The sun was just going down as I looked out the backyard. A deer appeared behind the shed and was making it’s way toward the house. The reflection of the glass hides me well and allows me to see this herbivore up close.
Deer are like a salad eating machine with amazing radar and four powerful legs. The every move of this creature was one I interpreted as hope and caution. Each step towards the house taken carefully. Each step bring it closer to the possibility of food. At some point it gleaned a better angle and the outside reflection betrayed my position. The deer saw me and decided that after scanning me for a few seconds that this was too close for comfort and hit the gas. Gone in a brown flash with a white tail bouncing away. Pretty cool. Not like that happens to me every day.
And now it snows. We’re in the middle of winter and the snow is warm and heavy. I know that sounds weird but it is warm for a winter’s day today. The snow fell all night and there was close to a foot of fresh on the ground, yet as the day wore on the temperature switched from slightly negative to slightly positive. That means the snow melts ever so slightly. It’s gets heavy and compacts and weighs down on my panels. Over the course of time this should work in my favor as the added weight will mean more snow is making contact with the steel. As usual, time will tell. Can’t ever be in a rush when rusting steel with snow and if anything, this is teaching me patience like nothing ever has.
Happy to say that there’s been a good 4 feet of snow this winter. I hope it keeps on coming because it’s been at least a couple weeks since we had a decent fall. For those of you who already know me, you’ll know that snowflakes are part of my creation process during the winter months and without them, my art comes to a standstill.
Gold Dew by Roland E. Derksen
Sometimes you come across the just the person you need to. Let me back track a little. Like most of us, I can take a reasonable photograph. I can get even luckier by rattling off hundreds of photos to increase my odds of getting a real gem. The challenging part for me though is taking proper, square, studio photos of my work. For starters, the reflective nature of metal s makes it highly challenging to light and photograph. Secondly, there is a certain quality about the rust that makes it either very flat or burn like fire depending on the lighting conditions. Enter Roland.
This Spring has been exciting for me. For one, I’ve been exploring many new techniques which continue to result in works unlike anything I’ve ever created. For a couple years I have been exploring corroding steel in many different ways and along the way have encountered some expected, and some unexpected challenges.
From a technical point of view, this Spring has been exceptional. I’ve made some breakthroughs and you can see some of these pieces in the May and June sections of my gallery .
“Cedar Spark” , “Winds of Spring”, “Cedar Hill”.
It’s been a wet and cloudy spring for the most part. Last year’s fallen leaves from a Japanese Maple along with the springs from some cedar trees provide me with the inspiration and materials for a exploring a couple of new techniques.
Escaping the snow for a day down in the valley.
Man, it’s almost May and It’s still freakin’ snowing. I love the stuff but honestly, I’m done for the year. Many a long-time local assures me this is an exceptionally long winter and it’ll all be over soon.
Today I decide to rug up and head lower in the valley where it’s a little warmer and the snow doesn’t get a chance to stick. One of my favorite spots to walk is along the train tracks. I notice that the wooden beams used to lay the track on are treated with what seems to be some kind of stinky oil. I guess it protects the wood from the relentless beating the trains and Nature gives it.
Snow melting on steel panels in the Winter of 2008.
The snow is slowly melting away for another year. As much as I love to see the snow arrive, it’s exciting to see it go as well. Over two feet ended up accumulating on these panels, and as it melts I get an insight into the kinds of images which been transferred and left behind. There is a layer of organic matter compressed between the snow and the steel. This organic matter ends up corroding an abstract imprint of itself onto the steel as rust.
This Winter I’m stoked. There is lots of snow in my life. It’s my first winter out here in the Kootenays and there’s about four feet of the white stuff in our yard so far. I can’t totally pin it, but there’s something about having your neighborhood covered in a layer of white powder that is still a mildly surreal experience for me.
I love working with the snow. Boarding on is the best fun you can have with your clothes on and I actually enjoy shoveling the stuff. For real, it’s a good work out.
And of course, Karen and I love ruggin’ up and walking around in the stuff.
Getting ready for a good winter stroll.
Some artists use paints and brushes on canvas. Others use chisels on stone. What turns my crank is weather and in particular snow and rain. Now, my understanding of snow is quite basic. I’ve been taught and told:
- That each snowflake is unique - no two are every the same.
- Eskimos have over a hundred words for snow
- Don’t eat the yellow stuff
I’m not certain about the first two but I’m almost a hundred percent on that last one. Arg, hold up, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let me back up a bit.
