Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Something is Broken!

For the last several days I have not been allowed to comment on anyone's Blog!  That is just so no like me.  I like a fight, I like to compliment, nudge and encourage. I want to participate; I want to play too!
"Blogger" tells me I have to "sign in" and I dutifully do, several times, carefully monitoring each keystroke for errors, assuming the problem is mine.  I am thinking "I did it!" and go on to write a nice, sometimes lengthy,
non-sensical comment like I sometimes do.  I post as my "google account" and even get to type in the secret word I sometimes admit I have trouble seeing and it is always coming up an "anonymous", won't post and tells me to sign in.  I did this six times yesterday, one after the other and nothing worked.
   I think this began when I came across a blog from China.  Purportedly written by a fifteen year old girl with a sense of humor, as if China even had school girls!  I am sure it must be written by a committee, gone through all kinds of channels and censorship's before any kind of approval.  I am surprised she is not in some sort of reeducation camp by now.  It is interesting how we get images of other cultures in our heads. Hard to imagine Italians without Pizza or gondolas, Americans who are not fat, Germans without beer, or a single Chinese school girl, one little girl from the Billions in Corporate China!
   Interesting how it is the Internet and Blogging where she will discover herself and in doing so we will discover her, and separate her from Chinese food and masses of people, rickshaws and misguided images.
   If I failed to comment on your blogs recently it is because I am incompetent,  can't get past the "sign-in"
and I hope this will just all go away and resolve itself.  In the meantime I will listen silently, screaming inside because I really wanted to say something!
You can find my work HERE.http://www.picturetrail.com/slate

Monday, May 30, 2011

One Day...

I am often asked how long it takes me to make something.  Everything I do is the accumulation
One Day Job
of everything I have done before.  You can learn to weld in five minutes but to get good at it takes 2,000 hours and then you need to get good at fabrication and design too, learn about the elements of strength and what goes together and what clashes.
   I like to think that I built this 14' entry gate in one day but it doesn't really work that way.  I have been to the job site four times, ordered steel and went to get it, have yet to take it to the powder coaters to be painted and there is delivery and installation.  Somewhere along the line I had to learn that this design would work, be strong and stable, inviting and friendly, close properly and be protective.  My shop is a mess and like with a good meal, the kitchen needs to be cleaned.
More of my work is HERE.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

I know a lot of dead people and it seems like the older I get the more dead people I know.  Sometimes I think about them and realize that they have left something with me, some kind of laughter or smile, a lingering kiss, a criticism, my love of red, all bright colors, or remembering a particular food, a time or place, a shared connection.
   I have seen dead people and they leave immediately.  What was once the body of a strong and vibrant soul becomes frail and discarded and so much meat.  We always look smaller in death.  I think this is because we don't take everything with us when we go.
   I remember every one, old school teachers, friends lost in youth, friends who died recently, relatives and neighbors. I can hear them laugh, guide me when I trim a tree, console me when I need that, take my hand when I require comfort, criticize me when I become too serious and dance and sing with me as I experience joy.
   We set aside Memorial Day as a day to remember but I sometimes think that each and every day those who have died are watching us, guiding us, looking after us, and still loving us, each and every day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Feigning Interest...

I sometimes wonder is anyone really gives a rip about what I do, my art, my politics, my garden, what I am thinking.  I have told many people about my Blog, my websites, how to find me.  This information is on my business cards.  I sometimes wonder what an old friend might think of me now?  I sometimes wonder what my brothers might think?  I wonder if a past customer would be interested in a current project?  I have relatives I never see and wonder about them sometimes too.
   In a way the Blog World is a little like "Facebook" but more in depth, a little less quick, more of an effort because you can't just "like" it or "unlike" at a click of the mouse.  Blogging encourages commentary and reflection, criticism and praise, involvement.  Blogging is "quiet fishing" and a reason I sometimes don't write too many personal e-mails to the people who know me.  It is a journal of what I am up to, what I am thinking about, my trials, tribulations, successes, failures, the weather, my garden and what gets me going in the morning.
   I can say stuff in my Blog I would never say in person.  That would be just too much about 'me', a "look at what I can do" kind of conversation, an invitation to feigned interest.  In blogging I can just throw it all out there and you are free to catch whatever may hold your interest, comment or not, digest or ignore.  I have no way of knowing if 'this friend' or 'that friend', someone lost in my life or a newly discovered person reads this or not.  I can count the "hits" and I know what Country you are from but that is about it
   My goal is to say something, show you something, be critical enough to irritate you, positive enough to inspire you and make you wonder enough to leave a comment.
   It is interesting how a little thing, something in passing, can stop you from the road you are on and set you to another path.  I remember distinctly, over twenty years ago, I was working on a remodelling project for a friend of mine when he showed me a brochure about a "Concrete Artist" living and working in Portland, Oregon.  The impression I was left with wasn't so much about how great his art was but that he made a living from it.  That was his job.  He was an artist and made a living at it.  What an incredible idea!  I have worked in that direction for over twenty years!
More of what I do is HERE.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It is Done, sort of...

as seen from the back of the house
My gallery is "Done"!  Well, I am an artist and we have the Devil of a time deciding when something is "finished".  Here are the pictures I promised.  The assignment was to provide a covered, protected area in the backyard and to distract your vision from the dominate footprint of the towering house.
 Like Water on Copper
   The entire structure is about 20' x 24'. The steel frame will rust and the copper trim will patina. The front four copper/stainless steel panels are powder coated clear coat.  This copper will also darken over time but at a much slower rate.

