Watercolor Vacation Journal: New Hampshire
By Mari Connors

We drive two cars to
Moultonborough, New Hampshire: Steve pulling a
sailboat and our son, David and I communicating with him by walkie-talkie.
We end up on the familiar forested, winding dirt road leading to our cabin
on Lake Kanasatka.

The lake and treetops sparkle. I admire artists who capture these scenes. On
this vacation, I plan to be "the artist." I'll still swim, boat, fish, and wander
through New Hampshire Heaven, but with my new watercolor hobby, I will
view mountains, hills and shops with an artistic eye.

I can't abandon vacation for a watercolor workshop at
Surroundings Gallery
in Center Sandwich, but as a consolation, I plan to visit. Don Sutton, the
owner, kindly agrees to meet with me.

I reconsider my palette as the lake progresses silver-green to dark green and
finally reflects an orange-red evening sky. I relish the challenge of painting
birches, pines, wildflowers, and a forest carpeted with a jungle of soft ferns
and daylilies. I plan a trip to the Moultonborough Library for wildflower

We head to Center Harbor, where Heath's Supermarket is sandwiched
between shops for quilters, knitters, crafters, and home décor. The sun-
drenched cape-grey buildings are ideal for a watercolor. The roof extends
with hanging pots of pink and white flowers. Flowers in carts line the
entrance. The pace is slow and comfortable.

After getting my library books in Moultonborough, I indulge in
The Old
Country Store across the street and the Moultonborough Historical Society. I
speak with Mr. Lamprey, sitting out front. He owned this building prior to
the Historical Society. He says artists had painted together on the porch at the
Old Country Store and a gallery had existed upstairs.

I head back to the Old Country Store. Upstairs, I find a museum of antique
posters, newspapers (including the 25th Anniversary Edition of the Boston
Globe), and cartoons. I depart with smoked cheese and fudge. Tradition has
it that one must open these little packages as soon as possible after purchase.

Reading wildflower books, I realize I'd mislabeled "Yarrow" as "Queen
Anne's Lace." It has beautiful white tightly grouped flowers and fern-like
leaves. I go on a wildflower photo shoot. False Solomon's Seal reminds me of
Rousseau's exotic green leaves.

On a windless Fourth of July, we decorate for the
traditional parade on Lake
Kanasatka. Boats toot and spray each other, motoring in line with great
fanfare. Our sailboat looks festive with red-white-and-blue bows and
American Flags.

The fireworks celebration at Center Harbor is a perfect subject for Norman
Rockwell. On a hill above the harbor, a jazz band performs in the gazebo,
while parents, grandparents and little ones dance together. The red, white
and blue explosion of stars spreading across the black sky is a challenging
panorama for any artist.

Time to let the guys go fishing. I head for "The Glass Knob" on Route 25. This
charming red house-turned shop offers antiques and crafts, and is laid out
with an artist's touch, as if for a still life, at every turn. A wooden duck peeks
out from the corner of a shelf toward a cloth doll sitting on a wooden box,
leaning against a breadbox. Berried bird's nests, containing delicate speckled
blue-green eggs, painted birdhouses and unique items abound. Antique
prints, mirrors, and artists' prints, along with one original landscape, adorn
walls. Upstairs are little dresses, wreaths, quilts, shawls, and baby items.
Vintage furniture holds antique keepsakes, scented soaps, candles, and
potpourri. I take pictures for future paintings and purchase a journal with a
sweet antique illustration.

We head out to meet Don Sutton, and visit the Surroundings Gallery in
Center Sandwich. But first we notice a
craft shop next door, surrounded by
colorful impatiens and lilies. The shop windows showcase fine handcrafted
Diane Louise Paul demonstrates her leather handcrafting outdoors.
My favorite is a leather strip with large jingle bells.

At Surroundings, I sink into a comfortable couch and visit with Don, while
David takes photographs. Don explains the gallery sells original works, from
well-known to relatively unknown artists who are all locally connected.
Pricing here is lower than in big cities, but offers equal value with a variety of
pastels, oils, watercolors and acrylics. The gallery isn't limited to large
paintings either. A small painting entitled "Lemon in Teapot," by Shirley
Mensch enchants me. It is pure and rich with dark colors.

Surroundings, we discover, has been in Center Sandwich 27 years. It was
purchased by the Suttons, who moved it to its current location. With posts
and beams made from the old barn it once had been, it is now an elegant and
spacious gallery. The broad-beam wooden floor has a rich dark patina. I am
inspired by paintings depicting sun playing on water and rocks.  Each artist
uniquely handles the subject, and I find myself lost in artistic reverie viewing
New Hampshire landscapes.

Upstairs, we meet Karel Hayes and her students. After getting over my art-
class envy, I notice original illustrations of David McPhail, a well-known
children's writer and illustrator. I begin thinking about that space above our
fireplace as I view more landscapes. I thank Don for the highlight of my
artistic adventure.

Center Sandwich is the epitome of good vacationing – joyful, peaceful
venturing in an inviting, friendly atmosphere. We spent an afternoon
delighting in the natural beauty of New Hampshire as expressed in works of
its own artists.

I drew and identified wildflowers. We all enjoyed a water park, miniature
golf, The Lobster Pound in Weirs Beach, a hike at the
Loon Center, and
antiquing. I admit to looking more than painting, but placing the theme of art
into this vacation added an intriguing dimension to an already perfect New

About the author:
Mari Connors is a freelance writer who enjoys vacationing in New
Hampshire.  If you’d like to see a short video of her wildflower photos from
this vacation, go to
NH Wildflowers, where you’ll see the photos and hear
David’s electric bass accompaniment.
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Watercolor Vacation
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