From Small Friends Research Institute

Eggroll Queen Cafe Show – Susan’s Friends & Neighborhoods

Friends and Neighborhoods

If you remember the Underground Music Cafe and the other names under which this Falcon Heights treasure has been over the years — rejoice. It is now the Eggroll Queen Cafe. It’s here. It’s now. And it has Life Affirming Blueberry Waffles and Eggrolls the Size of Burritos.  AND LIVE MUSIC.

The Flamingo from the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul will welcome you in the doorway.

Flamingo from the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
Flamingo from the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul

My Friends and Neighborhoods show is almost ready to come down. That it took nearly a month to figure out how to get these images onto a small enough PowerPoint is a miracle. You may miss the show at the Cafe (it comes down on October 20), but here are the images:

Eggroll Queen Cafe Show

Enjoy.

Grand Metaphor: Explains Everything

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.

Friendship #5. Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you're lucky. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Friendship #5. Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky.
Puzzle Pieces Parrot: Wild Parrots of the Grim Winter of 2013,. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Puzzle Pieces Parrot: Wild Parrots of the Grim Winter of 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Molecular Biology 115: an original nanoscapes
Molecular Biology 115: An original nanoscape
Herbert Hippopotamidae Papyrus (hippo) from the Genus Papyrus. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Herbert Hippopotamidae Papyrus (hippo) from the Genus Papyrus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The Sail or The Unmade Bed: celebrates color and challenges perspective. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
The Sail or The Unmade Bed: celebrates color and challenges perspective

 

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.

Find the Owl Abstract Artfun. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Find the Owl Abstract Artfun
Orange Flying Crystal. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Orange Flying Crystal: One of six

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Painted Stained Glass Horse. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Painted Stained Glass Horse. All of the painted stained glass designs answer the troubling question: What happens when triangles go wild?

 

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.

Conversations Connections. Doodling while on a conference call to connect a friend to a different job. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Conversations Connections. Doodling while on a conference call to connect a friend to a different job.

 

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.

Mosaic Mural by Alice Smith 6th Grade 2017 part of the Grand Metaphor
Mosaic Mural by Alice Smith 6th Grade 2017

 

Yellow Paper Mosaic part of the Grand Metaphor.
Yellow Paper Mosaic uses tiny bits of acrylic paper and medium covered paper.
Minnesota map paper mosaic. After turning 65, I abandoned activities requiring either safety equipment or liability waivers. Make paper tiles with scissors! Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Minnesota map paper mosaic. After turning 65, I abandoned activities requiring either safety equipment or liability waivers. Make paper tiles with scissors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Climate Crusaders Creatures With Multi-colored Antlers 2. Originally conceived as a bird's eye view of a conclave of creatures with antlers meeting in the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul to strategize about climate change. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Climate Crusaders Creatures With Multi-colored Antlers 2. Originally conceived as a bird’s eye view of a conclave of creatures with antlers meeting in the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul to strategize about climate change.

 

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.

Big Neighborhoods 2: every piece looks better because of the pieces that surround it. Now covered under The Grand Metaphor.
Big Neighborhoods 2: every piece looks better because of the pieces that surround it

 

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.

Trilobite Revisits Photoshop

Photoshop has been my friend for a while. At first, I used it to create an archive. Because I started “image-a-day” painting in 2010, I have a HUGE archive of images. Sometime in 2011, I discovered the magic of Photoshop and began to manipulate images.

Original Trilobite

It was easy to identify the original image as “Trilobite” from a dim memory of studying geology. It is 5×7″ and beautifully framed. Thank you, Frameworks.

2 blog

 

 

Entering Photoshop’s Magic World

Once the Photoshop light came on, I spent hours tweaking this image, learning about Filters and Adjustments. (Working with Layers came much much later.) Surprise! The same person who categorically refuses to make round color wheels, declined to learn to play scales (C sharp? C Major?), also steadfastly refused to take careful notes about filters and adjustments, making it impossible to recreate any of this.

The image with the eye on the right is Teresa Trilobite. The fellow with the eye on the left is Tommy Trilobite. They are featured in The Small Friends’ Chronicles. Here is their story:

Although trilobites who roamed the oceans between 526 and 250 million years ago have long been extinct, The Small Friends’ Research Institute (which funds some of my work) found Theresa (eye on the top) and Tommy (eye on the bottom) living quietly in a small pond in Northern Minnesota.

Theresa and Tommy were thrilled that Trilobite: Four by Five (below) was selected for the Still Point Gallery’s Abstraction Distraction online exhibition (November-December 2011). They are still delighted that they were able to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by appearing in the Square Inches of Love traveling exhibition.

In 2011, this image was accepted in Square Inches of Love, a giant quilt that was a fundraiser for St. Jude. Want one for your very own? It’s at ETSY.

