Category Archives: Gallery

Drip


Drip

Many things in life come one drip at a time. When that drip lands in the same spot, over and over, as most drips do, that spot is changed. If the landing spot is organic in nature, it will become enhanced by the addition of constant water. If the spot is inorganic it will become reduced by abrasion, rust or corrosion.

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45 years ago, when acrylics were still emerging as a “new” medium I felt compelled to paint an acrylic memory of a water spigot from my childhood front yard in Arizona. Over the years since, one drip at a time, I have built and eroded and added and removed, often without notice, so many things made of small drips of divergent materials. some made of time, some of effort, some drip dripping ideas yet to be acted on.

The water spigot (faucet to us now-a-days people) became an allegorical encouragement to me over the years, reminding me that both time and my efforts were ever flowing.

Somehow as time flows out and away, progress and accumulation, in both materials and experiences, drips in. Some things become corroded, some become nourished. As I age, many things become easier to grasp and harder to carry. Ideas are like that, projects are also. Relationships become more nourished and more abraded as well.

As long as there is pressure in the pipe there will be the possibility of a drip, no matter how good or new the gasket, it will drip sometime. It will add to life, it will subtract too.

The more we lean to the natural side of things, the more the drips nourish.

This little painting has reminded me of my childhood one drip at a time, and now of my many years passing since I painted it. Drip drip drip.

 

 

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Are You Hearing Voices?


RCA_dog_web

When blogging, do you find new voices within that were silent before?  They were there, but there was no place to speak them so they went unheard, unformed and just bumped around sticking to each other until some critical mass forced them in or out of your mind? No place for them in the social normal world.  Like a record un-played.

The hard part is creating new sentences to exhibit these voices; to express them by word-smithing so they can be said.  Realizing that the way we talk and the way we write are not the same, especially nowadays, not the same as we learned in our youth, either.  The way blog readers read and the way they perceive the story are also not the same as in the walk-around world, either.  We are socialized individuals, specific to our own people, time and environment and choices and our thoughts don’t always fit just because we have them.

I gave some really deep thinking time to this and a few unseen thoughts came up.  For one: Those of us older than a CD player, our world had to add new words just to keep up.  For those who played with cabbage patch dolls or micro machines, the words, sentences and ideas are made of even different elements.  Brown paper wrapping and string ties mean little to modern children, but the care and value of a friendship once was discernible by simple tells in the tidy twists of a string bow, and saving both the paper and the string was normal.

Another was: These things are deeply seated in the sentences as I try to form a communication with a world that no longer remembers how those specific things felt.  I worry not that those feelings are lost because they are not, they are just assigned to new icons but are still felt in old common ways.  When the language of today’s younger folks is understood, and we take time to express out our older word assemblies, most of us can still communicate, but that is where those new voices that were silent emerge.  With new constructions of how to explain old memories arise, new thoughts arise with it and new inner voices introduce themselves.

I didn’t know at first that as I go out looking for interesting blogs to sift through, this other voice, the one that I don’t show in the walk-around world, is here within the internet, here in a new time.  At first it felt as if, we who are older than ball point pens or pocket calculators, might be at a disadvantage but now I realize that I have been alive through all that today’s youth has been, though I am not immersed in it, while they have never received a gift wrapped in brown paper tied with string that has been used a dozen times, nor eaten fruit preserved by being dipped in wax.  No one can keep up today; actually, no one wants to, but all of us are discovering new voices within, courage to use those voices and not being silent anymore because there is a place to speak.  No one glances away or says to be still; if they lose interest they just click away and what is written sits and awaits someone else to speak to.  I go to bed and don’t wait around, then magically someone rings the bell and comments to my new voice and we all smile.

Don’t you just love blogging with a new voice?

Getting in a Rut to the Moon


27-Southbound-2_webHOW  WIDE ARE RAILROAD TRACKS ANYWAY?

Glad you asked.   The real answer involves horses.  Stay with me, okay?  After the Civil War, the Congress declared that all new railroad tracks had to be a standard 4-foot, 8 and one half -inches.  Before that time there were not so many rail roads and the track sizes were all different sizes all over the place, whatever each rail company wanted, it did without measure of any other rail company.

