Literary intrigue, check. Historical insight, check. Local geological feature, check. This week's local discovery again took me to uncharted territory slipped in the cracks between the paths I've worn well my whole life.
Juliana's Cave, a well known location to children of Cheltenham Township's past, I hear is visible when the foliage has fallen if you take a chance to slow down while driving on Chelten Hills Drive near Church Road. It is located on the other side of the rail road along Tookany Creek. However, in the days before the rail road tracks were laid, local lore has it that a young girl who lived with the Shoemaker family at the Wall House would frequently wander off to read in this cave. Her name was Juliana. She must have enjoyed this well sheltered spot that didn't seem so lonely with the soft sounds of the creek nearby.
Local historian, Tom Wieckowski, told me about the cave during a tour my husband and I took of the Wall House this week. Thanks, Tom!
I've been putting a lot of miles on my car this week, traveling to various sites in the Brandywine Valley in order to paint competitively.
Who knew plein air painting could be a sport?
It's been glorious. I've finished and framed 7 paintings so far (including this Bearded Billy). After training this summer, my supplies and technique have been primed, including a temporary framing station in the trunk of my car.
The most intense moment so far was the Quick Draw yesterday where I created a work then had 12 minutes to frame it before I ran it to the submission station in just under the two hour deadline. Whew!
Today is the last day so I need to get myself to the assigned location, Winterthur, which is also the location of the art sale this weekend. 40% of all proceeds go to Children's Beach House, a Delaware non-profit that supports children with special needs. Come check it out if you can! The show will be up until 3pm on Sunday.
Off I go!
As an 8 year old, I remember entering the grounds. Behind a high stone wall along a road without a sidewalk, it seemed like we would need special permission to enter.
Inside, I was a young art student. Carving linoleum, I made a print of an owl. I remember the balconies within a large room of the stone mansion. I remember waiting in the rain for my mother to pick me up and listening to "Stepping Out" by Joe Jackson.
Some things come full circle. Now I teach drawing classes in that same mansion, Alverthorpe Manor. I've been promoted from student to teacher at the Abington Art Center housed there.
After teaching my morning class last week, I made this drawing of a side of the building I don't always visit, feeling grateful that Lessing and Edith Rosenwald gave their estate to the township for local cultural and recreational use.
Imagine stumbling upon this mansion in the middle of a suburban neighborhood behind an ornate metal gate and surrounded by ivy.
I first laid eyes on it when I was about 16 years old. I was probably driving to my friends house down the street. She didn't know anything about it.
Several decades later when I moved back to the area as an adult I finally began to learn some details about its story from a few articles that were published in the paper around 2010. It just so happens that its story includes both the Titanic and the National Gallery of Art.
This 110-room, Horace Trumbauer design, gilded era mansion named Lynnewood Hall was built for the Widener family in 1897-1900. Peter was part owner of the Titanic. George, Eleanor and Harry were passengers. Eleanor survived. Joseph's massive art collection was given to the National Gallery of Art in 1940. Shortly after, the family moved out. The mansion still stands but much like a sleeping kingdom. I finally stopped, got out of the car, and spent some time with it and my easel this week.
It's currently for sale for $16.5 million. Any takers? And if so, can I come over to get a closer look?
Today I sat in the blazing late September sun. A white plastic chair and table provided by Elkins Perk Coffee Shop gave me this view of my local SEPTA train station, Elkins Park.
Built nearly 120 years ago this historic gem now features a community space run by Elkins Central. In this space, I've personally been to a yoga class, an art show, and an author's book tour event... and I taught an art class there so that a group of girl scouts could earn a badge. I hope to make it to a jazz concert there soon. If you ask me, Elkins Park rocks!
I have no idea why it took me so long.
Yesterday I explored a little nook that felt like a portal to the 17th century. The funny thing about this place is...I have driven by it nearly every day for most of my life.
The Richard Wall House was built in 1683 by a charming Quaker couple from the town of Cheltenham, England. They were among the "First Purchasers" to obtain land from William Penn in what we now know as Cheltenham Township.
My outdoor painting quest of Cheltenham Township has taken a dive into its rich 300 year history.
Since it's still plein air painting season (meaning it's not too hot and not too cold to paint outside), I went to High School Park and found this lovely spot along the meadow walk built in memory of Joshua Schwartz.
It only seems fitting that if I am a resident artist in Cheltenham that I paint Cheltenham. I foresee "Meadow Walk" as the first in a series. I'm putting on the hat of being a tourist in my own town!
That "Tourist in my own Town" theme, by the way, is an excellent writing prompt that was given to me by the great Mt. Airy writing teacher, Minter Krotzer. I, in turn, assigned that topic to countless unsuspecting 10th grade students when I taught high school English. We read an essay entitled "A Tourist in my own Town" by an American author for inspiration. I'm a bit embarrassed that I can't remember the author. Can anyone help me out?
During my family's John Muir quest in August we not only visited Glacier Bay, Alaska where through his observations he advanced the understanding of how glaciers shape the landscape, but we also made it to a few significant spots in California.
Yosemite Valley obviously was on that list. We also explored the coastal redwoods of Muir Woods, poked around his house and fruit orchard at the John Muir Historical Site in Martinez, and gazed in wonder as the setting sun cast its golden glow on the Grove of Giants (which he named) in Sequoia National Park.
I had the opportunity to sit with Half Dome for an hour or so and paint this watercolor while my son caught the light of the setting sun on the massive granite face with his camera. Plein air painting is truly a meditation. I almost enjoy the experience more than the final product, especially when the air has cooled off after a very hot day.
In Alaska, this lone cottonwood tree sat in a field behind the Glacier Bay Country Inn where I stayed with my family earlier this month. I painted this on the only day we saw sunshine and one of the few glimpses that we had of those distant mountains of the Fairweather Range. I saw my first moose walk across this field later in the week.
The inn is situated in Gustavus, Alaska: population 428. To get there we needed to travel by plane since, as opposed to Rome, no roads lead to Gustavus.
Located in nearby Horsham, Pa, the Pennypack Farm and Education Center has been a great source of joy for me this summer. Not only am I probably better nourished from all of the yummy vegetable I've been eating from there, but I've also been able to bring my kids there to see where food comes from.
The farm also generously hosted my outdoor painting class from the Abington Art Center one recent morning when I painted this view as a demonstration. As a result, this painting is bit more planned out than how I usually work since I was explaining several techniques while I worked on it. Judging from the impressive work my students did that day, I think I achieved my objective. And there is a bonus...I like the painting.