Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pears of the Sahara

Inside the Green Bridge

Drawing this was like drawing a plateful of agitated spaghetti worms. I kept losing my place. I was ending up with the dreaded "beams to nowhere" but that's how they are from this perspective.

After finishing I noticed it had kind of a Tommy Kane-ish flavor to it. That was entirely unintentional but I was secretly pleased because I adore Tommy's artwork.

I have two more views of these bridges I would like to draw, but not for a while. My drawing pen is all bridged out. Phew!

Lead free.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Define "Sepia"

Bridges at Vicksburg

I'm a bridge geek, I admit it, and when I first glimpsed this bridge rising over the Mississippi I was enchanted. It was a beautiful, soft patina green and looked like something from a storybook fantasy. Adding to my joy was the old bridge next door which looked like a Victorian roller coaster. Squeeeee! Bridge heaven!

Process notes:

I struggled with painting the sky due to a yucky brush with too-soft bristles. (Going in the trash, that one.) When it was dry I realized I had left a margin of white around the green bridge. Rather than trying to fix it and ending up with bloom, I opted to just paint the green bridge color to the edge of the sky.

Bridge notes:

The old bridge (the black one) was built in 1930 and closed in 1998 to vehicular and pedestrian traffic, but is still used by the Kansas City Southern Railroad.

The new bridge (the green one) was build in 1973, is 60 feet wide and 13,000 feet long. It carries four lanes of traffic on I-20 and rises 116 feet from the river. It has been repainted white. What a shame.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Claiborne Parish Courthouse

Leaving Arkansas headed south we arrive at the Claiborne Parish Courthouse in Homer, Louisiana.

This is another beautiful public building I'll probably never get inside because I always seem to arrive on Sunday. I thought this courthouse was neat because the columns go all the way around. Makes me want to pull up a chair on the porch and drink a mint julep. As the day wears on I could just keep moving around the building and stay in the shade.

The little dab of history:

The present day brick courthouse, built in the Greek Revival style of architecture, is one of only four pre-civil war courthouses in the State of Louisiana still in use today. The building, completed in 1860, was accepted by the Claiborne Parish Police Jury July 20, 1861 at a cost of $12,304.36, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Source: Claiborne Chamber of Commerce

A State Historical Marker on the courthouse square reads: "Built in 1860, this antebellum building was point of departure for Confederate troops during the War Between the States. It is one of the finest examples of Southern expression of Greek architectural style."

I took my reference photo in 1998. While researching the history of the building I found a more recent photo where the tree had been removed. There's a huge cupola on top of this courthouse! Gak! I couldn't see it for the tree! I opted not to try to add it in. Let's just call it artistic license. I think the proportions of the cupola are too large for the structure anyway. It looks odd.

I was amused to find that after 10 years the red plastic flowers are still in the pots at each corner of the building.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Barkman House

Continuing with a travelogue of the Deep South, today's stop is Barkman House in Arkadelphia, Clark County, Arkansas. It faces Hwy 67 which runs through Arkadelphia and separates Henderson State University from Ouachita Baptist University.

The house has a deep, wide second-story porch and I've often thought it would be heavenly to sleep out there on cool fall nights. I'd like to take a peek inside but when we pass by it's either in the evening or on Sunday. Pfft.

I didn't find much on the history of the house but these few details:

The Barkman House was built for James E.M. Barkman, son of early Clark County settler Jacob Barkman who arrived in Arkadelphia around 1811. The house was not completely finished when the Civil War began, and local legend reports that piles of lumber were taken from the front yard to build Confederate fortifications.

The house is architecturally significant because of its unusual combination of Greek and Gothic Revival styles. A transitional design between antebellum and Victorian architecture, the Barkman House is a frame house. It has a hip roof with chimneys at both ends, a two-story gallery across the main fa├žade, and two one-story wings at the rear. Its ornamentation is known as "Steamboat" or "Carpenter's Gothic."

Now owned by Henderson State University and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Oops, excuse me. That's a *gallery,* not a porch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rockport Bridge

The Rockport Bridge was a three-span through truss bridge over the Ouachita River on AR 84 in Malvern, Hot Spring County, Arkansas. It was built in 1900 by Stupp Brothers Bridge & Iron Co., St. Louis, Missouri, and destroyed by flooding in 1990.

The Rockport Bridge was one of six Parker through truss bridges remaining in Arkansas in 1988, and was unique in the state because it had a camelback truss approach span at either end. The bridge was an excellent example of turn-of-the-century metal bridge construction. The bridge builder, Stupp Brothers Bridge and Iron Company, is one of the largest steel fabricators in the country, and is known to have built at least thirty bridges in Arkansas between 1900 and 1930.

The silo shown in the right of the drawing housed the in-take machinery for the original Rockport/Malvern water system . There was also a small castle-like structure that served as the control room for the water intake system. Both were once accessible by small walkways from the old bridge. Both structures were made of concrete and on the national register of historic places.

Bridge Design
West span: Pin-connected, 8-panel, 160-foot Camelback Pratt through truss
Center span: Pin-connected, 11-panel, 220-foot Parker through truss
East span: Pin-connected, 8-panel, 160-foot Camelback Pratt through truss

Length of largest span: 209.0 ft.
Total length: 526.9 ft.
Deck width: 15.1 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 15.8 ft.


Reference photo courtesy of:
Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress)
Library of Congress, Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D.C. 20540
Photographer: Louise T. Taft, July 1988

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lady in Red Hydrangea

Not your grandma's old-timey hydrangea....

The traditional hydrangea has dozens of these petals that make up a puff ball blossom. The Lady in Red blossom has a lacy center with only eight of these petals on the outer edge.

The lacecaps bloom pinkish-white in the spring and turn burgundy-rose as they mature. I discovered the petals actually turn themselves over and it's the underside that becomes burgundy.

The dark green leaves become reddish-purple in the fall and stems are dark red year round.

The bush is supposed to be only three feet tall at maturity, but mine is already at least four feet and growing taller and larger every day.

Here is the bush in full bloom in late May:

A close-up of the lacecap blossom: