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

 

Leggy Frog Miner Sign

Frog Sign

The leggy frog miner is a relaxed and smiling green dude with large feet, He wears  a yellow gold miner’s hat and red pants. If we were to see a frog, mining for a living, this is the character we would see. It is obvious that the damages this amphibian has sustained over the years consist of concentrated target areas.

Ribbett Said the Frog

Are there amphibians on the hill? Is there water on the hill, oh yes!

frog 02 damages

Extent of Damage

Both the left side of our frog body and his eye are showing massive wear-and-tear. I don’t have pictures of him, but I remember him having a back pocket with a sling-shot protruding, which is now missing. There remains only two slight bumps at his pant line and near his hand. That sling-shot must have been a target area for little skiers to poke. Additionally, more than half of his right eye is missing as the wood has been worn off the right side of his face. It is safe to assume that this guy has been poked in the eye several times.

frog 03 repair plan

Changing Traffic Patterns

Re-routing the poke traffic seems a high priority for this leggy frog if he is going to be able to survive awhile. If he were to be holding a gold nugget, which is a natural draw, on the central part of his body than he would be able to withstand the blows better. Additionally, to be able to put his eye back in I will have to shift his face slightly to the right to give us room .

frog 04 repair frog 05 face

Using yellow, green and blues I begin making close portions light and further-away areas dark. A three dimensional impression results. Yellow spot freckles line his back and accentuate his smile. White eyebrows and blue outlines brighten his eyes.

Our frog’s pant line is lowered to allow more room to show his arm over his mid section. I decide to make his pants red and blue flannel with his blue sneakers, just because.  He is ready for his gold nugget to be glued in after a small slingshot is put in his back pocket.

frog 06ready for nugget

One of the most important changes in this characters repair is distraction. Our froggy miner holding a gold nugget in his hand attracts damages to occur in a more central location. Here is a picture of the nugget freshly hot-glued in place before sign sealing. Hopefully, a central location will make it possible to withstand the forces of ski pole pokes with more stability.

frog 07 gold nugget

Taking a step back gives a better perspective of this green guys fascination with his newly found nugget. The expression passes the test.

frog 09 frog looks at nugget

Another step back, shows our leggy frog dude body finished and ready to go back up on the ski hill.

frog 08 complete

Gold Panning Bear Repairs

Damage Assessment

bear panning gold beforeThis gold panning bear is grinning happily because he has some gold nuggets in his pan. He has had a lot of interaction with the kids on the hill over the past ten years. Honestly, his gold pan is completely empty, so, it is logical to assume that gold nuggets are an  intense natural target area.

bear Gold Panning InitiallyInitially, we had placed him in the “trash” stack because his right leg was gone! But, I see minor damages on edges and scattered across his interior body, so he catches my attention again. 

Barely a Second Chance

bear panning gold face & hat

Looking at this poor gold panning bear dude a second time an idea comes to me. We could change his standing position to a kneeling one. This would require only minimal grinding and painting. Hopefully, this will work. If it does, there will be one more animal character returning to the kids trails up on the mountain

Gold Pan Bear Repairs

gold panning bearFirst, I seal this gold panning bear’s green hat and edges along with any random poke holes in this color area.
Second repair area, are the whites in his eyes and teeth and then switching to black doing the same.

Third, I get out the blues and work on his blue jeans figuring out the best shape to make him kneel. The trick being, to try and make the trimming at the base simple yet strong as possible.

Fourth, his gold pan needs new shadow and some bright highlights to be ready to discover some gold. We start with pan paint still wet and sprinkle in some glitter to give the pan some shine. Then blue dots are added to his red suspenders over where the holes are from getting poked. Nothing wrong with filling the dents in if I can.

bear gold pan glitter
Fifth, all of the brown fur area needs repainting to fill in pokes and accentuate the highlights and darks to bring them back alive. Then, we cut the bottom of the sign off even and paint in his blue jeans as if he is kneeling on a rock by a stream.

bear gold pan upper body

Foremost in my mind is a desire to direct the anticipated damage to a more durable area on the animal. The gold pan is low and centrally located and the gold pebbles were all taken that were glued there a decade ago. So, the logical solution is to make that gold pan a real attractive area, with shine and gold again.bear gold panning nuggets be4ar gold pan nuggets

Our happy gold panning bear is all done, ready to return to the trees on the hill! Would you like to learn a little about gold panning?

