Friday, December 31, 2010

Stampede to New Year 2011

Hi Out There...still on vacation with family this end of year, and it is getting pretty chilled here in mountainous Nevada !

Since I knew I would be traveling to the US, I acquired a small, new collection of vintage items (sold on ebay in USA) for the house under renovation.  When we moved a lot of things moved on and more to go...but I indulged in this new collection for our life in the country !  A small herd of vintage cow creamers.  Well, at least one is not a cow...unusual to find a steer creamer, but now I have one...  They will reside in the new kitchen and will join two that are already waiting at the Campsite in South Australia.  There are some really excellent ones in this small collection--they look really great.  This orange dot one is especially cute !  A few are good sized too.  I may even nominate one or two to do occasional brekkie service too ;)

Hope everyone finding and reading this enjoys a great celebration and calls in 2011 in the very best style and form.  More renovation and art posts in 2011 !!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Construction Zone Tour

Front of the house, just a tad of gardening done
 Hi Again !  We have been so busy with work and the renovations on the house, that posting to the blog has taken a bit of a second seat...but a lot of emails are coming in saying you have checked the blog and want to see some current renovation shots.  So here you go, a short tour of the construction zone.

The front yard has been mowed, just to keep things under control really.  And we have done some weeding in the front garden beds too.  And removed some dead shrubs that were hiding under a lot of weeds.  But due to summer, we will not be planting under the double front windows until autumn.

Back Foyer door, touring entrance to renovation zone
We aren't using the front verandah entrance just yet, so come around to the left and around the will see the Back Foyer entrance, come on through there and into the back of the house.  please watch your step when you come in, things are very much a working area, as you will see.  (Yes, we will be painting over that spearmint green !)

I have done a tidy up today before you got here, so much of the dust and rubble is removed, and things are about as tidy as they can be given the real serious construction and fit out work underway.
Kitchen looking from back foyer across to Dining Room

So come around here and you will see the kitchen and then beyond it, the Dining Room area.

Now you are standing in the kitchen, the sink will be under the window.  In the pic below left, you can see the old fireplace has had its top "ceiling" raised up so it is a more usable height (especially for Ian, who is quite tall) and also suitable for an extractor fan to be installed in it.  You can see that the walls have been plastered and smoothed over.  The upper cabinets will cover up that old pink painted area.  The floors in the kitchen are already tiled, but to protect them from construction mess, we had to cover them with heavy cardboard and so you can't see the nice tiled finish (it does look very nice, lovely mid grey-beige rectified porcelain tiles from Italy--Bella !).
Kitchen, view 1

Dining Room, currently used as a storage and staging area
Leadlight detail

Beyond you can see a pic of the Dining Room, with the leadlight windows in the far corner.  Because there is little construction required in this room (it was a later addition to the house), it is being used as a storage and staging area.    Left is a close up of the leadlight detail.  

And around through to the left is the Lounge (Living) Room.  There was a wall on the right side, and that has been removed.  It makes the room a nicer proportion.  The part that was a hallway is the pink colored part.  We have come to realise that at one point, the ENTIRE house was painted in this pink color--oh my !!  We will be changing that when we get to the painting work (February).  The smaller pic of that room shows the view of it to the front and the dark door you see is the one to the front verandah.  The ceiling in the hallway was higher than what was in the lounge room and the beams cannot support two sets of ceiling material, so the old ceiling material is taken off and this week gyprock ceiling will be put up and matched to the rest of the ceiling pattern in that room.

The Lounge Room fireplace will have a combustion firebox, which we have already purchased.  It will be fitted and installed early next year.   The firebox will have a matte black metal faschia surround and a charcoal-coloured slate hearth on the floor in front of it, these have already been ordered and will be fitted when the firebox is installed.  We won't be using the mantel you see (which is not original, but has likely been used as a decorative piece recently).  This one is not wide enough for the firebox we have selected.  So we will have a new one made to fit, probably mid next year sometime. 

Lounge (Living) Room, with hallway wall removed

Front of Lounge Room

Below left is a photo of the Office/Library.  This first year will see us using the gas heater inside the fireplace.  But in 2012 we will be replacing that with a gas fireplace, whcih will make for a lovely cozy place for my late work calls  or a quiet nightcap.

MBR:  now with dressing area and beyond, a door to 2-way bath

Below to the left is a photo of the Master Bedroom, now it is comprised of two adjacent rooms, which really were very small, especially the one you see in the step up.  A huge amount of work has been done here, the thickness of the small stub of wall you see between these two spaces was the thick slab of wall that previously separated them.  Ian removed 2.2 metres of wall and now it is gorgeous and smoothed and plastered very nicely.  But it was a big mess, with jagged rocks jutting out of it, and all the packing around them was mud that over decades turned to never ending piles of dust !

