LoLa and Animal Attraction

Hi! I haven’t posted in a long time. This is not good. I will try to be better. Meanwhile, I have a couple events this week.

On September 19th and 20th, I will be at the LoLa, the Longfellow Art Crawl at Forage Modern Workshop for the third year in a row. I love Forage, and am excited for a fall LoLa. It goes from 10-5 both days.

I also have two pieces in an upcoming show at Gallery 427 in the Northrop King Building, Animal Attraction. It starts with a reception Friday, September 18th and will be open September 19th ,26th, and October 3 from noon to 4pm. The gallery is also open for “First Thursdays” on October 1 from 5 to 9 pm. Check it out!

This guy probably won’t show up, but you should!



“T” Time

This past weekend, a show at the Edina Art Center opened that I am proud to be included in. It is ten artists and our art based on the letter “T”. T for Toad – get it? I get a lot of visitors at art fairs calling them frogs, and that is OK. I don’t blame anyone for not knowing which is which. Either does this gal.



She’s a toad.

Come down between February 28th and April 1st 2015 and see this Showgirl, more new work by me and great work by other artists. I also recommend checking out the classes they have at the Art Center, and taking a walk around Lake Cornelia which is right outside. Some of the toads in my work were photographed out there. It is a very rich place for wildlife despite it’s relatively small size. I have found toads copulating there two different seasons. I know that sounds like something a crazy person would go looking for, but there you have it!


So, ahem, speaking of photography. I have had an older dSLR body just sitting around. It is my “back up” camera, but since I don’t bring my nicer camera with me except for planned outings and vacations, I thought why not make this my every day everywhere I can lose it in a snowbank and not feel too bad camera?

I just had one “problem.” No camera bag.

Well, OK; I have a few camera bags and even a couple purses that work really well AS camera bags. But I never had one small enough for one body and that does not scream “camera.” I looked for a bag and even found a couple that are remotely girly and cute, which the camera bag industry is slowly getting better at.

Alas, every purse-like camera bag was either too expensive, too frilly looking for me or made of “faux leather.” Ugh. I don’t know if I like any material less than fake leather. It feels so plastic to me. Probably because it is made of plastic. And these bags aren’t cheap! $200 and more for “leather” that will wear away to reveal little threads criss crossing about? $200 + for a bag that will creak and crack on a cold day like this? No thanks!

So I had no choice but to make one. I had a couple deer leather hides lying around from making thin wallets to sell on Etsy. I had the first sweater I knit from pure bulky wool. I felted the daylights out of the sweater and devised a more than simple pattern for the basic bag shape. Here a zipper, there some webbing; add two of the beautiful buttons (from the sweater) that I bought at Linden Yarn and Textiles for eyes, and viola!

Sometimes it’s good to be a hoarder. (Of craft supplies at least.) Behold my goofy snakey camera purse bag!


Next, to finish Husband’s sweater vest. Then I can get back to drawing!!






I have one huge problem with my “art career” and that is distractions. I love making things and I simply do not have time to make everything I want to. Colored pencils are only one part of the vast treasure trove of art and craft supplies I hoard in my basement. All winter long I knit. I have boxes of fabric, leather, acrylics, oil paints, and jewelry making supplies. We just moved to a house with a work bench in the basement. I can hardly wait to pull out my dremel and do some small wood and rock carving.

In fact, I get so distracted that I had originally begun this blog entry in May. Something must have grabbed my attention and. . . Then I got back to the post in September. Now, it’s February. Oops!

After my last art fair of the season, I typically let myself go on a break from colored pencil art. Usually by the time the Super Bowl comes around, I am ready to draw again.

This year I knit a Vikings sweater, learned how to spin yarn on a spindle, failed at some small wood carving and am now 90% finished with a sweater vest for my husband. I am finding it very hard to tear myself away from the fiber arts right now.

This is one of my projects, begun from loose fiber, made into yarn and then knit. These photos are the “singles” (one strand of spun fiber); the plied yarn and then finished fingerless gloves. The fibers are Jacob wool from Roving Acres on Etsy and Malabrigo Nube, a merino wool from Peru. So soft! The grey Jacob dulled down the colors of the Malabrigo really well, I think.

