gallery talk

Gamut Gallery in Minneapolis - audience filing in just before the panel discussion

I had the pleasure last night of attending Gamut Gallery's panel discussion - Collector Talk: Buying & Selling Art in the Twin Cities.  Doug Flanders, Herman Milligan, Jade Patrick, Marco Suemnick and Kristi Abbot were on the panel.  It was a rich evening of varied perspectives - that of the gallery owner, art consultant, artist and collector.  I came away inspired to keep on painting, to continue my search for the perfect gallery to represent my work - and to keep on wearing my new-coral-pink beret.

On the wall: Seeing Voices - a solo exhibition by the artist Jane Wunrow


from 2013

Lincoln; oil on canvas; 2013

Lincoln's 5 and a half now.  He's old enough to come visit for a few days with his Grandma and Grandpa - and that's just what he did this past weekend.  He stayed for 'four sleeps' and in that time we played sword fights (with pipe insulation), bingo, had races, read books, visited the children's museum and the zoo.  This left absolutely no time for painting - which is okay.  I work 6 hours a day 6 days a week with the exception of days spent with my grandchildren.  Those are precious and irreplaceable - and, barring illness, are the only times the studio closes.

Above is a palette knife oil painting I did of Lincoln before he could crawl.  I love how the backlighting plays on his hair and outlines his form.  The reflections on the floor gave me another chance to explore the colors that surrounded him.  He's grown so much and is talking non-stop now - telling us about every observation and idea that comes to mind - and asking questions with abandon.  I love it all - and look forward to the next visit - when he'll have surely grown more - and will have new lessons to teach us.


back forth

Winter Oak; oil on panel; 15.5" x 9.5"; 2006
Roots; oil on panel; 15.5" x 9.5"; 2005
Here you can see some of my older work in oils.  They were both done 'on the spot' or 'en plein aire'.  Winter Oak was done while I took a silent retreat in a hermitage in Northern Wisconsin - it was warmer than it looks.  Roots was done nearby at one of my favorite painting spots.  I'm looking forward to painting there again this summer with my casein paints.  When I do, I hope to have a system in place to record my thoughts, feelings and environmental details as related to my painting.

After attending a lecture yesterday at The Atelier in Minneapolis, I'm inspired to keep better records.  It was called 'Creating Your Own Story' and was inspired by the recent passing of a great local artist, Jon Arfstrom.  The curator who is working on his estate and his daughter presented compelling reasons to carefully document, every day, anything significant related to your art making.  Examples of Arftstrom's sketchbooks, work and scrapbooks helped to reinforce the importance of owning your story for posterity. 

Winter Oak and Roots framed and
hung in a sitting area. The paintings
are attached to the linen liner
backing with neodymium magnets.
Winter Oak and Roots framed and hung
for you to see how they might look
in your home.
A blog would seem ideal for this - and I do use it for documenting paintings - their sizes, media and titles. It's a great resource and I often use it to jog my memory as to what I titled a painting, when I did it or even what size it is (when I'm too lazy to go find it and measure it again).  But there are a lot of things I don't put in my blog - personal things like my constant struggle to keep going.  It didn't seem appropriate somehow - I wanted the viewer to feel free to 'own' the painting too and project their personal experiences onto the work.


in pieces

Pieces in Pink; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

When I was moving this spray of eucalyptus around - searching for a new set-up - some of the leaves fell off.  That's what got me enchanted with the idea of pieces.  Eucalyptus itself seems very segmented - it's not a plant that lends itself easily to forming masses of color shapes.  Then came the apple.  I wanted another green to play off of the dusty turquoise of the leaves and to interact with the coral table cloth.  Cutting a piece off seemed only fitting - and then leaving the instrument of dissection further built up the scene.  I waited until much later to paint in the fallen leaves.  At that time, it became apparent where exactly they ought to go. 

I'll put the apple in my oatmeal tomorrow - along with a few other pieces: a date, cinnamon, vanilla and raw sunflower seeds.


stocking foot

Espresso; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

Have you smelled eucalyptus lately?  It's that wonderful aroma that hits you when you enter a fine florist's shop. Along with color, form, edges and perspective - I tried my best to infuse that wonderful perfume into my painting.  Maybe that's why it ended up being more impressionistic than my usual fare.  I love the excitement of the reds in unexpected places - and the calm-dusty-turquoise chair that's echoed in the spray of leaves.  And the inky depths of the espresso - don't get me started.

Gumby resting while I paint - with a sock on his sore foot

We're still waiting to hear from the lab regarding Gumby's biopsy.  In the meantime, he continues to improve - every day he seems more and more like his old self.  The stitches come out Friday afternoon.

