Milford, Delaware is an old shipbuilding town with the Mispillion River flowing right through the center of it. It’s close enough to the Delaware Bay to be affected by the tides, and high tide used to provide access for the shipbuilders of yore to launch their ships seaward. But wooden ships are of a bygone era.
Today the little town of Milford celebrates its river in a more scenic way. The Mispillion Riverwalk has been constructed nearly the entire length of its passage through town connecting parks and nature centers, affording easy enjoyment to joggers, strollers and bicyclists. This section of the walkway offers a glimpse into the backyards of a few of Milford’s stately old homes in the downtown area.
A commissioned painting of an interesting shack with a great old paint patina. Who would guess this was once the air traffic control building from a 1930’s and 40’s Air Force Base in southeast Montana. The faintly visible HTC on the roof stands for “Hardin Toluca Custer” Airfield. Weathered numbers on the siding indicate the elevation of the location. The grandson of the man who purchased this property from the Air Force back in the forties asked me to paint this building, which still stands near where the Bighorn River joins the Yellowstone.
A simple happy scene at a favorite beach, with late day sun casting long shadows in the sand. Cape Henlopen is a narrow finger of land that juts out into turbulent waters, where the Atlantic Ocean to the east meets the Delaware Bay to the west. The Harbor of Refuge Light is one of two lighthouses built on breakwaters that were constructed to form a safe harbor for ships in stormy weather.
When the lands that make up the state of Delaware were granted to William Penn in the late 1600s, he set aside Cape Henlopen for public usage, making Cape Henlopen one of the future nation’s first “public lands”. It has remained in the public domain ever since, with no private property cottages, condos or highrises, boardwalks or amusement parks. Just sand and sea! The crowds, the arcades, the trinket shops and glitzy nightlife are all nearby enough for those who seek them, but it’s also very good to have some protected natural places left to enjoy. Delaware is a little gem of a state that has placed a greater percentage of its land into protected parkland status than any other state.
I’ve long had my eye on the great clock tower of Denny Hall in Carlisle, with its aged green copper dome. I knew I wanted to paint it but wasn’t sure of the angle I would choose, until one day in April walking down High Street in Carlisle. There’s nothing like the fresh spring green color of tree buds emerging in front of dark clouds that can often roll in from the west in April. Along with the verdigris of that dome, I had the exciting colors and the scene I had been waiting for.
The property on which Denny Memorial Hall was built was donated by the Denny family of Carlisle and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. First built in 1897, it suffered a major fire just eight years after completion. By 1905 it had been rebuilt bigger and better, and now houses Dickinson College’s history and social science departments.
A fun side note: the clock faces on all four sides of the tower are lit up at night and are of similar in size and color to the full moon. On very rare occasions you may catch a glimpse of the moon right beside the tower, for a pretty unforgettable sight!
Snapdragons are a real favorite of mine and they can be pretty hardy bloomers. It was in December after a mild autumn that I felt especially lucky to still have some flowering in the bed out front. But snow was coming and this would be the last of them. Time to snip them and bring them inside where they would add cheer to the coming winter weather. These snapdragons were a little straggly looking at the end of a long growing season, but still with enough pizzazz to paint in a shiny copper pot, with an apple and a few grapes for company.
The Monday paint group decided to have a “Teacup Week” during one of our Covid lockdown zoom sessions. Most everyone has a teacup or two around. For me it was one of my great-grandmother Maxwell’s Haviland Limoges Porcelain Rose teacups from the 1800s. I love that they have hand-painted roses both inside and out! How many Maxwells and their guests have sipped tea and coffee from these lovely delicate teacups down through the years, I can’t begin to say. But they’re all in perfect condition, well loved and cared for through the generations. Makes me want to paint a pretty dining table scene with more of these pretty pieces. It’s on the list!
The White Sulfur Springs near Colonel Denning State Park north of Newville, Pennsylvania has been a popular destination dating back to Native American days. Believers in the power of healing mineral spring waters have flocked to the area for centuries. The Doubling Gap Hotel was established around 1800 to meet the needs of those who traveled long miles to partake of the waters.
