From New techniques

Northstar Watermedia Artists’ Market Begins Today

Northstar Watermedia Artists’ Market at the MN State Fairgrounds

Celebrate the magic of watercolor with Northstar Watermedia Society’s members. Artists’ Market runs from May 19-21 at the Fine Arts Building at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Every artist begins with a tube or a block of paint. Every artist’s work is different. Come to be astonished. Enjoy free parking.

Explore Golden High Flow Acrylics‘ Fern Feet, aka Bloom

Learn how to add this feature to your work. On Sunday May 21 at noon, I will be present a demonstration focused on this feature of Golden High Flow Acrylics, and showing off the powerful colors of this line. I will also (again) thank Bonnie Cutts, our Golden Brand Artist in Residence, who reassured me that the fern feet were an actual feature of this paint that I’d picked up from a discount table at Dick Blick. I thought I’d gotten a bad bottle.

Golden High Flow Acrylic Fern Feet at Northstar
Golden High Flow Acrylic Fern Feet at Northstar

 

Paper Mosaic: Not Ceramic

The other part of my Sunday demonstration will be a step-by-step guide to creating mosaics from paper that look like ceramic tile. In my demo kit: gesso, watercolor and acrylic paints and mediums, TerraSkin, Golden Self-Leveling Clear Gel, offset spatula, scissors, and a heavy dose of imagination.

Orange 4-inch square magnet mosaic
Orange 4-inch square magnet mosaic

Multi-colored Antlers Community

Golden High Flow Acrylic Fern Feet: NOT multi-colored antlers
Golden High Flow Acrylic Fern Feet: NOT multi-colored antlers

Multi-colored antlers: a community

Multi-colored antlers did not appear in a fevered dream. Rather, in late April, I began a deep dive into Golden High Flow Acrylic which became Multi-colored Antlers.

High Flow is is magical paint that makes my favorite effect — fern feet (above) — and it has a double-plus-fabulous bonus of providing beautiful, clear colors that work as paint-from-a-brush, in markers, as a glaze, and anything you might imagine.

 

Community of Multi-colored Antlers: Antlers 1
Community of Multi-colored Antlers: Antlers 1

First Squiggles, then a community of Antlers

I start with a pencil (Kimberly General Pencil 6-H) drawing, cover it with Liquitex Clear Gesso, and wait 24 hours to paint. The clear gesso protects the drawing from smearing or blurring.

These shapes, first called “Squiggles,” are true nanoscapes, abstract designs that have been flowing from my brain since I first picked up a pencil. They cried out to be something more concrete and dignified. Now, to me, they are an overhead shot of a community of creatures with antlers (deer, moose, reindeer, caribou, Springbok, elk, Big Horn Sheep, Markhor, Saiga, Nubian Ibex, Bharal, Addax, Mouflon, Blackbuck, Oryx, Giant Eland, and Jackson’s Chameleon). As always, every piece looks better because of the pieces that surround it.

Antlers’ Pencil Drawing

Antlers Pencil Drawing
Antlers Pencil Drawing

 Multi-colored Antlers 2

Multi-colored Antlers 2
Multi-colored Antlers 2

 

Celebration! St. Paul Winter Carnival Show

2016 yields to 2017 with Celebration!

Happy to announce that Celebration!, an original acrylic painting, will be in the 2016 Saint Paul Carnival Fire & Ice Show. Thus, I’m able to end the otherwise troubling and weird 2016 with good news and to begin 2017 with “Celebration!”

 

Celebration!
Celebration!

How was it made? How did this happen?

Thanks go to the Fabulous Bonnie Cutts, who confirmed that a-bought-from-a-sale-table bottle of Golden High Flow Acrylics really was supposed to make little fern fronds. Although the effect was cool, I’d never seen it before, and, typical of me, thought it might be defective. Not so. The fern-fronds are a signature of High Flow Acrylic.

I covered four 5×7 and one 12×16 boards with white gesso, and dropped High Flow colors while the gesso was still wet. Watching it make patterns was like watching a series of tiny miracles. No microscopes needed.

I waited until the gesso was dry, dabbed some Golden Glass Bead Gel onto the boards, and waited for that to dry. I covered each board with Golden Self-Leveling Clear Gel and let that dry. With my handy tube of  that most superior of adhesives, E-6000, I glued the four small boards to the big one. The frame — shiny red, and who doesn’t love shiny red? — came from Goodwill as plain dark wood. It got serious sanding and lots of coats of Gloss Sunrise Red Rust-oleum. A pint of shiny red paint goes a long way. The large board, popped into the frame in reverse, is held by shiny red clips.

