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A Day Trip to Galena


A getaway for the day was in order and during the week there is less traffic than on the weekends.  My faux patina painting is started and will be finished soon.  Galena Illinois was chosen because it is hilly and the trees should be blazing in color.  Unfortunately the red and yellow trees were not in abundance.  A rather disappointing venture for photography but I got some good shots regardless.  We took the long way to get there by using the back roads instead of the main highway.  It proved to be quite interesting showing off the landscape with farmland in harvest pictured below and neat old barns like the one pictured above.


As we got closer to Galena we were approaching the Mississippi River and the landscape was getting hilly.  Farms were geared more to cattle and horses with less crop growth.


We finally arrived on Main Street in Galena and parked the car in the first paid lot because there were no free parking spaces nearby.  It was nearly a 3-hour trip getting here and since it was lunch time and we were hungry, we stopped at the first café we came across.


Oh yes, this area is a tourist trap with lots of art, knickknack, and clothing shops with a few restaurants and bars thrown in.  There are quite a few Victorian style B&B’s and hotels in the area to stay overnight in.


I took a few street shots with my Olympia Tough.  You can see it was a long row of shops and no place to park.  And of course a good sized town would of course have its own brewery!


The brewery offered tours, gifts, and beer samples of course.  We decided to stop off at one shop for old fashioned ice cream.  I had a Cherry Rum that was really flavorful for only 2 ½ bucks.  We also stopped by at the cannery shop to pick up some apple cider donuts.  Six for $5.50.  Yum!

We decided to head back home without stopping at the Grant house and take the main highway so that we won’t get hung up in Chicago rush hour traffic.   On the way back I took one last set of pictures of the landscape which I stitched together.  As you can see the trees were not poppin’ with a lot of color.


Patina on Metal Leaf an Inspiration


Saturday mornings I usually watch PBS DIY shows like “Rough Cut Woodworking” with Tommy Mac.  On episode 601 was a showcase with David Marks a master woodworker demonstrating how he turns his wooden vessels and demonstrating a patina effect with gold leaf.

It is the patina effect that caught my interest!  Chemicals such as acids react with various metals creating a variety of colors and patterns.  You can read how he creates one type of effect on his blog

This link will lead you to a pdf outlining in more detail how the process works from beginning to end with links to chemicals and metal leaf:

David J. Marks Metal Leaf and Patination Kit is available at for $99.00.  You can also find and purchase the chemicals and metal leaf to create your own patina project.

There are two things I would like to do.

  1. Get an unprepared wood painting panel such as American Easel or Dick Blick studio artists’ wood painting panels.  Apply Japan Colors paint, metal leaf, cheese cloth, chemical, sealing, and wax.  I would like to lay down metal leaf to shape figures or other objects to create a different kind of abstract.
  2. The chemical method sounds a little dangerous and costly at the moment. I’ll need to learn more about the process.  Also, it will have to be done outside and right now we are headed for winter so this will have to wait.  So, during the winter I will do something else.  Get wood painting panel, seal with shellac, and fool around with Japan Colors paint, add metal leaf and paint over the metal leaf with thinned out acrylic perhaps?  Apply sealants and wax and see how this turns out!

Japan Colors paint is something I never used before.   So, what are “Japan Colors?” Japan Colors are finely ground, lead free, flat, quick drying, paste colors used extensively by specialty painters and scenic artists for aging, faux finishes, marbleizing and glazing. Japan colors are used to make stains or glazes for wet-in-wet techniques to create artistic effects, including but not limited to, dirt, age, smoke damage and simulated marble and wood grain.  There is also “Japan Color Alkyd Glazing Liquid” which is a solvent based transparent color blending agent and wiping glaze. It is designed to be mixed with Japan Colors.  There are a few Ronan Japan Colors in blue, red, yellow, and shades in between.  Ultramarine Blue is a color favorited by David Marks. sells the Ronan brand in quart sizes for around $30.00.  You just need one color to cover the surface of the wood panel.  Half pint sizes are available from Constantine’s Wood Center from $12-$19 + $9.20 shipping on orders to $40.  They are located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  Artists & Craftsman Supply also has 8 oz cans $11.90 – $18.70 + $7 flat rate shipping.  There are more stores available in the U.S. than Constantine’s.

Note these paints are considered hazardous and only shipped via ground service.

