From nanoscapes

Coloring pages have a heart

A Valentine heart coloring page

Drawing the first of the nanoscapes Valentine coloring pages was an unalloyed pleasure, as was painting the original ($100, limited availability at ETSY), and creating a digital print ($25, at ETSY). This 2017 Nanoscapes Valentine Heart is a dollar digital download at ETSY. You have choices: the original watercolor painting (get it before it disappears!), an archival digital print (Epson paper and ink), or a project (the coloring page.)

nanoscapes valentine 2017
Nanoscapes Valentine 2017 Dollar Digital Download at https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/SusanGainen/tools/listings/506928367

My pals have urged me to make coloring books for a decade

Adult coloring books stopped being a trend and coloring pages are now a tidal wave. I was a little slow getting to the coloring pages project, but I’m now at it all the time. I go everywhere with a pad of Bristol paper, 6H pencils, erasers, and a tiny brass pencil sharpener.

A collection of coloring pages

Common advice to writers is “go with what you know,” and I followed it. Making coloring pages based on nanoscapes’ designs lets me revisit the tiny shapes and spaces that I’ve explored since childhood with doodles, and with paint since I took James Boyd Brent’s Splitrock Short Watercolor Class in 2006.

Making a book to my satisfaction is much more complicated than I imagined, so I have made these pages into dollar (plus tax) digital downloads at my ETSY shop in the Adult Coloring Page section. Print them onto card stock. Get our your sharp pencils, tiny paint brushes, or pens and markers. Have fun!

Click to see the pages, then dollar download at ETSY

Click on each image to learn more about Orbs (an original nanoscape), Stacked Boxes, Boxes and Dots, Painted Knitted Metal 31, Demented Dominos, Stalagmites and Curves, Find the Owl!, Terrazzo Molecules, Friendship Bands, and Conversations Connections. There are now 24 coloring pages in The ADULT COLORING PAGES of my ETSY shop. I often add new pages.

Friendship 7 painting accepted for NEEMA Show

Friendship 7: Complicated. Sometimes messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky.

Friendship 7 got lucky. It is a winner in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEEMA) Fall Fine Arts Show lottery. Gotta love a lottery.

NEEMA Fall Fine Arts Show
NEEMA Fall Fine Arts Show

My entry, Friendship 7: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky, is part of a series of paintings that put a new (and I hope abstractly realistic and delightful) face onto friendship. These paintings are squarely inside the nanoscapes tradition: tiny designs in tiny spaces. I make a pencil drawing, carefully work out the “over and unders” and then paint, using triple-zero brushes and a steady hand. I’ve made small (4×6″) and large (12×16″) friendship paintings. Some are round, some fill the canvas, and some are in random shapes.

Friendship 7 Complicated Sometimes Messy Beautiful if you are lucky
Friendship 7 Complicated Sometimes Messy Beautiful if you are lucky

Celebrate at Solar Arts

Join the celebration at the Solar Arts Building, 3rd Floor, 711 15th Avenue NE, Minneapolis 55413. Opening Reception September 16, 6-10 p.m. See some terrific art, and eat, drink and be merry. Catering by Chowgirls Killer Catering. Craft beer from Indeed Brewing and cocktails from Tattersall Distilling. The show runs from September 16-25, and is open to the public Thursday – Sunday.

 

More Friendship Paintings

Contact me directly to determine availability or to commission one for your very own.

Artists’ Market: Celebrate Watercolor Magic

Magic of Watercolor

Artists’ Market, the Northstar Watermedia’s Annual Show and Sale, celebrates the magic of watercolor. Just watercolor.

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.

Historical Note

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.

 

Artists' Market 2016
Artists’ Market 2016

My work for Artists’ Market: all about connections

 

Big Neighborhoods 2
 Big Neighborhoods 2: a colorful representation of my vision of people and things and ideas working together and getting along.

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.