He's very helpful while I paint - as you can see. Ever patient - always supportive - somehow I know it will all turn out okay with him around.


southern exposure

A Vase of Sunshine; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

The light pouring in from the south-facing window was irresistible when playing on these daffodils. 

Today, I'll paint the same flowers next to a north-facing window.  I have no idea what objects will gravitate into the scene.  We'll have to wait and see.


sketchbook notes

sketch book notes on framing - 6B and colored pencils

Here's another framing idea - albeit a rough one.  I've ordered a 13" x 15" frame from Franken Frames (they were recommended by an artist friend) and am planning to use it to frame an 8" x 10" painting.  The extra space will be filled in by a linen backing board and the painting will be attached in the center with magnets.  I've done this before with oil paintings and I love the linen-liner-look effect.  It's got a mid-century modern feel that should fit well with that style of home - and many others.

Above you can see some sketches I made so I'd have an idea of how the proportions might look.  The 13" x 15" looked more balanced in the sketch so I'm trying that first.  Tonight I'll make a template for the magnets so that they'll be carefully placed and uniform.  That way I can switch out paintings if need be.  I'm going to try the silicone adhesive on the magnets.  In the past I used a glue gun which worked well.  But I'm hoping the silicone will be even stronger and it will certainly be easier to remove in case that should ever be needed.


one fish

Three Fish; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

You don't see the threads - or washers - or rod in the painting.  But in real life they were necessary to keep the plastic-toy fish steady and in one place.  And you can see a few of the bubbles but certainly not all of them.  It's important to remember what the painting is about and not paint all that you see.

The two refracted images of the fish plus its shadow make up the title.  I didn't think about Dr. Seuss's "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" when I was painting this.  Instead, I concentrated on the strong light and dark shape harmony, the repeated ellipses and the orange/turquoise color complements.  The rectangle in the upper right represents wood-slat blinds.  It seemed unnecessary and distracting to render that beyond an outline and color.  The focus is the fish and, as painted, the blinds echo its color without stealing the show.

This is a February painting - done under lamp light in the evening.  It was done standing at my field easel - in preparation for painting outside soon.  My summer calendar months are filling up with plein air contest possibilities.  I've been writing quite a few of the organizers of these events asking if casein will be allowed.  So far all have been very welcoming.  The saying, "It's better to ask forgiveness than permission," does not apply in this case.  It would be a shame to make all of the arrangements, haul my gear to an event and find out casein paintings will not be included.  Luckily, it's easy to ask via email - and fortunately, all the responses have been positive.  I'm getting excited for spring!


new toy

on the easel tonight

the model - out of water - lets call her Gwendolyn
It turns out that it's a very difficult task posing a plastic fish in a bowl full of water.  You need to weight it down somehow and correct for any tendency of the head to tip up or the tail to tip down.  Then you need to counteract spinning - lest you dizzily chase the image with your brush.  So after attaching multiple threads, washers and a rod resting atop the bowl - your fish will more or less stay put.  But then come the bubbles.  Apparently, if you fill your bowl with hot water, you can minimize the hundreds of tiny bubbles that attach to the fish, the threads, the washers and the inside of the bowl.  Unfortunately, I learned this after filling my bowl with cold water.

All of the whining aside, I'm really enjoying painting this new toy.  And I absolutely love this abstracted stage where I explore the underlying colors and basic compositional shapes.  More to come.


weighing options

panel floating frame front and back

Here's a photo showing the front and back of the panel floating frame discussed in the previous post.  What you're seeing is a 9" x 11" panel framed within a simple flat frame.  The panel is black and has a pebbly satin finish.

To frame an 8" x 10" painting, you simply adhere it to the middle of the 9" x 11" panel.  You can use Velcro, wood glue or silicone adhesive.  To make sure it's centered, it helps to have handy strips of cardboard to place all around the edges of the painting - which are later removed after the adhesive sets. 

Here's a video from MetroFrame.com that I found very helpful: Attaching Paintings to Panel Frames


in situ

 According to Wikipedia, 'in situ' means "the superimposing of theoretical design elements onto photographs of real world locations. This is a pre-visualization tool to aid in illustrating a proof of concept." 

In these two photographs you can see four of my recent paintings placed in situ - a theoretical home setting (mine) so that collectors can better visualize how they might look in their homes.  Three of these paintings are bound for Red Wing Arts and will be exhibited during Red Wing's upcoming music festival.  The painting in the gold frame will be shipped off soon to Cincinnati to be hung in their upcoming exhibition: Impressions Small Works Showcase.

