A funny part of stopping when you stop, and not fiddling with it: the “sword wound” to his ribcage is a shadow from the original sienna sketch-up.
I removed R her arm as it hung straight down, blocked out her entire side, and deadened the composition. She moved just enough to catch the contour of her ribcage. 5 min
Here again her arm was blocking out the curve of the back and thrust of the ribs. 5 min.
30 min. Turned wooden with over-fidgeting after the session. My instructor note to myself: work on shape definitions internal to the figure via direct marking of contoured shadow as an essential expression of form.

The conte / color drawings are done on an easel out in the sunroom looking at my laptop, and the pencil drawings are done in the basement cast to the TV- I draw them on a little clipboard held on my lap which means lots of looking down and up with my whole noggin vs looking in one field with eye movement only. Artists use easels for exactly this reason; zillions of quick side eye movements that instantly transfer to hand vs cumbersome head movement with up/down eye movement causing reorientation with every move. Flow gets stuttered and drawings lose vitality. I’ll have to crowd the basement den with my old drafting table, in from the too-cold studio.

Afternoon doodles with Glen Vilppu’s draw-along-with-Glen; draw from the same pose and he discusses what he is seeing/doing- which helps me drop out information and focus on the core forms.

I stopped by the great little neighborhood art store this morning and picked up some toned butcher paper, conte pencils in sepia, brown, black, and white; two filbert style long bristle brushes (I’ve been using some ancient nubby cheapo’s from Michaels); canvas “paper” for more Zorn Palette studies; and Naples yellow light oil paint to add a bit more complexity. I tried out some conte pencil on the toned paper for an afternoon set.

5-minute gesture from my apres-Java early morning wake-up set.
2 hour Zorn Palette, expanded with blue and deep crimson.

I set up an artin’ station out in the sunroom, and have been trying out some of the 2-D sections from the online art school New Master’s Academy (I’ve been through most of their 3-D already). I’ve been working from the painting section with Joseph Todorovitch using the “Zorn Pallette”, which is limited to Black, White, Yellow Ochre, and Cadmium Red; this pushes color mixing while also simplifying for tonal cohesion. There is an instructor view of his painting, his palette, and the model (pretty small view)- but it is a great way to teach by example.

Working portraits got me to draw from life again; this is a nice medical-grade skull I picked up years ago.

Friday mornings are live-model draw-alongs with the elderly Glenn Vilppu- a great classical figure instructor. A life-model is in a studio at the college HQ, and he draws in his home studio on his computer with a view of his screen while dialoguing his process as he draws. I have him on my tablet, and the live model on the computer. A great way to amp up the drawing process.
Another two hour painting with the Zorn Palette.
There are timed life-drawing sessions as well, that I can cast to the big TV. Like any good life drawing session: many 1-minute gestures, then a slew of 2-minute gestures, a few 5-minute poses, 10-minute poses, and maybe a half-hour pose. This was a 10 minute.
Five minute.
I found a decent portrait in Wired magazine, and Zorn-painted on my own.
More skull doodles. E and I watched Ink Masters on Netflix, as it has a focus on creativity adjacent to fine arts. Lots of terrible skull tattoos out there, but some great ones as well. Watching ham-fisted permanent work being done on live human “canvasses” is a fun motivator.

If only our human invisible frontiers of immunity could be upgraded.

Summer remnant Quail eggs under the Iris out front.

Last fall the truck gained Michelin All Terrain tires. They are great off-road monsters, incredibly sticky in snow and mud, and on dirt roads throw stones against the truck like spinning sandblasters. After 3 months at the ranch with these tires (since our spring earthquake & coviding), the truck needed some preventative intervention. I ordered $25 bucks worth of 3M Scotchgard 8mil clear-shield and a felted squeegee kit to try out; it is the same polymer sheeting as “clear-bra” put on the noses of cars to protect the paint from highway dings, but in bigger sizes and longer runs. It went on easily enough and stayed on through the season’s first super-slush snow-driving, so I ordered enough to run around the truck’s ding-zone and waited for nice weather to return. 60-70 degree temps for the past two days saw it all go in place.

From a distance, the clear-coat is invisible.
The rear driver’s side- starts behind the wheel fender with the top-line aligning with the brake light and wraps just around the curve. I used 12″ here to capture the entire zone.
It is a subtle line running the entire length; 6″ height from the bottom of the door up, and a narrower strip coming from under the truck to the line of the door.
It wraps just around the edges between the cab and the bed.
4″nearly captures all the body as it wraps under. The blackened frame is a project from 2018, I just touched it up a few weekends ago.
Passenger rear panel: Montana pebble sandblast should be mostly solved as the 12″ clear-shield lifts to the bottom of the brake light. The black bumper was a project from 2018, and I touched it up when doing the undercarriage as it had rock dings as well.
The clear-coat tucks behind the rear wheel fender and ends just in front of the rear bumper.
6″ tall from door bottom up, passenger side.
I started the whole process with the passenger side, and cut the door piece too short which is why it only partially matches the front edge of the door. Oh well.
From a step away it disappears, and is guarded by the front tire fender.
Driver’s side again, the final panel; for seeing the learning curve, because you can’t see it.