This piece of work required some real engineering too.  The wall removed bears some weight of the roof.  A large beam has been placed across the stubs of wall left (to either side of the opening) and to reinforce it, there is a steel beam on each side, holding it up firmly, and on floor between the steel beams is a steel beam support welded to each side.  So a frame to add support.  This has been verified to be over spec by an we are good with this and I have photographed the "guts" of what is underneath the tidy plaster job.

The room you are standing in will be the sleeping area, and then you will step up into the dressing area.  We will be installing built in closets next year, probably a month after we move in (this fell off the prior-to-move-in cut off...just cannot fit it in prior, but it is one of the first things coming up on the list after we've moved...requirements design spec to be done in February).  The dressing room had a door from a small hallway just to left of the red gyprock sheet holder you see in the photo, and it has been bricked up and finished nicely.  From hallway you would never know there had been a door.  IN fact, the whole wall has been improved (this wall was a poorly constructed one, and needed some restoration work).

The doorway from the dressing area is into the bathroom, which will be a two-way bathroom, with one doorway from our room and another from the back foyer.  Creating this doorway was a smaller scale repeat of the wall removal described above, as the wall this new doorway is in was also stone, with wickedly big stones jutting through right where we wanted the new doorway.   Ian cut through them them with a grinder, which was a real piece of work to do !  It was also thick, so the doorway frame had to be quite deep (an expensive doorway and more engineering).

Bathroom, now with concrete subfloor
The bathroom now has a concrete subfloor and the plumbing work is part way done, pending plumber to fit the rest of the job in to move ahead.  Then it will be tiled, a glass shower enclosure will be fitted.  We have everything except that, and it can't be ordered until the tiling work is done, to make sure we have a perfect fit.  We have a lovely white vanity, and a free standing tub too.

Below right you can see the tiles we will use.  The greyed beige on left (upper left corner) is the floor tile.  The white will be wall tiles, for wall in shower and then for a half wall all around vanity and bath areas.  Above that will be the decorative frieze you see below, topped with a pretty cap of chunky white tile border called "Candy Stripe" for its pattern.

In the other rooms you may not have noticed the work to "chase" the walls and embed the conduits for the electricals.  We have been very careful to work out where we needed powerpoints (outlets) and light switches.  Nearly all of them in the house were in exposed conduits and chunky boxes sitting on walls or on the architraves.  Only in the Dining Room are these already installed and concealed neatly (that room had space under the floor boards and is newer construction than the original parts of the house).   In the bathroom pic above you can see one channel cut in the left hand wall,  it is for a light switch and outlet.  It has been done in all the other rooms too, but has already been neatly plastered over.  It is a messy job to do, Ian has been painstakingly chiseling into the stone walls to create channels for the conduits.  Then he installed, plastered over.  I am sure I am simplifying this, it was a big piece of work.  Also, we had to consult safety codes, especially in the bathroom, and then ensure the master electrician we have working with us agreed (he did, guess we did our homework on AS/NZ Wiring Rules well !)

Through the back foyer, and out the door, you see the back area where the guys keep their tools and things.  Including an old antique bed found in the old shed.  We might use that in the spare room, or may not keep it it all, who knows...just not working that part of the plan quite yet.  The back area you see will become the Phase 2 work, which will be designed after we move in in March.  Then work to begin mid next year.  The far corner you see on right will be a secnd bathroom, and next to it will be a permanent laundry (temporary laundry will be in back foyer).  Then  to the left will be a sunroom area.  Including space to paint, relax and opening to a patio and undercover entertaining space.

Work Staging Area in Back

Well, hope you enjoyed the tour.  We are pleased to report to now be a bit more than mid way through the project.  Started mid October, a week late due to settlement delays beyond our control on the house purchase.   We are really exhausted from all the work, especially Ian, who has worked so hard on all of it, there 7 days a week most weeks (minus a very few rare breaks, maybe only 3 days in this time).  I have begun to go in and do weekend construction clean ups...and it makes a difference, so will be continuing that each weekend.   We have been at it 2 months now.  I am the Procurement and Finance Officer, Ian is Engineer Plus a Lot more on this job !!  We have a full agenda for January and February and most things are on track or a bit ahead.  We have some dependencies on the plumbing work (plumber time is very hard to pin down and secure), so we will be looking at what we can do to reduce the schedule risks there.  We also await Ian's shed, which has slipped to January, though perhaps December was overly optimistic (we have had to wait for local council approvals).  The kitchen design is done and is on track to be fitted in February, in time to have the benches (counter tops) done prior to move in.

