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 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!

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. 

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.

 

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.

Finishing Details on Mural

1_49MuralDetail

Adding finishing details and final touches to this winter scene interior mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington. My scaffold gets packed up and I use the ladders to work on the last parts of this project. With my smallest brushes, I paint, then backup to see how the whole wall looks to me. This little step-back-and-look habit, always really helps me to change my perspective making it possible to see things I do not notice when I am close to the wall. After repositioning myself, I usually see missing items better.

02_49MuralDetail

Watch Out

Mountaintops in the winter can easily become an addictive thing. This whole project is quite an enjoyable one for me as I am painting from my own memories on the hill. There is absolutely nothing like spending the day speeding down a powdery hill feeling the cold wind kissing your face. Your eyes take in some of the best views on the planet as your heart races similar to being on a rollercoaster. If you have not tried skiing yet, don’t miss out on this wonderful experience in your life. You may find that winter will become your favorite time of year! Really!

I tell you the truth, skiing is just about as much fun as you can have without breaking any laws.

01_49MuralDetail

Finishing Touches

I carefully add scattered groups of detail in larch and birch between the evergreens bringing a little realism into the whole impressionistic view. Stepping back, lets me notice that I am missing majestic tamarack trees both in the background and up front. Next some shrubbery is added at the tree bases using a rigger brush with dark browns and then adding snow on some of them. Some of the closest snow mounds receive a stroke of white to finish them up.

03_49MuralDetail

Standing back to get a better look, another missing ingredient comes to mind. I can’t forget to add little clumps of snow resting on the branches of the trees. If you knew our family, you’d know why that snow is important! Especially Patrick, who is known for sharing those clumps of snow with unsuspecting fellows on the slope. Okay, remember now that payback is patient dude!

Wall “A” is a twenty foot long space and all details are complete now.

Finished 49 Mural Wall A first half Finished 49 Mural Wall A second half

Wall “B” is a forty-foot wide wall in three sections, having 2 columns and a doorway in it. It also has a rather large storage cabinet built into the corner behind the cash register. It was kind of tricky to figure out where to put the finishing details and not cause confusion or competition with the door or columns, and use of the benches. People tend to hang out and examine the details in a mural, so I try not to interfere with the business by drawing attention with the placement of details to areas away from traffic patterns if possible.

finished 49 Mural Wall B1 Finished 49 Mural Wall B2 Finished 49 Mural Wall B3

Wall “C” is now finished as the shortest twelve foot wall that divides the nursery from the children’s club. The cash register counter is on the right where parents check-in with their children dropping them off for lessons on the hill.

49MuralWallC

“All Pau!” with this winter mural.

When you are all finished with something, then you are “all pau” with it in Hawaii. Which is simply a scrap of trivia information for those of you who enjoy collecting those little bits of information. I can’t wait to start skiing this season! Hope you can come up to 49 Degrees North to see the mural and let me know what you think. Time to pray for snow everyone!

Finish a Mural

One Step at a Time to Finish

Finishing involves painting, cleaning up and changing colors to do it again. Persistence pays off in this line of work, and so does good planning. Remember, taking time to plan for less cleanup makes the process of painting a large mural much easier. I paint the entire length of the surface over and over until I’m done. Simple tools are what I use, like a handy “paint can lid” pallet with large pools of the color on it. It is easy to hold in one hand as I use it to mix paints on my brush. Most importantly, if I run low on a  color, it is easy to go back and dip in the bucket to quickly refill and continue. I grab my brushes and paint anything I run across on the wall using that group of colors. 

“B” is the longest wall being 40 feet long (400 sf), and Wall “C” is 12 feet (120 sf).

wall B treelineWhen I put the frosty trees in, I also put in more of the white on the mountain tops at the same time. Catching all the things using whatever color I am working with.

wall B treeline 3I see a real good separation after the green and gray treelines on the horizon are rendered.

wall B treeline 4Adding the trunks with dark shadows on the closest evergreens to give a deeper feel to their shadows.

Day is Finished

max 1

When I am wanting to get a mural finished, I get kind of lost in my painting and loose track of time. The jobsite supervisor is telling me it is time to get home as he sings me a howling song. It is real good for me to have this kind of buddy around because he makes me take breaks and walk around with him. He never lets me eat lunch alone. If I get lost in my work Max will bring me back down to reality. Dogs are some of the best people! If you would like to see more of this fantastic dude check out this link.

max 2 max 3

Foggy or Not on the Mountain

Allisons Idea for the mural
Allisons Idea for the mural

Now it is time to add fog on a mountain top. Ever wondered what fog is?

