Tagged technique

From Vandalism Art is the Best Revenge

Art is the best revenge

Murdered Honda CRV
Murdered Honda CRV

Two bits of random (non-lethal) auto injury made me realize that Art is the Best Revenge.

Two weeks ago, my beloved 1999 Honda CRV was murdered in a hit-and-run. She was legally parked on Lake Street in Minneapolis, and was collateral damage to the work of an Evildoer, who smashed a car into mine.

The estimable staff at Bobby & Steve’s carefully explained the damage. GEICO, my insurance company of 37 years, said “Totaled.”

Cars near me for $1000

Mazda at the Dealership: Art is the Best Revenge
Mazda at the Dealership: Art is the Best Revenge

Acting like any 21st century gal, I took the $1100 insurance check, Googled “CARFAX, cars near me for $1000,” and went to Luxury Imports Auto Sales, North Branch, MN. Waiting for me was a 2003 Mazda Protege Rustbucket. “I have purple duct tape,” I said, and declared that it would become an Art Car.

Mazda Art Car with duct tape
Mazda Art Car with duct tape

 

 

 

 

Based on a favorite stained glass design that I often paint, I made a plan. I started researching rust management, auto painting, and industrial glues that could attach a plastic bib covered with recycled plastic bits. Why not make the stained glass designed out of recycled colored plastic? How will I do that? Why not learn something new every day?

Add injury to injury: a broken window

Glass bits of inspiration Art is the best revenge
Glass bits of inspiration: Art is the best revenge

Two days after first parking in my underground locked garage, either a random vandal or a heretofore unidentified Force of Nature attacked the Art Car and broke her passenger-side window. This is not something that you want to encounter before your second cup of coffee.

Again, Art is the best revenge

Tiny glass bits were everywhere. Beautiful tiny glass bits were everywhere.I had never noticed how beautiful tiny bits of safety glass could be.  After calling GEICO, the police, and the glass company, I scooped up as much as I could and made yet another plan: Embed glass bits into paint. I can’t wait to work them into tiny random shapes, whimsical wildlife, and as-yet-unimagined art pieces.

NOTE: As many of you know, when I turned 65, I abandoned activities requiring safety equipment and liability waivers, which means no tile cutting, no glass cutting, and no bungee jumping. I am making an exception for working with glass bits: the glass is pre-cut and tweezers don’t count as safety equipment.

Glass Bits Red: Art is the best revenge
Glass Bits Red: Art is the best revenge
Green and Black Glass Bits: Art is the best revenge
Green and Black Glass Bits: Art is the best revenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artists find inspiration everywhere.

 

 

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

 

Vast Big Box Project: Art Meets Privacy

Vast Big Box Project

Inspired by a disturbing NPR piece about a very modern product called DRTBox that can scoop up data from up to 10,000 cell phones at once, I began the Vast Big Box Project. In the Inspiration Doodle, I imagined tiny boxes and circles representing individual cell phones, and even tinier interior dots showing the data available to DRTBox.

Vast Big Box Project Inspiration Doodle
Vast Big Box Project Inspiration Doodle

What is DRTBox?

The Hacker News reports that it is cell phone surveillance technology that can track, intercept thousands of cellphone calls, and eavesdrop on conversations, emails, and text. The Intercept.com/surveillance-catalog lists one version at $100,000. This is not a tool for a home-grown, backyard-basement hacker. This is a tool for law enforcement.

Disturbing?

Law enforcement can buy it. Evildoers can probably steal the technology or build something that can mimic its functions.

Questions for discussion

Scooping data from thousands of cell phone users is disturbing. Why? or Why not?

Just because you can, should you?

If the data that I put onto my cell phone boring and innocuous, what do I have to fear?

What if my boring cell phone is hacked by a Genuine Evildoer, not a basement hacker?

Do I want law enforcement to step in?

What is the Vast Big Box Project?

Beginning with blank canvas, a General Pencil 6-H, and a Mobius+Rupper Brass Wedge Sharpener, each part of the piece will be covered with tiny squares and spaces and even tinier shapes to indicate scoopable data. I will cover the pencil drawing with Liquitex Clear Gesso, which will seal the pencil and prevent smudges, and give me a paintable surface. I expect that this will project will fill a wall, presenting an overwhelming image of the length and breadth of this disturbing scoop-ability.

