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Google Places and Platypie

Before there was Danny, there was Lily.

October 13, 2016

Late last spring, during my homegrown tour of DC tourist spots, I went to the Washington National Cathedral to draw. In particular, I returned to the Bishop’s Garden where I had spent many a pleasant afternoon back in the 70s and 80s drawing flowers, walls and trees.

During those years, both at the cathedral and around town, I often saw a tiny white-haired women with her bags and folding chair sketching and painting away en plein air. Her pictures were marvelous, so free and full of life. Once, when I stopped to admire her work, she glared, introduced herself brusquely as Lily Spandorf1, then turned back to her drawing board.

I realized she was the wonderful artist who did editorial drawings for The Evening Star and The Washington Post.

She is still best know for her lively watercolor paintings of buildings in Washington DC. - many of them torn down for “modernization.” No matter, forevermore, I wanted to draw like she did. Years and years went by, I drew some, but not like I had hoped I would. Fortunately, artist, author and teacher supreme, Danny Gregory2 entered my life after the turn of the century and my almost forgotten love of drawing was rekindled…

Sketchbook in hand, with thoughts of Lily, here I was once again. 

It was a bright sunny day and the English Boxwoods surrounding the Bishop’s Garden and lawn were happily releasing their stinky oils into the air. Oh, the horrible, ghastly smell! I was reminded of a wedding we photographed once in a boxwood garden in South Carolina. No amount of gardenias and tuber roses could overcome the cat pee smell of the hundreds of boxwoods creating pathways and surrounding the stunning, outdoor wedding venue.

If you own a dog, you are aware of the great joy he feels when lifting his leg on an English Boxwood.

The ghost of Lily

Also on the Bishops Lawn, where I had set up my stool, were several rowdy mockingbirds. Drunk or hungover from consuming too many fermented mulberries the night before, they dueled gallantly with one another. (In DC, hang out near a mulberry tree in full fruit, and you will hear the inebriated Mockingbirds singing loudly and imitating police cars into the wee hours of the morning.)

Above the garden much of the imposing Cathedral is surrounded by scaffolding as repairs are underway from the 2011 earthquake. It will be another 10-15 years before the building is fully restored.

In the winter, when it was too cold or wet to draw outside I attempted to draw the nave and some of the side chapels inside the Cathedral.

1 Lily Spandorf’s Book, Washington NeverMore. Drawings on line

2 Danny Gregory on Amazon

How lovely to learn about those who were your teachers, Peggy! You continue to be an inspiration and give me hope that I too may be dedicated to drawing one day??? Do not stop.

Cindy S

Wow! I'm so happy to hear you're still drawing and loving life. I'm still here in the Pecan Grove, but have gone through a major overhaul with our upcoming rent increase ( Again!) that has gotten me "off vacation" and off my butt. Still paddling Lady Bird and loving it more each trip, but cut down the fleet by two boats and have "tidied up" and cut my possessions by at least 40%, trying to close a storage by the end of this month. Going through all that "stuff" that I've been dragging around has been a real life changer. Will write more soon, and please note my e-mail has changed.

Please give my best to Bernie.

Bill J

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