frame up

framing idea for 6" x 9.75" casein on board
Here's a rough idea for framing for exhibition.  The frame is a simple-pine-presentation one (16" x 20") from Blick's.  And the mat is archival-black-core-alabaster-wheat - also from Blick's. 
My initial reaction is positive except that there seems to be a lot of mat showing.
If I were to paint larger - say, 8" x 13" - that would reduce the mat area by quite a bit.  I could also go with a smaller frame.  The next-smaller-conventionally-sized frame would be 11" x 14".  The painting above, then, would be surrounded in about a third of the mat area - as seen above. 
Complicated - no?  That's why I'm taking some time out to actually put some of these paintings on the wall as if they were being exhibited.  It forces me to revisit my mat cutting skills, check out how other artists are framing and exhibiting works on watercolor board, imagine how it might be to hurriedly frame competition-plein-air paintings directly from easel to show and last, but not least, to evaluate the aesthetics.  It may also influence the sizes of the next 60 paintings.



Sumac in Late August; casein on board; 6" x 9.75"
My husband's gift to me today - on my 59th birthday - was to take me out painting to Murphy-Hanrehan Park in Bloomington, Minnesota.  He found this scene for me along the horse trail and thought I'd like it because of the elevation.  He was right - a lovely mix of pathway, foreground, middle ground and background.  But it was the sumac glistening in the bright sunshine - giving them a bluish cast - that sealed the deal.
It won't be long when these sumac will be a fiery red.  I'd like to come back then to this same spot and same time of day.  It was a perfect place for a quiet painting get-away.  People on horseback, runners and hikers went by now and then, but for the most part I felt alone and at peace - a perfect day.


thirty nine

Pochade and Lily Buds; casein on board; 6.75" x 11"

The lily buds are taking their time.

While waiting for the buds to open, I stepped away from the scene  and painted it - including my new little field easel.  It's an old cigar box screwed atop a camera tripod.  I bought it from Gary Parks on eBay and so far I've been very happy with my little purchase!

I love my old field easel but it's quite heavy.  That's a good thing for stability in the wind and in general.  But I've been longing to bike to painting sites along the nearby bike paths and lakes.  With this new pochade box I'll have a light-weight means to do that.

But this will all have to wait until after the lily blooms.


thirty eight

Lilies in Bud; casein on board; 7" x 4.375"
Some subjects ask to be painted loose and others lean to tightening up. These lily buds were definitely in the later category.  I left as much raw-rough color as I could but in the end, a fairly refined painting revealed itself. 
I may paint this set-up again as the lilies open.  Maybe it will be a looser painting.  We'll have to see what the lilies say.


thirty seven

Yellow Balloon; casein on board; 8" x 5"; 2017

Nocturne's are something I'd like to do more of.  Painting this balloon (although I was standing comfortably inside) made me think about getting out more in the evening.  Moonlit paintings are enchanting and a bit magical.  But then again, the same can be said of balloons.

P.S. If you don't have a helium tank lying around, you can hang a balloon by a string from the ceiling, light it from below and then turn your painting 180 degrees when you're done.

P.P.S. A neat way to 'paint' a very thin white line is to not paint it at all - just paint up to it and let the white of the paper show through.


thirty six

Lemons, Mum and a Pear; casein on board; 6.5" x 5.25"

Jeffrey Hayes, an artist friend of mine, is also giving himself a personal challenge this month.  Instead of creating 100 casein paintings in a quest to look for answers, his project will last for 90 days and will explore painting in oils from life.
"I'm doing a 90 day challenge, in which every single day I make one new painting from life - no photographic aid whatsoever.
While this might sound like a painting-a-day project, I have quite different goals in mind.  This is not an open-ended exercise where the goal is simply to produce one painting each day.  
Instead, I'm thinking about it more like an educational course, and I have a rough outline for it in mind.  Some of the paintings will even be designed to solve specific problems or learn new techniques." - Jeffrey Hayes 8/12/2017
Please check out his YouTube channel and follow along as he creates a daily video of each new piece.


shot glass

Pears and Yarrow; casein on board; 6" x 9.75"; 2017

The shot glass came from Super One in Superior, Wisconsin.  My husband was playing in the Twin Ports Open Chess Tournament there this weekend and I tagged along hoping to get some painting done outside.  The first two days were cooperative but yesterday it was a bit drippy.  And since casein is a water based paint, I opted to set up my easel in the hotel room. 

