Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chickens and a Pooch

I finally got some painting accomplished - under a deadline, naturally, but hey, whatever it takes.
This work, Zumbrota Chickens, is actually a design for a street banner  in Zumbrota this summer. The canvas is 12 x 24, but the banner size will be 22 x 28, so a bit will be cropped off the sides. I wanted to keep it simple, graphic and bright, so the image could be easily understoodfrom a distance and it would have fun  summer colors.  Zumbrota is kind of an artsy farming town, so chickens seemed appropriate, plus they are one of my favorite subjects.
Happy Dog at Picket Fence. This one looks better in real life than the photo, I think.  It is for the Artist-Poetry  exhibit at Crossings in April. My assigned poem was very straight-forward, an image of a happy dog inside a picket fence, just "Happy to be Hamlet."  As I stated in my artist notes, I chose this poem because I had recently acquired a puppy, Zinnie. (I didn't state that I am also taking  Mindfulness Meditation classes, so the theme is a fit in that way, too.)

 I have been wanting to try painting  something monochromatic, with subtle hints of color. This white-on-white-on-color is what I ended up with.  A big change from my usual exuberant colors, but it occurred to me that the colors are barely contained beneath the surface of the white, seeping out from under the edges, just as a puppy's exuberant energy is barely controlled by obedience training. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

LaFonda in the Snow

LaFonda in the Snow   50 x 40  acrylic on canvas
I got to paint today! The mega-upholstering project is on hold for a week, so I am going to paint my heart out until then.

One snowy morning last winter when I went out to feed the cows, I noticed that all you could really see of LaFonda (my milk cow) in the snowstorm was her dark spots and her very pink udder emerging from the white world.

I painted a little painting  (20 x 16) inspired by this image. It was in my  exhibit at Crossings last February and sold the first night, during the opening, to a woman from Los Angeles, so it went home with her that night and not many people got to see it. I have wanted to re-paint this idea ever since, but on a much larger scale.

Today I worked on version 2 of this painting, LaFonda in the Snow, on a 50 x 40 recycled canvas. I am not sure yet if it is is all the way there, but it's close. The  recycled canvas was a "sofa-sized original" mass produced in the 70's, so I didn't feel bad gessoing over it, and the canvas is good quality. I like when my paintings have layers beneath and this one had a great texture of paint to give me a head start. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Flight  36 x 12 Acrylic on Canvas
I missed two entire weeks of painting. So much for accomplishing 30 paintings in 30 days. Well, maybe I can still complete 30 paintings in 30 days, just not consecutive days. My big upholstery commission has superceded my painting this month, along with a few other important deadlines.

Last spring, I sketched out a fun soaring woman image last year for a proposal for a downtown skyway (in that sketch she was clothed), but then it turned out they didn't have Art in the Sky last year.  The idea kept resurfacing, however because lately I have been having flying dreams.  Periodically throughout my life, I have been blessed with the most exhilarating flying dreams.  Recently, I realized that I fly in my dreams when my waking life is most immersed in creating art. If flying dreams aren't a good impetus for painting, I don't know what is!

My deadline for the upholstery project is next weekend, and I will undoubtedly be sewing like a maniac until then. After that, I will be painting like a maniac--I am now committed to two exhibits in February and March.  I am eagerly anticipating some more night flights in the near future.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January Moonrise

January Moonrise   10 x 10 acrylic on canvas
Having a young puppy, I have been getting up very early most mornings to let her out (even if you are sound asleep, you don't want to ignore a puppy's signal when you are house-training her.)  
When you wake from a good dream, crawl out of a nice cozy bed and and put on robe, boots, coat, hat and mittens to take your dog out into the frigid cold to pee at 5 a.m, one unexpected pleasure is just being there, in the wee hours before dawn. it is beautiful, in a shivery way. 

This morning  a gigantic crescent moon was rising, having just cleared the pasture horizon of our neighbor's dairy farm. There was a slight golden light to the south that I assumed was the hazy glow from the city, but now that I think of it, might have been from their farm yard light--the neighbors were probably already up miking.

This little painting is so simple, it almost feels like cheating, but sometimes less is more.  It was fun painting on a such a tiny canvas with my big fat #18 brush. Just a few strokes and it was done!  Maybe I have invented my own style of sumi painting. Make that Suemi painting.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jitterbug in the Snow

Jitterbug in the Snow   11 x 14 acrylic on canvas
My little black Dexter heifer, Jitterbug, usually looks like a silhouette out in the pasture, except when there has been a dusting of snow.   Then she reminds me of a gingerbread cutout cookie dusted with confectioners sugar.

I think this painting manages to be sort of abstract and realistic at the same time.

I can't believe I am actually on track so far - 6 paintings in 6 days.  I have a humongous  project with a deadline demanding my attention, so we'll see if I can still eek out a painting a day.  It is quite inspiring to see what all the other artists are doing -- such a broad range of approaches and subjects. I have identified a few favorite artists now that I  can't wait each day to see what they have done.  Check out the work of all the participants in the  30-Paintings in 30-Days challenge at  Leslie Saeta's blog

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Golden Girl

Golden Girl   16 x 20  acrylic on canvas
When my favorite paint colors are running low,  this hoarder part of me  comes out. I get very stingy using them; I  cannot bear the thought of being without them.

Well, I am very low on most of my go-to paints, so I set myself a little challenge to use  colors I do not ordinarily reach for and for which I had full tubes:  darylide yellow, vivid lime green, prussian blue, quinacridone magenta, along with titanium white and payne's gray.  I wondered if you could paint a figure with those green, blue and yellow colors and not have it look creepy.

