Held each year at the Minnesota State Fair’s Fine Arts Building with convenient and free parking, this is a two-day deep dive into the variety of artwork that comes from just watercolor.
Each artist begins with a tube (or a cake or a bottle) of paint. Every artist’s work is different from every other. The show is an astonishing display of creativity and imagination. The range of work from very detailed to exuberantly abstract, will take your breath away. I promise.
Dear friends and fans: The Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul were more or less born in a magical moment at this event in 2012, when I saw Paul Boecher demonstrating gesso on board and paper. I looked at his work, my brain said “cave walls,” and the rest is prehistoric history.
My work for Artists’ Market: all about connections
My plan is to bring a series of abstracts including the original Big Neighborhoods 2, pieces from the series “Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky,” and some new paper mosaic magnets and frames made in the spirit of the critical importance of connections and links.
Thanks to Rob Wishart, some of my owls are on The Owl Pages, a very cool site with loads of owl photos and everything you could ever want to know about these beautiful and smart birds. Two of my favorite brown owls on that site are below.
Brown Owl from The Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
When I started painting owls I wasn’t confident about getting their faces right. This brown owl waited patiently on my easel for about half a year while I worked on dozens of small owl faces. I’m glad that I practiced.
This Brown Owl is from The Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul, which I imagine and excavate from the comfort of my rat-and-bat-free living room studio.The “cave wall” is white gesso that I tint with watercolor. Applying (slathering) the gesso with an offset spatula gives the painting its texture.
Wise Brown Owl
The original owl for this image is very small and very blue. I scanned the image into Photoshop, and used both Posterize and Invert to make this velvety brown owl.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
Multi-task: Explore Saint Paul’s Art Community, Visit the Dow Gallery, & Ride the Green Line for Free
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
In 1996, a now-shuttered lumber yard in Saint Paul cut the flamingo from a piece of plywood, made a dozen sets of bookends, a random kidney-ish shaped piece, and 24 8-inch rounds. I painted and beaded the flamingo, and the rounds have aged like fine wine in a stack under my stairs.
It is now a pink gesso-covered Cave Flamingo which was part of my Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul installation at the WARM (Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota) Mentor-Protegee final show, Beyond the Surface, in late 2014.
New life for the wooden rounds
Two years ago I bought a dozen 12-inch round sheets of a fine artist paper whose brand is lost in the mists of time. They sat comfortably in the package until I decided to use gesso, the key ingredient in Cave Paintings, to attach the round papers to the wooden rounds.
Wooden rounds meet tiny Flamingos
How this piece was made:
I used gesso to attach the paper to the wooden round, and trimmed the excess.
With a spatula, I splodged gesso onto the paper, and then pressed it with the Ax-Man Gizmo #2, a tube with wire mesh that makes a scaly-sort of pattern. I let it dry overnight.
I sponged color onto the now-patterned gesso. I recommend acrylic paint (as opposed to watercolor), which won’t move an inch when you cover it with acrylic medium. I learned this lesson the very very hard way (subject of another post when I’m over my disappointment.)
Having made dozens of tiny flamingos as ornaments, bookmarks, and gift tags, I am surrounded by them. Three volunteered to be encased on gloss varnish for this project. I glued them onto the round, and waited patiently while the glue dried. (Really? Why are you telling me this? Because I have a life-long history of being too quick to move on to the next step, and I want to save you from the abject misery that will follow a string of bad words.)
Inspired by Dar Bunde, an amazing artist-member of the Northstar Watermedia Society, I used Liquitex Gloss Medium because I want this piece to be SHINY!!!!! I poured it on and set to to dry overnight.
I painted the sides with acrylic paint and covered the sides with gloss medium
I attached a hanger on the back so that this can hang on the wall.
What’s inside the Dow Building? Lots of artists and a great gallery.
What’s inside the Dow Building on University Avenue? Khanh Tran of Frame by Frame opened a huge light-filled gallery for Dow Building Artists (and others), and the Whimsical Wildlife and Geometric Abstractions have a new home.
Two of my pieces were selected by the Colors of Humanity Art Gallery for its February 2015 show honoring “RED, my favorite color. What a beautiful group of paintings to be part of in this Red Show.
