Friday, May 6, 2022
Friday, April 1, 2022
As I mentioned before - I'll post a painting, drawing or serigraph (silkscreen prints) from the "archive" files of years past...and give a little back story on the work. I hope you'll find it interesting!
These posts are now on the first Friday of the month – lo and behold this one happens on April Fools Day! Ha! Well it may fit the circumstances somewhat – there were some big goofs on my part with this painting!
I really appreciate the opportunity offered by folks in our area, to allow me to have access and walk their properties. I'm not as big of a hiker as I once was but I still try when the opportunity arises. This property is one I'd hiked several times between 2008-2012. I still drive by there quite often and have done photography and artwork from the 'edges' on occasion.
This particular painting almost never saw the light of day. It was a beautiful and still summer morning...probably late August or very early September...judging by the vegetation I portrayed along the roadside edges. I remember there was a lot of ragweed present and that's how I painted it.
But as I said – it nearly never became a painting. Why? Well, even though I break my own rules sometimes, in general I don't usually paint a scene if my mind is set on recording it as a photograph from the beginning. I found myself on this small one lane dirt road at the SW corner of the owner's property and the sun was about to rise. I was in my old beater S10 pickup and climbed into the bed, as I often do – to gain a bit of elevation and perspective.
I had just bought a new camera...not a really expensive one but I had needed to replace my old Nikon D1X. The D1X was the flagship 'digital' Nikon that came out around 1999-2000. It had an “amazing” capability of 5.6 MP if my memory serves me correctly. Boy did things advance quickly after that! But I was still making calendar and magazine sales with that camera – it was top notch at the time. But 10-11 years later it was having issues and I had no choice but to become a camera consumer again...this new camera had 12MP, which was well over twice the old one...but nowhere near the head of the pack with all that were available then – but it was fine for me.
My new camera had good auto-focus capabilities and I was looking forward to that...these old eyes need any help they can get. Well, back to the pickup bed. I was setting up the tripod with my new camera and suddenly realized – I had totally forgotten my glasses! For crying out loud! I never had much trouble with 'distance', but closeup...looking through a lens or at the digital back screen – I was flying blind...big time Mr. Magoo...Then I though “Hey, this camera can be totally auto-focus, not to worry”!
I loved the composition of the scene before me, and the early light was great...the colors were just singing a song I couldn't get enough of! I wanted to catch the sun just as it broke the horizon and waited for it.
I set the tripod head to swivel the camera for 4 frames – I was visualizing a panorama and one frame just wouldn't do it. I could go heavy wide angle and get the panoramic view...but I'd have to crop a lot of stuff in the image to get what I was 'seeing' – and the size I wanted to output to (print) would have required too much enlargement of the small file to look decent. This is a camera technique I still use to this day – stitching several frames together can achieve a higher resolution for more demanding work.
But back to the camera...since my glasses were apparently still at home, I trusted the auto focus to do it's thing. It had worked at home the day before when I tried it out so I wasn't concerned...just still a bit disappointed in my dumb move. It was a great image – I was sure of it!
Well, I took the camera off and set the tripod over the side of the pickup bed and walked to the edge of the tail gate and hopped off onto the ground.
I remember just totally losing my vision to a bright flash of pain, then everything as quickly went black -it is hard to adequately describe. I came around and found myself on all fours just screaming in my head. “I shouldn't have done that.” went through my mind. Its like a traffic accident. You spend way too much time thinking back...trying to stop what had just happened. Needless to say – I didn't take any more pictures that morning.
The chiropractor saw dollar signs I'm sure when I limped with a cane into the office that afternoon. In all fairness I'm being facetious, but it was 2-3 appointments a week for a while and at least 6 months before I felt I had finally gotten through my injury.
But back to the pictures I took. To add insult to injury, when I brought the image files up on the computer – EVERYTHING was out of focus...fuzzy beyond salvation! OMG...in my nearsighted blindness, I just could not make out the small print on the camera controls – I was sure I had selected “auto-focus” but apparently had disabled it instead. Aaccck!!!!!!!
I was a mess to put it mildly...no one should ever be seen by another human being when they get like this. Poor Georgie!!! (She sure puts up with a lot, let me tell you!)
Its bad enough losing a productive day, but losing nearly 6 months to rehab on top of it makes it grimmer. I don't remember how much time passed, but one day when I was about to dump all the files from that morning, I thought “If I could just work through the out of focus mess – this would make a beautiful painting!”
I really do not remember how long it took to have this epiphany, or how long I kept tossing this idea back and forth in my mind, before I committed to trying – but I eventually tried. I started the painting in January of 2012...I figured if the Mayan calendar was right and the world was about to end – then, hey why not. (Ya, that was really a 'thing'.)
