Late Fall Reflections on Art-A-Day

It’s the day after Thanksgiving. I have had a busy week. As I relax after all the preparations for the big T day, I can pause and reflect on all I am truly thankful for. I am most thankful for friends and family, a comfortable home, and a steady income. There are many less fortunate people and this is humbling. Art-making is indeed a luxury I am truly thankful for.

A year ago I started a daily drawing practice. Though it has not been possible to draw every day, the ritual led me to more art-making than I ever did in my past. To be more productive was one of my goals, and through the impetus of an Art-A-Day I got a big boost toward that goal. I’m still seeking some direction for my studio practice. I remain unfocused and I am now OK with that. It may take more doing to relieve my loss of direction.

One thing I neglected to post was about my exhibit at Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at Abbot Hospital in Minneapolis. The show just came down a week ago. The same work will be exhibited at Colonial Church in Edina from December 15 to January 31. You can visit the church to see my work in their vast hallway spaces. Stay tuned for a press release.

A 2013 comes closely to an end, I am considering what I will do for 2014. I could continue the Art-A-Day practice. But I’m all for new challenges and I have a lot of ideas floating around. One is portraits, another is something alphabetical with storytelling. Stay tuned for news of my next venture.

Here are the results of art-a-day since my last post in September. Click on any image to begin a slide show.


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.

Mandalas, cut paper and more

ART-A-DAY for June 2013

June was  a month to concentrate on the mandala form once again. With a deadline of the Minnesota State Fair entry due on July 1 I needed to make something that fit in the new rules. Plus, I have a show coming up in the fall at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at Abbot Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. The curator, Sheila Asato, is interested in my mandalas for that show and I may need more work than I have. So I decided to work on mandalas for this and the fair entry. I finished two mandalas and started some others. I also experimented in monotype and cut paper mandalas. This continues to be a work in progress as I am figuring out how the methods work together. And printing and cut paper is very different from drawing and painting.

I have a system for the drawn mandalas. The system allows me to make the work automatic and random (as much as a system can do that). I take all my colored pencils and pigment ink pens and dump them in a bin and mix them up. I make a large square paper and find the center and place a dot there. I reach into the bin and whatever pencil or pen comes out is what I use. First I make outlines of all the shapes, starting at the center and moving out in concentric but overlapping rings of shapes. Then I go back and fill in the outlines with colors, much like a coloring book, still picking colors randomly from the bin. After this I go back over with textures and shading to create depth and contrast. This stage requires more deliberate color and material choices to help unify the whole. When it is all finished, I cut the circle out from the square paper. The edge of the artwork is irregular, not a perfect circle. When framed, this becomes a feature. I like the ragged edges. Each mandala takes about 15-20 hours.

For the printed mandalas, I have been cutting the printing paper into stencils. I draw the design and cut with an x-acto knife. My hand gets very sore from the cutting. When the papers are cut, I then monotype print on them. With monotype printing, inks are rolled or brushed onto a thin sheet of plexiglass and printed to the paper on an etching press. A stencil can be used to block colors. I use the stencil as part of the artwork too since it is also inked. These stencils and prints from the stencils will then be layered. I have not yet determined how to layer or present them. Stay tuned for the outcome of that.

Cut paper is a growing interest to me. I am interested in the stencil effect but also the dimensional aspects that arise and the way light can interact with layers of cut paper. My next posting should present some progress on this front. Stay tuned.

Here are my art-a-day June entries.




Art-A-Day for April and May 2013

I am a Libra and there is always a flip side to every argument – keeping the balance in me. Here is a truth wrought by this balancing act. I have this guilt in me, that if I don’t follow through with my plan some scorn will befall me and I will not be trusted. I’m not sure what that is, where it came from, but it drives me. And when I don’t meet my plan I judge myself as failed.  Then there is the part of me that wants to play, shun the responsibilities and enjoy myself in a ‘who cares if I get anything done, it can wait’ state of mind. As long as no one knows I have been goofing off, what does it matter? I work this balance back and forth, and eventually I actually do accomplish things and have a good time in spite of it all.

And so it goes when it comes to art work. Yes, it is work. Most of the time I can’t wait to have time for it. Sometimes I can’t bring myself to do it. Even if I do have time art requires an energy that isn’t always there. I anticipate my days in the studio with zeal, and sometimes I get there and nothing happens. I am stuck in this inert zone hampered by lack of continuity. Too much time passed since all those ideas were brewing. Or my energy is low and making things is such a chore. It is disappointing to have this happen when I waited all week for that time.

