Thursday, September 20, 2018

Studio/Workshop Progress Report - Rafters

Although I'm yet to commence work on the verandah on the northern side of the building, the rafters and collar ties have been installed over the studio/workshop area itself. That being the case, it seems like another milestone has been achieved - hence this post!

As the current plan is to install vaulted ceilings, the lack of ceiling joists that would otherwise be present posed some problems when it came to installing the ridge beam and attaching rafters.

At such a height above floor level, safety became a primary concern. After ruminating on the problem for a few days, I ended up building a movable platform spanning the lengthwise beams on either side of the gable portion of the structure. The platform provided some measure of security, the downside being that it had to be repeatedly dismantled and reassembled as I worked my way from one end of the building to the other.

Next up: the verandah and deck.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Studio/Workshop Progress Report - Posts and Beams

My last update at the beginning of May seems like a lifetime ago! That particular blog post dealt with the the installation of stumps, so I'm pleased to report that there's been significant progress in the intervening months.

Despite the loss of a several days due to other work commitments and inclement weather, I've finally erected all of the necessary posts and beams around the perimeter of the building. The beams above the deck on the northern side of the building will have to wait until the deck itself is in place; it will provide a firm platform and improve my chances of surviving a multitude of trips up and down ladders - descending in a controlled manner is my preference!

The supporting framework around windows and doors requires some substantial timber posts, and there are some additional hefty pieces of wood above them whose primary purpose is to contribute to lateral bracing of the walls. Cutting, drilling and attaching the steel brackets that secure the lintels above the windows became quite tedious; by the time they were in place I was definitely ready to move on to the next stage.

I'm eagerly awaiting delivery of a large beam that runs the length of the workshop. It supports the rafters and is located at the point of transition between the steeper gable portion of the roof on the northern side of the building and the more gently sloping skillion portion of the roof on the southern side.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Studio/Workshop Progress Report - Stumps

The weather was so dry here as summer drew to a close that very little of the soil excavated from the stump holes stuck to the auger, as would've been the case had the soil contained any moisture. The task of removing the excess dirt from 80 stump holes was therefore more physically demanding than I had expected, but was made easier after a very generous neighbour pitched in and helped over a couple of days. 

Once the holes were cleaned out and given the OK by the building inspector, the next job was to pour 200mm (8") of concrete into each hole to support the cypress stumps. With the aid of a small cement mixer and a wheelbarrow I found that this too was a lengthy and exhausting process, and I was greatly relieved when all the concrete was in place and could be left to cure for a week, allowing me something of a reprieve.

Installing the stumps with the required spacings and alignment required careful measurement and bracing, and much more physical exertion than I'm used to; not only did the soil have to be backfilled around the stumps, but to achieve the necessary stability I needed to compact it in layers with the blunt end of a crowbar. Needless to say, I'm feeling much stronger and fitter than I did before I began this project!

I'm fortunate to have been able to borrow a laser level which will make the task of cutting the stumps off to their final height a much easier task, with greater accuracy than I could otherwise achieve. 

From this point on, I'm hopeful that the fun factor will increase and that the demands I've been placing on my weary body will diminish a little!


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Studio/Workshop Progress Report - Stump Holes

I shopped around the local area for someone to dig the 80 stump holes required, but either the quotes I received were prohibitively expensive, or the contractor I contacted was too busy to carry out the work.

I finally tracked down a machinery hire company in the area and, after some anguish and uncertainty, resolved to complete the task myself using a Kanga digger and a 400mm auger, over a couple of days. However, when I went to collect the machine, the 400mm auger I'd asked for wasn't in their collection of attachments.

The machinery hire company was apologetic and recommended a local operator with a Dingo digger. It turns out they did me huge favour; Ron (a real character!) and his Dingo dug the holes in a little over two hours and the cost was so ridiculously low I actually felt guilty when I handed over the cash!


Before I arrange for the building inspector to pay a visit to verify that the holes are of the correct diameter and depth, I need to clean the loose soil from the holes - not an insignificant task!


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Studio/Workshop Progress Report - Making a Start

After many months waiting for architectural and engineering drawings to be finalised, as well as owner/builder registration, Worksafe certification and the processing of various permit applications, I can finally begin construction of our strawbale studio/workshop. In the picture below, I have marked out the ground in readiness for the excavation of more than 80 stump holes. Given the expense of hiring a digging machine, I'm hoping that this can be completed in a couple of days!

Art will most definitely be the furthest thing from my mind in the months ahead, but I'll post the occasional building progress report as a record I can look back on, and for anyone else interested. 


Monday, January 8, 2018

A Learning Experience

I've continued to tweak the background trees and, most obviously, have roughly scrubbed in the remainder of the scene using a mixture of raw umber and white, the rationale being that the foreground vegetation is very light in tone and will be easier to establish over a darker base layer.

I'm a little more satisfied with the most distant grasses after spending some time this morning  experimenting with colours and technique, although I'm sure I'll return to them as I complete other areas of the painting by which time, hopefully, my brushwork will be more confident.

Given my unfamiliarity with oil paints, I'm guarding against disappointment by thinking of this purely as a learning experience, with a focus on paint handling and the development of a more systematic approach. On that basis, it's a case of so far, so good.

As always, constructive criticism and comments are most welcome.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Baby Steps

The fact that I completed a monochromatic underpainting as a first step with this piece is a great leap forward in itself, but I'm afraid I've reverted to type and have spent a lot more time than I meant to on the most distant trees in this scene, fiddling with colour while striving to limit contrast and detail as a means of enhancing the sense of depth.

After something like a 20 year interval since my last attempt using oil paints, I guess it's understandable that I'm feeling like a complete beginner. I'm impatient to find out whether I'll ultimately be able to achieve the look I'd envisaged when I decided to give them another try. At this early stage, the jury is still out.

As always, constructive criticism and comments are welcome.