Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stumps and Dead Wood

"A Forest Clearing"
(near Union Creek & the Rogue River, Oregon Cascades)
Oil Sketch on Fredrix Canvas Board
5" x 7"

(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings at their best.)

A very strange day … generally sunny with big clouds passing over, but even when no cloud was above me there was fine precipitation going on much of the time while I was painting; almost a mizzle, which is finer than a drizzle, but there was no mist, and not heavy enough to be a drizzle, but it definitely could be felt and seen as tiny droplets would land and slowly deploy on the palette, the painting and me.  This fine, extremely light precipitation occurred even when no big cloud was directly overhead – very strange.   I never really got wet, and I managed to dry the minuscule droplets from areas of the palette with judicious paper towel use, and the painting itself never accumulated enough in its vertical position to be a worry, but as it was about 35º F, not far above freezing, it offered enough annoyance that I didn’t develop the Study as much as I might have done; but that was probably a good thing, since the intention was to study the stumps and logs, and subdue the rest – as it was I probably did too much on the background.  This Study, however, did serve its purpose, as looking hard at a bit of Nature and transcribing in paint what you see sears it into your mind, and that’s what a Study is all about.  Imprimatura: Venetian Red.  Pigments: Rublev Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, and Italian Burnt Sienna, Lead White #2, and Winsor & Newton Cobalt & Cerulean Blues & Venetian Red.

I spent a couple of nights in this camp off of a forest road a couple of miles from Union Creek on the Rogue River Gorge, and about 17 miles from the Crater Lake Rim.  The nights got down below freezing into the 20s Fahrenheit, but no problem for this Minnesotan.  My second night here was crispy clear with the Moon out and it was lovely taking a stroll for a mile or so, in the moonlight along a frosty forest road, keeping my bear spray readily available, should some wild beastie care to debate with me the finer points of nighttime wilderness strolls; none cared to discuss such, save the odd comment from a Great Horned Owl off in the forest.

This was my campsite.  The trees are predominately Douglas Firs; there are others.  My portable loo seat, complete with legs is shown with my trusty shovel.  Morning ablutions off in the forest, below freezing and even with a light snowfall, has surprisingly not proved to be a hardship; rain, even with warmer temperatures, is something quite different altogether, and I choose my moments in such weather.  Before the acquisition of my portable loo seat (with legs), morning ablutions were hard on the knees.  Tools never to forget are T.P., hand cleanser, shovel, bear spray and revolver … one hopes no necessity arises to discuss territorial imperatives with the local residents at such moments, unless they are disgusted rabbits or squirrels; Jays & Ravens have come to satisfy their prurient curiosity at times, usually loudly announcing their discoveries to the world at large, after which they, especially the Jays, seem to laugh uproariously as they fly off … daft buggers!

The Rogue River Gorge
a couple miles from my campsite.

On the way to Crater Lake,
Only a few miles up the road.

I had been up to Crater Lake the day before, experienced a brief 5 minute blizzard, in the overcast that obscured the view, although the surface of the lake could just be made out through the cloud, a thousand feet below at the base of the cliffs.  I had intended to go up again today, but remained near camp and painted the Sketch at the top of this Post instead; tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Day above the Smith River

"A Change in the Weather"
(Above the Middle Fork of the Smith River,
Siskiyou Mountains, Northern California)
Oil Sketch on Ampersand Gesso Panel
With additional coat of Rublev Lead Primer
5" x 7"

(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings at their best.)

Back in mid-November I headed for the Oregon High Desert, but I did not go straight there.  I had paintings to deliver and pick up down on the Oregon Coast, so time was spent on that business before I could turn inland.  My first order of business was to stop by the Coos Art Museum, to retrieve the two Watercolours which had been in the Maritime Show there last Summer, images of which I included in my very first Blog Post (here).  After further deliveries were completed, I dipped down into the Redwoods country of Northern California, which one must do when travelling from the southern Oregon Coast, to the interior of Oregon.  I spent some time visiting those massive trees before moving on.  I include a photograph with my SUV to give you a sense of scale of these Redwoods; I urge my readers in Cornwall to consider your own vehicle when next parked near a British tree, and then marvel at this photo.  I can’t emphasize enough the feeling of wonder I experience every time I visit the Redwoods.  And thus I turned inland.

