graceful embrace

Entwined; casein on panel; 8" x 10"

It took seven beets to finally find these special two.  The leaves of the first three never had the turgidity I was looking for - too limp from the start.  The next four had great leaves - but two were missing their long tap roots - a feature that is so enticingly graceful to paint.  So these last two were the winners.

In design, one usually looks for odd numbers of things.  For that reason, I was skeptical about setting up this still life.  So I kind of just plopped them down not thinking much would come of it.  If you'll remember, I had already become beet-weary at this point :)  But after their unceremonious placement the magic started.  I saw the amazing gradient in the shadow where it went from a deep mixture of blues and maroons to a cerulean dazzle.  Graceful lines showed themselves everywhere - most notably in the left beet's stems draped gently over the right beet. 

I still may go over my signature with cerulean blue mixed with white.  That would settle it down on a plane with the beets.  As it is, it juts forward - as if it were painted on the glazing of the painting.  Something to think about as I pack for Cincinnati - and grate beets - recipe to follow soon: Super Slaw.


on ice

Ice Out; casein on panel; 8" x 10"

Another plein air today - done completely outside.  I just added the signature inside when I got back to the studio.

This was on Holland Lake in Eagan, Minnesota.  There is a year-round dock there jutting out into the lake with a railed deck at the end of it.  So while it may look like I was on thin ice, I was actually quite safe and dry.

This was one of those paintings that was a complete mystery to me until I got it to the studio and could look at it under indoor lights.  The snow blindness was a danger today.  It was very disorienting and difficult to paint.  Much to my surprise, I'm very happy with the results.  But next time, I'll bring sunscreen.


out about

March Thaw; casein on panel; 8" x 10"

It was finally time to brave the cold and paint outside today.  The high was a little above freezing around 3:30pm - that's when this painting was done.  This is the bike path by my studio - sans the huge-high-tension tower that was actually in the upper right of this view.  That's the lovely thing about painting - you can take what you see and make it your own.

This is a true plein aire painting - the only alteration I made after coming home was to sign it.  What you see is what I was able to capture with my mitten-ed hands and eyes peeking between hat and scarf.  I'm very pleased with it - if for nothing else than having gotten out and broken the ice on painting outside - no pun intended.

In one week I'll be painting out in Cincinnati with the American Impressionist Society.  What I paint then will go into a special "Wet Wall" exhibition.  I'm excited to participate - and honored to be in such talented company.

little pieces

four 6 x 6 inch paintings - with an apple and sugar dispenser for scale

These four little pieces will be sent out East next month.  First they'll be trimmed to remove the white margins, then varnished and finally their edges will be sealed with black gesso.  Title, medium and artist contact info will go on the back.

They won't be signed, however, as they're destined for an anonymous exhibition in June.  More information forthcoming as the date approaches.


artist's proof

Casein Fine Art Painting (artist's proof) - cover

Casein Fine Art Painting (artist's proof) - last two pages

It arrived today - Casein Fine Art Painting - 7 steps to express your vision.

As in printing, I'm calling this my artist's proof.  It's something I needed to physically see in order to assess my progress and to continue writing.  I've already learned so much having it in my hands.  The font seems far too large and page numbers would be helpful as would a table of contents.  This was an important step, however - and will now lead the way for others. 

We have an amazing resource in Minneapolis called The Loft.  It's a haven for writers and where I hope to find someone who can do a manuscript critique for me.  I may also take one of their many classes on writing. 

An encouraging day - feeling hopeful.


calendar notes

in progress - a little 6 x 6 inch casein on watercolor board
My Year-at-a-Glance calendar is filling up with outdoor painting festivals, outings and competitions.  In a couple of weeks I'll be painting out in Cincinnati.  Then in May, it will be Chippewa Valley in Wisconsin.  June brings both Cedarburg, WI and Red Wing, MN - while August offers Paint the Point in Mineral Point, WI.  Grand Marais, MN is the longest - September 7th to the 15th.  It's also the one that I've already registered for - as the number of painters is limited.

