Conversations Connections selected for WARM exhibition

“Conversations Connections”

Selected for the

WARM Juried Member Exhibition: Portals and Passages

Phipps Gallery
109 Locust Street, Hudson, WI
February 27 to April 4
OPENING RECEPTION: Friday March 6, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Conversations Connections: it started as a doodle

Conversations Connections
Conversations Connections

Some years ago a friend asked me to serve on an advisory committee that was set up to position her to be appointed to a judgeship. I was honored and delighted. Because her advisors were all over Minnesota, we spent time on the phone. I thought a lot, spoke a little, and doodled a bit. This design speaks to the the connections identified and cemented throughout the process. Every element is connected, and every element is valued. Although that particular judgeship went to someone else, my friend remains on the bench and the citizens of her district are lucky to have her. She is a truly dedicated public servant.

As I doodled, the design spread over a page. I was fascinated by the little squares and rectangles and how they were made in the intersections of the tiny lines. I began the paintings with Painstaking Exuberance, starting with a pencil drawing, painting over the lines with Winsor & Newton Davy’s Gray watercolor, following by filling in the spaces with color, and painting over the gray lines with black.  After making a few small paintings, and posting some digitized designs at zazzle, I made this one — a 22×30-inch celebration of connections.

30-paintings-in-30-days: Done!

 A big shout out to Leslie Saeta for the January 2015 30-paintings-in-30-days challenge!

January 2015 30-paintings-in-30-days
January 2015 30-paintings-in-30-days

Beginning the new year with the challenge to sit down and make a painting every day was a great way to begin the year, but not too far out of my comfort zone. I have been posting an image-a-day (with some exceptions) since 2011, but having a group of artists painting along with me in cyberspace gave the project an interesting dimension. Waking up to see other artists’ 30-paintings-in-30-days work on Leslie’s blog was a gift.


And, bravo to for creating an amazingly intuitive and easy place to make this collage — for free. Thank you!

All of these images appear in my 30-paintings-in-30-days gallery. Some are for sale as originals or prints, some are on products at Click on the gallery to explore!  Contact me directly for unique ways to use the images.

Coming Soon:  The Roosters will join a group of more than 35 in a new publication (ebook, etc)., The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul, sponsored by the Small Friends’ Research Institute which supports all of the whimsical wildlife work.



30-paintings-in-30-days: first 16

Leslie Saeta challenged artists around the world to join her in a 30-paintings-in-30-days challenge. I am always up for a challenge. But for a glitch in my access to this blog, I would have posted these images daily.  This is catchup.

Each image starts with a drawing and a watercolor painting. After that the images go in many directions including being (1) scanned into Photoshop and manipulated, or  (2) slathered with acrylic mediums, cut out, and placed on real or digital backgrounds.

Click on the image to see it larger-than-a-thumbnail. They are all in a 30-paintings-in-30-days gallery at the small friends website. Click on the tag line under each image to take you to the small friends page that tells the story of each image, and welcomes you to purchase (or not, as not all are for sale), or to find that some of the images are on cool products at my zazzle store.

Now, back to the painting table.

Find the Owl 2015-16
Find the Owl 2015-16
Undercover Rooster 2015-15
Undercover Rooster 2015-15







Golden Boy Winston 2015-13
Golden Boy Winston 2015-13

French Steer Larry 2015-14

French Steer Larry 2015-14

Two Colorful Cats 2015-12
Two Colorful Cats 2015-12
Tin Roof Maroon Rooster 2015-11
Tin Roof Marsala Rooster 2015-11









Stained Glass Rooster 2015-9
Green and Blue Stained Glass Rooster 2015-9
Night Rooster 2015-10
Night Rooster 2015-10









Rooster by Committee 2015-8
Rooster by Committee 2015-8




Glowing Rooster 2015-6
Glowing Rooster 2015-6







Backyard Rooster Nine 2015-5
Backyard Rooster Nine 2015-5


No 2 stars are alike 2015-3
No 2 snowflakes are alike 2015-3








No 2 stars are alike 2015-4
No 2 snowflakes are alike 2015-4



30-paintings-in-30-days January 2015
Friendship 2015-1






Quiltish Windows 2015-2
Four  Windows 2015-2
Curious Rooster 2015-7
Curious Rooster 2015-7

Susan Gainen’s new work for December shows

Lost Cave Paintings At Home in the Hall
Lost Cave Paintings at Home in the Hall


November has been part recovery-from-the-WARM-show, exuberant creative energy for upcoming holiday sales, and quiet examination of the ultimate artist question: “What next?”

The Lost Cave Paintings are in the hall just outside my front door, waiting for their next adventure.