SUV amongst the Redwoods, California

I traveled up the Middle Fork of the Smith River, mentally filing away possible future paintings, and as it was late in the day looking for Forest roads that might offer a campsite.  At Gasquet California, I found one, following its twists and turns and finally climbing more than 1500’ above the valley floor before choosing a site perched on the high slopes.  Thanksgiving Day, being the next day I intended to stay at least two nights here, and so did.  I was up early the next morning and after a quick breakfast began to paint the view east from my campsite.  I never did determine exactly what Siskiyou Mountain peaks those were in the distance, as the weather was on the turn, with cloud rapidly coming in, and with high winds in the forecast.  After painting in the morning, I had a leisurely afternoon, and preparing my Thanksgiving meal of smoked Salmon on a bed of cous-cous and vegetables.  

It began to rain overnight.  I had intended to stay on the forest road high above the valley, and follow it until it intersected the main highway, 30 miles or so down the road, and would hopefully allow chances to identify the distant peaks in the painting; it was not to be.  The rain made that un appealing since I would be lost in the cloud with little to view, and as I was wanting to get as far inland as I could before the high winds began near the coast, I dropped down the mountainside to the main highway along the Smith Rover, and on to southern Oregon.  I eventually reached the Crater Lake area and decided on a campsite 17 miles down the mountain from the Crater rim.

Pigments used for the Oil Sketch are the usual suspects: Imprimatura Venetian Red; Others were Rublev Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Italian Burnt Sienna; Winsor & Newton Cobalt & Cerulean Blues, Venetian Red and Cremnitz White.  There … the tech-heads amongst you are now satisfied, I trust.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hooligans & Riff-Raff

(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings, & the Blog, at their best.)

The Road to Flook Lake

It has come to my attention from a couple of my readers, that the rigmarole one needs go through in order to leave a comment on the Blog, is what probably puts people off doing so.  I thought that might be the case when I began the Blog, but in spite of that, I went ahead with those parameters.  Having looked at a few blogs that I respected, and looking hard at the comments thy attracted, I decided to go this route; some had a few undeserved entries of the kind you might find in the less salubrious chat-room environment, while the comments on others were all germane to the topic at hand, and even where not full in agreement respectfully set forth their points of view, which often led to good discussion between the various commenters.  While my Internet time is limited, I may not have the time to join into such a debate, should one ever arise on my site, a particular thread or discussion might be picked up and addressed in a future Post.  I believe also, that when a commenter has to jump through a few hoops, and whose identity is more or less known, they are less likely to behave as hooligans, and even though I might have editorial powers to extract an offensive comment from the site, as most bloggers have the ability to do, I might not always be in a position to pick them up in a timely manner, because of my limited Internet access; I draw your attention to my recent 6 weeks in the Oregon High Desert Wilds when I was completely off-line … that’s a long time for an inappropriate comment to gestate on one’s unattended site.   It might just well be that all my present readers are hooligans & riff-raff, and thus refraining from jumping through the proverbial hoops to inject pithy comments, but of course I couldn’t possibly entertain such a thought … (hearty laughs all around!).  I will be leaving the present comment parameters in place for the moment, but might revisit them at some point, experimentally. 

At an exhibition not long ago, it was commented on how different my Oil Sketches were from my usual work.  I addressed this in the introduction to this Blog, but I will briefly address this again.  For most of my career my usual work was almost exclusively highly detailed, labor intensive and thus time consuming Watercolour work, with some Pastel and the occasional Oil thrown in.  The Oil Sketches & Studies thus far shown on the Blog are just that Oil Sketches & Studies, completed in a couple of hours or so, some a little longer, where rapidity of execution to beat the ever changing light, is more important than extreme detail.  Even so, many of them have more detail than much of the Plein Air work seen these in the Art World ingrained ways of thinking and seeing are not easy to divest, and so I am trying to loosen up even more.  Ultimately, however, when some of these are used to create larger Oil work, I want that work to be somewhere between the looseness of Plein Air and the detail of my more usual Watercolours, and able to go in either direction as the subject o commission might demand.  Meanwhile its an interesting and exciting journey.  And speaking of my recent time in the Oregon High Desert, I have finally managed to scan my Oil Sketches & Studies onto my PC, and have begun to correct their colour with Photoshop, and so my next Post will begin to introduce them and relate my Winter High Desert adventures.

Butterfly Wing in the Snow

On the Blue Sky Road

No time to work on more photos ... so until next time ...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Where are I? … Oh! Here I are!!!

