Tagged Image-a-day

30-in-30 Paintings Challenge Day 2

30-in-30 Day 2: Purple Feathered Yellow Belly

Susan Gainen Purple Bird MN Migrant 30-in-30 Day 2
Susan Gainen Purple Bird MN Migrant 30-in-30 Day 2

Purple-Feathered Yellow-Belly Clyde and his family are honored to appear in Leslie Saeta’s 30-in-30 Day 2 painting challenge. Clyde and his family are climate refugees from windy Southern Kansas. High winds and dense dust storms finally made life there intolerable for this heavily-feathered species. It had become way to hard to fly in one direction, and the high winds make nest-building close to impossible.

Clyde and his family were welcomed by the Pandas and Frogs of the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul. Their temporary shelter is in the Southern end of the Forest.

Climate refugees welcomed

Pandas and Frogs in the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul are aghast at the treatment that thousands of human refugees are receiving as they struggle to find their places in a cruel world, and some attention is being paid to animals whose habits are being destroyed.

But it’s never enough.  Unlike humans, who are throwing up barriers of all kinds, they opened the Forest to any birds and animals that can make the trek to Saint Paul. Some of these migrants are comfortable in the occasionally frozen Upper Midwest, and others will find the adjusting to the climate difficult.

Making a safe climate space

With energy and optimism, the Pandas and Frogs accepted the challenge of making safe and comfortable spaces for newcomers. Fortunately, the Forest sits atop a thermal vent, and with some crafty science and engineering, parts of the Forest will be made quite warm and welcoming for tropical and subtropical species.

30 paintings 30 days January 2017

30 paintings 30 days challenge

California-based artist, author, teacher, blogger, and podcaster Leslie Saeta challenged artists all over to world to a January 2017 30 paintings 30 days challenge. I accept.

The last time I did this challenge, I was lucky enough to be visited by 16 Roosters who promptly invited their friends to my studio and into the book, The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul. It was a very busy month, and I learned a lot about chickens and roosters.

Exploring climate change in 30 days

Since I came to Minnesota in July 1992, the state has lost an entire climate zone. Asking “How do you lose a climate zone?” I looked for it, but it appears to have moved to an undisclosed climatic location. One result of that change, though, is an influx of whimsical birds who have moved to Minnesota to avoid cataclysmic weather events in their previous locations.

Whimsical bird refugees

Minnesotans have a history of generosity and of welcoming refugees. With some of the birds unused to life on the frozen tundra, the Pandas of the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul welcomed them into the Forest. As you may know, The Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul is located over a thermal vent, which keeps it at a constant bamboo-supporting temperature.

Max-the-Cat, who schedules portrait-painting appointments with whimsical creatures who visit my studio, tells me that the January schedule is full of birds who are new to Minnesota. I can’t wait to meet them.

First of 30 paintings in 30 days

Max cleverly scheduled the new birds for later this week, so it seems right to honor the new year with a nanoscape — a floating molecule in a stacked box pattern. Abstract molecule makes me think that I should have paid attention when I had opportunities to look at stuff through microscopes. Or not. This way, meaning no disrespect to actual science, I can just make it up.

30 paintings 30 days January 1
30 paintings 30 days January 1

Crisp fall day inspires Pink Spring

Spring in Minnesota

Spring is an elastic term in Minnesota. Does it begin with the spring semester (in January)? With the last snow? With pink spring flowers and plants? Since 1992, I have walked to the mailbox in a snow storm on two separate April 15ths. Fun fact: July is Minnesota’s only snow-free month. My favorite sign of spring is the day when I can walk without looking at my feet to spot hazardous stray patches of ice. Certainly not in January or February. Hardy in March or April. Usually in May.

Pink Spring Acrylic

Pink Spring will always remind me of the crisp fall day that I painted it. Returning to the Image-a-Day regimen that I began in 2010, I used two colors of acrylic paint and finger tips. It is a true “nanoscape,” an abstract painting celebrating tiny shapes and small spaces.

It is 12″ high x 4″ wide. Original $45 plus shipping (subject to availability). Print 9″ high x 3″ wide. $20 plus shipping. Contact me directly  at susangainen@comcast.net.

Pink Spring on a crisp fall day
Pink Spring on a crisp fall day

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.



Trilo 2 four by five

Abstract Connections work-in-progress

Connections April 19
Connections #7 Work-in-progress April 19


Artists waste no time. While putting in my Vine Arts Center gallery hours yesterday, I took out my General Pencil (6H) and made the pencil drawing. BONUS: see how General Pencils are made.

Late last night, while binging on Death in Paradise (thank you Netflix), I pulled out my double zero brush and began to fill in the boxes.

See this piece (finished or not)

Connections #7 is part of a series of paintings which began as a doodle during conference calls where a group of us strategized about how our dear friend and wonderful judge might be connected to the decision-maker who might appoint her to a difference judgeship. Her constituents are lucky to have her. I am lucky to have made an image that shows everyone and everything is connected.


Connections #7 will be with me during the Saint Paul Art Crawl at the Dow Gallery at 2242 University Avenue West, Let me know if you are interested in having a work like this made specially for you (in your colors, in the size of your choice).

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.


30-paintings-in-30-days: Done!

