Monday, July 19, 2010

Life in them thar hills

As evening moves on the half moon floats at 2 o'clock in a refreshingly clear, pale blue sky... a warm summer breeze drifts off the High Sierras while 2 bikers pass on opposite sides of the old highway, smiling and waving the friendly greeting bikers are know for in these regions ......a couple of horses munch on the grass in a neighbor's meadow......the eastern hills are glowing with the final rays as the sun sets .......  the day is drawing to a close ... I'm out pumping up and down the slight grades thinking this is a great way to end the day ... dang, life is good

worked at the easel for a little while today..... this is one that I worked on...... 9x12 oil on canvas pad .....high in the Sierras there are always outcroppings of rocks pushing to a new height... this was up near frog lake.

Unocchio's quote for the day

"One who returns to a place see it with new eyes. Although the place may have not changed, the viewer inevitably has. For the first time things invisible before become suddenly visible" ....... Bendigo Shafter

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Backyard Ventures

My back yard is not just what I see out the window..... it covers 50-60 miles along the eastern side of the High Sierras .... I love this country ... drive, walk,hike, ride my bike , anyway is fine... I never tire of the view and there always something new and exciting to see. Today's sketch was yesterday mornings effort before I took off for the NAA meeting (Nevada Art Association) in Carson City.... it is from a foto I took in the south end of CV.
You have a good day.

9x12 Acrylic on Acrylic pad

Sunday, July 11, 2010

High in the High Sierras

In the past, every now and again I got up into thwe High Sierras... peaks are different up there... the whole feeling is different up there.... hopefully I will get back up there this summer and do some sketching or plain air painting

Oil on canvas board 11x14

Biking on Sunday

I've been out biking nearly everyday for a while .... get the heart racing and then cruise for a bit ..... most days it is a short run.... today, I rode north all the way to Davis Creek,
It is a beautiful day in the Valley... I'm not the only one that agrees with that... there were at least 50 other bikers up and down this ol' country road......... wonderful to be able to get out and enjoy the sunshine ... my tan is doing fine.....

Right up the road a couple miles is the historic Bowers mansion .... a big deal in it's day but surprisingly small compared to some of the "McMansions" of the current real estate folly...

This will be the next stop.... Davis Creek..... but I'm not going in because big John and his wife are stopping by this week and we are all going there together..... I can't wait....

this is the hill I see out my window every day .. every season .... every evening ... and it is a major landmark when heading south on the old highway

Typical view of the route I trave heading north

Biking south

From the old highway looking south-east there are grassy farmlands and some with natural cover

For those who have never seen a Nevada covered bridge we got'em ... ok.. so it ain't very old but I like it anyway .... old - new ... we enjoy then all ... I like old and young folks too :-)

View from Davis Creek Circle ... there just are no bad views from this neighborhood

Bike riding and walking in the Summer sun... what could be more enjoyable

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mountains and a Bear

A current study of local scenery in acylics on canvas board 11x14..... I love this neck of the woods and the High Sierras .... will try to paint it at least 100 times :-)
Tim finished the bear at one of the neighbor's ...... didn't get there to catch him in the act of finishing but here's his bear on an inground stump of a redwood tree .... redwood trees are such a masterpiece .... so fine to make use of the stump.

Ridin da Skunk Train

OK... so I'm late posting this one ..... there were probably 600 pictures to go thru... all bringing back great memories of a couple days up in California Redwood country. On the week end of 6 Jun,  Baron and I took a trip up to Fort Bragg .... camped by the sea and rode the famous Skunk Train.

Go here for their story and some historic fotos....

