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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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!
Minnesota, art bonanza state, is well-populated with artists, art activities, and art events. I met a woman last week who said “You can’t swing a cat in Minnesota without hitting an artist.” Not that I would recommend cat-swinging.
Minnesota Art Bonanza State: It must be a law.
I’m convinced that there is a section in Minnesota statutes or regulations that requires:
An artist on every block.
Ten art events on every week day.
30-50 art events on every non-holiday weekend.
I’ve given up counting the number of art invites that I get. I’ve lost track (often to my detriment) of the art events to which I could apply. I’m overwhelmed by the opportunities to participate in arts organizations. What to do? Keep making art.
Both shows celebrate their respective “neighborhoods.” NEEMA, an award-winning arts organization, is a lynchpin of Minneapolis’ Northeast Arts Community. The Dow Gallery anchors the west end of the Green Line in Saint Paul.
I am a 2016 Art-a-Whirl guest artist Studio 435. I’ve brought new work and old friends.
When he was a tiny parrot Peter the Tattooed Parrot had trouble learning to talk. His parents sent him to a Pediatric Avian Audiologist. The rest is history. …
Black and White Neighborhood and Orange Neighborhoods 1 is part of my wish for humanity: every piece looks better because of the pieces that surround it. Collaboration. Cooperation. Some Neighborhoods pieces are straight paint (watercolor or acrylic). The others are Paper Mosaics, a new obsession. Having abandoned all activities requiring safety equipment or liability waivers on my 60th birthday put tile and glass cutting and bungee jumping off my list. Undeterred in my quest to celebrate tiny shapes, I’m creating tile from paper, paint and acrylic mediums. #artfun …
Surprised Panda is one of the Pandas from the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul. Two of them visited me, promised to sit for portraits and tell their stories if I promised to provide snacks (Max the Cat is the Snacks Manager) and to keep the location of their Forest a secret. No, the forest is NOT in Como Park.
Friendship #4: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky is part of a series of paintings that explore and celebrate connections. Just as in life, everything is connected.
Shiny Gold from the Clowder of Cats. Who knew that the collective noun for cat was “clowder.” I was closely supervised by Max the Cat, who modeled for this series,
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.
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.
My work for Artists’ Market: all about connections
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.
Big Neighborhoods 2 is an abstract painting of squares and rectangles that celebrates connection between and among neighborhoods, people, and things. It has become its own Art Family, and eight versions will be at the Dow Gallery & Frame Shop at the 2016 Saint Paul Art Crawl.
Two sizes of digital prints of Black Light and Shadows, the invert of the original drawing,
Greeting cards with the Black Light and Shadows image.
Big Neighborhoods 2: an art trip
As soon as I began to draw Big Neighborhoods 2, I knew that I wanted to create a full-sized coloring page. It took only a minute to remember the great folks at Apropos Studio (printers and artists extraordinaire: an amazing resource) who helped me create the page. But the actual painting sat on my easel for nearly half a year. It is a watercolor painting, so I didn’t have the excuse that artists-working-in-oils have. Their works can take years to dry.
Was it finished? Was it complete? It certainly took up a lot of visual space in my living room studio. Now that it has all of its Art Family, it is, indeed, complete.
Other work at the Dow for the Art Crawl
I will be celebrating abstract shapes and connections with other work including Rings and Links, Conversations Connections, Friendship Bands, and more.
The Big Neighborhood is 22×33. It’s like a city map or an aerial view of a city. When all of its colors are put together, I hope that it represents that the best of us are better for living among all kinds of people. If I work very very hard on it, it might be finished in time to hang with the show “Connections,” at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, which will hang on December 30. If it doesn’t make it into the show, it will be on hand for the artist talk (date TBA).
Big Neighborhood: start with red
After taking a very long, deep breath, I started to paint on it. First blocks are the brightest red watercolor on my palette, of course. Having determined that this will be a random collection of blocks, I will work color-by-color, spreading them out all over the piece.
Why isn’t this made out of tile?
It looks like tile. Why isn’t this tile? As some of you know, for my 60th birthday I gave up everything that required safety equipment. Conspicuous among the activities that I abandoned were cutting tile and bungee jumping.
The Big Neighborhood is a nanoscape, an abstract painting made with Painstaking Exuberance (PE). PE paintings begin with a pencil drawing which is sometimes followed by a Davy’s Gray outline (not this one). Next, I fill in each small space with color, and, sometimes outline each small space with a Micron pen or paint outline. The minute-by-minute focus is on each small space and its bright color. In the end, the riot of color speaks for itself.
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.
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:
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.