The Blue Cat from the Clowder of Cats has been nagging. “Where is my portrait? Why can’t my legion of fans get copies? What do you do all day? Nap??!!??”
While others have accused me of allowing my affection for cats to get out of hand, the Blue Cat will have none of it. “You are ignoring my public!”
The prints are easy to find at ETSY. They are digital prints made on Epson paper with archival Epson ink. Each is printed on 8-1/2 x 11 paper and is unmatted. If you are in Minneapolis, call ahead to see if prints are available at The Art Shoppe at Midtown Global Market (612-965-8581).
Chatting with Very Blue Cat
“Clowder,” as you know, is the collective noun for cats. Similar to “convocation of eagles” and “battery of barracudas,” it means everything and evokes something that you are not quite certain exists. As a fan of mystery fiction, I am partial to “murder of crows,” but that is for another day.
The Very Blue Cat is part of a Clowder of Cats which I paint in Saint Paul Minnesota, and model on a photograph of Max-the-Cat, the model, muse, and snacks manager.
Very Blue Cat is purr-snickety, and complains a lot. He always wants more and better food. (“I like BIG shrimp.”) The sun, which travels around my home studio onto a staircase, onto windowsills, and, for a good part of the day, is in front of a sliding glass door, provides insufficient sunshine-vitamin-D. Or so he says, not realizing that my condo earned architectural awards for use of sunlight in the Frozen North.
He has strong opinions, urging farmers to grow more catnip, and ice-cream makers to create cat nip ice cream. Were he an interior designer, his clients would have only very soft pillows for naps, which would be rearranged (and fluffed), hour-by-hour as the sun moves through the houses. I would wonder who his clients might be? The humans? Or the Cats?
While sitting on my porch, he has long conversations with local squirrels, and one of his best friends is Barky-the-Squirrel. Between Barky’s barking and Very Blue’s cat-like chirp-and-growl, they keep local birds on their toes.
Drawing the first of the nanoscapes Valentine coloring pages was an unalloyed pleasure, as was painting the original ($100, limited availability at ETSY), and creating a digital print ($25, at ETSY). This 2017 Nanoscapes Valentine Heart is a dollar digital download at ETSY. You have choices: the original watercolor painting (get it before it disappears!), an archival digital print (Epson paper and ink), or a project (the coloring page.)
My pals have urged me to make coloring books for a decade
Adult coloring books stopped being a trend and coloring pages are now a tidal wave. I was a little slow getting to the coloring pages project, but I’m now at it all the time. I go everywhere with a pad of Bristol paper, 6H pencils, erasers, and a tiny brass pencil sharpener.
A collection of coloring pages
Common advice to writers is “go with what you know,” and I followed it. Making coloring pages based on nanoscapes’ designs lets me revisit the tiny shapes and spaces that I’ve explored since childhood with doodles, and with paint since I took James Boyd Brent’s Splitrock Short Watercolor Class in 2006.
Making a book to my satisfaction is much more complicated than I imagined, so I have made these pages into dollar (plus tax) digital downloads at my ETSY shop in the Adult Coloring Page section. Print them onto card stock. Get our your sharp pencils, tiny paint brushes, or pens and markers. Have fun!
Click to see the pages, then dollar download at ETSY
Click on each image to learn more about Orbs (an original nanoscape), Stacked Boxes, Boxes and Dots, Painted Knitted Metal 31, Demented Dominos, Stalagmites and Curves, Find the Owl!, Terrazzo Molecules, Friendship Bands, and Conversations Connections. There are now 24 coloring pages in The ADULT COLORING PAGES of my ETSY shop. I often add new pages.
The range of new work surrounding me calls for both an exploration (what is she up to?) and a celebration (perhaps she’ll finally finish some of these projects.) It’s no surprise that my two favorite hashtags are #work-in-progress and #artfun. I may deserve a magpie award: lots of projects in various stages of completion.
Fish Parts Mirror
New work comes and goes in stages. The Fish Parts Mirror is part of the paper mosaic family which bubbled up in 2016. It will be a fish-with-a-round-mirror. What’s the hold up? This looks like a simple glue job. But no. The wooden fish substrate has curves and bumps that need to be smoothed out with layers of gesso. Then, the fish parts need to be fitted together. Funnily enough, what fits fine when flat doesn’t fit as well over bumps and lumps. But you knew that.
Coloring book pages in many stages
Where is the coloring book? Coloring pages have been in the new work pile for more than a year. I have lots of pages, but putting them together into a book that makes sense is a lot harder than it would appear. Questions abound:
How big should the book be? This is a two-part question because it refers to size-of-the-page and number of pages.