The annual migration of the plants from the deck to the sunroom was just a few days ago, and closing down the filtration for the pond and adding in the direct bypass line to keep the waterfall flowing all winter for the goldfish and backyard wildlife.
This lovely lady Mantis came in with the greenery. She is as big as my hand.
She was on the right tree at the right time.
It has been snowing and sub-zero at the ranch off and on for weeks putting out a mountain wildfire 10 miles away, and winter snow is finally blanketing the massive & explosive Colorado wildfires.
The yard bunny’s name is Andy Goldsworthy. (Art joke…)
Three bachelors.
Stopping at the fence-line to check our position.
Leaping the fence-line.
We came up to walk through the Aspen.
This stand is at the top of a valley, diving down into a deep forest.
We scare up a coyote, who bounds away in great kangaroo leaps- then turns to look.
In a moment he spins to the L and bicycles over the edge of the hill into the next steep of forest.
The alpine grassland on this high hillside runs to a long line of Aspen, forming a narrow forest of gold insulating against the pine forest that drops down into the gorge.
Across the grassland and down a coulee and up onto a summit there is our small hayfield (looks like a golf course).
The ladies take a moment to listen to the breeze in the quaking Aspen.
Heading down the 1970’s logging road.
Down in the tulgey wood.
We break out of the forest to more bordering Aspen.
On the far hillside another big hayfield makes a buff passage. The bluebird houses we checked yesterday are all at the top of the shadow above the hayfield. We were just over there replacing a birdhouse we found damaged yesterday, with one from near the house that the Wren fills with twigs.
No one wants to leave the ranch, and we’ve already stayed nearly another week. So this is our last evening. It was a good one.
Guest Bedroom Window. Was in rough shape. Of course. The storm window is repaired with the new paint curing til our next visit. If I’d put it in now the paint would all stick. As it is it is better than it was, even without the storm window up.

