Monday, November 7, 2011

The light in the forest

There's an endless supply of subject matter in the woods if you know how to look for it. It's taken me a while to figure that out.

Chair Factory Falls 5

I painted this version over the weekend. A lot of people visited the falls and talked to me as I worked.

Autumn on Seeley Road

These sugar maples are on LMP property on one of the few remaining dirt roads in Lake County. It finally dawned on me as to why so many are close to roads- it was a lot easier to collect the sap on a road bed when using draft horses . They have to work a lot harder to pull the sled carrying the collection tank through the woods. The sap boilers have told me it's a lot easier to collect sap using horses; you don't have to climb back up onto a tractor seat hundreds of times a day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Artful Tribute to my son

I spent the past couple of months carving this gravestone for my only son Jim Jr. who died in a plane crash last January. The slate slab weighed 350 lbs. before I began cutting it. I went to a shop in Rhode Island to learn to carve slate, never realizing that this would be my one and only gravestone I will ever do.

Fall day at Harpersfield Covered Bridge

It was cool and misty when I arrived early Sunday morning to paint the bridge. I needed a day away from the thousands of Harleys that grace Rt. 84 every sunny weekend. I suspect it's the guys with a microphallus condition who mount the extra-loud pipes that rattle my brain matter from the obnoxious audio output they generate. I had such a peaceful morning, until every bike in three states came to see the covered bridges this past weekend. Sucks to be me sometimes, but then, my life tends to read like a comic book most of the time.

A tree at my house

I decided to look around my property to find something worthy of painting. I recently took a class with Albert Handell, and saw him extract "blood from a turnip". He warned against being a postcard painter; that you will find interesting subject matter right under your nose.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Salt Mine

[Image]This local landmark belongs to Morton Salt, which has mines that run miles under Lake Erie. I sketched and painted this tower 46 years ago when I took summer-school art classes from David Burris, who can be found at a local coffee shop with friends and coworkers a couple of times a week. He is the best teacher I ever had.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Horse maintenance

I paint at a local horse stable often. Sometimes I look around for a subject, but come away empty handed. I stopped there three days ago and saw the barn in shadow, with the morning sun illuminating the grass and the tree adjacent to it, and knew I had somethink to paint. I entered it in a local art competition already.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

On the Blackwater River

My English host, artist Michael Richardson invited me to paint once more with the Wapping Group. They paint every Wednesday on the Thames River, or along the tributaries feeding into it. The Blackwater River was full of wood sailing vessels sitting on the mudflats as the tide had receded. After painting, we all met at the local pub for a pint and fish & chips.

Tide's out

Whitstable, in Kent is a working fishing port and resort town. When the tide is out, the fishing boats sit on the mud of the harbor bottom.

Tufa Town

This medieval town upriver from Saumur has extremely narrow streets, lined by ancient buildings made of tufa, a stone made of hardened volcanic ash.

Samur rooftops

I climbed the hill leading up to the chateau and painted this series of towers, turrets, and steep slate roofs.

: The Land of Chateaus

James L. Polewchak's Art Blog: The Land of Chateaus: I went to Normandy, France with 25 British artists to paint this summer. It was a life-changing experience. I was overwhelmed with the ...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Holmes County barns

I wandered around in Holmes County last weekend, and saw lots of great painting sites. I traveled down one-lane dirt roads for most of the morning; a lot of them left me no room to pull over to park my Jeep.  As I painted this scene, I heard a minnute sound behind me. When I turned to look , there were six Amish ladies of all ages coming down the hill to watch me paint. Talk about stealthy! Our SpecOp forces could learn a thing or two from them.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wilson Feed Mill

This busy feed mill is located on Canal Rd. just outside the CVNP. I climbed down an embankment to a small stream leading to the mill. As soon as my boots hit the water, a large frog screamed an alarm and dove in, startling me at first, and then I had a pretty good laugh. I hadn't locked eyes with a frog since I was about twelve.
The stream led right up to the mill, and I could see the old mill race and part of a turbine lying on the ground. This historical building really WAS an old mill ( some use the name, but aren't really a true one like this old structure. I will go back and paint this when the leaves have fallen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ode to my dumpster

Sunday morning in Holmes County

The fog was burning off as I saw this farm emerging from the mist. As I began to paint, more of it disappeared to reveal it all. This county is one of the most beautiful in the state of Ohio.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

