rik-rat corn pile

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Visit to the Swinging Bridge in Columbus Junction, Iowa.

So, here I sit on a carpeted floor in Muscatine, Iowa. I have a minor stomach ache...my father is also enjoying the same ailment so I hope it's not food poisoning. I am a hypochondriac so I hope these are just sympathy aches.

Despite our bellies, we've had a pretty excellent time hanging out in historic Muscatine. We've visited two museums, two restaurants, a recently refurbished and amazing Catholic Church, and took a self guided tour of historic homes. So, it's been a good day with dad and Cheryl.

I took a side trip on my way to Muscatine. There's a suspended bride in Columbus Junction and I have no idea why it exists, according to the sign its prone to collapse and suicide attempts...Yikes! Despite its questionable existence, it's pretty cool and I'll probably drop by and walk across on my next visit it if I ever get over my fear of swinging bridges.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I love this. I love this so much.

CONGRADUATIONS TO MY BROTHER GEOFF!  Geoff just graduated from North Eastern Illinois University with a degree in communications (on December 16th, 2012).  It was an honor for our family to watch him walk in his graduation ceremony.  Seriously, he rocks.  He rolls. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Darth Vadar Key Chain!

I went thrifting at lunch and found this bad boy.  I'm kind of embarrassed that I spent 3 bucks on the damn thing but, ya know, #YOLO (said with my tongue in my cheek). 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A New Painting.

"Snake Nest Earth Mass (tentative title)" 15 X 13, gouache on paper, 2012.

my desk with image references. 
I've been hard at it, folks.  The hard work has paid off and I just completed my 8th piece for the 2012 season.  Phew.  I think I may even have enough time to squeeze in one more painting before the end of the Mayan calendar.

The photo isn't totally true to color but I wanted you guys to get the idea of what the new piece looks like.  When I take it to "my guy" for a photo shoot I'll post the new one. 

This Friday I will be traveling to Omaha to meet with Joel Damon of the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art.  Joel invited me and a few other artists to have an exhibit at the Bemis Underground.  It's scheduled for February, 2013.  I'm completely honored and humbled by the invitation...once again, hard work pays off in the end. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Cropped Image of a New Painting.

smashed penny from greenmama!  thanks, Carmers!
It was a busy weekend but I managed to get a lot of painting done.  I've cropped this image to let the painting remain mysterious.  I still want the magic to be there for it's real unveiling in a week.  If I finish it, that is.  Damn holidays.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Visit to my Antique Shop.

I bought some coins.  Check out what the shop owner wrote on the coin holders.  Apparently I didn't choose coins very wisely.  POOR! On a happy note (even though the POOR is hilarious and I'm not unhappy at all), I managed to find a cool historical piece, an old transit coin.  Ebay says it's worth 1.75...I paid a buck fifty.  I made a 25 cent profit!  Score one for the little guy.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thunderbird Effigy or Eagle Effigy Piece. Too bad it's a Hoax.

eagle effigy piece.
A few weeks ago Kyle and I went to an antique store in Oskaloosa during our lunch break.  I wasn't looking for anything in particular, I just really like antique stores and this one is especially excellent.  Since I'm into coins I sniffed some out and took them to the register where owner of the store was working.  She took my money and we made casual conversation about her history with antiques.  As it turns out she's a third generation antique dealer.  It runs in her blood.

She asked us about our collections.  Kyle told her that he was into arrowheads and she asked him to identify something that had her mind boggled.  She reached into a jar and pulled out a flint napped object. 

"Well, that's an eagle effigy piece," said Kyle, "They're kind of controversial."

"How much is it worth?" Asked the owner.

"....20 bucks?  Maybe." Answered Kyle.

I coveted her effigy at that point.  It had to be mine and I began to haggle.   I didn't care if it was controversial.  I needed it.

"I'll give you 7 bucks."


"OK, how about ten?"

"Give me 12 and it's a deal."

Of course I paid the money. That piece felt so good to hold, worth every penny...and an arrowhead shaped like an eagle?  That blew my mind. It was worth the risk as far as I was concerned.  This is where the controversy begins.  Apparently, no archeologist believes that eagle effigies exist, they believe all of them are counterfeits.  Eagle effigies have never been found at burial sites or archeological digs.  Ipso Facto....they don't exist.  I did a little research and found that arrowhead books written in the 1800's had chapters about eagle effigies and why they were fake.  People have been counterfeiting them since people started wanting to own arrowheads.  Crazy.  A long time ago they were sold at tourist traps.  I didn't know what to think but... it's probably a fake.  The patina is believable and the flint naps looks unbelievably  authentic...but people that counterfeit are good at their jobs.  

