Friday, December 28, 2007

Walls Before Year's End?!

Hope you had a wonderful and blessed Christmas! It was white and drop dead gorgeous here, but thankfully not a travel hazard.

Georgie and I have settled in to more studio building work since getting back home.

Morpheus, one of the studio cats, checks out the view.

We have, at this moment, finished 2/3 of our walls! The past couple days have been busy fabricating and applying recycled barn board siding to the walls. It hasn't been too bad but we have a ways to go and the selections of old boards to choose from are getting less and less good.

After we finish the walls, we'll be back to the floor.

Happy New Year if I don't get back to you in the next 2-3 days!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Blessings!

All our Best to each and everyone of you!

God Bless...

Bruce and Georgie

Friday, December 21, 2007

Progress and Cards

We've been inside the studio building doing wall insulation, we can work once again since the electrician pulled wires throughout the building! The wire has "just" been pulled through though, nothing has been wired to completion (such as switches and outlets). But that's a start!

The furnace has been warming up the building fairly well, even though the soffits and ridge vents aren't blocked.

Today we got all walls finished up with insulating and have started some limited finish work on the entrance gable inside. We likely won't get back in there to work now until after Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas - it's almost here already...just amazing! It's really looked the season around here, been very pretty. It just never seems the season without snow, but I'm still happy we haven't been as inundated as folks to the south and east (and north) of us.

All the cards I've done in the past 40 years for Christmas have run the gamut of pen and ink, wash, lino and wood cut, oils, color pencil, serigraphs, and photographs. Not really that many have led to larger ideas like I mentioned before, but there are some still "stewing" in the background.

One of my simpler designs was the 2 color serigraph above. I like it when the best idea doesn't create a printing nightmare! I really toyed with the idea of doing a larger serigraph some day, putting a Kingfisher in the branches over the water. Maybe I'll try it...maybe I'll do something else with it.

The next piece was another I've thought about from time to time. I originally did it with the Christmas card in mind...but was working on some other small studies with water based graphite then, so I did this piece of a place on the Upper Iowa River that I liked and treated the drawing as a wash. I almost got to the point of doing a painting of it soon afterwards but I wasn't ready (or maybe the "idea" wasn't ready). Will I ever get back to it? Don't know...but I do think about another try some day!

Never give up on old ideas, they may come to pass in a surprising or unexpected way.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another Card Piece and GOOD News!

Here's another Christmas Card and an example of something larger coming out of it later. Both images are serigraphs.

The top image was the original inception; this image was the Christmas Card and was a 5 color image (31/2"X57/8").

The next image is a "cropped detail" from an 8 color serigraph that became the edition piece "Hunting Moon, Great Horned Owl".

The smaller serigraph was a favorite winter design that actually sold more as an open edition serigraph than I'd ever anticipated. It was one of those things that just fell together after I began the working on it; but I just could not get the idea of taking it further out of my mind, and shortly after made the edition of a night time scene out of it.

Truth told...I saw a bird in the tree when I first did the small card design. I saw the bird "figuratively", but it was there never-the-less. The idea of a night time scene has repeated itself on occasion (as you may remember in a past blog involving the pasture across the road here), and the Great Horned Owl was the subject of choice for me.

I mentioned "Good News" in the header...the electrician came!!!

He roughed in everything, so it's not finished, but now we're able to insulate the walls and get the ceiling started and prepare for the ceiling insulation work to be done.

Georgie and I started the process as soon as the electrician left...the furnace really warmed things up for us too! Great to have heat and get back into the Studio effort!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Winter Works

"Snow Laden Cedar, Chickadees"
12"x16" Oil

Winter artwork is something many artists avoid...maybe if you're stuck in the studio during the winter you'd prefer working on something "warm"!? I'm not sure of the psychology behind it all but I do know that "winter" paintings, drawings, photographs, etc. do not sell well with the public. Photos can be the exception with publications however, magazines often find they are short on sources for winter images...but I do think that's an exception.

I find I do about one "winter" piece every year and I usually do it with my Christmas card in mind. I do have years when I'm pressed for time and just use a photo (as I've done the past 2-3 years), but I've used artwork in my Christmas cards since 1966.