So, more to do !  Ian is full time on this endeavor.  I will take 3 weeks leave in Feb and March to do painting, other fit out work, and organise/oversee our move out of Campsite and into House on or about the first of March !
 Happy Holiday Cheers from Kim & Ian

Meantime, hope you are ready to enjoy a lovely holiday.  I will post again while on holiday, will actually have more time !  I hope to get in a bit of painting too :)

Happy Holidays to all !

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cherry Ripe ?

 While we are working on the first phase renovating our old stone house, we are renting a house nearby that Ian and I call "The Campsite."  It is a shelter and a bit of a staging area for us and our renovation adventure in progress.  And  for the most part, its features and facilities are very basic, no frills.  We have not and will not completely unpack, only the things we need for the next 3 months have been taken out for use.  The Campsite does not have all that many charms, but it serves a purpose (even I admit this !  a hot shower and bed are very nice...and I even work from The Campsite, though my network cables unaesthetically snake across and crisscross the room I use for that).

The Campsite does have an interesting tree.  A cherry tree.  In fact is is an espaliered cherry tree, someone in years past went to a lot of trouble to train it to grow along wires.  It is a fine tree now, and has a lot of fruit on it.  And for weeks, every day, Ian walks by the cherry tree and has been telling me "the cherries are ripe."  Or "we should pick the cherries before the birds get them."  Or " the cherries are ready to pick."

I did some looking on the web to try  to learn what variety cherries these might be.  I was not able to determine exactly, but learned that the ripening season is slow this year, due to cool weather and much rain.  The cherries have not been ready to pick, nor have they looked or tasted ripe !

But they are very pretty and look stunning and red, as in these photos.  And two days ago, they all turned deep burgundy color, sweetened up, and indeed...NOW the cherries are ready to pick and eat !  I will be going out and picking more cherries (first batch is in a big bucket in fridge)...Before the birds get them all !

 At the House (old stone house under renovation is The House, rental house is The Campsite), I did a bit of gardening last week.  Weed pulling and a lot of it.  And I got a snap of these stunning pink roses in front of the verandah.

 Up in the back garden, I have some fine roses, David Austin varieties by the looks of them.  Bright yellow Golden Celebration, a couple pink ones (including one named Eglantyne), peachy hued Abraham Darby, and a lovely delicate white one with the most amazing rose fragrance I have ever smelled.  All shown below.

The white one is called The Nun, I only know this because it is one of two shrubs of over 70 that has tags on it.  I can just make out the scratched name of the plant on the metal tag dangling from a small branch.  The plant is a bit frail and small compared to the others, but it produced the two white flowers you see, plus one more.  I think it is a special one and worth some work.  I will be seeing if we can bring this one back to a more glorious and vigorous state !

More soon...

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Garden Pick

Here's the first bit of painting I have done since our move to South Australia.  I am using an easel space in Jacqueline Coates' Salon Rouge gallery...grateful to be able to do so.  OUr rented house has no good light and no space for me to paint.  Salon Rouge is a very supportive space too, with many paintings and people coming by to look at them...a very creative place.

The subject here is some lovely lilies from our new garden !  These have been pretty for sometime and are on their way out now. But I managed to find three flowers (and no more--late season for these !) in good enough shape to paint.

This painting is in oils.  Started on Sunday afternoon.

First, sketching it in.

And developing the painting.

Done for the day.  But, I don't like that leaf (which really was there, belongs to another flower in the same vase, not featured
in the its leaf really needs to go to).

Today I did a bit more on this, and have edited out that leaf.  Plus, I added a lot more  to the petals of the flower.  Before finishing up, I made the background less blue grey...and I like it better.  It could become a different color, but for now, this is ok for me to work on the flowers, the vase, etc.

Next painting session will add some thicker oil paint for more texture.

Well, it has now been a month since Ian and I moved to "the country.".  On reflection I realise what a change it is to move from a suburb of a city of more than 4 million to a charming country town so small it has no intersection traffic signals (though there is one pedestrian light at middle of town, but only on when a pedestrian wants to use it).  The renovations are happening, and are at a rather messy stage.  Ian has been removing thick stone walls and it is not fun, neat or easy.

