Saturday, December 31, 2011

100th item listed in Etsy Shop, 100th Blog post entry!

Hooray! I am closing the year 2011 with 100 works of art for sale at my Etsy Shop! I just posted item number 100 a few minutes ago. And, if that isn't cool enough on its own, this right here is my 95th Blog Post Entry!

Below is a sampling of some of the works at my Etsy Shop. Click on individual images to go directly to those specific listings or click the link directly below the block of images to go the home page of my Etsy Shop. Please visit and "walk around" my Etsy Shop to see the variety of art I've listed.
Who knows? Maybe you will find and purchase the first work of art in the new year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kitchen Lithography once again

Wow! It's been over a month since I first posted my results from a try at "kitchen lithography" (November 17th blog post, if you want to review it.) I've been busy with monotype printing -- teaching it at all the rural schools and Hutterite Colonies that I work with as a visiting artist once a month. The students had a good time with the monotype process, but I still have hopes of presenting a kitchen lithography session. So today I revisited kitchen lithography.

The first litho did not turn out as it should have but I think I may be onto something that I noticed during the pouring of the soda over the plate. I talk a bit about it in the first video (posted below.) For anyone who does not have speakers on their computer (like I don't), basically I'm pointing out in the video a pattern that matched the pattern of flow the soda took on the initial pouring over the plate. The effect seems to be that the soda "over etched" and also may be eating out under the litho pencil marks. The pattern was in exactly the pattern the soda took on the initial flow over the plate. Hmmm.

NOTE:  I had to post both videos onto facebook because they wouldn't load onto this blog host. Hope that doesn't create any problems for viewers.

In the second video, you see the plate being inked for my fifth print pull. I clean the plate between prints, using a little bit of vegetible oil and a soft cloth. I don't know if that's really necessary, but it does help me see the "print" areas (what the ink will be sticking to) on the plate. I like being able to see the quality of the lines and what marks are where. For example, there was a stray mark in the cat's right eye and during the first "roll up" with ink, I pushed the ink around that spot quite a bit with the sponge before I realized it was in fact a part of my original litho pencil drawing on the aluminum. Successive roll-ups reveal more and more of the actual drawing and I get a better feel for when the ink coverag is complete.

This second video is a bit longer. I haven't been able to get my video editing software to function quite right (yet.) In the beginning of the video you'll see that the image appears when I start the inking and then I essentially wipe it off. Well, actually I don't wipe it off; It only appears that way in the video. What I did was to wipe enough off so that I can see the "drawing" and how it is taking the ink. I've found that it helps me spot potential problem areas where I might need to not wipe so much or maybe need to deposit more or less ink with the brayer/roller.

And here (next link below) is the last part of the preceding video. In this one I run the etched/inked aluminum plate through the etching press. I had the camera mounted on a tripod that in turn sat on the end of the tables that hold the press and provide the space to ink the plate (previous video.) Maybe I can get someone to operate the camera next time and so get a better view of the whole process.!/video/video.php?v=10150484090474349&notif_t=video_processed

All That Jazz

Reorganizing the studio is a good time to say good-bye to "old friends" -- paintings that date back a ways and for various reasons remained in the studio, through several re-locations and several years. "All That Jazz" is one of those works. Time for it to find a new home where it can be displayed rather than tucked away in my studio storage.
"All That Jazz" was painted in 1988. I was studying anatomy at the (then) Alberta College Of Art (in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.) I supplemented my in-class live model sessions with visits to Calgary's various live theaters to sketch/draw during performance rehearsals. "All That Jazz" captures one of those performances where singer and musician seem to intertwine and boundaries between them (and the audience) become fluid until everything is in the moment.
The painting was done on stretched canvas. To protect the work from damage, I unstretched it and kept it in a flat file for a number of years. Recently I decided to mat it flat rather than restretch it. It is currently listed for sale at my etsy store at
Here is "All That Jazz" and some close-up detail photos (click photos for larger images):

Even after the interim of 23 years, I still find this to be a good work. (Wow! almost a quarter century! Does that make this a vintage work?)
I should note here also that this painting served me as a reference for a portion of a mural commissioned by Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. You can see that mural at my web site at:

Monday, December 19, 2011

War Horse

Wish this stage production would come to a theater close enough to be able to go see it. There's a movie version set to be released around Christmas, but somehow film just never quite compares to live theater. The horse costumes are fantastic and are both spell-binding and uncanny. A great stage performance causes the audience to suspend reality and within a few short minutes, the horse costumes become living breathing beings.
Watch a video of segments of the theater performance at this link:

