2019 Hopkinton State Fair – Part 6

Auuuugh! No Tunbridge World’s Fair for me today. Instead I’m home dealing with a leaking kitchen faucet and sink!  Looking on the bright side, I’ll have more time to write this wrap up and I figure I can always sketch my kitchen instead.

I love going to the fair and over the years I realized my sketching success is inversely proportional to how much stuff I lug.  Carry less – sketch more is my motto. I pack two inexpensive permanent ink pens, a small watercolor set, one short real watercolor brush, a small nalgene jar of water, paper towel and my sketchbook into my extra small Timbuk2 messenger bag (I have an older version) and tuck my wallet and phone into the zipper pockets on my lightweight vest.

I brought my current sketchbook, the A5 landscape version of the Arteza Watercolor Book. Now this book has quite a few issues which may prevent you from liking it but its price may just be the best thing it has going for it. Currently Amazon has a pack of two books for approximately $20 USD. At that price I’m willing to overlook a lot of its faults precisely because it’s inexpensive and not precious… perfect for doing studies. Roz Stendahl published a series of blog posts reviewing the A4 portrait version of this book. If you think you might like to try the Arteza for yourself, I urge you to read the entire series. I think there are 9 or 10 posts and they’re well worth your time.

My own issues with this Arteza book revolves mostly around its construction. First off, I prefer portrait orientation to landscape but they don’t make the A5 in portrait. A few of the spreads don’t have matching surfaces across the gutter, although most do match. The book is not bound with the stitching parallel to the paper grain and the binding seems to separate where the signatures are sewn together. There doesn’t seem to be any glue on the book’s spine for stability either. And finally, watercolor takes a long time to dry. This must be due to its sizing and it’s not inherently bad… it’s just something to consider if you like to work fast.

But the good thing about the Arteza’s slow drying time is the watercolor has time to move, blend, and basically do its magic thing. You can see this effect in yesterday’s Nubian goat images and the images of the Porcelain Bantam Pullet from Tuesday’s post. Those effects are what allows me to overlook the faults and keep using this book.

But will I buy more of these books?  Probably not. There are other watercolor papers that allow those wonderful effects and I’m fortunate to be able to bind my own books. I guess I’ll be binding more watercolor books as one of my winter projects.

Finally, next time I must make time to sketch the other mammals at the fair… you know, the two-legged ones. There are humans, big and small, short and tall, young and old, all over the place but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at my fair pages over the years.

Next year’s fair.  You heard it here first!

Arteza A5 landscape watercolor book

2019 Hopkinton State Fair – Part 5

Yeah… no wrap up.

Life got in the way and my poor planning left me with no more hours yesterday. Believe me, I have a hard enough time writing something coherent when I’m fresh much less late at night after a busy day.

So, I’ve saved my last images… and the elusive wrap-up… for tomorrow.

Gotta go… Tunbridge (VT) World’s Fair is calling… gates open at 0700 and it’s Youth Showmanship in the Poultry Barn!

Arteza A5 landscape watercolor book

2019 Hopkinton State Fair – Part 1

A week ago Friday I went to New Hampshire’s Hopkinton State Fair. The blurb on their website states “a Labor Day weekend tradition for more than 100 years.”

I’ve only been going for the last 6 years and I’ve learned from my past experiences that I tend to burn out if I hang around too long. Heat and humidity seems to exacerbate any symptoms I may have but this year we were treated with beautiful weather, partly cloudy and low 70s.

Nevertheless I didn’t overstay my welcome… I only spent a little over five hours on site but there were productive. I created 14 spreads (28 pages) of ink sketches with selective watercolor washes.

I’m going to share all my work over the next few days without commentary but look for my State Fair insights and takeaways when I wrap up my final images this Friday. In the meantime please sit back and have a peek at the creatures through my eyes.

Arteza A5 landscape watercolor book

Fair Warning!

I’ve been sketching at the Hopkinton State Fair longer than I’ve had this blog and it remains one of the highlights of my year. Sheep, goats, ducks, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, oxen were all drawn this year… even a dog… well, not a real dog… a CORN DOG!

Here’s this year’s total output!













No llamas, alpacas or swine this year. No cows either but I will remedy that at the 146th Tunbridge World’s Fair in two weeks… Thursday through Sunday, September 14, 15, 16 & 17.

I’m aiming for Friday… if you see me please stop and say hello!

Exotica

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.

He’s beautiful, he’s exotic. But what IS he?

Google to the rescue. It seems he’s a cross of two Asian pheasants, a Golden and Lady Amherst’s hybrid.

And a well positioned lens view through the cage.

Next summer be sure to make time in your busy schedule to visit one of your local fairs. You never know what you’ll find.

Tunbridge World’s Fair 2015

Yes, another fair! The Tunbridge World’s Fair!

(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!

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Poor page planning on my part… I hate it when the eye ends up in the gutter!

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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!

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Lots and lots of cows!

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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?

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Most of the children had gone so I had enough breathing space to pull out my paints.

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The chicks are only 3 days old!

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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!

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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!

Let’s Go To The Fair!

Hopkinton State Fair that is.

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.

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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.

150904-3150904-4Salmon Faverolles… Isn’t he gorgeous!

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I was on my way to sketch the dairy cows when I was hit by an incredible sneezing fit. Time to reconsider my next subjects.

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There’s shade and picnic tables alongside the duck pond and it’s my favorite place to regroup, relax and do one final page before packing up my supplies for the day.

In an hour I’m home… planning my next fair visit. I think it’ll be the Tunbridge World’s Fair in two weeks… stay tuned!