that frog

Late September; casein on board; 11" x 6.75"

Mark Twain once said, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”  A few people have applied that saying to personal time management - encouraging us to get our nastiest-most-undesirable task done first thing in the day - freeing up the rest of our time for higher productivity.

When you're trying to get out in the fresh air and capture the early morning shadows, it's hard to "swallow frogs" first thing in the day.  That's why my personal frog is scheduled for consumption tonight - after dinner.  It's my storage room.  I tried to find a specific painting last night.  It would be perfect for a call for art about dreams and sleep.  But try as I might, I couldn't locate it.  So I'm bringing in back-up tonight and attacking that room head-on.  Wish me luck.


back story

Morning Light; casein on board; 9.75" x 6"

Someone told me today that you're supposed to know who your audience is - if you want to sell anything - art included.  This reminded me of a visit I made to our local butcher shop a few years ago.  It's one of those amazing throw-backs - the kind of shop I remember my mom going to in the 60's.  Oh the smells :)  But I digress.  It just so happened that a marketing guy was visiting the butcher shop when I was there and I overheard a bit of their conversation.  They discussed brochures and signage and a host of marketing topics.  But when asked about his target audience the butcher said simply, "People who like meat." 

So is my target audience simply people who like original art?  Or people who like intimately-sized-realistic-sometimes-impressionistic-other-times-casein paintings?  Or people who like me and want to support what I do?

I happened to have a conversation with an art marketing expert today.  It was an introductory call.  She asked me to imagine my target audience as vividly as I could.  To give them names, back stories and daily lives. 

That sounded like fun.  It also sounds like fun to let the wind carry these little paintings where they will.  To offer them up for auction and let anyone and everyone see them and have a chance to take them into their homes.  Actually, that sounds like a lot more fun :)


the cabbage-let

The Late Harvest; casein on board; 6" x 9.75"

This is my first year growing cabbages - and now I'm hooked.  There are so many things to love about them.  I grew red cabbages because they're a little more nutritious.  In general, vegetables with vibrant colors have more micronutrients - with cauliflower being the exception.  But back to cabbages - they're an absolutely gorgeous plant, they get ENORMOUS and they're oh so tasty.

All of my cabbages are picked now, eaten and digested - by me.  But my cabbage plants won't quit.  Where each large cabbage was removed there are now several little cabbage-lets.  They're the reason I made the painting above.  They're so adorable they were simply begging to be painted.  It took me about an hour to find a suitable setting for this one - and about four hours to complete the painting.  If anyone's counting.  This is both painting number 66 and 10 as I painted over 10 in an effort to reuse materials.  You can see the process here.

zero waste

process images of creating one painting on top of another

There's always a stainless steel straw in my purse - as well as a spoon-fork-knife-combination-thing.  That is to say lately these tools are always on hand.  2017 was my year to discover zero waste and I've been slowly working on minimizing my contribution to landfills.  At this writing I have two items on a Buy Nothing Facebook group.  These groups are specific to neighborhoods and allow people in your community to offer up items they no longer need.  No money is exchanged and all transactions are done in a friendly-folksy manner.  Everyone wins - except maybe the waste management companies.

Tomorrow, I'll post the finished painting from the process you see above.  But I thought you all might enjoy seeing some of the steps I take when creating a painting.  This is the first time I've painted over another painting and I thought it would be difficult to mentally block the first painting out.  But it turned out not to bother me at all.  Once I get in the zone, I'm focused entirely on the still life set-up I see before me.  All that matters is depicting it as faithfully and honestly as I can and all else melts away.


cosmic encounter

45 of my 65 paintings thus far; casein on board; various sizes

In the game Cosmic Encounter there is a character called the Warrior.  Her unique super power is how she is strengthened by her failures more than her successes.  From her character card: "You have the power of Mastery. After an encounter in which you were a main player, add one token to this sheet if you won that encounter (or made a deal during it) or two tokens if you lost that encounter (or failed to make a deal during it)."

Above you can see laid out on my large table 45 of the 65 paintings I've made so far during my 100-Painting Reboot.  These are painting encounters that I 'won' - paintings that I would be proud to have collectors hang on their walls.  The 20 paintings you don't see are encounters that have earned me valuable experience points. 

It's all good.

upon further

Further Reflection; casein on board; 7" x 4.5"

Another little studio sketch to work on my handling of water in casein.


reflection reflection

Reflective Study; casein on board; 7" x 4.25"

Reflecting on the reflections of yesterday's painting, I wanted to do some studio studies of water.  I need to learn more about casein's unique properties and stop treating it like oil paint.  That was my mistake yesterday - applying my oil painting experience to a decidedly-non-oil-based media.  I'm much happier with the results above where I used a loaded dry brush to add ripples to the edges of reflected forms.  Composition matters a lot when dealing with reflections too.  One 'should' either include more of the subject - or more of the reflection - not equal amounts of each. 

