Research Before Drawing

I routinely conduct research about whatever it is I plan to draw, to be able to correctly illustrate things. Searching for the general facts, like sizes, colors, friends & enemies and next finding good photography. First, I envision the character realistically. Next, heavily simplifying the lines. Next, the challenge becomes giving them some human capabilities while retaining realistically identifiable specie characteristics. Here are some sketch examples.

rhino research sketch 4 rhino research sketch 6 rhino research sketh 7

I had no idea!

When I did the research on rhinos I found that I was totally oblivious to their plight. I had no idea that they were so close to extinction. The White Rhino is one of 5 quickly disappearing species of Africa, and Eurasia. Rhinos live in tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannah, shrub lands, forests and deserts. Unfortunately, with numbers dropping so drastically, many remain only in wildlife reserves now. The main factors driving the rhino population to extinction:

  • increasing human population creating less and less habitat for them
  • wars and militia massacres
  • greedy poachers

rhino research sketch 5Poachers kill approximately 3 rhinos each day to sell their horns for highly inflated profits. Poachers are the worst threats, very much like drug smugglers or cartels. Honestly, money is most important thing to them. Insidious criminals with no conscience.

Research the Horns

rhino research sketch 8Poached rhino horns are purchased by two major markets in the world. The Chinese and Vietnamese mistakenly believe that magical medicinal properties exist in rhino horn. Not true. Rhino horns are made of “Keratin” which, is what human fingernails and hair are comprised of. If, Keratin is a magical medicine, we don’t have to kill the rhino’s for it. Honestly, anyone needing “keratin” can simply chew on their own fingernails or hair and get the same results.

This horrific act of killing rhinos and harvesting their horns, makes me ashamed to be a member of humanity. I wish it would stop.

Grow-Up & Gravel

Are the Woelk’s growing up?

Duh! For years we have acted surprised when Spring arrives. We curse the fact, that just when we need gravel, all roads have restrictions (spring thaw). Remember the mud last Spring? Our driveway was a mud bog for two weeks, we were unable to refill our propane, etc, etc, etc. It was virtually impossible to drive up to the house and unfortunately, it was just as difficult to navigate by foot. You really know things are bad when your boot stays stuck in the mud producing the frozen barefoot feeling we all love. Check out, “Spring Has Sprung“. gravel on driveway 01

gravel on turn-around 01

Gravel

Toners Sand and Gravel delivered 5 loads of driveway gravel last week. Starting with the turn around area getting a full load all it’s own. That is where the propane truck got stuck last year in deeper than knee-deep mud. Intense!

gravel on driveway 05
Second load of gravel dumping
gravel on driveway 03
Pete’s second load of gravel done

Pete was home to show them where to put the loads. He used the tractor to smooth it all out on the driveway and now it looks really good.

tractor smoothing gravel
Pete on tractor grading gravel

Thinking Ahead

It feels good to be ahead of a problem instead of chasing-it-after-the-fact. In our 60’s, it really is about time for us to grow-up, right? Good Job Woelk’s!

Max and Hurley Returned!

Dogs, Got Me Again!

….  said the foolish freaked out doggy Mom in Elk WA. If I’d waited 10 more minutes there would not have even been a post about the dogs. LOL!

MINUTES!  after posting the missing dogs post, guess who walked through the dog door smiling and happy as can be. The two missing munchkins did! What a happy homecoming.

Hurley & Max homecoming

Here is what those two look like after running and playing all night around the neighborhood. They wagged tails, ate breakfast and now it looks like they are down for the count. Snoring already.

 

 

 

Woofer’s A.W.O.L. in Elk WA

If you see these two…

Hurley, golden doodle
Hurley, golden doodle

Please call or text at 509/329-8207

Thanks!

Max, Swiss Mountain Dog-pit bull

Early yesterday afternoon, a coyote howled in the distance and both our dogs took off at a dead-run in hot pursuit. They have stayed out all night and are still not home this morning. I am getting worried because they have never stayed out all night and they rarely will miss morning and night food times….

Both dogs weigh about 80 lbs and are VERY FRIENDLY. Hurley is a tall blond or red-headed Golden Retriever and Poodle mix. Max is shorter but the same weight because he is all muscle. You will notice that they have black collars with a little invisible fence kind of a box unit on it. Evidently, I don’t have the shock correction set at a high enough level to convince them to ignore a coyote.

