Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ten of my Favorite Things


A few days ago, Nicole of Paper Creations tagged me in her blog. The challenge: to list ten of my favorite things. I thought the timing was great on two levels: 1) It's a perfect way to introduce myself to some of my newer readers; and 2) It's a perfect time to remind myself what makes me happy! I'm struggling with the winter blues, but these things make me happy any time of the year! Here's my list (in no particular order):

1) Painting in my studio! The studio where I paint is located just a few blocks away at the Jax Building. It's an old building filled with studios for artists. I share the space with my hubby and I've been painting there for 3 years. The windows are old, but let in lots of light for painting (plus it faces the direction of the river). We were able to paint the studio when we moved in--and I picked deep pinks and blue/purple. It works and warms up the space--no matter what the weather is like outside!



2) Baseball. Especially Twins baseball. I love the game. When I walk into the stadium, a feeling of bliss comes over me. I don't necessarily stay in that state of bliss the whole game--I am a LOUD, enthusiastic fan! I share my love for baseball with my fact, you could say we met because of baseball! We even got an engaged at a Twins game! You can read that story here!


3) Chocolate. Preferably Dark chocolate!

4) Baking. I love to bake (and often something with chocolate). Baking makes me happy...and I like making others happy by sharing my treats. It's not always good for the diet though!
5) Starbucks Coffee. If I make it at home, I enjoy the Caffe Verona brew--because it has chocolate undertones. When I stop at Starbucks, my favorite drink is a Skinny Vanilla Latte. Or in hotter weather, a mocha lite frappachino.


6) Our home at the Tilsner. The Tilsner is an artist cooperative located in lowertown St. Paul. We moved last spring. I love our brick wall, pine floors, and view of the river. It is a lovely place! (Click on the Tilsner link under the "Labels" sidebar for more pics!)


7) The Minnesota State Fair or "The Great Minnesota Get-Together). 10 days of fun that begins in late August and ends on Labor Day. We usually make 4-5 visits. Here is hubby and I getting our picture taken. There are lots of great photo opportunities!

8) The sun and warm weather. I've lived in Minnesota all my life, but I've started dreaming of living somewhere warmer someday. I would love to be in the southwest...somewhere like Sedona, Arizona. Love red rock country!

9) Criminal Minds--the television series. I became an addict over the holidays. Now I want to watch it every day!


10) Staying at my favorite bed & breakfast with my honey. Our favorite place is the Moondance Inn in Red Wing, MN. It's wonderful. Relaxing. Whirlpool in every room. Comforting. Great escape.

There you have it. What are ten of your favorite things? 

Monday, January 25, 2010

One World One Heart



  This event was created by a fellow blogger in 2007. The original idea behind this giveaway event was to bring bloggers together from around the world who may never ordinarily meet. The premise was to close the gap of the blog community and enable us to interact, discover new and wonderful people, and in the process possibly win a prize or many prizes along the way. 2007 had roughly 85-90 participants and many connections were made because of it......friendships that are still going strong. In 2009 there were 911 participants!

This year I thought I'd give it a whirl! Who doesn't love the chance to win a giveaway and meet new friends from around the globe?

So here's the scoop:  In order to enter this giveaway, you simply need to enter a comment on this blog post! Please leave me your email address so I know how to reach you if you should win. If you are a fellow blogger, please leave a link to your blog. I'd like to come visit as well!  Only one entry per person and your entry must be completed no later than Valentine's Day, February 14th. The winner will be announced February 15th!

What will you win, you ask! I decided in the spirit of Valentine's, to give away this little 8x8 heart painting. (This is admittedly a lousy pic--I will take a new one in a day or two when I have some natural light to take a better pic) I will also send along a pack of my cards featuring some of my artwork.

I covered the heart with molding paste and then pressed bubble wrap into the paste to create the texture on the heart. It gives it a very interesting look and was fun to create!


