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The Artist’s Life

Volume 21 Number 2 December 2016

Cascade Pass...

Is a wonderful day hike, with all sorts of rewarding views. The wild flowers used to be amazing in season, but I was last there in the 70’s, so I don’t have current knowledge.

The view I painted of the pass is as seen from the glacier below Triad and Eldorado, looking East towards the pass. It is easy to continue the hike up Sahale Arm to the north for even more views.

Even when I first visited this pass, it was heavily worn and denuded of vegetation at the top. The damage created by foot traffic and camping. This was and still is an important route for crossing the mountains on foot. It was used by hunters, traders and eventually prospectors.

Some serious protection work was done later, providing some stone surfaces for sitting and walking. Replanting damaged vegetation was also done in the 70’s to prevent further erosion.

This is the kind of work that could be done on many trails. When younger, I volunteered for trail maintenance work parties. I enjoyed the comradeship and taking care of a system that had provided so many hours of enjoyment for myself and others. I liked using a pulaski so much that I bought one at a hardware store to use on work parties and in my yard. I am a member of the Washington Trail Association to support their work on trail maintenance. If you hike, you might enjoy their wonderful magazine that comes with membership. www.wta.org/

The Forest Service and the National Park Service both have inadequate staff to keep up with maintenance on the trail systems that cris-cross our mountains. If we had something like WPA or CCC again, trail maintenance, road maintenance and facility maintenance and construction could provide jobs for young people. I have been in a number of lodges built in National Parks by these workers and they are treasures.

Not everyone wants to sit in an office all day, every day. Nor do they want to join the “down-looking-tribe” that I see walking the city streets, phone in hand. I understand that a city in Germany has just installed the first sidewalk mounted traffic light to keep those living in phone land from walking in front of a bus! What happened to lifting our eyes to the mountains and skies?

I make a point of painting in water media in the summer months when my studio is warmer and drier. I did some watercolors, including a view of Windy Arm at Tagish Lake in Canada. As I contemplated the finished painting, I remembered my stash of mounted Arches paper and thought that if I used acrylic on the mounted paper and sealed it with a couple of coats of satin acrylic medium, it would only require a very simple, light weight frame, no glazing required. This would be easier to pack and ship as I am now marketing my paintings on Handmade at Amazon in the shop Rosemary Antel Fine Art and on Etsy in the shop OilColorsOnCopper. I have shipped work as far as England so far.

I started a series of acrylic paintings on Arches watercolor paper mounted on board. These are focused on mountains and skies that I have experienced over the years and captured as sketches, slides or digital photos. Often, the most dramatic skies occur in response to weather changes channeled by mountains.

At the same time, I started work on a large egg tempera on stretched canvas. I stretched a fine textured canvas on a 40 x 20 inch stretcher bars and then put 3 coats of absorbent gesso on it. I then drew an outline drawing of the creek above the bridge at Myrtle Falls in the Paradise Meadows area of Mt. Rainier. This is now one of my favorite areas to visit during the wildflower bloom.

I rarely can see the mountain from this point, as the clouds start just above the area much of the time. The filtered light enhances the vibrancy of the colors, so I won’t complain.

I transfer the drawing on tracing paper to canvas that has been prepared with an absorbent gesso designed for water media, using graphite for tracing. Before I start applying color to a painting, I have carefully planned ahead. I make value studies and color studies so that I have my desired image well developed in my mind. This allows me to confidently place color in the larger areas, starting with the top and working down.

The first layer should be accurate in value, but may well be a complement of the final color notes. I find this gives more vibrance to the painting. Egg tempera is a slower process for me than oil, but allows me the chance to draw in details with my brush in each color layer that modifies the image. I save the finest details for last, working back and forth adding the lightest lights and darkest darks. When is it finished? When I can no longer improve it.

This winter my calla lilies had foliage out of the ground and 12 inches tall 2 weeks ago. Needless to say, this is hard on the plants as earlier this week it went down to 28 degrees and left the plants looking burned. There were many more plants of various species acting like spring had come and putting new shoots up out of the earth. They should have been dormant when the freeze hit. But we had daily temperatures in November that were more like May. Our first hard freezes used to come at the end of October, but this year it was December. Of course the plants are confused. I am too.