Meantime, things are looking really bloomy around here,  Roses are everywhere and bushes and branches absolutely full of roses in full bloom in every color.  Here are a couple of lovely David Austin roses from the new garden.

And the verandah, with pink, orange and yellow roses blooming out front.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Green Mood

I have been in a "green mood" for some time now, maybe more than a year, going on two.  Enjoying and craving green paints, patterns, and even fabrics.  The green mood can be almost obsessive.  While in China I had a chance again to visit the Forbidden City Imperial Palace.  I have many photos of it from a previous visit, so this time I got some closer ups of pattern and texture.  I have a lot of  fabulous texture and pattern shots for my photo library.  To use for background or other pattern themes in my art.

First (and also lower left) are some patterned tiles from the walls and ceilings of various buildings making up the Imperial Palace complex.  I really love the glazed greens, so vivid and they look lovely with the accents in bright golden yellow or red.  Sometimes also a blue green.

 And I love the stylised clouds on the misty green ceiling shown on right.  I really want to do something with this cloud motif, it is really beautiful.  I also like stylised sea water, in waves and such.  A great pattern.

Last photo is not from ancient buildings in China...but is some fabric for a small quilting project I am doing.  I have one more session and class to finish this little project.  Yes, when do I have time for a short quilting class ?  Well, I made a bit of time, only 2 sessions, once each Wed night, held at Jenny's Sewing in Angaston.  And also a way to meet some people in my new home town !  As you can see I have not bucked the green mood here, picking lovely yellow greens and blue green fabrics.

Monday, November 8, 2010

When in China

I was on business travel to China recently, and when there I can't get easy (or at times any !) access to update my blogs hosted on blogger.  Sorry for the the delays.  Actually I am back home, but before putting up current activity posts, I thought one from China would be a good ice breaker.

The first Saturday in Beijing, I went with two colleagues to an old shopping district area in Beijing, along Qianmen Dajie.  It was an autumnal day, a bit cool and with some drizzle and mist in the air.

On the way there, we walked through an old street with many old commerce buildings.  This green colored metal lacework building was quite striking.

Once onto Qianmen Dajie, I saw this window display of dolls in a fashion shop called Fishing.  These ladies are called "Dolls of Fishing"...

Monday, October 18, 2010

(Before and During) The Storm of Demolition

I am finally back on line after the move.  It has taken longer than I had thought or liked for the Internet service here in the house to be online.   And we have learned that free wifi hotspots are few and far between out here in what is really country like.

The house is ours to make into a home now.  The settlement (closing) on our purchase of the old stone house was delayed for a few days, giving us an extra weekend to explore our new home area (instead of our original plan to get stuck right into the job of working on the house).  Eventually the delays cleared and we got the keys.  We went to check the mailbox, look around, and also cut some roses to take back to the rental house for Winston and Maggie to enjoy.  The outside in front looks lovely.  We had contracted a local gardener to do the lawn, so we would be able to take off from his work.  It was mowed and trimmed and beautiful spring lilies blooming.  Also a few rose bushes.  The ones on this back of yard trellis are the most bloomingly prolific, though the buds on others promise to join in soon.

After looking through at what we had to work with, we decided to come back the next day with brooms and cleaning materials and do a big clean up.  The house has not been lived in for more than a year and had some work and replastering done sometime in that period...and the inside was not cleaned up for presentation for sale.  It actually was a pretty grim and sad sight.  After half plus day of real elbow grease from me and Ian, we reviewed our progress.  It made a huge difference.  And allowed us to see what we should keep and what to rip out.

Not much in the very dated kitchen and bathroom made the "keep" cut.  An old stainless steel vintage molded sink dating probably to late 40s or early 50s rated and is put aside for using when we add a guest cottage.  Or for a garden area sink.  We may keep the bathroom sink for the second bathroom we will add, and also the heat lamp.  One of the gas heaters is worth holding onto.  A few original old doors will stay, but all the old and cheap hollow ones need to go.  Everything else is going.

In fact, by Saturday most of it was out ! Ian made very fast work of this, kitchen gone first day, bath the next, and working on the tedious job of pulling up tiles.  Yesterday we started marking the floors with the rough layout for the kitchen and bathroom.  Good thing I had done a lot of the concept work already.  We drew the footprint of the kitchen cabinets and appliances in place, measuring where they should go and also worked out the maximum dimensions for the kitchen island.  Ian needs much information to be able to make the right decisions for the plumbing and electricals.  Hot water service is a major consideration that needs careful thought.  Running electricals and concealing them is another (they currently run in exposed, narrow conduit pipes from ceiling down to powerpoints (outlets).  Ian wants to hide them for a neater and more polished look.

