From Max The 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.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

2015 Art-A-Whirl prep

2015 Art-A-Whirl

Proud to be part of 2015 #ArtAWhirl. I’ll be at the Keg House Arts Building, 34 13th Avenue NE (F8 on the map). I will be among a group of incredibly talented polymer clay artists who will all be celebrate Art-A-Whirl together.

New Work

I will have some new work: a Black Cat Clock piece, a number of round menageries, lots of new work featuring Max the Cat, and new cave art including the two cave birds (below) and Three Cave Frogs.

Work-in-Progress
Work-in-Progress
2015 Art-a-Whirl Postcard
2015 Art-a-Whirl Postcard

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

Art-4-Shelter: A great cause (& fun for artists)

 

Art-4-Shelter benefits Simpson Housing Services whose staff and volunteers work tirelessly to end homelessness in Minnesota.

Hundreds of artists contribute 5×7 pieces, and the sale price ($30) covers the cost of housing one person for one night.

Managing the sale

  1. Come to the preview and thank the Burnet Gallery at Le Meridian Chambers Hotel for hosting.
  2. Greet your friends. Meet new artists.
  3. Identify your favorite pieces, stand by your absolute favorite, grab it when time is called, then race around the room to snag your other favorites.

Artists

The deadline for submitting pieces is April 15. Follow the these submission rules.

My cat Max and two of his Flamingo pals will be there.

 

My Cat Max: Muse, Model, Taskmaster, Pal

My Cat Max is my Muse, Model, Taskmaster, and Pal. Time to give credit where credit is due.

 

Standing Max
Standing Max
TV Shelf Max
TV Shelf Max

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Max’s Motto

 maxes final motto

 

 

Max: The “Who Me?” Cat

After he learned to climb to the top of bookcases (of which I have many), he decided to get my attention by batting on the paintings that he could reach from his new perches. He is a rhythymic batter, leading me to consider that he was a drummer in one of his former lives. Because the Laws of Gravity have not been repealed in my house, batting on paintings is a bad thing. I say sharply “Max!” He turns and says “Who me?”

7 Who Me Cats
7 Who Me Cats (print at ETSY)

 

Max the Holiday Cat

Max supervises my painting, sometimes attacking the brushes, sprawling on the papers, and just once, knocking over some water to make an editorial change to a painting. Now he has a business plan: He will pose for Holiday Cat paintings, ornaments and bookmarks. He was awesome at Christmas as an ornament and bookmark. He did a fine job on a Valentine card and in four original paintings, and, because he is really on the ball, his Shamrock Cat portrait is already work-in-progress.

9 Who? Me? Cats
9 Who? Me? Cats Ornaments (and bookmarks! Yes! Bookmarks)
Pink Heart Cat 2015-22
Pink Heart Cat 2015-22
Valentine Cats in Love 2015-27
Valentine Cats in Love 2015-27
Two Colorful Cats 2015-12
Two Colorful Cats 2015-12

Shamrock Max in Progress

 

Shamrock Max Work-in-Progress
Shamrock Max Work-in-Progress