icicles grown in Elk

Nature is so amazing….

It is cold here in rural Elk Washington, winter is definitely not over. Walked out on the deck this am and made a discovery, There is quite a crop of icicles hanging down from our roof. We have a steep slope metal roof so usually snow clears hard and heavy, but not so this past week.

It seems that just the right amount of snow and warming have prevailed. We have snow on the roof extending slowly over the side. The end result is lots of icicles hanging from a sheet of snow. A great specimen of what icicles look like.

At any moment a huge dump of snow will let loose.

It almost looks science fiction, kind of creepy crawly rows of fingers reaching over the edge of the roof.  These icicles are great reflectors of light, now I see where the inventor of those christmas icicle lights got their idea from. 

Plein air inspiration

Monroe St Bridge
Monroe St Bridge in process.

Inspired by a memory of a brilliant sunset recently.

 

I am working on completing a plein air watercolor painting of the Spokane river today. This started with a group outing at the Spokane library last month. The day waswa cold gray winterwday so I  exercising the artist perogatvepto improvise. AddingAthat gorgeousgsunset to the winter scene. It is a work in process will share more later.

Winter With Family

Let it Snow

Winter with family in the snow can be so much fun! We were fortunate to have our cousin’s son, Sam and his lovely fiancee (Jess) over for the weekend on the start of their ski vacation trip. Yay! We are so jealous!

Always fun time with those two and their furry critter Hilti! Our dog Max and their Hilti are best friends, totally!

Here are both.

Holland Sam Jess

Now, the real personality comes out!

Holland Sam Jess 2

We spent Saturday up on the hill at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort, what a blast. Got a workout and great sunshine all day, who says winter has to be dark? 

Crooked TreeOn Sunday we were able to walk near our house to the “crooked tree”. What a destination huh? It is about a mile and a half walk for us, which is a good stretch of the over-skiied and boarded legs from the day before. Crunch, crunch, crunch. However, it must be about ten miles for the dogs running in circles around us as we go. BTW, it is amazing what nature will overcome?

Check out this old tree, wonder if it could talk what would it say? Pete proves that he is truly a tree hugger and a tree sitter while we are there.

Pete Tree Hugger

When we got back home we had breakfast with Rachel and her family to celebrate her birthday which was the day before. A great winter weekend.

 

SWS Member Show 2019 announced

Granite Falls HikeWe just got the information at our monthly meeting last Saturday that the Spokane Watercolor Society here in Spokane WA will have our SWS Member Show 2019, again at the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy
Community Building lobby
opening on First Friday in April 2019.

This has me gearing up to concentrate on plein air painting outside to get a great piece to enter between now and then. I am heading out the door on snowshoes with my dog, Max to discover great images as I walk today.

The Spokane Watercolor Society Membership Show 2019, has a show theme of, “Nature” this year. There is an opening reception as part of Spokane’s First Friday Art celebration on April 5th from 5-8pm. All of the hanging watercolor paintings by our members will be for sale and will be on display from April 5th through April 26th 2019. The Inland Northwest Land Conservancy Lobby hours are weekdays 9AM-4PM (no weekend days).

The host is the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy
Community Building lobby

which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that helps willing landowners place conservation easements on their properties. They are focused on protecting land in watershed areas. The show location is in their Community Building lobby, at 35 West Main Avenue, in downtown Spokane WA 99201 (corner Browne and Main).

We invite you to come meet the artist’s and enjoy refreshments or even learn to paint at our teaching table. We may have some of our plein air artists painting at the event. Artistic fun at the opening reception and raffle on First Friday 5-8pm. That night there will be unframed additional small works and cards for sale.

Moose “A” Makeover

If I Were a Moose “A” Miner…

Witness the changes as we give Mr. Moose “A” his beauty makeover at my artist studio. This miner is looking for gold in the hills of Chewelah WA. Initially, he appears sporting a pair of patched blue jeans with red suspenders with his yellow miner hat. Miner Moose is a little large, okay VERY large and extending well beyond the edges of our table. I have to pay attention to drop cloth placement for this guy today. Doesn’t he seem like he is worried, as he lays on the table waiting for a “new look” after all his repairs?

moose A 02 ready for paint

First, his moose antlers are created with a light gray background that is shaped by working darks and lights into the wet paint for the different rounded horn surfaces.

Fur

moose A 03 fur moose A 04 fur

Similarly, the next step is to cover his fur with a basic brown.  I pull out 3D shapes in his body and face, by using combinations of red, blue and yellow in the wet paint. Oooops, mustn’t forget his hind legs showing at the base of his pants.

