From Neighborhood maps

Eggroll Queen Cafe Show – Susan’s Friends & Neighborhoods

Friends and Neighborhoods

If you remember the Underground Music Cafe and the other names under which this Falcon Heights treasure has been over the years — rejoice. It is now the Eggroll Queen Cafe. It’s here. It’s now. And it has Life Affirming Blueberry Waffles and Eggrolls the Size of Burritos.  AND LIVE MUSIC.

The Flamingo from the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul will welcome you in the doorway.

Flamingo from the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
Flamingo from the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul

My Friends and Neighborhoods show is almost ready to come down. That it took nearly a month to figure out how to get these images onto a small enough PowerPoint is a miracle. You may miss the show at the Cafe (it comes down on October 20), but here are the images:

Eggroll Queen Cafe Show


Big Neighborhoods 2 at the Saint Paul Art Crawl

Big Neighborhoods 2 is an abstract painting of squares and rectangles that celebrates connection between and among neighborhoods, people, and things. It has become its own Art Family, and eight versions will be at the Dow Gallery & Frame Shop at the 2016 Saint Paul Art Crawl.

  • The original painting (22×33, framed);
  • Two sizes of prints of the original painting;
  • Greeting cards with the Big Neighborhoods image;
  • The original drawing in three sizes of coloring pages, including a full-sized page on very special paper (17 mil DigiScape Smooth 350 by FiberMark);
  • Two sizes of digital prints of Black Light and Shadows, the invert of the original drawing,
  • Greeting cards with the Black Light and Shadows image.

Big Neighborhoods 2: an art trip

As soon as I began to draw Big Neighborhoods 2, I knew that I wanted to create a full-sized coloring page. It took only a minute to remember the great folks at Apropos Studio (printers and artists extraordinaire: an amazing resource) who helped me create the page. But the actual painting sat on my easel for nearly half a year. It is a watercolor painting, so I didn’t have the excuse that artists-working-in-oils have. Their works can take years to dry.

Was it finished? Was it complete? It certainly took up a lot of visual space in my living room studio. Now that it has all of its Art Family, it is, indeed, complete.

Big Neighborhoods 2
Big Neighborhoods 2: 22×33 Original Framed $800; prints matted to 11×14 and 16×20.


Big Neighborhoods Coloring Page
Big Neighborhoods Coloring Page (3 sizes: 22×33; 11×14, 8×10)
Black Light & Shadows
Black Light & Shadows  Prints 11×14 and cards. (And, because I love it so much, I made a show curtain out of this print. Available at

Other work at the Dow for the Art Crawl

I will be celebrating abstract shapes and connections with other work including Rings and Links, Conversations Connections, Friendship Bands, and more.


Big Neighborhoods: Three sizes to color

Big Neighborhoods 2.1: a really big coloring page

Big Neighborhoods 2.1 is now a challenging full-sized blank coloring page, the same size as  the 22×33-inch original painting. The 22×33 blank page is expertly printed by Apropos Studio on 17 mil DigiScape Smooth 350. This is a wall-covering product, and it is a very smooth friend to paint, pencil, and marker. Order it directly from me: $48 plus $11.00 flat rate shipping.

Big Neighborhoods 2
Big Neighborhoods 2

Big Neighborhoods 2 to color: a really big project

Unless you have a spare work table or dining room, you will need to make a space to color on this piece. Confession: I taped my first big nanoscape to my dining room wall, and drew and painted on it there.

The original Big Neighborhoods 2 is taped to a drawing board, probably the Utrecht 28×38 heavy duty board which is remarkably cheap — less than $20. I have dozens of these boards in various sizes. They have clips, and not terribly comfortable handholds, but they are invaluable for their sturdiness.  Unless you are obsessively tidy (which I am not), these boards become living histories of your projects. The one below has hosted and launched a number of tiny Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul. I can see the colors of gesso that went beyond the tape.

Because I worked Big Neighborhoods 2 in watercolor, I painted on a flat surface, so the taped piece on the board sat on my painting table and I stored it vertically on my easel. You can see it taped below. The little Panda peeking out from under the easel is one of the Pandas of the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul. It can be worked vertically with pencils, markers or acrylic paint.

Drawing Board full of life
Drawing Board full of life
Neighborhoods 2 Closeup
Neighborhoods 2 Closeup

The blank really big page: make it your own

The Neighborhoods 2 blank coloring page looks like this. It is printed on 17 mil DigiScape Smooth 350 by FiberMark. It is incredibly smooth, and the paper — a wallcovering product — is a friend to paint, pencil and marker. Order this by clicking here.


Big Neighborhoods 2 Coloring Page
Big Neighborhoods 2 Coloring Page   


Big Neighborhoods: Two smaller sizes

Big Neighborhoods 2.2

My comfort zone is tiny spaces, so I love working these pages in any size. Big Neighborhoods 2.2, is 12×16 inches, and requires a steady hand and your choice of markers, sharp pencils or pens, or a double-zero brush. ($22 plus flat rate shipping). Order directly from me: $22 plus 5.95 flat rate shipping. Printed with archival inks on 90# double-sided mat card stock.