Of course I balk at high prices but I also understand these paints have a heavy pigment load and pure rich colors.  Are acrylics a better choice?  Golden heavy body acrylics for some colors contain heavy pigmentation therefore, the highest opacity colors have a value of 1 they are:

Chromium Oxide Green Dark, Chromium Oxide Green, Yellow Oxide, Red Oxide, Violet Oxide, Raw Umber, Carbon Black, and Mars Black.

Note that Ultramarine Blue has an opacity rating of 6 which is more transparent.  A value of 8 is the most transparent!

You can get a listing of Golden paint properties at

The Ronan Japan Colors are matte finished or not glossy.  That is why the paint is Favorited by stage and screen!  Golden acrylics have gloss ratings that follow ASTM standards. They use an average rating. i.e. the average reading from low to high angle for specular and diffuse reflection.

The Golden heavy body acrylics may not be as flat as the Japan Colors.

For the chemical project I would use the Japan Colors.  For the paint only project I will use the acrylic colors.  This will allow me to use more than one color as the underpainting.

Now all I have to do is get some materials and get started. I do have some Golden heavy paint, foil, and a small wood board I can test the concept on.

Indiana Dunes


On October 2nd, I boarded a bus with my fellow Chicago chapter PSA photographers for a trip to the Indiana dunes.  We were on our way to meet up with a local photographer and ranger to get access not normally available for the public.  On the way we passed downtown Chicago.  It was a foggy day which allowed some great photography through the bus window.  Buildings, sky, and partial sun, and cloud shots.

lrg_9915The window caused the clouds to have blue and purple colors because of the window coatings.  Conversion to black and white using NIK Silver effects was the solution for all of those images taken through the bus window.

The first stop was at West Beach.  Loads of fun watching the waves of Lake Michigan, the smoke stacks of the steel mills, and a view of Gary.

Gary Indiana seen from West Beach
Lake Michigan, a wave machine





On approach to Mount Baldy we saw this huge mound of sand from the parking lot.  The introductory picture at the top shows dead tree limbs sticking out of Mount Baldy.  This dune is closed to the public.  Since we had a ranger with us we were guided up a path to get to the top of this dune.  It was a strenuous climb with camera equipment. The path up had inclines of 30 to 40 degrees.  It was worth it though, the views were fantastic.

Top of Mount Baldy

Mount Baldy has a height of 126 feet and is traveling at the rate of 60 feet a year eating up everything in its way including trees and the parking lot.  It is moving inland and in a few more years there will be no parking lot!

View overlooking Lake Michigan from Succession trail

The Succession trail is a loop trail in the West Beach area offering a mile-long look at the stages of dune development.  Part of the trail is a boardwalk including 250 boardwalk steps.  Climb the steps and look over your shoulder for an excellent view of Lake Michigan. Go up and down the steps for the next third of a mile through an oak forest that has risen from the dunes. At the end of the boardwalk, it is another tenth of a mile over sand to return to the parking lot and complete the loop. Stay on the trail to protect the dunes and avoid poison ivy.



The boardwalk and stairs of the succession trail



We headed over to Chellberg Farm area to have a box lunch and rest a while then walked a short trail to the Bailly homestead.

The home is acually a log cabin with claboard siding so that it looks more like a home!

The Bailly Homestead, declared a National Historic Landmark in 1962, was the home of Honore Gratien Joseph Bailly de Messein

Our hosts showing off some pelts kept inside the storage cabin.
Our hosts showing off some pelts kept inside the storage cabin.

(1774 – 1835) who was one of the earliest settlers of northern Indiana. In 1822, Bailly set up his fur trading post at the crossroads of the Little Calumet River and several Native American trails. He was an independent trader in the extensive fur-trading network that spread from Montreal to Louisiana. The Bailly Homestead complex is the last remaining site of its nature in the Calumet Region.


The last stop was a peek at Great Marsh.  We went as far as the observation deck to check out the wild life.  The Great Marsh is the largest wetland within the dunes on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Am egret shares the space with a Canadian goose on the Great Marsh

After this we took the bus back to Chicago, tired and worn out.  We saw plenty for a day trip but it was only the tip of the iceburg!  The Indiana Dunes covers a large area of the southern tip of Lake Michigan.  There are plenty more areas to explore like the Inland Marsh, Cowles Bog, Pinhook Bog, Heron Rookery, and 45 miles of hiking, bicycle, equestrian, and cross contry sking trails covering an astonishing array of habitats of bog, prairie, marsh, dune, and beach.

