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This 4’x3; painting was begun last fall, and then I was crowded out by the plants coming in for the winter. With the plants out on the deck for the summer, I’ve been back at it for awhile now and thought I’d post some progress picts.

Mount Arikaree and Arikaree Glacier are the subject of this painting. I’ve summited this 13 thousand foot peak more than 20 times. After the last ice age 10,000 years ago, the glacier retreated into its cirque. Glacial meltwater passes through the talus field to emerge on the low shoulder of the mountain with only 1 part per billion of sediment- some of the cleanest water imaginable. Colorado State University’s Alpine Research Center is based in this glacial watershed, and last year they predicted Arikaree Glacier would be gone by 2025, with the sister valley’s Arapaho Glacier meeting its end soon after. I was the protector of these glaciers and their watersheds from my 18th birthday though to my 30th; I kept individuals from leaving physical footprints and infecting the watershed with giardia, but all the billions of humanity’s footprints are stomping it into oblivion now. While painting I’m streaming interviews with arctic / antarctic scientists, biologists documenting the 6th Mass Extinction, investigative climate journalists, climate activists such as Extinction Rebellion, Dark Mountain poets and authors; keeping my head in the game of reality while memorializing the heart of the mountain, already so much smaller, and ever smaller, and gone. Climate Collapse is finally obvious in everyone’s back yard, and if your back yard is alpine wilderness, it is already over. There is a white-hot place in my mind now that wasn’t there in my patrol days, a spot the glaciers kept cool, and now with them dying- it is a strange inescapable light, an ultraviolet long wavelength, a wave form of oblivion.

This is the underpainting combined with blocked in color from last fall, just a few layers along. Before any painting, I had to create the “canvas”- MDF sanded and primed, and a new hanging system using a French Cleat on the back ( I may go back through my other large paintings and retrofit them with French Cleats as well).
Acrylics allow opacity or thin transparent washes, so I’m going back and forth a bit with bold areas of saturated color followed with multiple transparent washes to tone and shift.
Eventually I hope it will feel as if the sun is setting far below us, shining back up to the mountain- creating the indigo/violet/magenta spectrum that can’t be seen on any other solid object save a high mountain at sunset/sunrise. Unless you are there seeing it, it will seem impossible and even fake- however within the large field of this painting I am pushing and pulling with value/intensity/saturation and hot/cold contrasts trying to find an immersion that allows the odd sensation of being there in that strange light. These pure colors are invisible to the eye in the white light of day, and occur only when the sun has already set and is long past the horizon for all the lower elevations, allowing these wavelengths of light that vibrate on the extreme ends of the visible spectrum to reveal themselves with a clarity that stuns the imagination. Still a long way to go…

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This is the view to the South East. There are water fowl and song birds everywhere, just not anywhere in the picture.

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From the front the Ibis is just a vertical bronze line (flanked by a circle), along the dry stream.

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At some point the line gives way to a curiosity of birdness.

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Just walking up from the marsh…

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I put the turn wheel in place and secured it’s tightening screw with locktight glue: ready for action.

 

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The corten steel wall and raw wood beam window complement the Ibis nicely. I took this shot from underneath a truck. The concrete drive was packed with vehicles and construction workers, as this is supposed to be the last week for construction.

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I hefted some boulders from a pile out in the parking lot and piled pebbles till the concrete base blinked out.

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He has tall orange stakes around him, taken out for the pictures- lets hope he stays out of traffic.

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He is at just a little angle to the concrete, which swings his wheel out just enough to discourage casual spinning, while allowing the magic vertical line view from the front as people descend down between the buildings. I’ll head back out when the site is finished and take more shots.

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Just wondering again where that concrete base went.

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That structure is a Blue Heron nesting complex, full of Blue Herons. On the water is a flock of White Pelicans.

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This marsh opens to Farmington Bay, and out to the Great Salt Lake. Antelope Island is in the distance. This is right along one of E & I’s bikerides- the bike trail comes all the way from Salt Lake City (ending in about a mile at the Lagoon amusement park), and runs along the boundary of the Nature Center. Guess we’ll be saddling up to visit the Ibis!

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Head sprouts overnight.

Last night’s snow squall convinced me to wait ’til things warmed up in the afternoon before rolling the shop door open for welding. 34 degrees and breezy was warm enough for the Ibis.

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Blending in the weld from bird to square tubing.

I laid it all flat on the table, and aligned the head/neck and tacked the neck in place then stood it up to double check. Then it was on to welding with the Argon tank showing empty, but hissing along for all the day’s welds. With the weld line finished, it was on to metal chase. Still some finessing left on that front, but well enough for today.

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This view offers the trademark curve of the Ibis bill.

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Chasing the sun.

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Skinny bird.

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Nora frisks about to ask if it can finally be walkie time, then waits impatiently as I snap off a few pictures after shutting things down.

