Art-A-Day wrap up for 2013

I blinked and 2013 was gone.

As 2013 drew to a close my life became increasingly busy. Seasonal activities included the annual production of my holiday card design. I produce about 100 cards by hand each year. I usually cut a block to print in a key color and then hand color with watercolor. A pair of cedar waxwings proved to be a challenge in the watercoloring step. Those birds are very colorful. You can see the result — the last image in the set below.

Art-a-day really slowed down after Thanksgiving because of the cardmaking and school semester wrap up. Even so, I have a fair amount I did since the last post. You can see the images below. Click on one and it will open a slide show.

2014 began with a trip out to California to visit family and friends. It was a relaxing week away from the harsh weather of Minnesota and my ongoing work for my teaching.

Then back to the grindstone to prepare my classes for the semester. I dug in for days on end at my desk and in books to prepare projects, lectures and demonstrations. I am still at it as we dip into the third week of classes. The preparations are more intense than usual for me with 6 classes, three of which are new to me. Consequently, any art making has taken a back seat.

Art-A-Day was a wonderful project for me in 2013. I produced a total of 284 pieces of art. Luckily they are mostly quite small or I would have a bit of a storage problem. I posted all of them on my facebook page and now with this entry, on this blog. The responses from my followers were wonderful and motivating. I felt the project brought me closer to some people. It was a great way to be connected. People were very encouraging and that really made it even better.

I have decided not to continue the Art-A-Day project in 2014. Though it was a great project, it was demanding and the way my schedule is now, I don’t think I can keep up with that kind of project. I will still make art, and post about it. But it won’t have a project name or goal. Art-A-Day is not dead, however. I may resurrect it another time under another name. You’ll just have to stay posted to find out what and when that will be.


As the summer months progressed and daylight and outdoor activities were more possible, I simply was drawing less. A sweaty hand sticking to paper is not pleasant so I skipped my daily many times. Then the skipping became a bit of a habit.

Even so, I continued my work in papercutting culminating in a workshop in Vermont led by papercutting artist extraordinaire Beatrice Coron. Sadly, since my return from the workshop I have had very little opportunity to continue my explorations. August was eaten up with preparations for a new semester and some days I ran out of steam to do any artwork.

Enough with the excuses. It is now September and I am 8 months into my Art-A-Day project. Even though I feel guilty for the missed days, I am impressed with what I have done. I have made more quantity of single pieces this year than any other time in my life because of Art-A-Day. I have not yet reached what I hoped the project would provide. I was hoping I would be able to develop a theme or direction for my in-studio practice. There has been some light on that and I have progressed but I still have not settled on the next thing. I’ve been feeling stuck, like there are too many ideas and they are all interesting and I can’t get myself to move on only one. I am like the butterfly flitting to each flower and tasting the sweet nectar. Will I ever settle down and find my direction? Maybe I am not meant to develop a big project now. Maybe it is just a time of flitting around, fertilizing so to speak. When I am meant to settle on something, it will appear clear and steadfast, right? Well, that is what I hope.

Here are the dailies from July, August and part of September. Click on any image to start a slide show.

Art-A-Day Marches Along

March was a busy month and art-a-day did not happen daily, but who’s counting. I decided that staying up until midnight just to finish my entry was proving unworthy and it was taking a toll on me. I decided that some days it just wasn’t going to happen and that’s o.k. I still feel virtuous to keep at it as much as I can.

In March I experimented with digital media practicing with some software on my desktop Mac and a newly acquired iPad. The iPad is a very expensive sketchbook so I don’t recommend it unless you plan to use it for a lot of other things as well. On my Mac I’m working in Corel Painter, Photoshop and AutoDesk Sketchbook Pro. I am by far no expert but getting used to it. Most of what I tried is not worthy of publication so I have reserved it for the trash can. On the iPad I have tried Sketchbook Pro for iPad, Auryn Ink, and ArtStudio. I want to try more apps but figure I better master some of the ones I have before jumping to something else. I still like traditional drawing much better and I think that is unlikely to change.