When you get a chance, explore this area and spend a few days!






Shoot Manual Instead of Auto

Todays SLR’s have several modes of operation besides just auto.  If your SLR does than this article might help you to shoot in the other modes.

Using auto mode is ok for simple snaps but if you want to move your photography experience to a higher level, you’ll need to change from auto to aperture or manual modes.  For example, to capture birds, or fast moving objects you will need a fast shutter speed.  If your subjects are birds for example not only is a High shutter speed required but an f-stop of f/8-f/16 may be required to control depth of field.  A large f-number allows for a greater depth of focus from a small f-number.  You don’t want to get the shot of the year and find it’s out of focus!

Most of the time I shoot in aperture mode to control my depth of field.  On my Nikon D610 I can fix my shutter speed to be a minimum of 1/800 sec. and let the camera decide the ISO if I set ISO sensitivity control off, otherwise I can switch it on and fix it at a desirable setting depending on the lighting conditions.  The trouble with shooting animals in or near the woods where lighting conditions can change dramatically you will need to setup your camera to handle settings quickly and to do that is to use the front and back wheels to change your settings quickly.

When I run in manual mode sometimes I am frustrated because the hysteresis graph shows over or under exposed images.  I would like to do something different other than making changes to the camera settings continuously until the hysteresis graph becomes acceptable.  To fix this problem I decided to find out what the relationship of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are to each other.  At first I did an empirical study where I shot in auto mode with a fixed ISO setting to see what was chosen for f-stop and shutter speed.  I then went to aperture mode and set the f-stop from f/5.6 to f/64 and recorded the shutter speed.  Then I updated the ISO and repeated the process.  I pointed the camera at the same spot in the shade for one set of values and then on a subject out of the shade on a cloudy day and recorded the results.   I transferred the results to Excel and built a graph to see visually what was going on.





The first thing I noticed is the smaller the f-stop, the shutter speed doesn’t change much and there is a significant difference between f/8 and f/16.  What was really important is how it changed over a range of values.  Notice how the shutter speed decreases as we increase the aperture value. The shutter speed decreases by half of the speed for each full aperture stop! Also as we double the ISO value, the shutter speed doubles. With this information we can calculate what the manual settings should be.

Auto setting of 1/100 @ f.4.5 at ISO 400. Unprocessed image

Adjusted Shutter Speed = Current Shutter Speed / 2n where n = number of full stops

New ISO = (Desired Shutter Speed/Adjusted Shutter Speed) * Current ISO

I snapped a picture of my grill on a heavy overcast day and the auto settings were 1/100 @f/4.5 with ISO of 400.  If I wanted  to shoot something at f/11 and a shutter speed of 1/1000 then,

Adjusted Shutter Speed = 100/ 23 or 100 / 2*2*2 = 12.5                    New ISO = (1000/12.5) * 400 = 32000

On my Nikon I set the aperture to Hi 1.  At the time I wasn’t sure what Hi 1 was so I snapped the picture.

Manual setting of 1/1000 @ f/11.5 at ISO Hi 1. Unprocessed image. Note the depth of field has increased from the image at the slower settings
Manual setting of 1/1000 @ f/11.5 at ISO Hi 1. Unprocessed image.  Note the depth of field has increased from the image at the slower settings

Between the two shots I took photos of my Nikon hysteresis graph with my point and shoot Olympus Tough to compare hysteresis graphs and verify the data.

Auto mode. Hysteresis is OK
Auto mode. Hysteresis is OK
Manual mode at new settings – Hysteresis is great! But…

With a little more research I found information on what the Hi values represent in actual ISO for the Nikon D610 which is different for other models and manufacturers.

  • HI 0.3 8300
  • HI 0.7 10880
  • HI 1 12800
  • HI 2 25600

So here is the dilemma. I needed an ISO of 32,000 but Hi 1 is only 12,800?  Well, the ISO setting of 25600 (Hi 1) according to the hysteresis caused the right side to shift to the left a little bit. Although the whites are not as white the hysteresis can be adjusted in post processing.

The other problem with High ISO’s is the introduction of color noise which may be reduced in post processing also.

