From cat art

Blue Cat from Clowder of Cats

Blue Cat Nags Human

The Blue Cat from the Clowder of Cats has been nagging. “Where is my portrait? Why can’t my legion of fans get copies? What do you do all day? Nap??!!??”

While others have accused me of allowing my affection for cats to get out of hand, the Blue Cat will have none of it. “You are ignoring my public!”

Very Blue Cat from the Clowder of Cats
Very Blue Cat from the Clowder of Cats

Find prints

The prints are easy to find at ETSY. They are digital prints made on Epson paper with archival Epson ink. Each is printed on 8-1/2 x 11 paper and is unmatted. If you are in Minneapolis, call ahead to see if prints are available at The Art Shoppe at Midtown Global Market (612-965-8581).

Chatting with Very Blue Cat

“Clowder,” as you know, is the collective noun for cats. Similar to “convocation of eagles” and “battery of barracudas,” it means everything and evokes something that you are not quite certain exists. As a fan of mystery fiction, I am partial to “murder of crows,” but that is for another day.

The Very Blue Cat is part of a Clowder of Cats which I paint in Saint Paul Minnesota, and model on a photograph of Max-the-Cat, the model, muse, and snacks manager.

Very Blue Cat is purr-snickety, and complains a lot. He always wants more and better food. (“I like BIG shrimp.”) The sun, which travels around my home studio onto a staircase, onto windowsills, and, for a good part of the day, is in front of a sliding glass door, provides insufficient sunshine-vitamin-D. Or so he says, not realizing that my condo earned architectural awards for use of sunlight in the Frozen North.

He has strong opinions, urging farmers to grow more catnip, and ice-cream makers to create cat nip ice cream. Were he an interior designer, his clients would have only very soft pillows for naps, which would be rearranged (and fluffed), hour-by-hour as the sun moves through the houses. I would wonder who his clients might be? The humans? Or the Cats?

While sitting on my porch, he has long conversations with local squirrels, and one of his best friends is Barky-the-Squirrel. Between Barky’s barking and Very Blue’s cat-like chirp-and-growl, they keep local birds on their toes.

Max Models for the Clowder of Cats (including the Blue Cat)
Max Models for the Clowder of Cats (including the Blue Cat)

Max-the-Cat Feline Hypnotist Portrait

Feline Hypnotist

Max-the-Cat commissioned a new portrait to commemorate his most recent achievement. He is now a Brown Velvet Belt Feline Hypnotist Extraordinaire. His penetrating gaze creates an unbreakable bond between cat-and-human, cat-and-other-cat, cat-and-insect, and cat-and-vacuum cleaner. He bends everything to his will, which serves him in the Hierarchy of Interests: Food, Most Comfortable Seat, Food, and Silence.

Olympic-level concentration

Using Olympic-level concentration, Max’s training regime included hours of focused staring, with eyes fixed on a tiny speck of dust. He applied astonishing attention, gazing at individual leaves on a now-bare tree. Did his constant attention cause the leaves to fall? That’s someone’s dissertation.

Perfecting the Ritual of Insistence

He applied his vision, perfecting the “Ritual of Insistence,” in which a cat sits on a sleeping human’s stomach, with his or her head as close as possible to the human’s face. Deep gazing (and sometimes other activities) compel the human to get out of bed and feed the cat. Inexperienced cats use kneading, slapping, nose-nipping, and projectile vomiting to wake the human. The Brown Velvet Belt Feline Hypnotist Extraordinaire uses the power of the mind.

 

Max-the-Cat Feline Hypnotist Extraordinaire
Max-the-Cat Feline Hypnotist Extraordinaire

Brown Velvet Level

Among those who care about these things, there was some consternation about naming the top-level belted Feline Hypnotist “Brown” instead of “blue” for “Blue Ribbon” or “Black” for “Black Belt.” The truth is that the organizers and perpetuators of this competition also own a fabric store. Some years ago someone made an astonishingly large incorrect order of non-returnable brown velvet. They have donated yards of it to theater companies for velvet tree trunks, supported brown velvet bunny artists, and they continue to look for new uses for this beautiful fabric.

