new year

SOLD; Morning Moon; oil on linen; 9.75" x 6"; 2003
Happy New Year - wishing you all peace and prosperity in 2018!

The studio is still quiet here.  The palette needs to be cleaned (from busy grandsons making pictures) and the furniture needs to be rearranged (with the inflatable bed soon to be deflated.)  But most of all, I need to get some rest.  Today I mostly slept - putting my PJs back on at 5am (after returning from the airport.)  My voice is gone and my cold is doing quite well but I'm determined to paint tomorrow.  I'm also determined to get out to take some winter reference photos.  The high is supposed to be 3 degrees F tomorrow but the next day it will be 15 degrees F.  So tomorrow: paint inside - and Tuesday: tromp through the snow bundled as well as I can.  If you're on Facebook you can see what that looks like.  My avatar there shows me clad in a parka, mittens and boots in a snowy scene. 

P.S. The painting above was done outside - with my easel set up in a church parking lot - with snow plows working all around me.  The plows came after I had set up and had gotten a good start.  Otherwise, I don't think the scene would have looked so tranquil.


studio stillness

first notes
second notes
final painting

Progress images fascinate me and I'm hoping they're of interest to others too.  One of my take aways from looking at the aftermath, is the significance of when and why I find the time to stop to create these images of my painting progress. 

I remember it was hard to stop and scan the drawing stage this time. There was a revision as to where I wanted to place the vase and the drawing seemed 'messier' somehow.  I had to remind myself of how important the drawing stage is and how it's okay to show how I changed my mind.  The stages of the first and second notes presented a logical place to stop and weren't hard to pause after.  And of course, the finished painting makes for a nice reference when viewing these steps.  That stage is always easy to include.

I do wish, however, that I had made scans of what happened between the second notes and the finish.  That's when the true colors come out - and the lovely details emerge that solidify and embellish the story.  I would love to see the roots take shape, the seam on the bag emerge and the diffraction through the water explored.  Maybe that's why artists make videos - so that the camera can record the progress in its entirety.  Something to think about - if only for my own curiousity.


taking root

The Sprout; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"
This little onion is one of the last things remaining from my garden.  So lovely that it's taking root this time of year.  So nice also to get away from pinks and greens.  It felt good to luxuriate in cerulean blue for a change.


unexpected milestones

progress images of "The Postcard"
Milestones are an interesting idea.  There seem to be two types: the ones preordained - like turning 30 or having your first child - and the ones that you look back on and realize a major shift happened without your being aware of it at the time. 

The little painting in the painting above was done outside at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  I used a Fabriano notecard and taped off the edges to preserve the white of the card.  It was my first time painting outside with casein - and it was before I thought of myself as a casein painter.  I was just playing around. 

It turns out, I love that little painting.  It represents a shift that was barely perceptible at the time.  A shift to a freer, cleaner more expressive way of painting.  It's a milestone unexpected whereas the painting of that little painting represents a milestone preordained - the last of my 100 challenge paintings.

Step by step, milestone by milestone - wishing you all the gift of the present - wherein no steps are required - and milestones are realized only after the fact.


ta da

The Postcard; casein tempera on board; 10" x 8"

Here you have the one-hundredth painting - done on December 20th, 2017 - in time for the holidays.  I like that it has one of my very early plein air caseins represented as the "postcard."  It seems quite fitting that it should be there so prominently.

The next week or two I'll be busy with family - as I'm sure you will all be.  I'm not sure, however, if I'll have time to think about next steps.  Thankfully, my subconscious doesn't need for me to set aside time - it has a way of working on things even as I'm crazy busy.  Come January, I'm confident it will have sorted things all out.  I'll keep you all posted.

Thank you all for following along with this reboot. 


from 2006

Poinsettia; oil on panel; 6" x 9.5" 2006
During this busy holiday time, I thought I'd post another past oil painting for you all.  I remember loving how these gorgeous leaves stretched out and filled the entire picture frame.  There's a slight asymmetry to the composition - which pleases me still.  And that iridescent film they use to wrap the pots - and the gradient in the background - well - I could go on and on.

