From Conversations Connections

Grand Metaphor: Explains Everything

the grand metaphor: every piece looks better because of the pieces that surround it.

Having made abstracts before I could define “abstract” (no art school), I think that I can be forgiven for creating backstories before I could conceive of the Grand Metaphor.

The Grand Metaphor connects the backstories

Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky gave me an excuse to make tiny, interconnected bands using both very sharp pencils and tiny brushes. Each of these bands looks better because of how it twines with its neighbors.

Puzzle Pieces covers a space with interconnected shapes that invite bright colors. Although they don’t touch one another, they are closely related.

Friendship #5. Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you're lucky. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Friendship #5. Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky.
Puzzle Pieces Parrot: Wild Parrots of the Grim Winter of 2013,. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Puzzle Pieces Parrot: Wild Parrots of the Grim Winter of 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original nanoscapes were a jump-off point for a new watercolor painter. I saw my artist pals who could get the spirit of trees, flowers, and mountains with a few whooshes of watercolor and realized that I could never achieve anything resembling their work. I also realized that plein air (outdoor) painters had to share space with insects and humidity — two things that I have dedicated my life to avoiding. Turning indoors and turning inside, I found shapes and spaces and their connections at the tip of my pencils and brushes, and never looked back.

The Genus Papyrus, a group of mosaic creatures who answer the question “What do watercolor artists do with leftover paintings?” They cut them up and make mosaics. The Small Friends’ Research Institute supports research in the Genus Papyrus, and continues to look for good habitat for these creatures: 3 parrots, a hippo, a horse, a cat, and a pig. They are wonderful examples of The Grand Metaphor because each piece fits neatly next to its neighbors.

 

Molecular Biology 115: an original nanoscapes
Molecular Biology 115: An original nanoscape
Herbert Hippopotamidae Papyrus (hippo) from the Genus Papyrus. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Herbert Hippopotamidae Papyrus (hippo) from the Genus Papyrus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sail or The Unmade Bed celebrated the brightest colors that I could create with watercolor and challenges perspective. Note: achieve Bright Water colors with lots of pigment and not a lot of water. Thank you, Russ Dittmar, Watercolorist Extraordinaire.

 

 

The Sail or The Unmade Bed: celebrates color and challenges perspective. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
The Sail or The Unmade Bed: celebrates color and challenges perspective

 

Find the Owl is simply #artfun. Tiny connected shapes and spaces intertwine to create a whimsical boulder hiding an owl.

Orange Flying Crystal is part of a series of six crystal paintings. Inspired by quantity time spent looking at the ceiling at Dulles Airport, these paintings began as doodles and grew into flying crystals that look as if they are ready to leap off the page.

Find the Owl Abstract Artfun. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Find the Owl Abstract Artfun
Orange Flying Crystal. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Orange Flying Crystal: One of six

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painted Stained Glass answers a question that may have troubled you for years: what happens when triangles go wild? The menagerie (family) of stained glass creatures who have stopped by my studio to sit for portraits and tell stories includes: a camel, cats, elephants, flamingos, frogs, hippos, horses, kangaroos, LLLamas (their spelling), parrots, pigs, roosters, a seal, and a warthog.

 

Painted Stained Glass Horse. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Painted Stained Glass Horse. All of the painted stained glass designs answer the troubling question: What happens when triangles go wild?

 

Conversations Connections began as a doodle on a postcard. Several professional pals spent time on conference calls trying to figure out the best way to network our friend into a different job. She didn’t get the job, but I was inspired. One of many pieces that began with a General Pencil 6H drawing. What a pleasure it was to fill in the tiny rectangles and squares with watercolor. A tiny Micron pen (several) made the tiny lines around each piece.

Conversations Connections. Doodling while on a conference call to connect a friend to a different job. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Conversations Connections. Doodling while on a conference call to connect a friend to a different job.

 

Paper Mosaic came to me at a perfect time. When I turned 65 I abandoned all activity requiring safety equipment or liability waivers, thus, no tile cutting, no glass cutting, and no bungee jumping. Paper mosaic — creating tile from paper and acrylic paint and mediums — can be done by anyone at home. I taught the 2017 6th Grade Graduates of Alice Smith Elementary School to make paper mosaic. They made this one as a gift to the school and it hangs in the building.

