Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blue Moon in Denver

Morning on Friday, with the golden Denver sun coming into my room. I snapped a shot to catch that feeling of luxurious peacefulness. It wasn't to last, though, because I had to be out the door and hoofing it over to ...

The Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field! This is where Blue Moon got its start in the mid-90s, at the Sandlot "laboratory" facility. New varieties of Blue Moon are still being developed here all the time.

A room at the Brewery, full of artists from all over the country: this was not your typical business-training session. Here we are, playing around, I mean working REALLY HARD, right, learning the ropes of our materials and techniques for this project.

Detail of a painting in progress, above. I didn't get a shot of it finished because the light shifted (we were near windows). (Also I may have been drinking my complimentary pint of Blue Moon by then). You'll get to see it, though, when you come out to one of the Twin Cities events and help paint one yourself!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Seeds in a tiny handmade book

Untitled, mixed media on Rives BFK Tan paper, about 5" x 3.5".

This is the first page of a hand-bound book my friend Tom Winterstein made for me. I took the book on my flight to Denver and back last week, began the drawing at 30,000 feet, and finished it in the studio Saturday afternoon.

I've been everywhere, man. Except online, it seems; but I'll correct that this week. I have photos from the training day at the Sandlot Brewery, and of a commissioned painting of geraniums, in progress.

Oh, and I have a class coming up at Michael's Arts and Crafts on Thursday. I'm at the Har Mar Michael's; you can find a link at the top of this blog where the schedule of classes (mine and everyone else's -- we have a lot of them) is available to download. :-)

Saturday, February 11, 2012


10.5 x 8.5" watercolor, pastel pencils, and pastel on Rives BFK Tan paper
He's a commission, to mark a military promotion, and is a surprise gift for the recipient. I'm very pleased with this one and excited about the next one on the easel, which is a red-tailed hawk I'm doing just because I want to.

I hope to help support the Raptor Center  (where I took the source photos for this drawing and the next one) by donating a drawing or two to their next fundraising auction; I'll post about that when I have more information.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Eagle and Hawk (photo post)

I'm doing a commissioned drawing of a bald eagle. Needed my own photos for reference, so I paid a visit to the Raptor Center at the U of M.  Many thanks to the staff there for welcoming me and showing me around.

Naturally I'll be turning this youngster's head white, in my drawing; I just needed his magnificent pose. The drawing is in progress and I'll post it in a couple hours when it's complete.

UPDATE: Okay, more than a couple hours. More like five hours, start to finish; that's a lot of feathery goodness, right there.

Below, a gorgeous red-tailed hawk in my favorite photo from yesterday's visit. I'll be drawing her simply because ... how could I not?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cat House

Cat House, about 9" high. Salvaged objects, oil paint, wax medium
One of the first salvage things I ever made was titled How to Let Go by Climbing, and I consider this one a direct descendent of that. It had about a dozen working titles, none of which I can remember now; I eventually settled on Cat House because that's what everyone was going to call it anyway.

Yes, that's a piece of a broken stereo, forming the doorway of the Cat House. Found in a vacant parking lot near the old Schmidt/Landmark brewery over the summer. The square wood piece is from the same site, while the triangular "roofline" is one of four such shapes I found near White Bear Avenue, beside a vacant hotel building. The bits of broken jewelry I used, I've had for years.

The bright little cardinal on the hanging ladder was part of a broken Christmas decoration, found behind a shopping plaza in Crystal. I've had it for over two years, and the cat charm for over ten.

Sometimes I hang onto things too long. By which I mean, when I have great stuff to work with -- the cat charm, the fine chains and pearl beads, the salvaged perching bird a friend sent me ages ago -- I don't want to "waste" them. I balk. What if I come up with some better use, later on? Surely I should wait until then!

But waiting means nothing gets made and I still have all the boxes and jars of pieces, instead of something beautiful. I'm learning to let it go.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More seeds, abstracted

Seed Flight, 12 x 12" oil paint and wax medium on panel
This panel was originally ... a dog portrait. Or rather, about half of one; I got that far before deciding I had irretrievably screwed up the composition.  I put it aside, grabbed a fresh panel, and started over.

Dog Portrait 2.0 turned out beautifully, but then I was stuck looking at the 1.0 version that didn't work. Eventually I mixed up some mostly-white paint and blotted it out, noticing as I did that there were some fun abstract patterns in the brush strokes over the background. A few weeks later, I used the panel to demonstrate abstract composition ideas to a student.

It's been through numerous changes and layers since then, and a few days ago I figured out how to finish it, at last. I hope to have a companion piece for it soon.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blue Milkweed in my studio today

Poof. 11 x 6", watercolor and pastel on Rives BFK Tan paper
I have committed to making something every day, even (especially!) on days when I don't "have time."

That's how this got started, at around 11:15 last night when I was already showered and in PJs and everything. I hadn't made art, but it wasn't midnight yet. And I have this stalk of milkweed pods, and a nifty halogen desk lamp that can be pointed at stuff to make gorgeous light and shadows happen.

So I started it. I didn't finish it last night; finishing wasn't the point. Starting was. I finished it just now. And I am now at least 40% happier with my life than I would have been had I not started at all, last night when it was too late to start.

Now available on my Etsy shop at $39 unframed, drawing only.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Winter Squares

Winter Squares, mixed media on salvaged wood, 4.5 x 4.75" each. Click to enlarge.

Finished last night while the Giants were winning the Super Bowl. Drawing the tree at the upper left helped distract me from the Patriots' pain. I don't follow football, but that was a really good game.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Frameworks Gallery, St. Paul

I'm part of a six-artist show at Frameworks Gallery on Ford Parkway right now. It's a nice place; good art, low-key staff, relaxing, open until 7 most nights -- and you can get food from the Chatterbox, Leeann Chin, Panera, or the Highland Bakery Cafe, all in the same plaza! Or walk across the street to Barnes & Noble for books and/or coffee.

Come out and have a look if you're going through the Highland Park area. Tell 'em Tracie sent you.