I would put copper everywhere if I could afford it.  It is amazing how it attracts and reflects light.  If you move an inch it can look entirely different.

 View from the back
These copper panels are about 16" x 48" and are backed with the stainless steel leaves for added strength.  The interior is the prettiest side, mostly all copper with the rose vines.  Something to diminish the view of the house.

 A bit too dark on the inside on a rainy day to get a good photo
The project needs to sit and age, digest a bit and find a sunny day.  I made hooks for hanging baskets that could be placed along the eves, maybe fuchsias or Wave Petunias?  It is a comfortable space once you are inside but maybe it needs something to draw you there? Make you curious?  It is possible that something very simple would work. I am not convinced I want to distract attention from the entire structure itself and the art that is already there.

 A Rose in the Rain
 It still has a construction site look to it.  Maybe all it needs is an "outdoor cafe" look, an inviting table with a bottle of wine?

This has been a wonderful job.  It is not often that I am given license to do my best.

You can find me HERE too!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Times Four!

 Each panel is about 16" x 48"
These panels, consisting of a steel framed copper sheet, backed by stainless steel with a rose vine, will creat the walls to the front Entry of the outdoor gallery that I am creating for a client.
Imagine the front being 24 feet wide with a center entry of eight feet and a "wall section" about seven feet on either side.  These panels fit in a stucture that offers a panel, a vine by itself and then the other panel.  Impossible to get the right picture in my shop but I will install them today and although it will be a rainy day I'll get the "final picture" when I am done.
   I have had a lot of time on this project, on again and off again for over a year.  The delays were for digestion. letting the structure age, doing some landscaping and studying this birth process.  It is coming to an end now, sort of, I do have one more idea.
 Copper captures the light from a hundred different directions.
I always get the "final picture" in my head way before I build it.  If my brain had scraps of paper in it, it would be full.  I get ideas and just as quickly reject them until that final, end picture gets stuck in my mind.
   I am often asked if I can draw this picture?  Although it is firmly and crystal clear in my mind, I can't.  I can't do it because I am a really bad drawer and because, especially with the copper, it is ever changing, a shape shifter with what it does to light.  Move an inch and it will look entirely different.  I get the idea of it in my mind, its function and what it is supposed to do.
   We will see what happens today, how it looks when installed.  If this is supposed to stop your vision, give you pause and a sense of privacy, maybe I need one more thing? Something to make you curious and draw you in? We shall see.
You can always find me HERE

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No Signature!

I remember while in college that our exams were numbered and we did not put our names on them in an attempt at anonymity, so the professor's would not be influenced by our personalities.  Our essays had to stand by themselves.
   Art doesn't work this way at all.  We look for the signature first.  We want to know the story and that we have a piece of it.  There are excellent forgeries out there that can only be uncovered through science and are not discernible by the naked eye.  It is only "the real thing" with the real signature that is worth the big bucks.
   The truth of the matter is that most "Art" doesn't stand alone at all, or that there is so much of it the grading curve is stuck at C+ for all of it.  It is all too common.  To get the "A" or even a "B+" requires a signature,
and the "signature" demands a story.  It helps if you cut your ear off, that is a quicker way to do it. You have to get "known", be in the right circles, have gallery friends, live in a larger community, be surrounded with like-minded people.  That becomes a job in itself and a feeding frenzy.
   If you paint for your own satisfaction you will soon run out of materials or have to find that "day job" to support your habit.  We have to sell what we produce or we are unable to make it.  This has influence my "Art" over the years considerably.  I am not talking $35 worth of paint here, my materials cost a lot more, more than $500 a week for a lot of what I do.  If I can't turn $500 into a thousand dollars I am soon out of work and without a job at all.  Every piece of steel that I cut I have to replace.  Artists use up paint brushes and i use up grinders and sanders and saws, tools of the trade that need to be replaced.
   This is difficult to do if I aim at a "C+" grade or compete with the iron work that is imported.  I had to find
that "signature", that peculiar thing about my art work that makes it mine.  The first part was easy.  If it fit in a brown cardboard box I wouldn't make it.  My stuff is big.
   After I learned to weld and got good enough at it to sell my work, I spent some time travelling up and down this valley to see what was available, what other's were making and what was selling.  I went to all the nurseries, public places where metal work is found and several galleries.  I saw some pretty good stuff and I saw a lot of junk.  I saw no need to compete with the great metal work that I saw and had no desire to make more junk.  I concentrated in what was missing, what I couldn't find.  No mix of steel, stainless steel and copper, no mix of stone and steel, nothing heavy, nothing big, not much well made, nothing to last a lifetime.
 Stainless Steel Butterflies on Copper
   I couldn't believe how lucky I was!  I had discovered a world of art with a huge hole in it!  What is funny is this hole is insatiable and the older I get and the more I do, the bigger this hole gets!
You can always see more HERE.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Expensive Art

