Thursday, December 30, 2010

Philodendron 3: Faster than gardening; slower than fingerpainting

December 27
December 29

Faster than gardening, slower than finger painting, making watercolors with Painstaking Exuberance shows progress: One step at a time, one shape at a time.

I find myself at the "fool my eye" stage of nano creation, where I look at the painting and begin to say "I am almost finished." Not really. I have to work out exactly how to finish the four big blocks, and then go back and outline each individual shape.

100 Buttons
I remember this stage when I worked on "100 Buttons."  When thought that I was nearly done, I counted the buttons and discovered that there were more than 100 of them, and that I wasn't even half finished. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Philodendron 3: a nanoscape jumping off the paintbrush

While immersed in painting a nanoscape  with Painstaking Exuberance, sometimes the slow "painstaking" part is front and center. Yesterday, exuberance took over for seven hours, and I made a lot of progress on Philodendron 3.
Philodendron 3 - Dec. 27
My favorite shape

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Philodendron 3: Painstaking progress on a big nanoscape

December 25
Sometimes I envy my friends who do plein air work, who strive to capture a moment in the outdoors, and complete the work in a short time. When they finish the painting in a day, I think that it must be like the "Whoosh!!!" of riding a roller coaster.

Painstaking Exuberance is the opposite of the Roller-Coaster "Whoosh!" Each piece -- really, each shape -- begins very slowly. Sometimes I fall into a rhythm, and sometimes that rhythm gains some speed. Not roller coaster speed, though. I do smile when I stop and find the first patterns emerging, and later find more intricate patterns and movement in colors and shapes. I am almost always surprised.

December 2
I wish that I could say that there is a plan for every nanoscape. I start with an idea, an inspiration, a jumping off point, or a shape that interests me, but unlike my friends who look at a mountain and paint the mountain, nanoscapes come from somewhere else. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Philodendron 3: A big nanoscape

Philo #3

Up close
Philodendron 3 will be the first big nanoscape of 2011.  I began the drawing a few weeks ago, and got quite serious during the past four days.  Following the rules of Painstaking Exuberance, I finished the pencil drawing, and have been working the Davy's Gray outlines for 17 hours during the past two days. Although I went to sleep with an aching right hand, I also went to sleep with a big smile. I am a day away from begin to add color, and can't wait.

Charles Burchfield: 50 years of watercolor

Midsummer in the Alleghenies
Charles Burchfield painted for more than 50 years. He was primarily a watercolorist, and, knowing that, I wish that I knew that I had 45 more years to paint.

Midsummer in the Alleghenies (1955) is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is one of my favorites because it transports me to a place that isn't quite real. Note that it is not on display at the museum, but through the magic of on-line catalogs we can all see it all the time.

See more of Burchfield's work at the Artcylopedia, which, I promise will take you into the Burchfield rip in the space-time continuum where you will find amazing paintings and erudite commentary on his style and vision.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gloves Gloves and More Gloves

What inspires me?  Even before 17 inches of snow fell on my balcony last weekend, I knew that my next Post Card Project would be The 31 Lost Left Gloves of January. This won't surprise my FB friends on whom I have inflicted the 31 Pumpkins of October, the 30 Leaves of November, the 8 Hanukah Candles, and the 23 Snowflakes for the Rest of December.

Many people have theories about lost gloves, socks (wait for it -- they are coming in February), pen tops, and paper clips, and there is a dissertation on the space-time continuum in there somewhere. My issue with gloves is less about my losing them and more about Phil-the-Cat who controls them under the Well-Established Cat Principle, "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine."

Phil at rest (not often)
First 12 gloves

Here is a first look at the gloves, which I created with a Photoshop horizontal flip of a free clip art glove.  I will have traced and painted 31 very small left hand gloves, some of which may be inspirations for knitters.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hanukah Candles and Snowflakes

The 8 Candles of Hanukah
Everyone should learn something new every day, and these December projects have kept me on track.

After trying several approaches to the 8 Candles of Hanukah, I decided to paint a menorah and then paint a new candle for each night.  After I published the first one, a friend pointed out that I had started the candles on the left and not on the right. Ooops.

