Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Report on our trip this spring

 Here it is another four months since my last post in April. In April and May we took a trip down to the Gulf Coast. But first we went to Indiana and Ohio. We stopped at the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, IN and The Auburn, Cord, Dusenberg Museum in Auburn, IN. Then we went on to Grimes Field in Urbana, OH were the B-25s were gathered for the fly-in to the Air Force Museum the next day to celebrate the 70th anniveresary of the Doolittle Raid. Don went for a ride in one! A tight fit for him.
At Dayton, OH, we participated some in the celebrations. It was also an opportunity to sketch in the museum.
Here are some of the sketches done so far:
                                               Dusenburg Museum

B 25 at Grimes Field, Urbana, OH

Air Force Museum, 1918 flight suit

Maid in the Shade
Axis Nightmare

Then we drove through Kentucky and Tennesee. First stopping at Berea, KY for shopping and then at Sevierville, TN at the Smokey Mountain Knife works for more shopping. Then we drove through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park over the mountains to Georgia.
Plein Aire painters in the Smokey Mountains

In Altanta we visited the Atlanta Fine Arts Center on a Thursday night. The night they have a free jazz concert. They had an electric scooter available which made it more comfortable for me. It is a great museum. The main drawbacks were the loud amplified music and the big crowd on the main floor for the concert.

At Columbus, GA was the Civil War Naval Museum and the Museum of the Infantryman at Fort Benning. Both worth the time to visit. At the Civil War Naval Museum was the added bonus of a car show!

Car Show
 Remains of the CSS ironclad Jackson

The Museum of the Infantryman

At Pensacola, FL is the Naval Air Museum. Another very interesting place. I got a chance to do some sketching here also.

Driving west brought us to Mobile, AL and the Battleship Alabama museum. There was also a display of aircraft, the USS submarine Drum and various tanks.
While Don went all up and down the ship, I stayed on deck and sketched.

 We decided to bypass New Orleans on this trip and crossed the Mississipi River at Baton Rouge. I-10 was mostly a causeway over rivers and bayous. We stayed overnight near Lafayette, LA and ate at the Blue Dog Cafe: good food.
Our destination was Houston, TX. We went to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Where they had an annoying photo taking rules, some of the permanent collection could be photographed but not others. And their security staff was unfriendly and intrusive. (trying to enforce those lousy phototaking rules!)
The same subject done in terracotta and marble
 Houston skyline
 Courbet landscape at the Fine Arts Museum

The next day we visited the Menlil collection. We had wanted to see the Byzantine Chapel but that had been returned to Cyprus. Since this was a private collection, no photos were permitted, but I was allowed to sketch. The collection started out with a nice selection of Paleolithic art, ancient and medieval art and African art. Then they started to collect "contemporary art" which sucks! Most of it is dull and meaningless. And not worth your time to look at.
A sketch of a Roman statuette of a bronze bull
The principle reason to come to Houston was the Battleship Texas. It is the only remaining Dreadnought style battleship. It is docked next to a pleasant park.

 On the way back east we stopped in Beaumont, TX and toured the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua. The church was restored only a few years ago and it is beautiful!
We took lots of photos of the stained glass, the mosaics and paintings.

We crossed back over the Mississipi River at Baton Rouge again and drove north to Vicksburg and drove through the batttlefield park and toured the museum at the hull of the USS ironclad gunboat Cairo. A conversation with my mother reminded me that a great-great uncle of mine (a Bendickson) died at Vicksburg. From Vicksburg we drove north through the Mississipi Delta. This is very flat land and went through some thunderstorms to Memphis, TN. After Memphis, we spent all day driving through Missouri and Iowa back to La Crosse. The most direct route took us off four-lane highways and onto two-lane state roads.
A couple of the many memorials at the Vicksburg Battlefield Park

 The hull of the USS Cairo

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring! Where did the winter go?

After four months I am finally catching up with this blog. It had been a mild winter. Which is good since we put in a new tree last fall to replace the rock elm that was taken out the year before. This little sapling is a tulip poplar and the city forester warned us that the very young trees are very vulnerable to winter. But Don still insisted on getting one from the Arbor Day Foundation

The early warm spell has me planting greens, radishes, onion seeds and carrots. Though there was a heavy frost last Wednesday night. I covered up the garden bed as a precaution.

Monday, for her eighty-first birthday, my mother went into surgery to remove a bowel obstruction. Fortunately it doesn't look cancerous. But at her advanced age there can be complications, so she still is in the hospital.

Here are some of the drawings I have done.

Pasture Codgers, tinted charcoal on charcoal paper, I just had to use both of these trees; they reminded me of two old guys arguing with each other!

I did some drawings in conte crayon this winter. I found it was easier to convert the original photo to gray scale first. The conte color range is black, sepia, bistre, sanguine, light gray and white. Most of the landscapes where taken at the height of summer when all was green, and that was too distracting.

Disintegrating House

Big Old Barn

Pasture, on tan charcoal paper

Stone Head, on light pink charcoal paper, compare this with the drawing above; same colors but different background paper. That make a big difference in the look.

Madonna Statue, Black & white conte on dark gray paper.

Oliver 55, on medium gray paper. Yes, Oliver tractors are green! and that is an overturned white jug on the exhaust stack.

Here is a drawing that combine two of my interests: cats and leaves. The original had a gray and white cat that didn't show up that well against the background. So I used photos I had taken of Lou as a stand in for color and markings.

Creekside, 11.8 inches by 18 inches, colored pencil on gray Canson Mi-Tients paper. This drawing is entered in the Colored Pencil Society of America contest this year.

Lou has been further inspiration. One day I looked up from my computer and saw Lou napping in the hallway. I did a quick sketch and then since he wasn't moving, I took some photographs.

Lou's Afternoon Nap, In progress, 11.5" x 16", colored pencil on Eggshell Canson Mi-Tients paper. For compositional purposes, Lou was flipped so he was facing the center.