Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas gift for Vikings Fans

Vikings fans have little to cheer about this season. But there is one bright spot this year, and that is running back Adrian Peterson.

I did the larger original painting of this for my son a couple of years ago, but just decided to do some small art prints of it because I thought there may be some local fans interested in purchasing one. 

They come signed and framed in a simple glass frame with clips.  The image is 5x7 and it is printed on 8x10 art paper. You can have one for $35. Only available for a limited time and for pick up here in Maurice. E-mail me if you'd like one and we can work out a time to get together.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Vintage Christmas

In our family we've been decorating for Christmas with homemade lawn displays since I was a kid. My Dad (holding the sheep) has created many lighted display items, cut from wood and filled with lights. My Grandpa painted scenes 40-50 years ago that still make their way from storage in the garage, to outdoors for the frigid month of December. They have held up remarkably well considering they get exposed to sub-zero temps, and battered by NW Iowa rain, sleet and snow.

You've seen a couple of our scenes in the past, but this year we decided to try something different. Every year the Christmas season approaches, and we say to ourselves, "Why didn't we work on a NEW Christmas scene for our yard?" It's just easy to put up one of our old favorites instead. This year, we were talking about an old nativity scene that my Dad and Grandpa made back in the 1960s, and it has been stored up in my Dad's cluttered garage rafters since probably 1970 or thereabout.

Thanksgiving morning, my brother Bruce and I decided to haul stuff out of the rafters and see what kind of shape the scene was in. As you can see in the photo above, some of the figures looked better than others. Mary, baby Jesus, and a couple of the shepherds were peeling extensively and needed some attention. The remaining figures were dusty, but cleaned up pretty well with a bucket of soapy water.

The 40 years these pieces spent in the rafters aged them with a "crusty chic" that can't be duplicated without the passage of time. A little stained, aged, faded and worn. Beautiful in its own way. We plugged in the string of blue lights and they worked!

Look at this star. Dad made this out of heavy upholstery cardboard, duct tape, the outer edge is plywood and the face is covered with a layer of cheesecloth to diffuse the light. I just love this thing and the beautiful brown the cheesecloth has turned.

I took the three figures home that were in need of some TLC. I sanded the loose peeling paint off them and freshened them up.

 The stable was covered with burlap. It was not in great shape either, but once again it was old and beat up and had a lot of character.

 Here is Bruce arranging and driving stakes for the figures.

And here is the finished scene, illuminated at night–complete with fresh straw all around. We were really pleased with the way it came together and my Dad was thrilled to see it up in his front yard again after all these years. If you're in Maurice this Christmas season to look at lights, make sure you head to the far Southwest corner of town to take a look for yourself. Merry Christmas.

Monday, September 24, 2012

LifeLight Bus

I thought I'd show you a recent project I completed as part of my work at Pizza Ranch. Pizza Ranch is a sponsor of LifeLight.  LifeLight is a Christian music festival held each Labor Day weekend near Sioux Falls, South Dakota and is attended annually by thousands and thousands of people.

This summer, an aging van/shuttle bus was donated to the LifeLight ministry. As you can see in the before pictures, it was not real attractive.

I got a bunch of photos from the LifeLight folks and was given the bus as a blank canvas so to speak.

I used photos of the old van as a template for creating the artwork for the new look. I created all the graphics in Photoshop, and when the art was approved, all the files were sent to a sign shop in Sioux Falls that prints and wraps vehicles. I was really impressed with the job they did of wrapping the art so seamlessly.

The LifeLight team will be using the bus throughout the year to promote various LifeLight events.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Winds of Change Installation

Finally, it was time to install the finished artwork. We loaded all four of the paintings into a large cargo van and cautiously transported them to Orange City. Once again, I called Team Vander Stelt into action. My brother, Bruce, took the lead as we began the install. 

Dad and Denise supervise the progress as the first canvas is mounted.

