Painting the American Flag

I am painting the American flag on our propane tank. The U.S. flag has always held a warm space in my heart. I was taught to respect our nation’s flag as a beautiful symbol of freedom. It always reminds me of the Olympics. So, as I start on this project it is important that I get the painting right to show how lovely our flag looks as it moves in the wind.

walk away look

Looking at the tank last evening and then while walking down to the tank this morning I have decided to change that fold near the blue and stars.  I am not seeing the flowing movement that I want in the flag fabric and the stars are bugging me because they are not very consistent in size.

No worries though, because we can change anything we want as long as there is a paintbrush in hand. I will change the stars area into a slight wave in the fabric instead of the fold keeping the fold on the right side with red and white stripes. That should do it. I need to move the blue part a little more to the left and widen the first white stripe into an easier bend. Adjustments!

star masking 2
star masking 2
star masking
star masking

I mask off new locations in more consistent sizes. Masking allows freedom to freely paint the shadows and highlights of the flag fabric without worrying about messing up the stars. Applying masking tape strips to cover where the stars should be, then marking a star outline using a sharpie, followed by using an Exacto knife. Wa La!

revised layout
Revised layout

The real painting begins, making adjustments to the layout and mixing paints to get highlight where the flag reaches out. I have to pay close attention to where light and shadow should happen. Add shadow where the flag tucks into a wave base or continues after a fold. The right side of the tank will have a red stripe leading off into the back. I decide to add a shadow around all the stars while the masking tape is still there, hoping to get them stand out.

stripes around end
stripes around end

Lastly I remove the masking tape covering where the stars are to be. Then carefully paint white in the stars and we are finished.

flag stars painted white
flag stars painted white

Tank Beautification

Original propane tank
Original propane tank look

Remove an Eye Sore

My propane tank needs some tank beautification! Seriously, this is the propane tank that I see when I look out my kitchen window. I asked Pete if we can move it and he just laughs. Really, it seems out of place in our natural forest landscaping. It is just one of those things that really bugs me.

As an artist, I can change that, so this project begins. First I get a water hose out there and spray the tank down. With a bucket of warm water and TSP (trisodium phosphate) and a green kitchen scrubber, I get to work. Over the years, layers of pitch from the pine have accumulated a thick layer from the trees alongside it. That combined with lots of mildew have created a gross thick layer of icky stuff on the tank. Good-old TSP is a powerful cleaner that easily removes all the coodies on any surface needing paint. Make sure you read the label before you use it though because it is not a nice chemical if you handle it incorrectly.

clean propane tank
Clean propane tank

Looks quite different clean doesn’t it? I go back into the studio to come up with a drawing to get things right.

tank as a canvas area
Tank as a canvas area
design and paints
design & paints

I am wanting to put the American flag flowing in the wind on the tank. Starting with the blue background for the stars on the far left with the stripes going over the rest of the tank at an angle.

chaulk lines on tank
Chaulk lines on tank

I know it isn’t that easy to see but, I use blue chalk to layout areas on the tank for the different colors. Then I quickly paint a rough underpainting of the design on the tank.

undercoating of design
Undercoating of design

I walk back up to the house and let it dry overnight.

walk away look

Butterflies on the Brain

Butterflies Oil 01
Butterflies Oil 01

Butterflies on the brains so I just had to paint them. I noticed an unfinished oil painting that I started more than a year ago and just couldn’t quit thinking about it. So, I got out the oils, thinner, and linseed oil. Found some of the tubes beyond expired. But, was able to get a pallet out and go to work. This first image is over a year ago because my “Moose” coffee cup is in it, and, it broke more than a year ago. It is amazing how something can sit for such an extended period of time.

Butterflies Oil 02
Butterflies Oil 02

This picture is how the butterflies looked as they sat, waiting for me. If I don’t keep an eye on the drying rack and stacks of paintings, these poor paintings may never get done. Over a year of dust is not okay.

This year I will be doing shows to sell paintings already done. My goal is to finish all the partially painted pieces and use up all the supplies in my studio before I kick the bucket. Cleaning out the studio, recently brought a complete inventory to my attention. I could paint 24 hours a day and still not run out in a year.

Butterflies Oil 03
Butterflies Oil 03

Here is how the butterfly painting looks after a day of work. Finishing the background more fully with the blossoms and leaves better shaded. Taking each butterfly’s position and background coloring I was able to paint them in. So, the layout is pretty much set.  I am happy with the progress. But, I will have to let it dry a while before I can finish it.

Ski lift view

Oil rub-out painting entitled, SunThruSnowyTreesL804. This painting is of the sun rays shooting through trees  early in the morning up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington. This one is available for purchase.

Sun Thru Snowy Trees

One of the most entrancing parts about skiing is the ski lift ride back up the hill. After putting some real effort out speeding through whatever terrain you are doing, you quickly slip into the lift entry gate to catch your breath. Taking your seat you experience take-off into the tree heights-observing pristine quiet mountain views as you float over and through the treetops. It is a real meditation time with soft breezes and nature to the max. Some of the the most peaceful and extravagantly beautiful skies and mountain scenes I have ever seen were from my seat on a ski lift.