From Friendship: Complicated. Messy. Beautiful if you are lucky.

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.

Minnesota: Art Bonanza State

So many art events. So little time.

Minnesota, art bonanza state, is well-populated with artists, art activities, and art events. I met a woman last week who said “You can’t swing a cat in Minnesota without hitting an artist.” Not that I would recommend cat-swinging.

Minnesota Art Bonanza State: It must be a law.

I’m convinced that there is a section in Minnesota statutes or regulations that requires:

  • An artist on every block.
  • Ten art events on every week day.
  • 30-50 art events on every non-holiday weekend.

I’ve given up counting the number of art invites that I get. I’ve lost track (often to my detriment) of the art events to which I could apply. I’m overwhelmed by the opportunities to participate in arts organizations. What to do? Keep making art.

My work. Opening today. Just today.

Here is one example of the Crazy Minnesota Art Bonanza State calendar: I have work in two shows that open today. The NEEMA Fall Fine Arts Show and the Dow Gallery Celebration of Life on the Green Line. Time being what it is (limited for me), I might not get to the NEEMA show today. I will be at the Dow Gallery with Ginger Chili Krispee Treets.

Both shows celebrate their respective “neighborhoods.” NEEMA, an award-winning arts organization, is a lynchpin of Minneapolis’ Northeast Arts Community. The Dow Gallery anchors the west end of the Green Line in Saint Paul.

Tell your GPS to find art!

 

 

Friendship 7 Complicated Sometimes Messy Beautiful if you are lucky. Minnesota Art Bonanza State
Friendship 7 Complicated Sometimes Messy Beautiful if you are lucky

 

Neighborhood 42. Minnesota Art Bonanza State
Neighborhood 42: every piece looks better because of the pieces that surround it

Friendship 7 painting accepted for NEEMA Show

Friendship 7: Complicated. Sometimes messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky.

Friendship 7 got lucky. It is a winner in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEEMA) Fall Fine Arts Show lottery. Gotta love a lottery.

NEEMA Fall Fine Arts Show
NEEMA Fall Fine Arts Show

My entry, Friendship 7: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky, is part of a series of paintings that put a new (and I hope abstractly realistic and delightful) face onto friendship. These paintings are squarely inside the nanoscapes tradition: tiny designs in tiny spaces. I make a pencil drawing, carefully work out the “over and unders” and then paint, using triple-zero brushes and a steady hand. I’ve made small (4×6″) and large (12×16″) friendship paintings. Some are round, some fill the canvas, and some are in random shapes.

Friendship 7 Complicated Sometimes Messy Beautiful if you are lucky
Friendship 7 Complicated Sometimes Messy Beautiful if you are lucky

Celebrate at Solar Arts

Join the celebration at the Solar Arts Building, 3rd Floor, 711 15th Avenue NE, Minneapolis 55413. Opening Reception September 16, 6-10 p.m. See some terrific art, and eat, drink and be merry. Catering by Chowgirls Killer Catering. Craft beer from Indeed Brewing and cocktails from Tattersall Distilling. The show runs from September 16-25, and is open to the public Thursday – Sunday.

 

More Friendship Paintings

Contact me directly to determine availability or to commission one for your very own.

Connections coloring book: tiny spaces

Since 2006, I have celebrated connections within the tiny spaces in paintings called nanoscapes. My friends and fans have been after me for years to make coloring books, and as with so many things, I’ve realized that resistance is futile. Now all I need is a printer who can create a book at a price that my pals can afford. Suggestions? Use the contact form at the end of this post.

Celebrating connections with painstaking exuberance

Almost by accident, I created a consistent body of abstract work that reflects my interest in connections among and between people, their neighborhoods, and their cities: true nanoscapes. I use painstaking exuberance, a four or five-step process, to make each one. I begin with a pencil drawing, continue with a Davy’s Gray watercolor outline, then paint between the lines, and outline each shape with paint or Micron pen. Sometimes the fifth step includes a paint or ink outline of the complete piece. I love and celebrate every single step.

2007 Kaleidoscope 1: early connections
2007 Kaleidoscope 1: early connections

My earliest watercolor paintings were all about tiny spaces, complex designs, and bright colors, and were reflected in the business name: nanoscapes & other visions llc.  The first paintings (8×10 inches or smaller) were shown at the now-closed Rosalie Wahl Library in Stillwater. It was a very tiny library, and the very tiny nanoscapes looked great on the walls.