Paper Mosaics — magnets, frames & more

Paper Mosaic Magnets
Paper Mosaic Magnets
Framed Ram
Framed Ram

Abstract 11 from a monoprint

Some months ago I went to a Wet Paint workshop with the amazing Bonnie Cutts,  a wonderful teacher and the Golden Acrylic Artist in Residence for our area.  Selfishly, I can’t recall what others were doing. I was making my very first monoprints.

What is a monoprint?

You can make monoprinting into a fabulously complex and expensive proposition requiring Huge Presses and exotic equipment. On the other hand, because monoprinting is the application of paint (or other mediums) pressed (or rolled or hammered) onto paper (or other welcoming surface) to make a unique design, it can be done on your kitchen table. Monoprinting is the ultimate free-wheeling art form.

Before you begin, you can do a lot of research (monoprints.com), ask Dr. Google for information about materials you need (craftsy.com), talk to a friendly art store employee or find a bunch of You-tube videos. (238,000 hits in under 6 seconds).

Call your friends. You can monoprint together and make beautiful images.

My first monoprint
My first monoprint

Abstract 11 makes monoprint magic in Photoshop

Abstract 11 combines my very first monoprint with the magic of Photoshop.

Abstract 11
Abstract 11

Black Lights-Shadows from Big Neighborhoods

Black Lights-Shadows – invert!

Black Light-Shadows is an image that is the next iteration of the nanoscape Big Neighborhoods 2.  BN2 was a joy to create, to paint, and to make into a Giant Coloring Page. Through the magic of Photoshop invert, the design has a new and different life with many possibilities that I’ve yet to explore.

It still reflects and incorporates neighborhoods and connections, and Black Lights-Shadows clearly celebrates my love of mosaics. Had I not given up activities requiring safety equipment and liability waivers for my 50th birthday, I would be in a glass studio cutting out pieces to recreate this design in glass or ceramic tile. An ambitious artist or crafter could take on that challenge using the 22×33 Big Neighborhoods Blank Coloring Page as a template.

Black Light-Shadows
Black Lights-Shadows

 

Big Neighborhoods 2 Coloring Page
Big Neighborhoods 2 Coloring Page

Black Lights-Shadows made in Photoshop

One of my favorite settings in Photoshop is “invert,” which turns white into black, black into white, and flips colors to their opposite on the color wheel. Without a color, Big Neighborhoods 2 became Black Lights-Shadows with one click and a bit of creative adjustment.

I used Black Lights-Shadows at zazzle.com to create  a shower curtain, an accent pillow, poster, and a postcard. This design will find a home on textiles and other materials, too. Watch this space.

 

 

Coloring page digital downloads

Prepping the coloring pages for the first nanoscapes coloring book is taking more time than I thought. (Really? Isn’t this like home repair? Everything takes twice as long…)  I’m so excited about each coloring page and some of them are available as ETSY dollar digital downloads. Each is a 300 dpi image. Please print onto card stock or other heavy paper that you’d like to color or paint on.

Each coloring page is based on an original nanoscape, one of the the abstract paintings that have been part of my life since 2006. It has been wonderful fun to revisit each design, to create a coloring page, and to begin to paint each one. My original goal was to make a completed painted work for each page, but I realized that would create an unhelpful and annoying delay in the publication date.  Here are a few of the ETSY pages which are $1.00 digital downloads. You’ll find a growing number  here at ETSY.

Painted Knitted Metal Coloring Page

There are two original Painted Knitted Metal paintings. They honor my friends Carolyn Halliday and Karen Searle, who knit and crochet with metal. I have known a lot of metal in my time, and none of it has ever said “Knit me.” Their work is exquisite, exciting, and in the dictionary next to the word “unique.” Think about coloring inside each corner, inside each shape, or between each shape. You are the boss of your coloring page. Click here for the ETSY digital download.