The fern-leaf yarrow was everywhere.  I'm hoping no one minded that I picked some for my hotel-room-still-life.  Oh - and the pears were from Super One too.  They were a delicious treat when the painting was done.


thirty two

8, 12, 16 and 20 Kilograms; casein on board; 7" x 11.5"

Kettlebells are pretty amazing.  Within the space of less than 2 cubic feet you can fit enough workout equipment to last a lifetime.  I follow Lorna Kleidman's book: Body Sculpting with Kettlebells.  So far, I'm more than halfway through her silver routine.  I can't say I enjoy doing the exercises.  But I do love how I feel afterwards.  Plus, it's good for the bones.


thirty one

By the Water's Edge; casein on board; 3" x 4.75"
One hundred paintings - that's what I'm focusing on right now. 
This little elephant painting is number 31. 
Ideas and directions for where my recent painting activity might go are captured in a notebook.  It's important that I don't act on them just yet.  Action (other than painting) will come when the hundred paintings are done. 
It seems that I'm making around one painting per day.  At that rate, the time to pick a clear direction and set goals will come around mid-October.  So far, I've written down ten possible avenues for my art to take - one for every 3 paintings?


spider mum

Spider Mum with Mug and Glasses; casein on board; 5" x 8"

Another little set-up on my mantel.  The wall really is that reddish-orange color - but for this pose, I put folded-gray paper on the ledge to cover up the oak.  I also edited out the mug's handle.  It didn't add anything and drew too much attention to the left.  I wanted the mum to be the star.



Apple on Chair II; casein on board; 4.75" x 3"


first one

Apple on Chair I; casein on board; 4.75" x 3"

further progress

Little casein paintings of a Granny Smith apple on a turquoise chair - 4.75" x 3" each

You can see this at an earlier stage here.


in progress

Work in Progress: 4 little paintings done simultaneously - of a green apple on a little turquoise chair


From Beard's Plaisance; casein on board; 8"x10"; 2017

I went out this morning to paint this scene from Beard's Plaisance, as the title suggests.  Wikipedia says that plaisance means pleasantness - certainly an apt description this morning.


painting outdoors

Morning's Light; casein on board; 3"x4.75"

This scene was painted from our campsite at Wildcat Mountain State Park in Wisconsin.  It was the morning after we set up camp and the first light was amazing!  In the opening beyond are the walk-in prairie sites in a field filled with Queen Anne's Lace.



I've slept in a tent the last two nights - at Wildcat Mountain State Park in Wisconsin.  It was an absolutely breathtaking place to paint - and the weather couldn't have been more agreeable.  Above are the seven 3" x 4.75" casein paintings I made at my field easel while I was there.  The four on the left were painted on my second day there and the three on the right, on the third.


avocado pit

The Avocado Pit; casein on board; 9" x 7"; 2017
You're supposed to push toothpicks in a peeled avocado pit and suspend it over water in a glass.  When the pit puts down roots you know it's time to plant it in soil.
I forgot about all that and instead just plopped my unpeeled pit in some dirt.  Apparently that works too.


jelly jar bouquet

Rose and Thistles; casein on board; 8" x 5"; 2017

Trader Joe's has the best flowers - and jelly - jars.


early abstractions

early stage of Greens and an Eggplant

No more paper towels.  I've begun to rip up pieces of flannel to use as I work in an effort to paint more sustainably.  Casein fits that bill nicely too - a water medium with milk-protein as its binder.


from the garden

Greens and an Eggplant; casein on board; 5" x 8"; 2017

The lettuce had fallen over in the mud after the storm last night.  First thing this morning, I went out and picked a bunch and cleaned it off.  There were also little eggplants and Hungarian peppers ready to go.  That's how today's models were chosen.


orchid on high

Orchid on High; casein on board; 8" x 10"; 2017

As long as this potted orchid is putting out its display, I will keep finding ways to make new paintings with it.  Yesterday the ladder came out and I carefully placed the pot and bowl atop a half wall between my entryway and dining room. 


in the shade

Snow on the Mountain; casein on board; 10" x 6.25"; 2017

It was hot - and the mosquitoes were fierce - but the light dancing on the 'Snow on the Mountain' made up for it all. 

This painting is of my backyard.  I made those steps and bridge (last "step") about 13 years ago.  The bridge goes over a twisting swale which helps the roof-rain-run-off to enter the soil.  Erosion is a major issue when you live on a steep slope.


pond scum - again

The Pond in July; casein on board; 9.5" x 6"; 2017

The clouds really were amazing.  And the algal bloom was there - for better or for worse.


Expecting; casein on board; 8" x 5"; 2017

Someone new will come into all of our lives in the next few months.  Some are just newer than others.


pond scum

Partly Cloudy; casein on board; 8" x 5"; 2017

French Regional Park is a beautiful place to paint and the clouds were delightful today.  But the pond scum gave me pause.  Should I paint it as is or pretend the water's clear with deep dark shadows in the foreground and lovely reflections further out?  As you can see, the scum won. 



Attachments; casein on board; 5" x 8"; 2017
Sleep experts tell us not to keep our phones in our bedrooms - that we need a break from our devices for a good night's sleep.  I should listen to them.  It's so tempting to check on emails/texts/updates for "just a sec" when it would be so much better to allow my mind some time to day dream.


mantel pieces

A Moleskine, Pitcher and Apple; casein on board; 8"x5"; 2017

The mantel over my fireplace makes for a great place to set-up a still life. 