How the portrait was made

Max posed. Susan Gainen photographed with her IPhone and transferred the photo to her desktop and into Photoshop. With some adjustments, including cutting his image from the background and adding a sponge layer, Max emerged triumphant.

Cat Lovers Need Cat Crime Mugshots

Cat owners know cat crime

Cats look so peaceful when they sleep. Nonsense. They are plotting cat crime.

If you live with cats, you are a victim of cat crime. You wake up to find socks missing, valuable glass in pieces, stray outdoor animal and plant life on the stairs and in the middle of the living room. Depending on the quality of your laundry detergent, you may find cat hair on fresh sheets, and evidence of your white cat’s nap on your black t-shirts. Cat crime is everywhere and all the time.

Visit the police precinct

None of your cats will own up to these felonies, so you may eventually go to your local police precinct to see a photo array of neighborhood cat criminals. Good luck with that.

Mugshots Mugshotz Cat Crime Photo Array
Mugshots Mugshotz Cat Crime Photo Array

 

Cat Crime, Mugshotz and Mugshots

This piece was originally called “Mugshotz,” until I realized that the clever misspelling would be defeated by Search Engine Optimization, so it is now “Mugshots.”

Why celebrate cat crime? Recycling.

I made the original (16×20) mixed media piece from 12 four-inch cat faces that I painted for the 2015 Cat Video Festival in Saint Paul. I packaged them with magnets as “Cats-on-the-Fridge.” They were spectacularly unsuccessful and all but two came home with me. After sulking for a while, they begged to go out into the world again. Not that they didn’t like me, you understand, but they were bored. Here they are. The original, subject to availability, is $120 plus the actual cost of shipping. Contact me directly.

Prints and cards

Prints (8×10 and other sizes to order) and cards are available through The Art Shoppe at Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. Come to the Market for the art and stay for the fabulous food. For anyone NOT in the Twin Cities, find prints and cards at ETSY.

Art-a-Whirl 2016: new work and old friends

Northrup King Building, Studio 435

Friday 5-10 * Saturday noon – 8  ** Sunday noon – 5

I am a 2016 Art-a-Whirl guest artist Studio 435. I’ve brought new work and old friends.

 

Peter the Tattooed Parrot Art-a-Whirl 2016
Peter the Tattooed Parrot

 

 

Orange Neighborhoods 1 Art-a-Whirl 2016
Orange Neighborhoods 1

 

 

 

 

 

When he was a tiny parrot Peter the Tattooed Parrot had trouble learning to talk. His parents sent him to a Pediatric Avian Audiologist. The rest is history. …

Black and White Neighborhood Art-a-Whirl 2016
Black and White Neighborhood

Black and White Neighborhood and Orange Neighborhoods 1 is part of my wish for humanity: every piece looks better because of the pieces that surround it. Collaboration. Cooperation. Some Neighborhoods pieces are straight paint (watercolor or acrylic). The others are Paper Mosaics, a new obsession. Having abandoned all activities requiring safety equipment or liability waivers on my 60th birthday put tile and glass cutting and bungee jumping off my list. Undeterred in my quest to celebrate tiny shapes, I’m creating tile from paper, paint and acrylic mediums. #artfun …

Surprised Panda is one of the Pandas from the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul. Two of them visited me, promised to sit for portraits and tell their stories if I promised to provide snacks (Max the Cat is the Snacks Manager) and to keep the location of their Forest a secret. No, the forest is NOT in Como Park.

Friendship #4: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky is part of a series of paintings that explore and celebrate connections. Just as in life, everything is connected.

Shiny Gold from the Clowder of Cats. Who knew that the collective noun for cat was “clowder.” I was closely supervised by Max the Cat, who modeled for this series,

Surprised Panda Art-a-Whirl 2016
Surprised Panda

 

Friendship #4: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you're lucky. Art-a-Whirl 2016
Friendship #4: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky.
Clowder of Cats: Shiny Gold Art-a-Whirl 2015
Clowder of Cats: Shiny Gold

Weekend plan: Do the Dow & Pop into Peggy’s Holiday Boutique

 

Two wonderful art events this weekend: Do the Dow (at the Dow Building at 2242 University Avenue W.) and Peggy’s Holiday Boutique, a 30+year tradition at the Roseville Oval. Each show has one of my favorite paintings.

