pink leaf

Leaving; casein on panel; 10" x 8"

The snow covered woods outside the window from this still life set-up cast a magical light.  It was difficult to see my panel at times it was so bright.  Every so often, it helped to take the panel into another room - to make sure I was seeing, and painting, true to life.

This was an exercise in drawing as the leaves and stems created a complex arrangement.  Add to that the endless shifts of values and color, painting green next to pink, light leaf against dark background and vice versa.  It's done - I'm content.

leaving be

in progress: Leaving; casein on panel; 10" x 8"

Here are some of the first color notes on a new still life.  I'm at my North light nook again - and the light from the snow-covered woods outside is magical. 

edited: Below are a couple more in progress views - adding color notes and details to resolve my idea.

in progress: Leaving; casein on panel; 10" x 8"

in progress: Leaving; casein on panel; 10" x 8"


four square

Red Betta; casein on board; 6" x 6"

This is the last of four little caseins on watercolor board.  It's been an interesting adventure with this square format.  The Savvy Painter (Antrese Woods) recently interviewed an artist who preferred to work in a near-square format.  She felt that a 20" x 21" canvas, for instance, created a bit of tension in her works.  Kenn Backhaus, during his recent talk at the Cincinnati Art Center, also mentioned mixing up dimensions to create more excitement and to avoid stagnation.  He suggested a 2:1 ratio both vertically and horizontally. 

A decade or so ago, I was married to the idea of always painting with the dimensions of the Golden Section - 1:1.618.  It was freeing to have that constraint and, at the time, I found the possibilities endless.  When I finally explored the more conventional ratios of 4:5 or 3:4 it surprised me that I could still find exciting compositions - with the added bonus of ready-made support panels, canvases, frames, backing boards, shipping boxes, etc..

I'm rambling here - not really getting to any point - just musing on formats - and hinting that I may need to try the near-square for myself. 


looking ahead

Potted Marigolds; casein on board; 6" x 6"

Looking ahead by looking behind - this painting was done from a reference photo I took last September.  I needed a reminder that flowers will grow outside again and that the bright sun will do more than dazzle us - it will warm us too.  You're welcome :)


squaring up

Winter Morning; casein on board; 6" x 6"

It's been snowing since yesterday afternoon - causing 25 accidents in 15 minutes during last night's rush hour.  It snows in 80% of the Aprils here in Minnesota so nobody is particularly shocked - we're sick of it - but not shocked.  Our response seems to be to don shorts.  Yes, you read that right.  Many folks deal with the duration of winter by denying it.  They'll defiantly go out on a snowy-30-ish-degree day baring their legs - although they still tend to wear boots and parkas.  Not everyone does this, mind you.  But the one-in-a-hundred, shorts-in-winter folks do get noticed - and they give hope to the rest of us.


from 2007

sold - Funny Bunny; oil on canvas; 20" x 16"

It seems appropriate to repost this today - a day full of symbolic rabbits, eggs, lilies and such.  The Easter Bunny doesn't visit our home anymore - but it's fun to get reports from our grandchildren that he's still alive and well.

This painting sold at Digging Pitt Gallery in Pittsburgh - John Morris, gallery owner.  It was part of a group exhibition called The Blogger Show that had two components - one in New York City (Agni Gallery) and another in Pittsburgh.  Funny Bunny found its new home via that show - and lives on in paint.  Bye bye Bunny.


old new

Quietude; casein on panel; 9" x 12"
This is my first painting done in my new-north-light space.  The white cloth is a wrinkly sheet draped over The Great Green Room.  The north light is coming from the right and my easel was about 6 feet from the scene - with about 3 feet for me to back up occasionally and gain perspective as I painted.

Before electricity, artist studios with north light were a necessity.  They give you a continuous source of even light throughout the day.  From any other direction, the light will vary considerably - making it impossible to do a long-careful study.  This painting has a classical feeling - deriving, in part, from its placement to the sun.

The miniature orchid is in bud - and its tiny leaves are only three.  I love how this contrasts with the old-curled-up Red Oak leaf.  And the white mug is a gentle mystery.  Is it half full - half empty - completely empty?  It also makes a nice cool contrast to the warm terra cotta - and the mossy-green wall.


north light

on the easel; casein on panel; 9" x 12"

This will be a quiet painting.  The mood is the subject here more than anything else.  I'm working in North light so I can take my time with this one.  It's nice not to have to rush for once - and to slowly resolve the patches of color into something peaceful - something restful.  It might be finished tomorrow - we'll see.


cloud play

Sky Dance; casein on panel; 10" x 8"

So happy and honored to report that my painting, Sunflower Study, won third place at the Floral Exhibition at Studio Pintura Gallery in Minneapolis last weekend.  I saw the show for the first time today (the opening reception was last Saturday but I was still in Cincinnati then and couldn't attend).  Such a lovely variety of excellent floral paintings - a huge thank you to Lois and Armando for all of their efforts!

I'm excited also to announce that I'll be participating in Art-a-Whirl this year.  What is Art-a-Whirl?  Here's the blurb from their site: "Art-A-Whirl is an open studio tour in Northeast Minneapolis. It’s a great opportunity to tour private artist studios and galleries, connect with the artists, and purchase original artwork. Over the last 20+ years, it has become the largest open studio tour in the country. Art-A-Whirl takes place annually throughout Northeast Minneapolis, the third weekend of May. This event is free and open to the public."  If you're planning on coming, look for me in the Northrup King Building - #293.

I've got some framing to do before May 18th rolls around.  I want to have 10 to 20 framed paintings ready to hang for the Whirl - and that will take a bit of planning on my part.  There are labels to make and logistics to think about too.  Happy busy!


new home

Winter Shadows - getting ready for its new home!

It's been a whirlwind week and I'm just catching my breath now!  I left for Cincinnati very early Wednesday morning - arriving late in the evening.  The next day I was up early again to be at the Cincinnati Art Center by 8:30 for the Wet Wall Competition.  After making two paintings (a still life inside then a plein air out (after the temperature got above freezing)) I went to a lovely cocktail party given by a very gracious Cincinnati AIS member in his home.  Friday I attended an all day workshop given by Kenn Errol Backhaus - the judge of the show.  The opening reception was Friday night - such excitement!  And on Saturday there was a panel discussion at Greenwich House Gallery in the morning and a trip to the Cincinnati Museum of Art in the afternoon. 

Back in the studio now, I've got the lovely task of preparing one of my winter paintings for its new home.  I'm loving how it looks in its white frame and am super excited to send it off!

greenwich house

one wall (of many) at the AIS Small Works Exhibition at Greenwich House Gallery, Cincinnati (my casein painting, The Door Stop, is in the middle on the far right)

Best of Show, Desert View Layers, by Melanie Anne Thompson
Here are just a couple of photos from the opening reception at Greenwich House Gallery in Cincinnati.  It's a beautiful and elegant gallery and the artwork, as you can see, was stunning!  I feel extremely fortunate to have been included in this group of excellent artists from all around the country. 

A special thank you to Debra Groesser and Cheryl St. John of the American Impressionist Society for organizing this exhibition.  They did an outstanding job!  Thank you also to Kenn Backhaus the juror who also gave a very informative and inspiring workshop all day Friday.  And last, but certainly not least, thank you Greenwich House Gallery.  Everyone there was gracious and friendly and put on an amazingly impressive show!


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.