This was a trip especially offered for photographic opportunities. They stopped the train often and staged shots over bridges and out of tunnels. It took a half day just to reach the half-way point where lunch was served. The first picture you see is the engine that pulled our train for that day. The train is fueled with oil  now and does not make that much smoke unless the engineer does it purposely ,,, which he did for the pleasure of the photographers. In earlier days, when wood was the fuel, the engine smoked on a regular basis. One of the first engines used on this line gave off a very pungent odor which smelled much like a skunk,,, hence the name. In those days they said you could smell it coming long before you could see it
This is a typical viewriding thru the Redwood Forest. The loggers cut down most all the original growth so what we are seeing now is only 100 years old +/-. .... there are a few trees that are much older that were left standing. Cabins and residences remain isolated amoung the redwoods which are accessable only by the Skunk Train ..... which will stop and pick up passengers standing by the tracks.... they also pick up shopping lists and bring grocery orders to those folks way back in the Redwood forest.

One of the many stops we made for foto ops.
They did a good job on picking spots... notice the tunnel

 The passengers were able to ride outdoors on a flat car ... standing and moving about at will ..... when tired of that there was always the option of sitting inside the historic passenger car.

Notice the small platform high on the tree... that is where a man with a big saw would stand to cut down the tree ..... it is pretty high up there .... notice in the next picture where the platform is relative to the size of the locomotive.

The Train Singer was always available to provide song and stories.... just the right man for the job... he was very good.

 One of the highlights of the trip was when they let us ride in the engine with the engineer. He stated that the temperature at the firebox door could get up to 600 degrees and that at the end of his belly it was not uncommon for it to be around 140. During cools days it was not so bad but on the really hot days that engine became quite uncomfortable. The engineer drank lots of water. He often heated his luch by the firebox door. This was a job only for the very rugged soul.

Baron enjoyed the engine ride.
This is not a straight rail line... many curves, bridges and several tunnels. The scenery was awesome. I love the redwood forest and the train ride was an excellent way to see sights that were not available anywhere else.

At the half-way point there were a number of buildings, houses, maintenance staion and side tracks to park trains and to turnaround.

Yup... there had to be one of these to get all those chores accomplished and carry the tools.

The engineer had to hang out the window to see when backing up ... no cover on that window,
The train singer was with us for both directions.

We also got to ride at the rear of the train for a different view.  Snacks were served on board in the rear car .

There's the big eight wheels that you heard about in the train songs.

This is a special holiday car ... it was parked at the Depot in Ft Bragg.

Take little side trips in life.......

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Fun

I love the Summer time ... I hope it lasts a long time :-)
For the past many years we have had sunflowers in the back yard and they bloomed in July... actually I think they lasted all Summer but I know they were there in July.
Here's my thoughts on the sunflower in the back yard.....
9x12 Acrylic
 ... sun's now dipping behind the High Sierras and the light is changing so I will finish this tomorrow ... probably only need the stems... we'll see

This week I did 3 sketches of Brad's back yard looking out at the lake....  and 3studies of a High Sierra Lake ... the 16x20 oil on canvas is still in process .... I keep seeing things I want to add or improve.... but I think I like it.
Every day it seems I get out for a bike ride down the lonely country road ... sure is peaceful out there.... each trip is a little longer in distance ... I'm working up to riding completely around the west side of the valley ... I'm taking my camera 'cus there will be some gorgeous sights to capture out there.... will be scouting out plein air painting locations.... I would like to get out there and paint while the summer weather is here.
Hope you are getting out in the sun a little, too.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lake Tyler

On the trip from Florida to NV I had the pleasure of stopping for a visit to Lake Tyler to visit my ol' buddy, Brad. He lives on a peninsula that juts out into beautiful Lake Tyler. In my foto file there are lots of pix from Brad's place... I had intended to paint something from those references for quite some time but never really got started.... so now I have started.... where, exactly do I begin.... it's a beautiful view from every angle .... soooooo
gotta start somewhere..... here we are looking south.... this is a 6x8 canvas board knife painting .... will be putting together a few sketches to see what works.
Sometimes we must patiently work at something before we actually know what really works.... you every have something like that?

Bike Riding in the Summer time - today

Today I went out for one of my Summer bike rides.... without my camera...dang
As I passed the local saddle makers house I noticed some activity in the yard..... Tim Carman was carving a bear in the stump of a dead redwood tree which set amoungst several live redwoods. People after my own heart... I hate to see a beautiful tree sent to the dump... at least save part of it and use it for something ....

