Last week was the Tunbridge World’s Fair, tucked into a hollow in Vermont’s Green Mountains. There’s always plenty of cows, goats and swine at this country fair. It has THE BEST prize-winning cakes, jams and pickles, huge pumpkins and incredibly clever scarecrows.
I’ve documented all this in my sketchbook over the years but this time something special caught my eye. A bird. Not just any bird… a vibrant, colorfully feathered creature. Not a fancy chicken or even a Guinea hen… a pheasant maybe?
I could have taken a photo and walked on… but what’s the fun in that? Instead I drew this glorious thing with feathers, annotating my sketch with all the pertinent info. I had already decided that adding paint here would be a disaster… I’d do it at home.
My comprehensive notes allowed me to complete the spread without even looking at the two reference photos I quickly took before moving on.
(Just a quick explanation… this book is made with 130gsm Gutenberg and has pre-painted pages which I just drew right over. They were prepared with dilute acrylic paint and acrylic ink so there was no fear of bleeding.)
Once I got though the mass of children on a school expedition I made a bee-line for the poultry barn… I have a real soft spot for those birdies… especially ducks! These are Runner Ducks! They’re known for dropping eggs everywhere as they go about their day!
Poor page planning on my part… I hate it when the eye ends up in the gutter!
There was a steady stream (no pun intended) of heifers and their humans walking to the river to cool off and grab a drink. I was so excited to catch them I put my first sketch upside down in the journal. Sheesh! I had to do another!
Lots and lots of cows!
After a quick stop to check out the vegetables and the cake testers (no, they don’t spit it out after tasting like the wine tasters do… they swallow all the goodness) I stopped back in the poultry and rabbit barn. Don’t you love their topknots?
Most of the children had gone so I had enough breathing space to pull out my paints.
The chicks are only 3 days old!
And no… I was NOT a participant other than visiting the fair but one of the volunteers was so taken by my journal that he gave me a ribbon!
Put it in your calendar… it always starts 10 days after Labor Day. If my calculations are correct that’ll be between Thursday 15 September and Sunday 18 September 2016. I’ll be there!
It’s the 100th anniversary of New Hampshire’s State Fair and you still have time to visit… It’s open through Labor Day… Monday, 7 September, 2015.
I arrived nice and early armed with my sketchbook and pen, watercolors and brush safely tucked in my left hip pocket. Come! …walk with me as I travel and sketch my way through the barns.
The Avian Flu Virus has plagued the upper midwest causing the fairs like the Minnesota State Fair to cancel their poultry exhibit. We’re fortunate, so far New England has been spared, allowing the Hopkinton exhibit to continue this year. Each year I’ve been able to sketch the fantastical variety of poultry breeds but this year was special. I managed to paint my sketches as I stood before each bird… a major accomplishment in my art progress! No painting later at home this year.
I love Fairs! Where else is there a multitude of creatures just hanging around begging to be included in my sketchbook.
A couple of warm-ups and I’m ready to go!
Sometimes there are so many to choose from… I decide to sketch as many as possible. (Check out that Lamancha goat! I was astounded to learn they’re born without external ear flaps… pinnae.)
I even go one to pose for me after his turn in the show ring.
Sometimes humans are interested in my work… the cows? Not so much! ( I thought Holsteins were only black and white. Not so! These red and white girls are Holsteins too! )
There’s still time for you to take your sketchbook and get in on the fun. New Hampshire’s Hopkinton State Fair is open tomorrow and Monday. If you’ve missed your chance at your nearest fair I highly recommend you start planning for next year… I know I am!