Paint Schoodic

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Goodbye, New Orleans

I had to leave you because of the beignets. We were developing one of those Southern Gothic relationships where they were trying to kill me.

Live oak branches, by Carol L. Douglas
I have to wear a fitted dress on Saturday, so I’ve been scrupulously careful of my diet on this trip. Even in New Orleans, it wasn’t terribly hard, until the very last day.

Left to my own devices, I could have ignored the siren call of beignets, but other people kept handing them to me fresh from the deep-fryer. They were impossible to resist. When I realized I’d eaten three of them in one day, I struck camp and headed out of town

“You should go to the county fair more often,” my son-in-law told me. Beignets may ‘just’ be fried dough, but they taste somehow better here.

A fast sketch to understand the live oak's branching pattern, which is chaotic.
I spent the morning painting the branches of live oaks at Audubon Zoo, which is in another beautiful old city park. Here the trees don’t have Spanish moss. Unlike City Park, Audubon Park has no meandering creek. According to a local, Spanish moss prefers to be near water.

Most trees spread their branches in some kind of regular pattern, including the white and red oaks of the north. Not so with their southern cousin. The live oak’s branching pattern defies visual organization. It’s as sinuous and baroque as everything else down here. Eventually, the branches end up dipping right back down to the earth.

My friend's former home on Arabella Street.
I drove down Arabella Street to take a photo for a friend. She once lived in a lovely small house here and was curious to see what it looked like today. I’d say it was spruce and pristine and gentrified, although they’ve taken down her porch swing. A Whole Foods now occupies the site of the derelict bus station from her day.

The streets in New Orleans are atrocious. On Magazine Street, I narrowly missed a giant pothole that was deeper than my wheel is tall. A local had helpfully made a big sign on a cardboard box: “F’ing Huge Pothole!”

Spanish moss in City Park.
That afternoon, I went for a long walk through City Park to stretch my legs. There’s so much more to paint in this city, including the shotgun houses and Creole cottages. Next time I paint here, I’m staying for a week. Now, however, I have to be in Buffalo on Saturday. It’s time to put my sneakers back on and head north. I hear there are four-foot drifts in my driveway.

One of my tasks for this trip is to try out sketchbooks for my Age of Sail workshop. (Materials are included.) I like the paper in this Strathmore one, but the binding is making me a little crazy.
On my way out of town, I stopped at a Winn-Dixie in Slidell, Louisiana. There I bought carrot sticks and hummus. Oh, and some beignet mix for when I get home, just in case.


Bobbi Heath said...

OK, you've got me interested. How did you rate the sketchbooks? I'd like to know the bad as well as the good. Then I'll know what not to buy.

Carol Douglas said...

I'll get back to you on that...