Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Rim With A View, Part II (Let's Get It Started)

over the next few weeks I'll be looking at this image a lot -- every time things get too hectic and 
ask myself "Is it worth all the madness and frenzy?" (Of course, the answer is "You bet!")

Before I get to Crater Lake, before I settle into my little cabin on the rim, and before I start exploring the quietude of a magical winter wonderland I've got to deal with the logistics; I've got to actually make this adventure happen, and (given that I have six weeks or so to pull it all together) things will certainly get a little crazy around here!

So, when I get to Crater Lake I'll take a deep breath (a very deep breath!), relax, and start listening to Cat Stevens' "The Wind". But, starting today, I kick it into high gear, put on the Black Eyed Peas, and crank up the volume -- "Let's Get It Started In Here!"

The Kit, Evaluation & Update

never leave home without it

Already having several travel adventures under my belt, my "daily carry" and "long haul" art kits are pretty much set. But, before each new journey, I like to reevaluate my kits; see what new developments and new products may have come on the market since my last outing, and confirm that I've selected the best gear for the project at hand.

My daily carry sketch kit (the one I never go out the door without) is a small canvas tote containing my journal, my red Sakura Micron pen tote (black ink in assorted nib sizes), a tin of graphite pencils, a tin of Prismacolor pencils, a tin of Sakura Micron color pens, a fully loaded 2-pen "fountain pen kimono" (watch for more about this in a guest post on Cathy Johnson's blog just as soon as we get the sewing machine de-bugged), my spare pair of eyeglasses, and my clip-on 2-lens magnifiers.

During my residency with North Cascades National Park two years ago I found that my 3.5"x5.5" Moleskine pocket notebook was not up to the demands I put on it and I will definitely be carrying a different pocket-sized journal. (Watch for a hands-on evaluation of the "finalists" soon.) I also carried Moleskine 5"x8.5" Japanese Albums & Watercolor Journals. Both served quite well, but I'm still looking at a few remarkable options that have been introduced since then.

my "long haul" art kit

My long haul art kit (the mobile studio that supplements my daily carry anytime I will be away from home for more than a day) fits into a small backpack that I've carried since our two-month sketch crawl of Europe in 2009. It contains an Arches 10"x14" HP watercolor block, a 24-color Daniel Smith watercolor box and a 12-color DS "Bijou" watercolor box (both of which I've carried for over 20 years), assorted watercolor brushes, a pocket-sized pair of binoculars, a Cannon digital camera (which doubles as an HD video camera), my Apple iBook Pro, power and connection cables (for the Cannon and Apple), a first aid kit (including any prescription meds), survival kit (bivouac bag, emergency food, and fire starter), water bottle (which will remain empty during the flight up and back), and one change of clothing.

Field Work

sketching this week at the Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth

OK, this is without a doubt the most enjoyable part of getting ready for any new adventure. It's where I establish the daily routine I want to maintain while I'm off in the woods, make certain that I really have everything I'll need to sketch on location (and shed anything that I only "thought" I'd need).

The goal is to be at a point where I routinely go out drawing every day (easy), all day (a bit more challenging) by the time I depart for Oregon. Already I'm going for long, slow walks, stopping frequently, and strengthening my perceptual "muscles" (not only by sketching, but also by soaking in all that I can experience of the moment -- the long song of a mockingbird singing its heart out, the sound of a gust of wind as it swooshes through the new foliage of a tree freshly awake from its winter sleep, and the sighting of a tiny bird newly returned from its winter residence. And, equally important, I am looking for the "artifacts" of earlier generations of human inhabitants -- buildings, old fence lines, and any other signs that another set of feet passed my way before. I am also on the lookout for small artifacts or bits of nature that fit easily in the hand or pocket and that can be carried home to draw later -- thus increasing the number and range of my subjects. (Of course, National Parks have strict rules on what may or may not be gathered and I adhere to these rules meticulously -- both for the health and wellbeing of the park, and for the experience of future visitors.)

Stay tuned to see how I do.

Getting In Shape

taking a group of sketching enthusiasts out for a bit of nature journaling at CLNP may be "challenging" 

If you're a "flatlander" like me and have been a bit too sedentary over the winter months, getting into shape is an important consideration for the outdoor artist before venturing to a destination that sits at 7000-8000 ft. (2100-2400 m.), doubly so when trekking from one scenic spot to another may likely involve hours of cross-country hiking on snowshoes, and even the remote possibility of getting stuck outdoors over night could involve temperatures in the range of 19º F (-7º C).

So, I've begun a daily regimen consisting of 1 hour on a cross-country ski machine (which will be increased in duration each week till departure) augmented with daily hikes with my border collie (She'll make sure we maintain a brisk pace.) bike rides and sketching safaris (all venturing farther and farther afield over time).

The Gear

As with my studio kit, I don't have to begin from scratch here; much of the gear I used in Stehekin is perfectly serviceable for this adventure too. However, I will be experiencing more snow, more frequently, and in greater depths than at North Cascades National Park. So, a few extra items will likely be called for. (Fortunately, my hosts at Crater Lake have already indicated that they'll be able to provide snowshoes and some other outdoor essentials, which will be very helpful.)