The caveat here is you must know your limitations, max and min values of shutter speed, f/stop, and ISO settings.  Pay attention to the hysteresis graph on your camera.  When your hysteresis graph shows too much underexposed, black (left) or overexposed, white (right) changing the settings of your camera may help if your camera allows it.

We Shoot Horses


It was a perfect day for a private event to photograph the Tempel Lipizzans in Old Mill Creek, Illinois.  About fifty members of the camera club showed up for this amazing opportunity.  This is a large farm with rolling hills, white fences, green grass, and beautiful pastoral scenery.  It was reminiscent of the ranches in Kentucky. The group was divided into two groups and each group went to a separate section to photograph the Lipizzans in the field.


The Lipizzan is a breed of horse closely associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria, where they demonstrate the “high school” movements of classical dressage including jumps and movements known as the “airs above the ground.”

The Tempel Lipizzans began in 1958. Tempel and Esther Smith imported twenty Lipizzans from the Austrian state stud farm in Piber.  This laid the foundation to become the largest privately owned herd of Lipizzans in the world.  Lipizzans lighten to their characteristic color between 7 and 10 years old.  They start their training as early as 4 and continue performing well into its 20’s.  Only the best horses reach the high standards required for classical dressage.  Did you know lrg_9457-fb the 1963 Disney classic, “The Miracle of the White Stallions,” chronicles the daring rescue of the Lipizzans led by General George Patton during World War II?  The movie was the only live-action, relatively realistic film set against a World War II backdrop that Disney has ever produced. Lipizzans have starred or played supporting roles in many movies, TV shows, books and other media.  The 1940 film “Florain” stars two Lipizzan stallions based on a 1934 novel by Felix lrg_9484-fb

Salten.  fttp://  


A new movie based on the World War II evacuation of Lipizzaner from a Nazi breeding farm is expected to hit theaters in December 2016.


Towards the end of the photo op we were led to a riding training area were a small group of students and trainers where practicing.  They did various footwork, riding in pairs, and trotting.  It was enough for some great pictures.  Unfortunately no airs training was performed.  We’ll have to go to one of their live performances they offer from mid-June through mid-September indoors on Wednesdays 10:30 a.m. and Sundays 1:00 pm.


The public are also invited for “behind the scene tours” in October, November, and December.  Visitors get access to the daily routines of our equine athletes that are in active year round training with a tour guide.  A good portion of the tour takes place in an indoor arena where guests have an opportunity to watch the horses in their regular training program. Dressage training is often likened to ballet in which the dancers developing musculature is key to the development of advanced skills.  The horse trainers welcome questions as they enter and exit the arena.


For more information on the Tempel Farms Lipizzans visit:

Tree Bark Photography


Another fun thing to do while trailing through the woods is photographing tree parts!  Just be sure to wear plenty of mosquito repellent during the warm season.  Especially after a few days of rain.

What I reallylrg_9266-fb like to find are interesting patterns made from cuttings of tree trunks and branches, and knots because they can exhibit a range of color and texture.  Different geographical areas provide different types of trees which can show off beautiful patterns and color.

Florida’s eucalyptus tree bark shows smooth bark with streaks of color.  Aspen trees with plenty of knots for interesting patterns.  Cottonwood shows deep furrows, and aspen groves show off beautiful vertical  trunks with black knots and horizontal lines.


Plants attaching to the bark add interest like various moss growths or vines.  You can shoot the subject at different angles including flipping the camera from horizontal to vertical.  In post processing you can also turn the images at various angles and crop the image for a better impact.


Taking the tree trunk above I cropped it, increased contrast and vibrancy, then replacing color in several areas producing a more interesting image.  It was quickly done here.  I could have spent more time experimenting with different colors.


Then I took the image that I just changed and puppet warped it with Photoshop.  This effect make it look abstract.  Just by fooling around with the different tools the expression of the ordinary photograph turns into another story.


Other times I use these images for adding texture layers when I create composite images.  The ilrg_9293amage below uses the tree trunk below the image of the forest.  The forest picture layer opacity is somewhat reduced with a decrease in luminosity to replace its color.  The tree trunk shows through with its variation in color instead.


I used the knot from the first photo on the top and added a woodsy scene with a winding road as an additional layer.  The knot layer opacity is reduced somewhat.  I called this “View From a Knot”.