It snowed last night, heavy wet snow that at one point piled in 4 inch ridges on the plum tree branches. By breakfast it was gone from the tree and only an inch on the ground. Strange weather. Last year we had only 1 inch of snow, one time, all winter long here in Ballard.

The mountains looked glorious in their fresh snowy robes on the last sunny day we had. The sight of all the snow has the skiers delighted.

Tomorrow night we will have our last Second Saturday Studio Open House. Ballard Artwalk is changing to Third Thursdays in January. If you are in the area, hope you can visit BallardWorks, 2856 NW Market St. Seattle, 6-9 pm on January 19th, 2017. It would be great to see you then.

As the Winter Solstice approaches, the sun is setting further south and so much earlier. I enjoy the brief but brilliant red light as it slides below the clouds heading for the horizon. I am ready for longer days again. Keep warm and dry and enjoy a good book as we await the New Year.

Rosemary

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Volume 21 Number 1 June 2016

North Cascade National Park...

Is characterized by prodigious snowfall. All the resulting snowfields and glaciers slowly release their water stores, feeding rills and springs among the rocks that gather into creeks and rivers in the valleys. Tarns appear where the snow and ice have melted, making reflecting pools where the flow is trapped in a depression.

Our party stopped for lunch at one such pool near Coccyx Peak, where we enjoyed the reflection of the Newhalem Peaks across the valley. One can see the other side of these peaks from the town of Newhalem on State Route 20. Last summer was marred by a large wildfire in the Newhalem area so you may have heard of this tiny place in the mountains.

I prefer to paint large, such as the 4 foot square painting of Newhalem Peaks, to express the grandeur of the mountains. When I was climbing and backpacking over these rough and trackless spines of rock, I felt like an ant. Huge swathes of ice and snow served as potentially dangerous sidewalks to speed our travel. Roped together in groups of 3 for safety, we charted a course between the crevasses and bergschrunds.

Wilderness without trails feels so much larger, as we took hours to travel a mile or less sometimes. You would think that the slower pace would leave more time to enjoy the scenery. However, every step must be examined for signs of a crevasse or an icy patch on snow or an unstable boulder or slippery moss growing on rocks kept damp by seeps. A few days of carrying a heavy pack cross country causes one to really appreciate well graded and maintained trails.

What is life but one grand adventure? I relive my wilderness adventures with every painting based on my ancient slides and memories. I have my old topographic maps and guidebooks to aid my investigations of the mountain views I am painting. It is often hard to tell the shape of the land from photos. So I review the maps to determine where I was standing when I took the photos. Then I have the contour lines to help me understand the shapes of ridges and gullies that make up my subject. If I still have questions, I can use Google Earth™ to see if the satellite view is enlightening.

As I work on a project, I am reminded how much the size and shape of snow cover changes with the seasons and over the years that have passed since I took the slide. The other resources I use are the wonderful photos that so many hikers and climbers post on the internet. The quantity and quality of the photos are like being out there again.

During the spring, I painted a few smaller linen canvases that I had leftover from an earlier plein air camping trip to Yellowstone. They are 9x12 inches, a size much easier to frame and ship for online sales.

In consideration of the need to ship, I have been painting on a new product made by Genie Canvas. It is a collapsible canvas, designed with hinges and velcro to allow a 5 minute stretch from a rolled condition to a drum tight stretched painting. When the painting is thoroughly dry, the canvas is easy roll and pack for storage or shipping. The shipping cost is so much less that I will be able to offer these with free shipping to anywhere in the USA. Newhalem Peaks is painted on one of these collapsible canvases and is looking for a new home.

The climbers’ gym Stone Gardens is across the street from my studio so I can watch climbers on the exterior routes. These have been rebuilt and redesigned with new holds in bright colors, definitely a fun distraction. A little to the left of them I can see the tip of Mt. Rainier above Queen Anne Hill on a clear day. Mountain watching is another great distraction. But then we all need to take a break from our work and look out into the distance and walk around a bit.