My art is expensive.  I envy painters who can produce a $2,000 (or more!) painting with only $35 worth of paint.  One of the things I like to make involves framing a copper panel in steel and then adding a combination of stainless steel and whatever I can find into a sculpture of sorts in front of the copper. I take this whole piece to the powder-coater to be clear-coated and they are always beautiful, heavy and soft as silk.
I am the only one that I know of to make these "paintings" and when I first began I used plate copper panels and some of them measured five feet tall and a couple feet wide.  That piece of copper today cost over a thousand dollars!  I have learned to make them smaller, even postcard size and if I back it with something, like a cut out skeleton sheet, I can use 18 gauge copper and that works pretty good but it is still not cheap.
 soon I will have them finished!
     I am almost finished with four such panels, each 16" wide and four feet tall with roses growing through them.  It is a nice effect, the copper acts as a mirror and in its golden glow offers a duplicate image of the roses.  One such panel contains about $250 in material alone!  With the price of copper, next year it will just cost more.  Investment in art!
   These panels will form the entry to my garden gallery that I am creating for a client, two on each side within a larger structure, about six feet wide and five feet tall.  When it is done I will show you a picture!
   It is a lot of fun doing something like this, actually being paid to create a pretty big sculpture and I do it for the thrill of it. If I had to do another one, it would become something that I had done before and would cost twice as much.
More of my Art is HERE

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Enemies, My Friends

   The truth is I cannot see Russia from my back yard.  Did you know that Russia at one time "owned" Oregon?  Well, they had settlers here and laid claim to it.  I am pretty sure we bought it from them;  I know we didn't fire a shot and they didn't shoot at us either.  Maybe it was a part of the Alaska Purchase, a part of what we bought for a mere $200,000.  Pretty good deal for us!
   The Blog World is huge and tiny at the same time.  I have people (I think?) from all over the world stopping by although they don't always say "Hell-o".  I get the obvious hits from the United States and Canada but I get hits from all of Europe and Afghanistan, Iran, Russia and China.  I think how crazy and wonderful in this "Blogging World" we can meet and be friends, have arguments and discussions, share ideas and discover how very similar we are and we never fire a shot.
   It all reminds me of my youth and various travels, wandering from here to there, meeting strange people and having conversations in languages I could not understand.  Maybe I would meet someone from Somalia and we would have a drink in a bar in Germany and before we knew it we would be laughing at what we couldn't say but we became friends at least for the moment.
   I was young when I went on my "wanderyar", a mere seventeen years old but it was a big world and there was a lot I wanted to see.  I encourage young people today to travel as much as they can, not as tourists, but staying in a place, somewhere, anywhere, it makes no difference.  Meeting people, talking, helping where we can, discussing stuff and realizing we are all the same.  One people, one world.  The same tears you have, I have.  You can discover a lot while you are young, what is important in life and what isn't.
   Blogging is a bit like that, meeting someone in a bar, having a conversation and just seeing where it goes.
It is a different world where we can just stop by and say "Hi" or sit a spell and get to know each other, share ideas, thoughts, gardens, art, tears and joy.  We don't have to agree on everything but we never shoot each other!
   I hope blogging does not replace travelling but encourages it.  I hope that it reduces fear and makes us realize that over a cup of tea we are not so different after all.  As the world tries to isolate us, drawing circles of division, we can draw bigger circles, circles that encompass and include, circles to draw you in.

   On a different note, I am so busy now I can't believe it.  I have three jobs all going at the same time and am working seven days a week to get them done on time!  And, I just planted my tomatoes!  Nice to be busy and nice to be alive!
You can always visit me HERE!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Self Employed in not perfect...

It is just the way things turned out.  In 1978 I was a school teacher working on my second year of teaching History classes in a Junior High School.  My dad was a teacher.  It was in my background and in my education.  I liked teaching, liked the kids and their energy.  We had an economic slump then also and with 35 other teachers I was laid off.  They were hiring in Los Angeles and in Texas; I could have moved and continued doing what I was trained to do but I had just bough a "fixer house" and planted a garden.  I had a wife and two cats!
   That summer I was putting a new roof on my house (the directions are on the package!) when the neighbors saw me and wanted a new roof also.  "Jerry, can you...?" and that was my introduction to self employment!
   I became legal, registering with all the various governmental bodies that want a piece of the action and learned to pay my taxes and get the necessary building permits, all the paper work stuff.  Years and lots of experience later I had 15 employees, ran three jobs at a time and one year did over a million dollars worth of work.  That doesn't mean I got any.
   Literally tons of money goes through your hands when you are self employed.  It is tempting to buy new trucks, bigger this and that and more of it.  I realized the money wasn't mine, that I was the "go between guy"
between my customers and the government and material supply houses and the wages of my workers.  I had to finish the job and if there was anything left over, well, that is what I got.  No pay checks on Friday for me.
Sometimes there was no money left over at all and sometimes there was a lot.  It is a bit of a gamble but you get good at it or you get out.  The highest rates of business failure in America are in the Construction Industry and the Restaurant Business.  You have to get paid last or you won't make it.
    I stayed in this business because I liked the challenges of it.  I liked the successes, the accomplishments, the customers and just the idea of being able to say, "yes, I did that!"  My days were always varied and different, from foundations to roofing and everything in between and I liked that.
    Nevertheless, time changes everything.  I grew older, the paper work and business of being in business, ever more taxing agencies appeared from nowhere.  By the time I turned fifty years old I grew to hate it.
That is when I went from "Jerry Carlin Construction", my construction company to "Stone Post Company", the art side of me.  I went from seven full time employees to one part time employee and from a mountain of paper work to almost none.  I pick and choose my jobs now and accept the challenges that I wish to accept.
I would rather have discovered this earlier in life but perhaps I wasn't ready for it.
This is what I do, this is ME.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When it Rains, it Pours!

