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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

We survived the winter! It was one of the coldest I can remember, and hard to live with the seemingly never-ending subzero temps. In March, my husband and I enjoyed a reprieve — we went on a road-trip through Missouri, where we enjoyed a visit with family, and then to Florida, where we stayed with gracious friends and enjoyed the warmth of sun and sand. It was -30 the morning we left, and in the 70’s in Florida — over 100 degrees warmer! On the way home we went through New Orleans, spending a tourist day in the French Quarter. I’ll post a couple glimpses of our trip:

 

A scene at the beach we visited (several times)

A scene at the beach we visited (several times)

One of MANY birds we saw -- especially pelicans.

One of MANY birds we saw — especially pelicans.

One view from our day in New Orleans.

One view from our day in New Orleans.

We were welcomed home with 10 inches of new snow — but it has since melted, and we are hopeful that spring is truly here.

Art busy-ness started right in — hanging new shows at the RavenRock Gallery, entering the annual Hawley open judged show [I won a 2nd place!] and preparing for the annual Artists of Minnesota show, coming up in May. I also had a dog portrait commission to work on, which I completed this week. Here is a look at the finished painting:

Alaskan Malamute "Charlie"

Alaskan Malamute “Charlie”

I’ve been reading up and researching metal sculpture techniques. This year I plan to learn to work with copper, aluminum, stainless steel, bronze, and other metals in addition to the steel I already work with. I received a grant to help me with this goal. Should be fun [and lots of work, too]. I am excited to see what I can learn, and create this year.

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Hard to believe it is 2014! It is starting out as the old year ended — bitterly cold. We had around minus 36 this morning, and that is not wind chill, just the actual temp. So glad I have a house to keep me warm — how the pioneers and Native Americans lived here in ‘the old days’ is hard to conceive of.

Well, we are sure to have some warmer days and good times ahead. I like to look back at summer pictures about this time, and some of my paintings of fall — which I think is my favorite season, because the colors have so much energy! I’ll post a few of my “Autumn Glory” series.

"Color and Sunshine" 10"x10"Acrylic on canvas

“Color and Sunshine”
10″x10″Acrylic on canvas

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“Reds I” 9″x12″ Acrylic on canvas

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“Look Up!” 16″x 20″Acrylic on canvas

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“Glory Days” 12″x16″ Acrylic on canvas

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“Fall Birches” 10″x10″Acrylic on canvas

These were all painted in what I consider a ‘backwards’ technique: I start with the lightest color, which I paint over  the whole canvas except the areas I know will be tree trunks or branches. I then layer on more colors to create the sunlit leaves. Next are the tree trunks/branches. Then most of the mid-size and smaller branches. Finally I add the sky, which is what gives form and dimension to the leaves, and perhaps a few tiny twigs. This is the total opposite of my usual method of painting the background first, and then giving attention to the subject. It is actually quite fun to do things in a different way once in a while, and it helps me loosen up on these landscape subjects, which really don’t need to be photo perfect. It is the mood and the energy of the season that I’m trying to convey. Every one of these paintings were based on trees in my own yard. I am so fortunate to live in a beautiful place!

Hope your year is off to a good start!

 

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Summer is always a busy time in Minnesota. Since it is so short, we have to squeeze a lot of busy-ness into it! This summer is no exception. We have put many hours into finishing up the kitchen project, and we are almost done. Just have to install the kitchen bar on the back of the center island, and hook up the dishwasher. Here is a peek at the project that has kept us busy for so long.

Our new kitchen island, with cupboards and stove beyond it.

We had to take some time to put a steel roof on the shop — the shingle roof was leaking, and since we were getting a lot of rain, we had to get that taken care of right away!  I have been out in the shop working on a commission of two steel benches, which I will post when I get them put together. I am still cutting the designs into the pieces, then I will be able to start construction.

Tomorrow my art critique group, Studio 10, will be hanging an exhibit at Dunn Brothers in Bemidji. If you are in town on Friday, we will have an opening reception from 2-4 pm. The exhibit will be up for the whole month of July. Then on Tuesday I will be helping install the “We all Love Paul” exhibit at Neilson Place, which is in celebration of the 75th birthday of Paul Bunyan as an icon in the town of Bemidji. Should be a fun exhibit, with art and photos from many artists. The opening reception for that one is also on Friday, from 3-4:30 pm. This exhibit will be available for viewing through October.  Here is a look at my entry in the exhibit: “Paul and Babe, the Early Days”

“Paul and Babe, the Early Days” Acrylic/Mixed-media on canvas, 24″x18″

The hot weather has arrived along with the beginning of July. We won’t complain too much since so many are dealing with such difficult problems — flooding in Duluth, wind damage out east, and huge fires  out west. Hope all that gets resolved soon.

We had a cute visitor in our backyard the other night — I will share a picture!

Evening visitor in the backyard. Mom and twin were there too, but they stayed back in the brush. This little guy came out on the lawn where we could get a good look at him. 🙂

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Hey — where did April go?! I guess it flew by while I was doing all the things on my list! I was happy to complete two new works for the Artists of Minnesota annual show — got them done just in time to send them off with my art buddies to the show, while I had a once in a lifetime trip with my family to Costa Rica. (more about that below)  I was thrilled to get back and learn that I had won First Place in the Super Gold division with my painting “Heading Home”. Always nice to get some kudos when you have poured your heart and emotion into a painting, to know that it speaks to those who see it.

