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Reflections on Image-a-day Painting

Nearing the end of my second year of Image-a-day painting, I am inclined to continue. Why?

Tiny Bright Tiles
(on a poster at zazzle)

I could use the language of the “discipline” of making art every day, but that word is so far off the mark of the unalloyed pleasure of making art. Creating a tiny painting every day to scan into Photoshop to create a digital magic “other vision” is something like a musician’s warm-up or a runner’s cool-down. Sometimes I do the small painting first; sometimes I do it at late in the night at the end of a painting session.

Boxes & Half Moons
Turquoise Dots
Green & Black Dot Vintage

Ax-Man Project Gear 10: Exhibition Finalist

Ax-Man Project Gear 10

The Ax-Man Project Gear 10 is a finalist in Exhibition Without Walls’ Your Choice On-Line Juried Exhibition.

Eighty-seven photographers, digital artists, and graphic designers submitted 473 images. Twenty-five were selected as finalists, and if you click through the images, I promise that they will take your breath away.
My entry, Ax-Man Project Gear 10, was inspired by a Gizmo I found during an early-summer Ax-Man run with Layl McDill, my WARM (Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota) mentor. I now know that the Gizmo is a tool that people use to measure wire diameter.
The Original Gear 10 Watercolor
I used it to make post-card sized watercolor paintings that I scanned and then (gleefully) manipulated in Photoshop. See all 10 here.

Ax-Man Gizmo: non-stop inspiration

Gizmo from Ax-Man
Gizmo from Ax-Man

As a lucky participant in the Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota (WARM) Mentor-Protege Program, I get to spend time with my mentor, Layl McDill, an extraordinary polymer clay artist.

Third Gear Painting: Posterized
Third Gear Painting

Two weeks ago our monthly meeting/field trip took us to Ax-Man, a surplus store on University Avenue in Saint Paul, and to the Bell Museum on the University of Minnesota Campus.

6th Gear Painting

We went to Ax-Man because I’d had a tiny moment in the workshop of a very talented guitar maker where the walls were covered with (to me) unknown gizmos, gadgets, and whatsis that cried out to become painting templates. While Ax-man was short of guitar-making tools, it was long on pieces that inspired me to go home and paint.

From the Ax-Man came the Ax-Man Gizmo, and from the Gizmo came “10 Gears.” Each began as a post-card sized watercolor that I scanned into Photoshop and manipulated to make digital magic.

Gourds & polymer clay: new techniques

It is important to learn something new every day, and my head if full of new stuff from two classes that I took on Saturday and Monday. Gourds & Polymer Clay: different tools and techniques. New for me. Huzzah!

My Gourd Pin from Kristin Treuting’s Workshop
A Gourd Pin

Gourd Art and Kristen Treuting

Water Movement” is a three-artist show at Vine Arts Center. Kristen Treuting‘s unique and beautiful gourd art is part of this show, and in her workshop, she let us loose with wood burners, lovely inks, and glue guns to create our own gourd art. Thanks, Kristen. (Note to cat owners: Some cats find gourd pieces very enticing. Hide your work.)

Polymer Clay and Layl McDill

Layl McDill is a gifted, visionary, and whimsical genius with polymer clay. Last night she conducted “Clay Play” with Silly Millies for mentors and proteges in this year’s WARM (Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota) Mentor program.

Canes and Canes
Tulip Fingers

Having had a deeply disappointing encounter with polymer clay years ago, I had always been curious about how to make the intricate designs actually work. Layl showed us that “noodles and blankets” were the secret, and the designs and figures that we all made were vastly different from one another, and all wonderful.

I can’t wait to incorporate these designs into my paintings.

NOTE: Layl McDill is my WARM Mentor in the current Mentor-Protege cycle. I am deeply grateful for her enthusiasm and encouragement. If you check out her work, you’ll know that she will never, ever tamp down my whimsy.