Mosaic Mural by Alice Smith 6th Grade 2017 part of the Grand Metaphor
Mosaic Mural by Alice Smith 6th Grade 2017

 

Yellow Paper Mosaic part of the Grand Metaphor.
Yellow Paper Mosaic uses tiny bits of acrylic paper and medium covered paper.
Minnesota map paper mosaic. After turning 65, I abandoned activities requiring either safety equipment or liability waivers. Make paper tiles with scissors! Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Minnesota map paper mosaic. After turning 65, I abandoned activities requiring either safety equipment or liability waivers. Make paper tiles with scissors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creatures with Antlers may have the longest backstory. The Pandas and Frogs from the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul decided to expand the metaphorical footprint of The Forest to accommodate creatures from around the world who were being displaced by climate change. The “creatures with antlers” series was originally conceived as birds’ eye views of conclaves of creatures with antlers (including the Jackson’s Chameleon) who were strategizing about climate change. This story became much too complicated to tell all the time. I’ll get it into a book someday.

 

Climate Crusaders Creatures With Multi-colored Antlers 2. Originally conceived as a bird's eye view of a conclave of creatures with antlers meeting in the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul to strategize about climate change. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Climate Crusaders Creatures With Multi-colored Antlers 2. Originally conceived as a bird’s eye view of a conclave of creatures with antlers meeting in the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul to strategize about climate change.

 

Big Neighborhoods are three 22×33 paintings that are joyously self-indulgent, and, perhaps the clearest example of The Grand Metaphor. Watercolor and more watercolor.

Big Neighborhoods 2: every piece looks better because of the pieces that surround it. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Big Neighborhoods 2: every piece looks better because of the pieces that surround it

 

Shameless Commercial Conversation

In a perfect world, everything would be available with one click. I apologize. Contact me directly to talk about images that you like or ideas that you’d like to explore. For example, paper mosaics can cover a wall and The Sail can be 5-feet long. I look forward to hearing from you.

Three abstracts: winners!

 

Three abstracts are winners. I am honored that three of my abstracts were selected for Still Point Art Gallery’s Rectangles, Triangles, Circles: The Shape of Life. This online exhibition is up from August 1-October 31, 2015.  It is also featured in the Still Point Arts Quarterly  (Fall 2015).

Inspiration

These paintings are all based on a doodle that I began making during lengthy conference calls with wonderful people who had gathered to help a dear friend and dedicated public servant network her way into a different job. We were ultimately unsuccessful (but in great support of the person who was selected). Our friend continues her public service (lucky people in her district), and I got an inspirational and winning design.  Every tiny block is connected to one or more blocks. Just like people in the world — connected. These watercolor paintings are all made with tiny brushes (double and triple zero), and Micron Pens. I am becoming very fond of the pen size .005 which has a .20 mm tip.

Conversations Connections 2015-2
Conversations Connections 2015-2 (12×12)
Conversations Connections 2015-1
Conversations Connections 2015-1 (18×22)

 

 Connections Between & Among Us: All In This Together (22x33)
Connections Between & Among Us: All In This Together (22×33) The image below is from the image above.
Tiny spaces ready for closeups
Tiny spaces ready for closeups

A painting for you

Any of these designs can be made for your space (tiny to huge) and in the colors of your choice. Contact me directly: susangainen@comcast.net.

Conversations Connections BW – a winner!

 

Conversations Connections BW
Conversations Connections BW

From my email

Thank you for submitting your work into Colors of Humanity Art Gallery. Your participation is greatly appreciated. By contributing your talents and skills, this helps to ensure a diverse body of work for an attractive show.  

I am pleased to inform you that “Conversations Connections BW” has been accepted for inclusion in the July 2015 show, “Black and White”. Congratulations! Multiple accepted entries came from 18 different states in the USA and 9 other countries, Belgium, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, and Venezuela.  A variety of styles and mediums were entered including, acrylic, , chalk, charcoal, collage, egg tempra, gouche, graphite, ink, latex, linocut, mixed media, oil, pencil, pen, photography, scratchboard, stain, and watercolor. The judging criterion was originality, interpretation, quality, demonstration of ability, and usage of medium. Other factors, such as the clarity of the images provided and their ability to be viewed online, also contributed to our decision.

We were very happy to donate 10% of all entry fees from this show to Heart to Heart International.  It is our hope that this small act of kindness will blossom and grow to help someone else.

 Please visit www.colorsofhumanityartgallery.com on July 1, 2015, to find out which works were chosen and to see which works were selected as winners. All accepted entries will have a link back to the artist’s website or his or her email address if no website.

