Behind the false-fronted stores that line the streets of this tourist town, there are fingers of water that poke into the congested backstage neighbourhoods. When the tide is in, many people who work in the shops and restaurants paddle, row or motor their way to work. This uncoordinated armada transports many young people with earrings, bandanas, and colourful creative costumes.
We just happened upon this once industrial and industrious town in the Finger Lakes district of upper New York State. Driving aimlessly through rugged, non-holiday country, we discovered many prosperous summertime towns. We passed on this journey a restaurant, “The Squat and Gobble”, that specialized in turkey dinners. The rest of this region was less bizarre and more charming.
On a recent car journey to the Grand Tetons, we passed through St. Paul, Minnesota. Our circuitous route allowed some time in this northern state where we found the people to be friendly and polite. In fact, perhaps Minnesota could be a farm team for people wishing to become Canadians—they were that nice.
The Lane Furniture Company of Altavista, Virginia manufactures fifteen hundred cedar chests a day, so when I received a phone call from a good old boy in their design department asking for my “help”, I was most interested. He wondered if I could paint several panels that could be reproduced and applied to cedar chests.
I painted this piece from the top deck of our cruise ship as we headed south to Vancouver. The brightly-hued houses pulled me to them like a magnet. These Alaskan frame buildings sit like pools of paint on a palette overlapping and contrasting with their neighbours. This rainy section of the Alaskan coast with its gaily coloured buildings puts me in mind of patterns that I have painted in the equally-moist outports of Newfoundland (Badger’s Quay, Newfoundland).
Following a cruise through the Panama Canal, we drove north from San Francisco where we had disembarked. Visiting wine country was great fun and quite revealing as the California wineries were just starting to gear up for the food and wine blizzard that was to visit America.
Mendocino is a prettified town that perhaps tries too hard to be cute. Gingerbread and picket fences are everywhere. For me, the right view of this town happened as I looked at it from a nearby cliff. A shaft of sunlight added a theatrical aspect.
When Marilyn and I first visited Key West twelve years ago, this small Victorian-style town was still a haven for former hippies and wackos. In those days it was a tiny carnival at the edge of the continent, the most southern point in the United States. Since then, each yearly visit surprises us with upgrades, improvements. The town is turning into a giant Sheraton Hotel. Real Estate prices have rocketed into the stratosphere.
This street-side view of the Moravian Village in Winston-Salem, North Carolina attracted me because of the Danish blue of this house. The strong colours used in colonial times are often quite jarring to people of our time who are used to toned-down, tasteful sorts of colours.
Most pioneer villages, historic re-creations perhaps, emit a special charm that I find most appealing. I have created many sketches of these historic sites across North America and a few in Europe. In Europe, re-created villages are not as necessary because they have preserved the old buildings all along.