Tagged cave art

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


Brown Owls in the Owl Pages

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.


Brown Owl from the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
Brown Owl from the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul (print matted to 11×14 at ETSY)


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.

Wise Brown Owl
Wise Brown Owl (print matted to 11×14 at etsy)


Explore More Owl Art

  1. On products at zazzle
  2. Any of these images on other products at zazzle, on cards or prints. Let’s talk: 651.917.0219

Weekend plan: Do the Dow & Pop into Peggy’s Holiday Boutique


Two wonderful art events this weekend: Do the Dow (at the Dow Building at 2242 University Avenue W.) and Peggy’s Holiday Boutique, a 30+year tradition at the Roseville Oval. Each show has one of my favorite paintings.

Do the Dow

Artists with studios at the Dow Building and who are part of Khanh Tran’s Dow Gallery will be opening their doors and celebrating their art. Count on great food and music and lots of fun. Friday 6-10; Saturday 12-6.

3 Cats and 11 Flamingos Acapella
3 Cats and 11 Flamingos Acapella (original $125; prints $30)


Peggy’s Holiday Boutique

A 30+ year tradition with more than 100 artists’ work, the Roseville Oval hosts Peggy’s Holiday Boutique. It is a vortex of creative energy, and the artists’ work includes jewelry, painting, ceramics,glass, fudge (yes! fudge), wood work, leather, candles, and so much more. You will find some locally and nationally recognized artists. Friday: 10-8:30; Saturday 10-6; Sunday 10-4.


5 cave parrots
Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul: 5 Cave Parrots (original $250)

2015 Art-A-Whirl prep

2015 Art-A-Whirl

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.

New Work

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.

2015 Art-a-Whirl Postcard
2015 Art-a-Whirl Postcard

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.

Whimsical Wildlife & more at the Dow Building Gallery


Whimsical Wildlife & more at Frame by Frame, the Dow Building Gallery
Whimsical Wildlife & more at Frame by Frame, the Dow Building Gallery

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.

Saint Paul Art Crawl Spring 2015

I’ll be there for the 2015 Saint Paul Art Crawl, April 24-26. Friday 6-10 pm. Saturday 12-8 pm. Sunday 12-5 pm.

The Dow Building and gallery address is 2242 University Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55414. Check out the map and put it on your calendar.

Waiting for you…

The Cave Seal #2: The Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
The Cave Cat: The Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
Two 3-D Backyard Roosters (From The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul)
Sam the Snowy Owl Who Went to Mardi Gras and Never Came Back (From The Small Friends’ Chronicles)
The French Roosters (From The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul)
3 Cats & 11 Flamingos Sing Acapella
The Great Leafy Bunny of New Hampshire (From The Small Friends’ Chronicles)
Friendship #5: Messy. Sometimes Complicated. Beautiful if you’re lucky.
Flying Red Crystals


Two works in Colors of Humanity Red Show

Red. My favorite color.

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.

Three Red Cave Frogs
Three Red Cave Frogs
Ax-man Gizmo 10th Gear
Ax-man Gizmo 10th Gear


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.

Cave Painting Postcards


Buy the postcards at ETSY for $3.85 and free shipping.
Buy the set of 4 cave painting postcards (ETSY $3.85 free shipping)The Art Shoppe at Midtown Global Market, or at any sale that I am in.

Rightsize postcard rhino wp Postcard toucan wp horse postcard wp Gray Parrot Postcard wp 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 Paul installation 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. (susangainen@comcast.net).




Very Old Saint Paul
Very Old Saint Paul


Old Saint Paul
Old Saint Paul. Each panel had a separate “map” made from digital files from the Ramsey County Historical Society.


Very Old Flamingo
The Very Old Flamingo

Indonesian cave paintings 40,000 years old

Indonesian caves harbor sophisticated rock art that’s 40,000 years old. (Thx. Smithsonian)

Saint Paul Cave Penguin
A Saint Paul Cave Penguin

With the plethora of caves in Minnesota, and an abundance of cave paintings in Saint Paul, who could be surprised that there would be cave paintings in Indonesia?

Cave Painting Progress: Cat faces

The Lost Cave Cat Panel

Russian Blue Cave Cat in-progress
Russian Blue Cave Cat in-progress

I am an unabashed cat lover, having been managed by cats since 1972. Fitting, then, to honor cats in the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul Installation for the WARM Mentor-Protege Show.

The Cat Panel documents some of the ancestors of present-day Saint Paul Cats, including the Russian Blue and Striped Cats. Digging through my shapes-and-templates archive, I found a cat that I had used for a needlepoint piece, and for two of my very earliest cat paintings. What better cat to honor the Ancestors?

Cat Panel in-progress
Cat Panel in-progress

Cats represented here in body but without cat faces painted yet: striped, dot, Russian Blue, gray, black, brown.Friends of the Cats

Like all of the panels, this one has both hummingbirds (across the top) and frogs (across the bottom).

What about the faces?

Rendering the cat faces is the next challenge, and I can’t do too much navel-gazing about it. Unlike the  Great Cave Owl, who sat on my easel for six months while I practiced painting owl faces, this piece is for a show that opens in a few weeks.  (Join us for the Celebration on Saturday October 18 from 6 to 9 at the Grain Belt Bottling House.)

Piggish Experiment
A Piggish Experiment

A piggish experiment.

One thought is to make the faces even more 3D than the “cave gesso” provides. This pig is my first experiment. Using Golden Brand Light Molding Paste, is an interesting idea, but I am a 2-D artist who has always thought that sculpture was an inaccessible magical skill.