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.”
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.”
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.
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.
California-based artist, author, teacher, blogger, and podcaster Leslie Saeta challenged artists all over to world to a January 2017 30 paintings 30 days challenge. I accept.
The last time I did this challenge, I was lucky enough to be visited by 16 Roosters who promptly invited their friends to my studio and into the book, The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul. It was a very busy month, and I learned a lot about chickens and roosters.
Exploring climate change in 30 days
Since I came to Minnesota in July 1992, the state has lost an entire climate zone. Asking “How do you lose a climate zone?” I looked for it, but it appears to have moved to an undisclosed climatic location. One result of that change, though, is an influx of whimsical birds who have moved to Minnesota to avoid cataclysmic weather events in their previous locations.
Whimsical bird refugees
Minnesotans have a history of generosity and of welcoming refugees. With some of the birds unused to life on the frozen tundra, the Pandas of the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul welcomed them into the Forest. As you may know, The Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul is located over a thermal vent, which keeps it at a constant bamboo-supporting temperature.
Max-the-Cat, who schedules portrait-painting appointments with whimsical creatures who visit my studio, tells me that the January schedule is full of birds who are new to Minnesota. I can’t wait to meet them.
First of 30 paintings in 30 days
Max cleverly scheduled the new birds for later this week, so it seems right to honor the new year with a nanoscape — a floating molecule in a stacked box pattern. Abstract molecule makes me think that I should have paid attention when I had opportunities to look at stuff through microscopes. Or not. This way, meaning no disrespect to actual science, I can just make it up.
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!
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
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.
A big shout out to Leslie Saeta for the January 2015 30-paintings-in-30-days challenge!
Beginning the new year with the challenge to sit down and make a painting every day was a great way to begin the year, but not too far out of my comfort zone. I have been posting an image-a-day (with some exceptions) since 2011, but having a group of artists painting along with me in cyberspace gave the project an interesting dimension. Waking up to see other artists’ 30-paintings-in-30-days work on Leslie’s blog was a gift.
And, bravo to picmonkey.com for creating an amazingly intuitive and easy place to make this collage — for free. Thank you!
All of these images appear in my 30-paintings-in-30-days gallery. Some are for sale as originals or prints, some are on products at zazzle.com. Click on the gallery to explore! Contact me directly for unique ways to use the images.
Coming Soon: The Roosters will join a group of more than 35 in a new publication (ebook, etc)., The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul, sponsored by the Small Friends’ Research Institute which supports all of the whimsical wildlife work.