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.

img_0561

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

29197065_10212815968652428_5090427101167875159_n

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.

img_0560

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.

2

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.

29214067_10212815971372496_9209742374912329361_n

Initial sketch –

img_0562

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!

Advertisements

Jane and Horatio

I went on an adventure on my day off to sketch at Tulip Grove.  It is an estate attached to the Hermitage, in Tennessee.  It was the first time I’d had an opportunity to go back since getting my membership. It has been bitterly cold this winter – not conducive for outside activities.

When I go to a place to sketch, I like to walk around first and see what catches my eye.

Strangely, the most interesting thing about this locale wasn’t the building (which was locked) but the sundial / memorial in the back yard.

Here is my picture of it.

at TG1

Here is my sketch.

Tulip Grove Berry

This was sketched around 3:30 pm, Friday January 26th, 2018. It was 56 degrees and sunny.  The sun set in about an hour.

It says this on the stone (Marble? Granite?) base –

“The memory of Jane Berry Buntin and her son Horatio live on at Tulip Grove. Their home 1915 – 1964.”

Here is a picture from above –

at TG2

So who are (were) these people? Why were they living at Tulip Grove- a historical mansion?  It had been built for Andrew Jackson Donelson – the heir to Andrew Jackson.  He was his wife’s nephew – they never had children.

 

I did some research.

 

Jane Elizabeth Berry married Charles Erwin Buntin.  They had four children – Charles Erwin (Jr.), Rachael Craighead, Horatio (Ratio) Berry, and William (Billie).  They are listed in the book “Notable Southern Families, Volume 2”.  Berry is the important line – all the wealth comes from her side.  Horatio was a common name in her family.

 

Jane was born May 29, 1883 in Tennessee. Her parents were also from Tennessee.

 

Charles Sr. was born April 7, 1880 in Tennessee. His parents were also from Tennessee.

 

Charles Erwin Jr. was born January 5, 1909 (died May 3, 1985, at 76)

Rachel Craighead was born February 8, 1910 (died January 22, 2001, at 90)

Horatio Berry was born September 15, 1911 (died February 23, 1984, at 72)

William Allison was born January 24, 1914 (died November 2, 1996 at 82)

 

Jane and Charles bought Tulip Grove in 1914.  It is 26.33 acres and has a mansion.

 

In the 1920 census both parents and all four children are living there.

 

Charles Sr. died July 3, 1932.

 

In the 1940 census, Jane is 56 and living with Horatio, who was 28 and William who was 25. They are all listed as employed as farmers, but there is no income listed. All three Buntins are listed as having completed the second year of college.

 

A white female housekeeper named Francis Hayes (38 years old, completed high school) is also living there.

 

The home value is listed as $35,000 in 1940.

 

In 1944 there is a lawsuit against Jane concerning property she owned at 306 and 308 Second Avenue North, which was leased to the Stephens Manufacturing Company, which started 1/1/1942.  This means she was involved in real estate at least as early as 1942.

 

In 1962 she sold 175 to 200 acres in Hendersonville to Maddux Realty and Construction Company.  She is listed in the article as “a descendant of the surveyor who gave Tennessee its namesake, Daniel Smith”.  The Berry family owned what was Indian Lake (now part of Old Hickory Lake) – it was a land grant from the Revolutionary War that had remained in the family.

 

She was active in the Ladies’ Hermitage Association (LHA) and signed a warranty deed 3/11/1964 transferring Tulip Grove  to the LHA with the agreement that she and her heirs were to be paid one-third of all gate receipts to Tulip Grove for 99 years, in monthly installments.   If they didn’t make at least $600 within 6 months (except in the case of renovations or restoration) then the contract is null and void and the property returns to the heirs.

 

From 1965 to 2001 the family received $300,000.  The LHA closed Tulip Grove to the general public in 2001 and paid the minimum amount of $600 every 6 months.

 

Her heir and granddaughter, Jane Berry Field, sued the LHA around 2011 because they hosted private paid events at Tulip Grove and didn’t give the family any proceeds from those events.