My brothers, Bruce on the ladder and Mike below.  This photo gives you a pretty good idea how high this had to be mounted. Luckily Bruce is comfortable straddling the top of this large ladder.

The install was time consuming. Start to finish we spent approximately five hours.

Almost there. Now for the most nerve wracking part. Adding the wheel. If you remember, this wheel weighs around 60 pounds, and we needed to lift it pretty high just to get it to the mounting apparatus/hub. Fortunately it went smoothly and the wheel fit like a glove on the hub. It fit nice and snug, but we didn't have to fight with it.

 Making the final adjustments to the wheel.

And finally, yours truly in front of the finished piece. Thanks to many of you who have expressed either in person, or by e-mail that you have enjoyed seeing the progression of this commission. If you get to Orange City, make sure you stop at the event center to check it out in person.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Finishing Touches

Here are a few photos of the finishing touches being put on the painting prior to the installation. My lovely studio assistant, Denise,  poses in front of the painting.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oh, Brother

When I came up with the idea of incorporating an actual farm windmill as part of this artwork, I initially didn't give a lot of thought to exactly how that was going to become a reality. When it comes to building or fixing things, I am not very gifted. Fortunately, I have other family members who are willing to come to my aid when there is a need. As you saw in an earlier post, my Dad built the canvases. My brother Mike is a real fix-it guy. My other brother Bruce was the brains behind conceiving the apparatus we needed to mount this windmill.

The windmill itself weighs 60-70 pounds, and it needed to hang at the end of a shaft projecting out of the wall, beyond the surface of the canvases. That requires a hefty device.

Bruce came up with a blueprint of what was needed, and even built in a system of set-screw adjustments that would allow for slight adjustments to be made to the tilt of the wheel after mounting if necessary.

He then worked directly with the guys at Randy's Ironworks of Orange City to fabricate this heavy-duty item. I do mean heavy-duty–I think it probably weighed at least 30 pounds. I'm not usually into this kinda thing, but it was a thing of beauty, and I think I thought so because it looked like it was going to work so perfectly.

The contractors building the event center had built into the wall extra support to allow for mounting at the appropriate area of the wall. You can see from the photos that the base plate is embedded just beneath the sheetrock. After Bruce finished installing the apparatus, the drywall crew came back and patched in the sheetrock, textured and painted. All that extends from the wall is the shaft for mounting he mill.

That's my brother in the pictures above. I couldn't have done it without you, Bruce.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Windmill

When I proposed the concept of incorporating a vintage windmill as part of the artwork, my thought was that it would be ideal to find a windmill locally, within Sioux County. Little did I realize what a challenge it would be to find one.

The wheel needed to be 6 feet in diameter in order to fit the scale of the overall piece. I put the word out to friends and family to be on the lookout for a windmill, but I had little success. We began searching online and found numerous sources that are manufacturing new mills, but I really felt it was important that this be a vintage mill, with the aged patina and wear that could only be found in an antique wheel.

We got a lead on a 6-footer that was near Lincoln, Nebraska but after exchanging e-mails, photos and phone calls I didn't like the looks of it.

I talked to windmill restoration folks who informed me that the 6-foot wheels are harder to find than the larger 8 and 10-foot variety. There were fewer of the 6-foot versions made to start with, and then those 6-footers did not hold up to the "Prairie Winds" as well as bigger wheels. As a result I was told "For every 6-footer out there, there are may be 100 of the 8-footers".

"Oh, that's just great",  I thought to myself.

Enter Ellen Sattler, of American Windmills. I found her website and gave her a call. Ellen was easy to talk to and very helpful each step of the way. She sent me the photo above and I thought it looked just perfect. It turns out Ellen is about as far from Sioux County as you can get–California. She dismantled the wheel completely and shipped it to Iowa in a box that looked way too small to contain a wheel of this size.

Mark Pottebaum and Marty Guthmiller took on the task of assembling the puzzle and did a great job. The wheel had just the right look and feel to it. Below are a couple photos of the assembly process.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blue Skies

It's always exciting to put the first color on a canvas–especially when you can use a big ole brush filled with buttery bright oils.