So there you go! Please leave your comment and keep your fingers crossed. If you are interested in visiting the blogs of others that are participating, simply click on the pic at the top of the post or on the sidebar. There will you find a list of participants (along with information about how to participate!).

And welcome to all new visitors! I hope that you make a habit of stopping by.  

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Red Poppies

After a busy day Friday running around, I have not gone anywhere in the car all weekend. Unusual for me. Usually I'm running errands or taking my kids somewhere, but this weekend I was grounded. That was o.k. by me.

I got to spend time in the studio Saturday and Sunday. Again, I switched gears and worked on some new paintings. This time I had a very good reason.

In two weeks, the Mpls Institute of Arts is accepting submissions for their once-every-decade "Foot In the Door" exhibit. Any Minnesota artist may submit a piece of art, as long as it fits in a 12x12 box and you bring it to the museum during the specified days. I have gone to this exhibit one time, but never submitted. I remember seeing the exhibit 20 years ago when my kids were young. It's a very interesting exhibit--work is hung from the floor to ceiling!

Well, this year I am planning to submit a painting. I have known about the exhibit for's been in the back of my would think I'd have a painting done by now, a lot of artists, I work better under pressure...right?

Part of it is that I don't frequently paint 12x12...but for this opportunity I will. I've thought alot about what it is want to paint for this's hard, because you want something to grab people's attention. And I thought it best not to paint something with lots of detail, because this painting could literally be hanging 12 feet over people's heads!

So finally this weekend I started working on these red poppies. I may still do something else, but I liked how this went this weekend.



Actually, I worked on two 12x12's (pictured above), along with these smaller ones (8x8's, 6x8's).


I didn't finish these, but made good progress. I think the red/orange flowers (with a pink undertone) look very vibrant against the charcoal background. These are painted on gallery canvases--with sides that measure 1 3/8". I continued the charcoal gray on the sides--so there is no need to frame. Even if I don't pick one of these 12x12's for the Foot in the Door show, I'm excited to see what they will look like when done. 

Some days it's just good to paint something you love...and I loved painting these!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

So Glad the Weekend is Here!

It's been a crazy, busy week--not in a bad way.  Still I'm glad that it's the weekend, things are slowing down and soon I will be heading to the studio for some painting time.

At work, at least part of the week, I stepped outside of my social worker role and performed the duties of the school cook. I love cooking. I cooked lunch one day for about 50 little kiddies (and well-deserving teachers) and then one night I cooked a meal for our evening program that families attend. My two meals were Mexican Casserole and Tator Tot HotDish. Both yummy. The hardest part of it all was standing on the concrete floor--killer on the back. But it was nice doing something outside of the norm.

Then I helped my soon-to-be 23-year-old son move to a new apartment. This wasn't a difficult move, since he was literally moving next door (bigger apartment with more windows)...but still there was stuff to move, running around to Target and Ikea for supplies and of course, lots of cleaning. But I am super proud that my son did so much of it on his own--including the cleaning! He is growing up! I am also grateful for a husband that was so willing to help out!

And I've been consumed with watching Lily the Black Bear in her den any possible moment. Lily is a 3-year-old Black Bear expecting her first litter of cubs. She has been part of a bear research group since her birth. Well, she delivered her cub (just one!) on Friday. I missed the live birth cause I had to move my son, but it's wonderful to watch her. You still can! Now you can hear her cub squealing! Check it out here--but I warn you it's totally addicting!

Oh ya, also throw in there a trip to Dick Blick to take advantage of their semi-annual canvas sale. I bought 20 new canvases. Most of them are small, but you get the lowest price when you buy 20 (any combination of styles, sizes).

So I'm heading off to the studio to start working on those canvases. Hope you are all enjoying a lovely weekend! (We are having an unusal rainstorm here in's not supposed to rain in January in Minnesota...could be ugly when it freezes!)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Today at the Studio

I decided to start a new feature "Today at the Studio"--from time to time I will post pictures from my day at the studio. Well, I guess I do that already, but I'm going to do it in this way without so much commentary. Mostly pics, with a few comments. Or no comments.