So here is a little quick sketchy painting using those colors.  A bit rough, but not too creepy.
My new paint order should arrive tomorrow or Tuesday- whew!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Gardener    16 x 20 acrylic on canvas
Today's painting is a quick gestural sketch of a woman gardening.  It happened  kind of by accident last night when I was cleaning up my painting area, and I'll take it because I have to tackle my mega-upholstery project today.

Sometimes facing a blank canvas is the hardest part about paining, getting started. So, I have  developed a little technique that gets me past that obstacle - I paint the entire canvas in a color.  I like when colors emerge from underneath, glowing around the edges. They also subtly contribute to the mood of the painting. 

My  "studio"is just a corner of my office, in a former porch of our old farmhouse.  So much happens in this small room, it is usually a disaster area of computer/books/photography/sewing/art projects.  While I was cleaning up I thought, hey, I will just paint color on a few canvases to have a headstart on the next few paintings.  Then, as long as I had wet paint on my palette, I  started doodling on a canvas and suddenly this painting emerged. Most of my paintings start out like this, but then I keep working them because they seem so raw. Nevertheless, I like the bold brushstrokes and juicy paint. So, this time, I am stopping here. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Two Guinea Hens

Two Guinea Hens    20 x 16, acrylic on canvas
Yesterday I had a guinea hen incident (they are such oblivious birds!)  and it reminded me that I have been intending to paint them.  They have such fantastic polka-dotted feathers, and I thought it would be fun to paint something   bold and contrasty and graphic.

This painting came out a bit more humorous and cartoonish than i intended, but then they are such crazy, cartoonish birds. Maybe next time I will strive for elegant guineas--now that will be a challenge!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Barns and Coop in Winter

Outbuildings in Winter    12 x 12 Acrylic on Canvas
When we first moved to our little farm, my husband remarked "I see a lot of sweet paintings of farm buildings coming up."  Well, that was over 4 years ago and this is my first painting of the farm buildings! My paintings got distracted by the farm critters. (He is an architect and I am the livestock person, after all.)

These are three of the eight structures of Squash Blossom Farm. I truly love how our barn, loafing shed and coop form one half of a little courtyard on our farm and the garage and house enclose the other two sides. And after living with the vivid red outbuildings in the comparatively colorless winter, I would never want them to be any other color.

Landscape painting, particularly of buildings, is not really my forte'.  I don't know if I am even capable of painting straight, square lines, let alone want to. Crookedly lines and crazy angles seem to have much more character to me (good thing Rog is the architect of the family, not me!) But I managed to get this straight enough that maybe the crookedy parts convey the century-old settling of the buildings.

This painting is 12 inches square - pretty small for me.  If I am going to paint this miniature, I am going to have to invest in some smaller brushes- it's hard to get much detail with #12  bristle flats! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

30 Paintings in 30 days?!

"Something Has Come Between Us"     24 x 24 Acrylic on canvas
Late last night after starting this blog, I went to bed and despite being exhausted lay awake for hours.  Partly my brain was racing, thinking about painting and New Years resolutions and upcoming farm projects, but also my shoulder hurt (my old manure shoveling injury) and I couldn't get comfortable, I was hot, I was cold, and I was claustrophobic.  When I came to bed, our rapidly-getting-big puppy, Zinnie, was sleeping next to Rog and they say you should let sleeping dogs lie... so I let her stay on the bed. Before long, our huge black cat Poet also came in and stretched across the top of our pillows, purring.  We need a bigger bed!

I considered whether I should commit to the 30-paintings-in-30-days challenge.  Ordinarily I would not hesitate but I have several overly-ambitious projects lined up for January. On the other hand, I always work better with a deadline, even better with multiple deadlines.

Ultimately, I decided I would do it, with several caveats:
a) only if I managed to create a painting this morning and get off to a strong start,
b) I will not stress about creating a daily masterpiece,
c) the goal will be painting for fun, and
d) it will be an opportunity to experiment with new paint mediums (watercolor or gouache?), substrates (paint a floorcloth? my boots?),  styles (abstract?) and  sizes (maybe I will paint miniature sometimes!)

This will be good for me because I intend to write a little about each daily piece, and usually I find it very difficult to speak about my art.  Also, the paintings will be for sale and maybe being connected to the 30 paintings  project will find me some new patrons.  This year is my opportunity to attempt to make a livable income from my art because  I won't have to milk a cow this summer and my daughter is taking over the CSA garden. I will have much more time to focus on making art and marketing it. I hope, hope, hope I can accomplish that or I will have to get an ordinary, real-world job to support my farming habit!

Finally, although I am telling myself I will not be ashamed if I do not succeed at completing 30 paintings, having this goal be so public will spur me on, and the other participating artists will inspire me.

Here is painting number one:  "Something Has Come Between Us," acrylic on gallery-deep canvas, 24 x 24.  Painting it this morning was a joy. Based on a true story. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Girl With A Snowball

Since blogging is so much more immediate and personal than maintaining a website,  I am launching this blog to journal my art this year.

I had just set myself a very realistic goal of completing 2 paintings a week in 2013, when my artist friend Leslie posted about  participating in a 30-paintings-in-30-days challenge.  I guess I am more competitive than I imagined--instantly I wanted to accept the challenge too!

Well, this challenge begins tomorrow, so I will sleep on it tonight before committing. It will be tough to accomplish a painting a day this January: I have a huge artsy upholstery project (pieced cushions for  three sofas and 30 chairs),  a book sculpture for the library fundraiser and a presentation to plan all in the next few weeks. Not to mention chores.   On the other hand, I might need a daily break from the sewing machine!

Girl With a Snowball. This is the acrylic on canvas painting I finished last week for the figure exhibit at Crossings this month, the opening is next Friday.  A bit crazy that she is wearing a union suit and barefoot with a snowball, but that just adds to her determination. The painting is 12 x 36 - I like this canvas format, filling it with a figure.