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Sushi delivery.

Yesterday (Friday) I drove to the foundry for the final / finally / finale of fins. I pile them all to the front in case highway traffic screeches to a halt in the classic “crack the whip” of a random slight speed drop leading to near/complete stoppage for those behind. Since speed limits were raised to 70 this happens exponentially more often.

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Saturday’s catch.

This is the first of the three trout that had parts blow out during metal pour, and needed new midsections / heads / tails fitted in wax and recast in bronze. The foundry’s production manager wasn’t satisfied with the fit of the cast sections, so he fit and welded the big sections of the body/head himself. The only structural welding for me is the window into the head, filling all the pinholes, and putting the tail on.

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Ready for school.

Second from the L is today’s trout; one of the best so far. The far L trout is different than last we saw. This was the skinny fish of a few posts back, and he is all figured out now. He had his side cut off via plasma-cutter, the other side stretched with hammers, the cut off side stretched with hammers, and then all welded back up. This is an aspect of why the remaining 3 fish came back with the volume issue fixed by the production mngr.

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Inspector Stanley says I can hang it up for the day.

Sunday’s fishing will see a tail swish opposite to these. None of these four are finished, but they have all major processes handled.

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Fish #3. Fit well and hadn’t suffered a wax room collapse at the foundry.

The difference between the six finished wax trout I dropped off, and what I was handed back is like working forensics from a recognizable corpse; true Frankenfish that I have to reanimate to their original quality. The problem isn’t piecing in random remains to cover the parts lost in casting, but they too may be traced back to The Crime Scene: the foundry wax room. They did 10 trout for me on the last big commission and they were all fine, this time we are 1 of 3 so far, or in actuality, 1 of 6.

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This is the dorsal fin from the Fish #1. See how it connects cleanly to the body with details all the way down. They biffed it a little toward the front, as some of the circles are partial, but did a fair job of touch-up. I went in and put in new circles in the bronze where I touched up their line.

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This is fish #3 where the wax room tried to re-affix the dorsal fin after it softened and rolled to the side, collapsing into the body. They pulled it upright and slathered in some wax. They had five other fish to look at to check their work, so going for a standard of sux. 

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This is their attempt on the other side of the fin. Almost worse.

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The horizontal fin is wrong as well. They stuck it back on- see how it had deformed the body of the fish as it torqued upward? That’s bcs the room was too hot to store finished waxes.

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It curves. So there’s a minimum bar met. There was an abrupt line smashing inward along one of the bisection seams from the wax room laying it on the table to attach sprews. This went unnoticed and took the medium sledge to massage back to alignment with the other section.

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Still a long way to go ’til they all are up to snuff. Ima gonna lose mu myund if the remaining half (of parts that cast and new parts made in wax to fit where parts failed in bronze pour) are the same, or likely worse. I may still just reject the skinny middle fish from yesterday. They are also doing an entire replacement fish; lets hope this job is done by one of their competent staff and not the sprew crew.

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The easy one. five to go.

Today was a fun-weld day, following many hohum-weld days coupled with doldrum days of chasing fins and grasses. Once all the bits and parts of major sections are perfect, then the parts are welded together, and though the welds are long, they just need smoothed out.

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Goldfish.

The only tackle needed is a hammer.  He was biting on the medium ball pein today.

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Finished halves welded together.

Welding the windows and chasing out the grasses to match is a bit of a chore. The two nearest hoops are new, the one behind is a left over from years ago (still needs some chasing). The new halves were joined along the midline in the rocks, which still need chased. I’ve been limiting my time-on-tool and wearing my new vibration deadening gloves, and things are going swimmingly.

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Half of the fish and 2/3 of the hoops.

The trout suffered a version of whirling disease while at the foundry and only half of them and two hoops could be salvaged. My meticulously formed wax trout made it through wax sprew, ceramic shell, burnout, but bronze pour blew out the sides of the ceramic shell (one of the rare places where Total Fail can occur). My last run of 10 trout and 7 hoops had no issues, this time around saw 50% mortality.

So last Friday I drove out to the foundry and we sorted through the parts that survived and grouped them out into parts that match and parts that almost match. We came up with three workable trout, and two spare heads and a tail fin. I brought the mold along and the foundry will create the wax bodies to match the heads, as well as making one entire trout. This is not the normal easy process of making identical forms by slurrying wax into a mold. The trout are all different and have to be done half by half all by hand, painting in layer by layer, with the mold slung over the curving/recurving platform, then the halves are joined. The process is posted three blogs back, or just tap the Cutthroat link on the sidebar.

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Only one fish is made of matching parts.

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A disappointing catch.

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The stainless steel pole has been in studio for a week, awaiting the fish.

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Wild-farmed vs Ocean-Farmed; I’ll use my CRISPR to combine them into one genome.