The floor will also need to be cleaned up and then leveled before we can put any flooring down.  Good to have more time on the flooring choice.  I would like porcelain tiles, polished concrete tiles, or terrazo...we just have to find it and see whether it fits into the budget !

I am sure more to be wrecked before it begins to look better.  Check again soon for more !

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Weed ?

While in Montreal I saw the most curious backdrop to weeds I have ever seen ! Yes, to weeds. I walked by this two days before I really "saw" it. Very cool, painted road barriers or some other concrete building materials. Look at the snazzy citron and green weed colors dressing it up ! Once I noticed, I admired this idea and its execution.

How clever is this ? Why pull weeds, when you can instead give them a backdrop that makes them look like they should be there. I am not sure this will put me off weeding, but this outlook and perspective is one that could be useful, or at least interesting. I wonder what other things there are in our lives that could be made to appear different, just by changing their setting or context ?

Seen last week, in front of a parking lot in the city of Montreal, on Rene Levesque Blvd.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Decorative Details Scene in Spain

Before I headed onwards on travel, I got a chance to snap a couple more pretty pictures in Aviles, in the Asturias area of the north of Spain. I don't always photograph gardens, but this one was quite pretty, with nice dark clipped box shrubs, well manicured grass, fountains, and some stunning accents of blooming red flowers that contrast with the greenery. This was a scene outside the hotel where I was staying (these gardens are part of the hotel's grounds, really pretty and you can see why the grounds make up part of the popularity of the hotel as a venue for weddings and events).

Also, I got a great pic of a sculpture on the facade of a local building. Not sure she counts as a cherub, but she is a pretty decoration and sculpture detail on the building.

The weather here has been outstanding. After a rainy Sunday, it has cleared and is a lovely autumn warm sunshine. It has been a pity to sit in the office at times. And, it will be a bit sad to spend all tomorrow in airports and in cabins of planes. But my next work assignment calls me off to Montreal.

More from the next port of call.
(pardon the title's pun, could not help myself !)

Monday, September 13, 2010

On the Line

Today's post comes to you from Aviles, in the north of Spain. I am here doing some work and on the weekend I had a little walk around the town. And I came upon a Gallery, called galeria octogono . But closed, because when I went by it was Saturday afternoon. So I could not call in and look around, or have a conversation with someone there. But there was a very interesting display in the window. In fact, it looked like white laundry hanging on a clothes line. Underwear, night shirts, and night gowns. But on closer inspection, I could see that every one items was in fact plastered, so the clothing items had been dipped in white plaster or something like that. And so carefully preserving the folds and gathers and textures. I am not sure if this really conveys in the photos, but imagine these are plaster versions of their textile inspirations. I believe this is by artist Diana Coanda, who has work currently exhibiting at the gallery (see link above, click on the name of the gallery to follow it, and once there, navigate to find current exhibitions link to see more photos of her work). I liked what I saw of this installation--It was really quite cleverly done.

So again, I find art in laundry. If you have followed the blog before, you may recall this theme is now a recurring one.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Last Weekend

With a bit of sadness, I realised this is the last weekend I will get to paint here. I have another business trip that will take me away for three weeks. And when I return, I will be readying for removalists. By the time the weekend after my return gets here, the household (and my studio with it) will be all boxed up !

So I decided I had better get moving on a few things I want to start or progress !

First, the white roses. Again, I have an appreciation for the
difficulty of painting white flowers ! Top photo shows my ending progress of the afternoon. Second photo shows where I started today, with Winston atop his cat tree...enjoying painting too, even though it was a dreary rainy day with no sunshine at all. Not sure he understands we won't be doing this here much more ! I think that might make him a bit sad too. I can see how doing this painting could drive me batty, you think you are doing the same thing over and over again ! But on reflection from a greater distance, I do think some progress was made. Subtle, but some better definition has been achieved. Also the color tones are better, more greys and more pale green undertones. Less pinky and peachy ones. It is looking more agreeable to me already.

Then when I lost the good light, I had to stop working on the white roses. I decided to start my first dairy apprentice (young cows) study. This is very much a rough-in sketch in paint. An underpainting to be sure. I did not have time to let the dark paint to dry, and then do the lighter adjacent parts next to, I will work on it tomorrow again and give the shapes better definition and also the boundaries where colour on the cows' eyes and faces changes from dark to light and vice versa. This is a fun painting, very exciting. I intend to do several studies of these charming girls.

More amanha ! (tomorrow, in portuguese).