Early photos show women in long dresses and men in top hats with their pant legs rolled up, wading in little pools and streams that made their way down to the lake. The property contains numerous natural springs of varied mineral content bubbling up from underground, but not all of them were graced with such an elaborate springhouse as this one. When a falling tree recently destroyed this beautiful old springhouse, the owners of the present day Camp YoliJwa wished to preserve that bit of history and rebuilt it true to the original. I painted the springhouse in the fall, surrounded by leaf color, with nearby Lake Henriette peeking through the trees in the background.
If you ever decide to plant catmint, prepare to have lots and lots of it. And that’s not a bad thing at all if you enjoy clouds of purple blooms. I had planted it on the right side of my walkway but by the second year it had decided to jump across to the left side too! I just let it do its thing. I enjoy its display all summer long. When I noticed how prettily the catmint purples nestled around the various grays of the slate walkway, the limestone and my dented old watering can, it was time to capture this little garden vignette with paint and paper!
Dating back to the Colonial days of the 1750s, The Inn at Phillips Mill is part of the Phillips Mill Historic District, a community of structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the northern edge of New Hope, Pennsylvania along River Rd and the Delaware River, sits an old stone grist mill and the charming little English style village that grew around it. The area naturally attracted artists and was the birthplace of the New Hope Art Colony where the Bucks County Impressionists got their start, including Edward Redfield and Walter Schofield.
I went with some friends on a day trip to see an exhibit of George Sotter paintings and we drove by The Inn at Phillips Mill. At the time I was unaware of the rich history. I just knew I wanted to paint this charming building so we stopped for photos. It was originally built as a barn but went through a number of incarnations including a residence, a tea room, and several restaurants and inns. Today it is well known in the area for its fine, old-world-style French cuisine.
Take note of the copper pig hanging from the sign pole, aged to a verdigris patina.
These assorted sheep belonged to a former classmate of mine back in the 1990s. They were her daughter’s 4H project and she won some ribbons showing them.
She had an old photo of them that caught my eye, not only for the curious sheep staring back at the camera, but also the rustic stone barn patterned with golden light and shadow by the low winter sun. The scene felt timeless, and could just as easily have been 1890. No matter what the era, apparently wooly sheep like these girls simply don’t like to have cold feet. We will happily stay snowed in today, thank you!
I’ve painted Children’s Lake in the little town of Boiling Springs, PA a number of times, and it’s lovely no matter the season. It was an unusually warm November day of about seventy degrees when I sat with some painter friends enjoying some plein air painting. Yupo is a good medium for me to use when I want to paint fast. It doesn’t allow me to get overly detailed, and that looseness is what I was looking for in this painting.
To live alongside the Conodoguinet Creek is to be blessed with an ever-changing display of water scenes! One day it’s ice, another day a brown swollen flood. A windy day makes choppy whitecaps, a still day a perfect sky mirror, and there are a million variations in between.
On this October day the rain had nearly finished. Perfectly concentric circles were captivating as the last of the droplets fell rhythmically from the overhanging Box Elder tree. The tiny perfect waves spread out and intersect with each other, an innocent little reminder of how we all make ripples in life, all the while receiving the ripples of each other. We’re all in this together!
Since watercolor on Yupo looks so watery, it was a no brainer to try some water scenes with it. After studying various reference photos of waterlilies and how they grow, this imagined scene emerged from my brush. There’s something exotic about the lovely lotus, and many cultures revere them. They are thought to symbolize longevity and indeed it’s been found that some seeds, having lain dormant for over a thousand years, will germinate and grow.
Many cultures view the lotus as a symbol of the seed of perfection, immortality and divinity carried inside of humanity. And of course Monet and his waterlilies of Giverny are proof that of a pond full of lotus blossoms has been a draw for artists over the centuries.
I’ve never been to France, but I will confess to having a “Google Earth” habit which has claimed more of my hours than I care to admit. One day after doing a jigsaw puzzle of a beautiful French lavender field I decided to hop onto Google Earth and see what that countryside is really like.
My brain became saturated with images of Provence as I “drove” the virtual highways and byways, completely charmed by the rolling hills, farm cottages and patchwork purple fields. This painting soon spilled out, of no place in particular other than the Provence of my dreams. Not long afterwards I had the good fortune of meeting a woman who was born and raised in Provence. I showed her this painting and she said “Oui… Provence is just like that!”