With Art-A-Day there is the same art guilt. Still, I do it when I can and try to be happy with that. The past few months the frequency has been closer to once a week than once a day. That can change with summer coming on.

Most of this latest work has been in a Stillman and Birn Alpha Series sketchbook 6×9 size. I like the texture of this paper. Here are the entries for April and most of May. Click on any image to see them in slide show format with descriptions.


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.

Art-A-Day Update and More

Over a month has passed since my last Art-A-Day project post. I have had good response on the Facebook posts. People like, comment, etc. I’m tracking the likes and comments and plan to do a “best of” type of entry at some point – definitely at the end of the year.

As I draw every day, even though it may not seem like it to the outsider, I am exploring ideas for larger work. The sketches I am doing for the Art-A-Day are generally 6×9. These are only part of what I plan to work out in a larger format of up to 30×40 inches.

I have been studying textile design for a number of years and though I have made some work related to this, I have not exhausted my interest. From the library where I work at Dakota County Technical College, they often have book discards. These are perfectly good books that might be damaged or have been replaced by new editions. Recently I acquired a tome from these discards on Textile Designs. The book has excellent photo references of textile designs from the past 200 years. It is a wonderful anthology, a treasure trove of ideas and endless possibilities for exploration. Many of my drawings in the Art-A-Day project have been derived from the discoveries I made in this book. I am interested in exploring ways to incorporate some of the techniques of textile printing into monotype printed works in the studio including stencil, block prints, batik, etc. Maybe you can see where I might go with this. As it develops, I hope to post about the progress.

Here’s a gallery of January and February art-a-day entries. Click on any image to see the slide show.

More Art-A-Day

Here’s the past few days since last post.


10JAN2013 – Hook and Loop – Pen


11JAN2013 – Tropical – Faber Castell Pitt brush marker, Permanent ink, paint pens


12JAN2013 – FIre and Shadow – cut paper


13JAN2013 – Tiger Ice – Colored pencil, permanent ink


14JAN2013 – Cobble Topography – permanent ink


17JAN2013 – Pattern – Permanent ink


18JAN2013 – Black Dog Coffee – ink

The Art-A-Day Project

I don’t usually make new years’ resolutions but this year I was inspired. My resolution is to make art every day, and then post these on Facebook. Posting daily here on the blog is too much so I will post occasionally as the dailies accumulate.

How I got inspired? Well, there are a few reasons. And to me, when there are a few reasons that amount to a force then I must pay attention. My first inspiration was my cousin Suzie who was posting a photo a day last year. They were not simply snapshots but beautiful works of art.  This daily activity seemed so fulfilling, I wanted to go out and do my own right away. But I didn’t because, well, I didn’t want to be a copy-cat. So I thought I could wait until this year and find another theme, another angle.  My next inspiration came in a thought that I want to spend time on meaningful things. Less TV, less online solitaire, less online anything, more art, more looking at the real world, more sharing with others. I was looking at some of my old sketchbooks and knew I wanted to renew a habit I broke some time ago—my daily doodle. Also, I need to draw to work out some art ideas I have brewing that have not materialized. How can I do that without making marks? Just do it. And finally, I love to draw, make pictures of most anything. I like to experiment with media and subjects, hone the skills and share that.

And so hatched my Art-A-Day project. Make art every day. Join me, you’ll like it.

I made a few ‘rules’. They aren’t strict, only guidelines. The most ruley rule is I have to post every day. I decided to make my daily entries into sketchbooks I’ve had lying around. I actually have six about the same size (5.5×8.5) and this is just enough to get through the year. I like the idea of using up stuff I already have. I am not limiting myself to inside the books, but will use this as a collection place so to speak. In fact, already I have made two digital images using Corel Painter. I also will count doodles in my notebook as well as larger work (when I get to it). I’m not required to complete a work each day. I can include incomplete work, documenting stages. That way I can get into a big thing one day and not worry I have to finish something for my art-a-day post.

Unless it is digital, I made these in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon Series for heavyweight paper for pen and ink. Here’s what I’ve done so far.


01JAN13 Birdwatching Awaits – graphite


02JAN13 Blue Gray Gnatcatcher – Digital, Corel Painter 12


03JAN13 Starfish – ZIG marker and colored pencil


04JAN13 Flamingos – Collage and paint markers


05JAN13 Pattern Internationale – Paint marker and ZIG Millenium fineline


06JAN13 Tamarula Astromeria – ZIG brush marker, colored pencil and Helix drafting pen


07JAN13 Blue Kitty – Digital, Corel Painter


08JAN13 Swirls – Pentel Stylo pen


09JAN13 Illumination – Watercolor, paint marker, ZIG Millenium fineliner