I've yet to paint out with my toned Claybord panels - having used watercolor board for plein air painting up to this point.  Later this week I plan to give the Claybord panels a try and set my easel up outside in a nearby park or forest preserve.  In the meantime, I continue to paint still lifes.  Above is what's on the easel tonight - becoming a vase of sunflowers by bedtime.


studio pintura

three paintings ready to be dropped off for
Studio Pintura's Spring Floral Art Exhibition

A week from tomorrow I'll be dropping these three paintings off at the historic Northrup King Building, 1500 Jackson Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413.  Studio Pintura's Spring Floral Art Exhibition will be running there (Suite #293) from March 24th to April 28th.  I'm thrilled that three of my paintings were accepted into the exhibition!

From the top and then clockwise:
If you're local or are in the area, please stop in and see the show!

Exhibition Hours:
  • Opening Reception 6 - 10pm
    • March 24th
  • Saturdays Noon to 4pm
    • March 31st, April 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th
  • First Thursday 5 - 8pm
    • April 5th
  • or by appointment


high key

Pattern Pieces; casein on panel; 10" x 8"

I love painting satin ribbons - and noticing all of the incredible shapes, edges and colors - endlessly fascinating.

I also love to sew and had a chance to dust off my Singer hand-crank today.  It's freshly oiled now with a new bobbin wound - and it's sewing like a charm.  The project today was a canvas cover for my sketchbook with pockets and a flap for my fountain pen and pencils.  It's nothing fancy but does its job well.  Now to reinvigorate my daily sketching habit.

self publishing

on the easel - in progress; casein on board; 10" x 8"

One booklet, titled CASEIN FINE ART PAINTING: 7 steps to express your vision, is on its way here.  I used Blurb - which in turn utilizes Bookify.  It was an amazingly slick process and I'm very excited to see the hard copy.  I proofread it many times and so did my partner - but I have a feeling, when I hold the real thing in my hands, I'll see little things here and there that I may want to change.  If that's the case, it's easy to go back in and edit and then order more copies.  Once I'm super satisfied, I'll order a quantity of them to offer you all.  For now though, one will do.  I'm hoping it will be something I'll want to bring to Cincinnati to share with new friends at the American Impressionist Society's event in a couple of weeks.


many peppers

Mini Peppers - as of 3/5/2018; casein on panel; 8" x 10"

Started and finished tonight - now off to bed - goodnight.
Mini Peppers; casein on panel; 8" x 10"
edited: Apparently, Mini Peppers wasn't finished Monday.  Last night, while painting a still life with a sewing scissors, I added a red line next to the lower left edge of the table cloth.  That edge had gotten out of whack when I added a lighter key there to help round the edge of the cloth.  At the time, I knew there were variations in the line due to the cloth - so I tried to push the skewed line out of my mind.  But it kept nagging at me - until I "red-lined" it.  Feeling better now.


falling down

Cascade; casein on panel; 12" x 9"

My book is coming along - rather, my booklet is coming along.  It will be 20 pages in length and will outline in seven steps how to make a casein painting.  Since this is my first foray into writing anything bound, I thought I'd start small.  My next book will be longer and more in depth.  My hope is this first one will show me the way.

One of the steps in how to make a casein painting is the spark.  By that I mean the seed for the painting - the moment you say 'aha' and begin to realize your creation.  The spark for Cascade was the gorgeous fall of the carrot top leaves and how they gently rested on the counter.  Everything else in the painting supports this idea and gives emphasis to it.  The way to actualize this, is to keep the spark ever present in your mind as you construct your painting.  Hold the spark like an ember and gently fan it into a blaze until the painting is finished.


crazy colorful

Four Apples; casein on panel; 12" x 9"

I'm loving painting larger.  I think it's making me go bolder too - bolder colors, brushwork and subject matter. 

