Sketching at the Hermitage, March 15th, 2018

There was an impressive celebration at the Hermitage on March 15th, 2018.  It was the 251st birthday celebration for General and President Andrew Jackson. I had taken some vacation time to attend, and it was a perfect day.  Conditions were 66 degrees, sunny, with some wind.

I took time to tour the inside of the mansion while the “First Ladies at the Mansion” presentation put on by members of the American Historical Theatre was going on outside.  By going then, I was able to be in a quiet space, before the schoolchildren went inside.

The mansion is currently undergoing efforts to put in a new fire suppression system, so the rooms don’t have everything in them that they normally do.

I have previously asked several different employees about sketching inside the mansion, since photography is strictly forbidden. Nobody has said that I couldn’t.  I didn’t have an opportunity to ask again since the docent was busy, so I began sketching in the small lobby that connects the overseer’s office and the study.  I also sketched upstairs during the lecture, and took notes since the history of the place and family is fascinating.  The docent noticed me and asked what I was doing.  I showed her the sketch. She was pleased and continued with her speech.

I sketched this with a pen instead of my usual watercolor pencils to be less obtrusive.


Then I was fortunate to catch the end of the “First Ladies” presentation, and began to sketch there.


The initial sketch of the “First Ladies” – (this one is Abigail Adams) and the wreath-laying ceremony are on the same page. This is before I have added more color and water.


I thought I was late to the wreath-laying ceremony, but I ended up being in a perfect place to sketch.  The audience was on the other side of the fence, in the cow pasture.  (There is a herd of Banded – or Belted- Galloways here, by the way.)  I was able to stand in front of the fence, at the corner, out of the way but with a fantastic view of the National Guardsmen. It was at this point that I regretted not bringing the navy blue I’d spotted last night. I can only carry 12 colors, so I will always have to adapt. Too many colors can be too much to juggle on site.


I also went around the fence, and sitting down on the grass, got to sketch the speakers.  The person speaking is Justice Cornelia Clark of the Tennessee Supreme Court.


Initial sketch –


Finished –

The National Anthem was played, and I sang along.  About a third of the way through I remembered to put my hand over my heart and take my hat off.  I think it would be lovely to have more opportunities to sing the National Anthem so these important parts of it aren’t forgotten.

After the ceremony, a person in the National Guard gestured for me to come over – asking with gestures if I was sketching.  I briefly thought he was signing, so I started to reply in ASL, since I have just spent 8 weeks learning some of it.  I finally got over to where they were and we chatted a bit about sketching and the day and signing. That is part of the interesting part of sketching – you get to meet new people.  I told them I will post the finished work on my blog and gave him my card.

So here it is –

The guard told me that a photographer snapped a photo of my sketch over my shoulder, which is kind of cool and kind of intrusive at the same time. I’m happy that people think my sketching is interesting, but it seems rude to not ask to see what I am doing, and surreptitiously snap a photo.

There were also presentations about the life of a soldier in 1812. I got to see Meyers Brown, who is helping at my library with preserving the antique photos of Old Hickory. He was in full militia regalia.

meyers brown

There were people in costume, including General Jackson and his wife Rachel.

I knew I would not have time to sketch them, and that it would draw a crowd.  I like to sketch privately so I don’t become self-conscious.  Nothing ruins a sketch for me than having someone look on.

And there was Irish music (since General Jackson was the son of Irish immigrants) performed by Brian Finnegan and Joseph Carmichael of Music City Irish Fest.  It was excellent.

Events went on until 4, but I had to be at work at 1. All in all, a lovely morning!


As it is written – or not.

Let us look at some words from Paul.

Romans 3:1-21

“Then what is the advantage of being Jewish? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. First of all, they were entrusted with the sayings of God. 3 So what if some did not trust? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 May it never be! Let God be true even if every man is a liar, as it is written,
“that You may be righteous in Your words
and prevail when You are judged.”
5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? God is not unrighteous to inflict wrath, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) 6 May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world? 7 But if by my lie the truth of God abounds to His glory, why am I still judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say, “Let us do evil, so that good may come”—just as we are being slandered and as some claim that we say. Their condemnation is deserved!
9 What then? Are we better than they? No, not at all.For we have already made the case that all—both Jewish and Greek people—are under sin. 10 As it is written,
“There is no one righteous—no, not one.
11 There is no one who understands,
no one who seeks after God.
12 All have turned aside;
together they have become worthless.
There is no one who does good—no, not even one!
13 Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongues they keep deceiving.
The poison of vipers is under their lips.
14 Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood.
16 Ruin and misery are in their paths,
17 and the way of shalom they have not known.
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the Torah says, it says to those within the Torah, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may become accountable to God. 20 For no human, on the basis of Torah observance, will be set right in His sight—for through the Torah comes awareness of sin.”

