Highland Park

Houses, Roofs, Illustrations

House on North Fifth
The last time I started working on houses, roofs, and illustrated street scenes I got as far as this roof with second floor and then that was it for quite a while. I’m now tackling the projects of depicting a few houses in a row in a flat design illustration. So far, I photographed a few houses, searched for old photographs I had taken and decided it was easier to take new ones, did one or two pen illustrations from my house photographs, and started an illustration of one house in Adobe Illustrator.

I also pinned a fair number of house illustrations to Pinterest. I noticed the successful illustrations follow less is more … a few accents in color can go a long way.

After I do a few houses, I plan to work on illustrated trees, bushes and other elements you might find in an old-fashioned borough like Highland Park. I’m hoping I can find a way to do clouds that don’t look like everyone else’s clouds. Stay tuned for more houses, roofs, illustrations and my artistic endeavors in those areas.

Umbrellas in Rain at Street Fair

umbrellas in the rain at the street fair in Highland Park New Jersey 2013

Thursday Challenge is: RAIN (Rain, Clouds, Umbrella, Splashing, Water Dripping/Flowing,…).

Umbrellas in the rain at the street fair in Highland Park, New Jersey: I am working on a watercolor of an umbrellas in rain scene. Look how gray the sky is, then look at the colorful, shapely umbrellas. No wonder artists love umbrellas.

I’ve been posting a lot of pictures of my May trip to Israel. Did you know that it rarely rains in Israel outside of October – March? That’s why rain in those winter months is so important to that country. Where I live in New Jersey, we take rain for granted. It’s supposed to rain today.

What do you like about rain?

Raritan River Watercolor: Boy and Fisherman

Fishing by Raritan River, watercolor painting by Leora Wenger 2013
Boy talks to Fisherman by Raritan River, watercolor painting by Leora Wenger 2013

I finished this watercolor painting of a boy talking to a man fishing at the Raritan River two weeks ago at the same time I completed the Highland Park Traffic watercolor. This watercolor belongs to a series of art projects that I have done on this theme. I’m going to replicate some older art river/fisherman projects on this post (so you don’t have to click back to look).

Here’s the drawing of the boy and man:
boy with fisherman

And here’s a colored pencil sketch of the scene:
Boy and man fishing by the Raritan River, drawing in colored pencils 2013 by Leora Wenger

Finally, this is a Raritan River watercolor I did last summer, of a similar scene by the Raritan River:
Raritan River watercolor: Relaxing by Raritan River

I have some ideas for a next watercolor: maybe a combination of an Israeli flag with jacaranda blooms, mabye an illustration of a therapists since I am working on websites for therapists, maybe another Highland Park scene – we shall see.

Watercolor: Highland Park Traffic

Highland Park NJ Traffic, watercolor painting by Leora Wenger
I started this watercolor Highland Park Traffic several months ago when we first started our artist group. After a month or two of getting frustrated with the details, I put it aside. I finally decided to finish it yesterday and ignore the details that weren’t clear. So if it looks like the cars are swimming in a river of purple watercolor paint, so be it.

The scene is Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, New Jersey. And often it does look there is a sea of cars swimming on the avenue. Our little borough’s downtown has an old-fashioned look. There are also numerous senior citizens that live in the town. When I took a photo several months ago, I unknowingly captured an older woman with a cane. She reminded me a bit of my father, who walked with a cane in the last months of his life.

I am trying to decide whether to continue with watercolor or delve back into the more time-consuming oil painting. With oils, it is easier to rework parts of the painting. With watercolor, other than careful lifting, it is quite difficult to make changes once one has laid down the heavier colors. And unless you use gouache, there is no white paint, so it is important to leave the whitest whites blank paper.

Question for you: what pops out at you in this painting?

Review with Street Fair

Highland Park Street Fair 2013 - umbrellas in the rain
Highland Park Street Fair 2013 – umbrellas in the rain

Despite the rain, people wandered down Raritan Avenue last Sunday exploring the booths, talking to vendors and meeting friends. Maybe I’ll use this as inspiration for a watercolor – I love the colorful umbrellas.