BTW please don’t tell them that I plan on giving them a bath when they get home, cause I know with the rain and snow they are going to be a muddy mess. A human need to know thing…

Huckleberry Watercolor

Next

First, here is another study of huckleberry watercolor paintings. Loose backgrounds paired with detailed treatments to the berries is what I am experimenting with. “Why is that?”, you may ask. Ultimately, it is the berries I am looking for, when I am up there. Blurred backgrounds and focus on the berries is my way of trying to produce that same reality. While hiking, my eyes constantly rove left and right searching for a particular shade of purple.

HuckBerryWetI2819
9″h x 12″w watercolor of five huckleberries that are wet

Hiking to Pick

Secondly, hiking I love, but berry-picking while hiking is like having your cake and eating it too! Add a camera into the mix and we start to use words like heaven to describe the outing.

These berries love steep ground, or ground that has seen a lot of abuse. We find them where a wildfire has cleared and left the rich ash on the ground for regrowth. Also, we tend to find them where select logging has cleared areas so the shrubs on ground level get more light. I always notice a lot of logs to step or climb over as we spend a day discovering these tasty little gems. Additionally, we use our nose to find huckleberries. These berries  have such a sweet smelling aroma that drifts on the breeze as you walk. Sometimes, we just follow our nose and find them. This is a short video of a place I picked some berries up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort this year.

Today, I had been scheduled to be an artist vendor at the “Huckleberry Festival which is put on by the Roosevelt Inn” in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Unfortunately, stuff happens and I am unable to be there. The Inn is a great historical building (red brick school building) in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene just one block above the Hitching Post. If you are in the neighborhood please go check it out. After all, this show is my inspiration to do huckleberry image studies in the first place.

 

 

 

Peer-to-Peer Birch Trees and Deer

Peer to Peer Teaching

Ron Stocke Spokane WA workshop
Ron Stocke at Spokane Washngton Workshop

Peer to peer teaching is so very valuable. This year I was fortunate to be able to paint with Ron Stocke for a weekend workshop. His style of painting is so inspiring. It reminds me of the much freer painter I used to be in my youth. This inspired me to return to a freer style and quit trying to render picture perfect images.

Ron Stocke Spokane WA Workshop Demo
Ron Stocke Spokane WA Workshop Demo

Sharing Talents Peer-to-Peer

Similarly, I painted another day with a friend and fellow artist (peer), Becky Gromlich, at her studio where we did some birch trees together. During this one day workshop, she showed how certain steps can make this kind of tree painting so much easier. It was so very helpful, to learn this.

Till then, I never realized how much fun these trees can be to paint. Birches and larches are no longer things that I face with trepidation in a layout. She opened me up to painting trees more often with vigor. Here is one I did shortly after her workshop.

Wish You Were Here - Fall Birches J3318
Wish You Were Here – Fall Birches J3318, 10″w c 15″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper

Later, using these same skills I painted many birch trees using house paints in a landscape mural up at the 49 Degrees North Ski Resort. Using the same steps with a different medium.

Continued Experimentation

49 Degrees North Ski Resor winter mountain landscape mural
Winter mountain landscape mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort Children’s Area.

This watercolor entitled, Muley Deer C1919, sold at the SWS (Spokane Watercolor Society) Member Show last year. It was painted using the same kind of approach for the trees combined (Becky) with a freer style of rendering for the deer, learned from (Ron Stocke).

Muley Doe C1919
Muley Doe C1919 9″w x 12″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper.

Here is another watercolor entitled, Yellow Rose J3218 which is another example of the freer style of watercolor (Ron Stocke). It was inspired by a beautiful rose blossom I picked in my garden earlier that day.

Yellow Rose J3218
Yellow Rose J3218 10″w x 15″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper.

As an artist, I benefit a great deal from fellow artists who share, helping to expand my skills and creativity. Additionally, I have found that it is easier for me to learn from a working (painting) artist (peer) than a school teacher type of person.

Finding My Peers

The SWS group that I belong to surrounds me with exactly this kind of inspiring artistic talent. The Spokane Watercolor Society is a club full of amazingly talented artists, sharing friendship along with many watercolor methods that they know and it has been a wonderful blessing to me.  Artists always seem to need to strive for growth in all kinds of new avenues and this open friendly club provides a very healthy circle of inspiration to me as I grow.