Big Box Project Tiny Prototype
Big Box Project Tiny Prototype

Thanks!

Thank you, Tracie Thompson, for introducing me to the idea of clear gesso.

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

Max-the-Cat Feline Hypnotist Portrait

Feline Hypnotist

Max-the-Cat commissioned a new portrait to commemorate his most recent achievement. He is now a Brown Velvet Belt Feline Hypnotist Extraordinaire. His penetrating gaze creates an unbreakable bond between cat-and-human, cat-and-other-cat, cat-and-insect, and cat-and-vacuum cleaner. He bends everything to his will, which serves him in the Hierarchy of Interests: Food, Most Comfortable Seat, Food, and Silence.

Olympic-level concentration

Using Olympic-level concentration, Max’s training regime included hours of focused staring, with eyes fixed on a tiny speck of dust. He applied astonishing attention, gazing at individual leaves on a now-bare tree. Did his constant attention cause the leaves to fall? That’s someone’s dissertation.

Perfecting the Ritual of Insistence

He applied his vision, perfecting the “Ritual of Insistence,” in which a cat sits on a sleeping human’s stomach, with his or her head as close as possible to the human’s face. Deep gazing (and sometimes other activities) compel the human to get out of bed and feed the cat. Inexperienced cats use kneading, slapping, nose-nipping, and projectile vomiting to wake the human. The Brown Velvet Belt Feline Hypnotist Extraordinaire uses the power of the mind.

 

Max-the-Cat Feline Hypnotist Extraordinaire
Max-the-Cat Feline Hypnotist Extraordinaire

Brown Velvet Level

Among those who care about these things, there was some consternation about naming the top-level belted Feline Hypnotist “Brown” instead of “blue” for “Blue Ribbon” or “Black” for “Black Belt.” The truth is that the organizers and perpetuators of this competition also own a fabric store. Some years ago someone made an astonishingly large incorrect order of non-returnable brown velvet. They have donated yards of it to theater companies for velvet tree trunks, supported brown velvet bunny artists, and they continue to look for new uses for this beautiful fabric.

How the portrait was made

Max posed. Susan Gainen photographed with her IPhone and transferred the photo to her desktop and into Photoshop. With some adjustments, including cutting his image from the background and adding a sponge layer, Max emerged triumphant.

New work review: fish parts plus

The range of new work surrounding me calls for both an exploration (what is she up to?) and a celebration (perhaps she’ll finally finish some of these projects.) It’s no surprise that my two favorite hashtags are #work-in-progress and #artfun. I may deserve a magpie award: lots of projects in various stages of completion.

Fish Parts Mirror

New work comes and goes in stages. The Fish Parts Mirror is part of the paper mosaic family which bubbled up in 2016. It will be a fish-with-a-round-mirror. What’s the hold up? This looks like a simple glue job. But no. The wooden fish substrate has curves and bumps that need to be smoothed out with layers of gesso. Then, the fish parts need to be fitted together. Funnily enough, what fits fine when flat doesn’t fit as well over bumps and lumps. But you knew that.

Fish Parts Mirror paper mosaic. New work on a wooden substrate.
Fish Parts Mirror paper mosaic. New work on a wooden substrate.

 

 

Coloring book pages in many stages

Where is the coloring book? Coloring pages have been in the new work pile for more than a year. I have lots of pages, but putting them together into a book that makes sense is a lot harder than it would appear. Questions abound:

  1. How big should the book be? This is a two-part question because it refers to size-of-the-page and number of pages.
  2. Should I include full-color versions of each page? Because all of the designs are based on original abstracts, the book won’t look like others in the market. I am cautiously optimistic that some people may be up for the challenge. On the other hand, painting each of these pages would be enormously pleasurable and a potential black-hole-time-waste.
  3. Each design has a story. How much to I tell. Where would it go? On the back of each coloring page? How much — if any — might be interesting, useful, or fun?

In the meantime, more than 20  pages are dollar digital downloads in the Adult Coloring Pages section of my etsy shop.