Lost Cave Horse in Minnesota Watercolor Society Spring 2013 Show

Lost Cave Horse of the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
Lost Cave Horse of the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
The Cave Horse, one of the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul, was accepted into the Minnesota Watercolor Society‘s 2013 Spring Show.
The Cave Horse and the Cave Toucan were excavated from the Lost Cave  on Christmas Day 2012. The Cave Paintings are on cool products at zazzle.
The show will hang at the Minnetonka Center For the Arts, 2240 North Shore Drive, Wayzata, MN from April 4 to May 2, 2013.

Taking a Break with Two Palm Trees

As I gear up to start a big painting of an as-yet-unknown subject, and continue to work on the (now) 50 Wild Parrots of Saint Paul Project, I took a break on Saturday to paint two tiny (5×5) palm tree paintings.

Palm Tree One (2013. 5×5 inches. $30)
Up North #3 (2008. Not for sale)

Although they reference some of my earliest nanoscapes’ landscapes, I made these to play with granulation to give the sand under the palms some texture with paint, and to practice the traditional wet-in-wet watercolor technique in the leaves and sky.

Wet-in-wet is exactly what it sounds like: wet paint dropped onto wet paper.

I made controlled puddles, and then dropped in a color or colors that I manipulated ever so slightly. Too much manipulation makes dull, muddled color.

To purchase either of these palm trees, please send direct email to and I will bill you through PayPal.  Thank you.

Palm Tree Two (2013. 5×5 inches. $30)

Nine Stars to Wish On

Little Star
All the Colors and Paths 1

Creative Consistency

When asked whether I planned the color placement in All The Colors and Paths #1, now hanging in Altered Aesthetics “Straight Trippin’” exhibition in Minneapolis, I explained that my choices are completely random. The only rule is that like colors cannot “touch.”

From One Little Star

Making the Stars to Wish On images was a similarly random act. I scanned the Little Star and created a template called Nine Stars. Then I made copies, using some of my favorite Photoshop settings (vibrance, hue/saturation, color balance, invert, posterize, and photo filter) without keeping track of anything. If I liked a result, I saved it. I discarded lots of images because they just didn’t work. These are my favorites.

Blue Stars to Wish On
Red Stars to Wish On
Neon Green Stars to Wish On
Bright Yellow Stars to Wish On
Harvest Stars to Wish On
Turquoise Stars to Wish On
Purple Stars to Wish on
Orange Stars to Wish On
Green Stars to Wish On


Some of these designs are available on cool products at zazzle.com



Musings on liking your own work

All the Colors & Paths #1, at Altered Aesthetics’
Straight Trippin’ Juried Show
February 28-March 28, 2013

If you don’t like your own work, how can you: 

  •  expect anyone else to like it — ever;
  •  get pleasure out of its creation;
  •  want to do anything other than use it for kindling.


Will you love every piece?

Don’t expect to love every piece. Because making art is a journey, there will probably be some odd turns or dead ends:

  1. You will inevitably make an awkward and damaging splash or drop the brush or do something that in the cold light of day makes you cringe. Learn from it, and enjoy the pleasure of making art. Forgive your child or your cat if one or both might be the culprit.
  2. When you get a new paintbrush or color or piece of equipment, your first experiments might be happy accidents that you love (and sell), noodlings that you will use as reference material, or something to recycle by painting on the back.
  3. Not that this would happen to you, but in my earnest determination to get back to painting after being ill, I put a lot of brown paint in a place where, on reflection, it does not belong. Whether I can bring this painting back to where I hoped it would be, turn it into something entirely new, or trash it, is yet to be determined. What did I learn? When the act of speaking a simple, declarative sentence is unmanageable, I should stay away from paint brushes.

Who is the SpokesArtist?

I am the SpokesArtist for my own art enterprises which are dedicated to Spreading Whimsy. I have no idea how artists who pour their angst onto their canvases think about liking their own work.

Six Winter Socks from the Nanoscapes’ Archive

After four years of above-zero temperatures, in mid-January 2013, Minnesota plunged to a few days of high temps below zero. To celebrate,  I retrieved Six Winter Socks from the nanoscapes’ archive. The tiny original watercolor which was made in 2008, is no longer for sale. This image is on a postcard at

Six Winter Socks