Retirement Woelk Style

RetirementPete06

What does retirement Woelk style, look like? This World’s Best, trophy holding, Woelk just retired…. completing 31 years at Kaiser Aluminum Trentwood, Spokane Washington plant. Friday was his last workday. He has 4 weeks of vacation before his “real” retirement starts. So, he is actually “on vacation” so, this is really his first week of vacation. Doesn’t look like vacation to me, does it look like vacation to you? Hmmmmm.

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In all honesty, I am glad he is getting the tractor fixed because we need it to finish getting the garden in, but honestly, this is NOT how I picture  retirement or vacation. Not even close.

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This Machine Has Needed This

Every nook and cranny of the machine has been inspected, cleaned, greased and put back together and now he is taking apart the front-end to find the noise it made. Hopefully, it will stay fixed all season after this thorough go through. This is a Kubota we bought from Ann and Dan when they moved to Arkansas. I pray for safety and protection for him every morning. We own stock in Band Aid and Tylenol now.

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Retiring Woelk Style isn’t Normal

Who Cares? I’ve never really cared much about normal anyhow. I’m Just As Guilty As Pete…I am working in the garden this week. Got the strawberry patch transplanted and spaced so they are not overcrowded. Hoping to be able to replenish the strawberry jam, strawberry syrup and strawberry juice this year. Un Huh! I will put up the before and after pictures of that in later posts.

Will get on the berry bushes and fruit tree bases clearing next so that they stay healthy and should be ready for when the tractor is back together and ready to plow and disc the rest of the garden so we can seed. We already have the other starts in the house waiting to go in.

But, I already had steamed asparagus for breakfast this morning. Yummm.  Our roses are budding, fruit trees are blossoming,  iris are getting ready to do their thing. Love the warm weather and the hummingbirds, life is great in the fast lane here in Elk. Never thought this ski bum would say that, did ya? Neener neener neener!

The Hummingbird Kids Are Back

7 Hummingbirds J1516
7 Hummingbirds J1516. 22″w x 30″h watercolor on 300lb. watercolor paper. Seven Hummingbirds surrounding a tree covered with Honeysuckle blossoms.
7 Hummingbirds J1516

Hummingbirds Arrive

The kids are back, noisy and darting around outside making a hummingbird heaven. Hence, witness the bright colored flashes of neon birds everywhere. We have already started to spend inordinate amounts of time outside watching them. Because, our deck is a buzzing hummingbird haven. How could this not be? Honestly, we are surrounded by forest and natural honeysuckle vines everywhere.

Spring is wonderful.

These birds are just amazing fliers, including abilities like; jet propulsion frontwards, backwards, sideways. They are also quite communicative, listen to them chirping, buzzing like in Start Wars, and scolding each other. Flitting in and out in a second. We do this hummingbird event all summer long, every year, check out other posts here. It almost seems like they need anger management sometimes.

Hum Bird YouTube Video

Here are some amazing clips put together already:

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Okay, three quesses at what subject will be next for this old artist, now that the children are back home. LOL.

Crocus Plein Air

The previous post was photographs of the first crocus buds appearing 4.14.2019, following these are the first plein air paintings in a new sketchbook of these purple & white buds. A new 50 page 7″ x 5″ 130lb watercolor sketchbook inspires sketching to begin. 

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I have not done this kind of on-the-spot painting in a while and the blossoms seem a little rough. Next, here are some shots of the bright blossoms today. Check out the sleepy, little fuzzy guy in the blossom. Bzzzzz said the bee. He really is lethargic in the cool spring air but already covered with pollen. 

Aren’t the colors vibrant?

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crocus blossom with a bee
Crocus with a bee

Happy Easter…. from me to you, with crocus plein air sketches in the yard today.

Crocus Blossom sketch paint 01
Crocus Blossom sketch paint 01
Crocus Blossom sketch paint 02
Crocus Blossom sketch paint 02

First sketch seems a bit mushy but the second one is getting to be a style I could really come to love. Let me know what you think….

Purple Blossoms

crocus 11 purple blossomsFirst Purple Blossoms Appear

The first bright purple blossoms peek their heads out for me, as crocus planted last year along the driveway come up. All that work from the previous year rewards us with spring flowers, that I love. They are such welcome splashes of color after a period of cool grays. Pete and I took some pictures to allow me to come back in to the studio and paint them, instead of getting frosty outside. After all, the temperatures are not balmy yet.

crocus 01  purple blossoms crocus 06  purple blossomsI look up the name crocus and find that they are a part of the iris family. Really? Who would have thought that? Thank goodness for the ease of using Wikipedia, soon I will forget how to turn the pages of a dictionary.