The latest painting on the easel is of carrots with their tops on - soaking in a cylindrical vase - with lighting just so and larger than life. 


black wire

on the easel with Looking Up (5'x4' oil on canvas 2009) in the background

You can see in this photo the relative sizes of my pieces today and nine years ago.  I think I'm shrinking.


moving up

making final touches

The Moleskine; casein tempera on panel; 12" x 9"

This painting was done on a larger sized panel which doesn't fit in my scanner.  Up to this point, all of my pieces have been scann-able and it's been great to pop my just-finished paintings into the scanner and put them up here, on Facebook and on Instagram.  With this larger size, however, I have to wait for my partner to take the time to photograph a well-balanced-high-resolution image of my paintings.  My little Canon ELPH is okay for shots like the one above - of my easel set-up.  However, getting a submit-able photo for my records requires either scanning or a good camera with someone who knows how to use it.

These are artificial tulips and the stems all connect on the bottom and don't spread.  I needed a reference to go by for my finished painting so I plopped a bunch of little black brushes in a round glass bowl.  That's what you see on the table next to the vase of tulips.

Painting artificial flowers is going to take some getting used to.  It felt odd and . . . well . . . artificial somehow.  There's nothing like the real thing.  Is it still 'painting from life' if you use silk flowers?


own terms

The New Beret; casein tempera on panel; 8" x 10"

"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on her own terms, not anyone else's." - J.D. Salinger


frame up

magnetic frame idea - clockwise from upper left:
in situ
on the wall
washers under the linen on the backing board
magnets on the back of the painting

Above you can see my latest framing system.  I have a good feeling about this one as it solves so many problems:
  • it's not too costly
  • fits well into most home decorating styles
  • would look great in a grouping for a solo show in a gallery
  • is light-weight
  • complements the paintings well
  • enables wet paintings to be exhibited immediately - important for paint-out competitions
  • would look great in a group show in a gallery
  • collectors could easily reframe later on if desired
  • it 'enlarges' a small painting and gives it more of a presence
  • it allows for the entire painting to be visible
The drawbacks are relatively minor:
  • the time it takes to make the linen-liner backing and to assemble the frames
  • the need for larger and more expensive packaging for shipping
  • the need for instructions to explain how to care for the framing system


gallery talk

Gamut Gallery in Minneapolis - audience filing in just before the panel discussion

I had the pleasure last night of attending Gamut Gallery's panel discussion - Collector Talk: Buying & Selling Art in the Twin Cities.  Doug Flanders, Herman Milligan, Jade Patrick, Marco Suemnick and Kristi Abbot were on the panel.  It was a rich evening of varied perspectives - that of the gallery owner, art consultant, artist and collector.  I came away inspired to keep on painting, to continue my search for the perfect gallery to represent my work - and to keep on wearing my new-coral-pink beret.

On the wall: Seeing Voices - a solo exhibition by the artist Jane Wunrow


from 2013

Lincoln; oil on canvas; 2013

Lincoln's 5 and a half now.  He's old enough to come visit for a few days with his Grandma and Grandpa - and that's just what he did this past weekend.  He stayed for 'four sleeps' and in that time we played sword fights (with pipe insulation), bingo, had races, read books, visited the children's museum and the zoo.  This left absolutely no time for painting - which is okay.  I work 6 hours a day 6 days a week with the exception of days spent with my grandchildren.  Those are precious and irreplaceable - and, barring illness, are the only times the studio closes.

Above is a palette knife oil painting I did of Lincoln before he could crawl.  I love how the backlighting plays on his hair and outlines his form.  The reflections on the floor gave me another chance to explore the colors that surrounded him.  He's grown so much and is talking non-stop now - telling us about every observation and idea that comes to mind - and asking questions with abandon.  I love it all - and look forward to the next visit - when he'll have surely grown more - and will have new lessons to teach us.


back forth

Winter Oak; oil on panel; 15.5" x 9.5"; 2006
Roots; oil on panel; 15.5" x 9.5"; 2005
Here you can see some of my older work in oils.  They were both done 'on the spot' or 'en plein aire'.  Winter Oak was done while I took a silent retreat in a hermitage in Northern Wisconsin - it was warmer than it looks.  Roots was done nearby at one of my favorite painting spots.  I'm looking forward to painting there again this summer with my casein paints.  When I do, I hope to have a system in place to record my thoughts, feelings and environmental details as related to my painting.