Sometimes when I show pics of a work in progress, I can get caught up in wanting to explain my process--which isn't bad, but sometimes I just want to post the pics--to show progress, to not get "inside my head" so much, to just be able to step back myself and see what I think (and what you thing as well!)

So here we go, with the first installment of  "Today at the Studio"--









Thinking spring. Dancing to the Bee Gees. Life is good.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Holy Cow! It's 2010!!!

Sometimes when I'm in a funk, I like to listen to music, sit down with a bunch of old magazines, rip/cut out pics and create collages. No painting or anything--just simply creating collage with pictures and paper. It's a great way to clear my head and actually free up my creative juices. This week I combined a collage project for myself with a project for work.

Last week I was reading Kim Geiser's Persimmons Gal blog and had an "aha" moment. I was looking for a project for the women's group I was facilitating at work on Friday. After reading Kim's blog, I rushed out to the Dollar Store and bought up a stack of datebooks--the exact same kind that Kim had used. A great deal at only a $1 a piece! My new group plan: have everyone create their own collage of their vision for 2010--for their very own datebook.

First, I got to create my very own collaged datebook as a prototype for my group. I decided to create one that would be my datebook to keep track of art projects and competitions. Here's what I came up with:

the front cover

the back cover

I have to say the whole project was a hit with the moms in group. And it helped me work out of my winter funk. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to create another datebook collage to focus on my plan to get healthy in 2010. Here's the back cover:

Now that I have my datebooks ready, I'm ready to tackle 2010!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Winter blues

I am struggling with a bit of a January funk. Although I have lived in Minnesota my entire life, I am not a huge fan of winter. In fact, I enjoy it less and less with every year I grow older. I am starting to entertain a plan (really, just a dream) that involves moving to a warmer climate. I am beginning to understand why so many people retire to Florida or Arizona (my pick!)

Alas, winter will not be over any time soon. Fortunately, we are in the midst of a little winter thaw. Tomorrow for the first time this month, we may reach freezing--32 degrees. Frankly, I find it a little crazy that we get so excited about such things here. But hey, it does feel a heck of a lot warmer than last week!

And on a more positive note, there is even a little daylight still at 5 p.m. The days are starting to get longer!

Winter makes me want to hibernate. I want to be by myself, preferably in the studio, where I can paint and listen to music. It is almost always warm there--or at least it feels warm as the light filters in thru the pink & purple curtains. The walls are painted different colors--all purplish blues and deep magenta pinks. It is my sanctuary, regardless of the season.

the studio cleaned up for an art crawl event

Today I snuck out of work a little early--early enough that I was able to spend a few hours at the studio while there was still light. I worked on a set of three canvases that will be one "large" canvas when done (pictured at the end of this post). I feel like I need to spend every single day at the studio until I paint myself out of this funk. 

I have to say one of the things that has brightened my days this week has been finding that I have new "fans" on my facebook page and new followers of my blog. Connecting with other artists through these outlets has been a wonderful way to "meet" other artists...and reading and viewing what others are creating inspires me to keep making art as well.

Thank you for visiting! I always welcome and look forward to your comments/feedback. I hope that you will stop by often!  

Please share with me your links and I'm sure to pay you a visit very soon!

(And a special thank you to Laurie LeBlanc-Rickaby for featuring me on her blog--a definite day brightener!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Seed of Intention

There is something wonderful about painting blue skies and green grass when it's below freezing outside! Sunday I headed over to the studio for five glorious hours of painting. 

While I have plenty of paintings to finish, I have some ideas in my head that won't let me sleep at night. So when I got to the studio, I started by mixing my black gesso with my white gesso...making--you guessed it, gray!

I got in the groove of prepping canvases, so I was ripping open canvases and applying gesso like crazy. Here's all my wrappers on the ground!


And here's a bunch of canvases ready to go!

