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#7 - Building and Painting

That's me on the roof, FINALLY getting those barn slates to their final resting spot. Very satisfying after moving them so many times. "We will never touch this slate again" And then we would nail it on the roof.

The local librarian knew me well. Whatever building stage we were heading into - framing, electrical, plumbing, etc - I would come in looking for everything they had on on the topic. You Tube would have been a God send back then!

Now, we were living in a major construction zone...

That's me in the 'insulating stage'.

We were getting the frame up and covered, We had ladders inside as well to work on the second floor. And, we were starting the fireplace. (Actually a "masonry heater" that would heat our entire home. But that's another story for it's own blog post, if you're interested.) The gist of it - a large masonry undertaking would be going up through the center of our home for 3 plus stories. It would require massive amounts of rocks. We had been gathering them ourselves for quite sometime. Braking for any 'nice rock' we saw on the side of the road, loading it into the back of our pick up, bringing them all back home and eventually inside. Then laying them out across the floor to 'see our options'. Living and working among it ALL now.

That's me as a 'mason'.

This is when a friend ask if a couple he knew could stop over. They were thinking of building their own home.

I will never forget the wide eyed look on the woman as she slowly scanned the construction zone that we called home. That day I was stacking and cementing rocks in the fireplace.

She asked me “Whatever made you believe you could do this?

Hmmm... that question had never occurred to me.

COULD I do this?? I hadn't really considered that. I didn’t think that way. I thought “What do I WANT to do… not what CAN I do? My Mom said I could do anything I put my mind to – I believed her. I didn't want to live in a bus in the woods, so the alternative was to build a home ourselves.


They left and we never heard from them again.

This is when I began plein air painting. Since I didn’t have much of an inside studio, I thought I might as well take it outdoors... and get away from the construction mess for a bit!

I was primarily a watercolor and acrylic painter until this point - now attempting oils outside.

No, that's not me in the above photo. Those skirts NEVER would have worked for roofing. :)

Being an art history buff, I admired the Hudson River school artists that plein air painted in the Adirondacks a century ago. They created beautiful images of the landscape with such a luminous glow. There must be something to it...

Delving deeper, I realized most artists I admired had their roots in plein air painting… like John Singer Sargent above.

Studying his oil paintings at museums 'up close and personal' - they are amazing. HOW did he become such a truly exceptional painter? Well, I know he painted plein air. I was noticing this as a theme. it seemed to be a building block I had to dig into.

The transition to oils went fairly easy but plein air painting I found VERY DIFFICULT. The learning curve was steep but I could see it was taking my art in the direction I wanted to go.

Twin Brook Falls by Shirl Ireland - plein air oil

This is an early plein air painting from our property. You can see the progression already from my earlier acrylic work. I was learning!... and I was hooked...


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