Wednesday, August 24, 2011

detail shots


New house drawing

Here's another black walnut ink house drawing.  This one was a fair amount of labor because I found the perspective very difficult; I worked from multiple photographs and had to deal with all the distortion diffulties that slightly different camera angles can bring. I'm satisfied with it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Obrigado, Bianca

I thought this was interesting.  I got an email from a Brazilian lady named Bianca who explained that she and her brother were searching the internet for ideas for a new tattoo for him.  They encountered one of my walnut ink drawings of trees, and he picked that one.
Unexpected, and flattering.  I requested that she send a photo, and she kindly complied.

Garden tomatoes and other

This has been a strange year for tomatoes.  In every other year, I've tried to keep them watered, and let the hose soak the soil a couple of times a week in July and August, when it's hot and rainless.  And I'd get a lot of tomatoes; but there would also be many split tomatoes, a result of uneven watering.
This year I have fewer plants (three, as opposed to five in years past).  I've watered them only four times, I think.  The tomatoes aren't exactly pouring in, but I've had a few to pick every day, the plants have been growing large and green and healthy looking, and – this is the strange thing – not a single one has been split.  Well, there might have been one, I'm not sure.  There has been an extremely low splittage factor this year, though.  I don't know why.  Maybe there has been just enough rain to keep them healthy, or maybe I just watered too much at a time before.
Or maybe a big difference has been the mulch?  This is the first year that I have put down layers of newspapers all around the plants.  That helps retain moisture.  Now that I think about it, this might be the real difference. Hmmm.
My pumpkin vines are growing and flowering, but I haven't spotted any fruit growing on them yet.  I think that if I'm not seeing any pumpkins growing on them by now, my chances of having some to harvest by October are slim.  I'll keep hoping.
My fennel is the other thing that is doing really well.  I've been picking young green seeds and baking them in the loaves of bread in our bread machine; the results have been great.  A little more than a half-teaspoon of fennel seeds in a loaf really lends the bread a pleasant flavor, especially toasted.
One of my mammoth sunflowers is blooming, but the other two had their heads eaten off early on.  I'm hoping that flower buds will still form on side branches, but it's beginning to seem unlikely.
My asparagus is delicate and green and looking pretty good, but small.  I'm hoping that this will set the stage for larger, stalk-producing plants next year.
The two basil plants are doing well.  I can make more pesto whenever I have time for the labor.
And now you know what going on in my back yard.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

After the storm


Fallen Tree

On Sunday night we went to the concert in Willow Park, and I was saddened to see that Saturday's storm had toppled a very large tree that I had stopped to admire on more than one occasion.  This tree stood at the entrance to Cherokee Park right across from Willow Park.
We were lucky; there was no damage at our house, and we kept power.  A tree in the back corner of our neighbor's yard broke about 8 feet up the trunk, but it fell away from our yard, sparing our fence.  This same tree overhangs our yard, and I've hung birdhouses from it.  Some trees and large limbs were lost down the street from us.  We fared better than my parents, who lost electricity for a couple of days, and whose neighbors had a large tree crash into the back of their house.  Two cars in front of my parents' house were smashed by a large oak limb.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Night fishing, Kentucky River

These first two pictures are from early morning, as the sun was rising, right before we left:

These next four are evening photos, as it was getting dark, shortly after we arrived.

Towards the bank:

Looking downriver:

Across the river:

Looking upriver:

I fished the Kentucky River for the first time this past weekend, going out with a friend to a spot near Campbellsburg in Henry County. This is property belonging to a co-worker’s father. We got there later than I wanted (I knew we would), but we still had a little daylight left to get set up and start fishing.

It was around 8:00 when we arrived, and I gave the owner a small bottle of E&J brandy as a token of appreciation. He then led us back through the property and showed us how to get down to the rock bar on the river. When he found out that we had 8- and 10-pound test line, he told us we might be challenged. “And if you’re after catfish,” he said, “they’ll start biting around 3:00.”

The river bank was not just treacherously steep, but the only reasonable path down also led through a bed of poison ivy, so I was extra careful going up and down (and now two days have passed and I haven’t broken out, so I must have been successful).

It was a very beautiful spot. The weather was calm and pleasant. Daylight was quickly leaving and I spent a little while casting around with a beetle spinner, but nothing chased it but some little fish close to shore.

When it got so dark that it was getting hard to see my footing clearly, I baited some circle hooks with chunks of bluegill and started fishing the bottom of the deeper water upstream from the rock bar. My friend used a spinner bait and an artificial worm for a while before switching to a nightcrawler straight out in the river.

We had a few nibbles early in the night. The mosquitoes were a nuisance, but around 10:00 or so they all went away; I think it got too cool for them. Bats swooped around us all night long. Once or twice they bumped my fishing line, which I think has happened every time I have fished at night.

The moon was full and so bright that we could see around out pretty well. Not well enough to tie a knot in fishing line, but well enough to walk over the large uneven rocks.