Do the Dow

Artists with studios at the Dow Building and who are part of Khanh Tran’s Dow Gallery will be opening their doors and celebrating their art. Count on great food and music and lots of fun. Friday 6-10; Saturday 12-6.

3 Cats and 11 Flamingos Acapella
3 Cats and 11 Flamingos Acapella (original $125; prints $30)

 

Peggy’s Holiday Boutique

A 30+ year tradition with more than 100 artists’ work, the Roseville Oval hosts Peggy’s Holiday Boutique. It is a vortex of creative energy, and the artists’ work includes jewelry, painting, ceramics,glass, fudge (yes! fudge), wood work, leather, candles, and so much more. You will find some locally and nationally recognized artists. Friday: 10-8:30; Saturday 10-6; Sunday 10-4.

 

5 cave parrots
Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul: 5 Cave Parrots (original $250)

Inspiration: creatures & products

Where does inspiration come from? It depends. Capturing inspiration is like chasing lightening. Catch it if you can. Use it because you must.

Creatures inspire

Sometimes I’m inspired by creatures — or the idea of new creatures.

Sometimes, as with these two small cats, I get excited about a family of creatures that has lined up in my studio waiting for paint. These are part of the Small Clowder of Cats. “Clowder” is the collective noun for cats and I have made 14 of them. The tiny original paintings are matted and ready to frame at 5×7 inches. $15 plus $5 postage. Subject to availability.

 

Shiny Gold Kitty
Shiny Gold Kitty

 

You're kidding. You want me to put down the yarn. Really?
You’re kidding. You want me to put down the yarn. Really?

 

Some of the Small Clowder
Some of the Small Clowder in Progress

Products inspire and energize

Sometimes I’m inspired by products. The Golden brand of acrylic mediums provides me with daily inspiration.

How can I combine the gel mediums and the acrylic mediums with acrylic paint or watercolors to create new textures and colors? Are there tools that I can use to create new textures? Can I use these products as glue? Or for collage? This presents a daily delightful challenge. Note that this orderly tower presents an unrealistic notion of the tidiness of my studio.

Golden Brand Product Tower
Golden Brand Product Tower

Mapping Minnesota: art project-in-progress

Sometimes when I’m crazy-busy, I need a project that calls on a different part of my brain than the one that lets me make making tiny triangles for painted stained glass or tiny random shapes, another of my favorite images.

Tiny Random Shapes Cat Face
Tiny Random Shapes Cat Face
Tiny Triangles Cat Face
Tiny Triangles Cat Face

Minnesota Maps

Having often sorted through kitchen tools in search of art-making objects, it was easy to spot a map of Minnesota cookie cutter that had been sitting on top of my stove for 14 years. “Pick me!! Pick me!!” it shouted.

Using Golden Brand Light Molding Paste mixed with acrylic paint, I made one tiny map, and then three more.

What to do with them?

Four Minnesota Maps

It’s a long way from a single tiny Minnesota map to a project that could be called “Mapping Minnesota,” which would be substantially larger than three inches tall.

At an organizing meeting for The Space Between the Words, a multi-media show by local artists of the Art Salon For Fertile Minds, the amazing Wendy Houser Blomseth (photographer and Encourager), shook her head “yes” when I said “I’ll make a map of my maps.” Thanks, Wendy.

After having made a 5×10-foot Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul installation for the October 2014 WARM Mentor-Protege Show, I no longer fear big spaces or big-piece challenges. Now I need to find a strong substrate for this project.

 

 

 

 

Make more and make a big map

17 Minnesota Maps
17 Minnesota Maps

 

 

Internet Cat Video Festival 2015

Honored to be selected as one of two cat art vendors at the Walker’s 2015 Internet Cat Video Festival. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at CHS Field Wednesday, August 12. Thousands of tickets have been sold: take the light rail.

Wasn’t this at the Walker? or at the State Fair?