On My Blog

boy with fisherman red azalea in bloom Boy and man fishing by the Raritan River, drawing in colored pencils 2013 by Leora Wenger

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

As an experiment, I wrote this post before I left for Israel, left it as a draft in my WordPress backend, and published it via my iPad mini while visiting Israel. Hope to publish some posts with Israel pics soon.

Fishing at the Raritan River: Man and Boy

Boy and man fishing by the Raritan River, drawing in colored pencils 2013 by Leora Wenger
Boy and man fishing by the Raritan River, drawing in colored pencils 2013 by Leora Wenger

It’s been a while since I posted a bit of art. I took a photo of a boy talking to a man fishing by the edge of the Raritan River. I decided it would make a nice subject for a painting, so I did this sketch with colored pencils. It has a similar feel to the watercolor I did last summer of two men relaxing by the Raritan River (presumably, they had been fishing at the Raritan River before relaxing).

When you look at the boy and man, what do you imagine is the relationship between the two? I’ll let you in on the setting: it was taken at the community Lag B’omer event (the 33rd day of the Omer, a day of celebration in the Jewish calendar) in Donaldson Park. I’m assuming the boy was there because of Lag B’omer, and the man just happened to be fishing nearby.

I also started working on an “urbanscape” – a painting of “downtown” Highland Park, basically a piece of Raritan Avenue. I’m not terribly happy with the composition, so I may put it aside or work on one piece. I have three busy weeks ahead, so I will have little time to do art for a while.

Happy Mother’s Day to those who celebrate. Happy Shavuot to those who celebrate. Enjoy a beautiful spring day, if you are lucky enough as we are in New Jersey to have a gorgeous one outside.

Covered Girl Clothing Sign

Covered Girl Clothing sign
The theme for Thursday Challenge is SIGN (Commercial, Traffic, Funny,…), so I decided to highlight a favorite store in Highland Park, New Jersey. I have bought a fair amount of clothing for my daughter this year at this Covered Girl Clothing shop. Recently, we bought her a black skirt so she could dress as Mary Poppins for Purim. I have bought nothing for myself this past year, as my father died in October, and it is Jewish custom not to buy new clothes for one year after a parent dies, in memory of the parent. The owner is quite friendly; you can enjoy chats with her while you shop the dresses, skirts and blouses.

In an unrelated news (or perhaps it is related, as everything is connected, no?), we had the first meeting our newly-formed artist group today. A few of us got together at my home, talked about art, and sketched together. I’ll write more about that soon, in a separate post.

Tufted Titmouse and Blue Jay

tufted titmouse
A tufted titmouse enjoyed the bird feeder I refilled two days after Hurricane Sandy came and went. I am rather burnt out of talking about post-storm problems, but in quick summary, most of Highland Park now has its power restored. We had wonderful utility workers from Florida who did much of the fixing (PSE&G was maxed out – I understand nearby Edison had workers from Ontario, Canada). So thank you, Florida and Canada. A few homes reportedly did not yet have power, but they’ve been promised fixing by today. We shall see. Meanwhile, back to the birds.

Sandy Storm titmouse

I was pleased to photograph a bird new to me – thank you, Michelle, for identifying the tufted titmouse.
tufted titmouse by the bird feeder

blue jay bird feeder

I’ve been seeing more blue jays recently than I have in the past. No signs of cardinals right now.
blue jay in bird feeder

Help yourself, Mr. Blue Jay.
blue jay by bird feeder

I will try my best to continue filling my bird feeder through the winter.

Noreaster and Power Outages

Hurricane Sandy continues her wrath, even after her winds are long gone. Many in our area suffer power outages: Highland Park, New Brunswick, Piscataway, East Brunswick. Power was restored to some after a week, only to be “taken away” after the latest noreaster (storm of a bit of snow and wind that otherwise would just be a bothersome pain) showed up.

A few photos from the past week:
Abbott Street
A unmarked vehicle guards the house on Abbott Street with the tree wrapped with lives wires.

