Whenever I type the title of my blog post with a countdown of the days I have been at Artcroft, I am reminded that I have only a few days remaining in-residence. I spent today in my studio working on a web design project. It is graphic intensive, and the clients have given me plenty of room for creativity, so it is not as horrible as it sounds. I enjoyed the tranquility and absence of distractions. I have been reading a few articles about focus, and how working on one thing at a time allows you to really focus on the work…and you are more productive. Today, I decided to tackle a large portion of the web project.
I only did one thing today, so I don’t feel like I have much to write about, but I feel like I got a lot done.
In the evening, the deer came to the front yard at the resident’s quarters at Artcroft for a green grassy treat. Of course I only had my lousy point-and-shoot camera on hand, but I was still able to capture the moment.
The camera I had on hand wasn’t taking good pictures, so I grabbed my sketchbook and gave it a go…rendering the old fashioned way. So I did get to draw some today after all!
I woke early, greeted by blue skies. I strapped on my boots, and took a walk around the farm. I took some photos, but really just wanted to enjoy the outdoors.
I have always wondered what those plants were…they are snowcatchers…of course!
Inspired by the beautiful hike, I painted a series of small snow scenes.
I am starting to think about the things I will need to do when my residency is over. I have a web design job waiting that is very creative and interesting. I spent a large part of the day working on it.
When the Barkers got home, I helped Robert get the Barn door back on track. Pissaro, the daddy goat, must have kicked it off somehow. While the door was open, Shirley decided that she wanted to go outside…and the babies followed.
Here is Robert feeding the little black baby…she never got off the bottle (I know some people like that too!)
Having the door open gave me enough light to photograph the babies…but these photos were taken at dusk so sorry about the photo quality.
Today, every time I looked out the window, the weather was different. First it was dark, and snowy, then sunshine. Mother nature couldn’t make up her mind…and it made it hard for me to plan my day too!
I decided to stay inside for a while and work on a project that requires flash programming. I have a basic understanding of ActionScript 3.0, but sometimes I get stuck, and it can take a while to resolve the problem. Here is a small flash that I used to test my code: [kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.kenswinson.com/flash/test2.swf” height=”550″ width=”400″ fversion=”9″ useexpressinstall=”true”/] the idea is that when your mouse hovers over the picture, it enlarges…if your mouse stays over the image for 2 seconds, then additional information is displayed. The animation looks simple, but the problem solving that makes it work took me a few hours. But now I can use the same technique when I get to work on the project.
I wanted to run at least 5 miles today, so I strapped on my running shoes in spite of the erratic weather patterns. It was one of the most beautiful runs I have had. Snow fell the entire run, and the landscape had fresh snow cover. I was greeted by horses and cows, and a little dog during the run. The snowfall got very heavy for the last two miles of the run, so I returned home covered in a fresh layer of snow.
In the studio, I finally created a halfway decent painting with asparagus.
After dinner, Maureen asked if I was going to be at the writer’s group on Sunday, which started a conversation about writing for children. I am often encouraged to illustrate for children’s books, and Maureen has written a beautiful poem for children which would make a great book.
I wanted to spend the day painting asparagus, so I started out by working on a few artist trading cards.
After 2 failed attempts to make an interesting painting with asparagus, a wet little dog was knocking on my door. It was Flurry. She had been outside in the sleet, and wanted to stay dry in the studio with me.
With Flury for company, we decided I should paint a a tree with crows…like the one I saw on the icy hike with Angela.
I made a few sketches of the chickens, and put them together into a small painting.
The chickens made me think of eggs, and birds nests, so I finished the day with two small paintings of eggs in nests.
After sleeping at my studio in Maysville, I hitched a ride with a friend to Cincinnati where the Saturn dealer made a new key for my car. I was able to get back to Artcroft, where I immediately went to my studio and returned to my paintings.
Later in the afternoon, Robert needed some help unloading 2 metal shelves that each had 90 drawers. It was auctioned off at the University of Kentucky…originally used for holding a wide variety of nuts and bolts. The drawers were so heavy that we had to take out all 178 drawers (2 drawers were missing) before being able to get the shelves out of the truck and into the barn. It didn’t take long, but it was a chore removing and replacing all those drawers!
For dinner, we had chicken and broccoli. Maureen was going to cook asparagus, but I wanted to paint the asparagus for a special painting that I must paint tomorrow…because asparagus is on the menu!
At the dinner table, we had a nice conversation about business and art. The state of Kentucky offers a marketing program for artists, but the artists are expected to maintain a consistent presentation in order to participate. My primary goal at Artcroft was to work on a body of work with a unified theme. I have found this to be very difficult. Every day is a new experience, and I want to translate those experiences in my art. I do not want to commit to one single way of painting. However, I do want to participate in this program, because I must expand my market if I am going to survive as an artist.
Speaking of selling art, I just received my acceptance into the Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival at Midway College on June 21-22…so mark your calendar if you will be in the Cincinnati/Lexington area this summer. This is a really nice show that you don’t want to miss!
After dinner, I fed the black baby goat. She never made the transition from bottle to mama, so 3 times a day, someone takes her a bottle. She drank a bottle and a half for me…good girl!
Today, I planned to get lots done. I was going to Maysville to get groceries, do laundry, meet a client about a design project, and then get back to Artcroft in time to have dinner and celebrate Maureen’s birthday.
Well, at the grocery store when I went to start my car, I couldn’t find my keys! I looked everywhere, then returned to the store…retraced my steps, and after looking for about 2 hours, I called a locksmith. He couldn’t make a key without the key code for my car. The only way to get the key code for my car was to go to the dealer…which closes its service department on Sundays. I thought I would have to tow the car to the dealer, but after a few phone calls, I learned that I only need to take the title to my car and my driver’s license.