Tiny new work

Returning to the World of Tiny, and in prep for five December shows (locations at the end of this post), I have made new work. At the crossroads of mesmerizing high-wire tiny details and the creative tedium of packaging, I made dozens and dozens of one-of-a-kind tiny ornaments. They are painted and embellished paper and will make tree ornaments, party favors, and gift tags.

Today is Thanksgiving, and the pigs in the image below are glad that they are not turkeys and hope that they can be on someone’s tree soon. If you can’t get to any of my shows, you can find some ornaments and other pig products at zazzle.


Holiday Pig Ornaments

Hanukah or another spelling?

A group of Menorahs celebrate Hanukah, and remind me that it’s time to search my house for candles-bought-after-the-holiday or to buy new candles. I have four Menorahs, so it’s hard to fake. Find some images at


First Wood Round Pencil Only
First Wooden Round Pencil Only

The first project for the new year

Combining old materials (wooden rounds cut 17 years ago from the same plywood as the Giant Flamingo) and new-ish 140# paper rounds, I’ve begun a series of RoundWorks that I hope to make into a show in 2015.

Shows in December

DECEMBER 18 — 11 A.M. TO 2  P.M.
DECEMBER 13 (10-5) DECEMBER 14 (12-5)
DECEMBER 6, 2014  10-5
DECEMBER 4 – 20, 2014


Brayer: a new tool for paper mosaics

A new tool
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.
The Genus Papyrus will make its first public appearance at the Northstar Watercolor Society’s 10th Annual Art-On-A-Line Show and Sale at the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Building on May 18-20. They will be with dozens of other small friends hanging next to the nanoscapes
Helena, the Paper Mosaic Horse, appears on cool products at, and you can purchase a matted print from ETSY.

Herringbone Geology – a digital nanoscape

Original Herringbone Geology
Original Herringbone Watercolor

Herringbone Geology could only have been created with Photoshop®, the new power tool in my lifelong learning toolbox.

Until a few months ago, I had  been using Photoshop® to document and upload art to the nanoscapes and small friends websites, and for entries for exhibitions and contests. I wish I could remember why I decided to fool around with images, but I can’t, and I will celebrate the happy accident forever.

Herringbone Geology began as the tiny 5×7-inch original watercolor above. I experimented and created many different colored images, and tried,unsuccessfully to work out patchwork designs that I liked.

Light Purple
Very Red
Patchwork: eh?
Herringbone Geology

BREAKTHROUGH.  I took a single deep purple block, duplicated it, horizontally and vertically flipped it, and created a new single block. Using the language of quilters, I “pieced” some blocks together to create Herringbone Geology.

Find cool products with Purple Herringbone Geology at


Chain Links: a new digital nanoscape

Chain Links 2011
Chain Links 2011

I have a worktable which has been a bad storage solution for so long that I feared what might turn up after excavation. Recycling an old tv, which took up a third of the tabletop, opened the door for a Domestic Archaeological Expedition.

I found long-forgotten treasures.

Among them was “Chain Link Fence,” an original postcard painting from 2006. Cropped, copied, flipped, reversed, and inverted, Chain Links is magic for the morning.

It is part of a group of digital images, work created at the intersection of geometric abstract watercolors and the magic of the technology of Photoshop. Find it on a poster at


Bessie Bird Bead-Bellied Block Feather

Bessie the Bead-Bellied Block Feather
Bessie The Bead-Bellied Block Feather

Bessie Bird Bead-Bellied Block Feather was once an undistinguished gray bird from a family whose name has been lost in the mists of time. When her flock-mates departed without her, she became an orphan. Making matters worse, her singing voice never developed beyond an anemic peep.

She made her way to a small cabin in the North Woods, owned by a Committed Crafter, whose toolkit and workbench were the envy of her pals, many of whom she knew from ETSY. The always-busy Crafter kept to herself, quietly creating work that is beloved by small children and adults who wish that they were still small children.

Landing in a pot of orange dye

Bessie landed in a pot of orange dye when she flew into the cabin window.  Shaking herself dry, as birds do, the dye showered onto a silk scarf, creating a beautiful, unpredictable pattern, and the beginning of  a great partnership. Bessie and the Crafter now collaborate on a line of silk scarves, which incorporate Bessie’s Dye Shakes, and a group of ceramic tiles which capture her Dance Tracks.

The more that she explored color, the more color she wanted for herself. She learned to carefully dance toward a low-temp glue gun, and the to roll into her favorite beads. She often changes the color and shape of her Block Feathers with gel and shaping products.

Along with her friend “Bird Brain,” Bessie will represent the letter “B” in the Small Friends Alphabet.

Bessie is 5″ wide x 6″ tall. The original is not for sale. Matted prints for $30 are available from ETSY. Find her image on cool products at zazzle.