1929 Chevy

This 1929 Chevy belongs to a friend, whose father owned it for many years. I got to ride in it before he parked it on his lawn where I painted it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Iron Monster

These fire-breathing dragons once graced the tracks that bordered our property , and I was scared to death of them, seeming them daily for the first ten years of my life. They hauled iron ore south to Youngstown to feed the smelters there, and when the heavily loaded trains labored up the grade, the wheels often slipped, making the locomotives emit a terrifying sound that sent me hiding under the blankets on my bunk bed. The headlight lit up the trees bordering the tracks, producing an eerie glow through the leaves and branches. It didn't bother me a bit when diesels took over, but now I love to see the rare one that rumbles through on an excursion trip.There are few sounds are as lonely as the blast of  steam whistles in the night, signaling that a monster is coming to frighten young children..

The General completed

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Rookery

This building was shipped to America  along with many others from the same farm in Normandy in the early 1900s and reassembled with the help of a railroad spur specifically built to haul the materials to the site.
It was a rookery, where pigeons were raised as a meat source.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Tow Boat

The ice is gone from Lake Erie, signaling the start of the boating season. This towboat responds to various maritime emergencies,such as engine problems, empty fuel tanks, or the occasional abrupt encounter with the breakwall, fueled by too many bottles of stupid.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The General

I painted this from Civil War photos and a bit of research on the web. It was stolen by spies fleeing back to the north, with Confederates in hot pursuit, but were apprehended and hanged. Their is a bronze monument at the Chattanooga National Cemetery with a 1/4 scale General at the grave of the raiders. The General is at a museum in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A salute to a friend.

I am working on a painting from a photo of a tribute to a good friend who died earlier this year. We reenact 18th century life and military tactics. I've found that landscape painting has helped me make great strides in painting the human form.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Still Life in the works

I thought I'd set up some of my toys to paint, as it was snowy and sloppy here in northeast Ohio today.. I'll finish it up this weekend.

Grand River Lighthouse

I finally finished this painting I'd started last year. I went fishing out on the wall past the lighthouse with my father and brothers starting in 1958. At that time there was a foghorn out there that would nearly blow out your eardrums if it started up, and you could hear it for miles inland. I miss the low moan of that horn, replaced by satellite navigation years ago.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

End of the Road

This is a view of Hell's Hollow, one of the last bits of wilderness in Lake County. I painted it from the west bank of Paine Creek, looking towards the abandoned road that once provided access across this deep valley. The old bridge was removed years ago, leaving the stone abutments in place. I walked down what remains of the road on the west bank, which is heavily eroded. It had a heavy crust of ice on the snow, which helped me hike over a mile down to where the old bridge stood. After painting for about 2 1/2 hours, I packed up and left, but on my way out I found the snow had warmed slightly and now I had to plow through deep snow to get back out. I worked hard to get this one!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Angry Birds

This is the view from the courtyard of the nature center at Penitentiary Glen. As I was bringing in my easel and painting supplies, I uprooted the birds from their feeding several times. I have the "Angry Birds"  app.on my I-Phone, thus inpiring the name.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Penitentiary Glen

SOLDI painted this scene from a chunk of ice in the middle of a stream. It is a view of Penitentiary Glen, at the bottom of the stairs, looking upstream towards the steep rock walls that inspired the name of this park.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Farmpark Sugarbush

I thought I'd try something different for a change. I have a high-tech woodburning system left over from my sign making days, and I was pretty sure I could get good results from the subject matter. Woodburning is fun, but fairly unforgiving. You can't erase a line that's burned deeply into the wood.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Mayan Bowler

This sculpture is part of the sundial complex at Lakeshore Reservation, built back in the 70's. I don't know what the sculptor intended, but this block reminded me of the carved stone symbols in Mayan ruins of central America.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Enviromental Learning Center

This building is located on the grounds of the former Camp Klein, a summer camp for Methodist children. The dome on the roof is a planetarium.