I tried to make the best of the circumstances by taking my van to my old studio. If you remember my post on day 3, my home/studio was damaged significantly during the tornado storms. I had not seen the damage first hand, but knew what to expect. Now I agree that the house is not really habitable anymore, and I am very grateful to my friends who secured my things while I was away on my artist-in-residence. I loaded my van with some of my materials, then moved them into my NEW studio…which I think will be very comfortable.
Sorry not to have any pictures today. It’s really been one of those days. I need to get some early rest…tomorrow, I am hitching a ride to Cincinnati to get a new key for my car.
Its only been a few hours, but I really miss Artcroft. Can’t wait to get back!
Wow, 20 days! Time really flies when you are having fun.
Angela Fremont left this morning. It was sad to see her go home so soon, but I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet her and to watch her create one of the most ambitious projects I have ever seen!
I spent most of the day in the studio painting.
I am simultaneously working on a group of oil paintings. I am learning to stand away from my work, give myself a few minutes to think about the painting before I return to it. I usually paint like mad until it is done. I am also able to let one painting rest while I work on another painting, but I do not have anything finished to show today…sorry, but oil paintings take more time to finish than small oil pastels.
I ran 5 miles. The roads were clear, but there is still ice on many of the trees. The run was beautiful!
I helped Robert put a milking stand in the barn. It is a platform that will hold Shirley steady while she is milked. The little black baby still hasn’t learned to nurse her mama, so she will probably have to be bottle fed until she starts eating grown-up goat food.
Tomorrow I will go to Maysville to do my laundry, have a short meeting about a design project, and then visit my new studio/house. It is also Maureen Barker’s birthday (Feb 24) Happy Birthday Maureen!
This morning, I woke to a winter wonderland. Everything was covered with a layer of ice. After taking a few snapshots, I invited Angela to take a hike with me. We walked around the farm, and marveled at the ice while a little black and white skunk hurried away from us. Further down the trail, a deer ran into the woods. I noticed that we had not seen any birds. The fog was very thick…it was like walking around in a cloud.
Towards the end of the hike, I spotted a tree covered with crows…so there is where the birds are!
I spent the rest of the day working in my studio. After a conversation with Robert and Angela about the use of turpentine in my studio, I am considering switching to a safer solvent. I studied the OSHA report for turpentine, and after reading that in a case study, workers exposed to turpentine had a higher risk of esophagus cancer…I am open to alternatives. I bought some turpenoid, and will pick it up on Sunday when I go and do my laundry. I am interested in hearing what solvents other artists like to use.
It was very cold when I woke up, so I started a fire in the fireplace. While in the bathroom, I learned that the pipes had frozen. Even when the fire was burning pretty good, the living room was still cool. I discovered that the front door had come open during the night, and a chilly draft was creeping through the house! With the door closed, it took just a little while before the house warmed up, and the pipes thawed.
In the studio, I finished a portrait of the goat family having a “group hug”. I did not plan to make a series of goat themed paintings when I came to Artcroft, but Shirley and her babies have made an impression on me.
While browsing through my albumns on my computer, I stumbled into “The White Album” by the Beatles. I had not listened to it for a while, because last time I played it, i played it over and over until I was sick of it. I thought I would give it a spin, and do you know what??? That album really stands the test of time. I still love it!
While listening to John, Paul, George and Ringo, I sketched a wild version of a tree with two doves roosting in it. I wanted to use as many patterns as possible. There is a pattern in the sky…in the tree…in the earth…and in the birds.
I was afraid that all the patterns would be hard to look at, but I think it might be the best thing I have done for a while! After painting it in oil pastels, I decided to paint it in oils.
After dinner, Angela invited us to her studio to see her painting, “One Day-Day One”. We carefully walked the icy path to see one of the most spectacular paintings I have ever seen! The 5’5″ and 30′ wide painting depicts some of the poets who performed at the St. Mark’s poetry marathon. On January 1st, some of the world’s greatest poets meet to read their poetry to an audience. On average, a poet is only on the stage for 5 minutes. During this small window of time, Angela sketched the poets and wrote short verses from their poetry. At Artcroft, she reproduced the sketches almost in life size. I took a panoramic photo of Angela working on the painting, but will not show it until after it is unveiled at the museum this May.
Note: I will replace this note with the museum name when I get back to my studio. I wrote the museum’s name in one of my sketchbooks, but I do not want to brave the ice tonight.
Today we had snow flurries on and off for most of the day. I stayed in my studio, and worked. I finished 2 small oil pastel paintings, and started two large oil paintings.
Around dinner time, when Robert and Maureen came home, the clouds began to clear, and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset, followed by the rising of a big full moon.
Tonight was the lunar eclipse. While painting in my studio, I could watch the moon gradually change from a full moon, to a crescent moon, and then eclipse. I expected it to have disappeared, but it actually had a eerie reddish glow. The stars were all shining, and it was a great experience….awesome!
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Ken is a self-taught artist from rural Kentucky, whose work includes painting, printmaking, and pottery. He considers himself to be a 'lifetime learner' and he uses art as the vehicle to explore and learn more about the world around him. Much of his work reflect his optimistic views on rural folk culture, river life and simple pleasures.
You can visit Ken every Final Friday of the month at studio 400 at the Pendleton Art Center in downtown Cincinnati. He can also be found picnicking near his home in the Historic Village of Old Washington, KY.