As Tim disclosed he has been in and won some sizable competitions... see articles below. He is the cuurent executive pastry chef for the El Dorado hotel in Reno and has held similar positions in this area...... on the side he carves relief carvings for mantels, with his trusty chain-saw he carves trees, and he carves ice in national and local competitions.

We never know what is going to come up next out here in the country-side.... and never know who we are going to meet. What a great place to live!

Guess I better be taking my camera out every time I go out on the bike :-)

Tree carving honors Sparks firefighters

12.03.08 - 12:00 am

A tree on the grounds of a Sparks fire station may have died, but local firefighters are putting its remains to good use.

The stump of a giant sequoia redwood that once stood about 80 feet at Fire Station No. 2 on Baring Boulevard and Truckee Lane has been transformed into a work of art depicting a fireman holding a little girl with a Dalmatian at his side.

The emblematic carving of heroism is a tribute to Sparks' firefighters and is already catching the eye of community members.

"It's wonderful," Sparks Mayor Geno Martini said. "The firefighters have really thought about this. It's good stuff ... a great addition to the city. They deserve everything they get."

The station had two trees, one of which still stands and appears to be dying. The first tree died a few years ago and was cut down to about 14 feet, where it would remain waiting for the stump to be removed.

Local carver Tim Carman approached the station's crew asking what they might do with the wood, hoping to take some for his own artwork.

But instead of getting rid of what some community members told the fire department was an unsightly stump, the firefighters eventually came up with the idea for the firefighter sculpture and finally chose Carman to do the job.

Carman, an executive pastry chef at Reno's Eldorado Hotel Casino and primarily an ice sculptor on the side, has a passion for carving and works with various materials that are pliable, including chocolate, although he said wood is more difficult to shape.

"It's more unforgiving (than ice)," Carman said. "It's hard to put back what you lose (if you make a mistake)."

Carman has an agreement with Desert Fire Protection, a fire sprinkler company and the donor that is paying for the project. None of the funds are coming from the SFD, Chief Bill Finley said.

Bids for the project were about $17,000, firefighter Rich Armstrong said.

Although Finley couldn't say how much Desert Fire Protection is paying for the project, he said Carman offered to carve the stump for far less than other artists as an act of goodwill and appreciation for Sparks.

"The city and the area have been good to me," he said.

Carman came up with four designs that were voted on by the station's 100-person firefighting crew, including captains and operators. Carman made renderings of a firefighter sitting with his head down, on a ladder and holding an axe in the air, the last of which Armstrong said the crew thought might be too delicate and open to vandalism.

Carman, 56, has already put in about 100 hours on the project with about 20 more to finish the details on the carving, including burning spots onto the Dalmatian, chiseling out the SFD logo on a block of wood that will sit behind the wooden firefighter's feet and applying oils to finish and preserve the sculpture. After Carman is finished, the station will install fencing around it to prevent vandalism.

Armstrong, who's been with the SFD for eight years, has a lot of fond memories of the station's neighborhood where he grew up, near Shelly Park.

"These trees were planted 20 to 25 years ago," Armstrong said. "I remember the trees because the firefighters would always decorate them. To see one cut down broke our hearts."

Zach Larkin, another firefighter of eight years with the SFD, admired Carman's creativity.

"It's an amazing art project," Larkin said. "It's a moment frozen in time."

As for the second tree, firefighters said they still intend to decorate it with lights and ornaments for Christmas.

© 2008
TIM CARMAN is a 17 year ice artist who is ranked between top amateurs, ages 18-30. Tim has already made a name for himself in the culinary business as pastry chef for the elegant Breakers Hotel "Sky Room" and as a baker-pastry chef at the prestigious Madison Restaurant and Bar. This will be his first Ice Alaska competition.

