Friday, August 26, 2005

Keller Ferry, Colville Rez

One of the realities of living where we do is the Keller, Ferry.

When the Grand Coulee Dam was built it backed up the Columbia River and created the 15o mile long reservoir, Lake Roosevelt, named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Many small towns and ranches were drowned and had to be relocated. What was once a paradise of orchards and free flowing river abundant in 80 lb salmon, it is now a quiet lake with attendant problems of pollution from run off and mine wastes. The town of Keller itself was deluged. A few buildings were moved. When the lake is drawn down you can still see old foundations and road beds.

An extension of Hwy 21, the Keller Ferry is a free ferry that operates from 6 in the morning to midnight. Many is the time we have hurried to catch the last ferry after a high school wrestling match or trip to Spokane. My boys figured out that they had spent over 3000 hours each on the hour and a half bus ride to Wilbur. Because they lettered in 3 sports a year their day was very long, usually from 6 in the morning to 7 at night. After such a schedule, life outside is going to be a snap. They are both off to college now. One in Montana and the other in N. Dakota on wrestling scholarships. They had to go back east because Washington gave up wrestling for girls sports. What a shame but that may change as girls are starting to be interested in the sport.

This view is from the reservation looking south towards the wheat country of Lincoln County, the bread basket of the world. This year farmers got as much as 80 bushels per acre on dryland farming. Incredible!

The hills are the Keller Grade. It's a pretty windy road that climbs more than 1000'. The view from the top looks south across flat wheat land and north to the forests and mountains of the Colville reservation. I'm sure I will paint the view from the top someday. But first I plan to go a little upstream and do a painting of Whitestone in the Hellgate area. It's a wild looking landscape of basalt cliffs and long horizons.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Charcoal portraits

I go to Sisters, Oregon once
a year to touch base with the Draft horse crowd. Teamsters, young and old. Wannabe's and worn out hands that come together to BS and load up on Draft horse gear or sell some of their collection. Some folks are into it for a hobby and others make their living with horses, farming, logging or hauling people. One of the things I've noticed is how many of us old duffers wear spectackles and grey beards.
It's a great time put on by Lynn and Christy Miller that publish "The Small Farmer's Journal",
I hope to do a painting with many of the faces that frequent the show. It will be fun to see the reaction of the guys when they discover a painting with their mugs in it. Hope it turns out.

I re-discovered charcoal from the artist Scott Burdick who does wonderful portraits. He and his wife Susan use powdered charcoal and a brush. It's probably an old technique but something that is new to me. Working with a brush allows me to work slow and find the image. Some folks use water with the brush but I haven't got that down although I use it for final details like the lines around the eyes and the eyes themselves. You have to be careful as it doesn't erase. I also have a problem getting things dark enough. The powdered charcoal builds up and is hard to remove from the surface without getting it all over. I just workout the, "fortunate accidents."

I got Burdick's DVD on oil painting. I learned a lot and find that DVD's are a great tool to learn from and hope to get more. Drawing out an idea is essential for studio work. I don't consider myself any good at portraits but I'm having fun trying. The internet is also an incredible tool that didn't exist a few years ago when I was painting up a storm. Last night I surfed over to and discovered Michael Stack who does clouds like I would like to be able to do. They've got a great stable of artists and online gallery.

I keep painting everday. I'm trying to get things on Ebay but they require a credit card which I don't care to have but might have to get if I am going to peddle things online. I sold some work in 93 or so. Didn't do to bad for prices. It's a little scary but is a way to find a home for some of my stuff. It's pretty neat to be able to live in Paradise of the Reservation and eke out a living of sorts.