I was asked to paint a charming home built in the late 1800s in my hometown, a house that catches many an eye with its sunny coloring and delightful front gardens.
I took a number of photos for reference and consulted the owners about what season to paint. I tried pencil drawings of both summer and spring.
And then I tried rough color sketches of both seasons in colored marker.
We determined that spring gave both color and a good view of the house, since surrounding trees were still lacy enough to see through. I also put in the small figure watering the flowers, the lady of the house, to make it personalized.
For the finished painting I used watercolor board and acrylic paints diluted like watercolors. Here are two partial views –
I am occasionally asked by the Doylestown Historical Society to draw representations of existing historic buildings as they looked when they were first constructed. Recently an assignment involved a lovely stone farmhouse, built by Robert Kirkbride in the late 1700s, possibly the oldest building in our town, which is now integrated into a neighborhood of townhomes. Its property was then referred to as a plantation since it was primarily farmed for crops that were to be sold.
The drawing would be of the original main house with attached kitchen, smokehouse, large stone barn with attached stone wagon shed, and a log hay house. Entrance to the plantation was by way of a dirt road (now called Veterans Lane) over a small wooden bridge over Cook’s Run (which is still there) and into the farm complex, with fields and woods beyond.
My first pencil sketch of the plantation and buildings was rough, based on instructions and photo reference given to me by Kurt Spence of the Historical Society.
Kurt had some corrections: changing the position of the carriage shed and barn door, making the field flatter, the house smaller and kitchen larger. I sent a revised sketch of the house, to the side of which i indicated a kitchen garden:
and a revision of the barn area:
I dropped them into the scene and adjusted a few other details, then sent this pencil sketch:
I then added digital grays to the scene to give some dimension to the buildings and surrounding area – the finished illustration –
Today the farmhouse still retains much of its historic façade, but the farm has been replaced by modern townhomes – a photo of the present home is below.
Neshaminy Journal has its newest issue out – it’s the magazine produced jointly by the Bucks County Writers Workshop and the Doylestown Historical Society. This issue includes some great articles, all related to the history and culture of Bucks County, a place with a long association with writers, musicians, artists and theater people.
Among the local creators featured in this edition are Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, who studied in Doylestown under Oscar Hammerstein II; Pearl Buck, Nobel prize-winning author of The Good Earth; poet-novelist of the Harlem Renaissance Jean Toomer; Eric Knight, author of the classic tales of Lassie; and painter, teacher and writer Robert Beck, whose oil paintings chronicle our area’s beauty and its people. There is also original poetry in this issue and several illustrations by yours truly.
I recommend Neshaminy for everyone who has a connection to beautiful Bucks County. There are some fascinating aspects and stories to the people who have contributed and still contribute to its arts and history, and the writers involved here know how to spin wonderful tales. I enjoyed reading every one of them and learned a lot of Bucks County history that I didn’t know!
Neshaminy will soon be in book stores and can be ordered online by clicking HERE.
Who doesn’t remember this good girl? But you might not know that the glorious collie Lassie, star of a dozen films and a television series – and even a radio show – also has a brush with Bucks County history. The author of the first Lassie novel, (Lassie Come-Home, 1940) Eric Knight, lived in Springfield at Springhouse Farm in the 1940s, where he and his wife raised collies. The upcoming issue of Neshaminy Journal – produced jointly by the Bucks County Writers Workshop and the Bucks County Historical Society – has a long article about Knight and the famous collie, for which I painted this portrait in ink wash and pencil. This issue should be available in April at local book stores and through the website HERE.
Another celeb who has a connection to Bucks County, PA, is composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and his story is also featured in the upcoming issue of the Bucks County Historical Society and Bucks County Writers Workshop’s literary journal Neshaminy. Sondheim spent much of his youth on a farm in Doylestown, and eventually was mentored by Oscar Hammerstein II, who owned nearby Highland Farm, on how to write musicals. Sondheim has too many blockbuster musicals on his resume to name all of them, but I chose sheet music from one of his most recognizable numbers, Send in the Clowns, as a backdrop for a simple line sketch of him to illustrate the story for Neshaminy.
The Bucks County Illustrators Society and the Lahaska Bookshop will host a talk and book-signing by Caldecott award-winning author-illustrator David Wiesner this Thursday evening, April 4 at 7:00 PM.
Wiesner is the author and illustrator of many childrens books such as Tuesday, The Three Pigs and Flotsam,
and is a three-time winner of Caldecott Medals, which recognize distinguished American picture books for children.
Mr. Wiesner will speak about his illustration career and how childhood memories
and images influence the stories he
creates. He will sign any of his books purchased that evening. This event is
free and open to the public.
Please take a moment to g HERE to register for the event – it is free, but registering will give the Lahaska Bookshop an idea of how many people will be attending, so they can provide enough seating.
The event takes place at the Lahaska Bookshop, located at
162A Peddler’s Village, Old York Rd. (Rte. 263) and Carousel Lane, Lahaska, PA.
There is parking in front of the shop, with other lots nearby in Peddler’s
Village. For further info contact 215-348-4837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m very pleased to say that my illustration for ‘The Secret Garden’ has been accepted into the Byers’ Bucks Fever Art Exhibit in the spring. The opening will be on Thursday, April 11, from 5-7 pm at the Bucks County Gallery of Fine Art, 77 W. Bridge Street, New Hope, PA.