My thirty-five years in construction was always that way and now I am supposed to be retired and would be happy with only a couple small commissions in a month.  Being self employed most of my life I have gone through vast periods of no work at all.  You learn to adjust your money because there is no weekly or monthly paycheck.  If there is work I get paid when the job is over, if there is a job and if anything is left over.  We always bought groceries, tons of groceries whenever I had money because I never knew when the next check was coming from.
   I am "retired" now and nothing has changed.  It must be Spring and I am healthy and young again and the work just keeps adding up  I have a ton of it and got more yesterday.  It is those words, "Jerry, can you...?"
I am incapable of saying "no".
   If I were really free I would say, "no, I can't!"  I want to work on my own garden.  I want to try my hand at painting.  I haven't even finished cleaning and reorganizing my shop. Or I will do it next Winter when things are slow.  But I don't do this.  I tell everyone that I will have their job finished in two weeks and somehow I manage to stretch the day, find time for their projects and a little bit for my garden and none towards cleaning my shop.
   This will pass.  April, May and June have always been my busiest months, that is Spring and early Summer when they want their projects and gardens looking nice.  I am lucky they come to me.
My Official Website is Here

Monday, May 16, 2011

My own Gallery!

 Outdoor Covered Patio-Gallery!
I am so tired and sore!  To think that this time last year that I was almost dead!  Over the weekend I worked 12 hours on Saturday and 12 hours on Sunday to complete the roof system on a metal structure that I built almost two years ago!  Because of the curves almost every piece had to be cut.
   This job began about two years ago when I was originally called upon to build a deer fence around the backyard of this residential property.  That took some time and they liked my design, fabrication and installation skills.  We got to know each other and I shared my websites with them.
   One afternoon over coffee I was asked what might look good in their backyard for some type of covered patio structure?  It was the ideal opportunity!  "Jerry, what would you do?"
This is what I did andit is all highlighted with copper trim.  Now to finish it will require lots of hanging plants
and copper/stainless steel art panels in the front section towards the house.
 The Center Section is clear polycarbonit
   It is not often that an artist gets to create space, build the room where the art will hang.  I am thankful and appretiative to be given the opportunity and to be able to do this.  My clients are happy with how this turned out.  Now I get to build the art for this gallery that I created!

When this is totally finished I will post some more pictures.

My other art can be found HERE.http://www.artwanted.com/slate

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blank Slate

Every year I start from scratch on my main garden area.  It is forty feet by fifty feet or thereabout and the only constant is at the very back I have an area about seven feet tall for potted plants and the main Entry, a gate I originally made for a theater production that has now found its home as the entry to my garden.  What was once on the stage on "Tosca" is now the support of my trumpet vine.  All the rest I redo every year.  There are no permanent plantings in this area, except a small stand of Bamboo my daughter planted on her return from the Peace Corp and Africa.  I whittle at it and chop it every year in an attempt to control it.
 Where to put the paths?
I have lived here for almost 40 years, same house, same wife, same phone number, same garden, but everything always changes.  The garden is always different.  Each year I try to make it better than the year before.
   Last year I had cancer and although I beat it and it is gone, it made me realize that maybe I can't keep doing this forever?
This year I am really concentrating on making it the very best ever!  You never know when this one will be the last one!
   The best thing about my garden and the advantage of living in one place for such a long time is the soil.  Over the years I have put literally tons of organic stuff, leaves, grass clippings, sand and manure on this area.  It is like potting soil for at least 18" deep, dark, rich, perfect soil.
 Watch this area!
   I change the plantings every year and alter the paths.  It is never the same except there are always my tomatoes!  This year I will also plant corn and that will be a treat.

At the entry to my garden I have a lot of pots and these are full of flowers.  Later in the summer they will be so abundant, full of color and smells, like a frame to a wonderful painting, my garden.

Last year's garden can be found HERE.http://www.artwanted.com/slate

Thursday, May 12, 2011


   I admit I am a bit of a whore and willing to tackle projects that should be left to younger and stronger
and maybe more able artist/fabricators.  Money, of course, is a part of the decision process.  This time of year my garden has a voracious appetite and is a drain to my meager savings.
   Part of it is just a challenge and the wondering wether or not I can still do it.  Some of it is just that I have a picture in my head of what some project should look like when completed and for the picture to meet with reality I just have to do it myself.  I am in the middle of two such projects now.
   One is a roofing system on a metal structure I built two years ago.  It has aged perfectly, has a wonderful rusty petina to it and all along it was the intention to cover it.  It is a two layered roof with an upper clearstory. That level I completed a couple weeks ago with a clear polycarbonite and a lot of copper trim.
The lower level is bigger and will be done with mahogany plywood and a very expensive composition roofing.  It is a lot of material to just lift and get up there.  But it has curves and angles and a complicated nature to it and I just have a fear of turning it over to someone else.  I know what it needs to look like.
   The other job is a twisting, curving stair rail involving a lot of math and a lot of skill.  If it is perfect it will be absolutely great and if it it off, then it will be off and insignificant.  It will be a peice I will be happy to sign.
   One day I will slow down or worse.  I will be able to dream these but not be able to do them.
I will post pictures when I get them!
More of what I do is  Here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