Photoshop to the rescue with "Flip Horizontal." A miracle.

Snowflakes 1 through 6
After the 8 Candles of Hanukah, and before the Minnesota Blizzard, I decided to paint 23 Snowflakes for the rest of December.  Unable to locate my collection of snowflake cookie cutters, I looked carefully at the wonderful Little Book of Snowflakes by Kenneth Libbrecht.  He used a photo-microscope, and you can see every part of these beautiful crystals, including their flaws.  We are deceived by commercial snowflake designs into believing that they are always symmetrical. Not so.

I photocopied some of the flakes into Photoshop, sized and adjusted them, cut them out, and traced the shapes onto watercolor paper.  About half are in the Blue Snowflake Family, which is the traditional way in which people look at snowflakes which aren't shiny white.  The others are true nanoscapes snowflakes and celebrate all color, pattern, and more color.

Upcoming:  The 31 Lost Gloves of January, and a a series of nanoscapes-of-the-states that I have visited with Pass the Baton.  First two up: Nebraska's Farm Fields and Iowa's Silos.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rivers #1 - last day and inspiration

Rivers #1 - December 2, 2010
8:30 a.m.  I have just one more thing to do with this painting -- paint the outside border -- which I will do later today.

After that, I will take it for a professional digital photograph.  My Palm PRE phone's camera has its limitations, and I know them all.

Part of two doors
Painted "tile"
8:40 a.m.  An ah! ha! moment.  This painting has always reminded me of tile work, which I won't consider because it requires safety glasses.  It is, however, closely related to a painting that I made on two 8-foot closet doors ten years ago. After two coats of primer, the first panel took 18 hours (I was on vacation), and the second took about three weeks. I used acrylic paints and a 1/2" nylon brush. Looks like tile to me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

nanoscapes' Announces new Free Shipping policy on Cyber Monday

nanoscapes' contributions to Cyber Monday are a new free shipping policy and a new Gift Certificate offer.

I hope that your holiday weekend was loaded with good food, family and friends, and an appropriate amount of rest and relaxation.

FREE SHIPPING  In the spirit of Cyber Monday, I am announcing a new nanoscape policy -- free shipping for all cards and unframed matted prints.  For the very limited number of framed original nanoscapes, and insurance and shipping charges will be appropriate for the size of the work and at the nanoscapes' cost.

GIFT CERTIFICATES  Giving the gift of a nanoscape is easy: click on the GIFT CERTIFICATE tab and use the always-safe-and-secure PayPal button.  Also included in the gift is an invitation for your recipient to have a nanoscapes Q&A with me.  I will be delighted to talk about the nanoscapes creative process and the inspiration and techniques used to create their cards and paintings.

UPDATE #1  My Facebook Friends have followed the 31 Pumpkins of October and the 30 Leaves of November.  The Pumpkins were created to give me the working parts for entries to 2011 Pumpkin Festival Contests which have deadlines in the spring when I won't want to paint new pumpkins. The Leaves were inspired by my Pass the Baton "Alternative Careers" and "Professionalism Has Attached" travels to 17 law schools in 10 states when I chased fall colors until I caught up to them in Connecticut.

UPDATE #2  I invite you to follow the progress of Rivers #1, the newest nano-in-progress on the nanoscapes blog.

UPDATE #3   Sometime in January, I will hang a nano show at the beautiful library in Woodbury -- the one with the jungle-like atrium.  There is an extraordinary amount of space there and this will be the largest nano show ever.  I am still amazed that this part of my adventure began in 2006, which seems like just a minute ago.  As soon as I arrange the date, I will let you know.

Thank you for your encouragement and support.


The 30 Leaves of November - the slide show

Leaf #29
Making these leaves was a pure unalloyed pleasure.

All of the leaves were painted onto 140# Daler-Rowney The Langton Not (cold pressed) grain fin paper. It is a rough-textured watercolor paper, the opposite of the hot-pressed smooth papers that I usually use.  You can see the texture of the paper in some of the leaves.

