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