After attending a lecture yesterday at The Atelier in Minneapolis, I'm inspired to keep better records.  It was called 'Creating Your Own Story' and was inspired by the recent passing of a great local artist, Jon Arfstrom.  The curator who is working on his estate and his daughter presented compelling reasons to carefully document, every day, anything significant related to your art making.  Examples of Arftstrom's sketchbooks, work and scrapbooks helped to reinforce the importance of owning your story for posterity. 

Winter Oak and Roots framed and
hung in a sitting area. The paintings
are attached to the linen liner
backing with neodymium magnets.
Winter Oak and Roots framed and hung
for you to see how they might look
in your home.
A blog would seem ideal for this - and I do use it for documenting paintings - their sizes, media and titles. It's a great resource and I often use it to jog my memory as to what I titled a painting, when I did it or even what size it is (when I'm too lazy to go find it and measure it again).  But there are a lot of things I don't put in my blog - personal things like my constant struggle to keep going.  It didn't seem appropriate somehow - I wanted the viewer to feel free to 'own' the painting too and project their personal experiences onto the work.


in pieces

Pieces in Pink; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

When I was moving this spray of eucalyptus around - searching for a new set-up - some of the leaves fell off.  That's what got me enchanted with the idea of pieces.  Eucalyptus itself seems very segmented - it's not a plant that lends itself easily to forming masses of color shapes.  Then came the apple.  I wanted another green to play off of the dusty turquoise of the leaves and to interact with the coral table cloth.  Cutting a piece off seemed only fitting - and then leaving the instrument of dissection further built up the scene.  I waited until much later to paint in the fallen leaves.  At that time, it became apparent where exactly they ought to go. 

I'll put the apple in my oatmeal tomorrow - along with a few other pieces: a date, cinnamon, vanilla and raw sunflower seeds.


stocking foot

Espresso; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

Have you smelled eucalyptus lately?  It's that wonderful aroma that hits you when you enter a fine florist's shop. Along with color, form, edges and perspective - I tried my best to infuse that wonderful perfume into my painting.  Maybe that's why it ended up being more impressionistic than my usual fare.  I love the excitement of the reds in unexpected places - and the calm-dusty-turquoise chair that's echoed in the spray of leaves.  And the inky depths of the espresso - don't get me started.

Gumby resting while I paint - with a sock on his sore foot

We're still waiting to hear from the lab regarding Gumby's biopsy.  In the meantime, he continues to improve - every day he seems more and more like his old self.  The stitches come out Friday afternoon.

He's very helpful while I paint - as you can see. Ever patient - always supportive - somehow I know it will all turn out okay with him around.


southern exposure

A Vase of Sunshine; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

The light pouring in from the south-facing window was irresistible when playing on these daffodils. 

Today, I'll paint the same flowers next to a north-facing window.  I have no idea what objects will gravitate into the scene.  We'll have to wait and see.


sketchbook notes

sketch book notes on framing - 6B and colored pencils

Here's another framing idea - albeit a rough one.  I've ordered a 13" x 15" frame from Franken Frames (they were recommended by an artist friend) and am planning to use it to frame an 8" x 10" painting.  The extra space will be filled in by a linen backing board and the painting will be attached in the center with magnets.  I've done this before with oil paintings and I love the linen-liner-look effect.  It's got a mid-century modern feel that should fit well with that style of home - and many others.

Above you can see some sketches I made so I'd have an idea of how the proportions might look.  The 13" x 15" looked more balanced in the sketch so I'm trying that first.  Tonight I'll make a template for the magnets so that they'll be carefully placed and uniform.  That way I can switch out paintings if need be.  I'm going to try the silicone adhesive on the magnets.  In the past I used a glue gun which worked well.  But I'm hoping the silicone will be even stronger and it will certainly be easier to remove in case that should ever be needed.


one fish

Three Fish; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

You don't see the threads - or washers - or rod in the painting.  But in real life they were necessary to keep the plastic-toy fish steady and in one place.  And you can see a few of the bubbles but certainly not all of them.  It's important to remember what the painting is about and not paint all that you see.

