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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Up On The Roof

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When this old world is getting me down I know place to go that’s trouble proof…Up on the roof.  Well, even artists have to make roof repairs sometimes when the high winds blow away flashing and tear the roofing materials.  A major landmark in Annapolis, the Hammond Harwood house suffered major roof damage in these winds, so I feel lucky to have gotten off so lightly.  So here are a few pictures from my adventure.  An adventure that I would rather not have taken for:  In the words of Danny Glover in the movie Lethal Weapon, “I’m getting to old for this shit.”

These are the two views: Up and Down Either direction can be a little tricky. I like the view from up on the roof.  It reminds me of all the years I spent painting houses…I’d be up on a ladder two or three stories up and have a grand view of the town.  And being up so high with so little to support one can be just a little exhilarating. Then I saw the damage.  A bit of torn roofing and a bit of flashing blown away in the valley.

These two shots taken from the top of the second ladder.  Went back and got some repair materials .  I found the missing piece of flashing out on the street last night, which let me know that I had one of my chores set out for me today.  As I said..not too bad.

I wore some old sweat clothes so all I got roofing tar on was my hands and not too much of that. Roof patching cement is pretty messy stuff.  I’ve been doing this sort of thing since I was 17 or so and I’m only just a little neater than I was then…I’ve only done limited work as a roofer.  I did work for a roofer for a while in San Francisco. And finally a view of my neighbor and his dad surveying a project of their own.


Sweet gal

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Here’s another water color day.  Lately it seems all I’m fitting in to the blog is my once weekly watercolor entry. I’ll mention that I played my guitar and sang down at 49 West this past Saturday. I did a long 80 minute first set to a very appreciative small audience who gave proper nods, foot tapping, eyeball contact and tips in the tip jar.  And the second 45 minute set..I might as well have been from Mars.  Not much applause, no tips, not foot tapping.  I’m getting used to that, but just so you know:  When the audience responds I put out a lot more emotional energy…I give more.  Last nights water color was of a sweet young woman who has lost 40 lbs since last time we used her.  I guess she has a long way to go, still.  But…Wow! I didn’t start with a pencil on these.  This is a full sheet, 22 x 30 of

water color paper.  Not the larges size in the world, but a very substantial size for water color painting.  I used a fairly large brush and just a few colors:  Prussian blue, alizerine crimson and two yellows, cadmium pale and cadmium medium.  I had just a smidgeon of cadmium orange left over and I used a little bit of that…I need to get some

more of that orange. It works out to be pretty handy for working on flesh tones.  It seems most of us of all races are actually various shades of orange.  So now I have this nice large water color to put in my little black folder.  I think I might continue to work large. But I’ll need to work on a better support.  Just leaning the drawing board doesn’t work very well.  I had to use a series of clamps on the tables.  And now a bonus picture for your enjoyment…a view out the window of the art center at night…Wow!

Thursday Painting

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Clearly, I’ve been slacking off on the blog.  I guess I’ve become overly dependent on pictures and when I don’t have any to show, I feel un-prepared….a picture being worth a thousand words.  Today I have some pictures from Thursdays figure class.  I decided to focus on the head.  I didn’t make any attempt to create a background with any narrative content…just to provide a space for the figure to exist in.

I started out with a pencil sketch that took about fifteen minutes then put a few colored washed over to establish the main themes of the light:  Yellow for the light source, red for the figure and blue for the background.  Themes that more or less remained true through to the end.  This didn’t turn out to be a very good likeness, but I like the clean fresh quality of the colors.  I sometimes go a bit muddy.  Which is ok with me, usually.  Here’s the finished

piece…on the left.  Somewhat cropped on the top.  On the right is Gerry Valerio setting the pose.  Gerry has been running this group for quite a while. Probably ten years.  I did the job for a number of years before that.  Before me, Steve Perkins and Bill Wells before that.  Somewhere way back in the early mists of time Moe DeLaitre did the job…I’m not sure, but I think she may have originated the class.

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Painting class on Thursday night continues to be a challenge.  I have very little experience doing figures with watercolor.  Here are the images I took every twenty minutes or so.  At one point I got disgusted with what I had and scrubbed the whole thing under running water.  It’s amazing how much survived and it was an improvement.

This first one is just a couple of washes over the pencil sketch.  The one on the right, I kind of like as the more detailed washes are pretty distinct and clean.  Probably everything starts to deteriorate from here.  The live paintings however, look quite different from the photographs.  The photographs give a sense of completion and finish.

The one on the left still isn’t so bad but the one on the right is just getting too heavy handed, which might be alright if the proportions and expression warranted it.  But  mainly all that weight was just exaggerating everything I thought was wrong.  I think this is about the point where I headed down to the washroom.

