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.