100 Posts!

I think really 100 posts have come and gone. According to my records this is #188 but so many of you are under the impression that this is to be 100 so I'll pretend it is.  I thought of doing a review but quite frankly I have written posts that I do not care to revisit although I have written others that I have read several times.
That just means I do not understand them yet and I am trying to find what I missed.
   I never edit these blogs and only on occasion do I ever bother to spell check them. I spew the words out as if making peanut butter sandwiches, "chumming," as Andrea has accused me of, trying to find an idea worthy of exploration, often in search of my own opinion.
   I took this right back to the third grade, my first kiss, my first girlfriend and it was there that I realized that I am not telling you everything!  It is the luxury of Internet Blogging, selective memories and choosing how to tell a story.
   It is a strip club in a way and I have slowly revealed myself to you.  You know about my family, my daughters, my garden, my welding, my art, my cancer.  Battles fought and won.  I've told you how I met my wife, the very same English Princess who has been by my side for well over forty years!
    You know I am a political creature.  I couldn't keep that out at all.  You know I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal and shouldn't be that way at all.  You know I have the Best Health Insurance possible and my bout with cancer was 99% covered through the policy I have been paying for, one way or another, for years.  You know that despite this I am in favor of National Health Care.  I think we should protect our own.
   I have taken you into my world of art, heavy metal! and even my attempts at color on canvass!  I have joked with you, yes, prodded a bit, encouraged I hope.  Shining a light on someone else is one of my favorite things to do.
   The most amazing thing is I have met friends here, good friends, intimate friends, close and caring.  I have discovered that when we take our hats off, drop our defenses, let go our pretenses, we are so very similar.
Most of us want the same things, get discouraged at the same obstacles, overcome the same kinds of challenges, find relief in laughter on this long dark road we are on.  We like dancing in the moonlight, at least when we think no one is watching!
   I have followers from countries that I never knew existed and have difficulty in pronouncing.  In one day I can visit other blogs, travel about the world and realize that we are the same.  If we could have tea together this would be a far more peaceful planet.  Blogging is like having a "pen-pal" and allowing other's into the conversation.  Sometimes we laugh together and sometimes we have a great after dinner conversation!
   We learn a lot about each other and in discovering more about you I discover more about myself.  Yes, I have had that feeling, that emotion, that triumph, that failure and got up again.  In your descriptions I learn more of my own.
   100 posts or 188?  I know I have repeated myself, shown the same art twice, the same stolen kiss over and over, caught the same fish again and again but maybe there is a different way to explain the same story?
Like a novel with each chapter told from a different narrative we change a little bit each day.  As we go down this road we gather new evidence, maybe see with clearer eyes and look upon the past from a different perspective. 
   I enjoy blogging but it is far more difficult than when I began.  I was like popcorn then, couldn't keep me in the kettle!  Now I am like a pot on simmer, not lukewarm, that is not me at all, but on the back burner, contemplating.  I still "chum", thanks Andrea for that oh so true analogy about myself.  Sometimes I spew and bubble over and I admit I am after a reaction.  I want to know what you think!
Visit me HERE!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No, No, No, I bought it from a Gallery!

...and that by definition makes it art, right?  Who cares that galleries charge 50% commission? or some, 60%! It is the price of assurance, the price to make me comfortable. knowing that this canvass with a hundred tones of red will look good behind my couch and go with the rest of my furniture!  I am assured that art from a gallery is an investment.  The prices keep going up, twenty percent over last year!  I am going to make a fortune!
   In my town there are no "Gallerias", just plain galleries with no fancy names, "Galleria de la Rosa" for instance, just off the top of my head, some exotic name, maybe even French, huh?  These would probably be the 60% galleries and of course, would have better art!
   I don't think galleries will ever be obsolete.  I know you can buy this stuff off the internet, but frankly I wouldn't  know what I was buying.  Red is red to me and I know nothing of the determination and texture of brush strokes.
   Buying used cars from a car lot should be obsolete.  You can get these off the internet too but I need the belief that it was owned by a little old lady.
   I have learned a lot over the years from galleries, learned the babble and language and gushing enthusiasm,
the "art of display" and the fuction of a little cheap wine.  On an opening night if you are lucky enough to get a crowd there you can build up a frenzy like at an auction and people will actually pretend to know what they are looking at.  When I first entered the gallery market I had different prices, one price if you found it in my backyard and another price if it were in a gallery.  That was a big mistake, I was letting people in on the scam!
   The truth is, people think your art is better if you charge a lot for it.  There is a belief in the value of money spent.  If you charge not very much that is what clients think they are getting, not very much.  Galleries to art are like de Beers is to Diamonds.  They control the ebb and flow of what would otherwise be a deluge of paint on canvas coming at us like the Mississippi River.
   This week I am taking apart an old rototiller, every gear and cotter pin, nuts and bolts and tynes, all of it piece by piece. I will reassemble and configure this into a new life as something unintended and I will name it "Art"!  I love the madness of it all.
You can find me HERE too!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Know a Mexican!