Yes. The first cat video festival was at the Walker. The next year it moved to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Last year it was back at the Walker. This year it is in the brand-new CHS Field in Lowertown Saint Paul.

 Lots of Cat Art

Much as I would like to bring every last piece of cat art that I’ve ever produced, there is a two-hour sales window. If you get distracted by Cat Yoga or the other activities before the show which begins at 8:30, all of the images below are available as blank greeting cards. $4 each plus tax. Postage included. Prints matted to 11×14 are $30 plus tax and shipping. Max-the-Cat, the model for many of these images, reminds me that he has a lot more cat pals. He also reminds me that I should do a better job of posting this art to susangainenartist.com or to etsy or zazzle.

 

Cats-on-the-Fridge: new original art

4×4 original paintings packed with their own refrigerator magnets. They will be at Cat Video Fest.

cats in the fridge

Max-the-Cat urged me to make a postcard to promote my (his) cat art:

cat postcard for the blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Powderhorn Weekend

An artist on every block

And a festival on every weekend

With Minnesota statues requiring at least one artist on every block and at least one art festival on every weekend, this weekend (August 8-9) is The Annual Three-in-two-days Art Festival Weekend. I will be with my friends at Powderhorn with the Art Shoppe at Midtown Global Market.white 350 3 inches

Powderhorn Park is beautiful, uncrowded (even when filled with artists). 34th & 15th Ave, Minneapolis. Saturday 10-6; Sunday 10-5.

Yes — free transportation takes you everywhere. Follow this link.

The Other Festivals are: Loring Park (Saturday – Sunday) and Uptown Art Fair (Friday – Sunday).

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New Art: Cards and Tiny, Original Paintings

I have lots of new cat images because I’ll be at the 4th Walker Cat Video Festival on August 12 at the new Saints’ stadium.  New cats! New birds! New abstracts ranging from calming to crazy!  Cards are $4 each and tiny original paintings that fit into 5×7 frames are $15 each. I know that everyone doesn’t have space for 4-foot paintings. But everyone (and this means you!) has space for 5×7 inches.

For more information about the images below, click on the picture.

Two Fish: learn from mistakes

Two Shiny Fish
Two Shiny Fish

 

How was it made?

I made this image my Facebook profile picture, and (thank you) got lots of “likes” and some queries about how it was made.

STEP 1. I started with one of the 8″ rounds from the pile that has aged like fine wine under my staircase for 17 years. I used gesso to attach a piece of round watercolor paper, penciled in the tiny box design, painted it with my double zero brush.

STEP 2: I then covered it with an acrylic medium to make it shiny.

Gasp. Screams. Pain.

It dried and I learned a very hard lesson. Just plain watercolor will melt and blur if you fail to apply a protective coating before splodging on layers of acrylic medium.

Starting over.

STEP 1. I did it again. I gesso’d another piece of paper onto the round and made the painting again. When it was finished, I applied layer after layer of fancy French fixative before laying on the acrylic medium to make it shiny. I was going for REALLY shiny.

STEP 2.  After carefully layering the acrylic medium, I kept my own fingers and Max The Cat’s paws away from the piece while it dried.

STEP 3.  Not enough fixative. No “gasp-screams-pain,” just a grim determination to make something of this exercise.

STEP 4:  Calling on my heretofore unknown Inner-Princess, I turned to glitter — specifically Golden Brand Pearl Mica Flake — which covered the blurred spots.

STEP 5:  Glitter wasn’t enough. I consulted with one of my favorite characters from The Small Friends’ Chronicles, Harry Herringbone Fish, to finish the piece. Glad to do something useful in addition to appearing in prints and cards, and co-starring in the book with other fish based on Uncle Leon’s Pewter ashtray, he was eager to make this piece work.

 

Harry Herringbone Fish
Harry Herringbone Fish

Harry and I tried out three versions, and settled on two fish. I applied the fish with very permanent glue and, finally, covered the piece with the shiny clear acrylic that had been the goal in the first place.  There is just one of these, and it is $60 plus shipping directly from me (susangainen@comcast.net), payable through PayPal.