Golden High Flow Acrylic Fronds
Golden High Flow Acrylic Fronds

Fire & Ice: Opening Reception January 21, 6-10 pm

To cap a very busy day (this is the day of the Women’s March on Minnesota), the Winter Carnival Art Show Opening Reception will be at the AZ Gallery, Saturday January 21 from 6 to 10 pm.  Join us!

Fire & Ice: Winter Carnival Art Show
Fire & Ice: Winter Carnival Art Show

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

Neighborhood blocks or city maps?

As bad news flows from one neighborhood to another across the country and around the world, I can’t help but want to brighten up the landscape. Two paintings that might be city maps share my living room studio space this week. Technically, each will explore squares and rectangles with watercolor and acrylic in both color and texture. Are they images of neighborhoods? Are they maps? Are they aerial views of bright cities? I can’t decide.

Inspiration?

These might also be an homage to tile. I love tiles. All kinds of tile. My favorite bathrooms had intricate black-and-white floor tiles, and beautiful art-tiles in the showers and in kitchens. If I lived in an architecturally appropriate space, I would have a Turkish Tile Extravaganza, and a lot of work by Josh Blanc of Clay Squared to Infinity.  I can’t imagine a less tile-friendly space than the one in which I live, so real tile will remain an extravagant daydream.

Back to reality.

For me, creating images like these in actual tile is a non-starter. When I turned 60, I decided to give up activities requiring safety equipment, which specifically included cutting tile and bungee jumping. I’ve left the door open for ballooning and sky-diving adventures, but that’s because every rule has to have an exception.

I suppose that I could use pre-cut tile to make some art, but the tiny shapes that I can draw and then paint make sense to me.

 

Neighborhood Map 2
Neighborhood Map 2 (18×22: watercolor and acrylic work-in-progress)

 

A neighborhood map & coloring-book-map-making project

This larger map has a slightly more dramatic form — with movement within the shapes. (Neighborhood Map #3, 22×33; work in progress.) I will get a digital shot of it before I start to paint so that I can create a coloring-book-map-making project.

 

Neighborhood 3 work in progress 1
Neighborhood Map 3 work in progress 1

 

 

 

Mapping Minnesota: art project-in-progress

Sometimes when I’m crazy-busy, I need a project that calls on a different part of my brain than the one that lets me make making tiny triangles for painted stained glass or tiny random shapes, another of my favorite images.

Tiny Random Shapes Cat Face
Tiny Random Shapes Cat Face
Tiny Triangles Cat Face
Tiny Triangles Cat Face

Minnesota Maps

Having often sorted through kitchen tools in search of art-making objects, it was easy to spot a map of Minnesota cookie cutter that had been sitting on top of my stove for 14 years. “Pick me!! Pick me!!” it shouted.

Using Golden Brand Light Molding Paste mixed with acrylic paint, I made one tiny map, and then three more.

What to do with them?

Four Minnesota Maps

It’s a long way from a single tiny Minnesota map to a project that could be called “Mapping Minnesota,” which would be substantially larger than three inches tall.

At an organizing meeting for The Space Between the Words, a multi-media show by local artists of the Art Salon For Fertile Minds, the amazing Wendy Houser Blomseth (photographer and Encourager), shook her head “yes” when I said “I’ll make a map of my maps.” Thanks, Wendy.

After having made a 5×10-foot Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul installation for the October 2014 WARM Mentor-Protege Show, I no longer fear big spaces or big-piece challenges. Now I need to find a strong substrate for this project.

 

 

 

 

Make more and make a big map

17 Minnesota Maps
17 Minnesota Maps

 

 

Reclaim & recycle new techniques into new flamingo art

3 flamingos on a round
3 flamingos on a round
Painted Beaded Flamingo at Vine Arts Center
Painted Beaded Flamingo at Vine Arts Center

A wooden flamingo is born

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.

New life for the flamingo

After standing tall in my bathroom for 16 years, the 5-foot tall beaded-and-painted wooden flamingo had its last public outing at Vine Arts Center during the 2014 Northern Spark Green Way Glow.

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.