   Actually, I know several Mexicans.  Our community has a cultural influx from South of the border and they have opened for business!  Bakeries and music stores and taco places are almost on every corner.  Oscar,
 my friend is no longer a Mexican.  He recently got his American Citizenship and he is very proud of his achievements.  He should be.  He has worked very hard to be where he is.  Like many, he originally came here illegally, crossing the border unannounced and walking a dessert into this unknown country searching for something better.  He was just seventeen then, the same age I was when I was traipsing about Europe on my own adventures.  He went to the state of Washington and became an illegal farm worker there, picking apples from the orchard and receiving two dollars a tote for his labor.  That is a lot of apples for two dollars and everyone on the crew was a Mexican.  What Oscar discovered was that if he worked really hard, on a good day, he could make $20 dollars an hour!  He was the fastest picker on the crew.  He did this for three seasons and saved his money.  His experience reminded me so much of my own youth and the idea of working hard and saving your money for something important, for something down the road and in the future, for some kind of dream.
    Most everything that I have done in my life people have told me "how lucky I am"!  Luck has nothing to do with it. Or, maybe it has everything to do with it?  I first began working when I was about twelve years old, mowing lawns for neighbors and a paper route.  My father made me open a savings account at the local bank.  It wasn't a choice but something I had to do.  My dad made me put 60% of every penny earned in the bank!  In those days I would mow a lawn for a dollar and on many occasions I remember my father walking me to the bank to deposit 60 cents!  "Some day you will want this money for something significant," he would tell me, "Let it build up."  Pennies and quarters at a time it did build up and when I was just seventeen I had $1,100 dollars in the bank!  That was enough to buy a car in those days!  I went to Europe on an Ocean Liner and spent six months there instead!  Lucky? Yes, lucky I didn't buy a car!
    I feel like an old man now, complaining about our youth!  I see them crowded into the corner store, buying soda pop and junk food, happily spending five dollars every time they get some money and I wonder that they don't know there are still places in the world where you can live like a King on Five Dollars a day?
Why don't they have a sense of adventure?  Why can't they save for "something significant?"  Why can't they see into the future at all?
   Oscar is in his thirties now, married with three small children and he has a good job.  He is a "tax-paying American Citizen" and works weekends at any odd job he can find.  The extra money he makes on his weekend work goes to his children.  They each have their own bank accounts, and little by little, a few dollars at a time, Oscar adds to these accounts.  He has values of hard work and an accounting towards the future that America was built on.  I am glad he has kept that dream because it is one we are losing rapidly.
My Art Site is HERE

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A single bullet and photo-recognition software...

The key tool of terrorists is terror, controlling thought and behavior through fear.  It is interesting in our modern age how terrorist governments have made use of technology.  Today I am thinking of Lybia, Syria and Iran but any country can do this and the list keeps growing.  Without technology and terror crowd control has always been achieved through by more crowds, well armed and armored police and military.  In civil societies they might use water cannons, rubber bullets or maybe teargas with the objective of sending the crowd home and dealing with the issue another way.
     Now they are using real bullets, armored vehicles and tanks and the objective is to squash the rebellion, kill the opponents and rule through fear.  Iran has mastered this ability and exports its technology throughout the Middle East.  At a sign of initial protest the police might only show up with cameras in hand or a single sniper perched on top of a building safely a half mile away.  Suddenly and without a sound a single well place bullet can penetrate a speaker's head!  No one knows where the bullet came from, where the enemy is or who is next in his sites.
    Meanwhile the photos are being examined not even by humans in a back room of a government building
but by computers and through photo-recognition software, they are supplying a name and address to the photograph.  In the middle of the night an armed security detail will knock the door down and remove the subject in the photograph eliminating that protester.
   This is the modern era and every civilized society should have fear of it.   Our own "Patriot Act" allows almost unlimited government access to our every keystroke, our every telephone conversation, our personal mail and entry to our homes without court order.  This sounds better than it is when we can agree on who the
"bad guys" are but it is always a bit frightening to relinquish hard won freedoms in the name of security.
    It took us hundreds of years to develop a government of laws, rights and responsibilities to replace tribal
supremacy and the power of the majority.  I don't want to see us lose a single step that we have gained and I will have no belief  in the uprisings around the world until I hear a cry for the rule of law and a protection for those who disagree.
My Art is Always HERE

Friday, May 6, 2011

Can we go back now?