Using my fine brush I started drawing in the general lines of the form.  Lets just call the arabesques so as to make it seem like a good thing.  It sort of begins to seem like a tinted drawing in a way.  I like the tones that come through on the figure and I like the quality of the lines over the washes.  The drawing is a bit off…Way off.  There you have it folks.  My Thursday night watercolor, with a bonus photo to boot.

Cheese Pie

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Sometimes food is art.  Sometimes it’s the taste.  Sometimes it’s the look of it.  Sometimes it’s just everything about it, which is the case with this beautiful and tasty dinner dish my wife and daughter cooked up.  Very spicy with hot savory things baked into the crust.

Sorry I forgot to photograph the loading and unloading of the pottery wheel yesterday.  It was a very intense sort of consuming effort with a lot of people focused on some simple but strenuous activities.  All done with the help of student Scott and daughter Carlea, with the reassembly yet to be accomplished.  That’s todays challenge and maybe I can remember take a couple of shots of that.  In the meantime the cheese pie is history.

What the…

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Heard birds chirping this morning, for all the world as if they believe it is spring.  Is this like the groundhog seeing his shadow?  This time last year we were under more than a foot of snow. An image of which I’m providing here now, except for a slight chance of light snow on Thursday, it looks like we’re headed into a warming trend for the next ten days or so with lots of sun. Spring isn’t really that far behind.  I guess we could get a late winter snowstorm. It isn’t that unusual around her for heavy snow in March, but a March snow isn’t so cruel as a big one in February.  In March one always knows that relief is near by.  Unless winter extends itself…I guess there is a reason it is said that “March is the cruelest month.”  I dove headfirst into getting the pottery studio at the college cleaned up. Heavens to Betsy, those students do love to leave a mess.  I loaded a bunch of large sculpture into the kiln for the sculpture teacher and got that started firing.  Got a bunch of clay another step into the recycling process.  Moved some pottery wheels around in anticipation of the gift of a new wheel I will be receiving tomorrow.  Well, not new.  Actually a very old wooden framed kickwheel with a motor added on.  And to get it into the studio I’ll need to dis-assemble it, load it in my van, unload it, drag it into the studio and re-assemble it.  I’ve done this many times before, but I’m hoping this is the last time.  I think I’ll bother to take some pictures of this process tomorrow and post them.  In the meantime, I’m off to the web design committee meeting for the MFA…our local arts group…as we try to move into the 21 Century in style.

WaterColor Night

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Here’s another sequence of watercolors from last night.  This one is half the size I’ve been working lately…quarter sheet rather than half. 11 x 15.  I worked sitting down for a change.

So here are the first two stages: After 40 minutes (on the Left) and after 60 minutes on the right. The model of course wasn’t at the beach.  He was in a room lit by one little lamp, sitting on a bench, leaning against a wall with a sheet tacked up as a sort of backdrop.  Most people are just happy to draw the figure and leave the environment alone; but I’m trying to do a whole painting, using the whole area of the paper, and the wall is just too boring to attempt.  And I really enjoy making up environments for the model.  I usually do the environments while the model is on break, so that way I can work pretty much a straight three hours. The picture on the right is actually not the final picture, bu I neglected to take a final picture.  The main difference is that I took out that stick looking thing coming out the back of whatever that thing is he’s sitting on…a chair, I guess.  Maybe I’ll post the finished one another time…  And of course the picture on the left is of my watercolor palette and my little art box which I made about ten years ago, using some walnut wood I inherited from my dad.  It was originally a big conference table at a bank and I’m not sure how my father got it but somewhere along the way, he gave it all to me.  I’ve built several desks with it in my house and the smaller pieces have ben used in various small projects, such as this box.  I think I have one board left about eight inches by six feet long.

Cushman Scooters

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I posted a picture of an old Vespa recently.  My sister reminded me that our family had a scooter as a family vehicle once upon a time.  I remember a red scooter, which I believe was a Cushman scooter my  father drove us around on when we lived in Nashville, Tennessee.  I was about four years old and my greatest joy in life was standing on the running boards while we rode around town.  I believe my sister would be on the back, probably with her arms around my dad.  I did a little research and it’s not clear what model scooter that was.  I’m sure it was red and I do recall there was a sort of wind screen that I stood behind…So that would likely be the Roadmaster model…the one on the left.  Anyway, here are a couple of photos:






There’s something not right about either of these two pictures but the best I can do at a moments notice.  I’m pretty sure my dad was at Vanderbilt, working on a PhD, though I get a little bit confused in my recollections about who was doing what and when.  There were white rats in our life around then, as my father would sometimes bring home his experimental subjects.  My early intoxication with the scooter ride eventually got translated into Vespa ownership.  And I guess I’m done with all that now. If I have the wind in my face these days I prefer it to be the tropical trade winds.