Nervous Bear Ski Repair

Looking at the BearBear Skiing Sign 01

This animal character sign is a bear learning to ski. While his major damage is not very obvious, he does have poke holes in scattered places  the majority of them being the ski pole and claw area. Most importantly, he is missing half of his back ski. I wonder how many people will notice that the ski is half gone?

Bear Repair Process

Bear Skiing Sign 02

First, I paint the bear fur in browns using a red tint to bring some surfaces closer in appearance.

Colors Change

Bear Skiing Sign 03

This close shot shows how a warm red tint tends to draw his front leg closer to our eyes. In contrast, an addition of a cool blue makes shadow appear pushing his other leg back away from us. Isn’t it amazing to move areas with just a small addition of different colors? Certainly, art is cool.

Drying

Bear Skiing Sign 04

I paint the various blue accessories, including his small blue neck warmer, ski’s and pole and set him to dry. Not everything can be done on wet surfaces, and needing a completely dry surface to apply details, I set him down to dry.

Details

Bear Skiing Sign 05

Working on camouflaging the bear’s missing ski problem I use his ski pole to diffuse attention as we visually separate the skis. The ski pole basket is deliberately located right at the intersection point of the two skis. Hopefully, this will cause a distraction resulting in effectively blurring the area between the two ski surfaces. Best case scenario result is, a redirection of the viewer’s attention away from the bear back paw being located way to far back on the ski. With an ounce of distraction the artist becomes a magician. Bet you didn’t know that about being an artist.

Bear Skiing Sign 06

Continuing, with black outline details that exaggerate his wide-open expression and adds shadows above and below the eyes his face transforms.

Bear Skiing Sign 07Likewise, his mouth line makes-ready for later additions of his tongue and sweat. Why? Because, I plan to make him have a really nervous expression as learns to ski. A similar expression to the little people that will be poking at him later on the beginner ski trails.

Finishing

Bear Skiing Sign 08
Now, the nervous skiing bear repair is complete and he is drying on the table. Even though he is a nervous wreck as he learns to ski he will be ready to go play with the other kids learning on the trails up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah WA.

Snowshoe Rabbit Fix

Ouch

Rabbit Sign
rabbit after sanding

This poor snowshoe rabbit holds a pick ax on his way to look for gold in, “them there hills”. As a result of the traffic in the past decade,  a lot of damage evident. It looks like the majority of the hits are on his paw holding the pick and the paw below. Similarly, the cheeks, mouth, ear, nose, and eyes have gotten their fair share of damage. Repairing this character is a real art challenge, but hang in there, because his transformation will amaze you.

Animal Tracks

This critter is one of the types making those footprints that you see in the snow when you are going up the lifts on chairs 1 & 4 because you get close enough to the ground to see them there. It is kind of amazing how far they can jump, even in deep snow. Do you wonder what bunny tracks look like in the snow? Check them out here

Backgrounds

rabbit sign 02
It is obvious that this fluffy furry guy is mostly whites with a few facial, ears, and tool shapes scattered here & there. I will use methods that I employ when painting snow landscapes in the fine art world. Most importantly, this means that I can not use much white straight out of the can. With a limited pallet, I give you clues by tinting the whites differently to show varying depths of field.
rabbit sign 04
On this area, I add a touch of blue and gray to the white as I coat his body below his chin.  I need to trick you into thinking he is a real live rabbit standing in front of you. Certainly, a limited white and grey  pallet are not making this easy to accomplish on a flat piece of wood. Um Huh!

