The Blue-eyed Cat is part of an inter-species series of creatures who were delighted (in the nicest possible way) that I spent some of 2018 somewhat uninspired. Pushing on, following the “make art every day” principle, I made sheets and sheets of tiny abstract designs. I had an Artist Epiphany in October (an odd thing for a Jewish person, but an epiphany nonetheless), and realized that even if my Dear Departed Mother were to come back to life, that no one would buy any of these patterned sheets. Luckily enough, as a Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian, I am surrounded by creatures who were delighted to say “thank you for making our new body parts.”
Cats care exceedingly about their whiskers, and Red Cat is not exception. There was an enormous amount of caterwauling while the Red Cat was at Hair and Makeup. How short should his whiskers be? Were they shiny enough? The tricky one — do they match? — came in at a resounding “no,” be he was OK with that.
Red Cat, Red Roo, (District Spotlight Winner) and a menagerie of whimsical creatures will be at The Show Gallery, 346 N. Sibley Street, Saint Paul from Friday April 26 to Sunday April 28. The Gallery is half a block from the Green Line and a block from Union Station. It is super accessible because it is on the ground floor. Come to Saint Paul. See local artists. Support local artists. Thank you.
Click Here for Free Transit Passes for Saturday and Sunday!
As the 2019 Saint Paul Art Crawl approaches, my studio has been very very busy. Cats came and went. Cats came back. Cats lined up. Cats caterwauled. Cats waited patiently and impatiently for hair and makeup. They are looking forward to being at The Show Gallery in Lowertown.
Gray and White Cats for the Art Crawl*
The Gray and White Cats have waited very very patiently for some months as they haggled between themselves and with me (occasionally) about how their hair and makeup would work. We finally agreed on a mixture of acrylic paints, and acrylic mediums (Golden Clear Tar Gel).
Two Cats on Two Canvases for the Art Crawl*
These cats are Fraternal Twins who loved their many trips to hair, makeup, and wardrobe. In their minds, their costumes are covered with jewels and precious metals. Don’t confuse them with facts.
Purple Squirrels and Multi-colored Squirrels blend fact, fantasy, whimsy and weirdness.
As a Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian,I am always glad to see whimsy validated by actual, genuine fact-based reporting. Thank you, Smithsonian. Wandering your halls a child was one magical trip after another. Now that I live in Minnesota, I rely on the magazine and the web.
Purple Squirrels, as you may know (from reading my old blog post) are candidates whose qualifications make them impossible to find, let alone recruit. Consider searching for the patent attorney licensed in four states and three countries who speaks four languages and holds 14 patents. Good luck finding her.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Giant Multi-colored Squirrels (Malabar Giant Squirrel) roam the forests of Southern India. Is this a case of fact catching up with whimsy or the collision of fact and whimsy, or something else? Where is Charles Darwin when we need him?
Congratulations to Big Red Rooster, whose image made him (and me, too) a District Winner in the 2019 Saint Paul Art Crawl. We will be at The Show Gallery Lowertown on April 26-28. Find Red’s portrait on page 11 of the Art Crawl Catalog.
Big Red Rooster leads the pack?
Big Red can’t really “lead the pack,” because there is no collective noun for rooster. What he does lead is a group of roosters and other creatures made from abstract paintings whose tiny designs were comforting to make at a time when a little bit of obsession seemed like a good idea.
Why is there no collective noun for roosters? Think about it. They don’t hang out together.
After painting sheet after sheet, I had an Artist Epiphany. I realized that no one — not even my Late Mother should she have come back to life — would have the slightest interest in buying these abstract paintings. Luckily for the Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian (me) I am surrounded by creatures, including roosters, who stepped up and said “Thank you for creating new body parts for us.”
I was at once angered and inspired, and I blogged about it. I was mad. Really mad. And then inspired. I envisioned a 10-foot-by-10-foot installation made up of various sizes of canvas covered with a design of tiny boxes and dots. The boxes were to be the cell phones, and the dots were to be the data being collected. I imagined that I could pour all of my anger, frustration, and fear into these canvases, that people might get excited about the effect this gizmo would have on society, and — and …. I wasn’t sure what would come after that.
DRTBox anger recedes, recycling begins
Breathing deeply, I recognized that I have limited capacity for high-decibel anger. (There is too much to be upset about for single-subject high-velocity fretting.)
With my anger receding, I could focus on recycling. I covered some of the penciled and painted canvases with white gesso as a base for new projects.
