Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday--Market Flowers

Just a few more weeks really of enjoying flowers like these at the Farmer's Market. Hoping these pics will help me enjoy them year round.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Working in the Middle

Just a quick update...spent yesterday working more in that difficult "middle phase" on this one. It's bigger than I usually work...and made even more complicated, because it is actually two 24x30 canvases...makes it hard to step back and get a good look at the whole piece. Finally I hung it on the wall, so I could really step back and look at it better. Still not the best picture, because the only place I could hang it in the studio was the entry hallway--no natural light there. I've used some metallic colors (copper & bronze)...which I really like, but also makes it hard to photograph. (You'll just have to come to the Art Crawl to get a really good look yourself!)

I don't think it's quite done...but getting there. I'm letting it hang on the wall for a few I can keep looking at it and consider any changes. I want this piece to reflect change and energy and all the power of the emotions that go along with that. (sometimes I hate writing about my's hard to find the right words).

So with that painting waiting in the wings, I worked on finishing up some other smaller paintings today--hoping to get them done in time for the Art Crawl.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I had a productive day at the studio on Saturday. Five-plus hours of painting--that's a lot of painting, standing on concrete, leaning over a table to paint. (I frequently paint with my canvas on a table, rather than an easel.) 

Some days go easier than others. Thankfully, Saturday seemed to go rather smoothly. I finished a few smaller pieces and then moved on to this bigger work. It is actually two canvases--each 24x30 that will complete one piece.

I often think about the different stages in the creation of my paintings...and how the work and my feelings about the piece can change many times during the course of the painting.

The beginning stage includes the visualization of the piece. I often visualize a piece long before it comes to fruition. And many times those visions first come to me as I'm falling asleep at night. The beginning stage is very exciting...and filled with hope and optimism. 

Once I decide to start working on a new piece, the beginning phase moves into the physical creation of the piece--with the prep of the canvas. For me, that means applying gesso to the canvas and multiple layers of base colors. It might also include, as it did in this piece, applying gel mediums such as light molding paste to create texture.  During that work I am still visualizing how I see the piece evolving. As I apply the gesso and/or medium, I feel as if I'm "mapping" out the painting. It's like I'm trying to transfer my vision to the canvas as I apply the gesso with my brush.

At some point, you enter what I think of as the middle phase of the painting. For me, this is often the longest and most difficult phase of the painting. It's often when the work takes on it's own life ... and sometimes that doesn't always match up to your "vision". It's the phase where as an artist you have to struggle with letting the process unfold itself, while also still managing the technical end of creating the piece. 

It's also the phase where I often no longer "love" the piece and wonder if what I'm doing is going to really look any good. Sometimes it feels like labor, not joy.  Sometimes I will even put the piece aside...walk away for a bit to gain some perspective and a fresh set of eyes.

But sometimes, like Saturday, I keep working right through the doubts and trust the process. In fact, the more I trust the process, the smoother the whole thing seems to go. And that always feels a natural sort of high.

Which leads you, ultimately, to the final phase and the finished piece. Usually when I reach that point, my ambivalence about the piece has been replaced with, well, love. Ask an artist what their favorite piece is and they will often point out the last piece they finished. 

Not always. I'm learning sometimes to finish pieces that I'm not quite sure of, learn from them and take what I learn to the next piece. 

This piece is not yet finished. Getting there, but not quite. I hope to have it done before the Art Crawl in less than two weeks. 

Which means I'll be pushing through that middle phase this week.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

2 weeks!

view outside my studio window

Only two weeks until the Fall Art Crawl...which means I am working hard at the studio trying to finish some paintings. After working full-time on my painting for the past four months, I have lots of new work to share...but there is always more work to finish--including these--

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finding Marine on St. Croix

We are wrapping up our week of birthday celebrations...yes, I said week. (That means I get a week in December!) Really nothing too over the top...just stepping back and taking the time to enjoy the fall weather (winter will come soon enough) and each other's company.

We enjoyed a few road trips to our favorite towns...Northfield, Hudson, Stillwater, and the picturesque Marine on St. Croix. I enjoy the change in scenery and the slower pace of the day. It always refreshes me and provides me with a healthy dose of inspiration.

I think inspiration can be found anywhere...if you are open to it. I grew up in smaller towns (very small) and still like the feel of smaller communities. 

