and Mashpee tribes were demonstrating building techniques and cooking methods. Here I drew the framework for a longhouse. When finished, it is covered with bark.

I regret that I didn’t draw any figures in the native village. Feeling too shy I guess, but most people do like the attention. A young woman in deerskin was stirring these two pots over the fire.

It was a blisteringly hot day. but I sat down on the dry grass to make my attempt at the fort. It looks rickety but on the second floor sit about six cannons. 

You can see the seam in the middle of the paper.

The colonists’ village is basically one street headed down to the shoreline. The dirt floored houses are small and crude. The roofs are thatch.

Behind the row of cottages, I came upon these two small structures. From my notes, you can see that the one on the left is a chicken coop and the larger building is the communal ovens.

Here is my very first attempt at drawing chickens and a long horned cow.

The Plimoth Plantation employs people dressed in historical garb, who go by an authentic name of a settler. They are fun to talk to as they are in character and know nothing beyond 1630 or so.

 Recent research shows that: 1. No, the Pilgrims did not dress in black and white. They liked colorful clothing. 2. They did not wear pointy black hats with buckles on them. The women and the men wore rounded wide brimmed brown suede hats, no buckles. And some lacy collars.

A small dark room at the stern of the ship.

Another drawing of the ship. I wanted to capture the design of the flower. The previous drawing is just behind those windows.

One day I drew a pot of flowers as I sipped my morning coffee.

Last night I went for a little walk at 7 PM. This is what I saw across the street from our condo complex in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A whole field full of yellow-orange earth moving machinery. All in motion in a sort of dance of the dirt. I don’t know what they are doing other than preparing a site before cold weather sets in.

The trees were yellow too.

Monday, August 29, 2016

England, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts

 We had just arrived in Manchester, England, to participate in the seventh annual international symposium sponsored by Urban Sketchers. There were over 500 artists there, from 44 countries.

 On our first look out our hotel window, we saw this view of the magnificent Palace Hotel across the street.  I like to draw complex edifices, even though it is impossible to get them right. So I get to just play with shapes and colors.

Upon looking at other artists’ blogs from the event, we found that a number of them had had this same hotel window experience, and had also recorded this view as their initial impression of Manchester.

We are both keen followers of the history of nearby Manchester, New Hampshire, named in homage to the original Manchester.

One feature of the symposium was a set of loosely organized sketch crawls to locations in Manchester. Its architecture and prosperous splendor bear witness to its role as capital of the Industrial Revolution.

Here I stood on a bridge, leaned on the stone railing, and sketched the canal in the Castlefield section of the city. It connected Manchester to the sea and made it a port city. It was a complex scene, what with water, boats, a lock, various overpasses,  a canal tunnel, and a purple train zipping by on a bridge. The city is filled with impressive and ornate Victorian brick buildings, and loads of new ultra modern stuff too.

Not shown in my drawing are all the other sketchers, lined up along the walk and capturing their own impressions of the scene.

This Manchester pub, Peveril of the Peak, is from the 1820 era, but was later clad in colorful tiles in Victorian times. I just LOVED the color shift from mint green to pea green. The back area interested me too, with the small garden and utilitarian courtyard.

Sketchers can be seen at the left, capturing the impressive side door to the establishment.

I had to look it up: the name of the pub refers to a novel by Sir Walter Scott.

After we left Manchester, we traveled south to the Cotswolds, a scenic region about 90 miles west of London. As a family, we lived in the area from 1980–83. While we had lived on the edge of a large city, this time we booked a room in nearby Guiting Power, a village of about 500.

The buildings are almost all constructed of yellow limestone, generally called Cotswold stone. I sat on the damp grass on the small village green to sketch this.

The Cotswolds attracts a lot of tourists in some of the larger villages. But here we were with nothing but hills of wheat and fields of sheep. The one in the front kept his eye on me the entire time. I thought he would come over to greet me close up. 

FYI, the stone walls are built with stones standing vertically along the top. It discourages climbing. And possibly jumping over by the sheep.

One day we drove to the village of Broadway. I drew this after a delightful lunch inside this imposing structure, the Lygon Arms Hotel, circa 1532. Most buildings of Cotswold stone are not this large. but rather cottages. I was told that it is a strong stone that hardens as it is exposed to air.

 Just a few miles to the west of the Cotswolds, the land and the looks both change. The land flattens as it nears the long Severn River. And the use of yellow limestone stops and is replaced with brick and the Tudor era black and whites. This row is in Tewkesbury, very near the abbey.

 Back in North America we are. I drew this at the town market in New London, because business was slow. Have the tourists gone home? I couldn’t resist drawing a young girl with pink eyeglasses.

Behind the tents is our town hall and also a monument to the soldiers of the Civil War. A stone sculpture of a soldier, on a pedestal.

A new friend took us to see a couple of one room schoolhouses. This one, just over the state line in Dunstable, Massachusetts, is sheathed with wooden clapboards painted reddish brown. Sometimes called barn red.

The next schoolhouse, just north in Nashua, New Hampshire, is quite different architecturally. A nice red brick construction with green wooden doors. Massive slabs of granite form the structure of the windows, the foundation, and the steps.

The small nameplate says Dist No.1, 1841.

Our friend has been instrumental in the preservation and upkeep of this building.

And to finish, a sweet charcoal drawing of budding waterlilies in a kitchen glass by our 13 year old granddaughter.