It all started a couple of weeks ago. Karen and I were riding the chairlift at a local ski hill. It was an overcast day and little snow was falling. As we were chatting I looked over at her and on the lens of her goggles, a snowflake had landed perfectly flat and intact. What I saw was simply beautiful. The detail and shape of this thing had me marveling until we got home that night.
So with snowflake fever I do what most people do these days when they want to learn more about something. I boogie over to Google and see what I can turn up.
What I discovered along the way was a website by Kenneth G. Libbrecht, dedicated to the humble snow flake which featured some killer photography. The images are featured in three different photo galleries and the site contains along with tons of other neat information. From the highly geeky “how to make your own” to snow activities with kids. Awesome site and I highly recommend checkin’ it out.
Snowflake photos from the very cool SnowCrystals.com.
“How full of the creative genius is the air in which these are generated! I should hardly admire more if real stars fell and lodged on my coat.”
- Henry David Thoreau, 1856
Another winter on the way and my first in the Kootenays. I’m told it’s quite mild as far as Canadian winters go and I’m quite excited because the area I’m in apparently gets a lot of snow. So far, I’ve already experienced winters of minus forty degrees (which is about where Celsius and Fahrenheit meet) during my three years in Canmore, Alberta so this should be cake in comparison.
Still, I needed to stock up on some fuel for our wood stove in order to keep warm in the coming months. My most excellent neighbors were more than happy to help. They showed me the ways of my new Stihl chainsaw, how to pick the right “standing dead wood” tree and to how to fall and buck the wood into appropriate lengths.
Most importantly (because getting firewood is heavy work) to make sure to select a tree uphill from the road in order to throw or roll the wood down to the awaiting truck … opposed to carrying it all up to the truck.
All priceless knowledge for a firewood noob like me.
I had a blast getting out there and learning all this stuff. So guys, thanks for your wisdom and help, I’ll be thinking of you when the snow comes and I’m keeping nice and cozy inside.
A truck full of warmth … loaded up and ready to go home.
Head full of safety gear.
This is my first summer out here in the Kootenays and I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much. I have been working very hard at my day job so I don’t get anywhere near as much time to create and be out doors. Whenever I can, I like to spend time in my yard and walking local trails. I’ve bought some books, umm, field guides I guess is more accurate to take with me. That way I can start to identify what that nice chirping or awful screeching sound is, or know if it’s safe to nibble on that wild berry or shroom.
Working on a hot summer day in the shade is fantastic. Since I work with power tools a fair bit, I’m thinking I might invest in those new fangled ear muffs that have headphones in them so I can pipe tunes into my brainspace while I’m working. I’m a student of the guitar and music is a huge influence on my work so I like to surround myself with it wherever I can.
Finishing up the back of a piece on a hot summer day.
As my girlfriend would say, “holy doodle!”. It’s been a interesting and blazing fast few months. I feel like I blinked and we’re almost in May. In that time I’ve moved house, started a great new web development business, took a trip to Washington DC, met some cool people and helped some along the way at Grassroots.org and Sustainable San Mateo County. On the art front, I have some panels almost ready to reveal and I’m looking forward to spending some time finishing them up as the sun starts coming out. Special thanks to Jeromy Darling for pointing out that my gallery was broken.
I love the view from the deck of our new little house. We’re now in the Kootenays about 20 minutes drive from Nelson. The area we live in is off the beaten path and an inspiration to me in so many ways.
View from my new back yard.
Photos of preparation, setup and site selection for a series of works created in the rains and snows of Fall 2006 and 2007 in Naramata, BC.
All I can say is, it was worth a shot. The result of my Calm and Chaos series are in and they are dismal. Of a total ten panels placed in various sites around Naramata (streams, orchards, vineyards, foothills) a grand total of two turned out art worthy.
Steel panel in Naramata apple orchard.
Here’s the final score. Out of ten panels:
- Six got wind swept. The fall and winter winds kept blowing any matter off the panels. And without those leaves and twigs etc. there is no subject to corrode into the steel.
- Three managed to collect enough matter. One turned out a total glob with no real compositional merit, the other two I like and will finish and present.
- One vanished.
Steel panel sited in Naramata vineyard.
Ah … excuse the delay folks. Life has had some interesting twists and turns lately on both the personal and professional fronts. For those of you keeping a track of my work, don’t worry. The lack of updates to this blog by no means reflects any slow down in the production of art. This time around my muse is Mother Nature and attempting to capture some of her seasonal transition as rust on metal. I’ve got my steel all prepared and ready to go.
Steel panels, prepped and ready to be sited.
It’s back to nature I alway seem to go when it’s time to wind down, relax and really ground myself. Even though I seek calm within nature, it’s humbling to observe her in a constant state of seemingly chaotic flux. A chaos born of systems that are in an never ending process of trying to attain balance with each other. It’s this theme of Calm & Chaos which serves as the inspiration for my Fall series.
Local creek in Naramata chosen as site for this panel.
I’m placing a series of ten steel panels in total. These will be placed in areas where there is a good chance of leaves and other organic matter collecting on them. So far I’ve chosen sites near the local creek, the foothills of North Naramata overlooking the lake and a couple of local vineyards and orchards. After selecting sites and placing the panels we’ll have to wait and see what chaos serves up.
This is me using my hover super power.
So summer is almost gone for another year. It always makes me a little low transitioning from summer to fall and saying that slow goodbye to warm winds and water. But there are some things I look forward to in fall. More rain for starters which is key in corroding the metal panels I have placed around the town and foothills and mountains this year.
For an artist who uses weather as a co-creator I’ve been hoping for rain. I’m happy to say that my little town has been graced with frequent thunderstorms in the last few days. Although I like the sun as much as the next person, I love having the rain come and giving the landscape and my steel a refreshing drink.
“Dust & Denim” - Weathered and rusted steel - 25″ x 35″. By Danno, 2006.
View slideshow of this piece…
This piece is finally finished after corroding the spring rains of 2006. For awhile it was overcast and no rain was falling. Then mother nature came through and brought frequent showers which fell on Dust & Denim, my tribute to those of us with the tenacity to learn such a challenging instrument.
I’ve been in Naramata for over three years now. It’s a sleepy little town for the most part except for a few months in mid to later summer when the tourists and fruit pickers show up. In my short time here I’ve heard a lot of wildlife within ear shot. The silly clucking of Quails, the eerie cool piercing cries of Ospreys and Eagles and the maniacal (somewhat chilling) howls of Coyotes in the night.
Last month started what was a quick display of wildlife from all angles. It started with a Raccoon who walked down the forested hill in my backyard. Waddling confidently and cutting a slow line straight for me. I don’t know much about Raccoons so I gave him a wide berth and got out of his way while managing to admire this very neat looking critter. I mean he could be harmless but for all I know, they might hate anything bald and rip my innards out before I know it.
Weathered and rusted steel - 25″ x 35″
By Danno, 2006
View slide show of this piece
Having grown up in a large city, my contact with horses was minimal. It wasn’t until a boyhood Scout camp that I finally came to see one up close and get a chance to sit in the saddle. Our Scout troop had booked a day with a riding farm. You pay your fee and they lead you around a predetermined path on the back of some very bored looking horses who know the trails off by heart. That old memory got me thinking about horses.
Well things are heating up here in more ways than one. Last month has me slowing down and taking stock of all things life. Two new pieces are well on the way and the slow southern sounds of Iron and Wine have been a background to the creation of these two new works and I’ve tried to capture some of that rural romance that often surrounds country living. An embodiment of slower, cleaner ways of doing things that lend themselves to a the appreciation of the simple things in life.
I’ll leave you with a photo taken from my favorite pier down the road at the Naramata Centre.
Apple Tree Zero
Weathered and rusted steel - 22″ x 34″
By Danno, 2006
View slide show of this piece
For weeks during late fall and early winter, the leaves from an apple tree and pine needles from a fir tree near by fall on this steel panel. The rain and snow slowly rust an imprint of life at ground zero underneath an apple tree into steel. Bugs, mice, birds also contributed to this piece as they scurried across it’s surface to get to the fallen apples near by. Check out the slide show to see how it the piece took shape.
A Hard Days Work
Weathered and rusted steel - 30″ x 40″
By Danno, 2006
View slide show of this piece
Weathered and rusted steel - 42″ x 60″
By Danno, 2006
View slide show of this piece
This large steel panel has been aged in the snow and rain of this unseasonally warm winter of 2005-2006. Matured under a pine tree this piece saw many things fall on it, including pine cones, pine needles, bugs, and even a couple of bird poops. One day I woke to see that the piece had been covered in a light dusting of snow during the night. There were what looked like mouse tracks across the snow - with a larger set of cat paws right next to them.
Naramata Gold is named for the current boom of all things wine here in Naramata. Of which, quite a few bottles were enjoyed during the making of this piece. Special thanks to my neighbors and friends, Derek and Yanti, both of whom have tried on a occasion to take my understanding of wine to a new level.