It is past Super Bowl weekend and so it is time. I have at least 4 drawings started and deadlines to hit. I am looking forward to participating in a gallery show at the Edina Art Center that opens February 28th, The Art of T. T for toads! Not every piece I am working on is toad related, but I hope to finish two drawings in time for this show. One is 90% finished and very large. The other is 8×8″ and more fun. I will post progress on these as I finish.

Then, after the toad drawings and the sweater vest, I will do my best to ignore the lure of the fiber arts (and the wool and dyes I bought) to work on a project that has been a long time coming and takes me somewhat back to my roots in reptile and amphibian art.

I have a great green tree python, Tikka. Her colors have changed to a brilliant green. I photographed her close up and have begun a drawing that blows her up to dragon size. I had to buy a piece of MDF to mount the paper on, as this will be the largest colored pencil drawing I have done so far. I am hoping to have it in time to submit to the MN State Fair Fine Art Show.

Here is how far I am, complete with Tikka and a 11×17″ print out as reference. Not very far. I am beyond excited to show the world how beautiful green tree pythons are up close and larger than life.






Thrivin’ Tadpoles

When I opened the box full of potential tadpoles from the pond supply company, I expected to already be a little disappointed. It was 80 degrees out and 5:00. The mail had to be sitting on the front steps for hours. Casualties were not a possibility, but a certainty.


What I found was a bag of awesome. I counted eight tiny swimming spermy critters sealed in a bag like an ill-fated goldfish. Obviously, they give you a couple of extras “in case.”
American Toads are extremely resilient creatures, but I didn’t expect a 100% survival rate. Nearly 2 weeks in to tadpole ownership, I really did not expect that.


My “taddies” as my daughter calls them, have exceeded expectations. They’ve already grown. They swim with the vigor of a sober Michael Phelps. Watching one wiggle it’s way through a lettuce leaf piece three times it’s size was hilarious.


Still, I am not sure how to make these guys into art. I mean they are TINY. Even the smaller adult toads I have drawn could be measured in inches. These guys not so much. Taking photos of them is quite difficult – they zoom around like little torpedoes. My camera lens is a notoriously good prosumer lens but it can’t dream of focusing fast enough.


Still, what a fun adventure! If these little guys do well, I may make toad raising a tradition. Their energy and the amazing transformation they will partake in is cause for celebration. When I do finally get to drawing one of them, I think it will be a very large drawing to convey just how great these little guys are.


taddie3 taddie1

Tadpole Songs

So one fateful day on the internet, I found a pond supply company selling Anaxyrus americanus tadpoles. That is, of course , American toad babies. They didn’t have any in stock in February when I found the link, but they had a fateful form. “Let me know when American toad tadpoles are in stock.”


I filled out that form and a week ago I got the call. (E-mail, really.) Six tadpoles for twelve dollars. I don’t know how one says “no” to that. Ten minutes after receiving that e-mail I had some baby toads on the way.


So here they are. We received eight little sperm-like critters in a plastic bag. We put them into our sadly empty aquarium. In true eat-anything toad fashion, they prefer lettuce as their main meal.  I am very encouraged that they are so far after 24 hours all still alive and seemingly thriving.


So this means I will hopefully have some tadpole/changeling/toadlet art in the near future. They are so incredibly tiny right now. they are also a great mystery. Unlike we humans who develop in secret, toads develop out in the open, for all to observe. I can’t wait to watch them become little toadies!



Cursed Art

Some pieces are cursed. It’s true. One thing goes wrong and it’s not great, but you survive. But then another and another problem arise and they will not stop popping up until the piece is “finished.”

It will never be perfect. It will never be as good as it should have, but it will be done. you can’t fight the curse, you just have to finish the piece no matter how frustrating. Or it will haunt you. The only way to be free is to finish the piece.


My latest work “High Rise” is cursed. It is nearly finished but I will never be happy with it. First, my model goldfish died. Sad, but understandable. Then weeks of work went down the drain as my substrate failed. OK I can live with that, even if it was the point I should have known it was cursed.

