Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Furniture Making 101 (or Maybe 100.5)

There are a number of exceptionally good furniture makers in our local area, several who exhibit in art and craft galleries.  Every time I run upon their work my envy meter spikes.  I finally got up enough nerve to attempt a simple piece for our house.

The console table is constructed from a five foot piece of local 4/4 live edge walnut. The legs and stringer are made from red oak lumber from the local big box home center.  Fearing  more sophisticated construction methods, I used dowels on all of the joints.

The piece is finished with four hand-rubbed coats of tung oil  and a final coat of finish wax.

Patience is not one of my strong suits when it comes to construction projects.  I'm more rough framing carpenter than detailed furniture maker, but I have to admit I really enjoyed the process.

Once the yard work season ends this fall I think I'll start on another console table - this one with a little more flair and pizazz!  The plan is already in my head.

Maybe one day I can add "furniture maker" to my artist statement!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

What a Charming House. What Great Outbuildings. What a Beautiful Pond. Oh My Word, WHAT is That?

The Idol House

For those readers who don't know: mid December we moved from a rural horse property near Burlington to a much more urban setting fifty miles to the west. 

Our new neighborhood, although still somewhat rural in nature, is smack in the middle of three moderately dense cities (Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point).

Hiding in the Thicket
As typical of urban areas, there aren't many large, rolling stretches of farm land. Most of the farms are small operations nestled between other non-farm properties - both residential and commercial.  We understand that progress marches forward, but admit I've had a culture shock exploring the surrounding back roads.  There's rural and then there's "sort of" rural. The Idol house, shown above, is a good example of "sort of".

The Idol house appears to have begun as a two-over-two farmhouse. If the current siding was removed, one would expect to find a log structure. Over the decades, small side wings were added to both sides, and a longer annex was added to the rear.  The tie to today's world is the detached three-car garage. My informal research indicates the house sits on part of  an original 18th century, 2800+ acre land grant.
Rusty, Yet Proud

The Idol property was most likely a tobacco farm of modest size - the current outbuildings include several barns, a large chicken house, a storage shed, and a wood-fired curing barn.  A beautiful 3 or 4 acre pond graces the rear of the tract.

Nothin' especially unusual up to this point, you might suggest, and I'd agree. Except. . .

Let's take a look at the image on the left. It's one of the great little barns - proudly standing on a little rise, with a wonderful fluffy-cloud sky in the distance.  I was pleased with the outcome.

Now let's talk about Adobe Photoshop's capability of replacing backgrounds - something I've never done to a published image - until now!  Yep, I confess - I broke my long-standing rule about adding thing to images. But I just hadda' hide IT. Check out the finished picture overlaying the original image:
Just to give you a visual reference, the farmhouse sits immediately beyond the tree on the left side of the image.

You can rightly assume the modern-looking, architecturally unappealing building in the background isn't some newfangled tobacco barn. And the large yellow pipes running rampant aren't for irrigating the pastures.

Only half of one side of the white building is showing.  However if you step around to the back of the barn, here's the full view of. . .

the soon to be completed 600,000+ square foot distribution center for Ralph Lauren, and. . .

the soon to be completed first business in a much larger planned industrial park.


New place. New rules. New goals.

First, I need to get over the Photoshop thing - and just consider it artistic license. Next, capture more of these historic urban farms while they're still standing. And as always, remember "when served lemons, make lemonade".  Here's another gallery-ready glass from the Idol farm. . .

The Barn at Ralph Lauren, (c) 2015
I've set a goal of posting to this site with greater frequency. 

Stay tuned.

Next episode: another farm house - this one with what appears to be original slave quarters, located across the road from the equally large, ultra-modern Herbalife (once was Dell Computers) manufacturing facility.

Later... Lane

Monday, October 20, 2014

It's Almost Leaf Season Again

"Early Morning on the Farm" | The Backroads Studio | lane watson | (c) copyright 2014

My favorite season for rural photography has to be Fall.  This year in the Piedmont area of North Carolina, the peak of the color is still several weeks away. I couldn't contain my excitement -  last week a road trip through the southern area of Alamance County and adjacent areas of Chatham County was in order.

