The Green House

Last week I didn’t get over to the Finlay Orchard House to sketch since we were traveling. (see previous post) However, I did make it over there today. It was toasty and beautiful and I came away with a little bit of a sunburn. Note to self: take the time for the sunscreen girl!

I had decided to do the green house on the corner of the property where Walnut street intersects with Yampa. The stone wall excludes it from the Finlay Orchard house, but the land is part of that property. As noted in a previous post, a neighbor informed me that a friend of the family was given the land to build a house on.

The Green House

I parked in some shade across the street from the house and set up my gear in front of my car. Knowing that I had been observed before by locals I wondered who I would meet today.

I set about my sketch by beginning with a pencil drawing. About two thirds of the way through I noticed that the tilting porch roof was affecting how I was drawing all the other horizontal lines. I had the whole house tipping to the left. Ugh! So I had to immediately set about correcting that and getting everything the way it should be.

Just as I was finishing the ink drawing a dump truck went by, stopped, and backed up a bit. I was a little alarmed, hoping he saw me there. As I was deciding if I needed to holler the driver jumped out and came over. He had seen me drawing in the area previously and wanted to see what I was doing. He apparently approved of both my sketch and the fact that the old property was being renovated. Then he was on his way again.

As I was almost done with the painting phase a local lady pulled up in her large, old car, right in front and to the right of me facing any oncoming traffic. She wanted to tell me that she’d seen me around, to see what my sketch looked like, and let me know that she had grown up in the neighborhood. She was appreciative of the fact that the old property was finally going to be renovated and restored. I wasn’t as attentive to her as I might have been and was brief in my responses because she had made herself a hindrance to the proper flow of traffic. I’m sure we got a few glares from passing vehicles.

When I was finally done, I took a picture of the completed sketch, packed my gear up, and got in the car to do my usual Instagram post. That’s when a gentleman came along and asked if I was the artist who had been sketching the property. I said yes, and we introduced ourselves. After showing him what I had produced over the last few weeks we had a lovely chat. He told me that he is one of the two men who own the property and are renovating it. It’s been a bit of a rocky road since having such an eyesore has generated so much loathing and frustration for the neighborhood. However, they’ve done their best to be good neighbors by letting people know what their intentions are as well as keeping their work as tidy as possible.

Apparently it is a very good thing that I chose this week to do my sketch of the green house since it is the first of the three to be restored. He said that it will be returned to its original glory with later additions and changes reversed. I am so excited to see what happens next. When it’s done the main house and the “servant house” will be next.

He also told me that they are going to plant apple trees in the open area, a way of  reconnecting to the history of the place. That is going to be beautiful!

If you’ve been following along on this documentary sketching adventure, make life a little easier by subscribing to this blog. If you’ve just joined me here, take the time to read my previous posts about this property transformation. You can find them all under the category Old Finlay Orchard House.

Vacation Time Means Travel Sketching

Honey decided we had to get out of town, so he set us up for a long weekend in Durango. By the time we went it had turned into 6 days. He was the best of Honeys because he gave me the time to sketch on our trip.

Durango, Colorado is home to one of eight scenic trains that run in Colorado, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNG). They run two steam trains with carriages full of tourists every day up to Silverton and back. The scenery is spectacular and worth it just for that alone. The added bonus is that you get to chug up canyons and valleys behind a real steam engine. Toot, tooooooot.

My sketching on this trip started off lousy. This is the only bad one I’m going to post, just because it keeps me humble. I sat on a big boulder in front of the train depot and did this thing.


Sloppy! Well, now that it’s out of my system…

The next morning we went for breakfast at Jean-Pierre’s, one of our favorites in Durango. I started this drawing of their old fireplace but couldn’t finish by the time we were done. So we had to go back for breakfast the next morning (yum!) and even managed to get the same table. I finished it then.

Jean Pierre

We visited the D&SNG museum in the old roundhouse. When I saw this engine I sat down immediately to sketch it. I never saw the rest of the museum.

Train Engine 1

Then Honey drew me out to the central turntable area where they were moving engines and carriages around. Much of the roundhouse is still used as intended, to store and care for engines and carriages. This engine was sitting outside. There was too much detail to sketch it all.Train Engine 2

Later in the day I went back on my own to do more sketching. I did this of the outside of the roundhouse. The door under the D&SNG Museum sign is where you enter the museum part of the roundhouse.Roundhouse

There was a restored Pullman carriage that they had sitting on a side track with a small engine still hitched to the back. I wondered if it was going to be used for a special dinner train run.Pullman

We planned our next day based on the weather. That meant we went to Ignacio to visit the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum. In spite of the fact that they’re in transition and some of the exhibits were out for restoration, cleaning, changing, updating…it was a really great experience. One of the things I enjoyed were the embossing stamps they had throughout for kids to use. There was a brochure for them to collect the stamps on, but I just used my journal pages and added sketches from the exhibits around them.

From Ignacio we went to Cortez and then north to the Anasazi Heritage Center. There’s a fantastic view of Sleeping Ute Mountain from their lobby area, so I sat down to sketch it while Honey started on the exhibits.

Sleeping Ute

After the museum part we hiked up the hill to the old kiva. There’s a terrific view of the area and I decided to do a quick sketch of the kiva. I had to be fast because the wind was picking up, the temperature was dropping, and the sun was getting lower really fast.


In spite of my rush, I was pleased with the result.

Our fourth day was a drive up to Silverton. The scenery is stunning along the highway and we stopped at the Molas Pass overlook where I sketched this.

At Molas Pass

Molas Pass is at 10,910 feet above sea level, so it was chilly. However, the sun was shining bright and that took the edge off. When we got into Silverton, we found a place to eat where we could see the D&SNG arrive. It came in with a toot right up the street.

Our fifth day we left Durango for Chama, New Mexico and stopped at Chimney Rock along the way. It was a perfect day for it and our tour guide, Ernie, did a great job.

I did some pencil sketches during the tour and added some paint later that evening. These two turned out nicely.

It was fun figuring out how to fit in some sketching and Chimney Rock was the biggest challenge. No time on the tour to add color and pencil didn’t quite work the way I wanted it too. Next time I’ll take my pen.

Chama was just recovery. While the Cumbres and Toltec train station (the train you see in the beginning of Indian Jones and Last Crusade) would have been a fun and rich sketching opportunity, we were too exhausted from our day at Chimney Rock. I’ll have to put that one on the list for another time.