Big Neighborhoods 3.0

Big Neighborhoods 3.0 is the tiniest version, just 8×10″. It requires a very steady hand, very sharp pencils, fine-pointed markers or double-or-triple-zero watercolor brushes. ($10. Free shipping Shipped flat). My comfort zone is tiny spaces, so I love this image. Printed with archival inks on 90# double-sided mat card stock.


Big Neighborhoods 2 in the New Year

Big Neighborhoods 2
Big Neighborhoods 2: each piece is waiting for its Micron Pen outline

Big Neighborhoods 2: nearly finished

Big Neighborhoods 2 passed an important milestone for the New Year. Each piece has color. All the watercolor is from tubes, from watercolor cakes, and from colors mixed on my palette. Careful and organized watercolorists might scream in pain if they knew just how random and unreproducible  many of these colors are.

Painstaking Exuberance 2.0

Big Neighborhoods 2 (22×33) extends a version of Painstaking Exuberance, my description of my most comfortable artistic process. I make a pencil drawing. In the past, perhaps because I was less sure of what I was doing, I would cover the pencil with Davy’s Gray, a very light watercolor, that would set the pencil and give me a launching pad for adding color. I’ve learned to skip that step and go right to color. Beginning with the brightest red, I add colors randomly, and finish each tile with an outline.

Using an easel

Yes. I have an easel. It is a storage and viewing tool that I rarely paint use for painting. Why? Three reasons: (1) watercolor drips; (2) arthritis in my shoulder makes standing painting uncomfortable and unproductive; and, (3) Max-the-Cat, who perches in Purrniture with the best view of my painting table, takes a dim view of the easel. The last time I tried to use it, he tried to climb up my leg and leap to the easel’s shelf. I surrendered.

Fave Brush: Raphael Kaerell #2 Flat

Unlike smaller pieces which I make with 00 brushes, each tiny tile here was made with a Raphael Kaerell #2 Flat brush.  This line of brushes is synthetic sable. It is tough and strong, and grabs a lot of paint.

After I take a deep breath, each little will get a Micron Pen outline. Perhaps black? Perhaps green or purple. Not a bad decision to make on the New Year.

Coming soon: coloring page

A blank 22×33 version of this painting will be available soon (next week).

Big Neighborhood: work-in-progress

The Big Neighborhood is 22×33. It’s like a city map or an aerial view of a city. When all of its colors are put together, I hope that it represents that the best of us are better for living among all kinds of people. If I work very very hard on it, it might be finished in time to hang with the show “Connections,” at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, which will hang on December 30.  If it doesn’t make it into the show, it will be on hand for the artist talk (date TBA).

Big Neighborhood: start with red

After taking a very long, deep breath, I started to paint on it. First blocks are the brightest red watercolor on my palette, of course. Having determined that this will be a random collection of blocks, I will work color-by-color, spreading them out all over the piece.

Why isn’t this made out of tile?

It looks like tile. Why isn’t this tile? As some of you know, for my 60th birthday I gave up everything that required safety equipment. Conspicuous among the activities that I abandoned were cutting tile and bungee jumping.

Big Neighborhood December 20
Big Neighborhood December 20
Big Neighborhood Close-up December 20
Big Neighborhood Close-up December 20


Painstaking Exuberance

The Big Neighborhood is a nanoscape, an abstract painting made with Painstaking Exuberance (PE).  PE paintings begin with a pencil drawing which is sometimes followed by a Davy’s Gray outline (not this one). Next, I fill in each small space with color, and, sometimes outline each small space with a Micron pen or paint outline. The minute-by-minute focus is on each small space and its bright color. In the end, the riot of color speaks for itself.

Neighborhood blocks or city maps?

As bad news flows from one neighborhood to another across the country and around the world, I can’t help but want to brighten up the landscape. Two paintings that might be city maps share my living room studio space this week. Technically, each will explore squares and rectangles with watercolor and acrylic in both color and texture. Are they images of neighborhoods? Are they maps? Are they aerial views of bright cities? I can’t decide.


These might also be an homage to tile. I love tiles. All kinds of tile. My favorite bathrooms had intricate black-and-white floor tiles, and beautiful art-tiles in the showers and in kitchens. If I lived in an architecturally appropriate space, I would have a Turkish Tile Extravaganza, and a lot of work by Josh Blanc of Clay Squared to Infinity.  I can’t imagine a less tile-friendly space than the one in which I live, so real tile will remain an extravagant daydream.

Back to reality.

For me, creating images like these in actual tile is a non-starter. When I turned 60, I decided to give up activities requiring safety equipment, which specifically included cutting tile and bungee jumping. I’ve left the door open for ballooning and sky-diving adventures, but that’s because every rule has to have an exception.

I suppose that I could use pre-cut tile to make some art, but the tiny shapes that I can draw and then paint make sense to me.


Neighborhood Map 2
Neighborhood Map 2 (18×22: watercolor and acrylic work-in-progress)


A neighborhood map & coloring-book-map-making project

This larger map has a slightly more dramatic form — with movement within the shapes. (Neighborhood Map #3, 22×33; work in progress.) I will get a digital shot of it before I start to paint so that I can create a coloring-book-map-making project.


Neighborhood 3 work in progress 1
Neighborhood Map 3 work in progress 1