“Heading Home” Acrylic/mixed media on canvas, 30″x40″

It was based on a photo I took a couple years ago while canoeing behind my house. I started it with a collaged map in the background, and worked on getting the group of swans in place, then finished with some metal leaf and ink sketching.

The other piece I did was inspired by a shot taken on my trip to Alaska last summer, titled “Watching”. That one was fun to work on because I started it with ‘flinging paint’ — which is very unlike my usual working style, but a great way to loosen up and let things happen.

“Watching” Acrylic/mixed media on canvas, 20″x16″

While working on the paintings I was also busy with our kitchen remodel, varnishing the doors and drawers, etc. which are now installed and in use — hurray! We had our countertops installed as well, so it is starting to really look like a kitchen. This last week I finished grouting on the tile portion of the backsplash and just yesterday did dishes in the new sink for the first time. I also prepared sketches for a commission I’ll be working on, and sent in a proposal for an ‘art call’ here in town. Never a dull moment in April.

After all that, it was delightful to spend 9 days with my hubby, all my sisters and husbands, my niece and her husband and baby — visiting,  enjoying the warm Pacific beaches, horseback riding, swimming, fishing, etc. Wonderful trip for all of us, just what we needed to refresh and ready ourselves for whatever comes next.  🙂   Here is a shot of one of the sunsets on the beach.

Sunset in Costa Rica

Now it is back to real life, so thinking about my next projects, some deadlines, some shows to enter, the garden to plant ….  and on it goes.

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So quickly we slipped into Fall! The colors are peaking here as I write this, and the weather has been beautiful. I have been busy in the studio, Painting, Teaching and Cleaning for the Studio Cruise, which is coming soon!  I finished my raccoon painting, which I will soon put into a step-by-step slideshow for you to enjoy. Here is a quick snapshot of it:

"Mischief Maker" Acrylic Mixed Media on Canvas 24"x24"

I have been teaching a drawing course at the Bemidji Boys and Girls club — we had our fourth session today.  It is fun to work with the kids and see them apply the lessons in their art. We hope to have an exhibit of some of their pieces at the end of the course. Next week we have off, as I will be in Wisconsin taking a Watercolor Workshop from Karlyn Holman. I am looking forward to the challenges she will present us with!

Last weekend my husband and I went over to the North Shore and visited the Split Rock Lighthouse. We had a wonderful day for it, and I took lots of pictures! I’ll share a couple here.

The Lighthouse from the Lake Superior shore.

View from the top by the Lighthouse, facing Northeast.

I also had some photo ops right in my own backyard — there were some swans on the lake, and I went down to get some pictures before they flew off. They always seem a bit shy about sticking around to have their pictures taken.

Swans on Lake Flora

Tomorrow I will be back in the studio, starting another painting, and maybe slipping out to the welding shop as well. So much to do, so little time to get it done!

Here is one final picture, my son Chris and his bride, Laura, on their wedding day. They are such a great match for each other.  I sure miss having them around to visit with, now that they have moved to Oregon!  I hope to share pictures from a visit out there one of these days.

Chris and Laura -- Wedding day at Gooseberry Falls State Park

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A Glimpse of Mount McKinley -- aka Denali

Here we are at the close of summer, and what a summer it was! After the exhibit in June, I went on a wonderful trip with my 3 sisters, and 2 brothers-in-law to the land of the midnight sun — Alaska! It was a wonderful trip in every way. We flew to Anchorage, and rented a vehicle, then drove over 1700 miles seeing and experiencing the beautiful northland. Highlights included Denali Park, Chena Riverboat cruise, hiking on the Matanuska glacier, viewing whales and other wildlife on Resurrection Bay, and beachcombing on the Homer Spit.

Caribou seen in Denali Park

Fireweed patch

The Matanuska Glacier

Breaching Whale

The second big event of our summer was the wedding of our youngest son. He and his bride chose to have their ceremony on the shore of Lake Superior at Gooseberry Falls State Park. It was a beautiful day, and two beautiful people committed themselves to each other in the presence of friends and family.  My other kids came from here and there, so we had a brief time of being all together before they all headed out their places around the country.

View from the wedding site.

Now it is back to work! Back to Art, back to kitchen remodel, back to teaching!

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It was another educational and enjoyable show over the last weekend, at Ruttger’s  Sugar Lake Lodge near Grand Rapids, MN. We had the inspiring art to look at all weekend, painting demos to watch, and the chance to spend time with friends and catch up with those we haven’t seen for a long time. Here I am with my two entries:

"Gentle Touch" on the left, and "Follow the Leader" on the right.

As I thought, the weather decided to turn and we had cold, wind, and 6 inches of snow while we were there. We didn’t mind too much, as we had the nice lodge to enjoy during the day, and our cabin had a fireplace to enjoy at night.

Snow outside our cabin.

My friends Pat, Ron, and Dee won awards, so we celebrated that, and also the selection of my friend Terry as the next president of our organization! Doug and Joan were celebrating their anniversary while we were there as well. A couple days of good food, good friends, and good art to refresh us for the days ahead.

"Time Traveler" my mini for the show.

I saw an eagle on my way to town the other day, and stopped to get his picture. He (like usual) didn’t like it and flew away, but I did get one shot in before he left.

Eagle along the road to town.

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