This is number 64 of my 100-Painting Reboot.  Plenty of time for more reflection.


my town

Library Pond; casein on board; 11" x 6.75"
Minnetonka is a truly magical place.  I got up before the sun this morning and had no idea where I'd be painting.  My town is like that.  You can wander around on any day or time of the year and you'll undoubtedly find a beautiful spot to paint - or think - or just be.  Feeling blessed.


slug fest

Early Autumn Yellows; casein on board; 9.75" x 6"
The red cabbage patch has become a refuge for slugs.  They're quite crafty at working themselves into the tight wrappings of the cabbage heads. 
I like to use them in my slaws and smoothies - the cabbages - not the slugs.  So every time I pick a head of cabbage - or pull one out of the frig - I check it as carefully as I can for slugs.  When I find them (notice I use the word 'when' and not 'if') I toss them into my compost bucket to haul out later to the bin.  I'm no Buddha but I do like to be as kind as I can be to animals. 
Mosquitoes aren't animals.


making way

photo of the fading sunflowers, harvested kabucha squash and today's plein air

Today's painting - 62 of my 100-painting Reboot - was supposed to be of the sumac painted exactly one month ago.  But the sumac was uninspiring today.  It's either a bad year for sumac (it looks like it might be fighting off a disease) or it's too early yet for their flaming red display.  It could have also been my timing.  It was fairly close to noon when I finally got out to Murphy-Hanrehan Park.  Midday can have some of the least interesting shadows of the day.  As a rule, outdoor painters like to go out very early - or in the evening - to take advantage of the extreme shadows at those times. 

It just so happened, that the midday light picked up some amazing yellows in a tree - near a path - against a larger-darker tree. Inspiration met paint with the result being the painting you see above on the mantel.  (A closer-more-detailed photo of the painting coming tomorrow.)


dar williams

Eggs and Sunflowers; casein on board; 7" x 11.5"

Last night, when I was painting Eggs and Sunflowers, Dar Williams was singing sweetly - via a CD.  "As Cool as I Am" is a favorite of mine and I must have listened to it 20 times last night.  Here are some of the lyrics:

You tried to make me doubt, to make me guess, tried to make me feel like a little less,
Oh, I liked you when your soul was bared, I thought you knew how to be scared,
And now it's amazing what you did to make me stay,
But truth is just like time, it catches up and it just keeps going . . .
Dar is coming to the Twin Cities soon on a book tour.  I can't wait to see her in person again - and to buy her book - and to have her sign it.  Yes, I'm a fan.  I've got the date marked in my Bullet Journal.

P.S. For those following along, I've decided to stick with my beloved watercolor board.  If you compare the painting in this post (watercolor board) and the one in the previous post (primed panel,) you'll see the difference in my ability to handle the paint on each surface.  Albeit, with time, I think I could gain proficiency with the primed panel.  But at this point in time, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. 


hot mess

Wild Sunflowers; casein on panel; 5" x 7"

The aluminum panels were an epic fail - a hot mess.  The paint wouldn't adhere at all.  It felt like I was trying to wrestle a greased pig.  I'm still counting it as painting number 59.  I'd spent too much time and effort on it to do otherwise.

The experience did cause me to do more research and soul searching.  Research to see if there were other supports out there well suited to casein.  And soul searching to determine why exactly I'm going down this path when the watercolor board is working so well for me.

The research led me to Ampersand Clayboard - which you can see above - under layers of paint depicting wild sunflowers.  I think if I paint consistently with this support it will yield excellent results.  It will take some time and effort to gain the proficiency I now feel I have with the watercolor board.

More soul searching will tell me if it's worth it.


fertile grounds

Radishes; casein on board; 8" x 10"

New supports (panels upon which to paint) arrived today - complete with treated grounds (surface treatment of the panels - usually gesso of some kind.)

These panels are Aluminum ply and are extremely rigid and stable.  From my research, they are the most archival surface upon which to paint casein because of their rigidity and resistance to swelling with changes in humidity.

The supports I've been using up to this point (Crescent cold-press-watercolor board) are also extremely archival.  The major difference is that the watercolor board needs to be framed under glass - where the Aluminum panels can be framed with their surface exposed - much like oils.

The radish painting above is the 58th in my 100-Painting Reboot.  I'm looking forward to the last 42 - and the eventual secrets these 100 paintings will reveal.


dominating thoughts

From the Park Bench; casein on board; 7" x 11.25"

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about thinking.

Specifically, about how our thoughts manifest themselves into physical reality.

Senator Al Franken played a character on SNL years ago who would rail against "Stinkin' Thinkin'."

All kidding aside, we need to talk kindly to ourselves if we wish to talk kindly to others - and if we wish to fulfill our destinies.


over looked

From the Park Bench; casein on board; 7" x 11.25"

There's a group on Facebook called 'Plein Air Purists' of which I'm a member.  The requirements of belonging to the group are that you post your outdoor painting alongside a photo of your the same painting on your field easel in situ.  So here's the 'in situ' pic. 