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A fish and his stream, still in stream of consciousness.

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Chasing bronze causes nerve damage that can lead to amputation. I have waited for my Cestus Tremblex gloves to arrive before I really jump into the metal work.

OSHA has noted that vibrating tools cause irreparable nerve damage, and glove mnfctr has not really moved beyond impact protection: except for Cestus gloves. My hands go dead (can’t even ride my bicycle as my hands catch fire then go dead from road vibration) and I am on my way “white finger”. Limiting my time on-tool and these gloves should go a long way to keeping my hands alive. Handses: the key tool.

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My one fish of matching parts has all pinholes filled and windows welded back in place.

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Streams with windows and pinholes welded out. I’ll chase them all out before I join the halves.

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Pins are all pulled, windows refitted to their holes, and edges are ground clean and bevelled. The tail is from a failed casting.

It snowed last night, and has been spitting snow all morning. This makes for a cold shop and my motivation level reached “blogging update”. Plus, chasing is the worst…

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These two remaining fish are Frankenstein Fish; I’ll be grafting remains of casting survivors.

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This tail goes with a head missing its midsection; this section lost the tail- so I’ll graft it.

Bonneville Trout are schooling again! I ramped the studio into wax production and pulled 6 new trout and delivered them to the foundry for rough-casting. They will eventually swim in the new Wilmington Courtyard in Sugarhouse, connecting the street of Wilmington to the Hidden Hollow riparian nature trail. This was greenlit by Salt Lake City, generously allowing City-owned reproduction rights to a private company to fulfill their public art requirement for new construction. It was a great example of public/private coordination to expand public art.

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Wax production area is go!

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Every bit of wax in the studio goes into the melting pot.

All six fish combined will require at least 40# of wax. Wax costs five times more than when last I ordered, as the manufacturer no longer sells directly (which adds a 50 mile drive just for wax). This set me to gather every broken bit of old sculptures and test-wax forms and in my hunting I discovered twenty-five pounds of wax slab & pouring foundations from creating Orpheus & Eurydice back in 2002. With everything going into the pot I just just just managed to form all 6 fish.

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Building up 8 layers of wax with 1″ chip-brush. Delerium monotaneity ensues.

Christmas Elves sent me gift cards for more power tools and one of them turned out to be the best wax cutting tool ever. It trembles at 26,000 vibrations per minute, and it moves through wax like a cold laser- no more molten wax drips burning a path across the sculpture or over my hands and clothes, no more jamming hot sharp steel into myself for hours on end. Just a few minutes of hornets-nest buzzing and both sides are smooth-seamed and ready to join.

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Curve and recurve sides are created separately then joined- this allows all fish to individually swim.

The halo of wax around the fish keeps the form tight to the mold so it doesn’t shrink and curl. It is that halo that the new tool removes so well. As the side of the mold that forms the outside curve cannot account for the amount of curve variance, I also have to bisect that fish half and shoe-horn in a custom section to take up the gap. In other words, I cut the head off just ahead of the dorsal fin and surgically insert a graft of new fish. This surgery is much easier with the new tool, and the fish hardly even feels it.

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Sides joined, seamed, and set to chill in the shop.

It could be argued that each fish is an original sculpture, rather than an identical version pulled from a common mold. The fish on the floor displays the surgical graft to the midsection, and thumb clamps helping hold the form in place as the hot seams cool.

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Orpheus’ severed head absolved to the abyss.

He guarded his secret cache of wax for 15 years, but his cache and himself went the way of his mythic being, and shared the tragic fate of his public art twin.

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Broad Canyon Fire:#2  24″ x 48″ Acrylic on Panel. 2016

The first Broad Canyon Fire painting was dark and had the sun in it; this one glows with sunlight but does not have the sun. This image views the fire from the side, while the former is a view of the fire just before passing through/under it. This was the logical companion/complement to the original painting, and a strong enough choice to stand with the original work. It may be that these two works are as far as this series can go and retain pure authority to the subject and themselves and each other. Each must have its own necessity or it becomes derivative.

The artspeak is likely just an attempt to be able to quit, as the process of transparent washes and semi-opaque layering is burning through my creative patience; i.e. this takes forever and requires allowing the painting to pass through many stages of layering to build to where it finally comes together- and it is difficult to keep this all in balance and not lose focus on the whole for the parts for the days-long processes to effect a subtle change upon a subtle change to move the work along. Yet global warming says I’ll have the full sunroom for awhile yet before I have to move the trees and plants back in off the deck, and so the theme of beautiful armageddon under the global warming sun can push me further than I would like as well…plus, they are really something in real life and my love/hate of the process may just have to suck it up as this is about making Art. The finished paintings have a life of their own, which is rare; and respecting this is an artist’s responsibility to work toward the quiet and invisible thread of direction that seems to bring itself into being.