As I'm sure you all are - I've been juggling many tasks here this week.  Among them is a bunch of peonies that I bought at Whole Foods.  $12 for five tight little buds - but I'm very hopeful that they'll open up properly and delight us all.  They've definitely swelled in the last couple of days and are currently set up with a conch shell on a round teal mat.  I've got two pieces of tape on the floor where the tips of my toes will go (a ritual of mine) and a spot light poised just so.  I'm excited to get started on this - hopefully tomorrow evening.

Tonight there's still studio tidying to be done, preparation for a lesson and some writing I need to catch up on. 

On the easel - but not yet started: painting number 100 - the last of the Reboot - and the beginning of the next chapter here.  I'm pretty sure it will have peonies and a conch shell in it - we'll soon see.


notes notes

The Painted Chair with Carnations; casein tempera on board; 8" x 10"
Lois Griffel wrote Painting the Impressionist Landscape wherein she explains a method of painting (as passed down from Charles Hawthorne) using color notes.  The first notes, or patches of paint applied to the panel, are as bright and as pure as possible - expressing lightness and darkness more than local color.  They are an exaggeration of the large simple shapes that make up the picture plane.  The second notes are different from the first.  They aim to bring us closer to the local color and therefore must maintain the same values as the first notes upon which they rest.  The third and final notes provide the finish necessary to tell the story - to tell the truth of what we see.  Local color will be suggested with the final notes rather than overtly stated.  The end result, if done well, is a perfect balance between finish and freshness - an impressionistic dance of color bits that delight and fascinate.

Number 99 of my 100-painting Reboot

the math

on the easel; casein tempera on board; 8" x 10"
180 coats - that's how many coats of Venetian Red casein I put on my new Claybords.  There are 30 panels and 6 coats on each so - 180 altogether.  It got to be a wax-on-wax-off-zen thing - holding each panel up to the glancing light as I carefully applied the thinned paint with my new hake brush (no, I never did find my old one.)  They're all done now - and are stacked neatly in a box that is labeled with "use after January 1, 2018."  That will give them at least two weeks to cure.  Less than that would risk the Venetian Red lifting off too much with each stroke of paint.

The painting on the easel above will be 99 of my 100-painting Reboot.  It's not quite ready for prime time - a bit more effort on the marbles, spindles and petals perhaps.  Or maybe I'll sleep on it and come up with a different analysis.  Tomorrow will tell.


from 2005

s a l e . p e n d i n g - January at the Marsh; oil on panel; 10" x 16"; 2005

This is an older piece of mine - a plein air done in oils.  I've done a lot of painting outside in the winter and have gone through a lot of those little packets that warm up when you unwrap them and that fit in your boots and/or mittens.  It's cold business winter-plein-air painting - but oh so rewarding.  Unfortunately, with casein paint, you can't paint out when it's below freezing.  Casein is a water medium and will freeze - unlike oil paint which may get a little more viscous but will still be pliable enough to paint with in extreme conditions. 

Now that there's snow outside, I'm hoping to get out and take some photo references to make winter-casein paintings back in the warmth of the studio.  In the meantime, I thought I'd put this one up for you all to see - and to remind myself of how amazing and varied are the colors of snow.


pitcher picture

The Picture on the Wall; casein tempera on board; 8" x 10"
The carnations are in the compost heap, the sauna should be up and running this weekend and the bananas are ready to eat.  I may let these go a bit past the peel-and-eat stage though.  When they're over ripe, they're perfect for making nice cream.  Peel and then freeze them on a cookie sheet - then toss them in Droste Cocoa until fully coated.  Store them in a big zip-loc in the freezer until you're ready to push them through a Yonana Frozen Treat Maker - sprinkle with pecan chips - enjoy!

Painting number 98 of my 100-painting Reboot - 2 more to go.

maggie's restaurant

on the easel; casein tempera on board; 8" x 10"
Downtown Wayzata is a lovely place to meet an old friend.  Maggie's Restaurant makes it even better.  We had breakfast for lunch - old standards - nothing fancy.  The conversation was down-to-earth too - sharing our news and memories.  This time of year it's so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of the season.  It was sweet to slow down for a couple of hours and connect.


fading blooms

The Blank Page; casein tempera on board; 8" x 10"

These carnations have modeled for their last painting.  It's time now to put them to rest in the compost pile.  Like the sunflowers before them, I try to keep painting with a bunch of flowers until their last day.  They're not that expensive but it still seems wasteful not to keep painting with them while they're still fresh.  And by constraining my subject matter, I'm forced to come up with new ways to present them.  I like that challenge.

