Tagged tiny random shapes

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.



Holly Tree Memory

There once was a holly tree

Holly Tree Memory
Holly Tree Memory

There was a holly tree outside the kitchen window in my first “running away from home” apartment. It was tall and wide — kind of dumpy, actually. Bright and green all winter long, it was a high point in an otherwise dreary Washington DC metro winter. Its berries were beautiful. Red and redder than red.

This Holly Tree

I hadn’t thought about that tree for years until This Holly Tree emerged from a stack of “gotta finish this” paintings on my easel. What was left to do? Add the red berries. Done.

Life in the Holly Tree apartment was more or less carefree (except for the general angst of 20-year-olds, my parents’ consternation at this unconventional (gasp!) living situation, my then-boyfriend’s draft status, and my stolen VW Bug.)  This Holly Tree channels the memory, employs one of my favorite nanoscapes designs (tiny random shapes), and makes a shameless pitch for a skinny space on the wall. The original is for sale (5×15″ matted to 8.5×20″, $100) at the Vine Arts Holiday Sale (December 6, 12-5), and from me directly, thereafter. I will have prints, matted to 11×14 for $30 each.

Tiny random shapes on TerraSkin™

Each tiny random shapes piece begins with a very sharp General Pencil (6H) and a deep breath. Sometimes I make them in an order (spirals, straight lines) and sometimes their order is random. I drew This Holly Tree on the most wonderful paper called TerraSkin™ which I buy in sheets from Wet Paint in Saint Paul. TerraSkin™ is a tree-free paper made of 75% calcium carbonate and 24% binder. The combination makes a paper that is very smooth and buttery. Watercolor puddles and dries, making almost translucent color. Because the paint isn’t absorbed (it sits on top of the paper), watercolor paintings need archival spray for protection.



More Tiny Minnesota Maps

The Minnesota Maps project has sent me right back to my comfort zone: tiny designs in tiny spaces.

This is exciting because I am:

  1. Exercising tiny brush skills. The Duchess of Windsor said that you could never be “too rich or too thin.” I say that you can never get too technically competent with a really tiny brush.
  2. Revisiting favorite tiny patterns.  You can go home again — to your favorite designs. They will reflect what you’ve learned since you last worked them.
  3. Exploring new materials. What’s not to love: new paint colors, new products to make textures.
  4. Creating new designs. Without a strong desire to keep doves or rabbits, I never wanted to be a stage magician. Give me a pencil and a pencil sharpener, and I can aspire to make graphic magic.

The inspiration

I’ve lived in Minnesota for nearly a quarter of a century, and it’s time to celebrate the state.


Just pencil
Just pencil
Four Minnesota Maps
Four Textured 3-d Minnesota Maps

More Tiny Random Shapes Trees

In early November 2012, I began playing with Tiny Random Shapes, and admitted that they were a pleasant and benign obsession. The shapes became six Tiny Random Shapes Trees paintings, and here they are in chronological order.

Each Tree painting is an original watercolor painted on 140# Arches Hot Press paper. Originals are for sale (contact me at susangainen@comcast.net) and many Tiny Random Shapes paintings’ images are available at zazzle.

Tiny Tree (5×7) and Bigger Tree (7.5×10.5)
Three Trees One (7.5×10.5)
Three Trees Two (7.5×10.5)
Three Trees Three (12×16)
Three Trees Four (18×24)


New Obsession: Tiny Random Shapes

They started with a watercolor doodle, but after a week, they became a celebration of Tiny Random Shapes, and, perhaps, a modest and harmless obsession. The original paintings are all watercolor (lots of pigment, not a lot of water) painted with a Raphael 2/0 brush.

First Green 
First Green became digital Purple Leaves
cool stuff at zazzle
Tiny Random
Tiny Random #2 (digital)
Bigger Tree (7.5 x 10.5″)
Tiny Tree (Original 5×7″)
zazzle postcard
Tiny Bubbles (8×11) zazzle postcard
Tiny Bubbles Inverts in Photoshop (zazzle postcard)
Tiny Green Out the Window (Digital)
Wrapped Kimona (8.5×11″)
postcard at zazzle

By the end of the year, I will have put all of the 2012 Image-a-Day project paintings onto postcards at zazzle.com. If you see an image that you would like on one of zazzle’s zillions of products, or on fabric or wallpaper at spoonflower, contact me directly at susangainen@comcast.net.