The two refracted images of the fish plus its shadow make up the title.  I didn't think about Dr. Seuss's "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" when I was painting this.  Instead, I concentrated on the strong light and dark shape harmony, the repeated ellipses and the orange/turquoise color complements.  The rectangle in the upper right represents wood-slat blinds.  It seemed unnecessary and distracting to render that beyond an outline and color.  The focus is the fish and, as painted, the blinds echo its color without stealing the show.

This is a February painting - done under lamp light in the evening.  It was done standing at my field easel - in preparation for painting outside soon.  My summer calendar months are filling up with plein air contest possibilities.  I've been writing quite a few of the organizers of these events asking if casein will be allowed.  So far all have been very welcoming.  The saying, "It's better to ask forgiveness than permission," does not apply in this case.  It would be a shame to make all of the arrangements, haul my gear to an event and find out casein paintings will not be included.  Luckily, it's easy to ask via email - and fortunately, all the responses have been positive.  I'm getting excited for spring!


new toy

on the easel tonight

the model - out of water - lets call her Gwendolyn
It turns out that it's a very difficult task posing a plastic fish in a bowl full of water.  You need to weight it down somehow and correct for any tendency of the head to tip up or the tail to tip down.  Then you need to counteract spinning - lest you dizzily chase the image with your brush.  So after attaching multiple threads, washers and a rod resting atop the bowl - your fish will more or less stay put.  But then come the bubbles.  Apparently, if you fill your bowl with hot water, you can minimize the hundreds of tiny bubbles that attach to the fish, the threads, the washers and the inside of the bowl.  Unfortunately, I learned this after filling my bowl with cold water.

All of the whining aside, I'm really enjoying painting this new toy.  And I absolutely love this abstracted stage where I explore the underlying colors and basic compositional shapes.  More to come.


weighing options

panel floating frame front and back

Here's a photo showing the front and back of the panel floating frame discussed in the previous post.  What you're seeing is a 9" x 11" panel framed within a simple flat frame.  The panel is black and has a pebbly satin finish.

To frame an 8" x 10" painting, you simply adhere it to the middle of the 9" x 11" panel.  You can use Velcro, wood glue or silicone adhesive.  To make sure it's centered, it helps to have handy strips of cardboard to place all around the edges of the painting - which are later removed after the adhesive sets. 

Here's a video from MetroFrame.com that I found very helpful: Attaching Paintings to Panel Frames


in situ

 According to Wikipedia, 'in situ' means "the superimposing of theoretical design elements onto photographs of real world locations. This is a pre-visualization tool to aid in illustrating a proof of concept." 

In these two photographs you can see four of my recent paintings placed in situ - a theoretical home setting (mine) so that collectors can better visualize how they might look in their homes.  Three of these paintings are bound for Red Wing Arts and will be exhibited during Red Wing's upcoming music festival.  The painting in the gold frame will be shipped off soon to Cincinnati to be hung in their upcoming exhibition: Impressions Small Works Showcase.

In these photographs you can also see two very different approaches to framing.  The gold frame was professionally done in a conventional way - covering a small bit of the edge of the painting all the way around.  It cost $160 to have framed while the other frames cost $16 each.  I ordered the less expensive frames from www.webpictureframes.com and finished the framing myself.  Using Dow Corning Silicone Adhesive #732, I adhered the paintings to the inside of the Panel Floater Frames (with the entire painting visible), screwed in two screw eyes on the back, wired them and added felt bumpers. 


seeing double

The Betta and the Jade; casein tempera on panel; 8" x 10"

Sandwiched between working on this painting my dog had surgery.  He's an old dog - 11.5 times around the sun - but an oh-so-precious soul.  He had developed a tumor in his toe that destroyed the claw, allowed for a nasty infection and was growing aggressively.  It's gone now.  I don't know if they call it a toe-ectomy but you get the idea.  He's in pain but not as frustrated now that it's gone.  I think it was driving him crazy.  We'll find out soon if it's cancer or not.  But either way, I've got my dog back - and I plan to treasure every day with him.