 A big shout out to Leslie Saeta for the January 2015 30-paintings-in-30-days challenge!

January 2015 30-paintings-in-30-days
January 2015 30-paintings-in-30-days

Beginning the new year with the challenge to sit down and make a painting every day was a great way to begin the year, but not too far out of my comfort zone. I have been posting an image-a-day (with some exceptions) since 2011, but having a group of artists painting along with me in cyberspace gave the project an interesting dimension. Waking up to see other artists’ 30-paintings-in-30-days work on Leslie’s blog was a gift.


And, bravo to picmonkey.com for creating an amazingly intuitive and easy place to make this collage — for free. Thank you!

All of these images appear in my 30-paintings-in-30-days gallery. Some are for sale as originals or prints, some are on products at zazzle.com. Click on the gallery to explore!  Contact me directly for unique ways to use the images.

Coming Soon:  The Roosters will join a group of more than 35 in a new publication (ebook, etc)., The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul, sponsored by the Small Friends’ Research Institute which supports all of the whimsical wildlife work.



30-paintings-in-30-days: Day 18


30-paintings-in-30-days: more of the journey

On Day 18, I indulged myself, and returned to one of my many comfort zones: the abstract grid. “Indulged” is the correct word because this basic gridding technique combines sharp focus and incredible relaxation. I can make these paintings for hours at a time.

The original watercolor painting of  Sometimes a square is just a square is 3×4″ and made on 300# paper. I needed to relax, and what could be more relaxing than to create an abstract grid and then to fill in alternating boxes?  Unwilling to leave well enough alone, I scanned it into Photoshop, posterized it, and then imported it to a bright yellow background.

Sometime a square is just a square is a greeting card at zazzle.com


Sometimes a square is just a square
Sometimes a square is just a square    
Original square is just a square
Original Square is just a square












Two related paintings.

Part of a group of two, “The Sail #2″ (33×8”) made in 2012 on 300# Arches paper (sold). Made with Painstaking Exuberance in 2011, “Unmade Bed” captures the whimsical spirit of these paintings. Contact me directly (susangainen@comcast.net) to commission a “Sail” or an “Unmade Bed” in a size that works for you.

The Sail #2
The Sail #2



Unmade Bed
Unmade Bed



30-paintings-in-30-days: Black and White Rooster Day 17

Only delusional artists believe that everything works out perfectly first time and every time.

Day 17 didn’t work so well.

Small Model
Small Model

I had a good idea which was to paint a black and white striped rooster. There are many examples in breeders books and in art. It seemed like a good idea. It didn’t work out as well as I would have liked because (1) I didn’t plan or practice; (2) and I didn’t pay close attention to what I was doing. Which is not to say that it wasn’t fun to paint. I love tiny spaces, and this Rooster has a lot of them.

It’s always a good idea to practice, advice that I dispense all of the time. This feather effect needs a lot of practice.







First Black and White
First Black and White Rooster
Framed Black and White Rooster
Framed Black & White Rooster






After scanning into Photoshop, I made some adjustments to the First Black and White Rooster. I cropped out his back feathers to get rid of the mess. I used the Cross Hatch brush strokes filter to adjust all of the black and white feathers.  Neither adjustment moved this experiment close to the effect that I was aiming for.



30-paintings-in-30-days: first 16

Leslie Saeta challenged artists around the world to join her in a 30-paintings-in-30-days challenge. I am always up for a challenge. But for a glitch in my access to this blog, I would have posted these images daily.  This is catchup.

Each image starts with a drawing and a watercolor painting. After that the images go in many directions including being (1) scanned into Photoshop and manipulated, or  (2) slathered with acrylic mediums, cut out, and placed on real or digital backgrounds.

Click on the image to see it larger-than-a-thumbnail. They are all in a 30-paintings-in-30-days gallery at the small friends website. Click on the tag line under each image to take you to the small friends page that tells the story of each image, and welcomes you to purchase (or not, as not all are for sale), or to find that some of the images are on cool products at my zazzle store.

Now, back to the painting table.

Find the Owl 2015-16
Find the Owl 2015-16
Undercover Rooster 2015-15
Undercover Rooster 2015-15







Golden Boy Winston 2015-13
Golden Boy Winston 2015-13

French Steer Larry 2015-14

French Steer Larry 2015-14

Two Colorful Cats 2015-12
Two Colorful Cats 2015-12
Tin Roof Maroon Rooster 2015-11
Tin Roof Marsala Rooster 2015-11









Stained Glass Rooster 2015-9
Green and Blue Stained Glass Rooster 2015-9
Night Rooster 2015-10
Night Rooster 2015-10









Rooster by Committee 2015-8
Rooster by Committee 2015-8




Glowing Rooster 2015-6
Glowing Rooster 2015-6







Backyard Rooster Nine 2015-5
Backyard Rooster Nine 2015-5


No 2 stars are alike 2015-3
No 2 snowflakes are alike 2015-3








No 2 stars are alike 2015-4
No 2 snowflakes are alike 2015-4



30-paintings-in-30-days January 2015
Friendship 2015-1






Quiltish Windows 2015-2
Four  Windows 2015-2
Curious Rooster 2015-7
Curious Rooster 2015-7