PSE&G truck
Previously, the trucks would be regular PSE&G vans. But it seems for guarding live wires, they need the vans elsewhere, so now we get these unmarked cars instead. Do you think they will change that motto about ‘Worry Free’? Worry full seems more like a proper description for our area. For the last two days we had a water boil advisory as well and a threat of losing water completely; that one got lifted earlier today.

house on Abbott Street
Here’s another photo of the tree on the top of the house on Abbott which seems to causing many problems in our area. Our library and high school are closed, and too many house have no power.

Looking down Abbott Street
Lots of yellow police tape when you look down Abbott. The live wires are supposedly quite dangerous, so you don’t want to walk near them.

north tenth
Other parts of our borough still have no power, like North Tenth. If you think we don’t have first responders like police and fire showing up, you are wrong – they have been very on site and helpful. Problem is they can’t fix live wires. Nor can tree people.

north ninth
A tree fell on this house on North Ninth Avenue. When I walked by later, the tree was gone, and the roof was patched. They are fortunate that the tree hit no wires.

stop sign on seventh
I hope our neighborhood doesn’t continue to look like this much longer. Greetings recently: “Got power?” “Did you lose power (again)?” “Need an outlet, a warm cup of tea or some wifi?” “Got a plug on your porch?”

Ways to help the too many victims of storm (locally in Central New Jersey):

I was going to finish this post earlier, but we lost power (again) for an hour. Seems the fixit guys are better at breaking the power than fixing it. Hope I don’t post more about a noreaster and power outages. I did photograph some photos of birds earlier this week – possibly for next week’s Nature Notes.

Hurricane Sandy After: Problems, Problems

tree fell on house
Hurricane Sandy brought numerous, numerous, numerous problems. I’ll start with one in Highland Park. This gigantic tree fell on this home by N. 6th and Abbott. It has live wires entangled, so the tree guys can’t yet cut down the tree. The owners are frantic. They have contacted PSE&G and politicians. They are afraid they will lose their home because of a hole in the roof.

Want to help? Contact News 12: https://www.facebook.com/News12NJ/app_141149985924076
(Or call, email, tweet PSE&G – although unclear how much that will help).

The owner writes:

our 60′ maple tree that fell into our house during the storm, taking down your power lines. It bashed in our eaves, porch roof, and more. Today we went in the house and tried flushing the upstairs toilet and turned on the shower. The water came pouring into our kitchen through a lighting fixture in the ceiling. So obviously we have a sewer pipe broken from where the tree hit the upstairs & first floor bathrooms. PSE&G has not removed the tree yet–it is massive and has a dozen wires entangled in it. PSE&G needs to bring in a crane to remove the tree and the wires before the house can even be tarped. We are assuming that if we get the big storms being predicted for Tues. night into Thurs., the house will be wrecked with water and mold. Right now, because of the holes in the eaves, we have squirrels scurrying above the bedroom ceiling, building a nest up there. This is all so horrifying and preventable, I don’t even know how to cope. Because PSE&G does not consider/care that we may lose our house, we don’t know who to turn to next. It just doesn’t seem right that our house and lives have to be a casualty. We’re looking at possibly months of renovation. We’re looking at ripping out/fixing the bathrooms and kitchen, but if the house doesn’t get tarped, it will be a possibly insurmountable disaster. We’re pretty much in shock and don’t know where to turn. Call PSE&G! They will not listen to us, and have been generally unresponsive in every possible way. The weird thing is, we have power, water, and heat. We’d be happy not to have those things if we could have the tree and wires removed and could start the overhaul of our house, where we’ve lived for 30+ years. I run my business out of my house and don’t know how I’m going to do that, either.

•  •  •

  • Many homes in Highland Park are still without power. Elsewhere in New Jersey, especially by the Shore, whole communities are without power. In communities like Bradley Beach or Belmar, the water went straight through the town, not just along the boardwalk area.
  • A relative in New York lost her car. Many others lost homes, businesses, schools.
  • The Highland Park Reformed Church is organizing a relief effort for the Jersey Shore.
  • Because gas is difficult to come by, gas has been stolen directly from cars. Also, homes that are without power have been burglarized.

South Park in Highland Park
South Park got cleared of live wires yesterday – it no longer looks like this. Unclear why this got attention while other parts of Highland Park did not.

Learn about life in a hurricane, before, during and after.

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