Blue Jeans

moose A 05 blue jeans

Next, I apply blue to the jeans followed by their highlights in white. If, while I am working, I have a color on my brush and notice an area that needs it, I simply apply it right then. You will notice that I like to use blue to make surfaces show more in the distance or shadow. With that goal in mind, blue applied to the eyes, leg backs, nose and around his ear.

Green Burlap Bag

moose A 07 damage gone moose A 08 damage less

The addition of a significant change as I add a small green burlap bag to hold gold treasures along his belt line, which eliminating the suspenders. This should draw attention to his middle body region instead of his legs. Just maybe, if the majority of the pokes are on his body center, it is possible that his spindly legs will stand a better chance at survival.

Moose Face

moose A 09bag moose A 08 faceHis eye and face are re-created here along with his little yellow “miner” hat, which is put-in without the light.

moose A 08 damage lessmoose A 07 damage gone

Stepping back, I examine Moose “A’s” makeover progress. While, I can still see some of the screw holes from the repairs from a few angles. But, honestly they are not all that noticeable when you step back. It is amazing what a good coat of paint does, isn’t it?

Gold Treasures

moose A 11 gold ready to gluemoose A 12 gold pebbles

Now it is time for the finishing touch in our Moose “A” makeover! The gold treasures are placed in his bag, and he is ready for his final sealing coat. He is all new and ready to go back home to his place up on the hill.

moose A & B done

There is a series of animal sign characters that were repaired by myself for the ski hill up at 49 Degrees North in Chewelah WA.

Moose Miners Animal Characters

Moose Sign Repairs

There are two Moose Miner animal character signs up on the hill at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort. They have both received extensive attention over the years requiring some pretty extensive repairs before they could be re-painted. Moose A has two broken front legs and Moose B has a broken antler.

moose A repair 01 glue

Moose A

This moose has had interim repairs on the hill leaving some damage from screw holes. But, this is minor and will not cause us any problems. Luckily, all the parts are still intact so gluing them back together is feasible. Initial gluing is shown with clamps from the front then the process of using sawdust filler and glue to fill in gaps.

moose A repair 02 sawdust fill moose A repair 03 wood shaving fill gaps

Pete glues the wood back together using sawdust filler for the gaps because with the drastic temperature variances. We must use similar product to fill gaps due to that old expansion and contraction law, you know. Placed upside down on his antlers moose A dries for 24 hours.

moose A repair 06 drying

Metal reinforcement is installed on the back of both front legs and a wood reinforcement is placed on his antler, which is not broken yet.

We heed the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin’s old phrase, https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/columns/beeftalk/beeftalk-an-ounce-of-prevention-is-worth-a-pound-of-cure/

”An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,”

….so, we decide to reinforce the antler now instead of later.

moose Repair B 01 moose Repair B 02 broken antler

Moose B

This moose has a broken antler when he arrives. The antler is glued back on and damaged areas filled.

moose Repair B 06 antler repair

The antler will need significant reinforcement to hold up. Additionally, we realize that placing reinforcement only on the antler portion of the sign will cause more stress to that specific area. Exactly what we don’t want to do. We can’t elevate the surface unevenly, without compromising the mounting (to the tree) concentrating more mounting stress on the weakest area. Consequently, we went with a solid top to bottom board reinforcement, intending to use paint to disguise it from the front.

moose Repair B 08 antler reinforcing

Both signs areset aside to dry, ready for repainting.

moose A & B repair 02 moose A & B repair drying

 

Plein Air Watercolor Painting

Outdoor Painting, Indoors

I went to a Spokane Watercolor Society, Plein Air Group get together at the Spokane Main Library downtown this weekend. The view from the Library windows is looking north overlooking the river. 

SpokaneLibraryPleinAirView

Certainly, plein air painting the outdoor beauty of the Inland Northwest in the warm comfort of the main library downtown is heavenly.

Plien Air Post St Bridge Spokane Library

Post Street Bridge Crossing

Today, I finished up one of the pieces started at the Spokane Library this weekend, of the Post Street Bridge crossing. The place that the Bloomsday Race used to end, with metal figures running on the sidewalk by City Hall.

What a great view the third floor library windows have!

This cityscape is chock full of many interesting images. Unfortunately, this large variety makes it is hard to select a specific view. Probably made more intense when you are also looking at gorgeous river and waterfall views at the same time. Decisions, decisions.

Finally, significant fun was had while getting to know my plein air brush from the Derwent kit I just got. I has it’s own tank of water in the pen which is really convenient. There are reasonable (under $20) kits available on DickBlick.com.

plein air paint kit Derwent plain air paint kit

Seems, like happiness is getting the water to look like it is really falling. Hence, a waterfall. Yahoo! While learning to use the plein air paint kit well enough to try it “on location”, without taking my other brushes.