 

Jane died at age 98, Friday, July 3, 1981, while living at the Imperial House Apartments.  She was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, 1101 Lebanon Pike, Nashville TN.  All four of her children were buried there as well.

 

The Imperial House Apartments were located near St. Thomas Hospital, and operated from 1963 to 2017, when they were demolished.  They were damaged in the 2010 flood.

I still do not know why only Horatio is mentioned along with Jane on the memorial.  Why are the other children not named?

 

Horatio was married to Willie Davis (Johnson) Buntin.  She was born May 24, 1911 and died October 17, 2001.  She is listed as “Mrs. Horatio Buntin” in a news article about President Lyndon Johnson (a distant relation of hers), when he visited the Hermitage in 1967.  She is listed as a Regent of the Ladies Hermitage Association.

Stone Hall

I have decided to go sketch outside once a week (at least).

This is my first trip.  It was Friday October 10/6/17

This was at Stone Hall park, a tiny Metro park near my home.  It was a private residence that was built 1918.

I found a little porch where I could sit.

Here is the dry watercolor pencil version. This took an hour.

IMG_1098

Here it is after I added water.

IMG_1104

A lady named Julie came by and unlocked it.  She was cleaning it up for a wedding that afternoon.  I asked if I could go in.  She said yes.  I couldn’t believe my luck.

I’ve made up so many excuses to skip doing this for at least a year.  It was too hot or cold or sunny or wet or I was tired or needed to go to the bathroom or take leftovers home….and while some of these were applicable here, I went anyway because I had packed my supplies and a camp chair in my car.   I thought it would be a shame to not at least go and look.  I ended up spending over an hour here.  It was very invigorating.

Here is me inside the building.

IMG_1097

The inside/outside room

This week’s sketching adventure was at Summit hospital. There is a small patio that is surrounded by the building. It is inside and outside at the same time. The door has been locked for at least a year due to construction and remodeling.

I’d been there a year ago (an annual appointment with my cardiologist brings me here) and was planning to sketch then.  The construction had just begun, so there was no way.  This sign greeted me this year –

sum 8

I looked.  I could see no danger.  I didn’t test the door.

I got a pumpkin spice latte at the coffee shop and sketched and photographed from inside, through the glass.  This was my view from the inside.

sum 9

This is what I sketched (this is dry watercolor pencil)

sum 9b

It is more impressionistic than realistic.  I didn’t match up the angles in the top North East corner (9 to 10 on the clock), so there is a gap.  It is OK, and I was grateful to have done this – to have made time to do this.

But this wasn’t enough for me. I talked to three people to determine why it was still locked.  The second person didn’t even think people were meant to be out there.  When I told her there were benches, she changed and said “Ask Ann” and jerked her thumb behind her to a small window that was set up like a bank teller.  It turns out that Ann is in charge of the switchboard. I have decided that if Ann doesn’t know the answer, she knows who knows.  She made some calls. She learned that it was safe to open again.  She called a security guard to unlock it for me.

sum 6

I’m the first person there in a year.

sum5

I was overwhelmed with joy and pride at my bravery in asking.  I quietly said the “Shehecheyanu” prayer  – – “Blessed are You, Lord, ruler of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this moment.”

I chose a bench to sit on.  Here is what I saw –

One picture could not cover it all.

Here is what I sketched – (this is dry watercolor pencil)  This was 10-11 am, Friday October 13, 2017.  It was about 65 degrees.

sum 7

Here is what it looks like after, with water added. sum 10.jpgSketching isn’t about drawing everything that you see.  It is more than a photograph.  The filter is your perspective – not only externally, but internally.  It is what you want to show.  It is about editing out the trash cans, or highlighting the blue reflection of the mirrored glass.  It is choosing to draw only three lines of windows instead of 5.

It is more than a photograph because it shows things from a human perspective.