Here is the link to the 30 Leaves of November 2010 slide show.  None of these leaves are for sale.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rivers #1 -

Rivers #1 - November 26
With just a few of the lines painted in with Daniel Smith Imperial Purple, this is beginning to look like the painting that I had in mind when I began.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rivers #1 - ready for the next step

Except for the two white circles, all of the spaces have their colors, making Rivers #1 ready for the next step in the Painstaking Exuberance of a nanoscapes' creation.

Painting all the lines which distinguish one shape and one line from another is the step that brings a nanoscape to life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rivers #1 - progress in two days

Rivers #1 - 11/21/10 p.m.

When painting these spaces I think of the patience and perfection demonstrated by tile cutters who make pieces for mosaics.

I have written before that Chronological Enrichment has given me the wisdom to abandon any idea of taking up projects requiring safety glasses and safety mits, but there are times when I really would have liked to have played with shaping ceramic and glass bits. However, in addition to the safety impediment, manipulating glass or beads in a home studio requires creating a cat-free zone, which in my case is not a workable concept.

Rivers #1 also reminds me of the magical and beautiful work done by weavers, who take yarns, strings, and threads to make the warp and weft of fabric and then go on to  create two and three dimensional multi-colored works. I am in awe.
Rivers #1 - 11/22/10 p.m.

This  piece is now in an intermediate stage of nanoscape, where the interplay of light and dark in the lines changes the work every day. I know that it will change radically in the next stage of nanoscapes' Painstaking Exuberance, when I paint the lines between each of the individual shapes. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The 30 Leaves of November 2010 - Leaves 1 to 16

Leaves #1 to #16

The first 16 of the 30 Leaves of November are a tiny window into nanoscapes' explorations of small spaces and bright colors.  I have posted these daily to Facebook.

I made this image with Photoshop C4, which is magic.  Not Harry Potter's wand, but magic, nonetheless.

Rivers #1 - imagining the next one

Rivers #1 - 11/21/1

Rivers #1 is 12x16 inches, and I am doing my best to use as many colors as I can, both named colors and colors mixed on the palette.

After painting for seven glorious hours yesterday, I propped it up on an easel against a 22x33 work-in-progress.  I didn't need to close my eyes to begin to see a much, much larger "Rivers."

It will be a while, though. Painstaking Exuberance requires painting in and outlining all of the spaces, and then painting around the whole piece.  Each step is pure pleasure.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rivers #1 - a new nanoscape

Rivers #1 -in progress
Rivers #1 traveled on the last of the 2010 Pass the Baton Alternative Careers trips - 4 days, 4 programs, 4 law schools in Chicagoland (Valparaiso, Loyola, DePaul and John Marshall).  Rivers #1 is painted on a  12x16" Arches 140# hot pressed paper watercolor block, the largest size that a frequent flyer and compulsive artist can carry onto an airplane.

The inspirations for this piece are (1) my need to work with dense colors and intricate patterns and (2)  a brick building in St. Paul with circular-separately-patterned-brick insets. As so often happens, I said "I can do that."

The Rivers patterns reminds me of some very early nanoscapes, made when I was finding my way with tiny paintbrushes on post cards and small irregular cuts of watercolor paper such as Bead Curtain, a 5x8" nano from 2006.

Jason Najarak's Amazing Mural: watch the timelapse video

Fog Swans
Jason Najarak, Founder of the School of Primal Realism, is one of my treasured mentors, and we are all lucky to be able to watch him create a mural for The Guild, Inc., an organization that supports integrated services for the mentally ill.

Fog Swans, at left, is one of my favorites of Jason's paintings. Part of his genius is that he can create magical spaces and magical creatures that appear real.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Still Point Gallery: Selections from 2010 Exhibitions

100 Buttons
With 100 Buttons published in the Still Point Gallery: Selections from 2010 Exhibitions, I am now "pictured" in the dictionary under "grinning from ear to ear." I am eternally grateful to Christine Cote, director, curator and creative genius behind Still Point Gallery.

