Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Little Tour of My Brain, Part 3 - Ballenburg Merry-go-Round

We are in the midst of a heat wave. British Columbia is setting records evidently and it certainly feels like it. All of the of the candy container ornaments are finished and have been photographed. I am in the midst of choosing the best images and cropping them. I will have them up in the next few days. In the mean time, on with the tour of my brain.

This merry-go-round is at the Swiss outdoor Museum - Ballenburg. I couldn't resist taken pictures of the hand-carved animals. Enjoy yourself today. I hope it isn't too hot where you are or at least that you are used to it.

Let's start at this lovely rooster and then on to the next animal in front all the way around until we get back to the beginning. I think that the animal in behind is a goat. The hand-painted panels in the centre that hide the engine show events in the life of William Tell.

Two deer.

A bench flanked by two horses.

The backside of the bench.

Two of a set of four beautiful white chargers with colourful detailing.

The other two horses with a glimpse of the chariot.

This beautiful sky blue chariot seats four people.

Two brown horses with the same colourful detailing as the white horses pull the chariot off to conquer the invading brigands.

I love the zebra.

I have a feeling that the merry-go round operator is very used to people taking pictures of the ride and not him! The elephant is charming. I'm not sure what the images depict that are painted on the sides of the elephant.

The camel family is next in line.

A wonderful roaring lion and a snarling tiger chase after the occupants of the next set of seats.

These seats are, I think, a sort of hot air balloon or some sort of... I honestly don't have any idea as to what this is supposed to be.

Two black chargers with the same beautiful painted detailing as the white and brown horses. It is interesting how the background colours affect the overall look of the brightly painted detailing.

A green chariot this time being pulled by a set of white chargers. This is the rear end and the front half is shown in the rooster picture, sorry about that.

Here are the two white chargers that pull the green chariot.

All of the designs on the overhead draperies and the draperies above the central panels are done in beadwork. The fringe is also done in beads. They are amazing to look at. The beadwork uses large beads and the execution is not perfect, but who does bead embroidery for a merry-go-round! I was impressed to say the least.

I am not certain if the pictures that are on the rounding boards depict episodes in the life of William Tell or just scenes of Switzerland. Most likely it has to do with William Tell. The top of the merry-go-round has the apple with the arrow through it.

And so to sleep. On the way back to the car we passed the merry-go-round with its canvas cover pulled down. The canvas is truly a beautiful piece of textile. They would make great curtains.

Here is a little teaser, a close-up of a candy container ornament. When I am finished getting the photographs ready I will post them.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Little Tour of My Brain, Part 2 - Pumpkins, Squash, Gourds, and Vegetables.

The plain old orange globe of a pumpkin is beautiful, but have you looked at all of the other gourds and squash? If we had a large area in our yard I would grow lots of gourds, squash and pumpkins. They are so beautiful. The colours and shapes are so varied. I do take liberties when I paint them, so don't expect an exact representation of a hubbard or pattypan squash. All of the close-up photographs were taken at Dan's Farm and Country Market on Oldfield Road.

This French pumpkin called Rouge Vif D'etampes has a beautiful red orange outer skin. They look like a large pouf that you can put your feet up on to for a good rest. One of the candy container ornaments is based on this beautiful pumpkin.

I have no idea the name of these squash but the shapes and colours are so interesting.

More unknown squash. The stem on this squash is thick and has an interesting texture.

Ornamental gourds come in a myriad of wonderful shapes, sizes, and colours. I made the mistake of cooking a gourd one time. It was disgusting. It was a volunteer in our garden and I thought that it was squash. One of the warty gourds influenced the design of another of the candy container ornaments.

These last three photos were taken at the Metchosin Days fall fair. Another of the candy container ornaments is based on a pattypan squash. He is delightful.

It is held every year on the first Sunday after Labour Day in the District of Metchosin. This is the one fall fair that we go to every year. The midway consists of a tractor that pulls a very large trailer filled with bales of hay to sit on. There are two tractors that alternate on the route around the perimeter of the fair grounds. They are always filled. There is also a backhoe for the kids to use. The smaller children have an adult to help them but the larger kids use it themselves. They dig the soil out of one hole and deposit it into another hole beside the original hole. This is real life fun! The volunteer fire department has fire-fighting clothes for the kids to put on and they then do a very short obstacle course ending with them shooting water out of the fire hose.

Rainbow carrots, Rainbow chard, huge scallions and heirloom tomatoes, what could be tastier?

I am finishing the last four candy container ornaments and then I will photograph the lot. I am very pleased with them.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Little Tour of My Brain, Part 1- Fireworks

It is over a week and I haven't let you know how the ornaments are coming along. I have been very busy with the little guys. I am going to give you a little tour of my brain and the things that influence the finished pieces. So here goes with part 1 - Fireworks.

This is a very distorted photograph of a poster in my studio. It is about 3' high so I guess that is why the photograph came out distorted. This Standard Fireworks poster was on the wall of a place that sold fireworks. They were kind enough to give it me when I asked for it. Standard Fireworks is a British company.

I love the fireworks graphics. The older items tend to be more interesting. These photographs are from a British book "The Unsophisticated Arts" published in 1951. Sadly the graphics on most of the new fireworks are poorly designed.

