Wednesday, December 15, 2010


This is a piece of animation our son Michael shared wih us. We loved the simplicity and beauty of the work.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Something Different

When we moved to northern Idaho twenty years ago, one of the first things we had to buy was a chain saw. The home we bought was heated with wood stoves and the winters here are long. A friend offered to drop off a truck load of fire wood at The Farm. Thinking it would be cut in nice fireplace size logs we were in awe when a huge logging truck drove down our driveway and dumped about thirty trees in front of our wood shed. Even though Nelson had worked on ranches growing up and I spent my summers with my grandparent who were sheep ranchers we still considered ourselves city folk. We had a lot to learn about winter, woodstoves and in particular our chain saw.

Nelson went and bought his saw and stared cutting. For the first half hour that saw was like cutting butter with a hot knife but but soon the work was going very slow and Nelson was getting very frustrated with his new saw. He finally called one of the old timers here that was kind enough to mentor us and told him he was returning the saw, it just didn't work. Earl laughed and asks "Do you know how to sharpen your saw"?

So what does that have to do with painting? All of us need to sharpen our saws, an artist needs to sharpen his skills. That principle holds true to anything we do. Because Nelson has no formal art training it is really important for him to stop painting what he feels comfortable painting and challenge himself to paint new and differnt things. He loves to study the works of artist he admires and try to copy their technique. It really strengthens his skills both with his hands and with his eyes. This last two weeks he has been looking at the works of N.C. Wyeth and others. Below are some sketches that I think have some nice things happening. These small sketches make nice gifts for our children and others, but ultimately this practice or saw sharpening expands Nelson's vision and helps him improve and move closer to the excellence he is trying to achieve.

We have learned a lot about winter and chain saws and art in twenty years but there is still so much to learn. This is a sketch Nelson did from one of N.C. Wyeth's illistrations. I think the hat turned out great.
This a a scene out of Montana, the work is a lot looser than Nelson typically does. He said it was very liberating to try and give detail without being detailed.

This is a barn here in Sandpoint. I'm not sure I am going to give this one away, I really like it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

All Done

The mural is up. Our family typically will write messages on construction projects in a place that will be covered up. Stephen writing to his wife Rosie and their dog Max before the frame went on.
You can see the protective film that came on the Lexan. The black frame is 1/2 x 2 inch solid aluminum bar, with a black textured powder coat.

Here Nelson is peeling off the protective film. This was the last chore. By this time all the tools and equipment were put away, the floors had been swept and vacuumed, We were ready to call it "done".

Here's the finished work. There isn't any lighting on it yet that is still being designed by a lighting engineer. Because the painting is 18 inches off the floor there will be a a 22 inch high guard rail installed about three feet away from the painting to protect it. Whew, all done!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Trimmed and Ready To Set

The time for Nelson to place his signature on the painting
. Here we are getting ready to lift the painting and place it in the wall. Several of the construction workers there were kind enough to help.

There was a lot of weight in the support system, the men figured about 700 lbs.

It fit, that was another concern. Actually the opening was 1/4 inch to small but with a little gerrymandering, it went in just fine.

Placing the first frame piece. The frame is very simple. Leonardo DaVinci said that simplicity is the essence of sophistication. The frame finishes but does not detract from the painting at all, so I hope DaVinci would approve.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Th Process Continues

Michael wiping down the Masonite to make sure there is no dust.
We unrolled the mural, now comes the "do or die" part. All the months of work are put on the line now. Nelson used an archival fabric glue. Several tests were done at the studio in Sandpoint with excellent results but never with a piece this big. The glue's drying time is about 15 minutes so it was critical that it lay smooth without bubbles . Nelson and Stephen spread the glue with what look like big combs from the hardware store so that the spread was even and thin. We then unrolled the painting and used linoleum rollers to press the painting. No pictures of that part of the process because we were working under such a strict time limit. Michael and I were pressing and flattening out air bubbles.

The process gave us a real scare. After working one piece of the painting and moving on to the next we found huge bubbles forming. Because the glue was wetting the paper we were having all kinds of issues. It seemed like all those months of work were about to go up in smoke.
Nelson and I working on the bubbling. We just kept telling each other it would be alright. After about an hour and a half we left for lunch and hoped that as the painting dried that it would respond like the stretching process Nelson goes through before he starts a painting, which wets the paper and as it dries it becomes very taunt. We were truly blessed the painting dried beautifully, tight as a drum just as it should have.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Project Continues

Someone came past and commented they liked my style of management.
Stephen and Nelson getting ready to put the Masonite on the plywood base. The Masonite was donated by DEC Panels. Nelson worked with a great contact Tim Boerst.

