Well 2020 has moved on and as I sat down to reflect and catch up on updating everyone about the successful homestead projects and bountiful harvests of this past summer the difficulties of 2020 persisted. I realized in my process of adding a new computer into the mix along with a larger external hardrive, that I lost every photo I took from 4th of July till Thanksgiving, thinking it was backed up on said hardrive when really it was not. Oops. Luckily my wife Cassi has most of the "special moments" (birthdays & Hazel adventures) in her phone so not all is lost but the bountiful summer harvest spread and studio renovation post seems a bit wordy and bland without images.
Anyhow, I did want to just reconnect and focus my sights on a productive 2021 where my passions have been smoldering and feel quite fertile for an explosion of creativity. I am currently working on the final organizational touches to the Rootcellar Studio along with a new body of artwork and lots of new mixes routinely being added to the LocalRootz HiFi Mixcloud!
Stop on in for hopefully more frequent studio musings, homestead ramblings and possibly even more musical chattering, sharing and just all around creative caring.
Here is a brief "bring everyone up to speed" from the Autumn of 2020 to the current moment as we turn a full moon of last night into a March toward spring!
One upgrade we made late in the summer was to replace the crumbling walkway and well aged back decking platform with a fresh new look. We are super happy how it turned out though a shallow sewage pipe under the rear entrance foiled the plans for a matching granite step on the backside. I quickly cut some stringers and threw together a staircase to finish the project for the summer but hope to upgrade them as time allows. We also have plans to surround the new upgrades with some nice landscaping accents including some perennials and edible plants this Spring/Summer.
As the autumn chill took hold of the garden beds we got a late season planting of bok choy, spinach and salad greens that rested nicely next to this explosion of wood ear mushrooms. The greens lasted up to Thanksgiving thanks to some row cover and a mild autumn season.
Hazel was such an asset to the homestead this year as she was just about 4yrs old in this picture. She spent much of the summer in the garden exploring the different flavors, blossoms and insect life among the raised beds. She also turned into a pretty expert berry picker filling buckets with blackberries, blueberries and raspberries daily and consuming them just as quickly as she picked them.
We managed to get a bed of garlic planted and mulched with straw just before the years first snow fall.
Autumn Art at the Homestead.
With quarantine in full force we didn't get to engage in much social activities over the summer but found early morning trips to the local lakes and ponds to beat the crowds and an occasional off site farm and or foraging excursion was always a well deserved respite from the solitude. We made a weekly trip to pick up a pint of Hodgson's Custard to share at home along with apple orchards, berry picking at Chipmans, Bradbury Mountain and Winslow Farm.
As the snow and chilly weather took hold we persisted at weekly hikes into the depths of our backwoods leading to lots of exploring, animal tracking and just getting into the surrounding wilderness. Learning nature through the fresh eyes of a 4yr old definitely rearranges our inclination to not ask as many questions about why things work the way they do. I found myself getting into long drawn out descriptions about forest management, and creature habitat on a macro and micro level and it was surprising to see just how much Hazel is able to retain, understand and just ponder as she pops related questions about nature and its tendencies as life meanders down the unknown.
Winter Solstice 2020
Holidays are always special but now having the excitement of a child in the mix really brings out the joy of the season.
After a well deserved restful lowkey and relaxing holiday season my focus was towards creative nourishment. During the later parts of autumn I finally put my head down and made the push to finish off half of our basement into a proper studio. I had been working out of the cellar since Hazel had been born and our spare bedroom became her room and the studio on our first floor was converted into a guest room that Gramma uses when visiting from MA and helping us juggle two full time working parents and a child.
The walls were covered with 2 inch foamboard insulation which is nice for energy efficiency but the foil finish was maddening as a creative backdrop and limited what could be used for wall space. I decided to go with the most cost effective finishing materials and sourced some local common green pine slabs 8ft x 12inch that I hung over classic 2x4 framed walls. This allowed me to run wiring for my music equipment through the walls to clean up the music side of the studio and adding some lighting and outlets to the art side of the studio. It was the most cost effective option and provided nice wall rigidity for larger painting panels and canvases as well as just a more inspirational space to let my creativity carry me. I also salvaged a door from the local transfer station to give me a touch of solitude from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house.
It was a nice catalyst to get all my LP's and 45rpms in order and catalog them in a proper way.
Organization is key!
Here is my mixing station which Im super happy I built up, as a tall person I find myself hunched over on most dj stations that are in the market so making a custom dj booth that put my equipment closer to chest level makes for less neck strain after a long day of work when I want to make a mix and spin some vinyl.
I added a painting turntable that has a cover and an automatic function as I tend to get pretty messy when I paint. Im running an entry level AudioTechnica turntable into my old portable Cambridge Soundworks Model 12 but hope to upgrade all factions of this system in the coming year. I wont get overly involved in my listening equipment in this update but hopefully I can give a full tour and rundown in future posts as I have had a few inquiries on what I make my mixes on and general audio musings.
Hazel was also pretty excited about Dads new studio and spends a lot of time alongside me working on art projects and just general creative play.
The following pieces are the latest series of works I've been playing with... I recently have been taking an online lecture series on Mysticism with one of my favorite old professors from Maine College of Art (Dana Sawyer) and its reminded me some of spiritual practices I have found through creating art and the mindfulness and stress relief it brings to me. The following are mandala based meditations that got the creative juices flowing.
Putting the finishing touches on this one as I type as well as a new piece incorporating the upcoming maples season is just underway. Sometimes I need to keep the flow going rather than getting bogged down finishing the current work. I have always enjoyed having a few paintings going at once, otherwise I tend to smear lines and get sloppy when the drying process is underway and Im rushed trying to finish a piece. Its nice as the work gets closer to completion to take breathes in between the final decisions and having other work to occupy my hand while contemplating the final moves is one way I slow down the final steps so Im more deliberate with finishing my works.
I have been really enjoying revisiting the mandala-esque approach to my current series of work. I have always been drawn to the symmetrical shapes and patterns that come from the intersection of lines,shapes and forms and the ability to weave patterns and shapes in unique ways that mimic natures cellular structures as well as fractal geometry that is the building blocks of life. I've also matured in my symbolism throughout my work by investing so much time in landscaped based work that it is now translating that language into my current pieces. Drawing knowledge from previous forms and patterns and setting up a dialogue in my work that is translating into the most recent mandala style pieces. I have always been fascinated with the symbolism in Tibetan Thangka painting and feel I am finally finding a voice in my own works that pays respect to that exploration I have been on in my last 20 years as an artist. Excited about my current work and inspired to make a lot more... when I find time between homesteading, working full time as a produce manager and trying to be a good husband and father.
I apologize for this creative rambling but I need to start expressing my creative thinking behind my work in a more public fashion in order to fully absorb my thoughts and intentions.
Hazel having some fun on the studio swing, unfortunately I am too big to use it but she loves picking out a couple of records and swinging to the beats!
Tree tapping time!
The sap is flowing along with the creative juices that are invigorating the newly finished Rootcellar Studio here at the Localrootz Homestead!
Stay tuned for more frequent posts as the work keeps flowing, the sap gets boiling and seeds germinate!