Having lived here at Cave Hill alongside the broad, lazy Conodoguinet Creek for four decades, I’ve had ample opportunity to see its many faces. We don’t get to see it frozen every winter, and skating isn’t always possible even when it does freeze. The Conodoguinet is well over your head in the deep center part of the creek here at Cave Hill, so we discourage would-be skaters unless there’s a good four inches of ice.
Perfect skating ice is uncommon, when it freezes just right without choppy ridges and lasts long enough without subsequent snow piling on top. I’ve seen avid skaters shovel themselves a skating rink when that happens, but there’s nothing like the thrill of perfect ice that invites you to skate for miles! For my husband, who is a much stronger skater than me, it’s one of the highlights of life here at Cave Hill. Depicted in this watercolor is my young neighbor who works the ice pretty nicely as well, navigating between snowy patches.
On Mondays I paint with a wonderful group of women in the basement of a small historic church. There are rooms painted in fun, bright colors for the Sunday School children, making this very old basement a decidedly cheery place to paint! Still lifes are set up with various treasures brought in by members of the group, so you never know what will inspire you until you get there. If none of the traditional still lifes grab me, I sometimes make off with a vase of something or other and head for the deep window wells of a corner room. This orange room was the perfect backdrop for a sprig of orange Chinese Lanterns.
Lots of fall color in these gourds and some nice warty skins to usher in the autumn season and witchy Halloween. Nothing edible about this particular fall harvest but it sure is fun to see and paint all the bumps, warts and wrinkles in bright yellow, green and orange gourds.
Opal is a lucky rescue dog who had the good fortune to land in her forever home where she is totally adored. And even better, her adopted “mom” is a great photographer! There are a lot of photos to capture when you have a charming personality and lots and lots of spots, all over your freckle face and everywhere else too. Her mom must have crawled under the table with her to catch this one!
Nearly 16,000 acres of preserved wetlands along the Delaware Bay make up the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. It was a snowy December day when my husband, my brother and I decided to go exploring. We pretty much had the whole 25 square miles to ourselves. It was a heavy wet snow that quickly melted from the roadways but it transformed the marshy landscape, clinging to the reeds and tall grasses. We saw a great many birds that day, but this Great Blue Heron convinced me to paint him when he spread his broad wings to take flight.
Delaware is a small state, but big on ocean and bay beaches. Much of the Delaware Bay coastline feels like a throwback to the 1960’s with tiny coastal communities that seem frozen in time. Many old bayside cottages have lost their fight to cling to a narrow strip of beach in the face of rising sea levels and battering storms. Only about a dozen homes remain standing on the narrow sandy strip that is Big Stone Beach. They have a bay in front of them and a marsh behind. A bright blue sky with puffy clouds drifting over the marshy cattails caught my eye on this late summer day.
Annie’s Hydrangeas depicts pretty blue hydrangeas in a salt glaze stoneware pitcher. A slice of sweet juicy watermelon and a glass canning jar casting a green glow on the vintage tablecloth complete this still life. Fresh as a summer picnic!
In an era of home theaters, multiplexes and internet streaming, there’s nothing quite like watching a movie on the big screen under a summer night sky. As time marches on however, increasingly fewer people are able to experience this good old-fashioned fun. At one time there were over 4000 drive-in theaters across the United States, but as of March 2014 they numbered only 348. Many have been lost to encroaching development. Others failed to meet the challenge and expense of digital conversion as movies on film became obsolete.
It’s a labor of love for Jay Mowery, co-owner of the Cumberland Drive-In Theatre. Jay’s father, Donn, built the drive-in after a fire destroyed a movie theater he owned in downtown Newville, PA. Situated amidst rural farmland at the intersection of routes 11 and 233 outside of Newville, the 45 x 96 foot screen has been drawing movie-goers since 1952. The theater has a capacity of 400 cars and features a snack bar and playground.
This mid-1950’s depiction of the Cumberland Drive-In also includes another area landmark. The familiar image of Newville’s Laughlin Mill appears on the movie screen. During the filming of the 1956 movie “Hollywood or Bust”, stars Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis are seen driving their red convertible past the mill on a road trip from New York to California.