virgin snow

Winter Shadows; casein tempera on panel; 8" x 10"

Before it's trodden, by man or beast, fresh fallen snow is truly a magnificent sight.  This is my neighbor's yard - it's what I see when I look out my front windows.  We're fortunate here to live in such a wooded area with the majority of the land left in its natural state.  It's interesting, after snows like this, to look later and see the animal tracks that appear.  Deer, rabbit, mice, wild turkey, squirrels, coyotes and foxes roam our woods.  But mostly, I've been seeing rabbit tracks this winter.  I was quick here though, and got my reference photo before the bunnies hopped through.  It was an amazing opportunity to witness virgin snow in all of its glory.


in progress

on the easel  - in progress

There are 50 primed panels in the painting rack now.  30 have just been primed with 6 coats of Venetian Red casein and will be ready to paint on in 2 weeks.  The other 20 were primed weeks ago.  I calculated that when my stack runs down to 20, it's time to prime a new batch of 30.  That way I will always have panels on hand.

For those of you wondering when I'm going to paint bigger, I have good news.  10 of my new panels are 9" x 12".  If and when that size feels comfortable, I'll order more at that size and stick to that for awhile.  In this way, I'll gradually increase my painting size.  Ampersand makes Claybord panels as large as 3' x 4'.  We'll have to see if I ever make it that far!


mad city

From James Madison Park towards the Capitol; oil on unstretched linen; 6.5" x 10.5"; 2003

Facebook has some amazing groups.  I'm in a contemporary still life group, a group dedicated to paintings from the garden and several other artists groups.  I'm also in a couple of groups devoted to the nostalgia of my hometown, Madison, Wisconsin USA.  One's called Historic Madison Wi. Photo Group and the other is Madison in the Sixties.  They're both delightful trips back in time - both in the photos and through the many comments. 

The painting above is of my hometown done in oils with a palette knife.  It's only 15 years old but it still brings back fond memories. I remember setting up my field easel in the park on a golden-sunny-fall day.  The colors were fantastic - especially the orange leaves side-lit by full sun.  It's done on a piece of linen that I taped off so that a thin strip of gesso shows around the edge.  I'm not sure why I never signed it - and now I've given all of my oils away.  It was laying in an archival storage box until I unearthed it tonight. 

settled down

The Lemon; casein tempera on panel; 8" x 10"

This painting was revisited today.  Initially, it felt like a rough treatment for the background was enough.  Or rather, it felt like a finished background was unnecessary.  Apparently the painting had other ideas.  It wouldn't quiet down and kept calling to me.  It's funny how that happens - but it's true.  There's this relentless beaconing that won't be stilled until tended to.  I actually gave it a lot of thought - and examination.

Earlier today, I covered the entire background with a silky matte brown.  That was progress but now it was too flat.  So I came back in again and added some warmer reds to the right.  That's when everything settled down and fell into place.  It's happier now - and feels more like it belongs with my other paintings.  Lessons learned.


florida vacation

Sunflowers on a White Cloth; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

It's called a poor man's Florida vacation - visiting the Como Conservatory in the middle of winter.  Under vast domes of glass, this Minnesota wonderland houses koi pools, formal gardens, sculptures, a fern room, an orchid house, bonsai exhibits and more.  There's an acre under glass that's been growing since 1915.  On the National Register of Historic Places, there is no charge to visit this Victorian monument - hence the 'poor man's' moniker. You can also visit it  here online.


getting buffed

Glancing View of Buffed (left) and Unbuffed (right) Paintings

Overhead View of Buffed (left) and Unbuffed (right) Paintings

It's been over six weeks now since I finished my first paintings on Claybord panels.  That's long enough for them to be completely cured and ready to buff.  I'm absolutely loving the way the buffing looks!  It takes the place of varnishing and creates a protective finish for casein - how wonderful is that?  I have an old white wool blanket that I'm cutting in pieces to use as buffing cloths.  The white cloths are clean after buffing which tells me six weeks is plenty of time.  Feeling happy here :)


snow flowers

on the easel; casein; 10" x 8"