Focus

Here is a deep artistic concept, check out these two photographs. They are a perfect example showing how a different “depth-of-field” or “focus” totally changes an image. It almost seems as though these two pictures were taken at different places, but they were not. Only the focal point changed. Clearly, where we choose to focus our attention is really important. Think about that all throughout your life.

Where do you focus your attention?

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The fleeting beauty of the crocus in early spring is a short term glance at the wonder of nature. Finding that crocus is part of the iris family kind of explains why I was drawn to them in the store last year. Since the first time I saw them, iris have been a favorite of mine. Their sturdiness, prolific qualities, combined with their limitless supply of color and combinations never cease to amaze me. If they are one of those bright flowers that give a wonderful perfume, that is even better.

I will do plein air sketches from the blossoms and post them with pictures as things progress, in the next few days. In fact, my focus artistically is leaning heavy to plein air….. I confess.

 

Riverfront Park’s Clock Tower from Above

Plein Air Landscape

This is a view of the Riverfront Clock Tower from a bridge railing in Riverfront park. Looking from above the Washington Street viaduct with a constant flow of cars entering downtown underneath seemed almost surreal. This specific view is a cozy little oasis (off-the-beaten-path) with it’s own cool bench. Virtually, a perfect place to set up water, brushes and paint to your hearts content with minimal interference from foot traffic. Initially, I was worried there would be no interesting views to paint at Riverfront park but I was proven so very wrong. I only had to open my eyes, to see great nature views, or people enjoying the nature views.

clock tower reference photo
above the clock tower

I am a member of the Spokane Watercolor Society, and we have a group of plein air painters meeting once a month on the last Friday of the month at high noon to paint together. If you’d like to join us feel free to contact us and let us know at our Facebook page Plein Air and Urban Sketching – Members of SWS. It is a monthly artist event that I look forward to every month. Fellow artists sharing ideas and methods and challenging each other to continue to improve.

It is simply a lot of fun!

I took some time to sketch the clock tower carefully before heading down to the riverside level. Subsequently, trying another view, nearer where the rest of the group was painting at next.

clock tower above sketch
clock tower sketch

Working from memories and pictures taken at the scene, I finished this painting back at the studio on 4/5/2019.

Riverfront Clock Tower from Above
9″w x 12″h watercolor. Riverfront Park’s Clock Tower from Above D2219

 

 

Plein Air painting at Riverfront Park

clock tower reference photo
clock tower

Spent the afternoon (Friday) plein air painting at Riverfront Park in Spokane WA.Painting outside in a beautiful park with friends. We were a group from the Spokane Watercolor Society who met near the clock tower at high noon. Sounds like the meet up at the OK corral doesn’t it?  It is amazing how many people use this park, it was full of people. They were a constant stream of people running, walking dogs, sitting and admiring the scenery.

Plein Air Off the Beaten Path

I was able to discover a great view of the tower a little off the beaten path, and overhead. It was truly sublime. Initially, trying to render that clock tower in an impressionistic manner proved impossible. Paintbrush sketches produced awkward, leaning towers. There are so many angles and doo-dads on that riverside brick tower with a clock. As a result, another tactic was required. Architectural subjects need accuracy, don’t they? Finally, resorting to using the old artist pencil measure trick with outstretched arm, got the job done.  It was worth it to take the time to do that sketch. The layout is in pencil now, and ready to work on in the studio. I took a ton of photos, to be able to finish it up.

clock tower above sketch
clock tower sketch

Second Painting Location

pavilion reference photo
pavilion willow photo
pavilion willow
pavilion with willow

I joined the gang from SWS at the ground level down by the river next. Next to Gay W., I found a great view of the pavilion cables over the ice rink, that had a willow tree getting orange branches in spring. What a vision. Hope it comes out, cause it was quite a cool view. Luckily, I was able to get some washes down before I had to pack up and leave.

Artist Thoughts…

Unfortunately, there was a man playing the bongos next to the river. I kept thinking, he needs to get some other musicians to sing and play instruments with him to break up the monotony. The “bong, bong, bong” started to get on my nerves later in the afternoon, so, I cut the outing short.