Reno, NV - 2/13/2008

Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, NV is thrilled about its involvement in the 2008 World Ice Art Championships! Atlantis Executive Pastry Chef Tim Carman and his team; Mark Davis, Ed Winslow and Teodoro T. Alberto, will soon be on their way to the nearly month-long event in Fairbanks, Alaska. Tim and Mark competed in the Championships back in 2000, taking home the 2nd Place prize for the Most Realistic piece entitled �Fountain of Fortune.� Before the team takes off to the Great White North, they�re giving you a chance to witness how they work. On Saturday, February 16, 2008, they�ll be out in front of the Atlantis carving away with chisels and chainsaws! Come down and check out the action in front of the fountains off of South Virginia Street this Saturday starting around 8:00am. Twelve to Fifteen ice blocks, at 300 pounds a piece, will be set up so the carvers can start cutting bright and early. It�s expected to take about 8-10 hours to carve out a Merman and a Hammerhead Shark appearing to interact with one another. So come early, and see what they start with, then check out the finished product which should be done around 5:00pm. As long as it�s cold enough, the sculpture will be lit up all of Saturday night! The team takes off next week for the World Ice Art Championships, which run from February 26 through March 23! Get details on the event at

Monday, July 5, 2010

Stickin' 'Round home

Well here it is already... the birthday celebration of the good 'ol USA. bombs bursting in air.. millions of cars on the road... planes loaded... Bar-b-Q's smokin'.... watermellons cooling and the the beer caps poppin'..... me?... I'm at home on the ranch doin' just fine thanks.
This is a 9x12 preliminary acrylic sketch done on a canvas pad. The CVAA is having a painting project for the Sept meeting .... they  pass out a foto to each member who cares to participate and each of us paints an interpretation of it.

So I spurged and bought me a new car....... every one needs to experience a sports car before he gets too old to enjoy it .....

no... I lied.... look below and you will see Brad in his new toy ... mighty proud, too...... I'm gald he let me sit behind the wheel once... every one should enjoy a sporty car once before he gets too old to know what he's doing........... of course, we must take good care of our special toys..... notice he parks it in his living room :-)

For most of us we do not need to buy everything we think we need or want ..... there are other ways to gain good experiences.
Eat a little less than you think you want
Don't buy everything you want
Drink less than it takes to make you feel bloated
Keep in touch ..... visit friends and family... it will make life better.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

AZ to NV

It was a great visit in AZ but the time had come to return to NV. I was up early, packed and out the door. The day was warm and sunny, even early in the morning ... Phoenix was 115 that day... just as well I left :-)
Traveling across the desert was not all that bad... especially since Oly had got the A/C up and running... and it still ran fine. In all the years driving across the desert I have never seen it so green this time of the year.... it was quite remarkable ... almost made a body think he would enjoy living out there ... but not so fast... it was actually on the news, which stated the late Spring and the extra moisture had cause the phenomenon .... now look at the water level at Hoover Dam...Ooooooooo ... that is low. Someone is going to be screaming later on for water.
Hey! notice that new bridge in the background..... it's almost completed... amazing ... I can't wait to drive and walk over it (hope there is a pedestrian walkway)
Because the speed limits were raised the driving time was reduced... that was much easier on the ol' geezer and cut a lot of time off the trip. When I arrived in Wellington I stopped in to visit the Wrights for a few minutes.... always a pleasure..... and the tea and rest was very much appreciated.
Finally the day drew to a close with a magnificent sunset over the High Sierras and my ventrue ended as I pulled into the driveway exhausted and ready to relax with a cold drink.
......... but I will be ready to drive down to Phoenix again now that I know it is a one-day trip .... I might wait until cold weather to do it tho.

Feeding the Chickens?

Haven't fed the chickens since I returned from FL ... actually I fed the ermine while I was gone...... Sneaky little guys ... read about them here
He weaseled his way into the checken coop and killed the hens. When Jim opened the door the rooster bolted out and refused to go back in the coop for some reason. He hung out up at Jim's house with his chickens for a couple days then disappeared. Jim had set out a trap to catch the goffers that were causing problems in the pasture but caught the ermine who was down there for his last supper :-)
Heh, heh... I will spare you the pictures of the inside of the coop that day.
Tomorrow I am having chicken for dinner .... no.... I did not save what was left.... it is organic chicken from Costco :-)