Monday, August 30, 2010

Some Figure Study Work

 My art goal for this summer was to work on drawing through direct observation, especially figures.  To get ready for the studio time I planned, I did a week of quick drawing using Posemaniacs.  I did four 30 second drawings, and four three-minute drawing every day for a week.  These are a couple pages from my sketchbook.

I originally signed up for a figure painting studio in Madison on Sunday mornings.  I went about three times, but dropped out because the drive was longer than I wanted (and filled with construction detours), and I didn't like the single-pose format.  Then I was happy to have the opportunity to join an established life drawing group in Whitewater on Monday evenings.  This was better - a shorter drive, a congenial group, and a drawing format with multiple poses that I enjoyed.

The artists on Monday evening use a variety of media, and most are very detailed and realistic.  I treat the evening as an exercise and don't slave over what I draw.  We have had a variety of models, men and women, of various sizes and shapes.  What they have in common is confidence, stamina, and godd will.  I always leave feeling satisfied with the time spent, if not thrilled with my results.  All work was done in a large ring bound sketchbook.

Tonight is the last one of the summer session, and I think I'll wait until next summer to return, just because I don't enjoy driving home in the dark. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

South Main Street, Janesville, 1912

Not much happening in the art department here,although I was pleased to get a state award for my paper collage of Haitian women.  Usually we just get a little paper certificate, but this time there was also a big ribbon, the sort of thing I have not seen since my days in 4-H.  I hung it on the refrigerator. Why not?

Tonight I plan to go to the life drawing studio in Whitewater, something I enjoy very much.  I missed a couple weeks because we were gone in Colorado, but  it's time to try and get some routines going again.

Today I stopped at Carousel Consignment and found this old postcard of South Main Street here in Janesville.  I digitally repaired a couple worn spots just to get a better idea of what it looked like when it was sent almost a hundred years ago.  Actually, the street doesn't look all that different today, although the building on the left has been replaced by a modern bank.  The right side of the street as shown here hasn't changed much at all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back from the Rockies

We just returned from a week in Colorado - six days of cool, dry weather.  What a relief from the muggy and sticky days and nights we've been experiencing here in southern Wisconsin.  We stayed a few days with friends who rent a house in Breckenridge, then we explored a little in Leadville and Georgetown.  We discovered Georgetown last year, when we pulled off the highway for fuel and food.  This year I wanted to ride the train they have there. Georgetown Loop 

Their local historical society runs several trains a day in a loop to nearby Silver Plume and back.  This particular day was spectacular, dry, and clear.  We enjoyed both the scenery and the narration provided by the crew.

Tourists who ride can also book a tour of an old silver mine, which we did not do.  The brakeman who hopped back on after we pulled aside to let another train  chug up the grade, chatted with the kids who were obviously having a blast.

Today, after finishing another load of laundry, I headed down to the local consignment shop, and found a new stack of vintage post cards, including this one of the original bridge and train at Georgetown. The old bridge was tom down ages ago, replaced with a sturdier version. But I was excited to find the card less than a week after I rode a train in the same location.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


 The past month or so has found me not doing much art, but doing lots of sleuthing in regard to family history.  I have had this charming photograph, taken about 1908, since my grandmother died.  On the back she penciled, "Aunt Gert.  Lots of fun, red-haired."

Who was this Aunt Gert?  Was she an actual aunt?  Nothing in my family research fit that.  So, perhaps a friend of the family?  The answer came to me after a hunch and a trip to the library to check  I also had help from super genealogist Bill Buchanan, a distant cousin who maintains massive family data bases.

My grandmother, the former Bernice Adams (age five or so in this photo), had no siblings until much later when she was a teenager.  Her biological father was out of the picture, so her mother sometimes took her to visit cousins who lived on Lopez Island, in the San Juans of Washington.  Bernice's aunt, Jennie Hodgson Buchanan, raised a tribe of nine children, enough to perhaps take the sting from Bernice about having no brothers or sisters or father.  Jennie and her sisters had been orphaned young and raised by a cousin's family on the island.  The cousin was Thomas Pearson (T.P.) Hodgson, and his wife was a red-haired Irish girl, Gertrude Ridley, originally from Maine.  In 2007 I took a copy of this photo on a visit to Lopez Island, but nobody there recognized the woman.  She was too old to qualify as any of the Gertrude Hodgsons whose relatives I met.  Gertrude was a popular name, and there were several.  But recently I matched names and dates again, and Gertrude Ridley's dates fit. 

But I needed more proof. First, I emailed Bill Buchanan to see if he knew something I didn't know.  While I waited for an answer, I headed to the library.  Our local library has a subscription to, and it was there, in census records. I was able to not only see where Gertrude Ridley and he husband Pearson Hodgson (aka Uncle Pearson) lived, but who lived with them, including Gertrude's father, Frank Ridley of Maine, and a sister, Grace.  I traced his family, found his parents, the sister, dates, places, all the fit the scraps of information I already had. 

Then Bill Buchanan emailed me back with basically all the same pieces of the puzzle.  Bingo!

Mystery solved. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dazed and Confused by Summer Speeding Past

I haven't posted in ages, but not because things haven't been happening.  We had a drought.  We have rain, humidity and a rising river.  Crab grass is crawling across the yard, and the flowers look pretty much exhausted.

I have been putting together a couple online family trees, complete with photos old and new, and inviting people to look at them and help by adding pictures and making corrections.  Limited success here. I have discovered and solved some mysteries about our family stories.

I've hosted my local book group (The Lace Reader), cleaned like a mad woman, and even prepared food!  I haven't read much.

I dropped my figure painting class in Madison and added a figure drawing studio in Whitewater.  I keep meaning to paint, but then don't.

There have been family memorials and weddings.

We've taken a couple little trips, including a fun "mini cruise" from Manitowoc, WI, to Ludington, MI, on an old car ferry, the S.S. Badger.

We didn't take out car, but instead parked the Saturn in Manitowoc and just boarded the ferry with our bicycles.  The  trip takes four hours.  We stayed over night in Michigan, then rode our bikes back to the ferry and returned the next day.  It was lots of fun.  

Then we drove up to Door County to Dick's sister and brother-in-law's house.  They had never ridden through Peninsula State Park, so we did that together.  I remembered the beautiful scenery, trees, water, lighthouses, but had forgotten the hills.  I managed to fall of my bike at a place where the gravel trail met the asphalt road on a hill.  Not much blood or hide was sacrificed, but a good amount of dignity was abandoned.

So, tonight is figure drawing and I should get my act together and give it a go.