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!
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.”
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.
Piet Rooster arrived in my studio this morning, and urged me to power through to finish the painting. When a 6-foot-tall Rooster makes a request, the correct answer is “you bet.”
Piet Rooster was fun to paint. His bright color blocks recall the Mondrian-inspired color blocking from the 1960s. I was never in a position to snap up Courreges and Mary Quant color-blocked garments, but Piet always admired them. He is a Piet Mondrian Super-Fan, but goes steps beyond his idol’s famously limited palette.
Making the painting
I smiled from start to finish. He began as a pencil drawing, and then I opened my paint palettes and found lots of my favorite colors. Using a Number 2 brush, I filled in the blocks. My trusty Double-Zero brush was just right for painting the lines.
Piet will be available on prints and cards after July 1. Inquire about purchasing the original.
Two books will be tucked into my card rack: Meet the LLLamas and The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul. I’ll have cards and prints with flamingos, LLLamas, parrots, cats, Robert the Tap Dancing Rooster, Peter Pangolin, new roosters, Pinky the Beaded Pig, Glenda Diva Gecko, The Giant Stained Glass Penguin, and more!