This shows the first pass on the clouds.

And a shot with my eldest son, Joe, striking a dramatic pose.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Setting the Tone

This is in the basement of our house. I toned each canvas with a warm mix of yellow ochre and burnt sienna. The soft warm color gives a nice base for each subsequent layer of paint that is placed on top of it.

We then assembled all 4 canvases together. They just fit in my studio, which has an 11 foot high ceiling. In this photo my wife, Denise, gives the appearance that she completed the task by herself. Actually, it took 4 of us to manhandle  these into one single unit.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Canvas Maker

My dad has made and stretched many of my canvases in the 30+ years that I've been painting. Every once in a while a big project like this comes along and he needs to go into "super-sized" mode.

Here he is in the basement of the shop. This was back when the snow was still flying. He fired up the old pot-bellied stove you can see in the background, and went to work laminating poplar boards to create the sturdy stretcher frames for the canvases.

Here are a couple of photos of dad standing next to one of the larger lower canvases, showing the back side of the stretched canvas. The Prairie Winds artwork has four separate canvases–the top two canvases  in the piece are 48"x48" and the bottom two are each  48"x78". He also built into each canvas, a set of cleats which allowed for custom mounting these directly  and snug to the wall.

Dad has always been very creative and talented, especially when it comes to finding solutions to challenging projects that need to be built or fixed.

He was my first supporter and encourager to pursue my passion for art, encouraging me to draw and paint from my earliest memories of childhood.

Dad will be turning 77 on Thursday! If you'd like to post your greetings here, or send me an e-mail. I'll see that he gets them.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Prairie Winds proposal sketch

Here is the initial concept sketch I included in the presentation I gave when this artwork was in the proposal phase.

I wanted the art to be about the prairie, and the simple beauty of this part of the country. Some people think to you need a mountain or perhaps a waterfall to create a beautiful landscape.  Not true. Even over just the last few days here, I have marveled at the fantastic sunsets over lush fields filled with row upon row of young corn.

I am not sure exactly sure how the idea of including a real windmill came to me. The idea is pretty much out of the box for the art I typically create. That did excite me–and push me.

While the basic landscape has remained a constant here in Iowa, the windmill on the other hand represents change. The windmill serves as a metaphor for progress. Farm windmills like this have harnessed the prairie winds for generations. It also represents the hard-working, devoted and faithful people who have made this region their home.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Prairie Winds commission

Proposal sketches for Prairie Winds Event Center
I'm hoping some of you may have missed seeing any kind of blog post these last few months. If you thought I gave up painting you'd be wrong. Actually I have been pretty  busy painting–I just haven't been blogging about it.

I'm having some regrets about that, because the process of my latest piece has been a pretty fascinating experience for me personally. Ultimately I decided not to blog about the process as I was doing it, because I wanted the finished piece to be a surprise. In hindsight I probably should have taken you along for the ride. Sorry. I'm hoping to document it on the blog in the coming weeks.

I am partially upset because as I look back now, my memories of timelines and dates have already faded somewhat. Hopefully you can forgive me for any details I may not get exactly right.

It all started late last fall when I was asked to be one of three artists to submit a proposal for a commissioned work of art to be placed on a large wall in the new Prairie Winds Event Center in Orange City, Iowa. We were given the architect's drawings of the space where the art was to be installed. We also saw renderings of the interior of the building which has a warm prairie lodge, almost craftsman feel to it. It is in contrast to the Dutch details of the exterior of the building.

Architect's rendering of the Prairie Winds Event Center
All three artists presented their proposals to an art selection committee. That committee then made their recommendation to the full Event Center board, and I was fortunate to be selected for the commission! I was honored to be asked.

I took quite a few photos as this progressed, so I'll be sharing those too. I hope you're all doing well. It is really starting to feel like summer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012