Today was a white-out day.  Every hour through every window was a whirlwind of whiteness.  The Minneapolis airport was closed, events were cancelled and we didn't even bother to shovel.  Tomorrow, we'll deal with the snow.  Today was one to hunker down, be thankful for a working furnace and paint sunflowers.  This is from a reference photo I took when there was still green to be seen from the windows.  A nice reminder of things to come - in a couple of months or so.

something new

Block Study January 22, 2018; casein tempera on board; 6" x 7.5"

I'm writing a book - about seeing and painting color - using casein paint.  Quite a few people have asked me if I've written any tutorials or lesson plans.  In a sense I have - by posting here.  If you were to pore through this blog I'm sure you could glean a lot of helpful information.  But even so, there are missing links - and it would be cumbersome to say the least.

There's a lot to be said for teaching and writing about what you know.  It can reinforce and solidify your skills, force you to communicate your process in an organized way and provide a great deal of satisfaction knowing you've passed on a tiny bit of the vast amount of art knowledge that's gathered over the centuries. 

I'm excited - and busy - painting a quick block study every day (in addition to my regular painting.)  In so doing, I want to revisit the teaching methods of Charles Hawthorne and Henry Hensche (and later Lois Griffel.) They taught an impressionistic painting method using simple-colored-matte blocks that, in my mind, is unsurpassed.  I learned an incredible amount from Lois Griffel's book and credit her with my basic understanding of color and form.  But there's one problem - these were very oil-paint-specific lessons.  It's a whole other animal with casein.  And since there's a dearth of painting instruction on casein - what better way to learn both how to see and paint like an impressionist AND how to paint with casein?  I'm off!


yellow skies

sale pending: Sumac in January; casein tempera on panel; 8" x 10"

Paintings have a powerful presence.  They can make you aware of so many things you often took for granted.  Take, for example, the color of the sky.  When we were young, we were taught that skies are blue.  In fact, there are entire picture books devoted to assigning basic colors to objects.  But it turns out, as the Impressionists revealed, local color is quite different from what we actually see.  Local color is the picture book color - the one a paint dealer would pick out for you if you brought an object to him and asked him to match the color.  But when taken out of the paint dealer's light and atmosphere - and when adjoined with other objects of differing colors - and pushed back in distance - and mixed with a bit of artistic passion - you end up with another color entirely.  Skies can be green, purple, orange, yellow and - some times - blue.


photo reference

gathering photo reference in Purgatory Park - January 2018

Here I am - with view finder in mitten-ed hand - at Purgatory Park - in the bitter cold.  And yes, I'm wearing a skirt - and tights - and work boots.  It's all good.

It worked well to find painting material with my view finder, stomp foot prints in place and have my partner step in the prints to take a wide-angled shot.  It was actually a lot of fun!  We're looking forward to going out again next Tuesday.  That's when we should have fresh snow and sunshine - a winning combination. 

Next time, however, I think I'll wear pants - and thermals.  I love skirts - but my knees got pretty cold.

in purgatory

The Snowy Path; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

Today's painting is of a path through Purgatory Park in Minnetonka, Minnesota USA - on a January day with wind chill near 15 below Fahrenheit.  From the city's website: "How did Purgatory get its unusual name? As the story goes, early settlers traveling to Excelsior along an old Native American trail came to some springs around dusk. The trail was the worst they had traveled, with swampy land and a plague of mosquitoes. One of the settlers remarked, “This is hell!” “No, it’s even worse,” another replied, “It’s purgatory!” The name stuck."


marsh snow

Winter Dusk; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

It was wonderful tromping around this park.  The few other visitors were as bundled up as I - with only their eyes showing through layers and layers of winter clothes.  The dogs had their lovely coats to keep them warm.  Their boundless energy helped too - generating heat to warm them on the trails.  I'm glad for this painting - to remember the day.