The first order of business is inventorying my outdoor equipment and determining what might need repair or replacement. For example, my hiking boots are in very good condition but have developed a pronounced creaking noise when I walk in them; I'll have them checked out by a cobbler and apply a new waterproofing treatment before I go. I have two pair of cargo pants that should suffice. But I'll check all the stitching and deal with any needed repairs before packing. Already I know I will need some additional liner socks** and outer socks for the trip, and winter underwear.

Sadly, my trusty folding stool won't be making this trip as it would immediately sink into the snow. For this trip I'm thinking a roll-up square of neoprene would be far more serviceable: both waterproof and well insulated against the cold.

** A note about outdoor clothing: I'm a big fan of light cotton in warm weather. In fact, I live in t-shirts and shorts for much of the summer. However, cotton has no place in my winter outdoor wear. It looses all heat retention when wet and, once wet, is very slow to dry. So, my cotton socks, underwear and outerwear won't be making this trip. (Staying warm and dry will help keep you safe and comfortable, and that in turn will make it easier to focus on enjoying the experience and making art.)

Watch for more details about my gear selection in upcoming posts.

The Budget

Of course it shouldn't come as news to anyone that adventures cost money. And underwriting a venture of this magnitude can call for almost as much creativity as the artwork I'll produce while in the wilds of Oregon's Cascade Range.

It looks like air travel will be on the same carriers as our NCNP adventure!

Option 1: "Say! What's that?" -- The first addition to my new set of fundraising tools is the new PayPal "Donate" button in the sidebar -- safe, secure, and simple. It allows individuals to donate an amount of their choosing either via their PayPal account or credit card.

Option 2: Kickstarter -- Kickstarter is a relatively new, secure online "social fundraising" option for creative projects. An individual or group comes up with an awesome project that needs funding, they complete an online application by put together a project description, a budget, a schedule (both for fundraising and for completion of the project), a verified Amazon account (more about the money in a moment), a list of contribution levels and the perks or rewards that donors will receive at each level (kinda sounds like PBS Pledge Week doesn't it?), and (this is optional but highly recommended by the folks at KS) a short promotional video. Once the application has been completed it is submitted digitally to KS for verification that the project adheres to the KS guidelines. If it does (and if the project author(s) have done their homework it should) the project will be visible in Kickstarter online catalog of fundraising ventures. All that's left is to start getting the word out and hope the pledges start rolling in!

Now, I promised an extra word or two about the Amazon account earlier and here it is; Kickstarter is all-or-nothing! That is, if (and only if) the project receives enough pledges to meet the budget set by its creator Amazon will collect the funds and distribute them to the project. If the financial target isn't met, however, nothing is collected and this fundraiser is a bust. The reasoning behind this is that if the proposal is honest the target amount is truly what is needed to make the project feasible. Anything less and the likelihood of a successful outcome becomes unrealistic.

So, how about visiting my Kickstarter Project Page today, watch the short video, check out the amazing range of rewards I'm offering for your support, and consider making a pledge? (Some of the items offered are limited in number so be sure and reserve yours while supplies last. And note that international donors are welcomed and international shipping of rewards is available.)

Option 3: Shopping Amazon -- If you can't spare an outright donation but still want to support my Crater Lake project, consider doing your online shopping through my Amazon Affiliate page. You pay no more than you normally do at Amazon and your transaction is completely secure. (In fact the entire checkout process is handled by Amazon.) But I receive an Affiliate commission that will be applied toward the trip, and (without spending a penny more) you have the satisfaction of knowing you've supported a worthy cause. (Thanks!)

Option 4: Shopping Etsy -- Why not take a look at the selection of vintage and handmade goods I offer at my Etsy shop. Again, any revenues will be applied toward making this breathtaking adventure a reality.

Option 5: Please tell a friend -- The more people who know about the "Rim With A View Project" the greater the likelihood that I'll be able to bring it to fruition. And, too, folks who find out about the venture are more likely to subscribe to the blog and share in the (free) online postings.

May at Crater Lake will be a little bit different than May in North Texas


OK, in Part III I'll be posting artwork from the "Field Work" portion of the preparation stage, and both my final Kit and gear selections. Part IV will be posted "on the road" -- en route to Crater Lake, from the rim of the crater (or at least from my cabin near the rim), and the trip home. In the meantime watch for other interesting articles covering everything from urban sketching and "lost" history to this year's crop of spring wildflowers (and, believe it or not, dinosaurs even play a part in one upcoming article).

Happy trails!


  1. You will be in my neck of the woods. Sounds like an interesting trip!

    1. Thanks Jacqueline. Yes, I think it will be great fun. (I'm even toying with the idea of driving up one route and back another so I can "Sketchcrawl" some of the rest of the country too.)

  2. Kickstarter backed! Best of luck getting funded. From my own Kickstarter experience, I learned that you have to share that link everywhere, frequently ... especially to family and friends ... to get traction. I look forward to all your future updates, blog posts, and videos about this adventure!

    1. Thanks Carole -- for your support and your advice. Both are very much appreciated!

  3. I am so excited for you and can't wait to see and hear all about it!

  4. This is a real adventure! Bravo. Look forward to seeing your posts!!

  5. Very inspiring post! I'd love to hear more about your adventure!
    It's always interesting to see other people's drawing kits.