FEATURED PAINTING: Brown & Roberts Hardware and First Baptist Church
Family owned hardware/general stores and churches…nearly all Vermont towns have both of these, and each with it’s own personality in its construction, as one long time fan of my art also said about the way I render them. Except for what could only be found in a stained glass warehouse, Brown and Roberts was my local go to one in Brattleboro for tools and supplies since I first moved to Vermont in 1992. It was and still is a classic example, and also on the larger side with its four floors. It is now 2020 and it still smells, looks, and operates the same.
The original plan was to do a full sized horizontal view of the street itself but I instantly changed my mind to do a proportionally longer vertical half sized that included the First Baptist Church where I saw Patrick Moraz, the keyboard player on the Yes “Parallels” album, play in the mid 1990s.
The church was angular but deceptively easy to make parts of it unintentionally tilt and sway, so my strategy was to do the store first and use parts of it for reference so I could draw parts of the church, upwards. To get the little hexagonal shingles uniform I used the technique I discovered when making the patterns in the compound eyes of my 3-D stained glass butterflies, of drawing horizontal zig zag lines and connecting their apexes vertically. In honor of Brown and Roberts’ resilience through the decades I used light pencil to include the“phantom letters” from it’s old sign.
The first version did not make it to the colored stage, but it might someday. After I finished the inking that day I had not taken a photo yet and decided to take off and go for a swim and had forgotten to put my portfolio in my trunk and propped it against a telephone pole and someone found it and went through it and made off with this one.
Then, three minutes after I finished the re-done colored version, a lady pulls up in a station wagon, who turned out to be someone I’d handed my business card to while I was working on a different painting, and told me she had convinced her friend that the paintings were NOT abandoned and to give me back the old uncolored one. The second one that made it to coloring stage is titled on the back “Brown and Roberts Hardware & First Baptist Church Re-do”, and the buildings are a tiny bit smaller. I sent she and her friend signed prints as gratitude for the drawing’s safe return.
Both versions naturally include pigeons flying around the steeple. They also each have a foreground of beech branches for both aesthetics and to cover up the inevitable loss of the top of the steeple due to the dimensions of the paper.
Brown & Roberts Hardware and First Baptist Church, ink and watercolor, 15″X22″, Brattleboro, Vermont, August 2020