Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thinking about the fifties...

Here are a few reference shots from a small assignment that was set in the fifties.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The color is gone.

It is quiet here this week. These photos are for people who want to see the place but can't get out there right now.
The dog seems to be saying, "wow! It's great here! Let's go home now!"
The soybeans are gone. They looked great this year. The harvester left a layer of plant matter on the topsoil. Hopefully we won't have any run off.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Agricultural Portraits...

Here are a few of a series I am working on for a local company. I could paint animals all day and night. I am having some problems with a highland cow. I might switch to a Holstein just to get this over with.
I will have a turkey and a sheep up in a few days.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Battling rutting deer...

The deer are slowly destroying our little orchard this fall. Bucks shed their antlers in the fall and grow new ones. The new antlers are covered with fuzz that bothers them. They like to rub off the fuzz on little cute carefully planted saplings... not that there is a whole bunch of wild trees all over the place around the farm.
Actually, the above is all stuff that I suppose is happening. I am sure wildlife experts could school me on what is really going on.
Never the less, I am guessing that eight of the trees won't be back in the spring.
So what to do? I went to the farm store and bought two different kinds of deer repellant. One is granules that you sprinkle around the perimeter of the plant. The other is a spray you apply directly to the vegetation. As I applied these deterrents, I quickly realized their purpose is to make the plants smell bad.
The granules weren't too bad, but only treated about a third of the trees. The nozzle on the spray bottle didn't work. It turned out to be clogged. I didn't figure this out until AFTER I managed to get the stuff on my hands.
Even though the day was dry and windless, it seemed that no matter where I stood while I applied the spray, I was downwind of the spray. By the end of the application I smelled pretty gross. I hope the deer think the trees smell gross as well and leave them alone. I am not sure this will work after observing the dog licking the repellant off of the trunks of the trees.
I am buying some tar and am going to try patching some of them next week.

The soybeans are beginning to turn. They are so pretty right now.

The good stuff shed is empty this week.

This is the tree I am most sad about. It is a service berry tree that we got at the rare plant sale at Ohio State. It was so huge that it barely fit in the truck and Ralph couldn't drive faster than 35mph to get it home. I am going to apply some patch to it, but Ralph thinks it is a goner. Ralph also had a few choice names for the deer and is rethinking his personal stance on hunting. He just wished deer tasted better. Oh well.

I am still trying to scrub the liquid fence off of my hands. When I asked the clerk at the farm store if this stuff worked, she just laughed and laughed.

I wonder how crooked the utility poles have to get before we can get them fixed.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Autumn is on the way...

Technically we still have a week of summer left. However, it feels like late October today. The wind has come back and everything is growing like crazy. It seems like the hot, dry weather is over and all of the plants are trying to grow as much as possible before the frost. I am in awe of how well everything grows out here.
That being said, we lost one of our fruit trees. It looks like a horrible murder scene. I am guessing a buck came along and rubbed his antlers on it. Whatever happened, the poor little tree never stood a chance. It's branches and support were scattered all over and it's stump was cut off about a foot above the ground. So far this tree is the only victim. When I go back next week to mow, I am bringing deer repellant.
Here are a few shots of this gorgeous day.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Soybeans anyone?

The farmers were finally able to plant the fields this week. It's been hot and dry and lovely for six days straight.
The fruit trees seem to be suffering a bit. I am not sure if it is the wet ground, a fungus, a bug, or maybe deer. It is probably a combination of things. Hopefully this can be solved, or we will be growing rhubarb instead. Rhubarb is easy.
J just celebrated her birthday too. Her sisters built her a horrendous cake. We got a bucket of fudge swirl ice cream to soften the appearance. It all tasted good.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Still the wettest spring ever...

It is the wettest spring ever recorded!... well, at least as far as I'm concerned. We weeded and sprayed the garden. The rhubarb is going to seed. I forgot to pick some.
The fields are still waterlogged. The farmers haven't been able to put any crops out as of yet. I am worried that our renter won't be able to plant on our land this year. Last year at this time we had corn, about a foot high. We were planning on planting soy beans this year. They are a shorter crop, but should be in the ground before June in order to finish before frost.
The front field has so much water in it that it looks like a pond. There is a pair of mallards in it. I hope they don't have a nest.
I trained the grapes a bit today. I hope I am better at this than I am at training the dog.