Lake Farmpark Sugarbush

Monday, February 7, 2011

Stayin' Alive

This scene is high up in the rock formations at Chapin Forest. I spotted this hemlock tree growing out of the sandstone cracks and crevasses, shooting upwards to catch the light, and thus life.
I never fail to find something in nature that amazes me every time I go out to paint. I made a quick pencil sketch, took a few pictures, and finished it in the studio, as it was far too dangerous to try to haul my easel and paints up there. As I climbed to the top, I encountered some retired ladies old enough to be my mother, and they were having a blast at cross-country skiing. No "Oprah" for them; they were truly living life in the here and now. I admire them greatly.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Veteran's Park

This property was once a large gravel pit. It was known as Granger's Pond for many years, renamed after LMP took over operation of it some time ago. When I was a Mentor Firefighter, we would be called there frequently when fishermen lit fires to ward off the evening chill. The people in the new housing development across the lake moved out there from Cuyahoga County, and many apparantly had never seen a campfire before, causing us to reluctantly tell the guy to put it out, inspiring some choice words from him about the "outsiders" moving in.
Lots of dogs walk their owners here too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fairport HarborLakefront Park

I was at the park last summer on a hazy afternoon and caught a ship leaving the harbor. This is the site that has hosted the Fairport Mardi Gras ever since I can remember. I used to work for a nearby company as a teenager where I had a boss that told me Mardi Gras meant "Money grab" in French. I think he was right.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Willowick Lakefront Lodge

This beach sits below the bluff where the Lakefront Lodge sits, which is available for rentals. I painted a young couple that was using a metal detector to search for coins, with the high rise apartments of Euclid as a backdrop. All they found was a twist of wire. This was done last spring, and I finally did some touch up to complete it.

Animal House

I found this hollow birch in the Grand River flood plain at Hogsback Ridge.
It housed some type of creature, as I found tiny wisps of fur along the edge of the bark at the opening to it's den. This was taught to me by a coon hunter in the early 60s, when lots of men set their hounds loose in and around the river valley in eastern Lake County, causing the woods to resonate with the sounds of dogs howling as they pursued the scent of raccoons, whose pelts fetched a lot of money in those days.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hidden Lakes Lodge

This lodge sits in Leroy Twp. on Kniffen Rd. on the land once owned by the AMLA, an insurance firm. The lodge is being remodeled for the public to use for scheduled events. There is a large lake on the property, which is open to fishermen who aquire the proper permits at the park headquarters on Spear Road in Concord. I saw lots of ducks and Great Blue Heron last fall as I circled the improved trail around the lake.

LMP Rental cabin

This cabin sits at the edge of the woods at Hidden Valley North, accessible by an entrance off Palisades Drive. It has a large deck in the rear, and a path connects it to the Crooked Tree trail that borders the edge of the cliff along the Grand River.

Concord Furnace

I painted this at the junction of Jordan and Big Creeks in Concord. The LMP owns this land, but it is rough country and is not open to the public at this time. Concord Furnace once stood where I set up my easel, a metal-working operation in the 18oos, of which I could not find a trace. Our forefathers wasted nothing, so it was probably dismanteled, saving the bricks and hand-hewed beams for other sites. The shale cliffs here comes to a sharp angle, which we named "The Point" when we were kids growing up in Concord.
I saw lots of beaver tracks here , resembling a trough in the snow, formed by dragging their wide, flat tails as they munched on thin saplings, falling them to drag to the creek to build their nearby lodge.

Sleeping Maples

This row of sugar maples borders the Girdled Road South Reservation, looking east on Radcliffe Road. They might have been planted by George Rayl, the farmer who sold much of his acreage to LMP some years ago. He also drove my schoolbus for years, not tolerating me and my friends questional behavior on the daily trip to and from school. He kept a paddle hanging on the dash, drilled with holes to cut wind resistance, but I never saw him use it. He was a big, strong man and we feared getting our butts spanked in front of the other students.
As I was painting, a lot of cross-country skiers were heading to the park, slowing down to watch the crazy painter working in 7 degree temperatures. I was having a ball !

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Greenway Corridor

I grew up along the southern terminus of the Greenway Corridor in Concord, when it was the old B & O Railroad. I witnessed the end of the age of steam, watching and listening to those fire-breathing monsters laboring up the grade to Chardon,
blowing the whistle for the Girdled Road crossing behind our house. I am surprised at how many people I've talked to on the trail that never realized it was formerly a railroad bed. I hope that the two seperate trails are someday joined together, providing unbroken access to the Greenway in Geauga County.

Beaty Landing

This park is for more than just fishing access; it's got over a mile of well-groomed trails. It occupies the flood plain just east of the Rt. 84 bridge in Painesville, and has views of the high shale cliffs that line the river's bank.
I saw a large deer herd while I painted here.