Archive for the ‘Art’ Category
Zounds! Two posts in one month! Looks like I’m picking up some momentum in posting to the blog.
I’ve been busy around the old place. Each summer, I make a mental list of projects that I hope to see completed. Of course, nothing ever goes according to plan, but it’s good to set the odd goal. High on this year’s list was doing something about the old wooden floors. They’re in pretty bad shape – some slanting planks in the upstairs, and rolling or wavy hardwood strip flooring in the downstairs. Over the past couple of summers, I had done some experimenting with scraping, sanding and varnishing test sections of the floors. The results convinced me that attempting to take the wood back to a sanded state followed by varnish, would be too tedious and not really in line with what pleases me. Besides, when I bought this place, I had it in the back of my mind to try to find ways to incorporate artistic creation into the house. In a former life, I was quite a busy painter and carver of folk art pieces. I’ve been missing that work, so after deciding that painted floors might be a good route to explore, I began working up a plan. There’s no doubt that it is a time consuming project, but it greatly appeals to me. At this point in my life, I feel like this will probably be my last house, and if it pleases me to surround myself with my own or the art of others, then so be it. Anyhow, that’s how the idea for painted floors came into being.
Over the winter, I mused over possible designs for the floors. At first, I considered some type of painting inspired by patchwork quilt designs. However, that really isn’t me. I’m more inclined toward paintings of flora and fauna, so that seemed to be the way to take this project. From that point, I came up with a plan to choose different background colours for the floors and then add theme-based paintings. In the tower room, I put down an aqua base and painted several species of ocean fish — see above – click on image for a larger view. The resulting floor is bright, clean and, in my admittedly rather biased opinion, rather cool.
After the successful completion of the tower floor, I began work on the living room floor. It’s a goodly sized room of about 14 x 20 feet, with a projecting bay window section on one side. Large windows along one wall look out onto a forested hillside with a beautiful brook down below. This room begged to be painted with a Woodland theme. I began by putting down a base of parchment coloured paint to mimic the pages of a book of natural history illustrations. Then, I chose a soft mineral green to use as a wide border along the walls all the way around the room. Upon that background, I began painting woodland flora and fauna using mainly my own nature photos as reference material. The above image (click on it for a larger view) is the completed bay section of the floor. I’m now working on the larger rectangular section. As much as possible, I’ll be trying to represent the rich diversity of plants and animals that I’ve encountered over a lifetime of interest in the natural world.
Now, I’m beginning to think ahead to some of the other rooms of the house. The kitchen is probably next on the agenda — also a very large room. I’m not yet sure of the theme, but I expect that some idea will begin to grow by the time I’m finished the living room floor in a week or two.
Below is a fairly recent photo taken in the front garden. Unfortunately, Shelby managed to wander out of the scene once I had camera in hand, so it’s just Sage holding down the lawn. I’ll try for a photo of the two of them together in my next post. The house and gardens are looking good. Lots of wonderful rhododendrons, rose bushes and perennials in or coming into bloom. Larry has been visiting and putting his green thumb to good effect around the place. Much creative stuff happening here this summer. More about that in upcoming posts!
It seems that summer has arrived here in Round Hill. Nights are still quite cool, but days have been warm and this week threatens to be quite hot. I continue to work away at things here – both indoors and out. Instead of writing much in this post, I thought it would be fun to share some photos taken over the past week or so (click on all photos for larger views).
To begin, the above photo was taken down by the river. As you may recall, I have been cutting trails through the property and have cleared four access points to the shoreline. This is the one that I can see from my bedroom window. The photo was taken about three-quarters of the way down the hill. From my room, the chair looks quite tiny. Anyhow, there is now a steep but walkable trail from the house to the river. It’s a nice view. One of these days, when I actually take some time off work around here, I may actually go down and sit in that chair.
This photo is of a rusty cast iron tripod that I found while clearing trails back in the woods. As I work my way through the property, I constantly unearth objects. This is the largest as yet. Mostly, I find glass bottles, tin cans, metal pans, and occasionally reams of the most horrid looking “barbed tape” fence wire which I carefully remove and wind into hoops to be stowed in a safe place. The history of this property has something to do with the stuff that I unearth. Behind the old house, there was once a barn, and on the hillside down to the river, an old cooper’s shed where barrels were once made for shipping apples from this region. Down by the river, on a lot which is now severed from this property and owned by a neighbour, there were once two large factory buildings for the Round Hill Woodworks. Only one building remains. It was the general store for the village for many years, before eventually closing down and being sold off. In any case, with so much activity on this property, it is really no surprise that objects are unearthed almost everywhere I look. Kind of fascinating.
If you are on Facebook, you’ll already know that I spent last Sunday removing three large windows from the second floor level of the house. Last summer, I made an unsuccessful attempt to remove the rotten old storm windows from the upper level. I soon discovered that the windows were not only attached by the regular screw bolts, but that they had also been nailed to the sashes using huge common nails (ggrrrrhhhhh!!!!).
