Thursday, October 29, 2009

Art Walk in Downs, Kansas

Last evening, many local artists (13 or so) were set up in different stores as a part of the Moonlight Madness sale in the town of Downs, Kansas.  My friend Jan and I were fortunate to have out set up at the Gathering Grounds coffee shop. 

We displayed several finished pieces on my easels at the front door.  There was a very big crowd here for the two hours we were there.  The owners had chili and cornbread (among other items) for supper time.  I met a lot of people.  Of course, I was partnered with someone who has lived here all her life, and knows 'em all.  Very nice people. I can also say, that I have a few friends that stopped by.
We also used this time to demo - Jan in oils and me in pastel.  Thanks to the Downs Chamber of Commerce for making this a fun and well attended event!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Learn Something Today or...My Perspective on Hauling Grain...

As I hoped to, this blog is written to tell about my life in Kansas - now that I have moved from the big city and now that I am again a career artist.  Hubster is involved in being "farm help" during harvest each year.  I rode along this morning and will take you through the process of "hauling grain to the co-op grain elevator".

Many grain trucks are older heavy duty trucks with the capability of lifting the bed to dump grain out of the tailgate area.  Today we are hauling harvested corn.
The Co-ops each have their own set of standards for each crop, for each season.  It's mostly based on the moisture content in the grain.  Each establishes a "benchmark" (boy, where have I heard that word before??)  Today's content in the our corn is 17.9%.  Much higher and they won't take it, so harvesting is begun or put on hold, based on that figure.  Like yesterday, in the early afternoon this 'corn harvest' was in full swing, but as the day progressed, the moisture content went up, so they stalled for awhile, then got back to it later in the day.   The 'combine' dumped it's grain into two trucks for the night and they were kept under a cover til morning when they could get to the elevator...also, some elevators aren't staying open very late yet. 
So this was a run of some of that overnight kept corn.

Blurry photo, as I was bouncing around in the cab of the truck. This is the shack where they probe the crop.  You drive onto the scales and get a weight while you get a probe.  If the moisture is ok, you drive off and onward to dump the grain.  (This time of day was not as busy as they CAN be...sometimes, there are lines coming off the highway and then lines waiting for each part of the process.) As you can imagine, this slows down the forward progression of the 'combines' are back in the field, waiting to dump another bin of crop.

This long bed, tractor/trailer is capable of dumping the grain into the grated auger from beneath it's trailer.  There are just as many of these as there are the smaller trucks like we are in.  The grain is augered into the big round elevators you see in the background. Sometimes the elevators make a lot of noise, they turn on fans at the bottom of the elevator to help dry the grain a little more.  Eventually the grain moves on by truck or traincars - imagine how many things are made with corn. 

As we drive onto the grated area, the co-op worker opens the doors on the back of the gate, it falls for a little bit and then the worker tells the driver to lift the bed.  This let's the grain fall and empty.

There seems to be a little more precision to this, than meets the eye.

We have turned around and are headed back to the scales to weigh the empty truck. Someone does some math, I believe...

So this is what the "probe" looks like as it goes into the corn.  This arm is a vacuum and send some corn into the shack, where it is put into a contraption that reads it's moisture content and then you get the OK to move on.  Again, a little blurry...but you get the idea.
So after you get a "ticket" of what you delivered, you are off to do it again.

Later today, I am headed to Downs, Ks. to participate in the Art Walk.  Hope it doesn't decide to rain - for either one of us. 
ONE MORE TIDBIT OF INFO I LEARNED THIS SEASON...hubster was commenting on the amount of rats, rabbits and deer that go running from the fields where the harvest is going on...makes me think - "be really aware of deer cruising out on the highway - running from what must be very frightening for them."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Reason to be Thankful for Every Day

This is my mom, on her 81st birthday, almost a year ago.  Since then, she was diagnosed with cancer.  Many of you who visit often, may remember the posts I wrote on this blog in June of this year, when I was staying with mom and dad through the earlier stages of her recovery from surgery and the beginning of her chemotherapy treatments. 

From May to now, our family has gone into the "let's understand and work against this disease" mode.  My dad, through it all, has been extremely patient and strong.  He has been the round the clock caregiver, housekeeper, cook, keeper of the medicine and transporter, now one has to understand - this is my dad, from the generation of - the "wife does all that stuff".  I delighted in the fact, in the last few months when I would visit he was in command of (for example) cooking a full breakfast (not that I wouldn't have done it, but..) cleaning up - along with making sure my mom had what she needed - and that included many things that a lot of men wouldn't want to do.  To make matters a little more challenging (you know it's never that easy), mom fell and broke her wrist about 3 weeks ago and I know she will struggle for some time with the ever present effects of chemotherapy.  But.....

