Sketches, June 4-6, 2017

Ten years ago, my daughters attended a school in the picturesque village of Lititz, 20 miles across the county. The daily trip there and back had a couple of features that I looked forward to despite the inconvenient trek – driving through a nineteenth century covered bridge, and this scene: below the crest of a wooded ridge, an old farmhouse facing a barn and its cluster of appendages, separated by Mt. Joy Road on its winding eastbound path. Noble and I went on a sketch outing one non-school day, but the complexity of the tableau overwhelmed both her and my skills, undermining what we’d hoped would be a fun plein air drawing experience. Ever since, I’ve wanted to try again. This past Sunday, I finally took a fresh swipe at it.

Like most everyone I know, I dislike having to sit in any kind of waiting room, even if only briefly. Yesterday, I was obliged to wait, although not for very long, for an oil change at Swedish Motors, which is just a mile from my house. Unlike most waiting rooms, though, this one features a revolving display of my friend Rich Kushner’s collection of unique old Saabs and Volvos. Right now, a 1963 Volvo 122 Amazon, heavily modified for racing, dominates the floor. Since I had my sketch bag along, and in the interest of not wasting time leafing through magazines or staring at my iPhone, (along with indulging my fondness for cool and quirky old cars), I had just enough time to dash off a quick impression.


Sunday morning barnstorming

Its asymmetrical northern gable end only a few yards away from the edge of Rt 23 in western Lancaster county, this barn has caught my eye for years. I stopped during a bike ride and did a quick pencil sketch of it yesterday afternoon. The owner strolled across the road as I was tucking my little pad into a back pocket, and after congratulating me for being out getting some exercise on such a gorgeous day, told me a little about the farm. 39 acres with the barns and a stone house, the deed dates it to around 1750, so the original owners answered to the King of England. We chatted about staying fit in our later years (he's 68 - 7 years my senior), the hard work that farming is (he grew tobacco at one time, which is all about backbreaking labor), and the impossible expense of maintaining these old buildings. I told him he might see me sometime set up with an easel alongside of the road, and he invited me to have the run of the property anytime.

So after an hour and a half early morning ride took me past the place once again, I threw my infrequently used field easel and a few supplies in the trunk of the MG and drove over to take a stab at it before I could figure out an excuse not to. Parked in the weeds, unfolded the easel behind the car and got started.

A fascinating collection of geometric shapes being battered by the seasons and grown over with vines, neglect allowing it to be slowly consumed. I like to think that I'll return to better interpret the scene until I feel satisfied I got it right. Might be a long project!

watercolor over graphite pencil on Arches 140lb hot pressed watercolor paper, 14 x 20


June 3, 2017 bike ride sketch notes

As close to perfect a Saturday afternoon as you could imagine in early June. Sun shining down through a bright blue sky, breezy and comfortable. Just right for pedaling up and down the hills on narrow roads in western Lancaster county's rolling farmland. And as much as I love to ride without stopping, I made myself pause four times to make quick sketch notes of barns along Route 23 with a stubby 2B pencil in a 3"x 5-1/2" pad. 

barn, circa 1750, rebuilt 1857


May 24-26, 2017 sketchbook

Sketchbook pages. Wish I had time for more than just these quick scribblings, but other obligations make even a sketch here and there challenging to squeeze in. Hoping for a stretch of calmer waters ahead.

Italian Market scene, South PhiladelphiaItalian Market, Philly / Gabe icing his eyeAmish farm in New Holland, PA


May 20-21, 2017 sketchbook pages

A few sketchbook studies from the weekend.

bouquet, fountain pen and inkfoliage, watercolorfoliage, fountain pen and ink