coneflower painting in progress, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches

The clip on top of the easel used to have bright-green-plastic tips and handles. I'm so much happier now that they're off. I painted the clips a nice-dull brown too. It's all about the little things.


In Progress

coneflower in progress, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches

Towards the end of the day I came back upstairs for better lighting.

By Degrees

I'm working downstairs today as it's much cooler there - by about ten degrees. You can see my latest set-up above - as well as portions of some older paintings of mine; a still life (done as student work) and a self portrait.


On Collecting

So starts chapter nine from THE FURNISHINGS OF A MODEST HOME by Fred Hamilton Daniels

I bought this delightful little book awhile back from Gustavs Library. It was written in 1908 by the Director of Drawing for the Public Schools in Springfield, Massachusetts. It has ten chapters and my favorite, by far, is this ninth one: Pictures & Casts. I referred to it recently when matting, framing and hanging some new pieces in my small art collection. Daniels' intructions are seldom ambiguous (e.g. "a dark picture appears to the best advantage against a dark ground.") It's comforting to think of a time when there was less confusion - when someone had all of the answers. Of course, that time didn't exist then - or ever. He does a good job of creating the illusion though - which isn't such a bad thing to indulge in now and then.

A new addition to my collection; an exquisite ink drawing by Steven LaRose - front view with piano lamp . . .

and a side view


On Clouds

Clouds over the Arboretum - May 2008, oil on canvas, 4 x 6 inches

Frank Wetzel taught me how to paint skies. At first, he had me make copies. "John Constable was a master of skies," he told me. So I copied Constable's skies for awhile and learned a lot about how incredibly nuanced and unpredictable skies can be. When I'd copied enough, I was sent outside with canvas marked out in a grid of little rectangles. I was to set out my colors and mix them according to what I saw above. Each rectangle was then to be quickly filled with a 5 to 10 minute glimpse of sky. This wasn't fun, at first, and much harder than it sounds. But I stuck with it. Four years after Frank's lessons, I've learned to really enjoy painting skies.


From the Garden

On Being a Bean, oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches


Late July Color Exhibition

Black-eyed Susans below the Sunny Garden

I planted this "yellow stroke" from seed last fall. To the right of these blooms is my dog's path - the one he runs and barks along to keep the cars out of the garden. So far, he's been very successful.


in progress

Being a Bean (in progress - and sideways), oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches

My poor cactus. It got bent over that way when it outgrew the small bay window in front of my kitchen sink. To compensate, it started growing an offshoot. I just noticed another tiny offshoot bud. This cactus is unstoppable.

Beans for Breakfast

I'm going to start painting a piece of my breakfast today - a single green bean hanging by a thread.

I just went out and picked these and, for some reason, laid the fist-full on the scanner bed. It's an interesting image, I think - requiring some thought and effort to discern what's happening.

You can read a recent review of my work at J.T. Kirkland's blog, Thinking about Art. He's generously put together a very rich-multi-layered project there called "Artists Review Artists."

my breakfast, freshly picked and scanned



a detail (with raking light) of the middle-left edge of the painting in the preceding post

I love this canvas. It's Allens Artist Canvas' unprimed medium weight #12.


The Potential of a Pear

The Potential of a Pear, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches

I painted the finishing touches of this one while listening to Maggot Brain - thanks to my s.o., Robert, and his CD.

Robert's far cooler than me.


in Progress

oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches

Every time I see those bright-green-tipped clamps in one of these photos, I cringe. I've been meaning to get some stuff to dunk them in to turn them black. Come to mention it, I think I'll hop on my bike right now and get some. Bye.

update at 4:30pm: I couldn't find any Dip & Grip at the two stores nearby - I guess I'll look another day elsewhere.
update on July 16, 2008: The bright-green tips slide right off. Since I'm not that worried about the clamps marring anything, that's what the tips will do - slide off and into the trash - bye.


from 1999

plan for a mobile; ink on paper; 11 x 8.5 inches

Leaves; oak leaves, spray paint, fish line pivots, thread, glue, birch dowels and dust; about 30 x 30 x 30 inches

I decided not to put an acorn at the top of the mobile - but I still like it in the drawing.


