Cross Posting

bell harbor, crane, grove crane, wheeled crane, sketch, watercolor, colored pencil, idsa conference, intrigue chocolates, pacari chocolates, industrial design, talk, speech, mark selander, construction machine

Hello blog followers and passerbyers. I am moving my blog to www.machinesandhumans.com/blog. For the time being I will cross post images here, but will only post my actual stories over there. If you like my work please begin checking out the new site (which looks exactly the same) and follow me from that address. I’ll post here for a while longer but eventually will only use the new address.

Thanks,

Mark

3 Highlights, 2 Paintings, 1 New Year

lay-mor, sweeper, orange machine, ballard, 2012, new years, painting, three wheeler, street sweeper

It’s the New Year, a full week and a half into it even. Time to start up the pencil and brush again. I think about the sketches I posted last year at this time, some marker images of the Tukwilla light rail station, and how my intention was to post once a week for the entire year. It didn’t quite work out like that, but I have to say I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made in one year. There were three significant artistic high points.

1. Watercolor class with Tom Hoffman at Gage Academy. This class really opened a big door for me, with new tools to render my images in color on site in a medium that I enjoyed and respected. Previously for color I had been using either markers or digital tools such as Photoshop, but both of these mediums had limitations (or unlimitations) that I wasn’t happy with for the purposes of observational sketching and rendering. Taking the class for me was much like buying my first laptop, or finally upgrading from my well worn flip phone to an Iphone. I see all of these as keys to mobility and each of them has allowed me some considerable degrees of freedom that I didn’t previously have. Before watercolor I felt like I really didn’t have an effective tool for recording the world in a manner that I could feel…was accurate to how I viewed it.

aurora, 2012, painting, watercolor, black truck, swansons

2. Trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Wow, a life changing trip, and so completely inspiring every day that I was constantly compelled to sketch and paint my experiences. I had taken the watercolor class with the intention of utilizing the paints as a travel tool. The two were somewhat entwined in my mind, and maybe even necessary to coexist. I might have taken the painting class if I hadn’t planned on travelling the following month, and I might have actually gotten off my rear end to go travel had I not been learning watercolor, but somehow I needed both of them together for me to move forward. The watercolor and drawings were as much used to express what I was seeing as they were to communicate with people I met. They undoubtedly opened doors to conversations and interactions I would have never had otherwise. I think on this trip I viewed art for the first time as a true tool for making connection, and that really changes how I value it and look forward to what I can do with it.

3. Show at Cafe Lulu. Karen had been pushing me for sometime (years) to have a show at her coffee shop. It was always my intention to do this, but I had never felt like I had the combination of images that was worth putting up. I wanted to showcase some of my pen sketches but I also really wanted to have a lot of color up as well, which was now possible with the watercolor work. It’s possible that without some really assertive prodding I never would have put a show up no matter what I created, but I’m very happy that I did. It was a great experience to be able to share my work with people and to see how different pieces were received. I got some really good feedback, and it was intriguing for me to see what people were drawn to. For me trucks are still my go to subject, and I was thrilled that people were able to enjoy the same subject matter. When someone else also responds by really liking say…a cement mixer, I’m like “Yah! Cement Mixers! The’re sweet! And they chew on rocks all day!” Joy.

With all that said I plan on continuing this year with more work that depicts the places I appreciate and travel to, and also pieces that showcase just trucks with nothing else to distract from their purposeful and utility driven aesthetic. I won’t promise myself that I’ll get up a new piece every week, instead I promise 3 pieces a week…ok, that’s a lie.