In these photographs you can also see two very different approaches to framing.  The gold frame was professionally done in a conventional way - covering a small bit of the edge of the painting all the way around.  It cost $160 to have framed while the other frames cost $16 each.  I ordered the less expensive frames from www.webpictureframes.com and finished the framing myself.  Using Dow Corning Silicone Adhesive #732, I adhered the paintings to the inside of the Panel Floater Frames (with the entire painting visible), screwed in two screw eyes on the back, wired them and added felt bumpers. 


seeing double

The Betta and the Jade; casein tempera on panel; 8" x 10"

Sandwiched between working on this painting my dog had surgery.  He's an old dog - 11.5 times around the sun - but an oh-so-precious soul.  He had developed a tumor in his toe that destroyed the claw, allowed for a nasty infection and was growing aggressively.  It's gone now.  I don't know if they call it a toe-ectomy but you get the idea.  He's in pain but not as frustrated now that it's gone.  I think it was driving him crazy.  We'll find out soon if it's cancer or not.  But either way, I've got my dog back - and I plan to treasure every day with him.


virgin snow

Winter Shadows; casein tempera on panel; 8" x 10"

Before it's trodden, by man or beast, fresh fallen snow is truly a magnificent sight.  This is my neighbor's yard - it's what I see when I look out my front windows.  We're fortunate here to live in such a wooded area with the majority of the land left in its natural state.  It's interesting, after snows like this, to look later and see the animal tracks that appear.  Deer, rabbit, mice, wild turkey, squirrels, coyotes and foxes roam our woods.  But mostly, I've been seeing rabbit tracks this winter.  I was quick here though, and got my reference photo before the bunnies hopped through.  It was an amazing opportunity to witness virgin snow in all of its glory.


in progress

on the easel  - in progress

There are 50 primed panels in the painting rack now.  30 have just been primed with 6 coats of Venetian Red casein and will be ready to paint on in 2 weeks.  The other 20 were primed weeks ago.  I calculated that when my stack runs down to 20, it's time to prime a new batch of 30.  That way I will always have panels on hand.

For those of you wondering when I'm going to paint bigger, I have good news.  10 of my new panels are 9" x 12".  If and when that size feels comfortable, I'll order more at that size and stick to that for awhile.  In this way, I'll gradually increase my painting size.  Ampersand makes Claybord panels as large as 3' x 4'.  We'll have to see if I ever make it that far!


mad city

From James Madison Park towards the Capitol; oil on unstretched linen; 6.5" x 10.5"; 2003

Facebook has some amazing groups.  I'm in a contemporary still life group, a group dedicated to paintings from the garden and several other artists groups.  I'm also in a couple of groups devoted to the nostalgia of my hometown, Madison, Wisconsin USA.  One's called Historic Madison Wi. Photo Group and the other is Madison in the Sixties.  They're both delightful trips back in time - both in the photos and through the many comments. 

The painting above is of my hometown done in oils with a palette knife.  It's only 15 years old but it still brings back fond memories. I remember setting up my field easel in the park on a golden-sunny-fall day.  The colors were fantastic - especially the orange leaves side-lit by full sun.  It's done on a piece of linen that I taped off so that a thin strip of gesso shows around the edge.  I'm not sure why I never signed it - and now I've given all of my oils away.  It was laying in an archival storage box until I unearthed it tonight. 

settled down

The Lemon; casein tempera on panel; 8" x 10"

This painting was revisited today.  Initially, it felt like a rough treatment for the background was enough.  Or rather, it felt like a finished background was unnecessary.  Apparently the painting had other ideas.  It wouldn't quiet down and kept calling to me.  It's funny how that happens - but it's true.  There's this relentless beaconing that won't be stilled until tended to.  I actually gave it a lot of thought - and examination.

Earlier today, I covered the entire background with a silky matte brown.  That was progress but now it was too flat.  So I came back in again and added some warmer reds to the right.  That's when everything settled down and fell into place.  It's happier now - and feels more like it belongs with my other paintings.  Lessons learned.


florida vacation

Sunflowers on a White Cloth; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

It's called a poor man's Florida vacation - visiting the Como Conservatory in the middle of winter.  Under vast domes of glass, this Minnesota wonderland houses koi pools, formal gardens, sculptures, a fern room, an orchid house, bonsai exhibits and more.  There's an acre under glass that's been growing since 1915.  On the National Register of Historic Places, there is no charge to visit this Victorian monument - hence the 'poor man's' moniker. You can also visit it  here online.