The painting above was going to be a still life on top of an odd-little-black-metal-side table.  There were sliced kiwis, a red pear and a glass vase of pink carnations arranged sweetly on the round top.  But as I was framing the scene in my view finder, the stuff at the base of the table caught my eye.  The blank page, the jumble of marbles and another vase of carnations (there were five vases total from this bunch) were calling to me.  It was definitely a challenge for me.  But I'm satisfied now - I'm glad the carnations held out long enough to adorn The Blank Page.

Number 97 of my 100-painting Reboot - only three more to go.


balancing act

The Little Tin Jug; casein tempera on board; 10" x 8"

A perfect balance of finish vs. freshness - that's the holy grail.  There's always the danger of overworking and making your paintings seem tense and uncomfortable.  And on the other end of the spectrum you want to tell enough of the story to be comprehensible - at least I do.  Rough sketches are amazing though and I often wonder why I can't/don't stop at some more abstracted stage.  Someday - maybe - but for now I need to be true to myself - and the story.


finding myself

white tin jug in progress
Three or four times a year I find myself in IKEA.  I'm rereading that sentence and am wondering if I actually DO find myself - in IKEA?  No - I'm pretty sure I meant that I somehow end up there without being willfully involved in the process.  It's more of an accidental-shopping-kind-of-thing. 

While I'm "accidentally shopping" I realize I'm actually following a very tightly orchestrated maze that's jam-packed with visual stimulation.  There's nothing accidental about any of this.  It was all meticulously planned - just not by me.

But it's all good.  Back at the studio I find myself - arranging a still life set up with a new little white tin jug.  I find myself painting it holding pink carnations - surrounded by Granny Smith apples - on a square linen cloth - on a round table.  I find myself sharing its progress with all of you - and then dreaming of its finish tomorrow. 


losing it

30 new Claybord panels
I looked everywhere.  Hanging on my taboret, in the garage, in all of my brush cups - my 2" hake brush was no where to be found.  That was last night.  "I'll sleep on it," I thought, "then it will come to me."  But this morning - nothing.  I love that brush - but use it rarely.  Maybe that's why it's never garnered its own special place - a place where I'll know I'll always find it. 

So there they lay.  30 new Claybord panels on the dining room table are now waiting for a replacement 2" hake brush to arrive by post.  When it comes, I'll coat them all with 6 layers of Venetian Red casein - perfectly applied with the velvety softness that can only come from a fine hake brush.  When it comes, I'll also surely find the lost one.  Life is like that.

P.S. "Hake" is pronounced "hockey."


driving snow

Carnations in a Round Glass Bowl; casein tempera on board; 8" x 10"
The snow stuck to windows and storm doors it was blowing so hard last night.  It's the sticky kind too - that adheres itself to branches and weighs them down.  For Minnesota, it was actually a pretty mild affair.  But the first one is always significant and is worthy of pause.  I was able to get out this afternoon - after the plows had done their work.  Happily, when I was off doing my errands, I mailed Christmas cards to some of you.  Thank you for responding!  And if you're new here, please scroll down to learn about my offer.

Number 95 of my 100-painting Reboot

round about

on the easel -eight stages of a painting; casein tempera on board; 8" x 10"
The round table, marbles, vase and blooms juxtaposed with the textures, colors and gradations of this scene have been a challenging but exhilarating way to spend the evening.  It will feel good to rest now and contemplate next steps.  Some changes are clear - I'd like the background to retain its lovely gradation but with less saturation.  It will also be important to strike a balance between finish and freshness.  I don't want to lose all of the initial brushstrokes in an attempt to create more "accuracy."  Stepping back - both literally and figuratively - is the best approach right now.  Time to clean the brushes and palette - and hit the hay.  There's a nasty winter storm going on tonight.  And my Hudson Bay blanket just came back from the cleaners.  Time to wrap things up.


merry christmas

Merry Christmas 2017; casein tempera on board; 10" x 8"
Shoot me an email if you'd like to get on my Christmas card list.  A small reprint of the above painting will be made and affixed to your card.  I'll use old-fashioned photo corners - so the print can be easily taken off the card without damaging it - my gift to you!