There was no way that I could get proper leverage to extract the nails while standing at the top of a ladder, so I decided to leave the job for the winter and figure out a different way to get the old windows off the house. This time, I tackled the job from the inside, first removing the inner windows which all need some repair work anyhow. Then, I used a crow bar to partially pry each window away from the sash. Once there was a crack of open space, I threaded some cord around each window and tied it to a nail I hammered up above the inside window frame. Then I finished prying the windows out, catching them as they swung out and down, but stopped from crashing to the ground by the cord. With the windows now out of the way, I can do some repairs to the sashes and the upper siding and finish painting the upper level exterior before summer’s end.
My modus operandi for working on this place is to tackle several jobs at a time. I know that probably bothers some of you. Why not start one job and just work at it until the very end? Well, that wouldn’t suit my personality too well. I like to have several irons in the fire at all times. There are practical reasons as well. Sometimes it is too hot to be working on the trail building project, or it’s been raining and the exterior walls are too saturated to paint, so I need an indoors job. That’s what the above and the next few photos are all about. As some of you may remember from last year’s work program, I repaired and painted the downstairs but stopped about half way up the staircase. Now I am carrying on into the upper level. The above photo is of the long room with two windows that look out onto the front garden (the same window openings featured in the photo further up this page). I like this room very much and intend to turn it into a studio at some point – maybe around the same time that I go down to sit in the chair by the river.
Anyhow, the condition of the walls in this room are not too terrible, other than at one end where the plaster is off the lath on the sloped ceiling, and there are planks that were covered with wallpaper which frames a rather spooky closet. The rest of the ceiling is peeling and requires scraping – all similar to the Room of the Scary Wallpaper which I worked on last summer.
There is a square tower room as well, and it is almost ready for painting. There are two more bedrooms and a long hall on the back side of the upper floor. They are in rather dreadful condition and will require *a lot* of work. I don’t think I will get to them this summer.
Anyhow, here is the same view of the *proposed studio* after most of the wallpaper has been scraped away and the first coat of plaster applied. It is already looking much nicer and brighter in the room and my imagination is busily creating visions of a nice studio with a work table, easel, cabinet for paints and brushes……… Well, I shall get there eventually.
Now, lest anyone think that I don’t take the odd day off, The above photo will prove you wrong. On Saturday mornings, I usually tear myself away from work for an hour or two to visit the Annapolis Royal farmers’ market. Generally, I buy a couple of soft pretzels and fruit turnovers, then poke around looking at everyone’s stuff. The above insulators were acquired over a couple of weekly visits to one of the vendor’s tables. At some point, I hope to build a little glass shelf upon which they will sit at the top of the now-absent windows of the partially-plastered studio room. Do you get how all of this works? It’s all about building up a series of carrots leading from one job to the next. Somewhere at the end of the string of carrots, there is a chair by the river and several colorful insulators displayed on a glass shelf.
Okay, I know what you are thinking. What on earth is this photo about? Well, this is a photo of the next major town north of here – as depicted on a postcard dated circa 1900. It is one of about two dozen neat old postcards in a scrapbook owned by my next door neighbour. In my *spare* time (what’s that?), I have been scanning the cards, along with an old post office register book that was kept by her uncle from 1894 to 1931. The point of this activity is to preserve these relics for posterity. Once I get a bit more *spare* time, I hope to contact the local historical society to find a safe, permanent home for the old postal register – where it might prove rather useful to genealogists and historians of this region. For those who are interested, I have put .jpegs of all the postcard scans in an online gallery here. Hope that link works.
Now, believe it or not, I do manage to remember to stop and eat occasionally. Of course, by the time that happens it is usually around 7 or 8 in the evening. A week or so ago, I decided it would be nice to cook the odd meal on a barbecue. Only one problem – no barbecue – as I gave the old one away when I sold the farm. However, I had noticed a small kettle type barbecue on sale at the local grocery store, so I stopped by and bought it, a bag of chunk charcoal, and a bunch of vegetables. The barbecue came -unassembled – in a large box weighing 25 pounds. At first, I thought to leave assembly until later in the afternoon – after all, the instructions said it would take just 10 to 15 minutes to assemble the unit. However, some rational part of my brain quickly deduced that there was no way that 25 pounds of barbecue parts were going to fit together and be ready to cook in 15 minutes. About 1 hour and 15 minutes later, the barbecue was ready for charcoal. The asparagus and the long strips of a sweet red banana peppers proved to be especially good.
Of course, no long, busy day of work would be quite complete without turning on the UV lamp and firing up the camera gear for an evening of mothing. Listening to Loons calling, Barred owls hooting, coyote howling, raccoons fighting over vegetable scraps back at the compost bin while you photograph moths can be so relaxing. With any luck, I get a few nice moths like the Pachysphinx modesta in the final photo. It’s a good way to wrap up the day before catching a few hours of sleep in preparation to start all over again in the morning.