Square DNA Coloring Page: new work
Square DNA Coloring Page: new work

 

 

Blocks and Arrows Coloring Page: new work
Blocks and Arrows Coloring Page: new work

 

 

 

Dots & Dominos 2 Coloring Page: New work
Dots & Dominos 2 Coloring Page: New work

 

 

Golden Brand High Flow Acrylic: new medium for #artfun

Black and White High Flow Acrylic: new work
Black and White High Flow Acrylic: New work

 

High Flow Ferns Blue Green Red: new work
High Flow Fern Feet Blue Green Red: new work

With the same magical impact on my painting as Golden Glass Bead Gel, Golden’s High Flow Acrylics rocked my world.

Bead Gel, as you may know, contains tiny glass beads suspended in a clear acrylic medium that allows artists to make things bumpy and shiny. High Flow Acrylics do a lot of things that I haven’t explored.

What fascinated me when I got my first sample from the “sale” table at Dick Blick, was that when a blob is dropped into liquid (gesso was my first),  the blobs expand and then grow tiny fern feet. I was concerned (was this paint supposed to do that?) and curious. I sent an email to Golden Artist-in-Residence and Acrylic Diva Bonnie Cutts, who kindly replied that yes, the little feet were part of High Flow’s characteristics. She also sent a cool video. I’ve been playing with this stuff ever since.

The images at right are experiments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New work for holidays

Having made dozens of Flying Pigs and Elephants this year, it’s clear that I love spending “tiny time” with shapes and creatures. The Holidays (all of ’em) are upon us, and it’s time to turn to ornaments. I’m making a few Holiday Stars that will be studded with shiny stuff (stainless steel beads, etc.) Multi-level Stars of David will be shiny with optimism. Unless there is a groundswell of demand, I will make just three three-dimensional Red-Eye’d Bat postcards which will come with envelopes. All are subject to availability. Contact me directly.

Stars of David New Work
Stars of David New Work
Shiny Bats Postcards New Work
Shiny Bats Postcards New Work
Holiday Stars New Work
Holiday Stars New Work

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.

Mobius+Ruppert best tiny sharpener

Mobius+Ruppert tiny sharpener for my pencils

Mobius+Ruppert Wedge Sharpener: Best tiny sharpener
Mobius+Ruppert Wedge Sharpener: Best tiny sharpener

I spend a fair amount of art time clutching a pencil. When making small shapes and fine lines, a  hard pencil (General Pencil 6-H is my favorite) is crucial. Equally as important as the pencil is the point. The very sharp point. Until I found Mobius+Ruppert‘s tiny sharpener, pencil sharpeners were a necessary-but-not-joy-making tool. I used portable sharpeners, and they ranged from deeply inadequate to modestly annoying when points broke and stayed behind, stuck in the blades.

I love these little brass sharpeners. They are heavy for their size and fit nicely into the small bags that hold pencils, an eraser, and a 6-inch ruler. The tiny sharpeners are easy to clean, and, so far, I’ve not had any annoying pencil-point-breakage.

Professional Pencil Sharpener

Until I saw David Rees’ videos, I had no idea that “Professional Pencil Sharpener” was a gig. He has retired from it, so if you want sharp pencils, you’ll have to sharpen them yourself. With the right tools, sharpening is an unalloyed pleasure.

CW Pencil Enterprise

El Casco BlackChrome Sharpener
El Casco BlackChrome Sharpener

There are some amazing gizmos in the pencil sharpening market, and you would be wise to start your search with Caroline Weaver’s CW Pencil Enterprise. She stocks all kinds of sharpeners, from ridiculously inexpensive (two Mobius+Rupperts) to two versions of the El Casco Desktop Sharpener ($516.00). Yes, I aspire to having one.

In addition to an astonishing array of sharpeners and pencils (#2 and other hardnesses, vintages pencils, colored pencils, specialty pencils, jumbo pencils and pencil sets), you will find erasers, accessories, pencil cases, pencil displays/holders, notebooks, books, and ephemera.

Henry Petroski's The Pencil
Henry Petroski’s The Pencil

Not surprisingly, you will find David Rees’s book How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening.

How to Sharpen Pencils: David Rees
How to Sharpen Pencils: David Rees

She also stocks my long-time personal favorite pencil book,the classic The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance by Henry Petroski. (If you don’t know Petroski’s work, you are missing a unique opportunity to connect yourself to the engineering of our lives — in the nicest way, of course.)

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