Painted Knitted Metal Coloring Page
Painted Knitted Metal  Coloring Page

Stacked Boxes or Neighborhoods Coloring Page

This is based on a life-long doodle that became many paintings. They were a vehicle for exploring and celebrating color when I first began working in watercolor. My friend and mentor, Russ Dittmar, told me that the way to get bright colors from watercolor was “lots of pigment, not a lot of water,” and those paintings reflect that motto. People have speculated that these images are cities, neighborhoods, stacked boxes, and other things. I always start each painting or coloring page with the only complete square (here on the left), and go from there. Have fun! Click here for the ETSY download.

Stacked Boxes or Neighborhoods Coloring Page
Stacked Boxes or Neighborhoods Coloring Page

 

Really Tiny Dots Coloring Page

The earliest nanoscapes were explorations of tiny patterns inside tiny spaces, most often circles or vaguely circular shapes. I made an image of all dots — lots of them — and Russ Dittmar printed 12 blanks for me. I painted them all in different color combinations, and wish that I had a decent photo of the time that they were hung together in a library. It was early in my art life, and I knew less than nothing about photographing art. Download here from ETSY.  Enjoy!!

Tiny Dots Coloring Page
Tiny Dots Coloring Page

Big Neighborhoods: Three sizes to color

Big Neighborhoods 2.1: a really big coloring page

Big Neighborhoods 2.1 is now a challenging full-sized blank coloring page, the same size as  the 22×33-inch original painting. The 22×33 blank page is expertly printed by Apropos Studio on 17 mil DigiScape Smooth 350. This is a wall-covering product, and it is a very smooth friend to paint, pencil, and marker. Order it directly from me: $48 plus $11.00 flat rate shipping.

Big Neighborhoods 2
Big Neighborhoods 2

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.

Drawing Board full of life
Drawing Board full of life
Neighborhoods 2 Closeup
Neighborhoods 2 Closeup

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 2 Coloring Page
Big Neighborhoods 2 Coloring Page   

 

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.

 

Big Neighborhoods 2 in the New Year

Big Neighborhoods 2
Big Neighborhoods 2: each piece is waiting for its Micron Pen outline

Big Neighborhoods 2: nearly finished

Big Neighborhoods 2 passed an important milestone for the New Year. Each piece has color. All the watercolor is from tubes, from watercolor cakes, and from colors mixed on my palette. Careful and organized watercolorists might scream in pain if they knew just how random and unreproducible  many of these colors are.

Painstaking Exuberance 2.0

Big Neighborhoods 2 (22×33) extends a version of Painstaking Exuberance, my description of my most comfortable artistic process. I make a pencil drawing. In the past, perhaps because I was less sure of what I was doing, I would cover the pencil with Davy’s Gray, a very light watercolor, that would set the pencil and give me a launching pad for adding color. I’ve learned to skip that step and go right to color. Beginning with the brightest red, I add colors randomly, and finish each tile with an outline.

Using an easel

Yes. I have an easel. It is a storage and viewing tool that I rarely paint use for painting. Why? Three reasons: (1) watercolor drips; (2) arthritis in my shoulder makes standing painting uncomfortable and unproductive; and, (3) Max-the-Cat, who perches in Purrniture with the best view of my painting table, takes a dim view of the easel. The last time I tried to use it, he tried to climb up my leg and leap to the easel’s shelf. I surrendered.

Fave Brush: Raphael Kaerell #2 Flat

Unlike smaller pieces which I make with 00 brushes, each tiny tile here was made with a Raphael Kaerell #2 Flat brush.  This line of brushes is synthetic sable. It is tough and strong, and grabs a lot of paint.

After I take a deep breath, each little will get a Micron Pen outline. Perhaps black? Perhaps green or purple. Not a bad decision to make on the New Year.

Coming soon: coloring page

A blank 22×33 version of this painting will be available soon (next week).

Connections coloring book: tiny spaces

Since 2006, I have celebrated connections within the tiny spaces in paintings called nanoscapes. My friends and fans have been after me for years to make coloring books, and as with so many things, I’ve realized that resistance is futile. Now all I need is a printer who can create a book at a price that my pals can afford. Suggestions? Use the contact form at the end of this post.