Painting number 94 of my 100-painting Reboot.

holiday cards

Christmas Card Painting in Progress; casein tempera on board; 10" x 8"
It was wonderful to place a painting with its new owner today!  The Avocado Pit was delivered this morning and is now in its new home.  The experience inspired me to use the same avocado plant for my Christmas card.  After hunting down just the right ornaments and ribbon, I set up the scene above on my mantel - complete with a reddish background.  I'm enjoying so many things about this painting: the transparent/translucent ribbon, the Charlie Brown nature of the "tree", the shiny metallic hanging ornament and the satin ones beside the pot - not to mention the shadows, terra cotta pot and glass bowl.  It will be a lot of fun making little prints of this painting to affix to my Christmas cards.  If you'd like a card sent to you, send me an email with your name and address - I'll put you on the list.


marble madness

Study in Pink and Apple Green; casein tempera on board; 10" x 8"
Marbles have become a "thing" in contemporary still lifes.  Duane Keiser is the first artist I've seen who's used them extensively and with great sensitivity.  There may have been others who started this ball rolling (sorry - couldn't resist.)  But now there are many other modern day still life painters who have joined in on the fun. 

Above is MY very first marble painting.  I didn't set out to paint them.  The carnations were the plan.  Somehow, the vase of flowers kept attracting more objects - first the apples and then the marbles.  Everything ended up fitting quite nicely with the round shapes, glass, apple greens, pinks, sparkles - all in a lovely circular pattern.  The dark background and the angled lines keep it all from becoming too sweet - lending a bit of mystery and intrigue.  The cropped apple is important too.  I'm not sure why - it just is.


pencil aroma

sketching the idea
zeroing in (but not there yet)

The sauna is lined in red cedar.  Every cut I make to fit the paneling and the trim reminds me of sharpening pencils in grade school.  Glendale Elementary had those lovely-cranky-spiralizing types of pencil sharpeners.  I'm sure all schools in the 60's had the same.  They say that smell, more than any other sense, has the ability to transport us back to select memories.  I'm not sure I have a distinct-pencil-sharpening memory.  In general, it's the sensation of being physically engaged with making fresh a drawing and writing tool that was at once ubiquitous and personal.  Mine were personalized with my teeth marks - but were Ticonderoga No. 2's just like everyone else's.


new dawn

The Drawn Shade; casein tempera on board; 7" x 9"

The kitchen sink bathed in filtered-morning light made for a perfect test for this new support.  It performed beautifully - I'm sold.

Thank you again, Len!


boston goodbyes

Monday night - painting in progress; casein on gessoed board; 7" x 9"
It's good to be back home - although the trip was absolutely magical.  My new granddaughter has 2 older brothers - 2 and 4 years old.  So it was a gloriously hectic time!

Before I left for Boston I attended the opening at beautiful Red Wing Arts.  I was not alone - it was a fantastically packed affair and I had the chance to see old friends and make some new ones.  Luckily for me, one of the new ones was Len Guggenberger, a fellow casein painter and multiple award winner at the National Society of Casein and Acrylic Painter's annual exhibitions.  He very kindly shared with me his experiences with different supports and generously gave me a sample of the kind he uses.

The sample Len gave me is in the photo above.  What you see are the beginnings of an interior painting of my kitchen bathed in morning light - yet obscured a bit by a pulled window shade.  I loved the effect of the plants behind the shade and how you can see the plants flattened in silhouette.  I've yet to paint the silhouettes - so don't worry if you can't make those out.