Often I find the artwork used for a particular card ends up being the springboard for a bigger idea. The piece above is a painting I did after doing a small serigraph (the fine art term for silkscreen print) for a Christmas card. Serigraphs are really good for graphic presentations and I took an Eastern Red Cedar that was heavily laden with new snow and made a small design out of it. After seeing the graphic presentation of the card, it reminded me of some paintings done by members of the Canadian "Group of Seven" (Love their work - they've been a quiet influence on me since I first discovered them in the 1970's.)

(Snow Laden Cedar - Serigraph)

You can see the cedar in the serigraph and the painting as one and the same. I added the Black-capped Chickadees to the painting as focal points and as a reference to scale.

Georgie and I have had a conversation concerning Christmas Cards...we see a definite decline in cards sent over recent years. With postage getting more expensive, more people opting for a "Christmas" letter, and more people writing less and less or communicating less and less on paper. Is this something anyone out there is seeing as well?

I quit doing serigraphs as cards as the work doing so consumed large blocks of time! The cedar card above was a 5 color card and likely took 3-4 weeks to print (after work and weekends)...of course we have to keep in mind the quantity printed...I send out about 125 cards each Christmas and when printing a serigraph you have registration to worry about and have a good deal of waste (rejects). But I do miss was one of my two minors in art school. There's still something very magical about an image growing physically right before your eyes with the pass of a squeegee!

Back to the beginning thought; winter artwork and small pieces leading to bigger least my Christmas card experiences have led to some good exercise for me! I'll try and show some winter card work in the future.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Studio continued...

It was a warm afternoon for a change...after being below zero yesterday morning, even the 20 degrees Fahrenheit was warm by comparison.

We're still looking for the furnace guy to return, and the electrician did call yesterday to say he's going to try and come this Thursday or Friday (!). But we have been holding back from some small chores because of the temperature out there, so when we got through with lunch we took advantage of the "heat wave".

We put up our "air chutes" above the soffits, one of the steps needed before the insulation can be blown in. Our next chore is to put in a barricade in front of the air chutes, to help insure the chutes don't budge and to prevent the insulation from coming in and covering the soffits. This can be anything we come up with like card board or needs to be affixed so that they won't shift after the first insulation is blown in.

We have a little more snow than we had after the ice and sleet event...we're doing OK. Our thoughts and prayers do go out to everyone experiencing great difficulties due to the ice storm that hit quite a few states south of us however. God Bless!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Studio Old/New

The furnace guys actually showed up on December 4th...was nice to actually have something happening.

They did get some work done, but left that afternoon and we haven't seen them since! I'm developing an ulcer, I know I am!

Still no electrician...uh, I take that back.

Last weekend we had 2 inches of sleet and ice on top of that...Sunday the wind kicked up and loosened a neutral on the power line out front. A loose neutral is bad're much better off just losing power...much better off.

I was working on some jobs on the computers (I do more computer work than I like to but it helps pay the bills) when everything went off - then on - then off...the main computer made a "snap" and then the familiar smell of ozone rose from it's back...I was frantically feeling for the plug back there to pull it!!!

Georgie heard a smoke alarm going off. we started turning things off and went upstairs to the present studio. The Studio was full of electrical smoke. The computer there was on since it was acting as my printer server for card printing there, and it was rebooting (trying)...but the thing that was smoking was the control panel to my Bencher copy stand. I use the Bencher to photograph larger painting and drawings for publication and such. We unplugged the Bencher and opened the studio room windows to try and air the place out.

The weird thing about the copy wasn't turned on, just plugged in...but when we got to the room one of it's 300watt lamps was lit and the panel was smoking. I can't even "purposely" turn on just one of the lights in the 4 light bank!

Not to drag on about this day, I'll try and summarize...we called the power company...had to talk with them several times...they had other problems and just wanted me to take care of it I guess...said it was my house and to call an electrician.

It was a Sunday morning...we stayed home as the weather was bad...I hoped the electrician had too! He hadn't, but I left a message.

The electrician did call back later and said he was coming out.

We had, by then, thrown our power off for the entire house...the furnace was attempting to power up, would fail, then would try again...the frig was sucking the power from the lights...the house was wacky!