 I love the feel of Marine on St. Croix...yup, that's the name of the town. There's not much there, but lots of charm. Located just 10 miles out of  Stillwater (and a short hop from St. Paul), it still has a General Store and ice cream shop. It is nestled alongside the Mississippi River and I think was founded as a logging town.

It contains lots of charming old houses, like this one, that I can only imagine calling home some day. Can you smell the bread baking?

But just a mile outside of town, there is a housing community that I find so inspiring. All the houses are white and at first glance may seem cookie-cutter...but when you take a closer look you notice all sorts of unique features.

Like this house with the mini-house/gazebo just off the house, but still attached.

Or this single residence that looks like two houses with a skyway. Can you imagine one side being work/studio space and the other side being your dwelling space.

All the houses at Jackson Meadow are designed by the same architect, David Salmela , and while all the houses use the same building materials, they all feature unique design. They blend the traditional with the modern and perhaps most importantly, create a sense of neighborhood. They also blend into the natural environment...with prairie grasses growing on the land surrounding the lots.

I'm not going to be moving into one of these houses anytime soon (unless I win the lottery!), but I can take this inspiration into the studio. I can envision a number of paintings inspired by this community. 

I've already started two.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Happy, Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my Honey! 57 years young today! Still following his creative dreams of acting and writing (and my biggest supporter as well)!

We're going to take a few days to celebrate and enjoy life! See you all later!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Tote Bags are In!

I love my new tote bag...featuring an image of my painting Force of Nature. Vistaprint was having a sale and I couldn't resist. I had four more made to possibly sell at the Art Crawl or on Etsy. 

They are a Two-tone (black bottom &  handles with off-white bag) canvas bag--made of 100% natural 12 oz. cotton canvas. Very durable. It's BIG--19" (width) x 15" (depth) x 6" (bottom)--plenty of room to carry all your stuff to/from work, the studio, grocery store...

Good for the environment and fun for me!

(I am thinking about ordering more, but wonder if I should drop my name/website info...not as good for marketing, but might sell better. What do you think?

Update: Still want to know what you think, but I have listed a few with my name/website on etsy--check it out here!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Embracing Beauty

Embracing Beauty 20x20

With the countdown to the Art Crawl on (-4 weeks, y'all!), I am busy painting away in the studio. Last week I continued working on a series that I've decided to title Embracing Beauty.

There is something calming about painting these. I hope they have the same impact on the viewer. There is enough ugliness in this world that sometimes I think we need a gentle reminder to look for all the beauty that surrounds us. 


This would make a lovely fabric print, don't you think?

A few of these are up at my Trotter's show--which is up for two more weeks! Check it out--located on Cleveland, just off Marshall (right around the corner from Izzy's).

I also have a few small ones listed on Etsy (with more to follow). These little beauties offer gentle reminders--

Be Calm. 4x4  $20

Dream. 6x6 - $25

Embrace Beauty. 4x4 - $20

Just click on the title of each and it will take you to my Etsy shop!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Being Brave...

Force of Nature

I was brave today. I feel I need to pat myself on the back for just a moment.  It might not seem like a BIG deal, but it was for, WAY TO GO, RISA

What did I do, you ask? 

Today I went to the informational session for WARM's  Mentor Program. (WARM stands for Women's Art Registry of Minnesota).  Going to that meeting was a big deal for several reasons.

First, I hate walking into things like this--a group setting where I don't know anyone--not my cup of tea...brings out loads of social anxiety. Hubby dropped me off and I sort of felt like a kid being dropped off for the first day of school. I was about ten minutes early and the first one there (which I prefer). I found my way to the meeting room and was greeted by the program coordinator. After that I was's just those first few moments that cause my anxiety.

But going to this meeting was also a big deal because participating in this program is something I've thought about for a long time...and going to the meeting brought me one step closer to realizing this dream. The opportunity only comes around every two years. Here's a brief description of the program (taken from their website)--

The WARM Mentor Program is a supportive resource that pairs emerging and professional women artists for two years. Each protégée directs the process of selecting her mentor, identifying her goals and tracking her progress. Mentors share wisdom and skills while providing supportive critique.