Putting on the Masonite.

The airport provided concrete blocks and sandbags to weigh down the Masonite. This dries for a few hours while we go into Jackson and look at some of the great art galleries and for Michael, a few slices of Great Harvest Bread.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We're There

Our son's Stephen and Michael came to Jackson to help with the install. Boy was I grateful they were there. Nelson considered just having the two of us, that would have been a BIG mistake! Even with all the test runs and trials we still had a few surprises in store for us as the installation progressed. Stephen owns his own company in Salt Lake City and scheduled time off work to come and help. He is a master with his tools and is an incredible problem solver. Michael produces documentaries but he loves hard physical labor and being with the family. Truly we could not have done it without them. Here's Stephen walking into the airport.
Nelson and Michael unloading the truck. What took hours and hours to prepare to load and load only took a few minutes to unload. Isn't that so typical?

Ahh... slave labor.

Protection for the floor in front of where the mural will be hung. We built the frame right there on the floor of the airport. Everyone was very accommodating and I loved people stopping to visit and view the work.
Building the framework that will hold first, a layer of plywood then non-acidic Masonite.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Trip to Jackson Hole

The truck getting ready to leave for installing the mural in the new Jackson Hole Airport. The new airport is a jewel, a great marriage of rustic and high tech. The architect Brent Mather did a fabulous job designing inside and out.
It took Nelson hours to prepare each piece of the of the framing system. Everything had to be wrapped in waterproof material and a system needed to be developed to load each piece on the back of a truck bed that wasn't long enough.

Several of the frame pieces came through the small back window of the truck and through to the front seat.

Everything was wrapped in tarps after the truck was loaded and bungee cords were used to make sure everything was tied down and wouldn't shift. The weather was great and the trip down was uneventful if you don't consider the incredible beauty of Montana and the Big Sky Country. We love driving, and seeing the beauty of the country that we feel so grateful to live in. It is truly art that inspires.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Something Fun Comes to Light

So the Star Wars people wanted to put together a book of one hundred artist depicting Star Wars in their own genre'. Nelson was ask to participate. The book was released last week. This is the cover of the book. I really like this painting by Masey. It is a wonderful piece.
Here is a friend modeling for "Maverick Bounty Hunter". It's was dull dreary weather with no chance for any outside shooting so we set up the lighting in the studio and put him up on Nelson's painting table (a good angle for photographing.). It was pretty precarious for him because he really is lunging foward with quite a bit of speed.

Here is the finished product. I wish you could see the detail. The metal shin guards are my favorite. George Lucas was first attracted to the shining light saber in Maverick's right hand. So how does a bounty hunter get hold of a light saber was the question Nelson ask George Lucas. The answer, "He's killed a Jedi."

Monday, October 25, 2010


Can't seem to load anything so we are testing

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

He's been busy but I haven't blogged

This is a mock-up of the fish arch . Nelson has decided to add a few more of the silver fish to the pattern, they read better. He is also grinding stipes and design into the fish with color. It is really going to be a great project. The footings aren't in yet so it looks like the project won't go up until Spring, we were hoping it would be in before Christmas. The night back lighting will be really nice and would have been fun through the cold winter months here in the north country.
Nelson is also working on some nice commission work with his watercolors. We are doing some photo shoots this week with the nice weather in preparation for those.

Monday, August 23, 2010


The first cut fish for the Sandpoint Arch were done today. Nelson picked up the first 30 of over 90 this morning. I had him lay down to give you some idea of scale.
Here is one close up.

The red stop sign fish have great color.
Nelson has put some proposals together for other fun public art projects. I'll keep you posted if he is chosen for the commissions.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Last week Nelson was able to take a trip with his brother Hugo, brother-in-law Joe and a couple of Joe's children. This is one way Nelson cleans his soul and also is able to get more material for his paintings.

God is the real artist.
Nelson and his brother Hugo.
Nelson is working on the arch project and loves having the grandchildren in his studio. He is putting together a mock-up and the children are helping him color the fish. Basically he is deciding what species of trout, size,color and position on the arch. I am always amazed at how much work he is able to accomplish with grandchildren swarming about.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Arch

The arch completion date has been moved forward to this fall so it will be a busy summer in the studio. The highway department is donating road signs that have been damaged and the fish will be cut from those. The colors on the signs add a great dimension to the fish. The footings will be poured in the next few weeks and the fabricator will start cutting out the fish as soon as the specifiactions are completed. It really is a great project. The span has also been lengthed from 32' to 41'.