Even more plein air painting events, along the river, are scheduled for January at the Inlander offices and February at Anthony’s Restaurant in 2019. Please feel free to contact any one of us to attend a Spokane Watercolor Society monthly meeting and/or come have fun painting with other artists at the next plein air event.

Skiing 49 Degrees North

Ski Conditions

Skiing at 49 Degrees North in Chewelah WA this weekend varied a great deal. Yesterday (Saturday) we skied up on the hill we had good snow to try out our fat ski’s on. Now I see why everyone loves their fats. There was 3-4 inches of fluff to float over and practice on for me. Pete went up to the top to check it out and found that the cloud cover was so thick that he was skiing by feel. We opted to stay on the lower hill by chair two and play in the Hobbit forest because,visability was only 1-2 feet on top. Quite a fun day!

We saw a white little weasel, and of course no camera ready. He popped his head out of the snow and looked like he was going to get Pete. They are hard to see but so much smaller than I thought they were. Then he just popped down and dug over a few feet and popped up again. Found one on YouTube kind of like it here.

Snow Today

Today (Sunday) we drove up to the ski hill early and saw beautiful blue bird day sunshine but there were some strong gusts of wind and some chill in the air. Anticipation was really high. The wind increased as we climbed and although there is 4-5 inches of fresh snow it is on top of a solid ice base. A fluffy skating rink. It must have melted yesterday afternoon or rained, then snowed during the night. The parking lot was interesting to traverse, very very, carefully. With those wonderfully comfy, ski boots, ha ha …. the walking across a parking lot skating rink was very interesting!

The lifts delayed starting about an hour due to wind being too strong on top. I decided to go only on chair 2 to check it out since I promised myself no injuries this year. Additionally, with learning a new type of ski “fats” it is so easy to make a mistake. Good choice, self! The wind was blowing the fluff off and drifting. This wimpy old fart decided to call it a day and live to ski another when conditions were easier to survive.

Snow White Christmas Wish Granted

Snowy Snowy Night

Go to sleep dreaming of a snow white Christmas and here is what a little bit of snow overnight action looks like at out house. Isn’t it a glorious transformation? It is a truly sparkly white winter wonderland? Amazing, to say the least. Dark green trees adorned in white crystals that pick up sunlight from everywhere. See more posts of snow here at home. Or better yet, check out the snow report at 49 Degrees North, things are looking good!

snow white house 1

snow white trees 3

Plowing Snow

This snow white winter change requires another set of skills to be performed by any home-owner deciding to live in a rural setting in the inland northwest hills. Luckily, we have family willing to let us buy machinery in payments because this machine has made the clearing of this snow so much easier on these old bones. Not only that, the man driving it smiles and is happy to go outside. Pete loves his Tonka toy.

snow removal 04 Max exhaust 1 04 Max exhaust 2 snow removal back blade down

Snow plowing does something strange to our playful Swiss Mountain Dog/Pitbull named Max. Mighty Max never says no to a walk or run and is in love with the outdoors. He loves snow! Or, is it the tractor that he is in love with? Hmmm.

snow Max back at  exhaust 1 Maxbackatexhaust1Mystery Solved

I had been wondering why this bundle of love muscle has a strange smell after going out and plowing snow with Pete, and this time I discovered what it is that he likes to do. Watching while Pete started up the Kubota, I noticed Max rushing over and getting right under it in the exhaust fumes and rolling in absolute delight in the snow.

You know how some animals roll in dead things they find, well, Max rolls wherever the Kubota spews exhaust. He gets out of the way quickly when Peter starts to plow with the blade, but as soon as he can, he goes right back to where he was rolling before to smell and roll in the snow. Diesel exhaust never impressed me as attractive enough to roll myself in but… It almost looks like he is saying, “What? Mom, it smells so good! I gotta roll in it.”

Maxbackatexhaust3

You can see how Pete clears the lower road where our garden is about the most weed-free it can be, with absolutely no effort on our part. No weeding in the winter, Yay! I digress, sorry. Peter is an expert snow plower with any machine!

snow plow 2 snow white plow 3

Road & Driveway Before

Pictures of the snow white scenery before Pete plows… Here is the road in front of our property, then our driveway before he plows. Next is the lower driveway cleared looking up to the house on the hill. Pete proceeds to get all of the driveway and the road in front of our property clear, so going to work in the morning will be a breeze.snow white roadway snow white driveway

snow lower driveway house

Walking back up the hill I take some shots of the house noticing the bright red metal roof and feeling so blessed to have put such a steep roof on the place. You can see that very little snow ever accumulates. snow white house 2 snow white house 1

We have had enough shoveling of the roof on the mobile home earlier in life. We are so fortunate to not have to shovel this roof in our old age.