I am quick to flutter around many methods and ideas and seldom settle down to one thing. This is one of my challenges. I do not stick with one subject, medium or style. I figure if I do enough art, I’ll land on something that will hold my attention longer.

I like taking an approach of working with what is present, the current tool, the current idea, the current surface, the current visual stimulus, and making something of it. I even will go as far as picking colors with my eyes closed and challenging myself to make unity out of the randomness of the choice. My favorite mediums for quick sketching are markers and colored pencils. They lay down quick bold color. Sometimes the medium itself directs the outcome of the drawing.

The art-a-day drawings are usually purely at the moment. In most cases, I do not premeditate what I might do. I simply sit down and draw what comes to mind at that moment. This might be inspired by shapes I see, a photo I collected, an event I am attending or recollecting, or an item sitting in front of me. In my ideal world, I work toward ideas for the artwork I pursue as printmaking in the studio. And some of the March entries were for this purpose.

Here are my art-a-day entries for March 2013. Click on any image to see a slide show.

Wrapping up 2012

My last post of 2012 will recap the past few months of artistic adventures.

The Art Attack studio opening went well. Here’s a sketch from the view at the studio while there was a lull in attendance. My favorite part is the rolled up wool blankets and towels we use for the press that are stored under the work table. I used a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen for this sketch.

studio sketch

Metro Sketchers visited the American Swedish Institute in November.  I loved the architecture and green tiled roof. Here I used a Helix drafting pen and some watercolor.


In December Metro Sketchers went to the Bell Museum of Natural History. The Bell has wonderful exhibits of preserved specimens. I painted these pieces in gouache with some ink additions. I have been working with gouache to try to master it. A great help to me has been Roz Stendahl. You can learn a lot about gouache from her on her blog And specifically the gouache compendium she compiled.

ruddy ducks

Owl at Bell

Early December I took a 3-day watercolor workshop with Andy Evansen. Andy’s  method is new to me and I enjoyed experimenting with it in these few paintings I made in the workshop. I love one of his sayings “get in and get out”. It really embodies the spirit of watercolor as a fresh and direct medium.

Fairgrounds nocturn

Bela on the porch

At Visual Journal Collective we had a drawing scavenger hunt. One of the items to find and draw was a holiday decoration. So I drew this owl ornament on a tree there. Turns out about four other people drew this same little owl.

Owl ornament at MCBA

And finally, I completed my annual Christmas card. This one is block printed with watercolor hand coloring. I made 100 cards so this was some time investment but I am pleased with the results. The red breasted nuthatch overwinters in Minnesota. A cheerful nasal “ang-ang” call will let you know they are nearby.

nuthatch card


Open studio this weekend in Northeast Minneapolis.

Next weekend – Art Attack! November 2-4. I will have my studio open during this annual event in the Northrup King Building. I’m in studio 447 at the top of the main entrance stairway. Here’s a link to info. I will have artwork, lamps, cards for sale. This image will be on display and many like it. Come see lots of artists in one building. Hope to see you there.

New Landscape Studies series

I have worked on a series of landscapes made on some printed papers I had leftover from various projects. I started seeing similarities in the abstract backgrounds to a series of landscape photographs I had taken at Lake Elmo Park Preserve, Lake Maria State Park and a few other places. I matched up the papers to the photos and started working on them this Spring. I have 8 done and plan on 16 in all. In my gallery you can see all the ones I have done. The one titled Clearing was in the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts show this year and at the NEMAA Fall Fine Arts Show where it won an honorable mention. Below are two I finished this weekend. And then after those are some images of the printed backgrounds and photos that will be the landscapes. They will transform with Gouache, colored pencil and ink. I will post the completed works when those are done.

Contrast Grass ©2012 Gwen Partin

Sky Trees, ©2012 Gwen Partin