So far, this support is a dream to paint on.  I'll post the final painting - hopefully - tomorrow.


november day

Door Stop; casein tempera on aluminum; 10" x 8"
It's one of those very November days here - drizzly, cold, dim and leafless.  It was a good day to stay inside and paint sunflowers drenched in sunlight.  I paint both from life and from my reference photos.  This one was done from a shot I took a few months ago - of sun flowers in a vase placed as a door stop by my open front door.

Tonight is the opening of Small Paintings in Red Wing.  I'm really looking forward to meeting a lot of fellow artists and appreciators of the arts - yet another way to brighten up a rather dismal day. 

#SmallPaintings #RedWingArts


denver bound

tonight's progress; casein tempera on aluminum; 10" x 8"
My oldest grandson left today.  He's going back to Denver and already I'm missing him terribly.  The joy and life he brings to this house/studio is indescribable.

The painting above (started tonight) is my second attempt on aluminum.  The first time went horribly - and, I must confess, I was pretty stubborn about starting this one.  But now I'm loving it - although it's still got a ways to go.  I also had time today to prepare 9 Clayboards with 6 coats of Venetian Red casein. 

The search continues for the optimum surface upon which to paint. 

Number 91 of the 100-Painting Reboot


three little pears

Three Little Pears; casein tempera on board; 6" x 8"
These pears were painted on Clayboard toned with Ivory Black casein which was allowed to cure for 2.5 weeks. 

It still feels like a struggle painting on this surface and I very much miss the watercolor board.  But I'm committed to seeing this exercise through.  There are 10 Clayboards due tomorrow - and two more ready to paint right now.  It would go much better, I'm sure, if my head was in a better place about making this switch.  I'm trying very hard not to think of how much I miss the watercolor board as I'm painting on this new surface.

On a more positive note, here's a photo of my grandson looking at the little paintings in the Great Green Room:


little bears

progress in the miniature room
"And there were three little bears sitting on chairs . . ."

The bears' frame might need to get toned down a bit.  And likewise, the cow's frame could be keyed up slightly.  But there's definite progress being made in the Great Green Room.

More Clayboard is ordered and is on its way.  I'm more at peace knowing that's settled - that Clayboard will be my support for the foreseeable future.  There are three ready to go this week - so I'll have something to paint on tomorrow - and the next few days.  The new Clayboard will arrive Wednesday and will need 6 coats of Venetian Red casein - then be left to cure for 2 weeks.  That puts me out to the 29th.  Time to organize stored paintings and drawing?  Or go through my records?  Or make some lovely studies in charcoal?  Or do all three?

". . . goodnight to the old lady whispering "hush" . . . Goodnight stars . . . Goodnight air . . . Goodnight noises everywhere."


sun flowers

Sun Flowers; casein tempera on board; 10" x 8"
Number 89


on board

photo of the desk - and a painting in progress

It's time to give Clayboard by Ampersand a try - toned with 6 coats of casein (Venetian Red) - and allowed to cure for 2 weeks.  That's what supports the above painting-in-progress. 

It's going well - albeit slower than the watercolor board.  I hope to finish it tomorrow - but there's no rush.  It's most important to give this support idea a chance.  It would be, by far, the best support for my casein paintings.  The watercolor board is easier to paint on - I'll admit.  But there's a host of other considerations that go beyond painting - like framing, shipping, varnishing, storing and exhibiting.  It's time to look at the big picture - and buckle down and learn how to make these new supports my own. 

With a cure time of 2 weeks - the pace here will slow down a bit before it picks up again.  Even so - I'm on board.

abstract thinking

In Progress - a photo of the beginnings of a new painting - and my desk
We've got things mixed up.  So-called abstract art is more literal than so-called realism.  Taken further, realism is more abstract than what we've been calling abstract art.  Confusing?  Let's take a look at the definition of abstraction: expressing a quality apart from an object.

If you consider that a painting is merely bits of pigment arranged on a rectangular surface - held in place by some kind of binder - then so-called-abstract art is the real deal.  When you look at it, you are inevitably drawn to the stuff of paint - its very essence.  Paint and painting become one very raw, real and passionate thing.

