Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Portrait in red...

This one is on the easel right now. Hopefully it will be finished soon. I have a lot of little details to work out. I've learned so much about motorcycles.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wrapping up ongoing pictures once and for all.

"thirteen" Oil on linen, 11"w x 14"h
I've been working on a few oil paintings all winter long. I am determined to finish them up and move forward this week (or maybe next week).
I've painted this pose of J a couple of times. This one uses an atelier method I found in a book. It is the first time I've painted on linen. This picture also represents the first time I've experimented with glazing techniques. It has been a learning experience, one I've enjoyed quite a bit. It is difficult to know when to stop. It got a bit over worked.
Conveying the look of boredom and incredulousness of a thirteen-year-old has been a struggle. If I try painting this again, I will try another pose.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Progress?... hopefully.

Our farmhouse sometime around 1910. The girls are the four Hoover daughters.

We had a tree cut down this spring. It was leaning over the house and in danger of falling. The tall old maple had stood through years of wind, sun, snow and rain. It was scarred from a lightening strike and was fighting a disease that caused some of it's limbs to rot. Despite being warned by friends and neighbors of the danger of this giant tree falling, the farm's former owner, Edward refused to cut it down. He was very fond of the old tree and the memories it must have conveyed. There is another maple that is about the same age on the front side of the house. It too bears the wear and tear of facing decades of Ohio weather. The other tree appears to have been split by winds or perhaps lightening. Upon close inspection, one can see that an iron cable was wrapped around the main trunk of the tree a long time ago. The purpose was to splint it  into place after it was somehow broken. Both trees are probably about a century old. I have a few photos from the turn of the century where they appear as saplings in front of the farmhouse. Maybe their impressive history is why Edward never had them cut down, even though one was dangerously close to damaging the house.
Fast forward to 2012. We are trying to preserve as much of the history of the farm as possible, while being sensible about the risks involved in letting an old tree stand over the house. We made the decision to cut it down in March. We also had the stump ground. The tree people contracted to remove all of the small limbs, stump, and branches, leaving behind the parts that could be used for firewood.
 What I didn't anticipate was how massive the tree was. Using a chainsaw, the tree surgeon cut the trunk and limbs into three-foot long sections.  Ralph tried chopping them a little at a time with an axe (think President Reagan circa 1985). The old tree was so massive and strong that it would have taken him years. Although he said it was a great workout, I don't think he would have ever been able to split up the sections of trunk. They were incredibly difficult to cut, the axe hardly made a dent on the surface.
The next idea was to rent a log splitter. I had never seen one before. A log splitter consists of a little trailer frame with a small gas engine on it. Welded to the other side of the frame is a sharp metal wedge.  When the engine is running an arm pushes a log along the frame and into the wedge. The motor has a transmission that allows the arm to push forward and backward. It was a two-person job, one would operate the arm and one (Ralph) would feed the logs into the splitter, making sure they would hit the wedge at a good spot. Some of the logs exploded and sent sap flying. 
The toughest part was getting the cross sections of trunk onto the log splitter. Ralph had a genius idea to dig a small trench in the ground place the back end of the splitter in it. This allowed the cutting area of the splitter to be almost level with the ground. The effort it took to dig the trench was worth being able to roll the pieces onto the the cutting area. Even so, it was still difficult to roll the chunks of tree around. We had to take our time and be careful not to hurt our backs. The other big risks seem to be the possibility of crushing our hand between the wood and the splitter or dropping a heavy log on our feet. I was really glad when the tree was all brought down to manageable pieces.

Slicing logs goes so much faster with a splitter.

Having a little fun after stacking the firewood. The side yard looks very bare without the old tree. We need get a  landscaper to help us design a plan for the entire yard.