I have more fun going outdoors shooting photographs, getting fresh air, and plenty of exercise.  Then on a rainy day get creative post processing the images as I see fit.  Your creative effort could allow your photography to get you a ribbon or 1st place in a photo contest!



Cantharellus lateritius, editble or is it Omphalotus illudens, poisonous?
Cantharellus lateritius, editble or is it Omphalotus illudens, poisonous?

There has been plenty of rain this late summer and with high humidity surely one can find mushrooms growing on the forest floor.  A good hour or two of hiking through the woods I found mushrooms galore.  Some of which I have never seen before and others that I know of in early stages of growth.

LRG_9233 FBThe mushrooms I see in the woods are classified as macroscopic filamentous fungi.  They produce a mycelium below ground and produce visible fruiting bodies that hold spores.  The fruiting body is made up of tightly pLRG_9234 FBacked hyphae which divide to produce the different parts of the fungal structure, for example the cap and the stem. Gills underneath the cap are covered with spores and a 10 cm (4 in. ) diameter cap can produce up to 100 million spores per hour.

When I first saw those bright orange mushrooms growing next to an oak tree, I thought these must be poisonous! Well they just might be.  In order to really find out more about a mushroom you are looking at in the field go to and check out the techniques used to identify mushroom species.  The mushroom above and to the right might be a Macrolepiota Singer then again it could be something else. False Parasol perhaps?  Highly poisonous!

A majority of most edible wild mushrooms are associated with specific types of trees. For example:

  • Pine: King boletus,Hedgehog mushroom, Masutake.
  • Oak: Chanterelles, Blewits.
  • Western Hemlock: Admirable Boletus.
  • Aspen, Poplar and Willow: Oyster Mushroom, Honey mushrooms.

LRG_9230 FB

You can just make out the bright orange mushrooms growing in the background.  This is a patch of mostly buckeyes.  These orange mushrooms are growing under an oak tree. So this mushroom must like oak trees.  It is most likely a smooth chanterelle.  Unfortunately, I only photograph the mushrooms just for the sake of photographing mushrooms!  What I should have done is cut one off at the bottom of the stem and looked underneath at the gills.  The gills would have told me instantly if it was a chanterelle and not a look alike, like the poisonous jack o’lantern.  One thing is certain though, chanterelles don’t cluster in a tight bunch as shown in the first photo but a jack o’lantern does!

Personally I’d rather buy my edible mushrooms in the store.  That way I know I won’t get sicker than a dog!  However, it is a good thing to know how to identify wild mushrooms.  It would come handy in case you get stuck in the woods and need food for survival!  There are a number of web sites out there to help you learn about wild edible mushrooms.  You can start here:  or  At mushroom you can learn:

  • Collecting for Study
  • Make Spore Prints
  • Descriptions and Journals
  • Identify Mushrooms
  • Determine Odor and Taste
  • Pronounce Latin Names
  • Testing Chemical Reactions
  • Using a Microscope
  • Mushroom Taxonomy

Or check out a book or two at the library.  I found “Mushrooms of Illinois & Surrounding States” by Joe McFarland & Gregory M. Mueller to be an excellent reference.  The pictures were great! Much better than those I found on the internet.

These aren’t oyster mushrooms, there are quite a few species of mushrooms that look like this that grow on wood.
These aren’t oyster mushrooms, there are quite a few species of mushrooms that look like this that grow on wood.
LRG_9281 FB
I don’t know what these are either but the pattern and texture of these mushrooms growing on the tree trunk held my photographic interest.
The Tricholoma genus is a large group of mostly white and light brown mushrooms
The Tricholoma genus is a large group of mostly white and light brown mushrooms

There are books dedicated to just one genus.  For example Tricholomas, such as “Tricholomas of North America” A Mushroom Field Guide by Alan E. Bessette, Arleen R. Bessette, William C. Roody, and Steven A. Trudell.

If you are interested in mushrooms as a naturalist a trip to the library is an excellent resource.  If you are like me, grab your camera and have fun capturing images of mushrooms in the field.

The Sycamore Steam Show

Working Hard - Steam driven thrasher being loaded with hay.
Working Hard – Steam driven thrasher being loaded with hay.

