Monday, August 25, 2008

Where's August Gone to?!

What is happening here?! It's the last week of August and it should still be mid July! Youch!

When I was a kid I used to hear the "grown ups" say something about how time flies. It didn't make any sense to me because it was always taking too long to get to summer vacation, or to Christmas, or to the first day of school, or to my birthday. Time just seemed to drag along at a snail's pace.

Well what happened? I guess I got old when I wasn't paying attention and now time is careening down a mountain slope at break neck speed! It can be unnerving at times!

Anyway, summer is approaching it's end soon (well, technically in late September) and I'm still completely buried in work and behind the 8 ball. I take my first couple pieces to an exhibit this week and have 4 more exhibits in the next 3 weeks to be ready for. It's a real squeeze.

I did finish another plein air painting last week, this one was smaller...I got smart. Well I didn't get smart per say, I just didn't have as much time (that thing I just ranted about).

Georgie and I scouted out a few scenes of bales a week or so back and one place that really caught my eye had great late afternoon also had two wagons of rectangular bales and some rounds back in the edge of a grove behind the wagons. It looked like a cool scene. I went back the next day and the wagon in front was already emptied...but still good possibilities. A smaller canvas would have to do - they might come and empty the other wagon before I got done!

"Behind the Grove" is a 6X8" oil on mounted canvas.

I can do one more oil for the plein air invitational but I cannot see any light at the end of that "time starved" tunnel this late summer. I have much other business to take care of...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Studio

We've been making constant improvements to the studio all summer long. They've ranged from small or fairly insignificant to really good for my work flow.

One thing we've really needed is "signage". We've had people drive right past us more than once before finally realizing we were the place they were looking for. We've toyed with all kinds of ideas...material, design, etc. Finally we decided on laser cut metal, they won't fade with outside exposure, and if they rust, so what...that'd look cool too!

We were going to put one down by the driveway entrance, and another up on the studio building itself - I figured if someone drove up, how would they know where to go from there?

The larger driveway sign was finished and we put it up on a split rail section down near the road, close enough to read. The building sign hasn't been finished yet but we're pretty happy with how things are looking.

Another thing that's been looking real nice is the small planting we did around the front of the building's deck. We used several native plants as well as some xeric types (drought tolerant). Its a real pleasure sitting out there in the late afternoon or evening. We even went out there last night well after dark and stared awestruck at the sky...the Milky Way was incredibly vivid and Jupiter was the brightest object in the sky.

Last week we put in cabinets and a counter top where a 30 year old work bench had been. It now functions as a frame assembly surface and storage...great storage!

Great place to work! Oh yeah, better do some of that...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Valley View

In the last blog "August Bales" I forgot to insert a photograph I took as the baling process was rapidly finishing up across the road from us.

We have a wonderful view of the valley and the storms are almost mesmerizing! I actually was getting some good lightning strikes near by as I was on our open prairie hillside with a tall tripod and camera (i.e. "lightning rod")! Unfortunately I couldn't time the lightning bolts with the shutter! Fortunately I wasn't struck!! :)

You can pick out a few of the bales in the valley...most are behind the trees and further north (left).

I spend more time on our small plot of land taking cloud pictures than anything else...looking back at the image I have no trouble understanding why.

Keep looking up (and duck if you feel a need to!)...

Monday, August 18, 2008

August Bales (hope for more!)

What great weather we've been blessed with recently...quite unlike August, more September-like I'd say.

Tonight Georgie and I went "bale spotting" and hit some mother loads! It's amazing that so much hay cutting is going on this late in the summer; but that's OK by us.

Last week we had a real cool storm pass to our east, across the valley and I took a few photographs as the day ended, while an area farmer, renting the pasture across the road from us, baled as fast as he could trying to beat the storm. He didn't need to worry because we just plain got missed.

August Bales - 9X12" Oil on mounted canvas

The next day I started another plein air piece of a couple of the bales across the road. I got carried away - should have done a smaller piece, but could not finish the same day. The farmer came and began taking bales...! Luckily he had too many for one trip and had started too late into the afternoon to finish so I was able to finish up the next day.

I'm hoping some of the places we spotted tonight will have too much to do for a while and they'll leave some landscape opportunities behind!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

High Summer Sky

The Pearson Lakes Art Center notified me they are having their 2008 Plein Air Invitational Painting Exhibition beginning on September 19th. The show runs through November 8th. I have to have up to 4 painting done by September 16th and am feeling a little pressure here with so much going on. The paintings are to be done outside on location and within a 60 mile radius of the lakes area...that's a help for me as I'd like to have more choices as to what to paint.


I've finished my first plein air piece of the summer and am hoping to get to at least one more. Time is a nagging issue this summer and I regret that part...would like to get out and do more!

I call this piece (a 9X12" oil) "High Summer Sky". Its of a low wetland area near Hwy 9 north of here about 30 minutes.The sky is my focal point - the thing that stops me along the road and begs for long looks and admiration for creation itself.

The prairie and wetlands have the sky as their "mountain" backdrop, only they have the advantage for a changing view every hour of each day.

The hayfield across the road from us is being bailed this very moment, so I'm hoping they don't cart them off before I can get down there to take advantage of the landscape possibilities...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hang'n In There

We had a nice 3 days with our daughter's girls this past weekend. The weather's been just great for being outdoors and having a good time.

We decided to go up around the lakes on Saturday and just take things as they came, and after a good afternoon we headed up to a lake in the area that is in the process of being drawn down - creating mud flats and good shore birding opportunities. Just before we got there, Lexi spotted a funnel cloud hanging in the distance! It was fairly far off...maybe 10 miles(?) but I figured you don't see that every day and stopped the truck and got out and took a few photographs.

The image is nothing spectacular but at least a curiosity. The funnel went back up within about 2 minutes; lucky for those below! On our way home about 20 minutes later we saw another funnel hanging down in the far distance...this one much shorter than the first but definitely the real deal. Turned out there were several more in the region that afternoon, but none evidently touched down.

Hang in there and enjoy the rest of this quickly passing summer!

Monday, August 4, 2008

High Summer

August is here and it feels like it. The humidity is like a curtain of water and the heat has been as I remember as a kid during summer. I used to spend all my free time during the summer exploring the countryside along the Des Moines river valley in NW Iowa looking for critters to take pictures of with my camera. I guess the only thing that's really changed is now I drive and don't have as much to carry at one time...oh, and I'm not nearly in as good of shape as I once was :)

I've always been attracted to scenes that evoked some sense of place or of unique design. Agricultural related scenes are always interesting. I've been trying to find some locations in the area to do some plein air paintings of for an upcoming plein air invitational, and one scene I'm really searching out is of summer bales. I'm a sucker for hay bales...not sure why. I was never very good at throwing bales onto the wagon as a kid. It was good short term money for doing it though and I did enjoy climbing around in haylofts! Most bales today are the "big" round ones and not so much like the old familiar rectangle bales I remember best.

July Bales, Evening Light - photograph
34X8" images size

I got lucky a couple summers back and saw the perfect picture of a baling scene as I was driving home from the prairie south of here. It's pictured above. It reminded me so much of 40 some years ago, it was a great moment to find and a pleasure to revisit.

I wonder how Monet would have painted rectangular or round bales today, versus hay stacks?