Some of you know the story. No sooner than I had acquired the business name, and other pieces of a corporate entity, than one of my pals said “Honey, I love your work, but I can’t put a postcard behind my sofa.” Although they maintained their tiny designs in small spaces, the nanoscapes got bigger (16×20, 22×33). In 2009, whimsical creatures arrived and took over the studio, and integrated some nanoscapes’ designs into their bodies. I am returning happily to true nanoscapes, and most of the coloring (or painting) pages are inspired by paintings I’ve done or plan to do soon.

Pages coming in tandem with the First Unitarian Society “Connections” show

On December 30, 2015, I will hang a show that is focused on “Connections” at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis‘ elegant space on Mt. Curve. It is an honor to be there, and I am inspired to collect and showcase paintings from the underlying and unifying theme of so much of my work: connections. The show will be a combination of old and new connections-themed pieces with a handful of creature paintings that incorporate abstract images and link my old, new, and forthcoming work.

Some samples as work-in-progress:

Boxes Coloring Page WIP: a city? neighborhoods? connections all!
Boxes Coloring Page WIP: a city? neighborhoods? connections all!

 

 

 

Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you're lucky CP#2. All about connections.
Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky. CP#2 All about connections.
Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you're lucky. CP #1. All about connections.
Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky. CP #1 All about connections.

 

Mr. Klimt the First: Inspired by Conversations Connections
Mr. Klimt the First: Inspired by Conversations Connections.
Painted Knitted Metal 1: Honors my artist friends Carolyn Halliday & Karen Searle who knit with wire. An astonishing act of connection.
Painted Knitted Metal 1 Honors my artist friends Carolyn Halliday & Karen Searle who knit with wire. An astonishing act of connection.

 

Island Fortress: mash-up and connections
Island Fortress: mash-up and connections

 

I hope to see you at the show. Watch this space, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms for information about the show’s reception.  Also, I promise to create a genuine artist newsletter in 2016.

 

 

 

 

Next up! Artists’ Market

Lucky for me! I spent 2015 Art-a-Whirl at the Keg House Arts Building with members of the Polymer Clay Guild of Minnesota. Their work inspires me.

Artists’ Market!

Next up! Northstar Watermedia’s Artists’ Market (formerly Art-on-a-Line), an all-original watercolor show at the Fine Arts Building at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, May 29 and 30. (Free parking, of course)Northstar-postcard-2015-FRONT

All original watercolor

This is a miraculous show. 80 artists start with the same tubes of watercolor or acrylic, and each artist’s work is different from all of the others. You will see this on the Artists’ Wall which has a sample (for sale, of course) of each participants’ work. Be prepared to be astounded at the originality and creativity. Then, remember the tube.

Some of my new work

Yes! Original Rooster portraits from The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul (but not the book) will be at Artists’ Market. Not all of them, of course, but some.

Max the Cat: Muse and Snacks Manager

Max the Cat will be out in force with lots of new images. He is proud of his current job as Manager of Snacks. Each of the Whimsical Creatures who visits my studio is always hungry for snacks. Max makes sure that everyone is satisfied. Fortunately for me, both the creatures and the snacks are Whimsical, otherwise the snacks budget would dwarf that of some small countries.

St. Paul Art Crawl — up next!

 

Multi-task: Explore Saint Paul’s Art Community, Visit the Dow Gallery, & Ride the Green Line for Free

Saint Paul Art Crawl
Saint Paul Art Crawl

 

Dow Art Gallery: a bright-light & art-filled gallery at 2242 University Avenue West

Up up and away!  Come to the Gallery at the Dow Building for the St. Paul Art Crawl. See the work of 40 Gallery Artists, and then, as a bonus, visit the artists in the Dow Building itself.  One stop for lots of great art!

Where is the Gallery?

It faces directly on University Avenue, and gives you access to the rest of the Dow Building

What will I bring?

Originals, prints and cards of Roosters, LLLamas, Cats, Flying Penguins, Pigs, Frogs & Pandas, a never-before seen Giant Panda Portrait, Cave Paintings, Friendship (all sizes), and Flying Crystals. I will also have signed copies of The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul and Meet the LLLamas.  And one of the snacks that draws both creatures and humans to my studio, Judith Olney’s Joy of Chocolate Pound Cake

Events (so far) in the Gallery

Free Performance Showing by SoulPlay/CathyAnn Beaty
Show time on Saturday @ 11am and 2pm

Free Green Line Bus passes!

Live Rooster showing by Collette Sakschek

Live Music, Food, and Beverages!

Fundraising for Cancer Kids. Selling Pints of the famous “Tiger Jack” created by Barb Pinc. Proceeds go to the Cancer Kids foundation.

 

SpringPostersmall

 

Free rides on the Green Line

Download at www.artcrawl.org. The Green Line comes right to the front door of the Dow Gallery.