The point of the short trip was to identify specific areas for an actual shooting trip later in October.  No stopping - just burn that cheap $2.99 gas and move on.  But I couldn't help pausing several times to shoot images that work regardless of the season. The one above is an example.

Although the image needs some more work before printing, I believe it will be a stunner.  The final composition is a combination of three vertical shots pieced together via software.  As a consequence, the resolution of the image goes from a respectable 16 MB to around 48 MB. The higher resolution will allow me to print an impressive 4+ ft wide gallery canvas, should I wish.

Meanwhile I'll clean my lenses and charge my batteries in preparation for the real thing.

Stay tuned. . .


Monday, March 10, 2014

The Art Collection at the NC Vet School

Collection Catalog

This week I received a catalog of the permanent art collection at the Terry Center, which is a large, state-of-the-art companion animal clinical facility at the North Carolina State Veterinary School in Raleigh.  

Here's my accidental connection. . .

"In early 2011, with the Terry Center scheduled to open in May of that year, the need for art came to the attention of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation Board of Directors. The [board] is an advisory and advocacy group that attracts support for the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. The Board received permission to assume the task of acquiring art for the building and quickly created an Art Committee to direct the project.

The mission of the committee was to place in the hospital quality, animal-themed art that would compliment the building, enhance the experiences o both clientele and the staff, and celebrate the animal-human bond. Every piece was given to the Foundation. Each piece was reviewed and approved by the Art Committee before inclusion in the collection."

Around this time I was contacted by an artist friend who was familiar with the vet school project and who suggested I submit a series of my images of farm animals.  She provided the contact person's name and email address, but no other submission details. My work at that time consisted primarily of rural landscapes.  Any images of animals I had consisted mainly of larger farm animals such as cows and horses, and perhaps a goat or two!  From those, I submitted four images for the jury process.

Several weeks later I was contacted by Susan Ward, who was then the foundation board president.  She explained that the work was being curated for the new companion animal facility and hoped I had some companion animal (i.e., cat or dog) images I would like to submit, as they liked my work.  Disappointedly, I told Susan I had none to submit and, after polite goodbyes, the conversation ended.  I mentally wrote off the project!

Several months later I received another phone call from the foundation - this time to let me know one of my submitted images, "Art on the Farm", had been selected for inclusion in the collection.  I was floored. First, because the image was of a "cow" and most importantly, the "cow" was constructed from an old oil tank and assorted metal parts.

The foundation person explained that the new facility would overlook the dairy operation that operates on the vet school property.  The art committee thought the image to be the perfect piece to hang beside a  window overlooking the barns and pastures!

So out of the sixty-five pieces in the collection, mine is the only one not featuring a dog or cat.  The 24 " x 24" stretched canvas piece is in place and indeed complements the view of the real cows.

I was (and am still) pleased to be a part of this wonderful collection of art.

Maybe the next time I'll better research an application process beforehand.  But then again, maybe not.

lane watson | the backroads studio | almost spring 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Yes, There Was a Sunny Day in February!

Don't Dat Sun Feel Good?
February in our area hasn't been one of the best - we had below normal temperatures, freezing rain, sleet, snow and a lot of strong winds over the past several weeks. Enough was enough!

Last Saturday provided a break. The sun was out. Temperatures neared 70 degrees. And I spent the better part of the day outdoors.

As a guest of newly-found friend Brian Towey, his wife and two daughters, I attended a living history event in Reidsville, North Carolina. 

Brian is a dedicated, long-time member of The Society for Creative Anachronism.
Fighters in Action

The national group defines themselves as " international organization dedicated to researching and
re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Our 'Known World' consists of 19 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, various classes & workshops, and more".

The Reidsville gathering was hosted by the Central North Carolina Chapter of the SCA. It was attended by hundreds of people of all ages, genders and races - all garbed in medieval clothing.

The crowd and activities provided a goldmine of photo opportunities.  I was fascinated by the overwhelming amount of colors, shapes, and textures surrounding everything.

Six fascinating hours absorbing sights and sounds found me with 268+ wonderful images.  After many hours of post-processing I ended with an album of ninty-six images.  If interested in viewing them, visit my website gallery by clicking here.

If you'd like to know more about SCA, click here.

There's only about 3 weeks of winter left!