Monday, December 1, 2014

New Orleans

We started this trip at 4:30 AM in the tiny Amtrak station in Greenville, SC.  This passenger's hair was divided into distinct color zones that made it look like a baseball cap from the back.
As the train bounced and lurched along I let my pen wander and lurch along with it as I traced contours of Jacob Facebooking with his step-sister Lindsay, who is an exchange student in the Czech Republic this year.  5 AM was a good time for them because it was 11 AM for Lindsay, lunch time at school; and Jacob was awake for probably the first time in his life at 5 AM.
We stayed in a tiny house in the center of New Orleans near the confluence of Bayou St. John , the race track, Esplanade Avenue, and City Park-- my old neighborhood as well as the neighborhood our family lived in for a few years while P was in engineering school in NO.  On Thanksgiving morning we walked over to the Fair Grinds coffee shop, where I spied this high chair painted with race horses across the back.  Buying coffee at the counter was a woman in a Thanksgiving costume made out of a black garbage bag.  
Drawing was sporadic on this trip.  I had to grab opportunities when time and circumstances permitted.  On Friday P and I took a nice meandering walk through our old neighborhood and favorite places, including the bayou, where all these drawings happened.  J was off photographing in the cemetery, and you can see some of his work at  his blog.

On the left, the sole surviving giant pine tree that was once part of a pine tree plantation at the front of City Park.  P is standing at the base for scale.  On the right are two interesting scarf ties that I saw in the cafe at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Nothing beats an art museum for drawing, and the NOMA is one of my favorite museums.  So here are a few sketches.  The plant at upper left was labeled in a photorealist painting that we saw there, and it is a plant we've had for a while but never knew the name of.  The eerie little broken clay pipe  shows up in several of the Joseph Cornell boxes that live in the museum.
On the right is the fruit of a kind of palm tree that grows everywhere in New Orleans.  Plants that can grow only in greenhouses in other parts of the country grow to enormous sizes in New Orleans out on the median strips and in alleys and all over people's yards.  This kind of palm exits as a miniature palm with maybe three fronds in Asheville.  On my old street we found one that had velvety yellow finger-like leaves that enclosed the fruit.  Astonishing plant in its native habitat.
 One night we all went with my cousin Denise to the Palm Court in the French Quarter for dinner and traditional jazz.  The best evening in so many ways, not least of all for drawing!

 On the right is the giant hand-made and painted- like-a-gypsy-wagon armoire that was in our bedroom.

On our last evening we went to the river levee uptown near Audubon Park to watch barges and sunset.  J crouched down on the batture to photograph the water and sunset, and an egret walked by.  The barges slipped by silently.


  1. Hi Gwen
    i go to your blog always to see what you've drawn (i can imagine that it is nice to know that people appreciate what you are doing. I AM!)
    I love this journal a lot, with the orangy stitching... Is it made by you, or did you buy it? Just curious. Hope you find the time to let me know ;)

    1. Hi hedwig-- I made it out of a cloth rice bag and stitched it in Orange thread on my old treadle machine.

  2. great to see a tiny bit of new orleans through your pencil.