I have left this alone for almost a week but you know I can't be quiet forever!  I am glad Osama bin Laden is dead and we took him out like the mad dog he was.  I am glad we have a strong fearless President who does what he says he would do and had the courage to take on such a dangerous mission.  I am glad it was a personal thing, "mano a mano" and not a bomb dropped in the middle of the night.  I am glad photos are not being posted because in this digital age they are pretty meaningless.  They are goading and unkind and unnecessary.
   I think bin Laden was a mad man but incredibly clever and knew how to hurt us the most.  His single act of terrorism, the September 11th that we will never forget, has cost us over two Trillion Dollars and that is a conservative estimate.  There are more fees coming.  He has made us cautious when we would rather dance.
He drew us into Afghanistan when he knew the Russians were there for ten years and it drove them to bankruptcy and that was his goal for us.
   He has caused us to threaten our own Constitution and create laws that curtail our freedom.  We have given much for the sake of safety.  I hate bin Laden and the power he will hold onto even in death.  I remember as a youngster off on my first adventure, travelling across Canada on the trans-Canadian Railway from Vancouver to Montreal, seeing unimaginably beautiful scenery all along the way and meeting all sorts of interesting people.  Now there would be fear.  Fear is often worse than the assault itself.  It is persuasive and lingering and controls our behavior.  It is hugely expensive.
   I don't think we will ever "get back to normal," but I think we should try or bin Laden will have won.  It can only be done in small steps like a recovery from a serious illness.  Today look at someone without suspicion.
It is necessary to get back to the business of living gracefully, in search of beauty and the wonderful gifts that life affords us.
   I am mostly a nice guy but I think it was necessary to kill the m#@*ther f*(#er and now it is equally necessary to forget him.  As for Pakistan!  They are either in compliance or incompetent and neither way are they worth giving 20 Billion Dollars in aid to!!!  I think we need that money for the tornado strewn regions of our own country.  OMG! I am becoming so conservative in my old age!!!
It is more peaceful HERE

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Let me tell you about Oregon!

     I have been in all 50 States, travelled to Europe as far North as Lapland and the Southern most part of Spain and everywhere in between, but Oregon is home.  There are three States on the West Coast and Oregon is in the middle.  No one in Europe has heard of it.  I tell them it is the State North of California and they always say, "Oh, Northern California"!
  We have over 300 miles of open, public beaches.  It is against the law to control access to the beach in Oregon.  You can watch migrating wales from the beach and catch Salmon from the shoreline. We have beaches that are miles long with nothing but sand and other areas full of basalt rocks right into the ocean.
The Pacific Ocean is one hour away from my house.
   An hour in the other direction, heading East will take you into the mountains, the Cascade Range with its mountain peaks high enough they are snow covered all year long.  Everywhere are deer and except for me it appears as though we all own rifes.  Oregonians are hunters and fishermen!  We still have pleanty of Beaver and a twenty minute drive in any direction will take you to nowhere, the boondocks and you can discover places where people have never walked.  Oregon is the size of France but has less than a million and a half people living here.
   Most of the population is centered in the Willammette Valley, running most of the length of the State from Portland to Oakridge and nestled between the Coastal mountians and the Cascade Mountains and less than seventy miles wide.  I am in Springfield, next to Eugene, home to Nike Shoes and the University of Oregon.
   I live on a city lot, close to downtown, my little 1/3rd acre hideaway.  I have a 2,200 square foot house that I built using 400 square feet of the original in 1978.  We bought this property with its 900 sq. ft. "fixer" house in 1972 and paid $8,375 dollars for it.  No typo there, that is what we paid.  $1,500 deposit and
$78. per month!!!  It is paid for now and that is good because I couldn't afford to leave!
   Over the years I have done lots of improvements to this property.  Making the house bigger but also building my greenhouse, a sturdy structure in itself, and then creating my studio/shop in my backyard.  It is 20' x 40' and has a walkable attic for storage.  It has seven big windows, about 3' x 6' with a view of my garden and the little pool I built with my daughters.
    I am a sedentary creature although in my youth I travelled at the slightest whim.  The world is becoming so complex and busy.  I am happy here on my island and I can do anything I want to do.
Visit me HERE

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What to Charge?

One of the most difficult things for an artist is to sell their work. What to charge is always a predicament.
I learned from my years owning a construction company that nothing is simple and there are hundreds of hidden costs.  What, for instance, does Ten dollars an hour really cost?  For an employer taxes alone will add 40% to whatever wage so now we are at $14 an hour! But it doesn't stop there by a long shot. Next insurance companies want their cut, accountants always charge a fee and there is wear and tear on tools, and a cost involved in having a place to do business!  Most businesses would need to charge out, for a ten dollar an hour employee at least 25 dollars an hour and even then we still haven't talked about profit!
   Artists have a tendency to short change themselves and not take any of these things into consideration.  We forget about "research and development", what it cost to learn our trade, all of the mistakes we have made along the way and the fact that these errors also cost money.  So often I am asked how long it takes me to do something?  "Almost 65 years" is my standard answer and next year it will take a year longer!
   Even in retirement I can't work for free.  I still have all the expenses and it is always necessary to replenish an inventory and allow money necessary to maintain my tools.  Some of what I do any decent welder could do and there are sort of set acceptable fees for welding but a lot of what I do is of my own invention, my art if you will.  These projects you get them from me or you just don't get them.  That is the art to what I do and I charge an "artist's tax" for this.  It is not a consistent amount of money nor any type of percentage, but it is always there even if I have to pay it myself!
   Once in awhile I will run across a job that is just screaming to be done.  A challenge maybe or an opportunity for perfection in place, something that just has to be done.  Something I just can't resist.  When that happens my first desire is for my client to foot the bill of course.  It will after all be his when it is done, but if that is impossible I have been known to subsidize the job myself.  If truth be told the art is always mine even if the location isn't.
You can always find me HERE