First Snowfall at my Camp, Warner Mountains

My last Post was on November 6th and the next couple of weeks thereafter were spent with my nose to the grindstone building a plywood shelf for the back of my SUV to be able to safely transport my 120 Watt suitcase solar panel array, and constructing a plywood case for my 12 Volt AGM (Absorbed Glass Matt) Deep Cycle 115 AH (Amp Hour) Battery, complete with 300 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter, and wiring in a dual socket 12 Volt receptacle to plug my electronic things into for use & recharging.  I then disappeared into the Winter vastness of the Oregon High Desert Mountains and Plateaus for several weeks to paint, of course, and test my equipment and ultimately myself.  The shelf safely transported the suitcase solar array, which is 22” x 34” and lay flat on the shelf, and there was room to carry other things on the selfsame shelf.  The AGM Battery, within its new case, rested in the passenger foot well, and being fully charged was used periodically throughout the following weeks.  There being only one full day where the sun shone brightly all day, and that day was spent travelling to the nearest town, 65 miles away, for supplies, I was not able to set up the solar array to test that, so that will have to wait until later in the year with longer & sunnier days, however it traveled safely on its shelf.  Transporting 3 five-gallon cans on my trailer-hitch platform, also worked, and extended my time in the Wild before I needed to resupply.  And since my return I’ve been ploughing through (that’s plowing, for the American reader) my Emails, carrying out necessary equipment maintenance and such, but I thought I had best write a Post or two, now that I have returned to Wi-Fi reception (more on Wi-Fi below), to assure my readers (all two or three of you), that I have gone into the Winter Wilds, been tested … and returned.  The Oil Sketches completed out in those Wilds will soon begin to appear in future postings. 

But my first test actually occurred even before I left.  While I was loading up the truck, I turned and slammed straight into a partly open garage door.  Grabbing my head and waiting for the pain to subside, as it usually begins to after a few seconds, I realized it was a good smack when 45 seconds passed with no subsidence of the pain; and then the blood began to pour onto the floor in great big drops.  I have never seen so much of my own blood outside of my body as I then saw.  Well, I managed to open the door of my SUV, grab a roll of paper towels, rip a few off and pressed them to my wound.  Many paper towels later, and 15 or 20 minutes of compression and wonder of wonders the bleeding was staunched; head wounds do bleed … a lot.  I have never had a good look at the wound since it was too high on my head to get a good glimpse of it through my bifocals, even when using a hand mirror.  Cleaning the blood off my face and head was not easy with no running water nearby, but I managed it.  After rigging a bandage slathered with First Aid Cream, I decided to continue loading up, and if it didn’t begin to bleed again I would head off in the morning as intended.  Not to belabor the tale, the bandage came off in the morning, and with dabs of alcohol followed by First Aid cream over the next few days, the wound healed during the next couple of weeks or so.  A friend looked at it the day after and 200 miles down the Oregon Coast, and when he didn’t faint I took it as a sign that I probably didn’t need stitches.  Sadly it’s not a scar with great character since most people will never see it unless they are pro-basketball players.

Things were experienced, and learned, on this latest sojourn in the Wild.  The spaces are large, East beyond the Cascades, and the Winter daylight hours are short, and so when moving within these landscapes, especially those where I’ve not been before, these few daylight hours become a very important part of one’s decision making process.  Thus during the weeks away I passed three possible places where I might have accessed free Wi-Fi.  The first was when my first paintings were still too tacky to scan … the Oil Paint seems to take longer to dry than in the Summer and early Autumn.  The next two possibilities were when I had to resupply and attend to maintenance of equipment, and found no time to seek out free Wi-Fi before it was necessary to leave and find a suitable campsite before darkness fell.  But each new campsite found is one that I will be able to find again after dark in future, so future passings will allow the free Wi-Fi to be accessed whether it be daylight or not.  Short days also mean having to take advantage of the light to actually paint the Oil Sketches, and supper was often prepared in the dark, sometimes by Moonlight and several times under a snowfall.  I was comfortable down to 0º Fahrenheit, and have yet to go below that, but I reckon it will have to get yet much colder than that before I begin to worry.  Six inches of snow at campsites did not hinder driving into them, nor the heavy snowfall driving over the Willamette Pass on Hwy 58, when returning to the Yamhill area.  Wildlife was seen, such as 200 antelope, coyotes, deer, including a resident herd of 14 doe and 1 stag at one of my campsites, and more wildlife was detected through their tracks in the snow, such as rabbits, various unknown small rodents, more coyotes, deer, elk, and at least one set of tracks that I believe belonged to a cougar.  Here follows a few Photos.

Coyote track on the left & unknown trail on the right

              First Glimpse of Hart Mountain

Into the Distance – on the Hart Mountain Plateau

High Desert Winter Road – Beatys Butte

Evening Glow – Beatys Butte

             Morning Light – Hart Mountain

Campsite in the Aspens – Hart Mountain

Working with my Guerrilla Painting Kit

Christmas Morning – Hart Mountain

Christmas Day Snow Shower – Hart Mountain

Well, I think that's enough to be getting on with, don't you?