The Ax-Man Gizmo 10th Gear
The Ax-Man Gizmo 10th Gear is part of a series of paintings that I made after a Mentor-Protegee Art Adventure with Layl McDill, my WARM (Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota) mentor in the 2013-2015 cycle. We found the flat black plastic gizmo that carpenters use to measure the diameter of wire, and immediately saw ART TOOL! I made ten of these paintings.
Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul: Three Red Cave Frogs
The Three Red Cave Frogs are, of course, part of the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul. Imagined and excavated from the comfort of my living room studio, which is remarkably free of rats and bat, each piece begins with a layer of tinted gesso. The frogs are stencilled and the whole piece is sprayed with archival spray.
FROM THE COLORS OF HUMANITY WEBSITE: This show will run February 1-31 (sic), 2015. Artists from around the world were called to submit their work and we were very pleased with the response we received. There were 117 accepted works and they came from 26 different states in the USA and 8 other countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Malaysia, Russian Federation, and Switzerland. A variety of styles and mediums were entered including, acrylic, blood, ‘bodypaintography’, charcoal, digital, ink, latex, mixed media, monotype, oil, pastel, photography, resin, scratchboard, watercolor, and woodcut. The judging criterion was originality, interpretation, quality, demonstration of ability, and usage of medium. Other factors, such as the clarity of the images provided and their ability to be viewed online, as well as relating to the theme, also contributed to the decision. “Best of Show”, “First Place”, and “Second Place” winners received a monetary award in addition to special recognition.
We were very happy to donate 10% of all entry fees from this show to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). It is our hope that this small act of kindness will blossom and grow to help someone else.
November has been part recovery-from-the-WARM-show, exuberant creative energy for upcoming holiday sales, and quiet examination of the ultimate artist question: “What next?”
The Lost Cave Paintings are in the hall just outside my front door, waiting for their next adventure.
Tiny new work
Returning to the World of Tiny, and in prep for five December shows (locations at the end of this post), I have made new work. At the crossroads of mesmerizing high-wire tiny details and the creative tedium of packaging, I made dozens and dozens of one-of-a-kind tiny ornaments. They are painted and embellished paper and will make tree ornaments, party favors, and gift tags.
Today is Thanksgiving, and the pigs in the image below are glad that they are not turkeys and hope that they can be on someone’s tree soon. If you can’t get to any of my shows, you can find some ornaments and other pig products at zazzle.
Hanukah or another spelling?
A group of Menorahs celebrate Hanukah, and remind me that it’s time to search my house for candles-bought-after-the-holiday or to buy new candles. I have four Menorahs, so it’s hard to fake. Find some images at zazzle.com.
The first project for the new year
Combining old materials (wooden rounds cut 17 years ago from the same plywood as the Giant Flamingo) and new-ish 140# paper rounds, I’ve begun a series of RoundWorks that I hope to make into a show in 2015.
Shows in December
TRUNK SHOW AT THECLAY SQUAREDPOP UP SHOP IN THE MINNEAPOLIS SKYWAY 27 S 7TH ST #6, MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55402 (ABOVE CANDYLAND) DECEMBER 18 — 11 A.M. TO 2 P.M.
One of the commitments that I made in 2012 at the beginning of the WARM (Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota) Mentor-Protegee Program was to make a really big piece. This was a brave idea to contemplate, because my true comfort zone is tiny spaces (postcard-sized paintings) and tiny, intricate patterns.
Two years later
I did it. The final show for our Mentor-Protegee cycle was up through October 2014, and I made something really really big. The Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paulinstallation was five feet high and ten feet long. At one end was the five-foot tall flamingo (The Very Old Flamingo), now covered with pink gesso, that had been in my bathroom for 16 years, and on the other side, standing on a pedestal, was a card rack for souvenir postcards.
The back of each of the five panels represents Old Saint Paul. Each is covered with a gleefully digitized and Photoshopped map from the Ramsey County Historical Society. Thank you, Apropos, for printing the maps on sturdy vinyl and saving me from an ineffective and awkward cutting-and-pasting of photocopied paper map pieces, a project that I would still be working on today. Thanks, too, to Jason Najarak, who cut the aluminum panels for the piece, generously opened his studio for gesso-application, and made space for the Afternoon of Spray Adhesive when we put Old Saint Paul on the back of the painted panels.
The front — all five panels of the front — is Very Old Saint Paul. This installation will travel to your site for a exhibition, and it is available for sale (as a whole or in separate panels and the flamingo). Please contact me directly. (firstname.lastname@example.org).