We just got the news - MOM IS NOW CANCER FREE!!!  Thanks for all you kind words and well wishes and prayers.  It's nice to have support through these times.  Our family is elated and looking forward to a future where we can have our mom back again.  Through it all, she has hung in there.  Cancer sucks.  I was not surprised by the number of people I would talk to, who knew of someone who had battled this also.  Hopefully, the incidence of cancer will continue to decrease nationally and globally. 

On TV this morning, 'Sting' commented:
       "Winter is important to us, to reflect on what's happened to us in the past year
         and to look forward to the Spring." 
I am looking forward to that reflection time and beyond...and I know mom is, too!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Where I Stand Sunday

Materials for preparing to speak to a community group in the town near where I live.
All fairly mobile and lightweight, but lots of stuff to show and talk about.
What it is like to be an artist - in this rural area?
I can talk and talk about it.
The quiet, peaceful place I have to produce my art...there is nothing better!
I consider myself very fortunate.
Good crowd!  Thanks to those of you who attended.
Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. If you'd like to join me by posting a photo on Sunday of places you've been on your blog/photo hosting site/website, leave a comment on this post telling me where I can find you/your photo and I'll add a link to my sidebar so others can find you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Pastel for Today

"Work Crew"
11" x 14"
pastel on velour
This is one of my demos at my class on Wednesday this week.
Today, I am presenting a short program, "Life as an Artist in Kansas"
at the annual open house at the library in town.
Looking forward to it!  It should be fun! I love talking about art!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Art of the Season

9' x 10 1/2 " matted size 12" x 14"
pastel on velour

This pastel is for sale. If interested please email me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Professional Development for Art Educators

Often, area art teachers get a special day to come to Cloud County Community College for a professional development day.  The art director, Barb Stevens, asked me to be the feature "career artist" for this event today in Concordia, Kansas, about 80 miles from here.  Eight art teachers attended.  I demonstrated a technique for them today, the "ins and outs" of using pastel on velour paper.  We had an excellent day. Interesting - that when polled, most of these teachers - DON'T get time to do their own art.  Having taught school myself, that is completely understandable.  Some of the regular class students dropped by to get a quick view of what was happening, but since this day was for the teachers, they didn't get to stay long.
I would have to say this is one of the most positive art lessons I have done in awhile.  The group was very friendly and fun!  They all dug right into the new surface.  Below is a small representation of the great work that was finished by them.  I will post my (2) demos on my next post.

You might recognize my gourds/pumpkins at the bottom of the photo.
As always, everywhere you go, you end up making some further contacts and connections. 
As they say..."What goes around....comes around."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where I Stand Sunday

Fall in the city today was sunny (but windy and cool).  Visiting my parents, we took a walk in the neighborhood.

Dad pushed Mom.  Mom just had her last chemo (cross your fingers).

Brother Scott and Teresa came along.

I featured this neighbor's yard a different year, but can't find it on my blog right now.

Incredible care and imagination has been taken in this grand set-up.  Along with the yard decor, there are ghouls and ghosts hanging out in the windows.  Each year it improves!

No doubt this will have to be seen at night in the's quite good!  I love this time of year!

We watched the Chiefs game, they finally won! 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mini Gourds and Pumpkins

"Miniature Fall"
8" x 8"
pastel on velour
(the camera doesn't lie, since posting the edges around the gourds, etc, has been fixed, no time to repost today)
Purchase info on ETSY.

Where I Stand Sunday

It's cold and snowy outside.  I have begun a huge job, that I have cut down into smaller jobs. The task is cleaning and reorganizing the studio.  I am not one to be very motivated when it comes to taking time away from production...but if you aren't organized - even just a little, time is wasted in spinning your wheels.
When I get started, I tend to go overboard.  I figure, well - while I am here...but I can't afford that time right a quicker job than usual.  It does require some large pieces moved and I am also putting down rubber baseboard, around the finished walls. The joke here is - I was going to have this place so spiffy for my interview for the newspaper, and then the reporter came a week early. Oh well, such is life - in the country.

So far, this is all that is my BIIIGGGG studio, but it's a beginning.  I needed a place to put the unshown artworks and frames in one spot. I condensed two shelving units worth of art magazines - that I rely on from time to time, for ideas and inspiration - into one unit.  Inspiration? - you say? These two wonderful sources help.  I think I have a book or magazine for every THING one needs inspiration on. 

"Cloth-Paper-Scissors - Studios" is out of print, but if once is resourceful, you can find a copy.  Somewhere I have another one that they published.   "American Artists - Studios" is still available.
More to come as it progresses.  In the middle of it all, I have a very tight schedule the rest of the month.  Stay tuned...