Photographs, a Historic Art Form

Photos

Cordelia Canniff & son with her Mom
There must have been no age restrictions on driving back then.

Here is an example of historic photography in my family. These are my Great Grand Aunt, “Cordelia Canniff”, with her Mother and child. I know where I get it from, cause this looks like fun to me. Just wondering….

What are the age restrictions for driving?

Do you think the roads might have been a little bit muddy?

History

Photographs are a form of art that preserve views of our humanity. A visual form of historic storytelling. Each old photograph allows us a glimpse into life long ago.  Words could not describe the spirit evident in their faces. I am touched as I gaze at the noble facial structure of Chief Joseph‘s portrait. I bet that a lot of persuasion was required to get the Chief to allow his portrait taken. We are fortunate that the photographers were successful. Their perseverance allows us the ability to see his personality, dress and culture perfectly.

I used to be the only fool carrying a camera with me, during the “stone-age” of my youth. People would make fun of me for this fascination until I showed great shots I got. This the view from the rim of the Kalaheo Side of the Kalalau Canyon in Kauai (Hawaii’s Miniature Grand Canyon). 

KalaheoKalalauCanyonRim
Kalaheo Kalalau Canyon Rim

This habit is life-long for me, here is a typical view of me with camera-in-hand in the 1990s. In modern day society, everyone carries a camera around in their cell phone so I am no longer the unusual person in the crowd.

Val with camera
1998 Val With Canon Camera

Filter the Volume

The costs involved in the use of the medium of film, nurtured a natural discernment of the importance of a subject before taking a picture. This narrowed down the volume of shots taken. Additionally, there were the considerations of the developing cost of the film and print which created another sorting of the images effectually  filtering the collection a second time. Buying a camera, and learning how to use it narrowed the photographers down to people with an invested interested in the field. This investment along with the costs involved in the film and development created a filtering process which greatly narrowed down public photography to the “most excellent shots in the batch”.

Identifying Stored Images

Estate sales, illustrate many avenues of photograph storage. documentation, filing and storage of shots is handled differently by each individual who points a camera. Some, simply leave volumes of unsorted and forgotten envelopes in boxes, while others carefully place shots into highly organized photograph albums. Some photographers take the time to identify each print with notes written on the back to identify the people, places and things being recorded. This printed method of history storage is dying. Boxes of photographs are being replaced with digital storage. Cloud, phone, tablet and disk .

Photographs in a box
Photographs that we leave behind.

Getting quite ancient myself, I find that I am focussing on downsizing, and minimizing everything. I gradually go through and sort out the stuff collected throughout my life. Within my household, I find that I have inherited multiple boxes of photographic memories from deceased family members. These gifts have assigned me the onorous task of sorting through photographs from a time long long time ago, electing to discard duplicates, un-identified, or out-of-focus shots in the process. Reducing the volume, but, still preserve the best and most important.

onerous |ˈōnərəsˈänərəs|

adjective

(of a task, duty, or responsibility) involving an amount of effort and difficulty that is oppressively burdensome: he found his duties increasingly onerous.

 It is important to try and pass down family history. I scan, reasonably repair and post to my own family tree on https://www.ancestry.com. The plan is to scan, then save to disk. Subsequently, pack up and send originals to the most closely related family member still alive. Hopefully, I will not burden any loved ones with having to go through a similar task when I am gone. End goal is no boxes of photographs in my studio when I pass.

Thank you to my relatives with manners and consideration!

I appreciate the past relatives who had the good manners to let me know who and what I am looking at. Those Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles, Moms and Dads, siblings who took the time  to scribble an ID message on the back, are absolute life-savers for the person working on family history preservation. See my great great great aunt’s photograph,  who had been ID’d because of a little note on the back which allowed me to see who she was on the family tree.

I suggest that the same consideration should be taken with digital files documenting family history that we are accumulating. We should be removing duplicates, bad shots, and storing them in retrievable methods.

Joe and Dora Fitts 1800s
Identifying our history is important, Joe and Dora Fitts 1800s

 

Memories in a Photo

Photographs & Memories

Jean and LawrenceHave you ever noticed how a single good photograph can instantly trigger teleportation back into a memory? The camera was a magical invention. Photography has had that amazing power for hundreds of years, the ability to capture a memory.  This thought is elegantly presented by the lyrics in an old favorite song of mine, “Photographs and Memories” by Jim Croce. Song writers are a special breed of artist too!