My wife and I went down to the Inner Harbour for the Canada Day fireworks display. They were fantastic. Fireworks can be bought in Toronto for Canada Day, but not in B.C. I don't know if they are available anywhere else in Canada for our nations birthday. Let me know I'm curious.

Fireworks are sold in southern B.C. at Hallowe'en. This is the only time that fireworks are sold. The ink drawings above are from a 1966 reprint of a 1938 book "Holiday Handicrafts" by Nina R. Jordan.

British Columbia was very British in the beginning. That is a dumb statement otherwise it would have been called "Something Else Columbia". Anyway they greatly influenced the way holidays were celebrated.

Hallowe'en was influenced by Guy Fawkes Day. For those of you that don't know about Guy Fawkes and his dastardly deed of trying to blow up the houses of parliament well now you know. November 5th is "Guy Fawkes Day".

All good Brits construct a "guy", think scarecrow, stuff fireworks into his clothes pop him on a huge pile of wood and set the whole lot ablaze. All of this is done to celebrate the fact that he was caught, his plot foiled and then executed for treason. He wasn't burned at the stake but hung. If someone knows why the bonfire started let me know. I am definitely rambling. Guy Fawkes Day I think is the reason that we have fireworks on Hallowe'en.

I cut this ad from the 1990 Times/Colonist. I don't know of anywhere else that has fireworks on Hallowe'en but I am that glad we do.

President Fireworks shown in all of their glittering frenzied glory to be used with caution.

This photograph of novelty fireworks is from George Plimton's book "Fireworks a History and Celebration" published in 1984 by Doubleday.

This image is also from George Plimton's book. It shows various indoor fireworks and party bombs that shoot out trinkets for the guests. When I was in London years ago the Christmas dinner that I was at had Christmas crackers with miniature fireworks in them. There was a tiny fountain that shot sparks about 5" in the air and a roman candle that shot one tiny ball of fire about 3 ' into the air. They were wonderful.

When we were in Switzerland indoor "Party bombs" were available everywhere. They came at various price ranges. You could also buy them in undecorated brown cardboard ready to decorate to your own personal party theme. There is a wick at the bottom that is lit and the contents shoot out the top for everyone to gather. There was no real explosion unfortunately. The contents of our bomb consisted of thin card mustaches, red plastic clown noses, red lips that had a siren/whistle in them to blow, and conical party hats.

This preamble was just to explain why two of the candy container ornaments are holding fireworks.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Candy Container Update

I know the picture is out of focus but I liked the colours and the bugs eye view. The next day and for several days after the sky was overcast. The days were wet and grey. The temperature was a little colder for this time of the year. It was more like early autumn weather. For those of you who don't know what a West Coast autumn is like think "Wet Coast". I like the rain.

I thought that I would give you a little up-date on the candy container ornaments. Ta-daa. The very messy studio work table. My approach to painting the pieces is probably a little unconventional. I like to build up the colours of the item that I am painting, it gives more depth to the colour. I suppose I am more painterly in my approach. This picture shows the first layer of paint that goes on. Most of the time it is very bold. You can just see the bumpy squash in behind the cat head, it was painted with two different yellows. I painted a 1" to 2" area in one yellow and then used the other yellow blending the edges. Sometimes I know what I am doing and other times I go for broke just to see what will happen if I use a different colour as a base coat. This step forces me to come up with solutions to what could be a bad decision on my part. I love challenge and often create mini "obstacles" to overcome. This also gives results that are unexpected and better that planned. There have been disasters, but they are few and far between.

This is the second layer of paint that goes on the piece. Sometimes I brush it on, other times I will scrumble it on with the brush to give the colour visual texture. I might use a small piece of sea sponge or even my fingers to put paint on and take it off. I am a product of the 80's faux finishing fad. I have used these techniques for building props. I like them because it gives me a more realistic look to the finished piece. I am not going to show any more of the pieces until they are done. I hope that has wetted your appetite a little. I am working on the accessories for each candy container ornament. They can take a while to produce as well. I like detail. Am I obsessive-compulsive?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Socks on a Mexican blanket

There was a low tide at 8:30 yesterday morning so my wife and I went down to the beach for breakfast. I burn, so yes, I was wearing long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and shoes. I took my shoes off and liked the colour of the Mexican blanket and my H and M socks. I sat there and took about 8 pictures of my feet on the blanket.

This is my favourite picture. I did crop it to just zero in on the checkered pattern of the socks and the bold colour of the stripes.

I don't just take pictures of my feet. These are the latest set of Hallowe'en candy container ornaments that I am working on. There is a cats head, assorted squash, pumpkins and gourds, a moon, a mushroom head, an acorn head, an apple, a crow, and an owl. I am looking forward to seeing the finished pieces. All of these are hollow and will hold candies, chocolates for those with a more refined pallette or non-edible treats. I have trimmed them and now they are drying. I must get going as I have work to do.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Canada!

Have a fun filled day everyone. Enjoy your friends. Eat lots. And don't miss the fireworks.

These book covers that I have placed on the Canadian flag are from a set of 1950's/60's school readers.

I have 12 of the 16 titles. These were used for social studies. The interesting thing for me is that some of the pictures in the books were photographed in Victoria.

All of the photos in the postman were taken in Victoria.

We have come a long way as a nation. Happy birthday to us.