The WARM Mentor Program was founded to ensure that women are full participants in the development of the visual arts and culture in their communities and society. The Mentor Program is designed for the serious artist who is in the early stage of her career. Each participant pairs with a professional woman artist or mentor for a two-year term.  The next cycle begins in January 2011.

The informational meeting fueled my enthusiasm for participating as a protegee in this two year program.  As I wrote earlier, I've been interested in this program for a while. I first heard about this program years and years ago...and always kept it on my radar screen, thinking...."it would be nice to do that someday...if I'm ever really doing anything with my art."

Well, baby...I think someday is now. I am not going to allow myself to convince myself otherwise. I am not going to do what I've done in the past...convince myself that this isn't the best time to participate, that I'm not ready...I am ready. I'm never going to be more ready.

Besides having the opportunity to work one-on-one with a more established local artist for two years, I will have the opportunity to build a community with other emerging (as they call the protegees) artists. Even though I am an introvert and have a hard time in those types of group settings (at first), I am definitely feeling the need these days to build a stronger connection to my local artist community.

Just a few days ago I called my long-distance artist friend, Julie, to check in and commiserate...creating art can be a lonely experience and I am missing the daily connections of working with others. Sometimes I feel like I am creating art in a vacuum. And while I am relishing this opportunity to work full-time on my art (and trying to make the most of the opportunity), so much in my life has changed in the past few months and I am still adjusting.

This program looks like just what I need. So I am moving forward in the process and hoping to make this a reality. There are still some hurdles to leap. I will need to submit my application by October 11th and then interview with potential mentors. Then I wait for a mentor to choose to work with me. Perhaps the biggest hurdle for me is the financial committment this program will require. Fees are very modest, but money is certainly tight. I am hoping for some sales during the Art Crawl next month to fund my initial program fees.

If everything falls into place, I will sign the program contract on December 1st...which by the way, is just days from my 50th birthday.

I think that would be an awesome way to kick off my 50th birthday!

So, think good thoughts, keep your fingers crossed or say a prayer...whatever it is you do. 

I'll let you know how things progress.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Autumn - 10x20

Somehow, Autumn slipped in thru the back door. Internally, my body registered the shift long before my brain did. I've made two types of soup this week, loaded up on several different types of artisan (i.e. "hearty") breads and also got some butternut squash ready to put in the oven. Temperatures are indeed cooler and the dreaded humidity has taken the back road out of town.

The shift in temps this week was quite dramatic--it threw my body for a bit of a loop. The cooler, damp weather isn't always great for my body. I don't think I'm the only one who's been feeling achy and fatigued.

Which just makes it all that more appealing to make things cozy at home by making soup and baking cookies. It feels like some sort of primitive internal response to the changes. Geese fly south. I'll stay home and make soup! 

In the Wind - 22x28

And interestingly enough as I've started new pieces in the studio, I've noticed that my color palette is shifting. The new abstracts that I started several weeks ago feature grays and browns (plus lots of texture).  I will be showing several of these new abstracts at the Art Crawl next month.

Next month! Four weeks! Yikes!!! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Minnesota State Fair: Oh, the People (and places) you'll see!

Not quite the cow barn!

Is it a cow or a pig? And would you really want to haul it around all day?!

A lovely couple enjoying the Fair

Quite the hat!

These two were giving away free books. Tough sell!

Ah! Love a man playing a skirt alas!

Santa at the Fair?

Until next year!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Minnesota State Fair: In the Midway

No rides for me! Years ago, I loved rides, but now they make me more than a little nauseous. So each year at the Fair I make one trip through the Mighty Midway in the early evening,  just to take pictures. This year my favorite pictures were of the giant swing that twirled people high in the air. I enjoy it much more from the ground!

Up, Up, Up!


Heading back to Earth!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Minnesota State Fair: Everyone Loves a Parade!

Every day of the Fair, at 2 p.m., a parade of sorts criss-crosses the fairgrounds. It always includes this train for tots to ride in, a few mascots and showy characters on stilts, a few marching bands, a BIG cow, real horses, and other assorted daily additions. Hey, who doesn't love a parade? It's a tradition!

Future beauty queens


Is it a Gopher or a chipmunk?

No parade is complete without a few bands. On our last trip to the Fair, we happened to sit down for a rest right in front of the spot where the University of Minnesota marching band was lining up and warming up for the daily parade! It was free entertainment for sure!