Monday, July 25, 2011

Mark Mackmiller Framed Me

Or did I frame him? I'm not sure. Judge for yourself:

Mark and his wife Mary, of mackmiller design+build, are some of the most remarkable -- and remarkably generous -- people I've ever known. This photo was taken yesterday afternoon, after Mark built the frame for my (rather large!) Minnesota State Fair Art Show entry, thus helping me save about $200.

He took time out of his work on his new showroom space at International Market Square to do this. Thank you, Mark, and thanks to Mary for her help with some media relations things I'd never have known how to do on my own.

I'll let you all know, of course, if the framed piece gets into the show.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Strange Things are Afoot outside Old Town Artists Studio

I met the new neighbor today.

 Now, this was about as startling as you'd imagine, but she (he?) seemed friendly enough.

... although it looks as if some medical assistance is desperately needed! Victim, perhaps, of an illusionist's "Saw the Dino in Half" trick gone wrong?

It looks as if the fourth floor of ACVR Warehouse is about to get some kind of interactive installation for kids. Being pretty much a kid myself, I'm intrigued.

Parking Lot Landscape, Harriet Island

5.5 x 3.5", in the Tiny Moleskine Sketchbook.
One of my dearest friends gave me the little sketch book I've been using so much the past couple months. I have taken to carrying it wherever I go, like a small talisman that reminds me to enjoy living, and especially to practice, every day, living as an artist.

If I have ten minutes because a friend is running late, or I'm waiting for them to finish changing the oil in my truck, or I got there early and the store isn't quite open yet -- I have a ballpoint pen, a pencil or two, and my Tiny Moleskine Book. I can be joyful and creative instead of bored and impatient.

I recommend this, even if you think you can't draw (link goes to a piece by Roger Ebert, with whom I often disagree but who I will always love for this post alone; thanks, Roger). If you write, carry one with ruled pages. Or a little MP3 recorder. If you cross-stitch, keep a small project on hand. Jokingly I call my portable art supplies my Boredom Prevention Kit, and it is, but it's more than that. It's something to remind you that you are who you are.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Katie Bar the Door, indeed!

Strip-mall Petunias, 3.5 x 5.5", in the Tiny Moleskine Sketchbook, sketched outside PostNet on Ford Parkway yesterday

                                       Katie Bar the Door is 11.5" high, found wood, oil paint, wax medium, string.                                             A symbol of the dangers of too much self-protection.

In the last month or so, I have:

Made art every day
Taken a fantastic painting workshop with Kami Polzen
Begun teaching at Old Town Artists
Accepted an invitation to participate in the $99 Sale at the Soap Factory
Accepted an invitation to participate in the Rescue Me show at Altered Esthetics
Signed up (this morning) for a demo and workshop with Mark Balma
Accepted an offer to be profiled on for their "Who's Creating? Wednesday" feature
Sold several drawings and paintings
Found a new venue for my salvaged-materials art
Begun writing professionally for others after years of writing professionally for myself
Joined the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota

Thanks to Lauri Flaquer, the Mackmillers, Josephine Geiger, Kelly Williams, Gail Weber, my amazing family and many many others in my life for reminding me that if I want to, I can.

And I'm sharing all this not just because I want everyone to know how awesome my life is now, but because  I've been the most timid, the most self-effacing soul, the one with the most reasons why the things I wanted were out of my reach, and I've changed. It can be done.

I hope someone else will see what I'm doing and decide to do what they want.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"HEAT INDEX" would be a great title for a bad movie.

Jerusha's Blackberries, 5.5 x 3.5" (in the Tiny Moleskine Sketchbook)
Despite being native to sultry Southwest Florida, I don't do well in this kind of weather. I'd like to be outdoors doing more drawing and/or painting, but it ain't gonna happen. Thus, today's plans include a lot of indoors-at-home things I need to do:

• Creating MORE ART -- salvage work, today. I'm continuing my series of Little Houses.

