Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Hazards of Texas Wildfire

So many folks have asked me about the wildfires that continue to plague firefighters here in central Texas that I thought it might be good to provide a little info about it here. I happened to catch a Google satellite image of our area (about 30 miles northwest of Austin) at just the right time that really highlights our problem. Of course I have no idea when the images were taken but it's obvious that the part on the left, the green part, was taken some time ago and the part on the right is more recent. That would be the not-quite-so-green part.
We've set a new record for days without rainfall in central Texas, but here in our little community it's been even longer. Where we live it seems like we're always the last in our area to get rain. The grass here is so dry that it actually crunches under your feet if you walk on it. When I go out to play ball with my dog Rascal as he runs after the ball he leaves a cloud of dust and swirling beige grasses behind him. The burn ban has been heightened to the point where we're not even allowed to barbecue outside, which as you can imagine is a really big deal for Texans. With so many showing signs of being in "barbecue withdrawal" there's been talk of setting up clinics to help counsel them through these rough times. (Just kidding.)

Fires, as many of you know, have wiped out whole communities. Believe it or not, one has even been attributed to arson when four teenagers were seen leaving a woods just before a fire broke out. Well known artist Carol Marine lost her home and the new studio that her husband David worked for a year to build, escaping just in time with their camping trailer. They won't be rebuilding, but instead will move to Oregon. You can read more from Carol herself at her blog, and from David's point of view at

We're pretty much a tinder box here in Texas and there's flooding in the eastern states. That all makes me wonder: "If we can build pipelines that will move oil, why can't we build pipelines that will move water?" I guess it's because there's more profit in oil. At least until water becomes more precious.
The most likely saving grace for us here in central Texas would be rain from a hurricane that passes through, but that won't be very welcomed by the Texans who live along the Gulf of Mexico. OH! But there's no "global climate change", is there?

So ... are we in imminent danger? No, but we have created a prioritized "Bug Out" list.
Is the threat everpresent? You betcha.
One careless smoker, or even a hot shell casing from a rifle shot could set it off. And it's dove season right now. And deer season is coming. I'm just glad I don't smoke and I don't hunt, so I can't be blamed if it happens.

In closing, I just want to say.....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Morning Fog - landscape by Kirk Witmer

Daily painting for 9/12/11 - 6 x 8" - Oil on archival panel

I titled this "Morning Fog" but as you can see it doesn't have anything to do with needing a second cup of coffee. The effort here was to convey a mood without the use of color, but instead only using values. The first step in this procedure was to create what I call "eco-gray". I do that by taking all the leftover paint on my palette from the last painting I did and mixing it until it's a uniform shade all the way through. Depending on what the last painting was, the gray may be tinted differently in each batch, so if it's too far from neutral, I'll add a touch of whatever's on the opposite side of the color wheel to pull it back toward neutral, then mix until well blended.
From there, I pulled out some white and black and started mixing a series of values. For this one I found I needed almost no black.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

The Barley Harvest, landscape w/ figures by Kirk Witmer

18 x 24" - oil on stretched canvas

This is the third in my Dorchester series. Like the first two, I've relied on lighting to set the mood and figures to tell a story. This one is obviously in bright sunlight across the landscape, which explains why, before the days of sunblocking lotions, the ladies are wearing clothes that will protect them from the sun as they work.

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US$ 495 + $ 35 s&h

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