Later in the day I called the woman at the antique store and told her the story.  I even told her I found a couple on Ebay.  (they sell for a lot on ebay...I didn't get ripped off).  She told me that she found the piece in a box of jewlery that hadn't been opened in 36 years.  So...it's old.  It's controversial.  It's beautifulIt's art as far as I'm concerned and I keep it in my studio for good luck.

It's quite the conversation piece.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A New Photo of a Painting from a Few Months Ago.

A new photo of a previously photographed painting.  I LOVE MY PHOTOGRAPHER!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A New Photo of a Past Painting.

Hey, guys.  I posted this painting awhile ago but the new photograph looks so NICE that I thought I'd post it twice.  I'm so happy with my photographer, Alan Adams (In Oskaloosa, Iowa), I could dance.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Painting.

"untitled (as of today), approx 15 X 20, gouache on paper, 2012.
As promised, here is one of the pieces I've recently completed.  I haven't decided if it needs further cropping but I'm leaning towards yes. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Good News, Everybody!

 Update 10-31-12  : Happy Halloween.  Also, taking the paintings to a professional photographer today! 


Ok, super excited over here.  Since my last studio update (a couple weeks ago) I've made some progress.  I finished a pretty excellent painting (starring two fox) and am about to finish another this weekend.

I feel unstoppable!  So, this weekend I will photograph the work and send it your way through the blog-o-sphere. 

See you guys on Monday.

Much love and stuff.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Fossil Hunting in Iowa: Ditch (creek bed) Time Adventure Time!

Found some nice Brachiopods and a killer horned coral over the weekend (top right, it's segmented and huge, totally excellent).  The ditch was full of biting flies, mosquitos, and itchy plants...if I didn't make it out with a handful of fossils I would have looked pretty pathetic.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fossil Hunting in Iowa. Various horned coral and branch coral.

Left to Right and top to bottom.

1.  A branched coral fossil.  I happened to see it on the bank of the creek while I was falling down a hill.  I'm glad I fell down that hill, I wouldn't have been on the proper level to see it otherwise.  Serendipitous.

2. (top) This horned coral is twice as big as the ones I usually find.  This leads me to believe it's a different variation of the horned coral.  I can't seem to figure out which kind, though.  It's frustrating.  I think it may be a cystiphyllum vesiculosum" because they're common around my area...but this one is WAY too small to be that.  Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

3.  Now this horn coral can be identified!  Ha-zah! It is a "Zaphrentis" pallaensis.  It's known for it's spiny sides and, as you can see in the photo, it has those spiny sides.  Finally, I feel whole again.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Artifact Hunting in Iowa: some broken pieces.

Left To right: 1. broken side of knife or spear 2. Broken Drill 3. Broken arrowhead 4. Broken knife 5. Not broken simple drill.

Here's some of the stuff we found this weekend.  I'd like to make a mosaic with all of the little, colorful flint-bits.  That's more of a winter project for when I go stir crazy.  Happy fuckin' Monday.

*update: Oh my god!  I was in a terrible mood when I wrote this yesterday.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Creepy Doll from Goodwill. I'm confused.

I'm befuddled.  I have no idea what to write about this object.  Every time I look at this strange, strange, doll I start to laugh.  Look at those angry eyebrows and that beautiful mustache...look at them!  I'm so happy I went to Goodwill yesterday and I'm so happy I bought this beautiful, handmade miracle. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fossil Hunting in Iowa.

1. A rock with a hole in it...soon it will become a beautiful necklace.  2. A strange and orange piece of coral.  Look at that fantastic ridge.  3.  Another small piece of coral or a sponge.  Not totally sure which one it is...I still vote for coral.

Found in Marion County.  It's a rock with a bunch of shells in it...I didn't show the whole fossil but it's shaped like a foot.  My guess is a size 11 in men's shoes.

I think this as a very beautiful impression fossil.  I've never seen a shell type fossil this large.  It's shape reminds me of a tulip and the oranges and ochers of the rock are simply lovely and beautiful.

Phew!  That's a lot of fossils.  As you can tell, I've been very busy tromping around on the look-out for ancient rocks.  Unfortunately, the fossil hunting season is coming to a close.  Two reasons: It's damn cold and the trees are dropping their leaves.  Said leaves cover the ground and it's almost impossible to search for my little treasures without a rake.  I'm not going to use a rake.  That makes it sound like a chore.  So, expect many more posts about paintings.  I hope you've enjoyed looking at this year's finds as much as I've enjoyed collecting them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fossil Hunting in Iowa: A few impression fossils.

What my amateur ass assumes to be an impression coral (it kinda looks like this one http://www.flickr.com/photos/85591315@N00/3154262600/).  If you look at my previous fossil blogs, I found another one of these guys earlier in the year (http://fluxbiota.blogspot.com/2012/04/fossil-find.html).  As always, if anyone can enlighten me or suggest a good fossil book I'd certainly enjoy that. 