After the town water system was installed in 1896 some public spirited citizens raised funds for a fountain, and in the same year Henry Schreffler, his son, John, and Mahlon Williams dressed and laid the stones for the base and pool of the fountain. The stones were hauled to the site by Brady Killian, who used a wagon pulled by a team of six horses for the job. On June 1, 1897 the fountain was turned over to the town.
When the fountain was quite new, grass was planted inside the circle to the edge of the catch basin and there were cast iron Grecian urns planted with flowers sitting on the stone circle. In later years the whole circle was used as the catch basin and several generations of children enjoyed the goldfish which spent their summers there. In time the cast iron urns were replaced by more durable concrete ones, and the goldfish were removed. Nevertheless the fountain continues to delight citizens and visitors alike.
In 1996 it was decided to have a 100th birthday party to celebrate the fountain, which grew into an annual event. The Newville Fountain Festival was born.
—Brief history courtesy of the Newville Historical Society
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Ramp’s Covered Bridge is the only remaining covered bridge still standing on its original site in Cumberland County. At one time, 37 covered bridges could be found in the county, but floods, fires and the passage of time have taken their toll on the others.
Built in 1882 by Samuel Myers, Ramp’s Bridge encorporates the Burr Arch Truss style of construction. A less common feature in covered bridges is its window overlooking the Conodoguinet Creek on the upstream side. This painting depicts the bridge from the downstream side, but you can see the window through the entrance. The 130-foot long structure stands 18 feet, 11 inches tall and is located on Covered Bridge Road outside of Newburg, PA, seven miles west of Newville. Ramp’s Bridge is regularly inspected and is in remarkably good shape for its age. One can still drive through the single lane bridge, steering carefully to keep the car wheels on the raised tire planks.
Some say that the reason bridges were covered and painted red was to fool the cows into crossing the water by making them think they were entering a barn. Other theories include providing shelter to travelers caught in a storm, or even rendezvous points for courting sweethearts. Romantic notions aside, early bridge builders knew that a covered bridge would last at least three times longer than an uncovered bridge. The roof itself added to the structural strength of the bridge, as well as protecting the wooden frame from the elements.
Cumberland County residents take comfort in knowing that their last covered bridge is being protected and maintained, and this quiet, picturesque reminder of earlier times can still be experienced and enjoyed.
1916 MUNICIPAL BUILDING AND AMERICAN LAFRANCE PUMPER
The two-story brick Municipal Building at the corner of West Street and Glebe Avenue in Newville, Pennsylvania was completed just in time for the delivery of the 1916 American LaFrance Rotary Pumper to Friendship Hose Company No. 1. The first floor was used for storage for the fire company’s apparatus and housed the borough lock-up. On the second floor were two meeting rooms, separated by a folding partition. This building was the home of the fire company for more than 60 years and was also used by the Civic Club and Borough Council for their meetings as well as for public events. For a time the police station was also located here.
The building, with additions, is now used as the borough office, and the LaFrance pumper is on display at the new home of Friendship Hose Company #1 in the old borough school building on East Big Spring Avenue.
— brief history courtesy of the Newville Historical Society
After the death of her father, John, in 1758, Mary Atcheson Laughlin inherited a mill on the Big Spring in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. By terms of her will dated December 26, 1815, she left one half of the tract of land and the grist mill inherited from her father to her son, James Laughlin. The mill belonged to the Laughlin family for four generations. In 1896, John Laughlin’s heirs sold the mill and the nearby Cool Spring to the company which was building Newville’s public water system. The system’s pumps were housed in the mill, and Cool Spring was used as the water source.
—Brief history courtesy of the Newville Historical Society
In its earlier years, Newville, Pennsylvania was a bustling community, and the Cumberland Valley Railroad was responsible for much of the activity. The first train went through in 1837, and from that time on until the station was decommissioned, raw materials, manufactured goods, and passengers made the area near the station a busy part of town. In 1876 this Italianate station replaced an earlier one, and it continued in service until the mid 1950’s. The station was torn down in 1994.
— brief history courtesy of the Newville Historical Society