About Me

My photo
I am an artist working in Water Color, Oils, Glass and wood in North Central Indiana. I enjoy Plein Aire work the most but often find myself in the studio during the winter when the weather is less than desirable for working on location. I have always been an artist, memories of drawing are some of my oldest. My early influence came from looking at old magazine covers done by Norman Rockwell. Later I discovered the photography of Edward Curtis as he had struggled to capture the American Indians of the Southwest before that culture completely disappeared. then I found Andrew Wyeth and knew what I wanted to paint. The Egg Tempera and Water Color Paintings of Andrew Wyeth were simply wonderful and I was forever committed to painting the rural landscape and those that live there. It was then I realized I would never again see the land as I had before I painted it. Soon after it was Winslow Homer and his Water Colors that kept feeding my interest in this medium and a traditional approach to my art. While I left the life as a professional artist for a time I find my return to it at this point in my life refreshing. Life is a journey and I am turning towards home. Mike Yazel

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

South of Town

  This is a farm south of town, painted it earlier in the winter I think right after the first real snow and cold spell. At one time this was a real nice farm, now it is in decline. The barn has real problems and will be beyond repair soon if someone doesn't do some work on it. Like most of these farm houses now cut off from their farm they just slowly slip away. Once had a friend that lived here and said the place was so cold during the winter that paste froze on the wall when she was trying to put up wall paper. The pines in the fore ground are a new tree planting about 6-7 years old now. The pines are called nurse trees and keep the hardwoods planted between them tight and straight so they produce good timber in about 60 years. Actually the pines will die out from being shaded by about 20 years and then an improvement and release cut will be done at about 35 years and that will set things up for a small harvest 20-30 years later. It will be a true woods by then and grow wood from then on if taken care of by following generations. 
     The painting is 11x15 inches on 300 lb Fabrino Rough Water Color paper and is available, it is priced at $195.

Monday, February 22, 2010

More Wood Working

   I know this isn't painting but I thought some of you might be interested in how century old wood working tools are used to do some pretty neat things.

Here is a "thumbnail" moulding plane that is used to put the edge on the lids for the boxes and run the moulding for around the base of the box too. Now a lot of people would see this as a job for a router but I can grab this plane and shoot the moulds on a box very quickly with no noise or sawdust as the plane just produces nice curly shavings. The two perpendicular lines on the front or toe of the plane are called spring lines and as you will see in the next photo are critical to keeping the plane in the right position to make a nice mould. The lid is about 7/8's of an inch thick. 

You can see from the previous shot that the bench I work on is an original old cabinet makers bench from the late 1800's with wood screw vices so my set up is not very high tech but I like it that way. Here you can see the plane as it is held to cut the profile. I am doing one end of the lid here so I am cutting across the grain which requires a very sharp tool to get a nice finish. the most critical aspect of working with traditional tools is the ability to sharpen them to a very fine edge. You can see that the "Spring" lines are such that the horizontal one is parallel to the surface of the top while the vertical line is perpendicular to that surface. The small block that can be seen against the bench dog in the previous photo is a sacrificial block to prevent the edge of the top from splintering when the plane crosses the edge. 

This is the finished top with the three sides profiled with the plane. As shown here you run the front which is the long grain side of the top last because it has no risk of tear out since there is no cross grain at the end of the cut. From plain lid to finished edges is about 15 to 20 minutes so you can see the old tool is still pretty efficient. You would make the moulding for around the base in the same manner except it would be ran on the edge of a longer straight grained board and then ripped off. You can then shoot the edge of the board with a jointer plane to true it up again and then run the moulder again until you run out of board if you are just "sticking" (making moulding) moulding.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Finished Bible Boxes

  Okay I finally got things finished up and some pictures so I can post them These are the Walnut box I showed the carving in progress on and another in Sassafras I finished up today. All of the hinges are forged in my shop which I will try and post some shots of in the future.

This is the front which I showed some of the  carving steps of.

Here is an end view. 

A shot with the lid open showing the forged hinges with the Tulip finials.

A front shot of the Sassafras Box with a slanted lid pivoting on hand forged Butterfly hinges.

An end view showing the different carving pattern on the end of the box. Both boxes are about 19 inches wide 12 inches deep and the walnut is 7 inches tall and the sassafras a little over 8 inches. The walnut box is assembled with hand cut dovetails and the Sassafras box with hand forged nails, both were typical construction for the period. These beautiful boxes were made from the early 1600's until about 1740 and then faded from the scene. Thanks for looking, this box is sold however if you are interested in a simlar box please contact me at myazel@medt.com, prices start at $395. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Something different

  Here is a little diversion from painting but artistic never the less. This is the front of a "Bible Box" I am making for one of the living history events I do each year. These boxes were used to keep important items such as the family bible and other documents in the household from the early 1600's through the mid to late 1700's. You can see finished ones on my website at www.theironram.com. I try and make these boxes as true to the originals as I can which means all of the surfaces are handplaned, dovetails are laid out and cut by hand and I forge the hinges in my blacksmith shop. This particular box has a Tulip motif on it and this varies from box to box depending on what I feel like doing or a customer desires but I do stick to the traditional designs of the period I am working in. This one is made from Black Walnut that we sawed here on the farm while others might be Oak, Sassafras, Tulip Poplar, Pine or other wood someone desires.
  Well here is the front with one side pretty well carved and the other just laid out so you can see where I start. I just draw these on freehand as I find it to be the the best way to get the look I am after. I like to work in the traditions of the period I am trying to emulate.