It took a bit of work re-imagining the 'near' objects – they were just 'blobs' of shapes; the back ground was a bit easier but still no cake walk...the color was still there and the tonal range of the image was very helpful. I hacked my way through and finished the painting the first week of February – I was sooooo happy with what was brought back from a total loss and very pleased how well it was carried out.
should never have let go of this painting – I regretted it the
minute I spent the check! Seller's remorse – we've all experienced
it. But it went to a great home – an appreciative home...and made
for a very nice share of return business from this first-time client
from out-of-state. There's several silver linings – and complete
flops in this one painting!
"Southwest Corner Fence Line Along the Jordan" - oil painting © Bruce A. Morrison
(from a private Vermont collection)
Saturday, March 12, 2022
|"Frosty Morning Light - Hay Rake" - oil painting - ©Bruce A. Morrison|| |
Is it Spring yet?!!! One below zero Fahrenheit this a.m., but above freezing this afternoon...a good southwest wind bringing up the warm air - welcome! This is the beginning of several warm days in the 40's to 60's, so looking forward to it!
I've been cranking out winter themed work the past month...had to get them out of my system before work outside on the acreage presents itself. I don't do loads of winter artwork, but had these in my memory file; if I don't get them down I can lose them. I just have so much memory available in this old hard drive (my brain)...if something new or memorable comes by - something has to go. I find my brain deleting memories a lot these days...hey, it happens to all of us eventually.
The oil painting above is of my favorite acreage "prop"...I wish I had one or two more different types of old farm machinery that I could place here or there on the pastures, but this one is just perfect. The old John Deere hay rake came from an artist friend's family farm - he even remembers using it each summer, then bailing afterwards. It was his Grandfather's, then his Father's...his Dad just passed away about a month ago. Although it wasn't the purpose of the painting, I suppose you could think of it as a tribute to his Father and Grandfather, representing their farming heritage and years now finished.
"Litka's Winter Bales" - color pencil drawing - ©Bruce A. Morrison
The next artwork is a color pencil drawing that about finished off a couple pencils...especially the blue one...lots of shades of blue in there! This was a winter scene about 4 miles down the road from us...on a piece of property that the owner has let me walk for years.
We have not had much snow this winter...what we did get was fairly fleeting. So both works were done from older photo files I had to dig up from my system folders. Winter images aren't the best sellers for me but I'll admit that I'm not all about supporting this habit anymore. Life is too short and doing what makes me happy has become more pleasing and important for my well being. And if something "does" strike someone and goes to a new home - that's a double good thing!
As I mentioned, the winter has been a dry one...we did a pasture inventory yesterday afternoon and it is obvious we cannot burn this spring unless things turn around and the rain comes. We keep mowed paths between the paddocks, and along property boundaries for fire breaks...these are usually very green once the snow melts and the spring comes. Any burning we do is helpfully controlled by the green/short mowed barriers. These "barriers" are toast brown and tinder dry this Spring. Even with "all hands on deck" (my wife and I) there is no safe and secure way to burn right now. If the rain comes, maybe a late spring burn will be possible?
We did do a couple limited fall burns last November though...I did an Elm sapling/volunteer killing campaign for some weeks in September and October. There were too many for me to keep up with so I went back to a woody herbicide I used many years ago for poison ivy...Garlon 4. I'm not fond of herbicides but I found myself completely at the mercy of the Elms - they multiplied exponentially over the past several years, and just plain got past me. The Elms on the neighbor's grounds are still supplying seed - even though they're all in stages of decline.
The Garlon 4 is sprayed on, so quiet mornings with no breeze is perfect as long as the volunteers have green foliage to take it in (although I believe epidermal absorption still factors in). Several trips of spot spraying over a few weeks was necessary because there are always those plants that eluded me and some volunteers that needed multiple hits. Once the pasture was speckled with dead reddish brown leaves and no green, then I set about with seeding plans for the late fall.
It was a busy fall in 2021 for seed gathering...mostly from our own ditches and the north pasture. It wasn't as much as I needed but seed purchases are off the radar here in these times of limited income. I was able to seed maybe 60% of the northwest pasture with what I had - I seeded on December 15th as there was a winter snowstorm coming in the next day. Well...the next day we got snow...horizontal snow...our first ever recorded "Winter Derecho" - very high straight line winds. I'm sarcastically guessing that ALL of my seeding was stripped from the NW pasture, as NO snow stuck to that pasture - it was as clean as a whistle after the storm...oh well - I tried.
We had a lot of limbs down after that storm but thankfully nothing serious. We lost part of our sheep barn's roof but nothing we can't fix this spring. In that effect we were very fortunate here!
We'll see down the road if any pleasant surprises still come about from the seeding I did. I'm not holding my breath though.
But Spring is coming! And we're looking forward to it!
Have a Blessed Spring out there...so many will not, especially in the Ukraine and possibly the Baltics...praying for peace in this world with all my heart.
Please be good to one another.
Friday, March 4, 2022
Friday, February 25, 2022