What is Next?

rabbit sign 05
Painting over our rabbit’s other features and you may notice a slight yellow tint in his whites on the ears, cheeks and eye area. Because, those surfaces need to appear closer being lighter and warmer. Additionally, I move his right hand location away from the most severely damaged area. This gives a new target to aim for, that has not had any damage yet. I apply a coat of white and light pink to toes, ears, and nose and thankfully, I can still see where the eyes and teeth are underneath. I put a watered down coat of purple brown on the ax handle so I can see where to paint paw hands.

Rabbit Values

Darkening the chin under the rabbit teeth, nose and between the eyes makes his features begin to pop. I darken the chest and belly and you can start to see that 3D thing mentioned before. The uneven values and layers are beginning to hide the majority of the damages that were so evident before.

See how much white it takes to really cover?

rabbit sign 06
It drives my husband crazy when he sees me dip my brush into paint cans without washing it first, because he used to work in a hardware store mixing paint for people. Ha Ha. You can see my fancy artist palette upfront on the table. I use a paint can lid turned over with drizzled spots of the paints that I anticipate mixing. Truthfully, I hardly ever use a plain clean color while painting murals or signs. The only place I feel it is necessary to keep paint clean and pure is when I have to paint the walls of a room or a house exterior, otherwise “the sky is the limit” when rendering, right?
rabbit sign 07
A closer shot shows the blue grays working to distance his chest and make his teeth show up front. His hands are placed on the ax handle and more grays areas are put on his ears and cheeks.

Darkening the lower belly and lightening the leg upper thighs starts to show the separation between the knees and hand paws up front. Progressing, the highlights are added to toes with a touch of light on his shoulders to keep the body connected to his face and neck. Seems like his rabbit character is coming to life.

rabbit sign 08

Finishing

rabbit sign 09
drying

Coming into the home stretch now, you will notice details around his eyes, ears, nose and whiskers being quickly added. His teeth are now casting a shadow and his arms holding the ax are outlined to separate along with his kneecap and ear intersection.
Our fluffy snowshoe Rabbit, is drying on the dining table ready to greet the kids on the hill again at 49 Degrees North this winter.

Animal Character Signs

Mystery and Adventure

animal sign repairs
Peter repairing animal character signs.

The animal character signs tucked in and around the trees are one of my favorite things at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort (Chewelah WA). We are lucky to have really talented people in the ski school (Rick) and childcare center (Allison). Great things happen when experts teach our youth to love a sport, because they think of these kinds of tools in their program, a mystery scavenger hunt through the trees. First of all, Eric’s sister (sorry I don’t know her name) started it all. She is an artist who designed some great cartoon animal characters in a miner’s theme. She painted them on the walls in the kids club area and on plywood signs… hence, starting this whole thing way back when.

These animal signs are strategically placed in the trees on the bunny hill trails for the kids to find. Most of the time, the kids touch or poke the animal as they ski past. Everyone tries to be the first to find all of them, as a result, learning to ski is a lot more fun.

Sign Maintenance

About ten years ago (2008) when I painted the children’s nursery, it seems like only a couple years ago to me, anyhow, I repaired and painted some of the old ones and made some new animal signs. Well, these animal characters get a lot of traffic and they consequently, need some tender loving care. Pete and I repaired the damage this week getting them ready for this season. There is a total of 12 animal figures that we loaded up and brought home. All in all, we were able to resuscitate 10 of them so far.

Before

Bear on Ski's SignBear on Skis

Blue Bird With Shovel SignBlue Bird with Shovel

Fox SignFox

Frog SignFrog

Moose A SignMoose A

Moose B SignMoose B

Rabbit SignRabbit
Raccoon SignRacoon

Red Bird on Cart SignRed Bird on Cart

Snake SignSnake

Both Moose are still being painted but all the rest are done and we will show you progress pictures on following posts. We are waiting to find out if the hill management wants the two other guys redone or redesigned or used for fire starter. They got missing limbs.

Broken Miner SignBroken Miner Sign

Broken Bear Panning for Gold SignBroken Bear Panning for Gold Sign

Come check out the slopes

up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort, maybe we will see you up there. Kids are happy up there, so are the adults.