I never intended for all of them to stay I've said before, painting involves many layers. I took two of these gray-gessoed canvases and started painting a spring scene. That blue sky--3 layers.


After working in the studio all afternoon, I was freezing cold! Normally it's quite warm in the studio, but with these temps it gets quite cold there--especially when the sun goes down.

I am still fighting a cold and couldn't work any longer. I wish I could paint in "fast forward" motion and complete my painting in minutes as it's appearing in my brain. I am hoping to work some evenings after work this week, but that didn't go so well last week.

But as another artist, Judy Wise, recently wrote in her blog, "It all starts with a seed of intention." 

I like that thought. I think that will be my inspiration this week.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

This year, I will....

Win the lottery? Doubt it, but a girl can always dream!


It's January 10th already and I still need to get serious about my "new year resolutions"...or maybe not--I haven't decided. I do think the beginning of the year is a good time to set goals, but I don't really like making resolutions for a whole year. For me, it's more about planning, but in shorter blocks of time. Setting quarterly goals is more like it. 

But in the spirit of fun, I found this site while reading this blog. Click on the "Gimme More" button and it will keep giving you answers to the question, "This Year, I Will..."

I couldn't stop clicking...and came up with these Top Ten:

1. Make a quilt.  I've always wanted to make a quilt. Maybe this will be the year! 

2. Move around.  Yup, definitely on the list.

3. Throw a costume party.  Maybe!

4. Be a better person.  I certainly hope so!

5. Talk more, tweet less.  Twitter has lost it's charm already.

6. Find the time.  Easier said than done!

7. Be on time.  Always important to me.

8. Be carefree.  I have my moments!

9. Be happy and healthy.  Moving to the top of the list!

10. Skip.  Maybe when the ice melts!

What's on your list?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Is it Friday yet?


After a two week break, I headed back to my day job (as a social worker) this week. It's fairly typical, after such a break, to feel completely overwhelmed with my job. Every day I come home feeling more tired and completely drained.  Sometimes it's hard listening to people's stories.  Trying to sort out how I can help make things better is the overwhelming part.

It's not helping that I'm starting to get a cold and even worse, that the temps here are hovering around zero (lower with windchill). The roads are a mess. I hate driving in the winter. It stresses me out. I can feel the tension in my body. Today there was a mini-storm. On my way to work I saw a big SUV that had hit an icy spot, went up on the median and knocked down a light pole. I am thankful to have make it home safely.

I had hoped to make it over to the studio one night this week, but I don't think it's happening. I am going to nurse this cold tonight. 

One more day of work and then I'll be ready for the weekend.

And my studio.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

From this to ...

Last time I posted a picture of this painting, this is what it looked like. Still not done. Well, I finished it this weekend and now it looks like this:


Not the best picture--I took it at the end of the day when the light was starting to fade. I'll post another picture soon. I didn't finish the whole series, but I'm getting there.

I couldn't help myself...this morning I had tons of painting energy and I started work on a painting that's been "in my head" for a while. It's actually 3 paintings that go together as one painting. Three 10x30 canvases. Here's a look at the start:


Alas, it's back to work tomorrow. My painting vacation is over!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Painting demons

I've been spending lots of time at the studio this week painting. I look forward to my vacation time when I can paint without having to schedule around work obligations. I dream about getting lots of work completed. It doesn't always go as smoothly as I imagine.

It's been a frustrating week--as far as how the painting has gone. Sometimes you have this picture in your head of how you want a painting to turn out and when you're working on it, things just don't go as plan. First, you have to deal with your own inner critic--you're biggest demon. Then sometimes you can get too caught up in wondering how other people will see your work. It can be a vicious circle.

Most days painting is a joy. But when I start struggling with that inner critic and unhappy with my work, I need to step back.

So Friday afternoon I just pulled out a few canvases and started throwing some paint on. I had no finish product in mind. My only intention was to lose myself in the joy of putting paint down and blending colors.

It was a success. I found my joy in painting again and quieted my own demons.

And the painting continues.