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 www.millcreekremodels.com 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."