One canvas retained its dots and serves as the background for Belinda the Beaded Elephant. Standing on a field of little boxes, she absorbed all of my anger and most of the active-keeps-me-up-at-night the concern about privacy, spying, and personal space. She is the CEO and Principal Advocate for “Free the Fones,” an international non-profit working on a long list of privacy, internet, and e-commerce issues. Please reply to her appeals for money, time, and fresh vegetables. She eats 15 pounds of every day.
It may get to 1 degree today (February 8), and I am optimistically registered for the Spring 2019 Saint Paul Art Crawl. Just planning for April 26, 27, and 28 is a harbinger of Spring.
The Show Gallery – Lowertown
I am honored to be at The Show Gallery Lowertown Saint Paul. Its mission is to create accessibility in the arts and unite artists of all abilities. Since opening in 2015, The Show Gallery has exhibited work by over 250 artists from the Twin Cities area. Exhibitions feature work by artists of all backgrounds, training, and ability levels. With 10+ exhibitions a year, special events like the St. Paul Art Crawl, and a selection of fine art and gifts in Rebecca’s Gifts, there are many ways to engage with The Show.
Big Red – a new avatar
Big Red, part of a large family of roosters who thanked me for creating their body parts. He is thrilled to be part of the 2019 Saint Paul Art Crawl, and is looking forward to meeting the pigeons hanging out in front of the Union Depot, which is a block from The Show Gallery.
New Art for the Art Crawl
The art crawl plan is to bring a mix of new creatures (the roosters and the hippos have been lobbying for selection), and new tiny neighborhoods, which have allowed me to focus on small-but-unequal spaces. Requests encouraged. Commissions accepted. Looking forward to seeing you in April.
No sooner had I made the abstract neighborhood slide show, than the clamor from the creatures who want to go to the Crawl became — distracting. It’s not enough that Two White Cats are Plotting to Take Over the World (an homage to their heros: Pinky and the Brain), but at least three roosters have been roped into an Avant Garde Runway Competition. It’s very busy in my house.
With her Camouflage nearly complete (she lacks a monacle), Camo Hippo started a business. Moving swiftly, she saw no need to consult with an expensive team of MBA-trained consultants. With so many creatures in danger from poachers, sea level rising, habitat destruction, and forest clear cutting, she has no doubt that there is a rising demand for the services of a Professional Camouflageur.
Camo Hippo Catalog Samples
Inspired by Photoshop Filters and her clients’ preferences, Camo Hippo will use an innovative combination of tattoos, paint, glue, and unique textiles to create what will work best for her clients. She is assembling a team with technical and artistic skills who are excited about working to protect real and whimsical creatures. She expects to be in production by the end of August 2018.
New Hippo Camouflage: Hiding behind Creatures with Antlers
For about six weeks, I was obsessed with anti-climate change convocations headed by Creatures with Antlers who were gathering inside the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul. I painted more than two dozen canvases and paint-on-paper pieces that were birds’ eye views of these meetings. It was time to stop.
With more of these images than I could possibly display (let alone sell), Max-the-Cat, my Model, Muse and Snacks Manager, said “The hippos are coming and they need a place to hide.” Never argue with your Spokescat.
Create Hippo Camouflage: Cut Strips, Squares and Rectangles
With more than enough painted papers, it was almost easy to start. But not quite. I love all of these sheets of whimsical shapes and the intense colors from Golden High Flow Acrylic paint. Finally realizing that I could paint more sheets if I wanted, it still took a while to get up the nerve to begin to cut.
Toolkit: TerraSkin, a tree-free paper that doesn’t stretch that I buy from the always-helpful staff at Saint Paul’s Wet Paint, a paper cutter, good scissors (Fiskars), and a Uhu archival glue stick. Gotta have it: good light and a comfortable chair.
Hippo Camouflage: what could it be?
Think of a Hawaiian shirt on colored steroids, melted crayons (before your Mom noticed that you had done this on the floor), adventures in microscope viewing, or for people of a certain age, a very pleasant acid trip,
Hippo Camouflage: it’s working!
What next for hippo camouflage?
This hippo, who has not yet shared his name with me, is taking the rest of the week off while being coated with Golden Glass Bead Gel and Golden Self-Leveling Clear Gel. He sent a message to two of his friends, noting that hippo camouflage is pretty cool. They will get to Saint Paul next week. They hope to arrive in time for Art in the Hollow, an amazing day of art and music and fun and food in the magical Swede Hollow. June 2. Be there. Rain or shine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.