Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Howling Winds Bring Back Memories

Icy Winds Howl Through the Night

What a wild night.... all night 35 mile an hour winds with gusts up to 50 mph roared and howled. It didn't start until bedtime (10:30 PM) and they are still blowing this morning. The house creaked and shuddered as I lay in bed. I couldn't sleep so my mind was racing. I lay thinking about my childhood in the old house on Kimball Hill Road. It was a big old colonial farmhouse (13 rooms)with a center bee hive chimney. It had been built in 1764 and added onto through the years. Now there was a house that could creak and shudder during a storm. The house was up on a hill with a long sloping driveway down to the main road. We would get snowbound there too, which was great to a little school!!!! Just get out the sleds, toboggans, wooden skis and a lot of unique freestyle sliding equipment like Granddad's canoe, an old Victorian bathtub that the legs had been taken off, an old metal washtub, and anything else in the barn that had a flat bottom. My cousins, Tim, Tom, and Dustin could sure come up with some creative sliding materials. The family would be snowed in until Uncle Henry came from his farm next door with his tractor with the big bucket loader and dig out our long driveway. That tractor made great snowbanks....more like snow mountains to a 7 year old. They could be quickly modified into snow forts and snow caves or we could pretend they were Mount Everest and go on our own "expeditions".
Winter was so much fun back then. Granddad would put us on a small toboggan, and he on his snowshoes, would pull us into the woods for an exciting adventure. Nana would pack hot dogs, and the fixins' and Granddad would build a fire. We would cook our hot dogs over the open fire with sticks he cut down with his hatchet. Of course, there would always be Marshmallows for a warm toasted dessert. Times were so much simpler then and the fun was so wholesome. Now my grandkids want a ride on a snowmobile if you can tear them away from the darn TV set and their video games. Technology is great, don't get me wrong. I couldn't blog on an abacus LOL but our kids today are missing out on the magic and wonder that existed in the very simple things we found so much fun when I was growing up. This morning on the early news I heard them reporting on a group of third graders who been discovered plotting to stab their teacher with a steak knife. By the sounds of it, they were making some pretty elaborate plans. Too bad that energy and creativity wasn't used to figure out how to slide a bathtub down a hill, I think the world would be a better place.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Still More Snow!!!!!!!!!

Will this winter ever end? Here it is, April Fools Day, and we are plowing snow again! We still have about 4-5 feet of snow on the ground depending where you measure. It snowed all day yesterday...not a lot of accumulation but enough to need plowing and certainly enough to make things messy. I finished two paintings this past week, a 6 x 6 and an 11 x 14. Both winter scenes ( I just can't get winter off my mind) and now they are up on Ebay for auction. That clears the decks for me to start to paint for the print company. I don't enjoy "repainting" a creation. I've had to do it a couple of times as clients have seen a painting that I have done and want another one like it. So in repainting them, I will change things up a little; paint them in a different size format; add some more details. This will help to make it more interesting for me. I'm starting off with Sunday at Saltwater Farm. Originally it was an 11 x 14, now I will repaint it as a 16 x 20.

Last night I painted the sky and let it dry over night. Painting skies in acrylics is difficult. Acrylics dry quickly, unlike oils that give you lots of open time to blend and create drama. So you have to work at breakneck speed to do blending, but I have a different approach. When painting on canvas, first I make a thin wash of the medium sky color and apply that to the canvas. This helps me later in the painting so that I don't have to worry about any white areas showing through when the brush skips over the weave of the canvas. When this layer is completely dry, 10 to 15 minutes, I make a true sky color mixture and paint this over the entire sky area. Wait for this to thoroughly dry. Then I make another sky color mix and this time I add some transparent faux glazing medium. This slows the drying of the paint so I will have time to blend much like you do when using oils. I start applying this sky color at the top of the canvas with a 1" wash brush and in long sweeping horizontal strokes from one side of the canvas to the other work my way down the canvas. When I am half way down the sky, I stop and quickly wipe the brush on paper towels to remove the excess paint. Then I load one side of the dirty brush with Titanium White and load the other side with the original sky mixture and starting at the horizon line I work my way up to where I stopped, with the same long sweeping strokes blending into the already painted sky. When I achieve the look I want, I let it dry for 24 hours and then go back later to put in clouds.