Monday, July 25, 2011

Banish Blank Pages With Solid Geometry Inspiration

Spaces With Stripes 1
In the beginning...
It is one thing to paint every day (which I do), but quite another thing to imagine that I might have a Great Inspiration every time I pick up a paintbrush.

Spaces With Stripes 2
Instead of gazing endlessly at a blank sheet of paper, I often pick up a pencil and begin with a doodle sparked by a memory of Solid Geometry which creates an opportunity to explore of light, intricate spaces, and color.  Solid Geometry was my only beloved area of mathematics, and I am never surprised that while filling in the spaces that I both learn and have fun. 

Spaces With Stripes 3
While starting with random spaces may not be an inspiration for plein air painters or artists who focus on pristine and precise  representational work, I find is useful for experimenting with new colors, papers, brushes and techniques. 

I learned this technique from Russ Dittmar, who also taught me how to coax brilliant colors out of watercolor when he suggested: "lots of pigment, not a lot of water." When I taught this to a group of young students at the R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury, MN, they jumped in with enthusiasm. Leaving no blank paper in their wake, they filled in the spaces and the space around the spaces.

Spaces With Stripes 1, 2 and 3 These three paintings took me through a "break" during July 2011 when I left the search for Great Inspiration to the rest of the world.  

Each Spaces With Stripes is painted on 7-3/4 x 7-3/4 inch Arches 140# hot press paper.  Each original: $200.  A signed and numbered limited edition matted print called Three-in-a-Row is $100.  (Matt size is 36x14 inches.) Find them all at the nanoscapes' website.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kitchen tools: a quick cure for blank canvas panic

Sushi Roosters

If you have run through your check list of artwork starters and blank canvas has induced inspiration-free panic, try looking at your kitchen tools for new beginning.

Full disclosure #1: I am a watercolorist who always travels with paints and paper. Even before the coffee, I am the early-rising house guest who will rifle through my host’s kitchen drawer for inspiration. I always find it.

Full disclosure #2: I know that there are purists who decry tracing as any sort of art activity, but in my constant search for interesting shapes and patterns, I will take my inspiration where I find it.

Potato Masher 1
Potato Masher 4
Kitchen tools come in wonderful shapes and all sorts of sizes. Use them to get past your empty-paper panic. 

Tomato Forks
Sterling Silver Cake Servers

I made the first potato masher painting at my sister Elaine's house, and I now have a world-class collection  which has inspired four Potato Masher paintings. Part of the engrossing challenge of these shapes is working out the connections between each ring and link, a theme that connects them to all of the nanoscapes' rings and links, which are hanging at FrameWorks Gallery in Saint Paul, MN until September 3, 2011.

Forest of Fondue Forks
The Sushi Roosters, which were tricky to trace and to paint, make me smile.  The cake servers were part of my 50th birthday celebration, and the Fondue Fork Forest forks belong to my cousin Theda. The Tomato Fork is my own.

While I make no claim to dictionary uniqueness -- someone else must do this, too -- I suspect that there are not many painters of Fondue Fork Forests, Tomato Forks, and Sterling Silver Cake Servers.

If kitchen tools don't inspire you, find a friend with a woodshop or wander around a hardware store. Great shapes are everywhere. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

31 Ears of corn: nanoscapes celebrate July

31 Ears of Corn for July
31 Ears of Corn for July  When I painted 31 pumpkins for October 2010, I didn't plan to keep up painting and posting an image-a-day for a year on Facebook, but here I am in July with 31 ears of corn painted on a piece of 22x33" Arches 140# paper.

Like all corn lovers, I haunt farmers' markets, looking for local sweet corn. Everyone knows that the best corn is the freshest corn and the fewest number of minutes between picking and cooking makes the best corn. Sadly, during this first week of July in Minnesota, the only corn to be found is from elsewhere. It will be here soon.

A 10-month review: pumpkins (October), leaves (November), Hanukah candles and snowflakes (December), lost left-handed gloves (January), missing socks (February), basketballs (March), raindrops (April), LLLamas (May), the whimsical creatures known as small friends (June), and corn (July).