I'll have to wait until tomorrow to post a good photo of the painting alone.  Usually I scan my paintings but this one is too big for that.  Tomorrow there'll be enough ambient light to take a good photo with a camera.  My husband and business partner, Bob, is my photographer.  He's also the amazing drone driver/photographer :)


back home

Dusk; casein on board; 9.75" x 6"

It was a wonderful 5 days in Boston visiting my son and his family there.  Two little boys, 2 and 4 years old, kept us hopping the whole time.  We got back yesterday evening and were reunited with our dog, Gumby, who literally jumped with joy.  We are definitely feeling blessed here.

Today was a day for laundry and grocery shopping and unpacking. But in the evening it was pure pleasure.  I met with 3 other outdoor painters on a paint-out to Eden Prairie, Minnesota.  We went to the Richard Anderson Conservation Area where an expansive vista greets the viewer with miles of scenery.  I'll go back to paint that vista another day.  For today, I was content to paint a scene nearby. I was captivated by the back-lit path with its angling shadows and so turned my easel to face the setting sun.


plein air

Minnehaha Creekside Plein Air; casein on board; 6" x 9.75"

En plein air is French for outdoors - while plein air painting is the act of painting outdoors.

A finished painting may also be called a plein air painting but there is no agreement as what exactly that means.  In its most literal form, it mean a painting that was painted, from start to finish, outside without the aid of photography or any devices other than the most basic painting equipment.  Many artists tweak their outdoor paintings upon returning to their studios.  These artists may also refer to their work as plein air because they started the painting outdoors.

Plein air festivals aim to even out the playing field by stamping all of the artists' supports (canvases or papers or boards) with a unique identifying mark at the start of the event.  After getting their stamps, the artists disperse, paint their pictures and return at a designated time with paintings that were executed entirely outdoors. 

The above painting was done in the manner of a plein air event.  The first thing I did upon returning from my paint out was to put the painting on my scanner bed.  There will be no tweaking, no minor - or major - adjustments.  It is what it is.


fleeting impressions

Morning Haze; casein on board; 9.75" x 6"

Jidana Park in Minnetonka, Minnesota is vast but has only five parking spots.  There are no picnic tables, no play equipment and no bathrooms.  The only things man-made there are the paths and a bridge or two.  It's a park intended, no doubt, for the nearest locals to use.  Today, Labor Day, there were lots of walkers and quite a few dogs on the trails.  No runners and no bicyclists - but there was a painter near the path - working to capture the feeling of the morning haze with the sun struggling to shine through. 

photo of me painting Morning Haze
- after the sun came out


garden gems

Eggplant Love; casein on board; 6" x 9.75"

that voice

The Garden Gate; casein on board; 13" x 8"

"If you hear a voice within you say, 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

The title of this blog is "p a i n t - verb/pānt" for a reason.  It's there to remind me, and others, that life is all about "doing."  If you desire a thing, like to paint pictures or to capture beauty with a camera or to express yourself with dance, then do it.  Do it immediately and constantly and with a definite goal in mind.  Be - and do - what it is you desire.  If you say so to yourself, 'this is what I do' and do it - you will achieve your goal.

More quotes by Vincent


pumpkin patch

The Pumpkin Patch; casein on board; 9.75" x 6"

These aren't really pumpkins.  They're Kabocha 'Sunshine' squash.  But I'm being picky.  Most people walking past my house would look over and think, "Oh - a pumpkin patch!"

Neighbors walking by can easily see my vegetable garden because it's in the front yard.  In the 18 years we've lived here I've carved away at least 2/3 of the turf.  Some has become wooded - with saplings of juniper, maple, oak, ash and poplar.  Some of it has given way to native plants - mostly little bluestem and brown-eyed Susans.  The rest is the veggie patch - complete with very pumpkin-like Kabocha 'Sunshine' squash.

false starts

late night petunia studies after going to the fair

My friend invited me to go to the fair with her today - the Minnesota State Fair.  It's a huge deal here - we call it the great Minnesota get-together. 

Our first stop was the Miracle of Birth Center where we watched piglets suckling, newborn goats pouncing and freshly hatched chicks huddling in fluffy-fuzzy masses.  It's the most popular exhibit at the fair so it started to get crowded pretty quickly.  After that, we were off to see the quilts, woodworking, fine arts, flowers, apples, Christmas trees, seed art, etc.

It was dinner time when I finally got home - and 7 pm when I finally had some time to paint.  Now it's midnight - so somewhere in the past five hours I've struggled to set-up a still life where I could sit at my easel (too tired to stand tonight.)  Tried something new - a black support of discarded mat board (failure because it blistered right away.)  Started again on my old-stand-by board - that must've been around 10.

Long story short: I really like the top "painting" which I needed to abort because the mat board started blistering.  Mat board isn't made for water media - I knew I was taking a chance.

The subsequent painting is okay - but in my mind I keep comparing it to the false start and wondering why I favor the first one so much. 

Time for bed - maybe if I sleep on it I'll find some answers.