Celebrating connections with painstaking exuberance

Almost by accident, I created a consistent body of abstract work that reflects my interest in connections among and between people, their neighborhoods, and their cities: true nanoscapes. I use painstaking exuberance, a four or five-step process, to make each one. I begin with a pencil drawing, continue with a Davy’s Gray watercolor outline, then paint between the lines, and outline each shape with paint or Micron pen. Sometimes the fifth step includes a paint or ink outline of the complete piece. I love and celebrate every single step.

2007 Kaleidoscope 1: early connections
2007 Kaleidoscope 1: early connections

My earliest watercolor paintings were all about tiny spaces, complex designs, and bright colors, and were reflected in the business name: nanoscapes & other visions llc.  The first paintings (8×10 inches or smaller) were shown at the now-closed Rosalie Wahl Library in Stillwater. It was a very tiny library, and the very tiny nanoscapes looked great on the walls.

Some of you know the story. No sooner than I had acquired the business name, and other pieces of a corporate entity, than one of my pals said “Honey, I love your work, but I can’t put a postcard behind my sofa.” Although they maintained their tiny designs in small spaces, the nanoscapes got bigger (16×20, 22×33). In 2009, whimsical creatures arrived and took over the studio, and integrated some nanoscapes’ designs into their bodies. I am returning happily to true nanoscapes, and most of the coloring (or painting) pages are inspired by paintings I’ve done or plan to do soon.

Pages coming in tandem with the First Unitarian Society “Connections” show

On December 30, 2015, I will hang a show that is focused on “Connections” at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis‘ elegant space on Mt. Curve. It is an honor to be there, and I am inspired to collect and showcase paintings from the underlying and unifying theme of so much of my work: connections. The show will be a combination of old and new connections-themed pieces with a handful of creature paintings that incorporate abstract images and link my old, new, and forthcoming work.

Some samples as work-in-progress:

Boxes Coloring Page WIP: a city? neighborhoods? connections all!
Boxes Coloring Page WIP: a city? neighborhoods? connections all!

 

 

 

Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you're lucky CP#2. All about connections.
Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky. CP#2 All about connections.
Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you're lucky. CP #1. All about connections.
Friendship: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky. CP #1 All about connections.

 

Mr. Klimt the First: Inspired by Conversations Connections
Mr. Klimt the First: Inspired by Conversations Connections.
Painted Knitted Metal 1: Honors my artist friends Carolyn Halliday & Karen Searle who knit with wire. An astonishing act of connection.
Painted Knitted Metal 1 Honors my artist friends Carolyn Halliday & Karen Searle who knit with wire. An astonishing act of connection.

 

Island Fortress: mash-up and connections
Island Fortress: mash-up and connections

 

I hope to see you at the show. Watch this space, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms for information about the show’s reception.  Also, I promise to create a genuine artist newsletter in 2016.

 

 

 

 

New Worlds #1: watercolor complete

New Worlds #1

Made with Watercolor, Micron Pen, and Painstaking Exuberance, a technique from my earliest watercolor days.

Painstaking Exuberance: a history

Using Painstaking Exuberance, I get to wallow in my lifetime comfort zone of tiny spaces when painting the large and small geometric abstracts that I have called nanoscapes.

Following on decades of doodling, in 2006 I began to make images with (1) a pencil drawing, (2) topped with Winsor & Newton Davy’s Gray,(3) watercolored between the lines,(4) painted over the lines with watercolor, and (5) finished with a painted an outline for the piece.  Knowing just a little about the history of art and its trends, schools, and other ups and downs, and that often artists’ work is celebrated and categorized after they die, I took matters into my own hands. I named this 5-step method the School of Painstaking Exuberance.

During the past two years, Painstaking Exuberance has changed into a three-step process: pencil drawing, painting between the lines (arm the Double-Zero Brush!), and then either paint or Micron Pen for outlines inside the piece.

New Worlds One
New Worlds One