Mobile Jewelry

Rob tsunehiro, oregon manifest bicycle, water color, industrial design, oregon handmade bicycle show, bend oregon, 2011, mobile jewelry, preferred transportationWaaaaaay back in October, (back when the sun still had the decency to grace us with it’s light past 6pm, remember those days?) I traveled to Bend Oregon for the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show. This is the third year I’ve attended, but I believe the first year that the event has been held outside of Portland. I recall back on that mid fall day that the weather was superb; it was sunny, and the Oregon high desert environment was in peak form. At least that’s what I was told, because I spent the entire day inside at the Goodlife Brewing Company building forsaking sun and snowcapped mountains to look at the mobile artistry that is bicycle frame building. My guess is that 20-30 framebuilders and associated artisans showed up. I talked to many of them and came away even more intrigued by the craft. It’s true that on the surface most bicycle frames are fairly similar, at least in terms of basic function and geometry. A dominant form has emerged that works great, and this was on display at the event. Since most of the these bikes were made of steel, a few key techniques are employed, either brazing or welding. A honed handcrafted bike is not about the surface however; it’s about a builders specific intention, technique, artistry, and unique voice that comes through. It’s also often about the customer and their specific needs. From custom geometry, to ornate racks, filigree cut lugs, and lustrous paint, the world of custom bike building is akin to the world of high end jewelry. You could buy at Fred Meyers, or you could hire a trained jeweler. At a glance not many could tell the difference, but it’s not about the glance. Its about everything else. As always, it was my intention to draw and paint a lot of the event, but in this case I found myself enjoying the conversations I had with many different craftspeople. The one bike I did draw was this unique machine by Rob Tsunehiro collaborating with industrial designer Silas Beebe.(www.tsunehirocycles.com). This was their entry into the annual Oregon Manifest Competition (www.oregonmanifest.com), which is fast becoming a major national event in mixing the best of engineering/design/and transportation. Rob’s bike is a city bike with a lot of very unique features such as a built in (hand stitched) second saddle over the rear wheel, reflective paint, and an integrated cargo net. Below are some links to the other builders I had the pleasure of talking with. If you like cycling, craftsmanship, or Oregon I highly recommend going next year!

Belladonna Cycles www.belladonnacycles.com/
Straight forward, clean, and traditional, with an emphasis on women’s bikes.

Vendetta Cycles. www.vendettacycles.com. Two engineers building bicycles on the side. Very high end craftsmanship with beautiful lugs and paint

DiNuncia Cycles. www.dinuccicycles.blogspot.com A long time builder with some of the trickest dropouts around (did I say trickest? Yep!)

Blaze Bicycles www.blazebicycles.com
A fairly new builder out of Utah. Had a good talk about transitioning from the digital world to the handcrafted world.

Ahearne Cycles. www.ahearnecycles.com
One of the best down in Portland. Unique utility bikes. Very impressive features and details worth seeing in person

Littleford Bicycles. www.littlefordbicycles.com
Neat paint jobs and a unique focus on rack integration.

Yardwork

caterpillar, bulldozer, evergreen machinery, yard work, yellow construction machine, tracks, dirty, shovel, bit. highway 99, aurora, construction equipment
I’ve never been terribly fond of yardwork. Raking leaves in particular seems like an endless task in futility. They are just going to keep falling, thousands more every day, getting wet and grimy from rain and road grit. After they’re all picked up, a year later, they’ll come down again. As I consider it, maybe the problem with raking isn’t the punitive task of repeatedly trying to coax nature into a more presentable state, maybe the problem is that I don’t have the right rake. I’m always having to pull the leaves out of the flimsy weakly springy tines. They are always getting bent as I drag them across the sidewalk, offering up a pathetic scratchy cry with every sweep of foliage. The plastic ones aren’t much better, it feels like I’m pulling a spatula across the lawn. I want something with strength, power, with true purpose, something that will teach those leaves and the ground they fall on a good lesson. I need a Caterpillar D-8 with a handy garden rake attachement like the one I drew here. I would never complain about raking again, and I’ll bet the leaves would never dare to fall down on the lawn again.