Saturday, December 17, 2011


While at the studio last evening, I listened to an interesting radio discussion about the origins of some of the icons of the Christmas holiday season. It was a compelling enough program that I decided to stay to hear it all (I don't have a functioning radio in my vehicle, so I'd have missed a bunch of the program while driving home.)
The topic set off a bunch of images in my brain and at some point the little Blue Penguins (also called Fairy Penguins) of New Zealand came to mind. The penguins have been in the news lately because of a tanker spill that threatens their immediate survival. There's been a world-wide call for volunteers to knit or crochet sleeve-less "sweaters" for the rescued penguins. The sweaters cover the penquins body from neck to feet. They look pretty cute waddling around in their recovery cages after they've been all cleaned up as best as possible. The sweaters prevent the birds from preening and ingesting any left over oils, but also keep them warm  until the full insulating quality of their feathers is restored.
I still had some paints out from my previous monotype session and decided to make a few whimsical penguin prints. Here is one from the session plus a couple detail close-ups (click the images to see larger):


And here is a link to a video of the penguins being being cleaned and then shows some pics of them in their sweaters. The video also shows some other kinds of penguins which are very large compared to the Blue Penguin. Notice the size of the sweaters when a woman in the video is holding one; and the tiny sweater covers the whole body of the bird.

The penguins don't look very blue in the video because they have so much oil staining. Here's a video of what their plummage normally looks like:

As for my penguin monotypes, I had fun and am thinking maybe I should pursue this a bit more. Maybe polish the image a bit, try some different poses and see if I should push it to something more realistic or stay with a bit of whimsy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

YEE HA! Pronghorns at a run!

Today was clear sky, gusty wind and sunny, though not much above freezing (high for the day was 36 degrees Fahrenheit.) Perfect for a drive over some local gravel roads, as the surface is frozen.
Just northeast of town About 35 miles northeast of town (less by air) was a large herd of Pronghorn Antelope. Filming from the vehicle, I "captured" about half the herd on video. They were really flying! The truck was moving at about 40 mph. The second video below is of the group that split to the right at the end of the first video. Estimate there were at least 200 antelope in this herd.

Typical of camera work, objects (in this case the antelope) always look farther away than they actually were. Still, the video is a nice treasure to remember the day.
Give the video sufficient time to load. Enjoy!  (P.S.--lick on the start arrow at the bottom of each video. If the video blocks below are black, refresh the page from your tool bar (refresh is the little circle arrow at the right of the address line at the top of your window/screen.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cats Again! This time with monotype process

It's been a couple weeks at least since my last post. Using as much of my time as possible in the studio, I decided to make some monotypes. It was a good diversion from the aluminum foil etching process I'd been experimenting with (see my November 17th post.) The end result was a lot of small monotypes, all similar in subject (cat), but all different in various ways.

I started by painting a simple, stereotypical sitting cat image on a piece of plexiglass. I used a type of tempra paint that is non-toxic and under the brush it has the feel of fingerpaint -- sort of "slippery" even on paper, let alone a plexiglass surface. All of the monotypes in this series were executed with a sable brush. The paints are water-base so they dry fast. That meant decisive, quick work on my part. But I enjoy working that way so this was actually a very relaxing process and the immediate results captured my interest and enthusiasm. The session only ended when I had to hunt the studio for more paper to use!

Once I had my painted image, I placed the paper on top of it and hand-rubbed with a baren to pull the print. I tried different kinds of paper and also experimented with pulling prints from prints that had larger amounts of paint on them. Some of those prints are among my favorites. I also pulled some second prints from the plate image if there seemed to be sufficient paint remaining.

I did not remove the paint from the plexiglass between prints. Instead, I allowed it to build up and found that it provided a better "tooth" for subsequent layers of paint. Also, I did not enslave myself to the exact contour of the image from one print to the next. At some point it occurred to me to put more control on the direction and pressure of the baren and in that way I could indirectly manipulate the way some of the paint contacted the paper.

Here are the top 25 monotypes -- the ones I decided to mat and offer in my art shop at Not all of these are currently listed at the etsy shop but eventually will be. All of these are for sale, so if you see one here that you'd like to purchase but that is not yet listed at my etsy shop let me know. I've put numbers next to each print shown below; use the number to refer to the print when you contact me. Each print is matted as shown. Some are printed on a kind of Japanese Rice Paper, and so in those particular ones you can see some "waving" that gives a textile feel to the print.