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


 My Original Stone Post
It was just about exactly fifteen years ago that I created "Stonepost Company"
and my life changed forever and it was all pretty much an accident.  I was a remodeling contractor at the time with a crew of seven employees and always had at least two jobs going on at the same time and one waiting in the wings.
   One day I was in Home Depot just ambling down the isles like a guy might do in that kind of fantasy store for guys when I happened upon the lighting section and stopped at a display of Post Lights.  They had, of course, a lot of styles, colors, sizes and shapes but it was the Victorian Reproductions that caught my eye.
   I had only seen Post Lights displayed either on a black three inch pipe or on a massive brick or stone monolith where everything is out of proportion and the light fixture looks little and an afterthought.  I wondered why no one made a column for these fixtures?
   For the next six months I experimented in my backyard on weekends and after work, trying to discover how to build such a column and what it might look like.
I built a lot of failures, some models too heavy to move and many that weren't just quite right.  My goal was to create something complete in my studio that I could deliver and easily install.
   Most of my stone posts are the traditional five feet tall and have a double, tiered base, a column and what is known as a "capital" or heavier top. They are made of concrete reinforced with rebar and contain an electrical conduit. At the bottom are three 1/2" coupling nuts allowing the installation of foundation bolts during installation.  You dig a hole with a post hole digger as if setting a fence post. Fill the hole with fresh concrete, thread through the electrical wire into the conduit, screw in the foundation bolts and upright the post! It all takes about 30 minutes!
My Stone Posts have a veneer of slate over the concrete and each edge is mitred, no butt joints anywhere.
   To me these were just light posts but my customers
saw the potential that I missed. They wanted my posts

 Fencing between my Stone Posts!

with ornamental iron work, with gates and fences
and arbors!  In what seems now a short time I
had developed a huge market and I only had one problem.  I didn't know how to weld!  In fact I had never seen a welder, didn't know the first thing about working with metal.
   The first couple jobs I found other people who could weld and they did this for me. I realized that this was just a job for them and they really had no interest in the finished product, no interest in the art of it, no sense of balance or proportion.
   So I bought a little welder and you know the rest of that story!  I fell in love with it.  After a year,
"Stone Post Company", my little hobby company, was self supporting and I could make a living from it.
That is what started the whole thing, my introduction to art!
You can see where this lead HERE.http://www.picturetrail.com/slate

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden

It took ten years to kill a man in a cave who caused so much damage to the United States and the free world.
    For years when I was in construction I used to park my truck in my driveway full of tools because I was too tired to unload them and put them away.  Then, one day when I was about to go to work, just like that, they were gone!  Someone during the night stole them!
   What I resent to this day is not the loss of maybe $5,000 worth of tools, although that certainly hurt.
It is the fact that some low life thief had the power to change my behavior forever.  The theft was over fifteen years ago and every night ever since I have had to unload my truck and put the tools in my shop and make sure it was locked.
   Osama bin Laden did the very same thing to us as a Nation.  Terrorists have added a huge expense to our daily lives and threaten our Constitution, our very freedoms that we cherish.  We have "Homeland Security"
now, Airport screening, police with guns everywhere and you can't go anywhere without a camera focused on you.  It is amazing how "one guy in a cave" did this to us.  I don't think his death will mark the end to anything.  Yemen, a little tiny desolate sand country is rapidly taking over as a terrorist capitol with almost successes at taking down planes and the destruction of the USS Cole, a battleship brought down by a rowboat!
   There will be no cause for celebration until the implements of war are turned into ploughshares and we can get on to the business of living.  I am not sure that will ever happen.  I have often thought that if a thief could not sell the tools from my truck then he wouldn't steal them.  Is there no way out of the trouble we are in?

You can always visit me HERE

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Food Dryer

 This is the food dehydrator I built about 25 years ago.
  I have the plans to build this dryer but they are on a pdf file and for some reason I am having difficulty in creating a link for you to find it. That means I can't do it.  But I will send them to you personally if you are interested.
This is a pretty serious tool, costing about $100 in materials but mine is 25 years old and still working perfectly.  The heat source if from 12 60 watt lightbulbs and it requires a small fan and thermostat.  It has five shelves made of window screens and can dry about a five gallon bucket of tomatoes at one time.
 Seven varieties of heirloom tomatoes
You can buy dried tomatoes at the store but not like you can do yourself!

The year before last was a terrific season for tomatoes and I sent dried tomatoes all over the world.  I dry them to the point of potato chips and there are lots of ways to prepare them for eating.  My favorite by far is nothing.  Just as is, on a cracker with a bit of cheese.  It is an explosion of flavor in your mouth
like you wouldn't believe.  The problem with store bought dried tomatoes is they are from store bought tomatoes, picked green and flavorless.
 it takes about 5 days to dry a batch
  You can also rehydrate them with a dash of wine and some olive oil and put them is salads.  You could cook with them and put them in soups but that is such a waste of a perfect product that I never do it.  They are just too good on their own.

 "Cherokee Purple"
     You can buy little kitchen top dryers at your local hardware store for smaller batches and maybe to see beforehand if you would like to make this bigger model.  I seldom can my tomatoes anymore as drying them is so much easier, less work and not so messy.

  I am hoping for a good season this year but the weather is so strange.  We got a dusting of snow only two days ago in the nearby hills and it is still frosting at night!
More pics of my garden HERE and I will try once again to link to the plans for the food dryer HERE.http://courtneymeier.artifex.org/dehydrator/
Cool, that worked this time!!!  These are great plans for a perfect dryer!