While spending the day in that beautiful riverside park I noticed a sad thing. There were couples and friends sitting or walking together, not looking at each other or the view, but instead looking at their phones.

What is with that?

Going to a beautiful park, to walk and sit next to the river with beautiful waterfalls cascading all around. Then choosing to enter into oblivion? Are we loosing our humanity by getting together, to ignore each other and nature’s beauty around us? 

As a society, are we so addicted to “blue screen” time that we miss important things?

In conclusion, this Friday painting day outside in the warm air was a beautiful nature wonderful “artist date”!

Walk in First Snow Through the Woods

first snow woods photograph

Almost every day, I get to see scenes like this as I walk outside the studio. My camera is a real happy camper. Luckily, I captured this picture during the first snow of the season. There was a small accumulation of snow and the day was warm. Sometimes, it feels like I live in paradise with the nature right around me.

There are tracks from our neighbors who had just ridden their ATV’s through it. There are a lot of Bambi tracks and Gobble Gobble turkey tracks too! Max and I are not the only ones enjoying this area.

We all love the outside up here in Elk, WA.  Our neighborhood is the one that started the, “You might be a redneck if……” craze. Checkout Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian here.

My goal right now is to conquer a fear of painting snow and get good at painting winter scenes. I figure the more I paint, the easier it will get. Hmmmm. We’ll see.

walk first snow WC washHere is the first study I painted of this view, as a horizontal presentation. After finishing the study, I am able to see areas to improve. Standing back a way gives me a good view to ponder how I want to proceed with the larger painting.  I’m not so sure I will go with horizontal, I think I like the vertical better.

Walk First Snow
Watercolor study complete for horizontal layout.

I will try a vertical layout next.

Snow and fun landscapes

Snow and fun winter landscapes, is quite a normal sequence of terms for this skiier. We are a household of ski and snowboard bums that love that white stuff. We have fun! Winter is fun!

winter fencepost
Winter fencepost, done in Stan Miller’s workshop at Spokane Art Supply in Spokane Wa. 

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to be able to attend a weekend workshop with Stan Miller. He is a phenomenal master painter, who I have had the privilege of knowing over the years. A wonderful artist and person. The subject was winter water, skies and snow in watercolor. As always, having an opportunity to spend some time with a small group learning from a “master” really brings things up a notch in a painters world. Above, is an unfinished exercise from the workshop. Unfinished, but still quite an inspiration to me.

Snow is something I have always loved. Unfortunately, it is a subject that has simply baffled me whenever I try to paint it. Fortunately, Stan Miller is an amazing teacher and has been able to open up a whole new world for me with what he showed during that weekend workshop at Spokane Art Supply . With this fencepost painting, I was able to get “what I see” in a snow scene… down on the paper. Success, is such an inspiration.

A person who paints a 1,000 paintings stands a better chance of producing more great masterpieces…

It is about time, I record the fun and the gorgeous sights we see all winter long. This artist is on a mission!

Snow Chores

Propane Tank Before 1When snow falls in larger quantities, the chores around the home get a little unusual sometimes.Winter fun in Elk Washington. Keeping our driveway and road cleared is a given, because we don’t want to have to walk up this hill to get in and out. Keeps us on top of that chore.

That white stuff keeps piling up.

Uh huh! said the happy skiier!

Propane Tank Before 2This weekend while we were in balmy “teen temperatures”, I noticed that it would be real hard to get access to our propane tank. So, slipping on those sexy Sorel boots, with matching leather gloves hat and coat. I stepped out and grabbed the snow shovel off of the deck. My buddy, Max was right there with me, so we went out to clear the walkway to the propane tank.

Taking a couple of “before” pictures, I then got busy with a shovel while Max guarded the driveway. I’m not sure what he guards against, but he sits there at attention, gazing off into the trees.

Propane Tank After 2When I was done I took “after” pictures.

Propane Tank After 1Those walkway pavers were easy to put in last summer in the heat. It is a different story to find them under waist high snow drifts. Things got kind of tricky, as I thought, where the heck are they? Maybe, I should put a little reflector marking them. Another mental note-to-self.

Woo Hoo! now we can see the walkway to the propane tank and I am happy to report that my fingertips have finally warmed up!