Let’s look at 10-18 carefully. This “verse” isn’t written like this in one place. This is a hodge-podge. He says “as it is written” – but he’s assembled these various ideas from all over the Bible, and they aren’t quotations, but summaries. He’s rewriting the Bible to suit his own needs.

I am using the references that the Tree of Life version gives to illustrate this point. I am not coming up with these verses on my own.

Ecclesiastes 7:20
Surely there is not a righteous person on earth
who does what is good and doesn’t sin.

Psalm 13:2-3
2 How long, ADONAI? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
3 How long must I have cares in my soul
and daily sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Psalm 5:10
10 For nothing upright is in their mouth.
Inside them is a ruin—their throat an open grave.
They flatter with their tongue.

Psalm 139:4
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, ADONAI, You know all about it.

Isaiah 59:7-8
7 Their feet run after evil.
They rush to shed innocent blood.[a]
Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity.
Violence and ruin are on their highways.
8 They do not know the path of peace,
and there is no justice in their tracks.
They have made their paths crooked.
Whoever walks in them will not experience shalom.

Psalm 35:2
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
and rise up to my help.

This “verse” doesn’t exist. Paul strung it together, cutting and pasting what he liked into a whole unit of his choosing. My point – be sure to double check everything you read, even (and sometimes especially) in the Bible. Just because someone says something is true, even if that person is an authority, doesn’t make it true.

(All Bible quotations are the Tree of Life Version (TLV))

Weekly sketch 3-2-18, Cheekwood

Cheekwood Botanical Garden, Friday 3-2-18, 1-2:30 pm. 56 degrees and sunny.

A brave day, I drove here by myself.  I didn’t let the monsters in my head win.  This is part of why I bought a membership here – to encourage me to go sketch.

This is the “Ruins” section – there are fragments of the original columns from the Tennessee Capital building, which was finished in 1854.  The limestone columns didn’t endure the weather and started to decay.  They were salvaged and brought here, to create a sort of small amphitheater.

(My scanner make the colors unusually bright and vivid)

scan cheek art1cheekwood 030218B

And an unusual view of the Japanese section –

Photo of sketch-

scannedcheek art2cheekwood 030218A

Hope for the future

I have been very anxious about the future – about getting older and needing help. I do not have children or a close family (“distant” isn’t just in miles). There is nobody on the horizon that I can count on to help me when I get older, if my husband dies before me. Or, say we are both old, and both need help. Who will help us?

I have long thought that there should be some sort of community, like a convent or a monastery, where people live and work and die together, as a kind of adopted family. But how to go about making that happen? People value their privacy and independence. People are wary of “religion”, yet it is a good center to a community.
We humans were not made to be alone. We lie to ourselves when we think we can do it all. We are not designed that way.

I have researched “co-housing” and similar communities. But I’m nearly 50. I take care of myself, but how long will it be until I need help? One broken bone, one car accident, and things change quickly. The system needs to be in place before that.

I love how religious people who live in community (monks and nuns) spend their lives together. They don’t go away to a nursing home – that facility is part of the property. It is an expected part of life. They don’t pretend that illness and death isn’t going to happen. I think it makes it easier to know that you won’t be tended by strangers – your own adopted family is taking care of you. Your home is there, with them, not shuffled away into some forgotten facility.

My recent Bible readings speak to the answer –

Psalm 142
I cry aloud to the LORD;
I plead aloud to the LORD for mercy.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I reveal my trouble to Him.
Although my spirit is weak within me,
You know my way.
Along this path I travel
they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see:[a]
no one stands up for me;
there is no refuge for me;
no one cares about me.
I cry to You, LORD;
I say, “You are my shelter,
my portion in the land of the living.”
Listen to my cry,
for I am very weak.
Rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
Free me from prison
so that I can praise Your name.
The righteous will gather around me
because You deal generously with me.

Isaiah 51:12-14
“I am the One who comforts you.
Who are you that you should fear man who dies,
or a son of man who is given up like grass?
But you have forgotten the LORD, your Maker,
who stretched out the heavens
and laid the foundations of the earth.
You are in constant dread all day long
because of the fury of the oppressor,
who has set himself to destroy.
But where is the fury of the oppressor?
The prisoner is soon to be set free;
he will not die and go to the Pit,
and his food will not be lacking.”

They tell me to wait – that God’s idea of time is not my idea. They remind me that Abraham waited 30 years after he was promised an heir – long after he and his wife were past childbearing years. They remind me that I need to put God first and everything else will fall into place.

(Bible translations are HCSB)