Monday, April 21, 2014

Northshore Painting Weekend

The paintings are dry enough to scan and post. So here are the 10 paintings from a week and a half ago. It was a nice warm spring weekend in Duluth and the north shore area. I arrived on Thursday afternoon at Jay Cooke State Park. Because of the snow cover and late spring I didn't go to Grand Marais, my usual destination. My wanderings took my as far north as Silver Bay and south to Sandstone. The weather turned colder and rainy on Saturday but I was still able to squeeze in a couple of paintings.
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I set up just to the right of the new swing bridge. With the warm temperature the spring melt the river was roaring. This is looking a little past the main flow of the river at the island.

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This is painted at the mouth of the Kettle River. Lake Superior still had lots of ice near the shore and father out into the lake.   
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This is the harbor and beacon in Two Harbors. I talked to a fisherman try his luck at fishing for salmon without much luck.

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I love painting at night and my favorite subject is the Lift Bridge in Canal Park.

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I this is the painting I did at Gooseberry Falls before the ice let go up stream and nearly swept me and my easel down stream. The brown in the lower portion of the painting is the river before the river rose. It was nearly six feet deeper afterwards.

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This is looking down Bridge Street in Canal Park towards the lift bridge. I was standing next to the KBJR TV studios. A reported came out and interviewed me while I was painting. You can see the video here.

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This is the Lester River, in Duluth, just upstream of the falls. As I was painting two kayakers came down the river and went over the 15' falls behind me. I watched in amazement.

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The St. Louis River was in full force coming out of the Thomson dam by Carlton Mn.

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This is painted from the scenic overlook in Silver Bay looking down on the North Shore Mining Cliff plant.
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On the way home I stopped in Sandstone MN and painted the old sandstone quarry by the river.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Near Death Experience on the North shore

Each spring and fall I take a weekend trip to the north shore to plein air paint. Usually I head to Grand Marais but with the spring being colder than normal I stayed in Duluth. There is still snow on the ground but the temps were warm. This is a time for me to get out into the north woods and paint. I paint from sun up to sun down, and sometimes after dark. I shoot for 4 to 5 paintings a day.
Usually the most interesting event is having a moose cross my path or getting lost on an old forest road. This year was different.
Friday around noon I headed to Gooseberry falls to paint. I think this was the first time I have ever painted there. I have visited countless times but try to find quieter places to paint. I set up just below the middle falls. If you have been to the park you will know the spot with the board walk and rock wall that is the main viewing area of the middle falls. I took the stairs down below the viewing area to the river level. All through the park are signs warning of dangerous river ice. I surveyed the spot I set up to make sure I would be safe. I was on ice but it didn't appear that there was flowing water below it. Five feet ahead of me (visible in the painting) was where the river cut through the ice. It was only about five feet wide at that spot.
While I was painting a gentleman asked if he could take my picture. He explained that he was from the Duluth Tribune and just happened to be visiting the park. He took a dozen or so photos and thanked me. I painted for an hour and a half until I was nearly finished when I heard a distant boom. Kind of like thunder but almost like an explosion. I took notice but didn't think too much about it. A couple of minutes later the roar of the river doubled and it started to rise rapidly. Ice chunks tumbled with the current. What was a five foot wide stream was now filling the entire area in front of my easel. I jumped back, grabbed my back pack and watched as the water was up to the front leg of my easel. As I go to grab my easel I heard several more booms. This really shook me. I thought if I don't grab the easel my painting weekend will end abruptly with my paints, brushes and easel floating down the Gooseberry to Lake Superior. As I pulled the easel up to the stairs I watched the river fully engulf the area that five minutes earlier I was standing on. The flow of water and ice chunks rose to a depth of over 6 feet above the spot I was painting at. My heart was pounding as I stood at the viewing area watching in awe at the river.
It hit me that if I would have set up a little further on the ice or not heard the booms the headline with the photos the photographer took of me would have read quite different.
From "Artists paints the melting Gooseberry River" to "Last picture taken of artist before engulfed by river".
To see the Duluth News Tribune Article. (there is a photo of my painting in the photos area)

My easel after I pulled it from the River. It was set up down below the two trees where the water is now. This is after the first boom.

The tan strip in my painting is where the river was when before the boom.

After the second set of booms. Where the stairs end and to the left is where I was set up. The river has engulfed the whole area.
The viewing area above where I painted.

Twin Cities Live

I just finished painting a mural at the Prairie View Elementary School library in Eden Prairie Mn. The schools mascot is the eagles and the area of the library that the mural is located is called the Eagle's Nest. I painted one large wall (approx 9"x15") and three smaller spots. The murals reflected the theme of the room with eagles reading to their young. I made the eagles look like could have come out of a children's book, realistic but with a fun personality.
Prairie View Elementary School
While I was painting the mural a reported from a local news program, Twin Cities Live, interviewed me. I always joke that Heidi, my wife, works really hard to get me into the news because she knows that it is not my favorite thing. It was a great honor. TCL is a very popular program and for them to do a segment on my mural business was wonderful. Heidi had been in contact with them from almost the start of our mural business over five years ago. She is very tenacious. If you would like the view the clip click here.
To view some of my other mural projects go to The Big Picture Murals