I struggled to finish this piece on time for the Colored Pencil Society of America’s International Exhibition. With the setback, I missed the date and entered two older pieces. I didn’t make it in.

It’s been sitting in my house staring at me. I had to finish it. So last night I picked it up and worked on it for a half hour or so. I put it down against the wall. Then I did what no one should do. I told it. I said “I hate you!” and turned it towards the wall.

There on the back was the largest HOUSE CENTIPEDE ever. Eew! I screamed. I ran. I flapped my arms around girl-ily like you do when you are strangely creeped out by a harmless yet terrifying thing. It was so close to me. It was on my lap! Eew. E-e-eew.

Thank God for my husband @AverageJer for disposing of it for me. If he hadn’t been there, I would have had to spray it with hair spray or throw water on it or some solution that both prevented me from coming in contact with the terrible creature as well as ruining the art.


A blurry photo of the nearly finished work.  I don’t want to ruin it, even if it is cursed.


A re-creation of the situation. Centipede photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons. Paper hearts courtesy of my daughter.



I know what you might be thinking. “Isn’t it a terrible marketing strategy to call a piece of art you are hoping to sell “Cursed”? Why yes, it is, I suppose. I do believe in fully telling the truth and in transparency. I also know other artists all have “cursed” works, and that many of them are hanging in homes right now.

I don’t think the curse extends beyond the work, however. The curse I am speaking of is on the maker, not the viewer. My many years as an artist and 10 years in custom framing have brought me close to a few cursed items. The final owner usually has no clue what a pain they possess. These items are kind of like great kids that come from awful pregnancies. Just like a pregnancy, once the bad stuff is over, some sort of art-parent instinct kicks in and you forget about the process. Soon you’re thinking about making another one.

My drawing kit

Spring break!!! It’s spring break and I’m on vacation in the spring break capital of the world – Breezy Point, MN. There’s a snowstorm coming (again) and we’ve already been to the pool today. Thank god for NCAA March madness and my drawing kit.

I don’t have a studio. I have a desk but it is too small for a big drawing and usually covered with all kinds of crafting leftovers. So I sit on the couch with my pencils and use a drawing board. One nice thing about all this is that I can take my drawing anywhere with minimal fuss.

I have two Global Arts 96 capacity pencil cases. I have velcroed them together. I don’t even try to fit 96 in each – I do two pencils per spot for the most part and for the 96 you are supposed to fit 3.


Here’s a closeup of one of the “pages.” it’s typical except for the blue Pablos – I  needed to bulk up a Blick order, so I ordered a bunch of random blue Pablo pencils. Note the 1″ long Luminance light blue – I keep pencils until I really can’t even try to use them any more.



In the back of my 2 Global Arts folios, I keep all the white, black and colorless pencils. My  other colors are 90% Luminance; 10% Pablos. Here I have some Caran d’Ache colorless blenders, Prisma colorless blenders, a couple Prismacolor Art Stix – Clear and white; some water soluble white pencils for last minute highlights and a  black pen just in case I need it.




Here are the accessories I shove in to the case or bring with in other places. A white eraser, a Kum double holed pencil sharpener (Kum brand from Germany has NEVER let me down), a piece of rubber eraser and one of the most amazing accidents I have come across.


I always like to have a razor blade handy in case I need to scrape away a detail or add a white highlight. Razor blades are dangerous – obviously. I was at a fair where I was helping kids make little magnets of acrylic paintings. We painted on 3 x 2.5″ pieces of paper, then affixed a business card magnet (available at Office Depot or Max) to the back.


I took some business card magnet scraps and put them into a piece of paper randomly.  I noticed my blade stuck in there safely and an invention was born. This little case not only secures my razor blade but also makes it hard to find for my kindergarten aged daughter. Mostly it makes the sharp blade safe from cutting my fingers off at any moment as I reach for something else inside my case.  I am never without my magnetic blade holder and the tool within.




Here’s a close look at my drawing showing some of those white scrapes. I am trying to strike a balance between detail and impression. It’s tough for someone as anal as myself! At least I can take some of the pressure off my drawing by being nuts about my pencil setup!