If you consider the same definition of a painting - abstraction begins when one attempts to arrange the pigment in such a way to sway the viewer into thinking beyond the bits of pigment bound on a substrate.  The so-called realistic painter works with great care to place those microscopic pieces of color in very particular places.  She's working with a purpose in mind - to take the viewer's thoughts as far as possible from the paint and to fix them on a memory, a vision, a feeling - ideally all three. 

Transcending the physical - going from tiny grains of pigment to an experience - hopefully a profound one - is the essence of abstraction. 

In the end, it's best to love them both - whatever they're labeled.  The stuff we can seemingly touch with our hands - and the stuff that touches our hearts.


#smallpaintings #redwingarts

It's more than a week away but the excitement is already starting to build.  Two artist friends of mine are sharing in the anticipation - we all have work that was juried into this #SmallPaintings show.  Judith Anderson will have three of her gorgeous plein air pieces on exhibit and Margi Grill's oil and mixed media work will inspire the viewer with its reference to family history, environmental preservation and changing landscapes. 

#RedWingArts is housed in an historic train depot on the banks of the Mississippi River.  The staff and volunteers there are gracious and knowledgeable hosts.  When you visit Red Wing, you'll be charmed by the architecture, awed by the beauty of the Mighty River and warmed by the friendliness of the town.  For dinner, I'd recommend the St. James Hotel.  It's too cold now to eat out on the veranda but the view from the dining room will still take your breath away.  Set amid the majestic bluffs of the Mississippi River, the hotel - and the nearby gallery - are situated in one of the most beautiful settings one could imagine.


in miniature

Goodnight Moon Miniature Room in progress
32 years ago - that's when I started this project.  It will be - some day - a miniature room depicting the children's story Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd.  It's very close to coming together.  Yet to be created: the painting of the three bears, the mittens, socks and their rack.  Tonight I painted two of the three little paintings: The Cow Jumping Over the Moon and The Fisherman.  Like the sauna - I hope to finish this by the holidays.  It could happen - the cow could jump over the moon.

They're tiny but I'm still counting these two as numbers 87 and 88.


good night

Puzzle Pieces; casein tempera on board; 8" x 10"

If you find yourself in the vicinity of Rochester, Minnesota, you must take time to visit the Mayo Clinic campus.  Its rich history of art, architecture and medicine will leave you inspired and in awe.

Tonight, I had the privilege of showing two of my paintings in the lobby of the Plummer Building.  This 90 year old historical landmark is named for Henry S. Plummer.  He's the genius who designed not only the building but also our modern-day medical record system and so much more.  His 15-story building is graced by two magnificent-16-foot-high-bronze doors that weigh 4,000 pounds each.  They are always left open save for extremely solemn occasions. In the past 16 years, that's only happened three times. The building's carillon tower defines Rochester's skyline and houses 56 bells.  On the outside of the building are a delightful series of bas relief caricatures - ranging from dragons to happy elephants and sad donkeys.  The later are in reference to the election of 1928 when Hoover, a Republican, defeated Democrat Al Smith.  The Plummer Building is just one of many significant historical buildings on the Mayo campus.  I'm looking forward to going back soon to explore more.


run around

last night's painting progress
First it was Staples - no they do not have a pliers that fits my embosser.  Then it was Bed, Bath and Beyond - they're the place to go for Soda Stream CO2 refills .  Michaels was a few doors down - so glad to finally buy more background colors for my mantel set-ups. Next, Office Depot - maybe they'll have the pliers that fits my embosser.  Nope.  Then on to Target for frozen organic blueberries and cinnamon - some things you just can't live without.  Lastly, the wine sale at Lund's & Byerly's - not to be missed.

Apparently, you don't need the pliers to emboss foil rounds - a shop vise will do quite nicely.  You also don't need to order a bulk amount of brochures for a single event - your printer will do a fine job when paired with Adobe's Photoshop Elements.  You can quickly print up a few up-to-date business cards and resumes too.