Standardizing is of course a good idea, but why the odd number? If you can pick any size why pick 4 foot 8 and a half inches?

For a start – because the English made them that way, and English ex-patriots built our railroads.  Fine, but why did the English build track that size?  Well… Because the Romans did, not rail track, of course, but they did build roads, and the wheels on their chariots cut ruts into the stone roadway and if your cart wasn’t that size you had a really rough ride going in and out of the ruts. This forced everyone after them to make wagons the same size.  Four feet, eight and a half inches between wheels- because in ancient Rome that was the size of their war wagon wheels and that was determined because it was the width of the back end of two war horses harnessed together. Someone way back then had decided that the wagon should not be any wider than the horses so they could go through the same openings. Time has a way of carrying its’ ideas forward so … it gets better.

You know those huge booster rockets on the space shuttle?  Engineers wanted to make them fatter, but they couldn’t because they had to be shipped by train and had to fit through a tunnel.  Tunnels are only slightly wider than rail cars that run on the tracks, you know 4 foot 8 and a half inches, which means this: engineers had to design a sophisticated rocket capable of thrusting a shuttle and people into orbit to go to the moon…but they also had to honor how wide a horse’s rear is, times two, because they shipped parts of the shuttle by rail cars which had to go through tunnels and gateways. Rail cars are, however, wider than 4 foot 8 one half inches; some can carry 12 foot wide cargo on special carriers, but is generally limited to 10 foot wide carriers.  This limits the size of rail cargo in many areas and limited the size of the booster rockets.  Keep in mind that many of today’s horses are much larger than the ancient Roman version and if they had them would we would have had bigger boosters?  Not really the point of this story.

Recipes are ruts too!

When I was a child my mother used an old recipe handed down to her from her mother. It was for a beef roast. After doing all of the sauce and meat prep, the final instruction was to cut 2 inches off the rounded end of the roast before setting in a pan and placing in the oven. Every time, for many years, as my mother made a roast she would dutifully follow these instructions. One year my grandmother, (my mother’s mother) came to visit. Mom decided to make the traditional roast and just offhandedly my mom asked her why she had to cut off two perfectly good inches of the roast before inserting into the oven. Time has a way of carrying things forward-remember? Well, Grandma had a really good laugh….. “Dear,” she said, “I was cooking on a small wood stove and if I didn’t cut 2 inches off the end I couldn’t get the door closed. I wrote the instructions so I wouldn’t forget at the last minute!”

Don’t you wonder how much of our daily life is run in a rut?

I heard once that a rut is a grave with both ends knocked out, but sometimes it is good to have something to keep you on track as well and often it leads to someplace or some way that is worthy of going. Ruts are not all bad but I can’t help think that without some ruts we missed a lot of roast and we could have boosted more cargo to the moon, too!

I got into a rut of not posting often and now I think I’m out of that groove!

Thanks for reading on my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seagulls of Canal Park, or 5 things you might not know about seagulls!


 

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These silly sea gulls provide both charm and agitation to the life of a plein air painter. After many days (years) of painting in the presence of Gulls, I learned at least 5 interesting things about them.

1. They know who is friend or foe. If you feed them they don’t dive bomb your floppy hat and leave you a present. If you ignore them they do! They learn to get close if you let them alone. They have a very good memory.

2. Young gulls start out brown not white. They are taught in a school by older birds and protected until they are almost grown.

3. Seagulls go very far inland and search for food in “dry” places too. They dwell around very small ponds too if there is food. Most like to live and nest on high bluffs or buildings.

4. Seagulls are very good swimmers and divers, and float just as well as a duck. They are a very smart bird, sometimes using bread crumbs to “fish”, attracting small fish to the surface to then dive on and grab for supper.

5. Seagulls can be found very late in the fall in Duluth, then one day they just vanish. I do know they are considered a migratory bird, and fly south for the winter. Although they live in flocks they migrate more haphazardly than ducks or geese and forage along shorter flights paths in steps until they find enough warmth and food. They are habitual and return to many same locations yearly.