The under painting is done. Here is a refresher peek at the sample provided. To me this appears like a foggy day of snowing on the mountain. Toning down all the colors by applying a layer of gray and then rapidly wiping with sponges to remove layers.

Before the Fog on the Mountain

wall A Before FogHere is a picture of wall A before the fog layer is applied to the mountain scene. You can see the bright trees and slopes very clearly.
After the fog layer application here is how it appeared.

After the Fogwall A after fogwall A after Fog with BThe difference is really noticeable when you look around the corner at wall B without the fog. Hmmmmm.

I took a few more comparison looks from the second wall and the fogged wall and my gut reaction was YUCK! So before I did any more of the walls, I walked up to the ski resort offices and asked the big cheese to come on down and take a peek before I proceed. He walked in immediately noticing wall B located straight in front of him, which had not been fogged, and said he liked it. Then he turned to his left and saw wall A with the fog layer and just blurted out, “I hate it!” He much preferred the other walls and so did I. Yay.

Error

That meant I had to remove as much of the layer of paint making up the fog as soon as possible. I spent the next half hour scrubbing with sponges and towels and was able to lift off about half the gray. Repainting the dulled areas I changed some of the color scheme as I proceeded. The most noticeable color changes were to add more green tints to the faraway tree line on the horizon. It was a couple hours of fine-tuning to get the vibrancy back so all three walls were friends again. Here is how wall A looks after the re-do was done.

wall A redo

These kinds of things happen, but I am getting better at trusting my instincts and questioning whenever I get a feeling things are not right. I never assume that I know better than my customer, making an effort to always listen to what they want. At least I didn’t go ahead with what I thought they wanted and do the whole project and have to do it all over after they let me know. Re-do’s aren’t much fun so if I can limit it to a lesser quantity I am a lot happier.

Painting Mural Backgrounds

Tree Placement

Painting with quick and light strokes I put forest on first wall lightly with some clouds above the mountains. The big tree in the foreground on the front right does not sit well with me.WALL “A” is 20’-0” wide by 10’-0” high (200 sq ft). It is time to get moving with painting the rest of the mural background mountains.

wall A background with trees

Background Painting

The second wall background painting begins as I use the light chaulk guidelines that I did at the beginning.WALL “B” is 40’-0” wide by 10’-0” high (400 sq ft). It is fun to be able to imagine an assortment of perfect skiing and boarding slopes as I paint. It almost seems to get colder as I progress across the wall. Painting dark grays and lavender gray hills layered behind medium gray mounds with light slopes in the foreground. While stepping back to admire how this arrangement of hills is working, another item screams loudly at me. Can you guess what it is? Take a look at these three pictures and see if something just grabs your attention as you are looking at the scenery.

corner wall A&B background

Camouflage

How many times have I had items in my mural areas that were horribly distracting? Lots! Unfortunately, such is life and many times these items are quite necessary and almost impossible to change.

Frustration happens when creating a “work of art” and there are obvious distractions visibly interfering. Consequentially, I have tried my best to learn ways to camouflage these un-moveable tyrants. In this area there are electrical conduits in bright and shiny aluminum going right across the sky that need some help.

wall B conduit

The person who taught me to paint houses and walls was my Dad who was a contractor. His rule was to paint every single surface. Voices from the past coming back into our lives.

No short-cuts allowed!

I remember having to paint the bottom and top of shelves in any cupboard and all sides of every door or drawer. Why did I have to paint something I wouldn’t be seeing? There was no arguing the point with him. It upset me at the time. I understand that it is important to make sure the entire surface is sealed, which is something I fully understand and agree with now. This “painting every surface” is a lifelong habit or rule I follow and it has always made a better paint job for me. Mahalo Dad!

Fixing Distractions in Paint

I back track and paint all the conduit and wire surfaces in the same colors as the mural and the improvement to the entire presentation is amazing. Take a look at before and after shots to see the difference. Isn’t it amazing? I didn’t really fix anything I just hid it. Awesome!

You can see the conduits on the left side of the column painted gray and then black where it crosses the column. The wire and conduit on the right side of the column are not yet painted and are distracting. I will be painting these surfaces from here on as I finish the mural. See how un-anticipated additional costs and time accrue?

wall B conduit painted

Take a look at the first image of this post and compare it with this image below. Wa La! No need to let distractions destroy the art.

wall A conduit Painted

Be sure to check this mural out when you visit the 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah WA this winter and let them know what you think about their improvements!