So after running all around yesterday morning, fussing over pr stuff in the afternoon and enjoying my dinner while watching Stranger Things, it was time to paint - such bliss!


upcoming exhibitions

I'm pleased and honored to announce my inclusion in the upcoming Small Paintings Exhibition at Red Wing Arts in Red Wing, Minnesota.  The Juror, Sally Johnson, director of Groveland Gallery, chose two of my paintings, Radishes and The Avocado Pit, to be a part of the exhibit.
  • Small Paintings Exhibition
  • Red Wing Arts Depot Gallery
  • 418 Levee Street, Red Wing, Minnesota  55066
  • Opening Reception and Juror's Talk: November 17th, 6 - 8 pm
  • Show runs November 17th to December 23rd
Today was spent matting and framing my two larger pieces for a private showing at the Mayo Clinic this weekend.  I also worked on a brochure and business cards to have on hand there.  To get ready for painting tomorrow, I gathered in much of my painting debris.  It will tend to take on a life of its own and, amoeba-like, work its way into every bit of living space here.  So as I retire tonight, there's a single still life set up over the mantle with the field easel in front and ready to go.  I love going to sleep this way - thinking about the painting that's yet to be.

My favorite bedtime drink is coffoa - half decaf espresso and half dark cocoa blended in water.  I love it piping hot but you really have to watch the pot or else it will quickly boil over and create quite a mess.  Unfortunately, that happened tonight.  After things cooled down I soaked the mess and then scraped it off with a single-edged razor blade.  Then came the stove-top cleaner - and memories of preschool finger painting.

Memories; stove top cleaner on stove top; 8" x 10" - or something close to that


gaining perspective

Present Moment; casein tempera on board; 10" x 8"
It helps to step back from a situation to gain perspective.  Sometimes we're too emotionally involved or invested to make the best decisions.  Removing ourselves for even a short time can do wonders for our ability to problem solve. 

When I painted the box with a bow on top I was almost nose-to-nose with the model.  I was also sitting which is not the best way to paint.  It's optimal to stand so you can step back now and then and keep moving.  And as far as being too emotionally involved - that would be my love affair with the bow.  Being so caught up in its beauty, I fear I neglected to give the proper attention to the box.

So I stepped back - asked for advice - and played with scissors.  String, pins, tape, a pencil, ruler and cardboard came in to play too.  With a print out of my painting, I was able to establish vanishing points that helped the box feel more at home.

photo of perspective play
It turns out playing with perspective can be as fascinating as painting the infinite color spectrum of a white bow sitting on a red box.  A present moment sustained.


seeing through

The Sun and the Moon; casein tempera on board; 8" x 10"
We've been building a sauna here - for almost 2 years.  The electrician came today for the last time.  He hooked up the heater, said goodbye and left us to wrap up the final details.  It's going to be beautiful - when it's finished.  If we put in an hour or two a day we'll have it done by the holidays - barring any major issues.  At this point, it's just a matter of seeing it through - one step at a time.


100-painting reboot

Since July 2017, I've set out to make 100 casein paintings.  Last night, I painted the 84th one.

At the start, there was never a clearly stated objective.  And the "rules" for the project have only gradually crystalized over these past few months.  Here's what they look like at this writing:
  • the paintings must be 
    • made with only casein paint
    • my best efforts
  • studio hours are
    • 6 hours a day
    • 6 days a week
  • the paintings may be
    • of anything
    • of any size
  • the goals of the project are
    • to gain facility with casein
    • to grow as a painter
    • to learn about, and be able to articulate, my artistic vision
  • work towards sharing these pieces
    • on social media
    • by frequent blogging
    • by searching out exhibition opportunities
    • with collectors
Morning's Light; casein tempera on board; 3" x 4.75"

Social media has been an amazing way to gauge the popularity of some of these pieces.  And I'm very grateful for each and every comment and "like" they've received.  My own personal favorite, however, is the little piece above - painted first thing in the morning after sleeping in a tent the night before on a hilltop in Wisconsin.

There are still 16 more paintings to be made.  It's too soon to expect the answers I'm looking for.  But it's not too soon to be getting excited about the new avenues and directions these 100 paintings will take me.  I'll keep listening to them and will keep you all posted on what they eventually have to say.


present moment

Present Moment; casein tempera on board; 10" x 8"
"Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training." - from Wikipedia's entry on mindfulness.