Some petrified wood (greyish stuff in the back), fossilized bone (in the front, note the texture), and a strange mysterious fossil that looks like a broken clam shell. 

A beautiful impression of a beautiful shell.  So pretty.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fossil Hunting in Iowa : Bison Teeth Fossils.

A bison tooth fossil in it's natural habitat.

Sometimes people ask me, "How do you find all of those fossils?"  Sometimes it's the fossil that finds you, you just have to be in the right place at the right time and it's obviousness will blind you.  First off, a river bed is always a good place to look for fossils.  The river water cuts  through the earth and moves rock around, exposing objects that have been buried for years.  Also, rivers go through dry periods and wet periods. This getting wet, drying out, getting wet, drying out thing is a very good way to turn bone and teeth into fossils. It allows minerals to turn bone into stone.  Yup.

So, with that being said.  These bison tooth fossils were found on a river bank.  The one in the top photograph (or the bottom of my hand in the other photo) was found on a sandbar (and blinded me with it's obviousness) and the other tooth was found in the river water.  So, my advice? Eyes to your toes, keep looking down and eventually something will find you if you're in the right spot.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mushroom Hunting in Iowa. Hen of the Woods (aka: maitake or sheepshead)

5 pounds of edible mushroom!

Soaking in salt water to clean the giant, scary looking mushroom.

cut up and ready to cook in butter.
The posse and I went for a pleasant Autumn walk on Sunday.  Of course the pleasant walk ended up becoming a rigorous hike.  We were up and down hills, we tromped through poison ivy, trudged over corn stalks, jumped over puddles.  My back still hurts but all that painful exercise was worth it because of the end result.  At the end of the hike (i was so pooped at this point) I came face to face with a giant, Hen of the woods (aka maitake or sheepshead), mushroom.  And when I say "giant" mushroom I'm pushing it, this big guy was only 5 pounds.  Hen of the Woods mushrooms are known to grow as large as 100 pounds.  These highly prized mushrooms grow at the bottom of Oak trees during the fall...I'm no Dendrologist so I'll just assume the tree I came across was an Oak.  My plans for the mushroom?  They were cooked in butter last night so tonight I'm thinking omelets and maybe I'll look up some soup recipes. 

Happy Monday, friends.

Friday, October 5, 2012

More Marigold Seeds.

I collected more marigold DNA for next year.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fossil Hunting in Iowa. Lycopsid tree.

Lycopsid tree root or Stigmaria ("root")
Oh god, I just want to drag the description of this ancient plant straight off of the Wikipedia page.  That would be so much easier. Its early, guys.

Basically, we were walking around a pretty area and I saw some rocks that looked like tree stumps with the bark ripped off.  With a closer look, it was pretty obvious that these were plant fossils.  I looked them up (thanks, google) and according to the internets these were Lycopsid tree roots and are abundantly found in coal deposits (we were near a strip pit so it's appropriate that we would find these).

Now...here's the wikipedia link.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycopodiophyta

Fossils, man.  So old.  I sound intelligent today.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Studio Time.

I'm almost finished with my 6th piece in the new body of work.  I feel like I need to pat myself on the back for ten minutes and give myself a hug.  It's not easy to get your focus on after working a 7-4 job that requires a full day of standing.  But I'm doing it. 

I've finally found a good work routine.  I create two drawings.  I pick one and work out all the compositional kinks and get it ready to paint.  While I paint that piece I go back to the other drawing and work out it's kinks...that way I don't get too bored painting and have multiple puzzles to solve.  It's a pretty great plan, it ensures that I always have something to work on and that there isn't any lag time.

My brain hurts today.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fossil Hunting in Iowa: Coral

Left to Right: 1. small chunk of fossilized coral or sponge 2. buffalo nickel so you can guesstimate the size of each fossil 3. Part of a fossilized buffalo tooth.  The surface is very beautiful and looks like the cracked glaze of a raku fired pot. 4. Unidentified solitary coral.  I have never seen a fossil like this one.  Below is a detail of it's center. 5. a really nice chunk of coral.  I usually find tiny pieces of this particular kind but now I finally have a charcoal briquet sized piece.  I was totally pumped to find it.  I need to get better at coral identification.

A detail of the #4 Solitary Coral.  This piece (and all of them, really) have inspired me to find out more about fossils.  I have a generalized knowledge of the stuff, in that if I see something unusual I'll pick it up.  We'll be going to a Lapidary Society Meeting in a couple weeks where I hope to extract some knowledge from the experts.

A coyote skull found on a sandbar.

A pig jawbone found on a sandbar.  I assume someone slaughtered one and threw it's remains in the river as pigs are not native to the area and do not run feral (i god I hope pigs never run feral in Iowa.  They're so destructive)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Interesting use of Animal Parts, sonny.

I was in a pawn shop the other day and came across something interesting...can anyone guess what the framed art is made from?  I doubt it, although many of you may come close to the correct answer.