Last week there was snow falling at both Paradise on Mt. Rainier and Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula. These are both at about 5,500 feet elevation, so usually have similar temperatures. They are both great places to see wildflower meadows shortly after the snow melts in early summer.

I painted some views of the meadows at Paradise last year and earlier this year. I have just finished some small paintings of views of mountain meadows from Hurricane Ridge. They are dry enough to ship now so I will be listing them for sale on Amazon. I have been experimenting with QR codes and I include the code for Rosemary Antel Fine Art Storefront here.

If you have a smart phone and the app for reading QR codes you can access my shop by pointing your phone camera at it and ? I really don’t know as I don’t have a smart phone. I can see however that it is much easier to do this than typing really long addresses into your device.

Otherwise, if you go to Amazon.com and enter Rosemary Antel Fine Art in the search bar, you can bring up some of my paintings. If you click on a painting, you get info about me on the right and if you click on my photo, you will be taken to some photos of my studio and more about me and all of my listings if you scroll down.

My plans for the summer include some trips to these more accessible meadows so that I can steep myself in wildflower beauty and the majesty of the surrounding mountains. We are blessed in this corner of the world to be surrounded by so much natural beauty, all nearby. The only problem is that as the local population increases, there are ever more hikers out and about.

When I first moved here I volunteered often to help with The Sign Post, which was a Louise Marshall publication that featured trail reports at that time. This publication grew into the Washington Trails Association (WTA.org). WTA now publishes a great magazine that is a full color beautiful monthly that is rich with information for hikers and backpackers. It also features photos of hike destinations and hikers in the wild, often with kids, which I love to see.

At that time, I was hiking with a 4 year old, at the pace of a mile an hour as she walked the whole way with a play break every hour. While I hiked, I would pick up litter, note trail conditions and count the people who passed me, coming and going, to send as trail reports to Louise. Over just a couple of years I saw 10 times as many hikers as earlier on the same nearby trails and I understand the number is still increasing on the popular trails. I encourage you all to support the Forest Service, National Park Service, Mountaineers, Washington Trails Association and others who help maintain and improve our trails.

As people are crowding into the cities, it is more important than ever to be able to get out to the mountains and be refreshed. Speaking of which, is there a way to run mass transit to trail heads? Has anyone done a survey to see what trails are near enough to a paved road to run a hiking bus to them? I am thinking of the ski buses that I rode when I first started skiing. Maybe a system of summer trails branching out from the existing ski areas would be a good start. Does this already exist? Could it benefit the ski areas financially?

Summer is now in full swing, the raspberries are ripe and it is time to enjoy our great outdoors, even if it is only from a porch swing. I wish you all a wonderful sunny season, enjoying the bounty of our local farms and orchards.

Rosemary

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Volume 20 Number 2 December 2015

My Amazing Summer...

Is the focus of this newsletter. How better to weather the storms of autumn/winter than to read of balmy days and lovely flowers? As I write this, a fierce wind is battering the house and rain is coming down in spears. Where was this rain when we needed it this summer? On to the tale of the sunny summer adventures.

My daughter, her husband and teenage twin sons came for a visit in July, with a stay at the old lodge at Paradise Inn (elevation 5400 feet), Mt. Rainier National Park our focus. Arne and I usually visit the flower meadows in mid-August but the July date was a winner as the earlier flowers were already gone due to the unusually hot, dry weather we have had since April. The blue asters and ripe huckleberries made the scenes more like September, but there was still flower color to be found.

Driving into the Park, the weather was clear, a chancy thing in the mountains. We stopped at Crystal Mountain Resort to take the tram up to the Summit House (6872 feet elevation). We were rewarded with a stunning view of the Northeast Face of Mt. Rainier. I had never skied Crystal so it was a great pleasure to have the experience of riding to the summit above the meadows and trees. We ate lunch up there and it was a fine meal, though the winds made it difficult to keep the patio umbrellas up while we ate. We chose to eat outside as the views in all directions were superb. As our family members are photographers, there was much to see and record. After a leisurely lunch we drove the twisting turns of the roads to Paradise.

The shocking thing for me was the absence of snow. I would expect to find some snow on the ground in July at Paradise, sometimes even deep snow. However, the snow level was far above that elevation. Much bare rock was exposed that would have normally been still snow covered and the south side of the mountain was hot and dry.