The electrician came (!) and determined our power was way out of balance (loose neutral) and that it was on the power company's side of the line.

The power company finally came at 3pm (after I called them again twice). By 4 we had normal power again.

The "known" spike victims were the TV's sound system, the Bencher copy stand, and the large studio printer. I still get whiffs of ozone occasionally when using the computers, and while walking up to the old studio...and we're simply stuck with the smelly electrical smoke smell in the studio for the time being. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that nothing else bites the dust!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

December Studio

It's December already - how'd that happen?!

The studio still looks as it did last week after the floor went in, except now we've got a couple inches of sleet on the ground...and now it's raining.

We foresaw the front coming in a couple days ago and moved some materials over into the studio building from the crib. While doing the loading/unloading process we noticed a couple adult Bald Eagles down by Waterman Creek...they may have been watching us out of amusement or boredom...or giving us little mind whatsoever.

We do get Bald Eagles staying in the valley each year during the winter. The studio entrance/front looks over the valley, creek, and Heron rookery, so its a great place to watch the larger "goings on" out front.

The eagle pictured above was nick named "Norm" by the neighbor. It was a bird that sat in a particular tree for weeks on end along the creek. I was working nights about 55 miles away at the time and one day on the way to work (around 3:30pm) I stopped and took some photos of "Norm" from the pickup truck. I didn't want to press the bird too much and cause any was in the single digits that day. So I kept inside the truck and used it as my "blind" to photograph from. This bird had become conditioned to accept local "traffic" and didn't become too alarmed when I stopped. If I had left the vehicle, it very likely would have flushed from it's perch.

The bird was probably 150 feet from the pickup and the camera was a D1X Nikon with a 400mm Sigma lens with a Nikon 1.4 converter. The image is cropped about 50%.

Back to the studio...the cats have been moved back into the building...they were in the Potting shed since summer. With the weather turning nasty and cold, we felt best that they be returned to old surroundings. The cats are our son's; they took up residence here on the farm after the kids moved to Sioux Falls and could not keep them in their rental property. Maja and Morpheus are still busy exploring new surroundings a day later.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Studio Underfoot...

The studio portion of the plank floor has been completed, or maybe "constructed" is the proper description. This took quite a bit of time and work but should be easier than when we begin work on the gallery alley floor.

The gallery alley slopes for a much longer distance than the studio floor did. The studio floor dropped 1 3/4" from the entry end to the transition end (15 feet)...the gallery alley is probably 25%longer...and will drop at roughly the same rate.

I'm kinda partial to the salvaged condition of the floor (once roof) planks. They're as big as life with their knots and cracks, and "patina". We'll toy with the different ways to finish them, but I - for this moment - am leaning towards their present "character".

The only thing neither Georgie or I are not 100% positive of is whether or not there's enough salvaged planks to complete the entire gallery alley with? It'd be a nice bonus if there were, but after cutting out the unuseable parts of each board, we may end up short.

We'll start the gallery alley floor after the next 3 stages are finished (electrical, furnace, insulation/ceiling).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Back to it!

Well I'd never guessed we'd be flooring already, but what can you do while there are no contractors around?!

We framed in the front floor yesterday and today, and sheeted it and just started laying planks. I'm amazed we're getting this done so soon. The roofing planks that we salvaged are really doing the job, but its slow going once we got to them...have to be fairly innovative to fit things together when they're old beat up, knot holed and cracked planks. But, hey this is really fitting for a project representing what the building once was.

This could go on a while, but once this east end is floored, we have to do the tricky gallery section...tricky because the level drops so much...the building is roughly 4" lower on the east end than the west! We don't want sudden "step down or ramps", we have to go gradual so as not the create a weird walking experience.

The furnace has been delivered but not yet installed. The electrician may show in a couple weeks...

...we'll just forge ahead while we have opportunities.

Monday, November 12, 2007

All Buttoned Up!

We're now all ready for the elements the studio finished and trimmed out for winter. Georgie painted over the siding repair work yesterday with the temps in the 60's and a 25mph wind to dry the brush work.

I spent yesterday painting and putting up trim boards around the south windows and finished up the small "feed door" and trimmed the front door and east and north sides today.

This may be the last post on the building for a while, at least until we can once again get moving and make some progress. Wish us luck!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Pox on the Studio!