I took the results to the three people who I talked to in order to gain access.  I said “here is the fruit of our labors”   – and only the coffee shop person even remembered me.  I’d been gone for an hour and the other two had talked to lots of other people in the meantime.  They had forgotten about me.

Ann was particularly taken by my sketch and said “Do you do this for a living?”  No – I’m not paid (yet) for my art.  I do this to live.  But I don’t make money at it.  She brought up a local artist, Phil Ponder.  To have my art compared with his is a huge complement.  She said “You have real talent”.  I am pleased with my work, but I don’t think it is that great.  But this is inspiring.   She also thought that it would be a shame for this to stay in my journal – that I should make it so it can be on display in the hospital.

We will see.  This would involve asking more people, making sure that it will actually be on display and not hidden in a corner.  It might involve re-painting it on bigger and better paper.  Getting it framed.  Do I pay for that – or do they?  Do I want to go through all of that work?

The “Before I die…” wall

I’d heard about this interactive art exhibit for years.  They pop up and are there for a brief time.

And then I came across one in Chattanooga, tucked away in a corner.  I almost missed it.  It was dark, I was tired.  I told my husband that we should come back tomorrow in the daylight.  He talked me into turning the car around and going to see this right then.

wall 7

It isn’t exactly on the main path.  Here is the view of the area from Google street view from above.  The wall is approximately in the middle. It is to the left of the bridge.  This is near Coolidge Park, but not part of it.  It is at the blue square, which is a roof for some machinery.

wall above

Here is a view from street images from February 2017, showing the wall in the daylight before the exhibit.  This is a short walk from Sushi Nabe – a very good Japanese restaurant in Chattanooga that is also off the beaten path and worth finding.

wall before

This exhibit was unveiled July 21st, 2017, and is sponsored by Hospice of Chattanooga.  Tracy Wood, CEO of Hospice, said that the goal was to create an opportunity for Chattanoogans to think about life and live every day as if it were their last.

According to the Before I Die website “Over 2,000 walls have been created in over 70 countries and over 35 languages…..The original wall was created on an abandoned house in New Orleans by artist Candy Chang after the death of someone she loved.

Here is the banner attached to the exhibit to explain it.

wall 2

Here are some of the photos I took of it.

 

wall 3wall 4wall 5

Several simply said “LIVE”

 

A few defined that as “Sky dive”

Several wanted to travel – namely to France, or Japan, or New Zealand.

Several wanted to marry  – some naming the person.  I wonder if they proposed at the wall?

Some were funny –

wall 11

And the last one that I saw was poignant –

wall 6

Saying simply “I want to live a clean a sober life” – and dated that day.  I paused, remembering my own struggle to get clean and sober.  I prayed for this anonymous stranger to have strength.  Sobriety is hard but it makes life much more meaningful.  A life spent messed up isn’t really experienced at all.

What would you write on the wall?

wall2

My butterfly collection

All found near Nashville, TN, mostly in Old Hickory Village, on lantana and butterfly bush.  I believe that the best butterfly collection leaves the butterflies alive.

 

Black Swallowtail

 

Cloudless Sulphur

cloudless sulphur

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Monarch


Painted Lady

 

Pipevine Swallowtail

 

Red Spotted Purple

Red spotted purple

 

Silver Spotted Skipper

silver spotted skipper

Snout Butterfly

snout butterfly

Variegated Fritillary

Variegated fritillary

Zebra Swallowtail

zebra swallowtail

The road less traveled

       The road less traveled isn’t about the road.  It is about you.  It is about the fact that you stopped and thought and decided for yourself where and when and how you are going to go to get there. Where is there?  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is how, and that is up to you.   

Your road might be the highway. That is fine. The way doesn’t have to be a back road or a dusty path.  You don’t have to go on foot, carrying everything you think you’ll need in a backpack. You don’t have to suffer.  This isn’t penance. But perhaps it is a pilgrimage.

The famous poem about the two roads is at the end of this post for your convenience. Read it slowly, line by line, as if you are reading it for the first time.  If you are like me, you’ve heard it so often you miss what it is really saying.

