Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Artwork Over the Holidaze: Hodgson Mill, Some Dead Stuff and My Wife in Vintage

Whenever I wasn't cooking or playing Santa to the whims of my wife and daughter this Christmas and the days leading up to and away, I tried to put a pen, pencil or paintbrush in my hands. Luckily, I managed to sketch quite a bit.

First up, a pencil sketch I did from a pic I took several years ago at Sleeping Bear Dunes Lifesaving Station. It's in Michigan, on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Sketching a pic I took at Sleeping Bear Point Life-Saving Station a few years ago.

This next one is sketched from a pic of Hodgson Mill on Bryant Creek that I took a couple of years ago on an overnight canoe trip. The mill is inactive, having moved production to a more modern facility, but I generally buy Hodgson Mill flour for all of the baking I do.

Hodgson Water Mill, about an hour and 45 minutes southeast of Springfield, off Bryant Creek.

These are sketched from dead stuff at Bass Pro Shops, here in Springfield. I meant to do a few more, but there were probably a couple thousand people in the building and no matter where I stood, I felt in the way, so I bailed on the idea. The best thing about sketching there is that the animals give you all the time you need to draw them. The bad thing, dealing with a lot of dumbasses just milling about at the camouflaged, furred and feathered spectacle.

Rainy day, sketching dead stuff at Bass Pro Shops.

Rainy day, sketching dead stuff at Bass Pro Shops.

And lastly, a watercolor of my lovely wife, sketched from a pic that I took over the summer. I'm working on my portraiture skills. I've dodge the portrait bullet for a long time, but I'm trying to work something of a happy medium out with my aversion.

My wife Abby in watercolor.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Old Mill in Ozark, Missouri

I've driven past the old mill in Ozark for over 20 years, thinking I'd get down there sometime with a sketch pad and some pen, pencils or watercolors. I've even sat in front on a low-water day, bobbing around in my kayak, just watching the way light plays off the old metal exterior. Saturday, I finally made something of it. I drove the 20 minutes from Springfield, pulled into the parking lot at the adjacent park, walked through a flood spillway and scrambled down to what was left of the riverbank after the recent rains we've had.

The water was up still and pouring nicely over the millpond dam. The one place I had footing that wasn't too soft to linger, was perfect for what I wanted to do, sketch it in pastel pencil on colored paper.

The old mill in Ozark, Missouri, on the Finley River.

The old mill in Ozark, Missouri, on the Finley River.

The top pic is to show where I was standing, the bottom is more color-correct.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Of Fish and Trees

These herring (at least I think they are), are the first things I've sketched in pencil in a very long time. I'm forcing myself to work outside of some comfort zones that I feel have had me rutted for quite a while.

I think they are herring. Working in pencil for a change of pace. Not sure I've done a pencil sketch in maybe ten years.

The second image here, are some birch trees that I've sketched/painted as a Christmas present for my mom. She lives in Michigan much of the year and her house is surrounded by paper birches.

Birch trees

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Self-Portrait

I'm not a portrait artist. I have nearly zero artistic interest in the human figure or face. I never really have had any. That's precisely why I made myself sit in front of a mirror for twenty minutes to sketch this. My first strict self-portrait in probably 25 year.

A Quick Self Portrait

Monday, December 14, 2015

Trevor vs. Rust: Restored an Old Ball-Peen Hammer

Over the weekend, I restored an old ball-peen hammer that I pulled from the trash pile in a friend's father's barn a year or two ago. It makes the third item I've brought back from a beating in that lot of rusty old tools and implements. The first two were done some time ago, a hundred year old carbon steal cold handle skillet and a carpenter's hatchet. Both can be found on this blog with a little digging. I use them often when camping.

Restored ball pein hammer.

I also shined up an old railroad spike that my daughter found on a hike a couple of weekends back.

Cleaned up a railroad spike we found on a short hike a couple of weekends ago.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

DIY Chess Set

Designing a travel chess set

Over the past week, in my spare time, I've been designing and knocking out a chess set on my bandsaw. Something small enough to fit the checkerboard I made a couple of winters ago. I wanted a rustic, rough set that if I killed it on a float trip or car camping trip, I wouldn't be too putout over the loss. Here she is. At some point, I'll likely make a much nicer hardwood set. This was a fun project and I'd like to make some that adhered more tightly to my sketches above.

