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.