Now we will go through a few pictures as the carving progresses.

And a little more....

Now the finished front panel for the box.

Thanks for taking a look and hope you enjoy seeing how some of the work I do progresses from beginning to end. I will post pictures of this box as it is finished up later this week. If I get things set up I will try and get some of the forging process for the hinges too which might be interesting for some. Thanks for looking, have a great day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Evening Light

This small oil was done from some reference photos taken last Saturday evening. The light was just wonderful but the biting wind and temps in the teens was more than I wanted to work on location. The light reflected across the snow is sneaking in between the large barn and another smaller building that appears to have been used as a grainery. This shaft of light just cuts right across the snow separating the cool blue shadows from the bright warmth of the setting sun. It strikes the old garage and windmill tower that now serves as an electrical pole. In the distance the harvested fields glow in the evening light waiting for the warmth of spring. This is another of what will be many paintings of the this farm as there is material here for several wonderful paintings. One of the things that makes this farm so interesting is that it is still a complete farm with all of its outbuildings in tact and pretty good shape. The play of light around all of these structures just creates an almost endless set of possibilities for the artist. Thanks for stopping by and having a look, check back often as I will be posting here several times most weeks.
This painting is 8x10 inches, oil on panel and available for purchase. It is priced at $95 and will ship once dry and varnished which will be about 6 weeks from the time of this posting. You can purchase it here Etsy

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hoyts Pasture

This pasture is owned by a friend and is about 4 miles from our place. It is just a nice old pasture with rolling ground and a stream runs through it along with old fence lines and some old building here and there. These type of places are just about gone, almost no one grazes livestock anymore just feed lots. The old chicken house in the upper right has the needed southern exposer for good egg production during the dark winter months but has not seen a chicken in decades. These small farm settings are among my favorites and I did this one in the Water Color shown here and the Oil shown below. The setting was so nice I had to do both. I did the Oil first and was not satisfied with it and went back and did the Water Color. Then I went back and made a few adjustments to the Oil and was much happier with it. Part of the problem was the dreary weather I have been working in. I try to only paint in natural light which has been difficult lately since we have been living under the dreaded permacloud that has been anchored over the midwest. We had sun this past weekend and it was wonderful of course now we have another snowstorm bearing down on us! Enjoy the paintings! 

Hoyts Pasture in Oil on Panel

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

West on 20th Road

     This is a scene from earlier this winter on  a morning right after the holidays that just had to be painted. I was out for the morning looking for locations and while I had been by this one hundreds of times this particular morning it was just right. It was gray and snowing, wonderful winter sky and a landscape fading into the distance. The white buildings totally lack contrast with the land but that is one of the things that drew me into the painting. Sometimes it is simplicity of the scene that makes it hard to turn away from. Water Colors like this have always been my signature pieces and that is just fine with me. I like to paint the land and the people that live here. I enjoy knowing the farms in the area and who lives on them. I like the old houses, barns and outbuilding showing the character that comes through their years standing against the elements. So few complete farms remain anymore with all of the unique buildings that once made up the "working farm" of days gone by. Now farmland is more visited by those that farm it in the spring to plant and the fall to harvest. It is not so much walked daily by a farmer checking livestock and fences or cultivating the crops. Its not the land that has changed it is us, these farms are a reminder of how close we once were and how far apart we have become.
This painting is available, it is 15x22 inches on 300 lb Fabrino CP paper. Price is $295 and is sold unframed. Shipping will be exrtra.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Waiting on Spring

Waiting on Spring
    Here is the perfect couple, an old Chevy truck sitting in an old barn spending their last days together before one is torn down and the other is hauled off to the back of the place or a junkyard. I found this scene a few weeks ago while out wandering around looking for some good subject matter to paint. Scenes like this are slowly disappearing from the countryside as more and more farms are consolidated into larger ones and the old equipment is junked out and the barns that fed those that settled this land are torn down and forgotten. At one time a barn like this was the center of activity on the farm and now sits in disrepair with no one caring about its failing condition. When these were built each was sized to the needs of the farm and what type of farm it was. This one here is here is a loose hay barn used to store the summers bounty from the fields to feed the cows and horses during the winter. It has a hip or gambrel type roof which allowed for more hay to be stored in the barn. In fact some barns were converted from the more familiar "A" type roof to this style in the 1920's and 30's before agriculture was forced into change with the demands of the second world war. 
The painting is 8x10 inches, oil on panel and available for purchase. It is priced at $95.00 and will not ship until dry and varnished which will be 4-6 weeks from the date I post it here. 

West on 15

This another painting of Wabash Indiana where Highway 15 heads west towards the Honeywell Center. It is painted in Water Color on a half sheet of Fabrino CP Paper. I love these cityscapes in these towns that have maintained there downtowns and as in the case here even restored them. This was done from reference photos taken earlier in the winter on a beautiful clear winter day. These scenes can be found all across the country in towns and should get local artists out and painting. So many times people want what they don't have and use it for an excuse to not do something. Art is where you make it! You are painting the moment, the light, everything else is just the supporting actors in the the painting. I don't live in the west with the mountain ranges in my backyard but that does not mean I can't find interesting subject matter worthy of dipping a brush in paint. Look around where you live, find something that interests you and paint!
This Water Color is 15x22 inches and is available for purchase. Sorry this has sold.