DIY Chess Set

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Otter Wax and Waxed Canvas

I've made a few waxed canvas items now, two of which I used paraffin (the hand-sewn lunch sack and pipe roll you see below) and the third, I used Otter Wax. Unlike paraffin, it's an all-natural, non-petroleum coating that weatherproofs natural fiber cloth of nearly any kind and even some synthetic blends, as long as the percentage of natural fibers is higher than the synthetic. I really liked how easy the Otter Wax went on. It seems to have a much lower melting point, which may not be best in direct sunlight in the hotter months, but the Redhead cotton fedora I picked up at Bass Pro Shops a few weeks ago is likely not much of a summer hat, anyway.

Kayaking and Cabin Camping at Table Rock Lake

Hand-sewn waxed canvas lunch bag.

I really like how the Otter Wax took the crisp hat and gave it a weathered, more rustic feel and look. The hat went from OK, to downright cool in my book. Well, as cool as a cheap old outdoorsman hat can get. It's not wool like a nice Stetson or Filson hat, but it'll do.

Weatherproofed my hat

Here it is in action this past Saturday, doing a little urban Tenkara fly fishing on South Creek and at Valley Water Mill Park.

Urban Tenkara fly fishing on South Creek and at Valley Water Mill Park

Urban Tenkara fly fishing on South Creek and at Valley Water Mill Park

Urban Tenkara fly fishing on South Creek and at Valley Water Mill Park

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Roaring River State Park - Nov. 2015

This is a little late, but I've been pretty busy for the past week and a half. A couple of weekends ago, my friend Brian D. and I went down to Roaring River State Park to do a little cold weather camping, eating by the fire and walking in the woods. The original plan was to take a kayak trip up on Stockton Lake, but with winds gusting over 25MPH and snow and rain in the forecast, we opted for a hike trip.

The issue in hiking and why we would like to have been on the water instead, was that it was deer season. We often shy away from state parks due to their crowded nature, but they offer more protection from high powered riffles and we've lately found that if the forecast is saying the temps will be well below freezing, you can have the busiest parks in the state all to your lonesome.

We got down to RRSP Friday evening, we went about setting up camp and then I made the meal for the evening - campfire chicken and dumplins in my Lodge castiron combo cooker Dutch oven. I also made Moscow Mules, a drink consisting of ginger beer/ale, lime, angostura bitters and vodka, poured into a metal cup for maximum heat conductivity. Trust me, metal makes all the difference. They are usually made in copper cups, when visiting a bar, but enamelware coffee mugs work just as well.

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

We ate dinner by the fire and listened to owls hoot and coyotes work the hills around us. It rained lightly here and there, but really started to come down around 3:30am, long after we'd turned in.

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Saturday morning, coffee and a quick snack before we hit the closest trail we could find, one just up the creek from where we were camping.

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

All of the trails in the park are fairly short, but take quick ascents to the hilltops. It makes for some nice views, but you warm up in a hurry.

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

One big sycamore leaf in the creek.

Roaring River State Park

After the short hike, a real breakfast of coffee, bacon, eggs, biscuits and potatoes. I had picked up a couple of ribeyes and a pound and a half of nitrate-free bacon from Horrmann Meats the day before. I do so almost every camp trip and have been for a couple of years.

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

After breakfast, a second and third trail and a visit to the trout hatchery.

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Saturday night, a dinner of ribeye steaks, beans and potatoes around the Caveman TV. Tough to beat after a day in the woods.

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Up Sunday morning, we did a cold and hasty breakfast of coffee and dry goods, thinking we'd do another late morning breakfast after a hike. It didn't quite pan out. Temps dropped to 22ºF overnight and it was still pretty cold when we got up and around. Hoarfrost/frost flowers lined the creek below camp.

Roaring River State Park

A large white oak leaf in camp.

Roaring River State Park

Hitting the trail.

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

On the Firetower Trail, we got to pause for a late morning snack on the fire tower. Pretty cool, really.

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

The trail followed a horseshoe pattern around the ridge tops, eventually passing through a glade area and back down to the river for the walk back to the car. We found the remnants of a deer down on the river bank. A little further past that, things opened up into a controlled "fly only" fishing area.

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

Roaring River State Park

I brought along my watercolors with all the intention of doing some sketching through the weekend. With it being so cold, I really only had the chance to knock out one of our campsite, Sunday morning. I colored it later that night when I got home.

in-camp sketch, finished when home

It was a nice trip. We saw pileated woodpeckers, red bellied woodpeckers, blue birds, crows (of course), a blue heron and a bald eagle. We also saw a whistle pig (groundhog) and signs of beavers in the area, as well as hearing owls and coyotes doing their thing at night. Brian and I hadn't hiked that area together in about 18 years, so it was cool to get back down there.