Another (Outside) Aside (i.e. not about painting)

A wild turkey hen and her brood surprised me out back today. I was impressed with how large those things are - something that's driven home when you're less than 15 feet from them. Even the five babies were big - each were about the size of an adult wild duck. The mother watched me closely as I watched them, as closely as I dared, as they made it out of the woods and into the tall grasses - the babies nibbling tender little green plants all the way.

After watching them for awhile, I went inside to get my camera but they were gone when I returned. So I took this photo of the garden instead - which is just above, and to the right of, the grasses.

The Sunny Garden in July; with petunias, rue, green beans, pumpkins, carrots, tomatoes and morning glories - to name a few

updated July 14, 2008: I finally got a photo of them (through a window) this morning at 7am - the mother is in the center with her back to the camera - you can see a baby just below and to the left of her in silhouette - the other babies are there but are difficult to see


Small Fruits

A Cluster tied in a Window II, oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches

Small Fruits

A Cluster tied in a Window II (detail), oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches


Small Fruits - in process

another cluster, oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches


Play Time (ie not about painting)

In the spirit of summer, I took a mini vacation today and got caught up learning about Cob Houses. Here's a photo of one from Cob Projects - it's a cob house near Cornwall, England and is over 500 years old:

The '500 years old' part is what amazes me as these structures are made primarily of mud clods - sand, clay-soil, straw and water formed into hand-sized balls - lots and lots of hand-sized balls.

There's a contemporary movement promoting these sustainable building practices. A Google search on "cob houses" opens a window into that world in the form of links to workshops, books, plans, contractors, blogs and videos. To get an idea of the wide variety of modern designs out there, here's a short you tube video that provides a nice overview. It also shows, briefly, a bit of the building process, including the mixing-of-the-cob-substrate-with-bare-feet-on-a-tarp image - my favorite.

Today, I managed to keep from buying a bale of straw and getting my tarp dirty. But I did make lots of drawings and a couple of crude models for a child's playhouse - a photo of the least crude model (which really isn't saying much) is below:

cardboard, spaghetti noodles (uncooked), Elmer's glue and tissue paper; 15 x 7 x 7 inches where one inch is meant to equal one foot


Small Fruits

A Small Cluster tied in a Window, oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches


It was a Veery

It turns out, the young Robin in my painting last month wasn't a young Robin after all. Bruce Morrison was kind enough to comment and identify it as an adult Veery. The image on Cornell University's "All About Birds" site matches my bird to a 'T' and their birdsong recording is one I've definitely heard outside my window. So the painting has a new title: Nature Morte; Late Veery. Thanks for your help, Bruce.

On the topic of birds, these two art weblogs have been catching my eye lately: Kit Eastman's and Frank Gonzales'. Both of these artists have a very sensitive understanding of the bird's form. Their multilayered approaches create environments where the subject seems secure and at ease - making it all the more enjoyable to view them.


If I had a Tattoo . . .

. . . it would look exactly like the grease mark, left by my bicycle's front gear sprocket, on the inside of my right calf, back when bicycle gear sprockets were greased.

I went to see the Minnesota Orchestra play in Excelsior last night - with a spectacular fireworks display over Lake Minnetonka afterwards. Maybe it was because I biked there - or because there was such a wide variety of tattoos parading past me as I sat listening to the orchestra - or maybe it was recently seeing Pretty Lady's lovely tattoo and then being reminded of Steven LaRose's one with all of its layers of meaning, or it could be, I was simply missing the good ol' days when we all used bicycle grease - for whatever reason, I found myself thinking about, and designing, my very own tattoo.

Fireworks seen from the bike path, over Lake Minnetonka - 2008, photo by Robert Klein

updated July 7, 2008: For more images, information and history of Lake Minnetonka, check out Chip Drewry's blog, Minnesota's Lake Minnetonka.


from 2005

Peonies in a Glass Bowl with Marbles, oil on panel, 16 x 10 inches

This is the painting that was in the background from a few posts back. It was so dark in that photo, I wanted to take another lighter one. The beautiful quarter-sawn oak frame was made by Holton Studio Frame-Makers especially for a vertical painting.

Small Fruits

detail of A Long-Stemmed Strawberry, oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches

This is a detail of the image in the preceding post.