More Kenmore Please

Kenmore air Dehavilland Beaver radial engine pontoon repair patchwork.  I went out Sunday with the Seattle Urban Sketchers group to Kenmore Air in Bothel. Kenmore is a seaplane air harbor, repair, and fabrication facility. Seattle of course is dotted with seaplanes flying overhead, more than likely if you look up, it’s a Kenmore plane. I spent most of the morning in the main hangar drawing a plane that was being refurbished (which is not the plane I’m showing here, although this plane is going through a repair to the pontoon during the drawing). The highlight of the morning was a tour of the shop space in the second hanger where a couple of planes are going through significant upgrades. I was very fortunate to get the tour from one of Kenmore’s pilots and main mechanics – Sam – who is passionate about these aircraft. He loves the industry and is really excited to talk about the construction and technology that went into the design of these machines. There are a number aircraft that Kenmore flies, but primarily they use the Dehavilland Beaver (seen in this image), and the Dehavilland Otter. Both the Beaver and Otter are older model planes that have been the long time standards of float plane travel. The Beaver is a smaller plane with a radial engine making for a squat workhorse look. The Otters are slightly larger with longer turboprop engines which give them a very sleek look. These aircraft are from the 60’s with modern upgrades, but the fact they are from a pre computer era, really means they are quite mechanically straightforward. The see them with their outer skin removed is a fascinating look into a visually complex but ultimately understandable set of mechanical interactions, cables connect directly from the throttle all the way up to the control surfaces on the wings and tail. It’s kind of like a bicycle, pull the cable to move the derailleur, to shift the gear. The magic is both in the elegance and organization. I like seeing things for what they are, and beyond the fascination with flight, I’ve come to realize it’s the purposeful combination of form and functional components wrapped in a package of both aerodynamics and visual complexity that make aircraft so compelling to look at and draw. Expect more in the future.

Good Grades

Motograder, dexter, seattle, urban sketch, yellow, construction machine, mark selander, location drawing, truckI guess a lot of construction equipment is painted quite similarly to school buses. I certainly would have rather gone to school in this Motograder. It’s probably air conditioned too which is more than I can say for those old buses.

Killer Combination

Some cities have fairs, some have rodeos, some like Seattle have pagan festivals where naked bike riders decorated in bad body paint like to parade themselves around town during the longest day of the year. Fortunately there are other options for community festivities, and in the state of Washington the greatest one is hands down the annual Lind Washington Combine Demolition Derby. For those not in the know, a combine is a large tractor used for harvesting wheat. Over time they get old, and destined for the scrap heap as new models and technologies become standardized. This is not the case in Lind where they are resurrected year after year and then smashed together until they can’t smash any more. Last one moving wins and takes home bushels of glory (if not gold).
Lind is an agricultural community about 3 and a half hours east of Seattle. The landscape is cross between rolling fields and rocky gullies and decidedly beautiful. For me part of the experience is the drive there and the drive back especially during sunset as the fields resolve into a set of cascading shadows and colors. We got there the night before the event and camped at Potholes State Park so that we could make it in time for the pre-derby parade. This is lead by the 20 some combines that will be competing, followed by marching bands, waving county beauty queens, and hot rods (like these amazing low-brow rat-rods (I prefer the term Ratalac) built by Rich from Pascoe.
Rich’s personal ride is diesel Tow Truck named Camel Toe-ing (check out the head badge), and he built the Buck’n Fitch for his sister Peggy. So cool.)
The parade is followed by a community barbecue before everyone heads up the road to the arena for the main event. 5 heats of full mechanical destruction interspersed with pickup truck speed trials and grain truck races. The top finishers from the first three heats make it to the main event, plus the survivors from a deadman’s heat. The amazing thing is that these things are torn up in each heat, axles and wheels ripped apart, bodies mangled, and then in a couple of hours they are rebuilt and ready to go for the final match. Pictured here is Jaws being rebuilt in the pits.
This combine has won the event on multiple occasions, though not this year. From an outside perspective it’s fun and games and mayhem, but two things are true. The guys (and one woman) who drive these vehicles and their crews take it very seriously; they put their all into it and their mechanical prowess is impressive. The other is that the event is really a community effort, from the drivers to the people working the concession carts and ticket booths. There is a lot of pride here and they put on a good show that brings in a lot of support for their town, with about 5000 spectators showing up (Lind’s population is around 400). I will return next year and you should too. It is better than whatever is going on in Seattle that weekend I promise.