The storm window hadn’t been removed for who knows…40 years…more…
Storm window triage. I didn’t remove the glass- but most of the glazing came away easily.
A cattle drive two weeks ago is the likely culprit, or the bear again; last time he just knocked it off the post.
Pre-drilling before resetting the walls with 3.5″ screws.
This evenings Bluebird line is above that hayfield, and on to the North to the end of our property. It is always really pretty up there.
This group of 5 deer watched me clear one house, then moved up. They came back with 4 more at dusk, next to another group of 10.
A steady wind on a perfect fall day.
Tree swallows always nest in these models- just a bit too small for Bluebirds.
The cows are let into the hayfield- a different one than shown at the bear lunchbox.
The last two houses are all smashed apart and take some doctoring.
The staples are just like in surgery- the invasive part is over and staples help hold everything together.
Time to daub the rest of the building. The little brown jug with the blue top (bottom L) is my little jar of maths. Based on the amount of mortar-to-stain one “little” wall used yesterday, I figured the linear footage of the remaining 3 walls, allowing for some much wider runs. The little jar holds 20 3/4 full yellow cap doses to 20# dry mixes of mortar. Each blend of mortar completes one seam of narrow width of a full wall. Todays 20 mixes will eat up 5 80# bags of mortar and take 10 hours at a constant quick pace.
I’m saving the seam under the eve and the bottom runs on both long sides just in case I run out of my blended stain and have to switch to basic brown.
When I move to the front I begin mixing a bit more stain into the S-mortar, as this is the face of the building and I want it to sit well with the cleaned logs here, vs the dark oxidized wood of the rest of the building.
650mg acetminophin (aspirin) makes this all possible. Thanks for introducing us Kaye!
The day is blustery and cool, the gusty wind removes half the leaves from our central tree in the back yard. I mist the seams with water all day long to keep them from drying too quickly and weakening the set.
The technique is straight forward enough; after mixing the mortar to the right consistency load a heavy glorp onto the tray, then load some more, now hold the tray to the bottom line, and using a trowel push the daub through the screening to backfill any gaps and smooth out the surface, looking for a consistent thickness of around 1/4 inch covering the mesh. Load it in fast and strong, then go back and make a good top seam blended down to the bottom. Then jog back to the mixing tray, and if the mortar is firming up- don’t add water!- just mix it again. Think of a cement mixer always spinning to keep everything liquid.
My right arm was doing pretty well throughout the day. About now it began to catch fire.
The side I started on in the morning is finally finished, and I have enough stain for one more seam.
The seams under the eve were held til the last.
The only seam worse than the bottom seam is this one, or maybe it is the reverse.
I thought a lot about Cal-Wood over the last few days- an outdoor education center built by my stepfather back in the 1980’s. The Calvert Lodge was the central space, and the largest log structure built in Colorado for generations. This was not how any of that vast enterprise was done.
Two day’s later and the daub is mostly dry, but still curing out. It is much lighter in color than the chocolate filling when wet, now it is more of a chocolate meringue.
The wind is roaring about, but inside the cabin it is quiet and still. So that’s different!
The slight variation in dye on the front shifts to a darker caramel.
I reset the big-faced spring-thermometer (for looking at from inside the ranch house) and companion mercury thermometer ( for double-checking from outside how cold it really really is in winter).
Not quite a before/after, as the before shows all the loose old daubing removed- revealing the true level of disrepair that needed amending.
Cutting the expanded metal to fit the seams. Each seam is a different width, with tapering runs and all sorts of variety. I thought up this table-jig while staying under the covers this morning.
The table allows me to dial in the size so I can cut it out neat and easy with the jigsaw.
The metal runs are sproingy and sharp and eat a pair of gloves over the day.
Each seam is fitted with a run of expanded metal.
The screws squeeze the metal horizontally and vertically, if you play with the drive angle- making the fit extremely tight.
This Makita impact driver sets nearly 1000 screws on a single charge!
The yellow handled shears in their holster help fit the corners and adjust any wide spots.
The “invisible” seam up under the eve.
Two sides wired off!
Finding a way to drive the screw up into the vanishing undercurve of the logs was tough. I figured out a workaround half way through the final wall.
2/3 of the long wall remaining, but I’m getting stove-up and call it quits for the day.
I finish out the metal over the course of the morning, then set about cleaning up all the foam debris and old chinking.
In the afternoon I finally clean the packrattery off of the basement hoses, and hook one on to the house water down in the basement. Then I come up with my system for positioning all the mortaring equipment. Then I make some batches of mud.
Great Falls’ Home Depot doesn’t carry concrete dye. Are you frigging kidding me? On the way out of town we stop in at Ace Hardware- they have four little bottles of dye remaining, two brown and two buff (think orange-adobe). I’m mixing them together and hoping it is enough for the whole project. Getting the colors consistent will be a challenge. Not the color I’d planned, but anything is better than sidewalk gray.
One 80lb bag of S-type Mortar (Lyme, Concrete, Sand) did the first wall. I’m mixing the two bottles of buff to one bottle of brown, eyeballing it as I don’t have a container to mix them together. I’m hoping this covers it all. This isn’t working out too well, so I’ll have to just pour them all into an old coffee can or whatevs. Just in case, I’ll still have a bottle of brown and I’m waiting till last for the “invisible” seam under the eve’s, as well as the lowest run on each side.
If trying a new process, always start on the back side…the middle seams are a nice blend toward a Raw Sienna, and all the rest is brownish.
Sienna brown (lower) vs boring brown (upper). The day was sunny and mild, barely hitting 70, and tomorrow will be low 60’s (with overnight temps in the 40’s)- good temperatures for the mortar to cure out slowly and strong.
Sunday night stroll up the big hill. The smoke is gone and the sunset is clean and lovely.
I noticed this big fellow up on the hill after I cleaned up for the day. Lets zoom in.
With binocs you can see his yellow feet and impressive beak: Golden Eagle!
We head out for our sunset stroll after dinner and he is still there.
He doesn’t mind us walking by, but is gone upon our return.
Last of the sun on the high ridgeline and the colors start coming on. The first image is how things looked at their peak.
9-6pm project: foaming the Ice House in prep for expanded metal and mortar. The first lap is shooting deep into the creases.
First lap is finished.
Second stage is building up mass.
Third stage is hitting trouble spots and backfilling gaps.
As full as it can get, and a little bit more.
Spraying water first helps the foam to stick and to kick, then a mist after helps it to set.
Many caps for many spent bottles of foam.
After lunch I head in with a disk grinder / paint eater and clean the foam up, setting it at the correct angle/bevel from the upper log to the lower.
The foam dust sticks to everything.
Shop-vac blower comes in handy.
All foamed in and cleaned up. Ready for expanded metal and mortar.
I can see how it might come out now. Still a big lift remaining, but the momentum is rolling.