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.