I forget what these flowers are called... "something munk."

Rhubarb in front of the old grapes in front of the Yellow Delicious apple tree.

It's almost June and the field is still fallow.

Our new duck pond in front of the farm.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The wettest spring ever...

We are trying to get the orchard together. It's been so wet. We got the trees in the ground finally, but I am afraid their roots will rot. The tenant farmer who rents the ground hasn't been able get started yet. I am wondering if he is going to bother at all this year. I hope so, we could use the income.
It is supposed to dry out a bit next week. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Planting and tending the orchard has eaten into the time alloted for artwork. I should be back to full time next week. I am still finding some time for digital painting on the ipad. I am starting a series of small oils later this month.
Here are a few shots of the farm.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Planting the last of the trees...

Despite wind and rain and winter springs, we finally planted the last of the fruit trees today. I hope they will like their new home on the western side of the farmhouse above the creek.
Now it is time to work on weeding the berry bushes we planted last year and spray pesticides on the mature apple trees. We got organic products to treat the trees for pests. Hopefully they will work. If they are ineffective, the Orkin man may be paying a visit to our orchard next year.
Learning proper pruning techniques and pest control will be among my biggest challenges over the next year or two. Oh yeah, and Adobe Flash and Painter 11. Learning is a lifelong process I suppose.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The debate rages on...

Study of Margo- Arches 140# hot press 8" x 10"

Study of Margo Arches 140# cold press 8" x 10"

I am working on a traditional watercolor portrait this week. It has been a while since I've painted a large picture in watercolor.
I am used to working on hot press paper. Recently I got the chance to admire some amazing watercolor portraiture. Many of these pictures were painted on cold press paper. I like the way the pigment settles into the texture of the paper and gives the flesh tones a dimensional feel. Paintings on cold press also have a slightly lower sheen since more pigment is absorbed into the paper. One also has to be careful not to apply too much pigment too early as it can be difficult to lift out.
These issues gave me a lot of trouble working on the darker sides of the face. After two or three glazes of color and value, the paper seemed to give up. Each subsequent glaze lifted everything off of the paper leaving a sort of muddy yellowy tone. I tried spraying fixative onto the picture which seemed to help a bit, but I am not sure if watercolor is ok to fix.
It was a relief to try the same picture on hot press. I am much more comfortable with the finish on the paper. I am betting hot press paper has more sizing. The paint doesn't get absorbed into the paper as quickly as cold press. This being said, I still managed to overwork the dark areas and burnt out the paper like in the first attempt. I really must get the dark values correct in the first or second pass of paint. This is hard to do- maybe it will come with practice or maybe I can find a way to safely fix the glazes between washes.
I don't feel much closer to my painting goals today. Each practice painting has good and bad qualities. I am going to spend the rest of the day working on a digital image and will get back to this later.
Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

OAC landscapes...

The Ohio Arts Council requested landscape paintings from Ohio artists. Here are a couple of my submissions. Landscapes aren't my favorite thing to paint, but it was fun to get out the watercolors again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waiting for spring to arrive.