A delightful display of early steam driven farming implements is presented every year on the Taylor Marshall Farm in Sycamore IL. The Northern Illinois Steam Power Club had its first membership meeting on February 16, 1957 at the Halverson’s Implement Co. in DeKalb IL.  J. I. Case Company showed a motion picture “When Steam Was King” to 150 people, led by Rupert Jordan and Chuck Taymond.  Rupert Jordan was elected president and the name “Northern Illinois Steam Power Club” was officially adopted. 49 people registered for the membership.

Inside a steam boiler
Inside a steam boiler

The first Thrashing Bee for the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club was held at John Allen’s Corners in Hampshire.  The 50th Annual Threshing Bee occurred in 2006.


The clubs purpose of the show is to be known as a friendly place among beautiful shade trees to visit and exhibit.  A large Vilter Tandem Compound Corliss Stationary Steam Engine and Ammonia Compressor has been operational since 1999

LGolla 9
Close-up of the rotating wheel on the Vilter Tandem

The show was held for 4 days.  On the last day I went there to photograph some of the machines.  It was fascinating and I got some interesting shots.  Besides the steam engines, there was a small group exhibiting WWII equipment.  We had a discussion with one of the presenters who was a tank operator back in the day.

WWII Ambulance
WWII Ambulance

There are some interesting pictures and comments on the clubs Facebook page

The official Northern Illinois Steam Power club windmill
The official Northern Illinois Steam Power club windmill

The Farm Yard

The Farm Yard
The Farm Yard

Finally finished “The Farm Yard.”  Typical setting of Midwest farm scenery this image is similar to the Primrose Farm in St. Charles IL.  See the previous post “Primrose Farm” September 21, 2014 for the description of this restored 1930’s working farm.  Why the interest in painting a barn picture?  Well, agriculture has always been one of my interests.  When I worked at Case Corp. a few years ago, I studied soil types and weather conditions then applied the knowledge to building a database for field recording of soil samples and crop conditions.  Today I realize there are quite a few farms converted into parks and museums and wondered if urban sprawl may be a reason.  Is there a decline in farm land in Illinois?  Here are some facts on agriculture in Illinois.

Some 80% of Illinois is farmed with 2/3rds in row crops such as corn and soybeans and 1/3rd in pasture, forage crops, orchards, and woodlots.

From the 1880’s to the 1930’s, a succession of innovations came into use to transform the pastoral farmscape by these introductions:

Higher yields. From animal husbandry to mechanical equipment,  fertilizers and hybrid varieties of corn causing yield from 50 to 120 bu/acre fron 1940  to 1990.

Different crops.  Addition of soybeans and reduction of wheat, oats, and hay.

Fewer kinds of major crops. Production of orchard fruits and vegetables for the canning industry with orchard acreage.

Fewer animals. Livestock (especially hogs) became a specialty crop, less as part of ordinary farm operations and replaced by factory-scale facilities. Livestock remains a significant income-producer mainly on land less favored for row-crop agriculture, such as the hilly districts of west and northwest Illinois.

More use of chemicals. Low-cost nitrogen, and herbicides. Today more than 96% of all cropland in Illinois was treated for weeds at least once each year.

The most permanently destructive of agricultural Illinois land is urbanization. Farming became untenable even on land that is not yet built upon. Increased traffic on narrow rural roads makes it harder to move machines and material to fields; field drainage can be disrupted by construction on adjacent land; vandalism and complaints from nearby residents about farm noise, dust, and smells are common.

It has been estimated that 17 of Illinois’ top 20 farming counties are located in or adjacent to urbanized areas. The population in Illinois increased from 6 million in 1920 to 12.9 million in 2014 or an average increase of 7% per year.

The Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission estimates that between 1970 and 1990 the population of the six Chicago-area counties grew by 4%, while the amount of urbanized land expanded by 51%–a net land consumption over the two decades of more than 360,000 acres. Today, cities only occupy 1/7th the land, conversion of farmland to residential use impinges on the state’s ability to meet future demands for food.

Farm Yard – In Progress

Farm Yard In progress
Farm Yard In progress

Didn’t quite finish the pastel.  I stopped and thought I need to add something to the foreground.  I decided I should add a farm animal like a cow or something .  Maybe a fenced in area with a cow?

The picture above shows the sides taped.  This is to prevent pastel dust migrating to the framing area.  The actual sand paper is 16″ x  12″. The tape masks off some of this area leaving a 12″ x 9″ area to work with.

I should be able to finish this up this week.  Later….