10. SOLD








 18. SOLD





23. SOLD



Number 1 has an oriental feel, I think. Number 25 was among the first ones printed. See if you can pick out the ones in this group that are "second pulls" or "mirror pulls."  Most of the prints are sort of generic cats of the kind commonly referred to as domestic short-hair, which is what my cat is. However, there are a few that resemble the Maine Coon breed. My mother has a Maine Coon and so I suspect that's how that interpretation got from my visual memory to the paint to the paper. One does, after all, paint what one is familiar with. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two more cat paintings - Siamese please

It's been a productive week at the studio. Besides experimenting with the kitchen lithography process (see my November 17th post), I've also finished two small paintings of Siamese cats, titled "Siamese - AUM 1" and Siamese AUM 2." These paintings were not intended to be a "pair" but that is what they ended up being.

Both are very simple and in that simplicity they are also elegant. The canvas paper, on which the works are painted, has a linen-like texture that I like. So I applied the oil paint in thin layers, allowing not only the paper texture to show but also my initial brushstrokes and color layers.

These paintings are the first that I've ever applied goldleaf to. I've been wanting to incorporate goldleaf ever since I first saw Gustaf Klimt's gold-embellishmented paintings. In my Siamese cat paintings I added a Sanskrit word (it is pronounced A + U + M) in goldleaf. I've never used goldleaf for anything before, so it was quite an experience (don't breath in its direction or POOF! it drifts away like air!) The ornate frames, like the goldleaf, contrast with the simplicity of the paintings.

As for the word AUM. there are a hundred or more meanings to AUM, but I was especially drawn to the explanation that "the word AUM itself is total divinity manifested." Ah, I thought. And is that not a cat? Especially a Siamese cat?

Here are the two paintings (shown with frames.) The first painting shown is based on an adult cat named Louie who is waiting to be adopted at the Pet Paws See no-kill shelter. Both of these paintings are listed in my on-line Etsy Shop at:   As with most of the cat paintings I'm creating, a portion of the sales from these two works will be donated to the shelter:

Below are a couple details from the Siamese cat paintings. Eyes are a specialty I take a certain satisfaction in accomplishing. Whiskers scraffitied (scratched) into the soft oil paint before it dries--which means being very certain and decisive about where to place each mark, because once it's scratched in it's there to stay.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Aluminum Foil Etching

I haven't posted in quite a while but have been busy in the studio -- and also making the monthly rounds as Artist-In-Residence teaching artist at several central Montana rural schools. The AIR job only takes me out of town on six days each month plus five days that involve just an hour or so of teaching teaching time just a few blocks from where I live in town. What it all boils down to is that, unlike last school year, I'm getting a fair amount of studio time.

So, what is happening at the studio? Lots! Besides painting more cat portraits and some landscape/skyscapes, I've been having a great time experimenting with a process generally refered to as "kitchen lithography."

Hmm, lithography you say. Expensive, you say.
But no! This "litho" process uses aluminum foil in place of the expensive limestone and soda pop instead of acid for the etching part of the process. The only other "tools" needed are some rags, a couple sponges and a baren or spoon. (Note: The baren or spoon sustitute for an etching press. I have a press so everything I'll post regarding "Kitchen Lithography" will use the press unless I state otherwise.) Other supplies include soap, soft brush, litho crayons or pencils, ordinary cooking oil, etching ink and suitable paper.

Years ago, I took a half year of lithography class at the (then) Alberta College of Art in Calgary, Alberta. Rummaging around in some storage boxes in the studio, I found my stash of remaining litho crayons (sticks, pencils and disks) plus my Tamarind Lithography textbook (great reference source!) I also have a supply of etching paper -- plus a big assortment of other kinds of papers. Two plexiglass plates (one to roll-up ink and one to hold the aluminum foil) and I was ready to give Kitchen Litho a try. Which I did. Over and over again.

Here are a few of my print experiment results:
This first one was drawn on the foil with soap and brush. Just simple quickly done cat lying down printed on yellowish domestic etching paper. The three images are the result of three progressive print pulls without re-inking between so the print is progressively lighter in value (I did, however, re-sponge the plate to push around the remaining ink.) (click for larger view)

The next print (at right) was pulled from an aluminum foil plate drawn on with a #1 litho crayon (I have #1, #3 and #5 crayons.)

