Portsmouth, NH

I recently spent a weekend in Portsmouth, NH with my boyfriend Greyson for a friend's wedding.  Shortly after arriving on Friday evening, we went to check out the cute little downtown and ate dinner on the water.  I brought my sketchbook, intending to draw the waterfront and a historic building or two, but of course by the time we were seated at the restaurant and placed an order, I realized I left it in the car. So I got to work on the back of the sushi menu with the little golf pencil they give you to order with. What do they say? Necessity is the mother of invention? 

The Memorial Bridge (above) spans the Piscataqua River and connects Portsmouth, NH to Kittery, ME via US Interstate 1. The bottom part of the bridge lifts up every 30 minutes to allow boat traffic through. Here, a tugboat passes underneath.

Even though I was born in New Hampshire, I've never been to Portsmouth & didn't know what to expect. The view from the waterfront downtown was much more industrial than I imagined. In the drawing above you can see that the shore was lined with cranes. Lots of tugboats and barges were coming and going.

Above is the tugboat Mary M. Coppedge, apparently the strongest tug in the harbor. She is a "twin-screw" tugboat, which means she has two engines and two propellers. There's a whole article written about her here. The guy in the drawing below was having fun putzing around in his little Boston Whaler. 

Portsmouth is nice. I wish we had had more time to explore the downtown and draw some of the buildings (there are so many historical spots!), but it's only a two hour drive from New York, so we'll have to make the trip again soon. 

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day marks the onset of summer on Cape Cod. I was lucky to spend this past memorial day with family at my parents' house in Pocasset. On Saturday, I went down to Barlow's Boat Yard with my dad for a few hours while he prepped his boat for the season. Growing up, I spent a lot of time here, sighing impatiently while waiting to set sail. As a sailing school drop-out, my activities aboard are generally limited to napping, snacking, and sipping cocktails.

Bucky Barlow's Boat Yard, Pocasset MA. © Carly Larsson 2015

Bucky Barlow's Boat Yard, Pocasset MA. © Carly Larsson 2015

 I remember one summer around the age of thirteen when I toiled away for hours in the hot sun, sanding and varnishing the woodwork on my dad's Cape Dory. Knowing I would never have chosen to do this of my own free will, I recently asked him what I had wanted in exchange. "Probably something designer.” My mother recalls a Marc Jacobs dress. I remember the one, navy with maroon polka dots. It was never acquired - I'm sure I was working off some other debt, and upon realizing the dress would never be mine, the project was promptly abandoned. Now over a decade later, my preferred kind of "boat work" is drawing them. 

My sister Elise sunbathing despite the arctic breeze. © Carly Larsson 2015

My sister Elise sunbathing despite the arctic breeze. © Carly Larsson 2015

I also spent some time on the beach. My sister is a brave soul, sunbathing in a sleeveless shirt despite the arctic wind and the fact that that the temperature barely hit high sixties. While she alternated between grad school homework and tanning, I sat bundled in my scarf and jacket drawing her and my cousin Jack, who was deeply absorbed in a crab hunting mission.

My cousin Jack on the beach, Pocasset MA. © Carly Larsson 2015

My cousin Jack on the beach, Pocasset MA. © Carly Larsson 2015

Sunday saw for more beach time with Thea, the sweetest little neighbor friend a girl could ask for. Here she is with her awesome fish pail (the mouth is the spout) curating her shell collection.

Miss Thea curating her shell collection © Carly Larsson 2015

Miss Thea curating her shell collection © Carly Larsson 2015

Dragon Boat Festival

A drummer at the bow of a participating dragon boat. © Carly Larsson 2014 

A drummer at the bow of a participating dragon boat. © Carly Larsson 2014 

In August I met up with NYC Urban Sketchers to draw the Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. The Dragon Boat Festival is an annual event which originated in China. The festival is based off a legend about the poet Qu Yuan who was a court minister & advocate for reform in his home of Chu. He was disliked by the emperor for his outspoken ways and was banished. During his exile, after hearing that his home was invaded, he jumped into the Ni Lo River and drowned himself. Local fishermen tried to save him but were unsuccessful. To prevent his body from being eaten by fish and as an offering to his spirit,  they threw rice dumplings into the water. Today rice dumplings are traditionally eaten on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival which is held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. After the races, it is customary to spend the remainder of the day observing street theatre, martial arts, Chinese dance performances, and other cultural festivities (all while eating rice dumplings, of course).

Dragon boats racing while spectators look on. © Carly Larsson 2014.

Dragon boats racing while spectators look on. © Carly Larsson 2014.

A giant dragon costume worn by about 20 people winds by during the parade. © Carly Larsson 2014 

A giant dragon costume worn by about 20 people winds by during the parade. © Carly Larsson 2014 

Drawing this event was certainly a challenge, as it was about 95 degrees and there was nary an ounce of shade. Regardless, it was a great experience and I'm glad I went.