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Duck by Any Other Name

"Domestic Mallard"
10" x 12"
pastel on velour
I am not able to slow down right now.  Seems to be a painting a day, which is what I need to be doing. Lots of events this month, that will keep me out of the studio and I have two shows to get ready for. 
Never realized it until I was finished, this duck is a cross between a domestic duck and a mallard female.  Guess one has to realize when you go to a city park, you may encounter more of those than you know. She was with a bunch of white ducks, that I removed from the scene.  I just liked her, her interesting coloring and the way she was calmly contemplating jumping in, not too concerned with my daughter and I nearby.
Purchase info on ETSY.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Just One More Thing

My new website is up and running!  For those of you wondering about making an artist's website, this one is free.  You can buy your domain name, which I did.  It is super simple to use, fun to put together and a place that I can now send perspective clients and interested individuals - a place to view my most recent and best work! 

Check it out...tell me what you think!

Self Portrait

"Self Portrait"
12" x 16"
pastel on velour paper
Karen Hargett completed a recent self-portrait on her blog, that she did as participation in an art challenge found here.  It is called "Following the Masters" by Michelle Burnett. (She posts the submissions when she gets to it, so check back to see if mine was added later.)

I decided I was ready for this challenge.  I have done MANY self portraits lately - lacking correct likeness, but this one is THE ONE of TWO that really DO look like me - the other one being one I did in college many years ago.  The rimless eyeglasses were interesting, as they created some highlights on the skin from the lenses.  I did some weight loss tricks...I could stand to lose a few.  Wish it was that easy.
Now I see what I CAN look like - if (and when) I do. That's called "artistic license", right?  HA! 
Ooops, I see a little piece under the nose, that didn't get worked.  Will post the correction later.

Where I Stand Sunday

May be hard to see, but when you lift up one of our outdoor trashcans, you can see this guy, getting ready for winter.  It is a barred tiger salamander, sort of swirled into the dirt, below the surface. We were going to stack bricks there the other day, but when we found him underneath, we decided to let him be the way he wants to be.  There is lots going on to show that winter is coming, or at least colder weather..and I say "bring it on!!"  Got the furnace ready yesterday, turned it on this was 34 outside.  Found the rat...the smell lead us to him, altho we can't reach him without getting into the crawl space.  He is up and over a cinderblock wall, I lifted my digital camera over the edge and found all the stuff he had been stealing and carrying off - bags of mouse poison, traps, insulation, even the steel wool that we plugged the hole from the outside of the 100 year old foundation.  I think I see him, in the photo (won't share it here) so it's a matter of constructing a tool to reach over the wall and far away to grasp him and remove him.  Well, I suppose he was getting ready to hunker down for cold weather like us, but we changed his plan.  The male cardinal is back flying into the window...busy thinking it's a competitor, although- isn't it a little late for thinking of courting/brooding and rivalry?   Full moon last night, we need the hard frost and harvest will be in full swing, here in Kansas. Lots of winter wheat seeds have been planted this last week or so.  When I hear the sandhill cranes going over back to the south, I will know winter is very near.  For now?  I LOVE THE FALL!!!!  BTW the wild turkeys are ALL still around.  Watched them (all 20) fly over the trees as they left their roosting places this morning.  Big birds!  Then a couple of THEM thought they saw other turkeys in my studio windows and flew at the windows.  Hubster said he thought they could probably break a window, as big as they are.  Cross your fingers - that they make it through another day out there, beyond their little nightrest place.
Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. If you'd like to join me by posting a photo on Sunday of places you've been on your blog/photo hosting site/website, leave a comment on this post telling me where I can find you/your photo and I'll add a link to my sidebar so others can find you.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Gathering of the Equine Kind

"The Gathering"
9.5" x 18"
pastel on velour paper
Just finished today.  I may have a little to do on the horse on the left..the photo has shown me something I need to fix.  Other than that, it's done.  These horses can often be seen together in a field close to my house.  I love their colors!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Painting Study for Today

A little 6" x 6" study in oil of a scene from a rectangular photo. I cropped the photo into a square and can't dedide which side of the road to focus on, to the right, there are more trees, that are creating the shadows in the road.   If I move the focus to the right, it puts everything sort of dead center especially the hill in the background, which I don't like as a composition.
Oh well, I have moved on to a larger pastel for now.  Who do I paint for?  ME!

Happy 17th Blogiversary to ME

 I would like to admit, it's still here, I'm still here and it's still worthy of my attention - although sporadic.   Here are a ...