The freedom of digital photography is such a blessing when there are so many views to capture. I took several telephotos of Sluiskin Falls from the trail systems above the lodge. One of these resulted in the painting on the front page of the newsletter.

I had hiked the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier with my daughter when she was 4 years old and had plenty of time to take photos of wild flowers as we traveled 1 mile an hour with a break every hour. Now I am the one traveling at 1 mile an hour, taking photos of everything that interests me (every 50 feet). With diligent searching we found beautiful blue gentians along the streambanks and wet seeps. I took a lot of photos of them as I do love the color and unusual shape of the blossoms. We also found a few magenta monkey flowers and some fireweed.

In my early days in the mountains, I could only take at most a half a roll (18) slides a day because of the costs and the weight. I carried a heavy Hanimex Praktica SLR and carefully considered what was worthy of a slide. I pulled out my early slides and painted some 8 inch square versions of some of my favorite flowers from the Agfachrome slides.

I have always loved the orange variety of the Alpine Dandelion and have even had them in my garden for while. Unfortunately, they seem to cross readily with the common dandelion and revert to yellow. I love the sparkly orange best, as it is so bright. I painted 6 individual varieties of alpine flowers and have included my two favorites here. The other variety included is the magenta version of Indian Paintbrush. It comes in many colors ranging from pale yellow through orange to scarlet and red besides the magenta version. It often blooms in wide swathes of the same color and adds to the rich colors of the meadows.

Another place I travel for easy access to wildflower blooms is Mt. Baker Ski Area. The pond that often reflects Mt. Shuksan has a long blooming season around the edges and nearby marshes. The mist was hanging low the day I was there, so I took photos of the forest reflected in the water, using one for the reference of the small painting in this newsletter.

My summer disappeared quickly. I spent much time mulching and watering the garden and the plum trees and other fruit. I did not expect such a dry summer. It seemed that the rain just detoured around our area all summer, leaving the soil parched.

In September, I was invited to sell my art on Amazon Handmade, just as I was seriously starting work again on a replacement website for the one I had for the last 15 years. Talk about a crunch! Now I had to maximize my every minute for taking care of business. I learned the new system, designed my shop and posted some artwork on Amazon Handmade. Then, I really dug into producing a new website. After all, I always post the electronic version of this newsletter on my RosemaryAntel.com website.

On top of all this computer work, I needed to paint a self portrait for the November Art Walk as our theme for the exhibition would be “Self Portraits--Original Selfies”. I painted my portrait first, and then one of Arne. I have included them in this newsletter. They are based on photos taken last year, so are almost current. I had such joy in using watercolor again that I think I will try to do yearly portraits for fun. Painting in a series always sparks more creativity, I think.

While I have been too busy to think, Arne has been doing more projects. He has been working on sculpture that has action. His first creation was a butting goat that sends the farmer headfirst over the fence. The mechanical device is 6 inches high and 12 inches long. It is based on a story his father told of a farmer friend. His latest production is a tiny carousel, about 8.5 inches wide by 11.75 inches high. It is truly amazing. There is a hand crank that makes the whole thing rotate, the horses go up and down and it rings a bell once every revolution. If you get to a 2nd Saturday Artwalk Exhibition and Open Studio at BallardWorks 6-9pm, it will be there to see in studio 4D, along with some of his other projects.

Next, I must pull all these little pieces together and do some publicity to let the world know they exist. I am working especially hard on my business plan for next year as I believe that the Amazon opportunity is wonderful. Please take a look at my shop there and tell me what you think. http://www.amazon.com/handmade/rosemary-antel-fine-art This is all quite new for me but the way the future is headed, I believe.

We will soon have the shortest day of the year and I am eager for the days to grow longer again. The sky has been unusually dark with the heavy rain we have and I long for sunlight. In the meantime, keep warm and cozy with your favorite book and a cup of tea. That is my plan for the dark time remaining. That and dreaming of mountains, glaciers and wildflowers blooming abundantly.

Wishing Everyone Peaceful, Joyous Holidays and a Prosperous New Year!

Rosemary