Right about midnight my friend caught a freshwater drum. We didn’t measure it, but I’d say it was 14-15 inches. I caught one about the same size a short while later, and then he caught another smaller one. I can’t remember if he caught two or three in all, but I know I caught just one.

We heard various interesting bird calls. One that I heard I have since identified as the horse-whinny call of a screech owl.

Around 2:00, the first partial tank of propane ran out, and we sat just in the moonlight as we waited for the lantern to cool so we could put on a new tank. It was very quiet, then suddenly something went CRASH! in the underbrush along the riverbank nearby. I think it must have been a deer bounding up or down the bank through some bushes.

I had nibbles on my two lines all night. Finally, something took one of my hunks of bluegill, and I fought with it a couple minutes as I reeled it in. It didn’t feel big enough to be a monster, but I knew it was a decent size. I got it in close and could barely see its pale body thrash near the surface in the moonlight, but then my line broke. I examined the break in my line and saw that my other pole was twitching. Then I checked the time; 3:03 a.m.

I didn’t manage to set the hook in whatever was eating at my other line. It pulled off most of my bait. I had similar nibbles and near-hookings on-and-off until the sun came up.

With the full moon and haze and clouds, I didn’t see any meteors, but my friend saw one.

We left at 8:00 a.m. I wanted to stay longer, but we were pushing our limits.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Today is our office picnic at a nearby park.  A few minutes ago I was making a supply delivery to the park as part of set-up, and I walked past the small creek that flows through.  With the exception of during and after heavy rains, the creek is quite shallow.  I can see the bottom of it throughout the park, and in many places I could probably jump across it.
I dropped off my delivery and was leaving when I noticed a little boy and his mom walking up with fishing poles.  They studied one spot, then started moving along the edge, studying the water.
As they passed, I said, "I wondered if anyone ever tried fishing here."  I'd considered it and dismissed it because it's so small.  I've never seen anything bigger than a minnow there.
But the mom said, "He caught a catfish here recently, a big one."  That surprised me.  "Good to know," I answered.
I don't know what "a big one" would be.  Maybe not very big at all.  However, big fish do end up in surprising places.  I've seen two-foot carp in ridiculously shallow stretches of Beargrass Creek, and I've heard of similar sized catfish being caught in places like that, too.  I suppose they are more likely to be found after a period of really wet weather, such as this past spring and early summer, when water levels have been high and fish can swim far.  That particular section of creek is probably cleaner than most streams in Jefferson County, and that counts for a lot.
Or maybe the lady was crazy. A lot of them make it this far upstream, too.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Ancient Roman coin: Hadrian

This is a nice coin issued under Emperor Hadrian, who ruled the Roman Empire 117-138 AD.  It's a silver denarius, Rome mint, struck 118 AD.
Obverse: . IMP CAESAR TRAIAN HADRIANVS AVG, laureate bust right, drapery on left shoulder.
Reverse: P M TR P COS II, CONCORD in exergue, Concordia seated left, holding patera in right hand, left elbow resting on head of Spes who stands facing left on a low base behind, cornucopia under seat.
(RIC II 39b; BMCRE 61; RSC 252a)

Master of Illusion

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

More portrait stuff/Rockwell

Well, I wasn't done with the double portrait, after all. Not technically, anyway.  My customer loved it, but I noticed that a little paint was flaking off in the bottom left corner. Some of the green had flaked away, revealing the white-primed panel beneath. That absolutely should not happen!
I probed the area with an X-acto knife, and surmised that my thinned-down acrylic underpainting, with only a little thinned-down oil paint on top, was the problem there.  I decided to facilitate mechanical binding.
To that end, I scored the area with my knife, then applied another, slightly thicker layer of green paint with no medium or thinner added to it.
Last night, just for fun, I set up my new French easel.  Mom and Dad found it at a yard sale--along with dozens of tubes of student-grade acrylics, lots of brushes, and five or six palette knives.  Very, very nice!  I've never had a French easel before.  It ought to be very useful for plein air painting.
Last Sunday, Kim's cousin Matt came to town for a brief visit.  We went to the Kentucky Derby Museum and to the Louisville Slugger Museum.
I'm not a baseball fan, but I think I actually enjoyed the Slugger Museum more.  It was just more interesting, and more engaging.  It also had a Norman Rockwell exhibit, which I really enjoyed.
As a child, I liked Norman Rockwell.  Then at some point (around the time I started college?) I started really disliking Norman Rockwell; I saw him as too hokey, cute, and sentimental.
In recent years, though, I've started appreciating him more, and now I like him again.  The exhibit at the Slugger Museum was great, including not just reproductions but also many original drawings, watercolors, and oil paintings.  They were a lot of fun to look at; Rockwell had a level of craftsmanship and skill that I can only dream of.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Handing it over today

 Here is a scan of the for-real finished portrait.  There are some minor changes since the last time I posted a photo of it, but you'd have to be very observant to spot the differences.  The person who commissioned it hasn't seen it yet; I hope he likes it.
This was a real learning experience for me, and it has whetted my appetite to do more portraits.  I have a lot to learn.