In spite of a really full work schedule between the painting demand and the arch, Nelson left this afternoon for a a photography/fishing trip to the Wind Rivers of Wyoming. He will bring home some great stories and hopefully some good subject for painting this winter. Unfortunately children grow up and have lives of their own so this is the first year that none of our sons is going with their dad, but the company is still good with Nelson's brother Hugo and brother-in-law Joe who just came back from a two year stint in Guam.

Art lessons start in the studio next week with the grandchildren, that adds a whole new dimension to work.

Friday, June 4, 2010

New project

A few months ago the town of Sandpoint ask for artist to submit sketches for an arch that would span one of the streets leading down to the Sand Creek. We have lived in Sandpoint for almost twenty years and have loved this community. It has been a really wonderful place to raise our family. Not only did the project sound like a nice challenge that uses both Nelson's artist and architectural knowledge; but its always nice to think that you might leave a little piece of yourself in your community . Last night Nelson got a call telling him that he had been given the commission. We are both really excited, so are our children.

The project will go in next spring. The whole thing is being put together with recycled donations. All the contracted work will be local. Thanks Sandpoint!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Catch Up

Nelson has been really busy the last few weeks. He has deadlines on three really nice and quite large pieces so he is painting like a maniac. He has been experimenting with varnishing his work. So far he has only varnished a few small paintings. I love the results. It brings a greater depth to his washes and layering of the pigmant. He will varnish the Jackson painting even though it will be under clear protection (I can't remember what material he decided on). He goes with seven coats. One of the drawbacks of watercolor is the damage moisture can do to the painting. With the varnishing the water runs off the painting like a dream. It's been a great discovery thanks to a friend who also paints watercolor Chuck Middlekauff. You can see his work at I am always amazed at how willing artists are to share their talents and techniques with others.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Friday Afternoon

When Nelson was practicing architecture he always gave his employees Friday afternoon off, paid. We had decided if we ran the world everyone should have Friday afternoon to spend with their families and it would make the world a much nicer place to live. Keeping with that tradition this is what we did yesterday on our Friday afternoon. This is a hike thats about eight miles called Gold Hill. We took fresh strawberries, crackers and cheese and a few tangerines. It was fabulous.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Well the mural is "done". That means it will be put aside for a few weeks and be pulled out to have a fresh view of it. Nelson has been waiting for Michael to get home from studying in Israel, he has a good eye and can see what needs to be worked. Two other friends are great for seeing needed detail changes, Bud and his son, Tom Miller. I always give my two cents. Nelson knows that when he asks me to come out to the studio to look at a painting my first response is always "it's not done".

Nelson has been working with the mounting and finishing. So far the techniques he has learned and applied to smaller work have really pleased him.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ta Dah

The mural is basically finished, Nelson and Ernie put it on the side of the barn to see how it looks and decided what needs to be tweeked.
Rolling it out and tacking it. The piece is huge.

From a distance.

It reads well.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Because Nelson's studio is a converted car shed he's not a bit fussy about kids and animals being inside. Over the years he has had baby lambs, calves, sick cats and dogs needing time to recover from run-ins with porcupines. Today I brought home fourteen baby chicks for him to babysit until they get big enough to go into the coop. He says it should gives his paintings an even more realistic "air" of country living.

Friday, April 9, 2010


The mural for Jackson is really coming along splendidly. Nelson has reach the last bit of the painting but hasn't done the background or the sparkle. He has learned some great new techniques and finishes for watercolor. I am always amazed at how generous other artist are with their time, talents and techniques. A good friend of ours and a truly talented artist Albin Veselka has been over numerous times to help Nelson with the baby moose. Nathan our grandson has also been helping this week. He's the one at the right, he paints right along with grandpa.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Jackson Piece Continued

This large scale work has posed some interesting challenges. Here Nelson is preparing to lay out the middle part of the work. He had to build a support piece over the window that faces Schwitzer. No view of the ski resort this week. The two boxes at the ends are to support the paper rolls. I was surprised at how heavy and bulky the paper is to handle. It is definitely a two man job. Because the piece is so big Nelson had to build a platform outside of the studio to project the image to the scale that is needed.
Here's a view from the outside. We are grateful the weather has cooperated.