The studio building looks like heck from the outside right now. Georgie has been filling cracks and holes to help seal up incidental damage which occurred while removing and re-attaching the old siding.

I spent the day yesterday going through salvaged roof planks and cutting trim for windows and the door. Felt like the old days when I was working at the old Lumbermen's Millwork in Ft Dodge...standing behind a rip saw, eating sawdust!

Then we set up the trim boards for priming, which we'll do as soon as the inside temp reaches 50-55 degrees...have a ways to go at the moment but it should make it by noon.

Keep Warm!

Monday, November 5, 2007

East End Redressed

We managed to get the east end redressed today...30-35mph winds driving us nuts, but that's par for the course here. It's not easy to reattach old siding to an aged building, but Georgie's pretty good at sorting that stuff out, and I had tried keeping everything in the right order.

We have now put in all 9 windows and the front door! We're fast approaching the time to get the electrician back in and wire the place and the furnace! We have only the west end to finish first, then we'll be ready for the weather! It was actually snowing (flurries) here tonight around 5:30 p.m.! Good grief...but it is that time of year!

The place looks in bad need of trim and paint...we'll try and address the trim issue in the next week or so...the paint may well be waiting for spring, as I've mentioned before.

Things are shaping up!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

East Side Story

The east side of the studio building was "Typared", "Windowed, and "Doored" today. (Please forgive my new version of proper grammar.) I'm finding it hard to do the blog because I'm spent.

We started around 8 a.m. and worked through 5:45 breaks or stopping. Too many things to work through and wanted the typar to be on before morning as we're not into high winds and hanging light weight sails in a gale.

First we got the siding off in fairly good order...Georgie doing the removal work and I trying to stack it in a sequence that we could later reverse when re-applying. The old building looked like an old reptile that had just shed it's skin!

Once we exposed the outer planking we removed an old loft door, that had been covered for many years by the siding. From the inside, it was really obvious to us both that this old loft door space would have made the coolest window over the doorway! But, it's no time to throw the project behind by weeks waiting to get a custom window made and put in! So back to the original plan...we're taking that door inside and reapplying it where it will stay...on the inside wall.

The typar work took some doing and the wind had come up more than was helpful, but we finally got it finished and then got the windows in.

We just started re-applying the siding when it just got too dark to see what was going on...goodbye daylight savings time...more work tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Back At It

Well, actually we never left it...this is just two days of progress wrapped into one report.

We finished the north side of the studio building today. I think "finished" is relative, we really still have to trim in the windows and the top of the outside wall against the soffit. We also had to remove two old ventilation hoods...although we filled them in and they're covered with typar, we still have to come up with some siding scraps to patch the holes.

But "finished" means we're done messing with the "big picture" there. The windows sure look's a relief having them in.

Only 2 more windows to go, and the front far as framing in is concerned. The real issue we'd like to space off mentally and physically, is the removal, and then replacement, of all that dang siding! It's a pain to remove, so as not to cause too much damage...then when you do have damage, trying to let it spring we'll have a lot of damage repair and then painting to do...getting too late to do it now.

Onward and upward...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Back to Art

Thought I'd change gears today and discuss a couple exhibits coming which I'll be participating in and another which made the former possible.

Artwork by Barb McGee

First, a good artist and friend is having a one person exhibit in November (that's coming up soon isn't it!) at the Witter Gallery in Storm Lake, Iowa. Barb McGee is one of my favorite watercolorists and a darn good painter...I'm hoping to make it to her Artist Reception at the Witter Gallery on November 15 (6-7:00 p.m.). The Witter is at 609 Cayuga Street in Storm Lake for those out there that are unfamiliar with it. Barb has a gallery in Peterson, Iowa and since she has to take her work to the Witter, she's letting myself and a couple other area artists have a triple showing at her gallery. Thanks Barb! Hope we don't poke too many holes in your walls!!! Ha!

Actually the two other artists asked me if I'd be interested in exhibiting with them...Judy Hemphill, Photographer from Spencer, Iowa and Sue Biederman , Artist from Everly, Iowa.