Thank you again for participating in this show and for allowing us to consider your work for the exhibition. We wish you continued success in your artistic endeavors and a bright future.

Sincerely,

Janelle Cogan
Creator

Colors of Humanity Art Gallery, LLC

Thanks to the staff at Saint Paul’s treasure: Wet Paint!

You all helped me find just the right pen to make this work: the graphite Derwent Graphik Line Maker 0.1.

And thanks to Gustav Klimt for inspiration.

Exploring tiny shapes and spaces

Tiny Bit of Tieton
Tiny Bit of Tieton

It’s clear that I love tiny shapes and spaces, and think that fooling around with a triple-zero brush is fun.

But I’d never counted just how many tiny shapes and spaces that I routinely fill in one of these explorations. Not until today. In this bit of “Conversations Connections for Tieton,” I found 108 painted shapes in this 1.9×1.6″ of an 8×8 painting. That’s all the math that I can do today.

Conversations Connections for Tieton 2015
Conversations Connections for Tieton 2015

The Klimt Bird is a Super Fan of Gustav Klimt (click that Artsy link to see why). I made him at the “artists at work” table at Northstar Watermedia’s Artists’ Market (2015). Hanging around with artist pals was a blast. Watching this little guy come to life from a doodle was enchanting. He is made with the ever-faithful double zero brush and a Micron pen.

Klimt Bird #1: A Super Fan
Klimt Bird #1: A super fan
Conversations Connections for Black-and-White
Conversations Connections for Black-and-White

While prepping for and participating in three art shows in three weeks, I was also working on a black-and-white version of Conversations Connections for a contest focused on black and white work. Making tiny shapes and spaces with shades of black and gray was engrossing. No word on the results yet, but it did give me a chance to find a new pen (Grafik very very fine line in graphite gray) to use on the connecting lines. Thank you, as always, to the amazing staff at Wet Paint. They always find the solutions to my art problems.

 

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Conversations Connections: links

 

8 artawhirl

Inspiration or obsession?

“Obsession” is such a dark word. How, then, should I describe my habit of finding a new design and then working on it until I’m either exhausted, or another idea comes to replace it? Working on Conversations Connections pieces has absorbed a lot of time lately. I’m not close to being finished experimenting and exploring this design which reflects connections — human and technological.

Examples at Artists’ Market

Come and see several examples of Conversations Connections at Artists’ Market, the Northstar Watermedia Society’s All-Original Watercolor Show, at the Fine Arts Building at the MN State Fairgrounds, May 29 and 30.

In the beginning

Test of pencil, pen and paint
Test of pencil, pen and paint

I began to make the underlying pencil drawing during the first day of 2015 Art-a-Whirl, and finished it last night. My original plan was to use just green paint to fill in the tiny squares and rectangles, but somehow yellow and blue crept in.

After working with a Micron .05 black pen on the last piece, I decided to look for a pen with a finer line. I’d hoped for a 005 Davy’s Gray Micron Pen, but it isn’t available. Experimenting with Golden High Flow Transparent Gray with a new triple-zero brush was interesting, but the effect wasn’t quite right. At Dick Blick, I found the Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen (extra-small) in black and it worked. I’m still on the hunt for a very fine tipped gray pen.

 

 

 

 

Step-by-step

I can create a Conversations Connection for you in any size and color scheme. I can work on paper (in my studio) or create a mural on your wall. Use the contact form below and we can start our own Conversation.

Abstract Connections work-in-progress

Connections April 19
Connections #7 Work-in-progress April 19

Work-in-progress

Artists waste no time. While putting in my Vine Arts Center gallery hours yesterday, I took out my General Pencil (6H) and made the pencil drawing. BONUS: see how General Pencils are made.

Late last night, while binging on Death in Paradise (thank you Netflix), I pulled out my double zero brush and began to fill in the boxes.

See this piece (finished or not)

Connections #7 is part of a series of paintings which began as a doodle during conference calls where a group of us strategized about how our dear friend and wonderful judge might be connected to the decision-maker who might appoint her to a difference judgeship. Her constituents are lucky to have her. I am lucky to have made an image that shows everyone and everything is connected.

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Connections #7 will be with me during the Saint Paul Art Crawl at the Dow Gallery at 2242 University Avenue West, Let me know if you are interested in having a work like this made specially for you (in your colors, in the size of your choice).