WARM Installation 2014
WARM Mentor Protegee Show 2014: Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul

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:

  1. I used gesso to attach the paper to the wooden round, and trimmed the excess.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.
  6. I painted the sides with acrylic paint and covered the sides with gloss medium
  7. I attached a hanger on the back so that this can hang on the wall.

Painted Knitted Metal: work-in-progress & a bad recipe

 

In between having the Virus-That-Sapped-My-Energy and jeopardized my culinary judgement (more below), I have been working very slowly on another Knitted Metal painting.

I’m now contemplating painting inside most or all of the lines to make the image more-or-less solid. Painted Knitted Metal #4 is larger than the first three, but not so large as to completely fill a  9×12 sheet of watercolor paper.

Knitted Metal 4 Work-in-progress
Knitted Metal 4 Work-in-progress

Impaired culinary judgement

I have previously discussed the culinary-judgement-impairing qualities of Morphine and Oxycodone in a susan-cooks blog post called Kitchen Catastrophes: Cooking Under the Influence. After rotator cuff surgery, I had some terrible ideas about cooking which should not ever be replicated.

My favorite line from the piece is “Morphine Makes You Stupid.”

Who knew that the Virus-From-Hell could have the same power? Listen up. It is never going to be a good idea to mix even the best quality potato flakes into a can of petite diced tomatoes to which you have added all of the usual suspects: pepper, salt, basil, cayenne, Sriracha, and tiny chunks of pepper jack cheese. Once you realize that this combination is an error, do not be tempted to spread the potato-tomato mixture onto a sheet pan and bake it. No amount of baking will fix it.

When felled by a wicked virus, the best use of Food Acquisition Energy is to ask dear friends to bring you whatever your definition of “the good stuff” may be, or call for delivery.

 

Painted Knitted Metal: works-in-progress

 Step 1: When working out a new design, start small.

Taking a break from painting creatures, I have returned to  nanoscapes (tiny geometric abstracts).  For the last week or so, I’ve been making paintings that mimic painted knitted metal. Inspired by the supremely talented Carolyn Halliday and Karen Searle whose manipulation of non-traditional materials for textiles is always exciting, challenging, and beautiful, I’ve begun to see connections between and among tiny lines and spaces. In these painted knitted metal designs, I’ve found a space for a new pattern that links all of us together.

Each of these paintings is smaller than 8×8 inches. After one finished work and two works-in-progress, I am moving closer to starting a large (22×33) piece.

Step 2.  Think about all of the spaces.

What about the tiny spaces to be painted? Should there be white spaces inside and around the piece. Should the design cover the paper? What about color? My first instinct is always LOTS of colors, but what about all blue or all green or other color families?

Step 3. Get out the Double-Zero Brush and go!

Knitted Metal
Knitted Metal One
Painted Metal 3 Works -in-progress
Painted Metal 3 Works -in-progress
Painted Knitted Metal 2 Works -in-progress
Painted Knitted Metal 2 Works -in-progress

Painted Knitted Metal: inspired by my pals

 

Knitted Metal?

Although I’ve had a sample on my shelf for decades, in my mind, knitting with metal wire exists somewhere between magic and impossible. Look at this. Made by hand in a no-longer-known land from far away.

Magic Egg from far far away
Magic Egg from far away

 

How lucky am I to know two very talented women who knit with metal? I met Carolyn Halliday and Karen Searle through WARM (Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota) before my two-year stint as a protegée in the 2013-2014 Mentor-Protegee cycle. They knit and crochet with metal and other materials in breathtaking, beautiful, thought-provoking, and sometimes challenging ways. Here are some tiny samples. Make haste to check out their websites.

 

 

Painted Knitted Metal

I wanted to take a tiny two-step away from the creatures I’ve painted for the past few months, and I’ve worked on this piece for a couple of days. The design jumped out of my pencil. It is called Knitted Metal #1, and it is connected in spirit to both Friendship (Complicated. Messy. Beautiful if You’re Lucky) and Conversations Connections. While painting each of the tiny spaces at the intersections, I realized that I was mimicking knitted metal. Thank you Carolyn and Karen, and to the knitter of my Tiny Magic Egg for the inspiration.

 

Painted Knitted Metal
Painted Knitted Metal
Round Friendship Bands 2015-21
Round Friendship Bands 2015-21
Conversations Connections
Conversations Connections