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.