And no - my wall there isn't pink - the color comes from some pink paper I taped up behind the scene.  And the shelf is actually a golden oak color.  What you see is gray drawing paper that I folded and laid on top of the mantel. 

I'm not sure why there's so much openness above the objects.  It just felt right, at the time, to give them a lot of breathing space.


Pig; casein on basswood; 2"x3"x4"; 2017
I carved this pig a few months ago but brought it out tonight because it highlights a decision I've come to regarding finishing my casein paintings.
After the casein paint dried on this pig, I buffed it vigorously with a cotton cloth until it had a nice luster.  I wanted to avoid any nasty chemicals as I was thinking these little carvings would make nice gifts for my grandchildren.
As it turns out, 2 dimensional paintings can be buffed too.  In fact, it's a preferred method and has been so for centuries.  Terry Stanley, from The Art Lady Confidential, says,
"Casein shouldn't be varnished (or finish of some sort be applied) before it is completely cured, which can take up to 4-5 weeks. Varnish is actually unnecessary which is why it's not made anymore. If you insist on varnishing, an acrylic one will be fine. Do NOT use an oil varnish as it can cause adhesion issues, orange peeling, etc. Casein on panel or other rigid support is meant to be buffed. Once completely cured, take an old t-shirt rag or other non-listing cloth and gently but vigorously rub the surface. A lovely satin-ish sheen will come to the surface and actually protect the painting. Properly applied to an acceptable, prepared painting surface, caseins weather time even better than oils. If you use paper as your chosen surface, it is recommended that it be framed under glass."
I'm delighted to have finally resolved this issue in such a zero-waste-non-chemical way.  A big THANK YOU to The Art Lady for her help!



Potted Orchid in a Turquoise Bowl; casein on board; 5"x8"; 2017
The opportunity to paint these flowers is fleeting.  Here's tonight's efforts - this time in landscape format.



The Stretch; casein on board; 5" x 8"; 2017
There was yoga on the beach at Lake Nokomis this morning.  This model's pose reminded me of some of the stretches our instructor had us do.  Such a glorious morning!  After yoga it was coffee with friends out on the terrace of Nokomis Beach Café.  And to end the day - a painting.



Meadow at Dusk; casein on board; 5"x8"; 2017
A quick little sketch at Meadow Park in Minnetonka.  There were lots of visitors at the easel - both 2 legged and 4.  A beautiful night to paint and share my passion.

ancient orchid

Ancient Orchid; casein on board; 8"x5"; 2017
This orchid was purchased more than 10 years ago and has been the subject of many of my paintings and drawings.  This is the first time it's been painted in casein.  It used to be a youthful-upright plant putting out graceful-vertical-arching flower stems.  The leaves have grown to the side now and the root tendrils are plentiful.  In its advanced age, when it decides to flower, the stalk is more-or-less horizontal while the flowers cascade downward in a vertical line.  Aging gracefully - a good goal for all of us.



Here's my test of Delicate Surface Frog Tape on my painting board.  (It's also a little gradient of blues - but that was really just an excuse to get paint down next to the tape.) The DSFT is working better than the regular tape but still pulls the surface off slightly - especially by the outer corners.  But I'm not going to worry about it just now.  It's more important to get out and paint - these minor issues will resolve themselves in time.

The image is what's important and there are no issues there, within the tape.  Besides - when I varnish the entire board the roughed up areas may settle down to match their surroundings.  It's a matter of style and presentation - and flexibility.  Casein on board can be framed many ways.  I want to give my collectors options - and a beautiful presentation.



iPhone photo along the bike path this morning
Delivery of new painting boards is due in two days so I've been busy scouting in preparation.  Everywhere I go now I'm looking for views, lighting and possible setups to paint outside.
Here's a photo of the view along the bike path this morning on the way back from Caribou.  There were countless compositions that presented themselves along the route.  I never know what I'll paint, though, until I start walking with easel in tow while looking through my view-finder.  Weather permitting, that will happen this Friday.


casein at the arboretum

4.25" x 6.5"       Casein on Fabriano Paper
Forget that last post.   
18 new plein air casein paintings are in the works - an order is out for 3 large sheets of archival board which will yield 6 paintings each.  When they arrive later this week, I'll be out at my easel again. The painting above embodies the palette, attitude and approach I'll aim for in the next month or two as I get the "feel of the road" again.  I painted it at the University of Minnesota's Landscape Arboretum a couple of years ago.  It's time to return.
It feels good to be back.


an update

Here's a photo of me dancing with my oldest grandson at my youngest son's wedding last February.  (My mother-of-the-groom outfit was sewn by me - in part because I really hate shopping.)

Hope this post finds you all well.

Dancing with Lincoln     2/2017