But this isn’t about the road – either one.  This is about you.

17522835_10209810296752509_8746089567817351063_n

Where are you going?  Why?  Which way will you get there? Why? Consider it.  Be awake, and mindful.  Choose.  The only wrong choice is to waffle so much that you don’t make a choice at all.  To fail to act for fear of failure is the only true failure.

17554186_10209810296032491_1304691799332560373_n

My husband and I have driven together to Chattanooga many times over the years.  Usually we take the interstate.  I-24 East is a pleasant enough drive.  There are nice views and the trip takes about 2 hours.  It is safe, and that is part of the appeal.  There are places we can stop along the way for a snack or a bathroom break or to stretch our legs. However, it is uneventful, and because of the nature of the road, it inspires mindlessness.  You can get from here to there without thinking at all.  That is a concern.

How much of our lives is like that? Too much.

There is a road that runs almost parallel to I-24.  It is the original road that linked the cities before the interstate was built.  It is US-41.  We’ve seen glimpses of it on our right as we are coming home, going over bridge at Nickajack Lake, just West of Chattanooga. One time we got off at the exit just before there and considered taking that way back.  We stopped at a gas station and got some snacks and a map.  We went to the bathroom.  For some reason it felt like we were about to go to the moon and we needed to prepare really hard for this trip. It was going to add at least an hour and a half to our trip – maybe more.  We weren’t sure.  We didn’t know if there were going to be places we could stop along the way to refresh or refuel.

17522860_10209810297232521_6309865160201682721_n

We drove a little way up the road and freaked out a little.  We got back onto the freeway as soon as we could.  Perhaps we were already tired from our trip and just needed to get home.

Just going on a road trip can be the entire purpose of the trip.  Sometimes it isn’t where you go, but how you go.  The journey itself is the destination.

Another time we drove down part of the way on US-41.  It was beautiful.  Lots of hidden scenes and sights that you simply cannot see when going 70 mph.

US-41 is Broad Street in Chattanooga. But then it turns Right and is East Main.

It is how US-11 is also Lee Highway.

You can live in a town and not even notice how the road you’ve lived on all your life is part of something so much bigger – that it stretches all across the country.  It takes a while to find the lines sometimes – they merge with named roads, take detours, appear to drop off and then re-appear.

It is a bit like doing genealogy, now that I think about it.  If you’ve ever tried to uncover your family past, you might understand this.

The writer Charles Kuralt talked about this.  That we gain time when we take the freeway, but we lose something else.  We lose our sense of discovery and wonder.  Perhaps we aren’t meant to go faster, but to go slower.  Perhaps 70mph is too much for humans.  We sacrifice part of who we are, part of our nature, when we go so fast that we can’t see what is going on around us.

Life goes too fast as is. We need to slow down to actually live.  Life isn’t about traveling quickly from birth to death, but noticing all the moments in between.

17499035_10209810297352524_977078950823763385_n

This time, on our way down, I went to find the maps we’d bought, but couldn’t locate them.  Would the GPS signal work?  We’d discovered that problem in the wilds of the North Carolina mountains.  There are areas where you can get pretty lost, still, these days. Technology doesn’t always serve. We asked for directions at a tiny church in a town called Frank.  Something about going up the road for several miles, and turning left at the dentist’s office. All too often, people give directions by what used to be there.  If I was local, I’d know what used to be there – but if I was local, I wouldn’t be asking for directions.   We wore ourselves out looking for that office.  It was mentally exhausting.  I didn’t want a repeat of that experience.

We went anyway, and I’m glad we did.

17457273_10209810296952514_8699597691260757353_n

I’ve learned that the route began around 1926, and runs 2000 miles, North to South, across the US, stretching from Miami, Florida to just before Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Maybe one day we’ll take a road trip and do the whole thing.

17426122_10209810296272497_4252687372558027949_n

The Road Not Taken – by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.