Should I include full-color versions of each page? Because all of the designs are based on original abstracts, the book won’t look like others in the market. I am cautiously optimistic that some people may be up for the challenge. On the other hand, painting each of these pages would be enormously pleasurable and a potential black-hole-time-waste.
Each design has a story. How much to I tell. Where would it go? On the back of each coloring page? How much — if any — might be interesting, useful, or fun?
Bead Gel, as you may know, contains tiny glass beads suspended in a clear acrylic medium that allows artists to make things bumpy and shiny. High Flow Acrylics do a lot of things that I haven’t explored.
What fascinated me when I got my first sample from the “sale” table at Dick Blick, was that when a blob is dropped into liquid (gesso was my first), the blobs expand and then grow tiny fern feet. I was concerned (was this paint supposed to do that?) and curious. I sent an email to Golden Artist-in-Residence and Acrylic Diva Bonnie Cutts, who kindly replied that yes, the little feet were part of High Flow’s characteristics. She also sent a cool video. I’ve been playing with this stuff ever since.
The images at right are experiments.
New work for holidays
Having made dozens of Flying Pigs and Elephants this year, it’s clear that I love spending “tiny time” with shapes and creatures. The Holidays (all of ’em) are upon us, and it’s time to turn to ornaments. I’m making a few Holiday Stars that will be studded with shiny stuff (stainless steel beads, etc.) Multi-level Stars of David will be shiny with optimism. Unless there is a groundswell of demand, I will make just three three-dimensional Red-Eye’d Bat postcards which will come with envelopes. All are subject to availability. Contact me directly.
My Cat Max is my Muse, Model, Taskmaster, and Pal. Time to give credit where credit is due.
Max: The “Who Me?” Cat
After he learned to climb to the top of bookcases (of which I have many), he decided to get my attention by batting on the paintings that he could reach from his new perches. He is a rhythymic batter, leading me to consider that he was a drummer in one of his former lives. Because the Laws of Gravity have not been repealed in my house, batting on paintings is a bad thing. I say sharply “Max!” He turns and says “Who me?”
Max the Holiday Cat
Max supervises my painting, sometimes attacking the brushes, sprawling on the papers, and just once, knocking over some water to make an editorial change to a painting. Now he has a business plan: He will pose for Holiday Cat paintings, ornaments and bookmarks. He was awesome at Christmas as an ornament and bookmark. He did a fine job on a Valentine card and in four original paintings, and, because he is really on the ball, his Shamrock Cat portrait is already work-in-progress.
Watercolor artists are sometimes at a loss for what to do with paintings that the believe should not see the light of day. First choice, of course, is to paint on the back. But what after that? Two choices: (1) cut them up to make paper mosaic or (2) mash them up for papier mache.
There is another choice: Painted Paper Mosaic
There is a lot to be said for paper mosaic. It is recycling and, therefore, thrifty. Unless you are working with very tiny pieces, the only tools you’ll need are archival glue and a brayer. The tiniest pieces require a tweezer or long, pointed stabber to manipulate. But Painted Paper Mosaic requires just paper, some paint, and patience. That’s it.
Drawing the downloadable Paper Mosaic was a very pleasurable Work in Progress.
I stand second to none in my admiration for the skills and talents of Project Runway contestants. These people can make clothes without patterns — or, rather, they make their own patterns. If you have ever sewed women’s clothing, you know what a complicated activity that pattern-drafting must be.
With no animal husbandry in my family, my entry into the Swine category in the Minnesota State Fair would have to be painted. You won’t find them at the Fair, though, as they were completed much too late (yesterday) to be proper entries in any category. These and other tiny original painted pigs will be available at the Hopkins Farmers’ Market (Saturday October 18 and 25 from 7:30-noon), and at the Art Shoppe at Midtown Global Market. They all different. Each is matted and ready-to-frame in a 5×7 frame, and packaged with an envelope in a Clearbag. $15/each.
Now that I have finished four paper mosaics (horse, pig, hippo, and cat) and have decided that I like making them, today I added a new tool to my toolbox: a brayer. It will transform the sometimes awkward act of tamping down each piece tiny piece of recycled watercolor paintings into an elegant rolling glide.
Helena Paper Mosaic Horse
(Helena Equus Papyrus)
appears on a number of cool products
Fredricka Paper Mosaic Cat
(Fredricka Filidae Papyrus)
Herbert Paper Mosaic Hippo
(Herbert Hippopotamidae Papyrus)
Pablo Purple Paper Mosaic Pig
(Pablo Sus Papyrus)
Each of these tiny small friends is part the Genus Papyrus, a heretofore unidentified subclass of Mammalia. The Small Friends Research Institute is working very hard to identify and classify more of these whimsical creatures and to create environments that will ensure their safety and security.