Day 2 through 6 (and a couple thoughts)

Over the holiday, I traveled to my parents home which is located in the Chippewa National Forest of Minnesota. I only brought a small sketchbook knowing that I wouldn’t have a great deal of time to do much more than a couple of doodles (see photos).

While I was there and working with the Pink Houses inspiration, led me to think about a more general theme of home and how I feel ungrounded to that particular word. The dark days of winter in Minnesota seem to get longer each year and the separation from family in terms of distance and visits are not often enough to fulfill the emptiness of living alone in a small town.  While I do try to fill it with my creative endeavors and social engagements, the dynamics of living where I do, can be problematic.  Despite living here for 20 years, I’m not sure if it feels like home in the sense that I imagine of what that should be.  There is definitely a strong family ethic where I live, but if you don’t belong to that tribe, isolation becomes the norm. It also led me to further think about what family means and what will happen in our future given our current social and political divide which has already built some unwanted walls that may never be taken down.

I also realized that I have addressed this theme before when I was attending Bemidji State University (BSU). I was lucky enough to be a part of an all woman print portfolio exchange when I studied printmaking under Jauneth Skinner, the prof there at the time.  The block print that I created for that exchange is titled, What’s Behind Door #23?  which was a response to having lived in 22 different houses and knowing that I would be moving again once I completed my coursework at BSU.

Again, I am exploring during this project which much like my ungrounded feelings of home, I have a disconnect within my artwork.  It varies greatly in style, media and subject matter.  I like working with a variety of media, moving from one to the next and then returning almost as if the materials were seasonal.  In the winter, I will draw and carve blocks, in the summer I will move to the screened porch and paint.  Regardless of what media I am working with, I create in reaction to something I’ve seen, read or heard.

Recently I read a novel titled The Line Between by Beverly Knauer and I am currently reading The Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Both of those are influencing some of my inner thoughts and I have a feeling that those two books along with the lyrics from Pink Houses will be merging down the road.


The doodles: monoprints with graphite, blue colored pencil with ink, alcohol ink and marker.


Day 1 – Pink Houses Project

I majored in printmaking at Bemidji State University and while I love the technical aspects of etching and block printing, the immediacy of monoprinting is rewarding.  This is the first of some exploration into the Pink Houses project which is conjunction with the 100 day project.  As I told some artist friends of mine, I am purging 20 years of lint off this idea.  I may never use these, but sometimes you have to create a lot of ugly to get to the core of the matter.

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100 Day Project

For over 20 years I’ve been intrigued with an idea based on the song Pink Houses by John Mellencamp combined with the fact a good friend who is also an artist, lived in a pink house.  It just never seemed to come to the forefront, but every time I hear the song, the lyrics nag at me to do something creative with that thought.

Recently, I did a demo for a project for one of the high school classes I teach and the little pink houses emerged.  I have no idea where this will go, but the subdued inspiration that is driving this is pushing it’s way to the surface and begging to be explored.  Since a friend tagged me to join this project, I feel that the time is right to see what emerges and bring this out of the darkness and into the light.file-dec-22-4-35-29-pm

Art Camp for Big Kids

This week, I’m attending one of the Art Educator Workshops at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD).  The class is being taught by Val Jenkins (see her work here).   To start with, we watched the John Cage documentary.  I’m not a huge fan of the work, but I get it for the most part.  It served as a springboard for the class; Experimental Drawing.

We did some individual work, some paired work and a group collaborative drawing.

Unknown object drawing.

Work based on description of an unknown object given by my partner Ti Besonen. Some of her descriptors were bumps, burnt sienna, bullet hole like area with some string things, gently spiraling and brittle.

Collaborative drawing.

The collaborative drawing about midway through being finished.


Collaborative drawing.

More developed version of the collaborative drawing.

Collaborative drawing.

Nearly finished work. I have a feeling we will be going back into this piece. We rearranged the panel to explore the composition and areas that needed to be edited.



Individual drawings. The work had to include four views of the object. Other than that it was an exploration of space, addressing the space as a form, unity and balance The drawing located on the upper left is Ti Besonen’s.


More individual drawings. Mine is on the far left.

Beef Calamari.

Beef Calamari. That’s my title and I’m sticking to it. