Oso Negro & Winter 2009

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.

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July 2008 Solo Show

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 .

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The Big Melt

Metal panels rusting in winter

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.

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Tons of Snow

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.

Gettin' ready for a stroll.

Getting ready for a good winter stroll.

Exploring My Tools: Snowflakes

Awesome snow flake photos from SnowCrystals.com

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

First Kootenay Winter

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.

A truck full of warmth … loaded up and ready to go home.

My head. Stacked with saftey gear.

Head full of safety gear.

Mid Summer Goodness

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.

Grinding to finish up steel panel.

Finishing up the back of a piece on a hot summer day.

Dust & Denim

Life Overhaul

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.

The view from my new backyard. Rocks.

View from my new back yard.

Power

Calm & Chaos

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.

Calm & Chaos Update

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.

Calm & Chaos

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.

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.

Creating in Fall

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.

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Thunderstorms Galore

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.

Thunderstorms in the Okanagan.

Spooked Spook

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.

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June Update

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.

Lake Okanagan from Naramata Centre Beach

Apple Tree Zero

A Hard Days Work

Naramata Gold

Evening Delight

Thanks to All

Work in progress

I am thrilled with the response from everyone who has viewed my art. The feedback here has been overwhelmingly positive and I wanted to take a moment to say thanks. For those of you far away, thanks for taking the time to e-mail me and for those of you who are local, thanks for your kind words in person.

Steel waiting to be rusted

I feel like it’s time for me to explore rusting at larger dimensions. I’ve gone with larger steel panels to produce some new works. The largest panel you see in the above photo is over five feet tall. I can’t wait to get these prepared and into the snow.

The photograph that changed me

Daily, we all swim in an over-hyped stream of media. A stream of information that in all honesty is mostly worthless to me.

Now and then though, something profound occurs. One of these “somethings” happened to me the other day, something that rocked me deep, something that will make me view myself and view life differently.

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Rusting with Snow

Co-creating art with snow

Creating art by rusting steel with snow.

Winter is here for another year. I always enjoy the snow, it’s one of the reasons I live in Canada. From that first little high I get seeing the first snow fall for the year, to hearing it crunch underneath my feet as move around in it, to sitting cozily indoors and getting mildly hypnotized watching the flakes drift down.

But this year I’m loving it for another reason altogether.

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Steel Arrives

Working with steel.

Preparing steel panels for rusting.

After hearing that the metal I need could be weeks away, Dave over at Fehlings Sheet Metal has managed to locate some steel locally. He’s been a good man and has looked after me well. I would recommend the guys over at Fehlings any day.

Content that I don’t have to wait to work on my art, I get started as soon as I get home. Unawares, Karen took this picture of me while the snow was falling. During it’s life on the shelf, the metals seem to pick up a somewhat oily layer - which I like to remove before getting ready for rusting.

My friends back in Australia have commented on the red buck shirt on numerous occasions. Flannel isn’t all that popular in many Australian social circles. I don’t even remember where I got this trusty jacket from but at minus five degrees Celsius, it’s a great friend to get grubby with.

Viva la Vino

Offside Suzuki

More Steel

I’ve ordered a bunch of metal today. New steel to work with. I’m trying to get some second hand fridge doors as well to see what possibilities they might yield.

I’m in love with rust. I love seeding it, and watching it grow. Working with rust is like being a Sheppard; guiding a little molecular flock to graze on specific areas of the steel while protecting other areas.

t’s not like painting, where the artists hand is involved in every stroke. Using this technique, Nature splits the work with me. I create areas where I want the rust to flourish and let the Universe take over from there. The winds, rains and snow all slowly have their effect and corrode the steel as they will.

And that’s what I love about this artistic technique. The unpredictable forces of Nature are at work, contributing in a very real way to each piece in a chaotic fashion that I cannot directly control like a brush or a pen.

Lake Okanagan from Naramata Centre Beach

Lake Okanagan during winter wind storm.

I’ll leave you with these shots I took last winter down by Lake Okanagan at one of my favorite spots. This was one of the coldest days I’ve experienced in Naramata by a long shot (minus 20 Celsius/minus 4 Fahrenheit). The sun was setting, it was crazy windy and the lake looked like it was trying to freeze. I’m sure it would have the surface wasn’t so turbulent. I took a series of 32 shots that day before my hand and face started yelling at me to get home and warm up.

Lake Okanagan from Naramata Centre Beach

Wicked lighting and deathly cold.

Client. Friend. Inspiration.

People will cross your path in life. Most will pass in an anonymous blur. Some will become familiar. A rarer few will become an inspiration to you.

For me, one of these rare and inspirational people is Harvey Jackson. Harvey and I met through our day jobs. While working together we’d often end up chatting about life, the universe and everything. And so was born my relationship with a man who would one day become an inspiration to me.

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