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Trilo 2 four by five

The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul

From the Small Friends’ Research Institute

Spreading Rooster Whimsy

Coming to print & e-book by mid-March 2015…

The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul
The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul

The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul has 41 pages of portraits and stories of the Rooster leadership in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Some of the 42 roosters in the book…

 

Final cave cat panel image

The WARM Show

The WARM (Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota) Mentor-Protegee Show is coming in October, but the catalog picture and info deadline is August 1. Hence, the race to produce something that either sensibly represents “work-in-progress,” or approximates “finished.”

Three of the Five Panels

Cats, Parrots, and Owls in Progress

The Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul installation will have five panels: Owls, Parrots, Cats, Some Random Birds, and an Elephant. (It’s my cave, so I can populate it at will.)

The Owl and Parrot Panels are not quite finished, but the images are all recognizable owls, parrots, and the border hummingbirds (top), and frogs (bottom.)

Cave Cats In Progress

The Cat Conundrum

In life, I answer to two cats, so it would have been impossible to keep cats from the cave walls. But what cave cat panel image to use?

If you know my work, you’ll recall dozens of cats of all shapes and sizes.  I searched my image files and found one that I had used on two of my earliest paintings, Dot Cat and Striped Cat. I made three different sized templates, and “ghosted” them onto the panel with one of the most useful of watercolors, Winsor Newton Davy’s Gray.

An organizing principle? A theoretical construct? A plan!

Because the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul are whimsical historical documents, it seems reasonable that the Cat Panel would depict some of our current cats’ ancestors. Who is to say that the Great-great-great-great-great-great-great (etc.) Grandpa of an orange-striped tabby didn’t have a green stripe?

Other Markings’ Research

The Small Friends’ Research Institute, (sponsor of the bulk of my research into whimsical creatures and publisher of The Small Friends’ Chronicles and Meet the LLLamas) tasked its entire staff with emergency research into the markings on Ancient Cats of Minnesota. I expect a report this afternoon.

Related posts, retail outlets, and a web link

Lost Cave Paintings Progress: On to the next level
Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul: for the WARM Mentor-Protege Show

Cave paintings are available at The Art Shoppe at Midtown Global Market (Minneapolis) and at Three Sisters’ Eclectic Arts (Saint Paul), and from my website.

Brayer: a new tool for paper mosaics

A new tool
Now that I have finished four paper mosaics (horse, pig, hippo, and cat) and have decided that I like making them, today I added a new tool to my toolbox: a brayer. It will transform the sometimes awkward act of tamping down each piece tiny piece of recycled watercolor paintings into an elegant rolling glide.
Helena Paper Mosaic Horse
(Helena Equus Papyrus)
appears on a number of cool products
at zazzle.com.
Fredricka Paper Mosaic Cat
(Fredricka Filidae Papyrus)
Herbert Paper Mosaic Hippo
(Herbert Hippopotamidae Papyrus)
Pablo Purple Paper Mosaic Pig
(Pablo Sus Papyrus)
Each of these tiny small friends is part the Genus Papyrus, a heretofore unidentified subclass of Mammalia. The Small Friends Research Institute is working very hard to identify and classify more of these whimsical creatures and to create environments that will ensure their safety and security.
 
The Genus Papyrus will make its first public appearance at the Northstar Watercolor Society’s 10th Annual Art-On-A-Line Show and Sale at the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Building on May 18-20. They will be with dozens of other small friends hanging next to the nanoscapes
Helena, the Paper Mosaic Horse, appears on cool products at zazzle.com, and you can purchase a matted print from ETSY.

The Last 5 Pencils and Crayons

Some favorite things

I posted the the last five Pencils and Crayons this morning. Creating an image-a-day began as a lark with last October’s pumpkins, and quickly became a commitment, a discipline, and a joy.

Some of the months’ images were obvious (leaves/November; Hanukah candles & snowflakes/December; basketballs/March; raindrops/April; corn/July; heirloom tomatoes/August), and other months were a creative leap (lost left-handed gloves/January; missing socks/February).

THE LLLAMAS  To introduce the LLLama Families in May, I needed to sit down and write their stories. This was fair. For more than two years the 30+ LLLamas had been nagging me to take them off the shelf and get them out into the world. After being posted to Facebook, they embarked on a world tour, leaving behind SpokesLLLama Rainbow. They will return to the small friends’ site in January 2012.

Glenda Diva Gecko
Undersea LLLama
Celebration Rhea

SMALL FRIENDS  When it was clear that the LLLamas would have their day in the sun, the other small friends who had been lurking on the nanoscapes website and in my studio finally put down their collective feet, and demanded both a month (June) and a website of their own. The nanoscapes and small friends had an amicable divorce in early June, and the small friends have their own website, blog, and The Small Friends Research Institute.

It’s been quite a year, or with a tip of the hat to one of my favorite songs, The Grateful Dead‘s “Truckin,”  — What a long, strange, and extraordinarily fun trip it’s been.