Sue and Judy and I decided to name the exhibit "Total Triptych", and the opening night starts this Friday at 4:00 - 7:30 p.m. Come on down to McGee's Gallery in Peterson and check us out! We'll even feed ya!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

One Down, 3 to Go

We are so tired we don't know which way is up...we finished the busiest/hardest (?) side today, the 5 windows and the south side of the building.

We Typared the south side of the building before the wind bucked up on us...good thing as I don't think we were up to wrestling large sheets in the wind. It went reasonably well I think. Then we set the windows and caulked and screwed them in. The windows look very's an odd view standing near them as they are set below the top plate (for structural reasons), but seated nearby, it's a pleasant view at that. The top plate on the building is fairly was a building for poultry and sheep, not's that type of charm that makes this building interesting and fun to work with!

After all 5 windows were set, we began the very unenviable task of piecing the puzzle of the siding back together...this took virtually most of the day. But we managed as best we could. There wasn't enough to recover this wall because there were some sheep/poultry doors and a grain door there that we covered too. But we found enough "parts" in the back shed to cover it. The grain door will be reattached outside, but we have to make some new trim pieces for it. We also have to trim around the window yet too...we'll have to cut trim from the plank stock we recovered/salvaged from the roof.

The building won't be painted this's too late in the season here temperature wise...we'll wait for spring. In the meantime the siding will look it needs to be painted!

(A post correction here - we did get it painted! We'll likely have to paint again this spring or summer though.)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

On Our Own Again

Well we're on our own again. The contractor has left for greener pastures and Georgie and I are off and running once more.

Left to Right - Bob and Jesse our Contractors for the roof

We were very happy with the work of the contractors Jesse and Bob, of Jesse Grady Construction. These guys just jump in and do fiddling around ! We were amazed with what they got through each day...wish we could hang onto them longer to get the stuff taken care of that we're now doing ourselves again! But back to reality here.

We tore into the window framing on the south side of the building yesterday and finished up today. We had to frame in 5 windows, but not install yet...

...we then had to finish planking the walls around the work. Tomorrow we'll apply the Typar (house wrap), then we'll install the windows. (We're only working on one side at a time so will be overlapping the Typar around the corners quite a bit to keep a good barrier.)

One look at the picture of a wall section above and you'll understand why we need a house wrap under our siding! This 80 year old building has nothing to stop the weather from penetrating the future walls of insulation...inviting disaster. We've got knot holes and cracks everywhere! The former tar paper had deteriorated badly over the wrap will give an effective moisture and air barrier...yet let the walls breathe.

Our time is eroding on us so we have to hustle...catch you later!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Looking Good

The soffits were put on today and even the weather vane heron returned to it's former perch on top. We're very happy to have gotten to this stage so quickly and without rain!

The contractor just has a small bit of bracing to do inside and then we're on our own again until the electrician returns to wire the building.

Our next step is one that neither Georgie or I are looking forward to but we gotta grin and bear it. We have to frame in the spots for all 9 windows, and the front door...then we have to take off all the siding...then we have to wrap the building with Typar...then we have to install the windows...then we have to re-apply the siding...then we have to put up some trim boards to cover the areas under the soffits. That's when we call the electrician for the wiring work (and we'll have a slight breather I hope!).

Wish us luck and no rain!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Roof, Roof, Roof!

...No it ain't no dog barking!

Things sure seem to happen fast when they start rolling, and when you don't know what to expect. We left for a couple jobs this morning around 9 am and when we got back around 3pm this afternoon, the roof was on! The soffits aren't formed yet but the building is covered...once the soffits are completed, it'll be water tight - at least the roof and soffits will be. The roof color was a compromise between Georgie and I...I wanted a darker roof but she didn't like the idea of it heating up so much in the we settled on a tanish gray color (grayish brown?)...doesn't translate too well via the photo I don't think. (I just knew I couldn't hack "white"!)

I asked the contractor about the energy heel trusses and he said they call it that because they are wider than normal scissor trusses, allowing more space for insulation. The insulation will come later.

It's hard to tell here but we had a complete ridge vent put in, to help with temperature/moisture issues in the airspace above the future insulation...the soffits will also help with ventillation.

I'll try and shoot the roof tomorrow again, before the sun gets so low on the horizon... besides, it'll look more finished then as well.