As with all of my kitchen lithography experiments, I kept the drawing simple and worked very rapidly, not worrying about how the drawing looked as far as accuracy or proportion, etc.
This one was pulled on a snowy white card stock (which is why the edges of it do not show up on the blog/computer screen.)
(click for larger view)

The next print shown below was pulled from an aluminum foil plate drawn on with a #1 litho pencil (I have #1, #3 and #5 sticks which are thin like pencil lead and go into a special holder---sort of like a mechanical pencil.) I like this image. I based the drawing on one of my existing oil painting sketches. It is pulled on a white card stock just like the print shown immediately above. I feel like this print starts to approach some of the qualities I'm searching for.

The next print experiment used the same plate with still intact soap drawing of the cat reclining as shown in the first print above. For this print, however, I laid a cloth mesh over the image area and then ran it through the press (first image.) Then I removed the cloth mesh and printed again (without re-inking or responging) for the second image shown below. The results on the second print are of interest to me as I seek ways to make this process unique with my work. Both are printed on yellowish domestic etching paper. (click for larger view.)

The last print posted below was done with the #5 litho lead in holder. Because it's the hardest litho grade of what I have, it made finer lines and I was able to layer lines without "clogging" them. It's a freely drawn shell form. The lower half of the foil accidently lifted from the plexiglass when I was removing the litho crayon in the last step before inking. It got pretty wrinkled and I had to re-flatten it out carefully -- but even at that, I lost some of the lower left of the original litho drawing of the shell. Left of the shell print below is the foil plate used to make the print (click on image for larger view.)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Kitten Trio - Suki, Kato, and Jetta

I'm cutting back just a bit on my hours in the studio as I am getting ready for another year of teaching art in several schools within about a 100-mile radius of my home town. Once that schedule starts in earnest, there will be less evening hours for the studio too because I need to be alert and driving miles to schools first thing in the mornings.

However, a couple days ago I did get another oil painting off to a start. The kittens featured in this work are Suki (white) and Kato and Jetta. All three are with the no-kill shelter PetPawSee in Great Falls, Montana (as are most of the other cats/kittens I've been painting and posting here.

This painting is on stretched canvas and measures 18 inches by 24 inches. What I'm thinking about for "background" is to portray a blanket or quilt design. But for now, I've blocked in the negative space with a lavender hue.

As with all my work, this is free-hand with brush and paint. Also, in this work two different references were used although the viewpoint was essentially the same. At this stage, this work is very simple. I'll post it again as it evolves.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cats: Barn Kittens

This work is in-progress, so it was photographed under just the light used for painting. I find it interesting how the digital camera sees some colors precisely and yet  not record others. This painting is one of those that was hard to photo and get an accurate color read. The "barn kittens" are based on two kittens - Bolt and Helen - who are with foster homes via a local animal no-kill shelter and are looking for permanent homes. The tractor seat shown behind the kittens is one of a various few I have as props in the studio. This painting is oil on canvas and measures 24 x 24 inches (60.96 x 60.96 cm.)

Cat Portrait of Mae Ling completed

I completed Mae Ling's portrait a couple days ago and cut a double mat for it. Now it's ready for a frame. At this point I have close to 20 cat portraits on canvas and in various stages of completion. That's about the right amount to be working simultaneously in a revolving manner. I start each session in the studio by starting a fresh painting as a way of "warming up" and then I pick one of the in-progress paintings to work on and may or may not bring it to completion but bring it closer to that stage. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cats: Portrait of Whiskers completed

Yesterday I posted that the portraits of Whiskers and of Mae Ling were completed. So today, I went into the studio and set each painting on the easel. And decided that I needed to adjust the painting of Whiskers. Specifically, I decided that it needed to show more of his left front leg behind the tulips. I also did some adjustments to his eyes to more closely approximate the bi-color mottle typically seen in older cats. I'll check with Whiskers' "Mom" to see if I've accurately portrayed the eye color or if they need to be more/less green.
Click on the images below to see larger views.

This painting had a layer of beeswax over which a mixture of colors were applied and formed an interesting base of interesting colors and textures for the eventual painting of Whiskers. I like the way this process worked out and it can be seen in the following detail photos of the painting:

Such a handsome cat!