I was processing photographs on my computer this morning, you know, naming and filing or discarding if it is out-of-focus or a duplicate. I opened  a family folder and instantly began touring my past and, before I knew it, an hour had passed. There were some kleenex involved with the images of people no longer here or are far away. Here is a picture of my cousin Jeanie and her husband Lawrence taken years ago. I feel these people are never around for long enough. They were just here visiting for a short time and I miss them a lot. 

People change a great deal throughout their lives. Here is a photograph of my 3-year-old son trying a lemon. What a great facial expression! 

Pat Sour FaceNext, is a shot of he and I taken in the Colorado airport in his twenties. Sorry for the graininess of the second image (“low-res” cell phone) camera. Truyly, time changes everything. Those two shots don’t even look like the same person, which is amazing.
Pat & Mom in Colorado

 

 

 

 

Back from Social Media Break

Social Media

First of all, disconnecting from social media has freed up about an hour a day for more important stuff to get done in my life. Being “social media free” is a good way to figure out priorities for me. I am back from a 6 week break, sabbatical, from the social media world. It has been refreshing to be “social media” free. I narrowed my involvement down to once-a-day for phone messages, texts and did not peruse FaceBook posts. 

lady texting
lady texting

Actually breaking away from thinking (obsessing) about FaceBook or checking my phone for messages. There are times that I need to return to the less busy existence where I simply get up and do my work or chores without interruption (bombardment) of tons of minutia that social media produces. This break has made me notice how much of a distraction that my phone or computer screen can become, and things go a lot better without that distraction for my spirit.

I have noticed a large majority of people only live on the fringe or border of their lives as they stare into their blue screens. They are only glancing at their lives going by on the side as they check into their social media sites. What a waste.

I walk through the grocery store seeing children trying to talk to a parent who is fully engaged with their phone? Is that phone screen more important than your child?

At a restaurant, you see a couple who looks like they are on a first or second date. Are they both looking at their phones instead of each other? How important is your date’s company while sharing this meal?

Hours of Phone Gazing

I certainly could not care less about seeing what you have found to share during your phone gazing today. Please don’t share what you have spent hours scanning through FB to find, unless you think it is truly worthwhile information to share. The fact that a male whale ejaculates 40 pounds of sperm and only 10 pounds enters the female, is not in that category for me. A dear cousin of mine shared that with his FB world today. Hmmmm, really? Please don’t use up my time with useless trivia.

Sharing with friends & family.

Having thousands of friends on FaceBook does not generate happiness. Numbers do not fill our hearts. It is the quality of friendships in life that makes my spirit soar. Having friends who get to actually see each other “face-to-face”, or at least want to do that (if to far apart) does make life worth living. I prefer communicating with another human being face-to-face whenever possible.

Friends and family are the people that are more important than any text message, phone call or FB event. I don’t respond to my cell phone while I am lucky enough to be spending time with them. I leave my phone off during dates, or meetings. A cell phone is a tool that I pay for to be able to make calls, look up info on the internet, and find directions when I choose to. I can return calls and texts later on at my discretion.  I am not a slave to my phone, and I don’t have to immediately respond to it. It is only a tool.

Blue Screens Rule

cell phone crowd
cell phones in the crowd

Above all, it is amazing how many people walk around with their phone in front of their face 24/7. If you enter a doctors waiting room, not a single person greets you. There are no welcome nods. All are looking at their phones, ignoring all the other people in the room? 

 Mindful living is something all of us could improve on. Does anyone pay attention to life going on around them now? Not much detail is noticed about life around you as you gaze into a blue screen. The outlying life in the peripherals is a sad and blurry missed scene.

cell phone texting dangers
cell phone texting dangers

Police detectives probably just hate interviewing witnesses now. Gazing at the blue screen and walking down the sidewalk, if a high speed chase were to go by and/or an accident happen right in front of you….

How much help would you be able to provide?

  • What happened?
  • What did the driver look like?
  • What color was the car?
  • What was the license number?
  • How many people were in the car?
  • What were they wearing?
  • Was there a gun?
  • What hand did the gunman use?

Finally, I don’t intend to miss my life or only notice it in the peripherals by allowing myself to be distracted by the endless trivia of social media. I have only one chance to live my life and I plan to be present and live it to the best of my ability, in the here and now.