Free Rides to the Art Crawl
Free Rides to the Art Crawl

Whimsical Wildlife & more at the Dow Building Gallery

 

Whimsical Wildlife & more at Frame by Frame, the Dow Building Gallery
Whimsical Wildlife & more at Frame by Frame, the Dow Building Gallery

What’s inside the Dow Building? Lots of artists and a great gallery.

What’s inside the Dow Building on University Avenue? Khanh Tran of  Frame by Frame opened a huge light-filled gallery for Dow Building Artists (and others), and the Whimsical Wildlife and Geometric Abstractions have a new home.

Saint Paul Art Crawl Spring 2015

I’ll be there for the 2015 Saint Paul Art Crawl, April 24-26. Friday 6-10 pm. Saturday 12-8 pm. Sunday 12-5 pm.

The Dow Building and gallery address is 2242 University Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55414. Check out the map and put it on your calendar.

Waiting for you…

The Cave Seal #2: The Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
The Cave Cat: The Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
Two 3-D Backyard Roosters (From The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul)
Sam the Snowy Owl Who Went to Mardi Gras and Never Came Back (From The Small Friends’ Chronicles)
The French Roosters (From The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul)
3 Cats & 11 Flamingos Sing Acapella
The Great Leafy Bunny of New Hampshire (From The Small Friends’ Chronicles)
Friendship #5: Messy. Sometimes Complicated. Beautiful if you’re lucky.
Flying Red Crystals

 

Painted Knitted Metal: inspired by my pals

 

Knitted Metal?

Although I’ve had a sample on my shelf for decades, in my mind, knitting with metal wire exists somewhere between magic and impossible. Look at this. Made by hand in a no-longer-known land from far away.

Magic Egg from far far away
Magic Egg from far away

 

How lucky am I to know two very talented women who knit with metal? I met Carolyn Halliday and Karen Searle through WARM (Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota) before my two-year stint as a protegée in the 2013-2014 Mentor-Protegee cycle. They knit and crochet with metal and other materials in breathtaking, beautiful, thought-provoking, and sometimes challenging ways. Here are some tiny samples. Make haste to check out their websites.

 

 

Painted Knitted Metal

I wanted to take a tiny two-step away from the creatures I’ve painted for the past few months, and I’ve worked on this piece for a couple of days. The design jumped out of my pencil. It is called Knitted Metal #1, and it is connected in spirit to both Friendship (Complicated. Messy. Beautiful if You’re Lucky) and Conversations Connections. While painting each of the tiny spaces at the intersections, I realized that I was mimicking knitted metal. Thank you Carolyn and Karen, and to the knitter of my Tiny Magic Egg for the inspiration.

 

Painted Knitted Metal
Painted Knitted Metal
Round Friendship Bands 2015-21
Round Friendship Bands 2015-21
Conversations Connections
Conversations Connections

Round and Round: a painted wood project

 

Very Old Flamingo Appearing at the WARM Show 2014
Very Old Flamingo Appearing at the WARM Show 2014

When I had the Big Flamingo cut from a full sheet of plywood in 1996, I had a dozen sets of bookends made, and the leftovers were cut into 8-inch rounds.  Plans for them were made, and forgotten. They have aged like fine wine (not old cheese), and now I have a use for them.

Along the way, I acquired round pieces of 140# paper, which I can attach to the rounds with gesso. To make the painted wood possible and workable, I put a layer of gesso underneath to act as glue.

Here is the first, a work-in-progress, using the design of the Friendship series. My plan is to finish the links, paint the sides, and spray the whole thing with archival spray to protect the watercolor. I will then cover it with blazingly shiny acrylic medium, inspired by Dar Bunde, of Northstar Watermedia Society, whose brightly colored work with acrylics inspires me every day.

Wooden Round Work-in-progress
Wooden Round Work-in-progress

Friendship. Complicated. Sometimes messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky.

Friendship #5 at Vine Arts Center's Member Show
Friendship #5 at Vine Arts Center’s Member Show

My newest family of paintings comes under the umbrella of “Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky.”  I made the first one in late April 2014, and I’ve been working on large and small ones (in between working on the WARM Project Lost Cave Paintings) ever since.

 

Some who have looked at  this work have suggested that it might be brains or kidneys or traffic jams or swarms of bees.  I prefer “Friendship. Complicated. Sometimes Messy…

Small Victory

Friendship…#5 made the first cut in the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Competition, but it wasn’t juried into the final show.

Consolation and a gift

Friendship #5 and some smaller pieces (above) were beautifully and artfully hung by Jack Mader at the Vine Arts Center’s Get Behind the Work #2 show.

Friendship #4.
Friendship #4.
Friendship #2
Friendship #2