I propose that the "other training" can take many forms.  Gardening immediately comes to mind.  Bicycling, soaking in a warm bath and swinging on the oak tree bench are a few others.  I'm sure it's different for everyone - but there's surely a means that we all find that removes us from our time constraints and delivers us to a heightened sense of simply being there.  It's a matter of survival - to let our minds rest in a sort of suspended limbo.  Just as sleep is essential to our well-being, so is being mindful.  Such a gift.


loving vincent

Sunflower Study; casein tempera on board; 6" x 7.5"

There's a new movie out that is like no other.  It's made up of painted images - 64,500 of them - that tell the story of Vincent van Gogh's amazing life and tragic death.  An intense endeavor to be sure - to create a moving picture of a man who made some of the most moving pictures of all time. It's called Loving Vincent has been out since September 22nd.  In Minneapolis it's showing at the Landmark Theater.  Hopefully, there's theater near you that's showing it too.

hard floor

Sunflower Study in Progress; casein tempera on board; 6" x 7.5"

My studio is my house is my outdoor surroundings - there are no boundaries.  To facilitate this, there are several set-ups that come into play.  What you see above is my table-top-easel which consists of a thin piece of birch-plywood weighted down with an old brick that I dug up when putting in the vegetable garden.  You can't see the brick (it's in back of the painting board) but you can see the little strip of wood that I glued on the plywood.  That came from an old cedar garden stake.  Other set-ups are my heavy field easel (what I tend to use most) and my pochade box (good for bicycling in to a site.)

When you paint whenever and wherever, it helps to know what you need and to keep your supplies to the bare minimum.  It also helps to take up all of your carpet and paint the subfloor.  (Scraps of carpet are great for suppressing weeds in the garden - they make great paths too.)  And to protect your bare subfloor, go ahead and paint it with left-over wall paint.  You can even paint a map of your neighborhood on it for fun - and for little matchbox cars to traverse should the occasion arise.


for words

Sunflowers on a Round Black Mat; casein tempera on board; 10" x 8"

Usually, when posting here, I like to talk not so much about the painting being posted - but of something else entirely and then tie the artwork back in somehow.

Sometimes, however, I'm at a loss for words.

I hope you like the painting anyway.

Number 82 of my 100-Painting Reboot


a one

Study of a Shipping Box; casein on board; 6" x 7.5"

What's that red worm in the lower right?  Why are there bits of red and medium blue standing out?  Why is the inside of the box so hazy?

Are you curious as to why these seemingly incongruous happenings are preserved in paint? 

Even if you're not, I'm in the mood to address them.  So - spoiler alert - read no further if you prefer to create your own interpretations.

The "worm" is an early sketch mark - it's where I thought the bottom of the plastic packing would go.  Later on in the painting process, the packing moved up - but I left the worm there - I kind of liked it.  The bits of red are also uncovered early marks.  The entire table top was generally expressed in red before adding the various surface values  (i.e. the medium blue patch) and reflections.  The red bits poking through were never covered up because I felt they added to the story - to the mystery of the empty (or not) opened box.  Finally, the haziness inside the box is very intentional - it's layer upon layer of paint until I felt I'd got it just right.  Again, the haziness adds to the mystery of what was - or is - inside the box. 

As for the contents of the box . . . I mustn't tell . . . just yet.


upcoming exhibition

Today, notice was sent that two of my casein paintings from 2013 have been selected for an exhibition at the Mayo Clinic.  This will be a private showing for doctors attending a conference there.  I'm extremely pleased and honored to be included!  You can see the two pieces HERE and HERE.


caught up

The Marsh Pool; casein on board; 10" x 8"
Are you caught up?  Do you think it's possible to be so?
When I think of those questions, two meanings of 'caught up' come to mind.  Am I up-to-date on the tasks I need to accomplish - or - am I involved in doing something I'm passionate about.  As for the latter - I definitely get caught up in scenes like the one above.  The brighter-than-bright-distant-illuminated patch of marsh along with the complex-tangle-of-branches-and reflections create an amazing dynamic when paired with the dusky-dark-wind-blown leaves, grasses and distant trees.
As far as being at a sense of completion with my task list - I doubt that will ever happen.  But as long as I get in episodes of being caught up in nature, I can handle that.