• Promotional postcard design for my Old Town Artists drawing classes

• Decide on schedule for the next run of classes at OTA 

• Various and sundry Annoying Paperwork Items

Hm. Hot weather or not, I may require a second round of coffee.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Foxgloves, a Pony, and a 110-Degree Heat Index

Foxgloves at Jerusha's House, about 8 x 5.5" pen and watercolor. Click to enlarge.

Palomino Pony at Wholechild School, St. Paul. Based on a toy horse that lives in the classroom.
You know, I'm certain I had Interesting Things to Say today. Sadly those thoughts seem to have melted and leaked out my ears during the time I spent outside.

People often ask -- while looking at me as if I've lost my mind -- why on earth I left Florida. It was mostly because the support I wanted as an artist was here, not there, but also: this kind of heat. Month after month of this.

If you need me, I'll be hiding under a nice, cool, shady rock for a while.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Watercolor Flowers, and a Bird that's a Bird, this time

These small flowers are so popular that I plan to make note cards out of them.

Courtyard Sparrow, about 5.5 x 8", pen and watercolor

 All three of these are from the J&S Bean Factory coffeehouse today, done while I sat in their pretty back patio area. The flowers kindly sat still for me; the birds didn't, and I sketched this little fellow as best I could from memory.

The flowers are something like 3" x 2.5" each, quite small. I'll sell either of them for $15; $25 for the set of two. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What to Draw? Whaddaya Got?

Birds on a Wire, 5.5 x 8" pen and watercolor at Jim Sannerud Woodturning

Students frequently ask me what they should draw. It's tempting to say, "Well, whatever!" -- because really, pretty much anything can make a good art subject.

If you're practicing drawing, look around your house, your yard, your garage or potting shed. You don't need "pretty" things. A still life does not have to be wine bottles and (*yawn*) fruit. It can be your pegboard in the shed with the red-handled saw hanging there, or the multicolored pliers and screwdrivers. It can be your old work boots on the floor in the sun.

... but the flowers in your garden will work, too. Hollyhocks at Lauri Flaquer's house, from 7/12
Once you start to look for things to draw -- and stop limiting yourself to things that "look like art" -- you'll start seeing everything around you as if for the first time. It's okay if your drawings aren't perfect; the fun in recording them is the point.

Art Tourist meets Photo Tourist at Como Conservatory

The Petunias in progress at Como Conservatory. Photo by Patrick O'Reilly, who kindly emailed it my way.
When I lived in the South (and yes, folks, Florida is the South), an open sketchbook was an invitation for people to come and talk to me. I enjoyed that, but I've found Minnesotans are more reserved, more cautious, more apt to think they're going to disturb me.

So, when asked nicely whether I would mind having my hands photographed while I worked, I readily agreed, and only asked if the photographer would email me a few of the shots. Which he did, when he got home; he's not from Minnesota, either.

This isn't posed. I was lightly sketching in pastel pencil, then going over that with the Micron pen (in my left hand, in the photo at top), to make the final lines. When that was done I erased the pencil and broke out the watercolors, and you've already seen the result:

I expect to be back at Como Park tomorrow morning for a while. You'll probably find me near the carousel, sketching horses.  Say hello if you're out there. If I wanted solitude, well -- I have a studio for that.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Little Landscapes

Memory of Saturday's Trees, about 7 x 6"
 File under, I Suffer for My Art: Chiggers. I have chigger bumps behind my left knee, from Saturday's workshop, and oh they itch, so what did I do today?

Moon and Long Shadows at Bruce Vento Park, 3.5 x 5.5"
Yep. I went out in the evening and sketched while I could in the gold light and blue shadows. Standing in the grass in my sandals.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sunburned my feet at Lake Elmo today

Home and very very tired. I had a hat and sunscreen on but forgot about my feet. The crescent of skin between jeans-hem and shoe is now bright, bright pink.