Unlike many nanoscapes which are part of nano families, 100 Buttons is an orphan.  Its inspiration was a black and white line drawing in an ad for a Manolo Blahnik shoe that was loaded with thread-covered buttons.  My Manolo knowledge was limited to having seen the full run of Sex and the City. I've not worn heels since 1982, when I had a slipped disc.

The ad sat on my work table for a while until I said "I can do that." Using my collection of French and American coins, I traced lots of shapes -- more than 100, as I learned later. Working with nanoscapes' Painstaking Exuberance, I painted over the pencil with Winsor Newton Davy's Gray, painted each shape multiple times until I achieved the right color, painted line-by-line the "threads" that covered each of the buttons, painted around each shape, and finally painted around the whole piece.

Somewhere in the middle of this engrossing activity, I counted the remaining buttons, and learned to my surprise that having finished with 45, that there were a lot more to go. This painting is the purest expression of Painstaking Exuberance: line-by-line, shape-by-shape with lots of pigment and not a lot of water.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The 31 Pumpkins of October: 23 to 31

Pumpkin 24
The last of the 2010 Pumpkins...

If you are a Facebook friend, you know that I finished the 31 Pumpkins of October and moved on to the 30 Leaves of November.  Although there are still Farmers Markets going strong, here is the last of my 2010 Pumpkin Harvest.

Pumpkin 23
It was interesting to explore the World of Orange, a color which does not, as a rule, exist in my world. While it appears to be a one-a-day project, on some long days I grew half a dozen. Through the magic of Photoshop, I will be able to use these images to create 2011 Pumpkin Festival Poster Contest entries.  It makes perfect sense, because those contests have entry dates in March and April, and I know that I will have absolutely no interest in painting pumpkins in the spring.

None of you will be surprised to know that there is a bumper crop beyond the 31.  Ten hand-painted post cards are for sale -- first come, first served, with no preview for $6.00 each, including postage.  Checks only. No credit cards or PayPal. Send email to with "Pumpkin Post Cards" in the subject line.

Pumpkin 25

Pumpkin 26

Pumpkin 27

Pumpkin 29

Pumpkin 30

Pumpkin 31

Pumpkin 28

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The "Torn Paper" Family is now the "Philodendron" Family

Purple Philo Post Card
Fond as I was of the two small "Torn Paper" post cards that I painted a few weeks ago, their name never quite fit. I thought for a time that they were inspired by Hawaiian Applique Quilts, and research -- actual research -- proved me wrong.

Huzzah! While on a four-day-three-school Pass the Baton Alternative Careers trip to Florida, I realized that the true inspiration for these paintings are Philodendron leaves.  Small ones. Large ones. Really large ones like the ones in the Conservatory at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Those are worth the trip. I was speechless and confused when I first saw five-and-seven-foot leaves, but a helpful Conservatory horticulturist explained that the plant in my living room would look like this if it were to live for 100 years in a greenhouse or a jungle. 

Orange Philo Post Card
Philodendron #1 (below) traveled with me to Florida where I spoke on Alternative Careers at Ave Maria School of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law, and Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law.  A grand shout-out to the excellent and gracious career services staff at each school! 

NOTE TO TRAVELERS:   Flying Delta to Ft. Myers, Jacksonville and Orlando meant four days in Florida and four hours in Atlanta, because I had to fly back to Atlanta to make each of these Florida connections.
Philodendron #1 -- in progress
Created with nanoscapes' Painstaking Exuberance, Philodendron #1 is nearly finished, and this 12x16 watercolor will be for sale on the nanoscapes website on October 31. Original: $400.

A 22x33 Philodendron is in progress.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The 31 Pumpkins of October: Marching Pumpkins 7 to 22

 Some march to their own drummer -- and not in order.

Pumpkin #7
Pumpkin #8

Pumpkin #9
Pumpkin #10

Pumpkin #11
Pumpkin #12
Pumpkin #13
Pumpkin #14

Pumpkin #15

Pumpkin #16

Pumpkin #17

Pumpkin #18
Pumpkin #19

Pumpkin #20
Pumpkin 21

Pumpkin 22