It's made out of turtle toes. 

I will never look at turtle toes the same way again...but now that I think about it, I've never really thought much about turtle toes to begin with.  Way to be, random Outsider Artist.  I wish you weren't dead so I could talk to you (I know he's dead, this item was part of his estate that was purchased by the owner of this particular pawn shop.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fossil Hunting in Iowa: Deer Knuckle Bone Fossil.

I found a few more things while walking through the skunk river.  This deer knuckle bone was one of the first things I picked up from the dry river bank.  One will come across a plethora of bones while hunting for fossils.  Most bones are just bones, nothing too special.  This one struck me as odd...deer have run around Iowa since the ice age ( http://www.uiowa.edu/~osa/Silos/Ice_Age_Residents.html  this is a nice little article that describes the time, it's short so don't be afraid) and a fossil can be made in about 200 years in the right conditions; pressure, amount of water it's exposed to, the type of soil it's in.  It looked old.  It looked very old.  Like Discovery Channel old.

The bone struck me as odd because of the color, feel, and heaviness of it (there hasn't been water in the creek for a month, so the heaviness was not from being water logged.  Which is the case in most bones found in water).  So, I did my "tooth tap test."  Bone will make a hollow clunk on the tooth while a fossilized bone feels like tapping a rock on the tooth.  It felt like a rock.  The I did the "tongue touch test".  If you stick your tongue to a fossilized bones, all of the little porous areas will slightly stick to the tongue (yuck, but a paleontologist suggested the test).  It slightly stuck.  So, in my pocket it went.  I did some research on the internets the other day and it does appear to be a fossilized deer knuckle bone.  Which is cool.  A week later it's still heavy, rock like, and still gets an A on all the gross fossil on mouth tests.  I think it's a fossil.
I did not take this picture.  It just shows you what parts of the deer knuckle bone look like when they are fresh. http://rs.leaftradingpost.com/images/thumbs/0000000047852_600_0.jpg  This is where I borrowed the image, thanks Leaf Trading Post.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Glass Artifacts. Des Moines River.

We returned from Ames and decided to go to the camp spot and search the river bank for more treasures.  The water was even lower than it was a month ago...more things were showing. 

Left to right

1. An old half pint milk bottle from the 1940's.  It still boggles my mind that something could exist in a rocky river with a current for so long and barely break. 

2.  A broken bottle from the M & M Star Bottling Company.  We actually found this a week ago but the scanner didn't do it any justice, it needed to be photographed.  It's a pretty cool li'l bottle.  The company embossed a star on the bottom.  I have no idea how old this bottle is but people from around the area say it could be from the 1890's.  Who knows?

3. This is a telephone pole insulator from the Bushwick Glassworks Company in New York.  This piece was made somewhere between 1864 and 1923 according to the internet (which never lies). But my guess is closer to 1923 because of the color of the glass. http://www.myinsulators.com/glass-factories/brookfield.html 

4.  An old ass Pepsi bottle.  It still has some of the paint from the 40's or 50's stuck to the top but when I washed it with Dawn Dish Soap my dumb ass scrubbed off the ancient paint.  Le Sigh. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Skunk River. Fossil Hunting in Iowa.

It was an Ames, Iowa kind of a weekend.  The Skunk River runs through the town and there have been rumors of a dry river bank.  A dry river bank makes for good fossil hunting so KP, the dog, and I decided to check it out.  Lo and behold, that damn river was dry.  We counted 2 puddles in a 2 miles stretch.  There were hundreds of minnows and frogs in each patch of water.  It was an interesting microcosm if not a little crowded for the poor guys. 

Here's one of the pieces I found on the river bank.  I believe it to be a solitary coral of some sort.  It looks unlike the other solitary corals I've found in the past (see horned coral).  I know it takes a lot of pressure to make a fossil so perhaps it's just a squished horned coral.  I'm not an expert, I'm still a novice but none of my fossil books have a picture of this fossilized fellow.  If any of you know anyone I could ask that would be great.  Maybe I'll put the image on a fossil forum website later today and get back to you.

This is the back of the same solitary coral (or what I believe to be a solitary coral).  It's about the size of a dime.

Left to Right: 1. a rock that looks like a silly profile. 2. This fossil was odd, I'm not sure what it is.  If you hold a magnifying glass up to it it has a pattern like some kind of a dense coral.  Lots of circular patterns. 3. A piece of a fossilized bone (the outside). 4. A piece of a fossilized bone on the inside, you can see the marrow. 5. A piece of a fossilized tooth.  This one was a heart breaker because it would have been so awesome had it not been broken.  The enamel of the tooth looks like pottery glaze.  Sigh.  Oh, well.  At least I still found it. 6. A piece of native American pottery.  This piece was found in Marion County.