The up side: after today's workshop, I could mix that color with confidence. Hah.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Walker Open Field Day

Little Lantana, 4 x 4" casein on panel
Try-It Thursday at Wet Paint wasn't at Wet Paint last night, but at the Walker Art Center Open Field. I got to test out casein paints, which use milk protein for a binder and which I'm not sure I loved, though -- as always with these Try-It events -- I had a lot of fun.

My thanks to Scott and the other Walker staff and interns I met, who made the event that much better. Oh, and the Lantana flowers (modeled from a lantana in a planter near the Try-It table) went home with a man and his three young kids.

Afterward, I became a tourist: I'd never visited the sculpture garden before. Three years in the Twin Cities and  no visit to the Spoon and Cherry? I know. I took the requisite photos of that, but preferred this other piece with the gracefully leaping hare.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ever taken art classes? How did it go?

Most of you know that I teach adult beginners and some intermediate classes (those are much harder to fill because the vast majority of people are beginners).

There are some things I've heard over and over again about peoples' previous experiences:

"My instructor said I had no talent."

"Someone made fun of me and I quit."

"I didn't really learn much."

"It was great, but then I [got married/moved/had a child/insert other life-altering event]."

Because I'm always looking to improve as an instructor, I'd like to hear whether you've ever taken art classes (yes, high school counts) and what you thought. What you got, or didn't get, out of the experience. Was it great, or awful, or somewhere in between? Do you still draw, paint, whatever it was, or did you stop? Be anonymous if you like; I don't mind.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Henhouse Landscape at Lakeview Farm, Hugo

Ghost of a Moon, 8.5 x 11" pastel pencil and watercolor

Long and short: at around 7 yesterday evening, I was at Lakeview Farm and in a rotten mood, and that's when I drew the little henhouse there.

You wouldn't know it, would you?

And that's why I did it. Because I needed to pull myself up out of the hole I'd fallen into -- and it worked.

I lost my daylight around the time I finished the pastel-pencil sketch, so the watercolors were done today.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Daylily Watercolor

Daylily, 7.5 x 5.5" pen and watercolor
I did this while having lunch at Panera with a good friend. It is now in her collection, and that makes me happy.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Beautiful Saturday -- with Greyhounds & a Blooming Canoe

... and now I have pictures to post.

Hound Overboard, sketch from life, 8 x 11"

Mystery Berries, 5.5 x 3.5"
 I saw the Mystery Berries while walking from home base to Nokomis Beach Coffee, which by the way is a charming place and I highly recommend it.

Landfall at 28th and 50th (the Nokomis Beach Coffee Canoe), 5.5 x 8"

For June I joined a challenge: create something daily for a month. I think I managed 28 out of the 30 days, and on many of those days I created more than one thing.

It's mostly been drawings, small ones at that. I like them, but they don't seem significant in a world that (rightly) values the Big Masterpiece. Yet my ability to see has improved. I've become more alive, woken something up in myself. If I was walking around swathed in cotton, muffled, and then suddenly it was gone -- that's how it feels. A layer of dulling insulation stripped away.

This is good, but it is not comfortable. Creativity isn't. I don't know why not.

This morning, I am at a friend's house, so I've drawn one of the dogs (again. This particular dog, Indiana, poses in the most fabulous ways).  It's sunny and lovely outside, so I'm going for a walk to Nokomis Beach Coffee, just up the street, with my backpack full of art materials. We'll see what I come back with.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Landscape Painting at Battle Creek Park

In the photos, you can't see the heat and humidity, but I felt like I was right back in Florida! These canvases are a commission for a homeowner in Highland Park, and they are nearing completion; got some finishing to do and a lot of wildflowers to add. I had wanted to do that today, outdoors, but it looks as if we'll be getting rained upon (and possibly pummeled by hail) late this afternoon/early evening, so I'll likely have to work indoors.

Above, another Tiny Moleskine Sketchbook page, drawn on site on Wednesday as the sun was going down. The mulberry tree is in the woods near the Mississippi. I found it by chance and had very little time before it was too dark to draw, so I sketched fast and then added the color the next day.