We went out to the farm today. We were hoping to plant some of the fruit trees which came in the mail late last week. They are bare rootstock, from a company in Michigan. In our zone, April is the ideal month to plant them. The weather hasn't allowed us the chance. We've had several storms come up from the south dumping tons of rain. Ohio has also been faced with punishing winds, less than optimum conditions to plant little apple trees. So instead we went to the county courthouse to look for any records they may have about this history of our farm.
Utica gas extraction is coming to Ohio. Apparently this is similar to the Marcellas shale mining that is currently going on in PA. We aren't sure whether or not we will be approached, or what our neighbors plan to do. We want to have a clear understanding of what contracts are currently on our property and what our rights are. The whole thing is mind-boggling. Some landowners in Pennsylvania weren't careful about the agreements they signed and thus ended up with nightmare scenarios. Hopefully, we won't make the same mistakes.
We found a bunch of leasing agreements that dated back to as early as 1937. Some of them seem to be expired. Most of them deal with allowing the companies to keep pipelines that run across the corners of the property. One contract talks about rights to look for natural gas and oil but it seems to be expired. I have to read them carefully which is as dry as toast. We also have to contact one of the gas companies. We are entitled to a rental payment of ten bucks per year for one of the lines. That will buy us a celebratory breakfast at Waffle House. Can't wait.
Even though the papers are dull to read, I can't help but be intrigued by the history of the farm. Seeing the Hoovers and the neighbors names and signatures on the documents make them seem more real somehow. I wonder about the negotiations. Were they railroaded by the oil companies? Did they cut some sort of side deals? It looks like one of the agreements gave them free heat for a while, it's a shame that wasn't still going.
Our farm was in the previous family for for 126 years. They must have known a few things to keep the place that long, through two world wars and the depression. Some of their relatives have visited and related funny stories which I will share later.
Hopefully the weather will break soon and we will be able to get the trees in the ground. I took a few photos today that offer signs of the promise of spring and wonderful things to come this year.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rodeo Redo.

2011 Version- acrylic and colored pencil on board

2005 Version- transparent watercolor on hot press paper

I've gotten the chance to experiment with acrylic paint over the last several months. In March I decided to redo a painting that I did in 2005. It is one of my scenes from the Fort Worth rodeo. I painted it in water color, and then later digitally in Corel Painter but I never was 100% happy with the technique. I painted it one more time in acrylic and colored pencil. I've enjoyed the process. Acrylic allows me the ability to rework areas of the picture, unlike watercolor which can be unforgiving.
As I look at the two versions I am not sure which I prefer. I think I am going to paint in watercolor next.
When I get the latest version finished, I will scan it for a clearer image.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A break from winter and home improvement...

This is the "before" picture of the basement. The "after" picture is not much different. Sometime we are going to put concrete over the dirt floor. So far we haven't found anyone buried down there.

My cozy chair, bubbly water, and work gloves. It was fun to get to spend the day outside.

The first thing the dog wants to do when we get to the farm is jump in the car and go home.

Wooster is underwater this week. This is a shot of the fairgrounds and soccer fields just west of town on route 30. We are getting more snow today. I wonder if it will be dried out in time for the Farm & Home show in April.

This is a shot of the old grape vine before pruning. I still have NO IDEA what I am doing.

Last week an Amish crew came out and worked on strengthening the foundation of the house. They are the same guys who repaired our barn wall last spring. This job was much simpler. They jacked up the house and laid down some new ibeams and support posts. One of the load bearing walls contained a window that had a missing lintel. The crew replaced that and did a few other structural improvements and then set the house back down on it's new support system. The crew knew how to adjust the poles so the walls and doorways looked straighter. They said they could make the walls perfectly straight, but Ralph said to adjust everything so the doors and windows all operated smoothly. It does look a lot better, some of the doorways in the house resembled a Tim Burton movie set.
It is good to know the house is stronger but I can think of a bunch of more fun uses for the amount we paid. The good thing is that now that the foundation is secured we can get to work on interior renovations.
So, the work on the basement left a bunch of old wooden boards that needed to be disposed of. We also had an old shed that was in disrepair. If one could make money raising yellow jackets, we would have kept it. Since that is not the case, we broke it up into pieces ( should have had the video camera for that btw- seems crazy, but I wasn't completely sure Ralph knew how to knock a shed over safely. In fact I was so freaked out at how he went about it that I forgot to take pictures.)
The weather on Tuesday gave us the opportunity to burn this stuff up. Getting the fire started was challenging, things were really damp. So I got to spend the day outside and watch the fire. At the end of the day some curious deer and turkeys came out of the woods. They were probably wondering what on earth we were doing.
Ohio has gotten a lot of snow this winter. We had a huge snowstorm last week followed by a deluge of rain and warm temperatures. Half of the town is under water. Above is a picture of the west side of town. The lake in the photo normally isn't there- that is usually a soccer field, a cornfield and the fairgrounds.
The last photo is a shot of the old grape vine before pruning. I will post more on the entire orchard later.