The Band Played On


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The Band Played On 17″x25″ Watercolor on 90# paper

Sometimes a word is worth a thousand pictures, or several words!  My son and I had set up to paint plein air in Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota. There, a “dry docked” retired tug boat sat in an oversized “planter” on the sidewalk and became my subject for that day’s watercolor painting.

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I sketched and began to lay out my painting, wet the paper and had just begun to wash in a sky when….these guys came out of nowhere, toting folding chairs and musical instrument cases. They set up right between me and my tug subject.  Rude!  You know they could see we were there first!  Not a word; nope, they said nothing, they just took out their instruments, looked at each other and begun to play—–the most amazing brass quintet I think I may have ever heard.

I did not know what to say, so I just began to sketch them into the picture, painting quickly as could be.  Soon a large crowd gathered around them and us; the band never looked up, playing one piece after another. They played for over an hour this way, long enough to roughly paint them when all of a sudden the very loud signal horn for the lift bridge went BOOOOOOOOOFFFFF announcing the arrival of a Great Lakes freighter.  The crowd (whom I had not had time to paint in), turned and ran to the harbor channel to watch the great ship coming in and leaving us and the musicians alone, and the band just played on never looking up.  Later in the studio at home, I added in the ship and the crowd and finished up the tug which is all I had wanted to paint.

After the band finished I did make the effort to go over and meet them and find out what this was about. They were all professionals in the medical field and met twice a year for a impromptu concert in a public place just to keep their skills sharp.  They practice all year for the events but never perform publicly except for these two concerts.  After a rude start, I felt privileged to have experienced this, so I named the painting, “The Band Played On.”

 

 

Seagulls Swarm


Diving for pop corn

Diving for pop corn 6″X9″ Aquarell water graphite on illustration board.

Ever entertaining

The seagulls are always an attraction by Lake Superior and especially near the popcorn stand. This is a quick water pencil sketch, as the birds do not pose in the air, one must build birds in short dashes and flashes of glimpses and brush strokes. The water graphite media is great for this as the tone and details can be enhanced with strokes of water both in process and later. I have found a #4 or #6 round sable works well to render most any small sketch. Then I found the water handle brush, it has it’s own water supply in the handle. A slight squeeze and you have a drop of water on the bristles. Quick and flexible and easy to carry both pencil and brush and water in your pocket.

 

Why is a Tug(boat) interesting to most everyone?


Tug-web  Tug at Canal Park Duluth 6.5″x9″ 2B pencil on illustration board.

It was a retired, “still operational” but never used anymore Tug named the Lake Superior. Yellow and black and was open to tourists until about seven years ago. The tug “Lake Superior” has a rich history  with years of service on the Great Lakes, parking and launching ships, assisting in the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, busting ice on Lake Superior,  and was even used during World War II out on the ocean.

Tied up (starting 1996) for a decade in the Minnesota slip next to Canal Park, the Lake Superior (tug),  the 71 year old workhorse was sold back into service. I was fortunate enough to tour it both inside and out while it sat there as an ice-cream shop and tourist attraction. 

It did occur to me then that somehow tugboats have a magical attraction in both their shape and their purpose. Approachable in size (114 feet long for this one) tugs are a workhorse, kind of like most of us. They do tasks and chores that keep the big ships and harbors open and working too. They have a friendly profile that makes them all seem as they are like our bath tub toys and a sort of personality is exuded from them. Most are colorful with markings and flags, running lights, radar, antennas, and a cool smoke stack, and seem so sure footed or (finned) as they go about moving huge ships around. Most tugs sport a shade brow or awning over the Wheel house windows, looking like they have a visor like a card dealer would wear. This gives a very confidant and courageous personality to them, Almost all tugs have a curving upward deck and superstructure that rises towards the bow, making them look bent in the middle as if they are raising their chin and puffing up their chest. A rake with panache to their plowing through the water, challenging even the roughest of weather in their assignments.

It is impossible to not be influenced from childhood picture books when drawing a tug and harder to avoid an anthropomorphic rendering. I drew at least six variations before I realized I was doing just that. In this image I decided to just look and render taking less than twenty minutes so as to not get overworked and influenced by “Little Toot” If you don’t know who “Little Toot” is that is because me and this tug are almost the same age and “Little Toot” is too! Look up Disney’s “Little Toot”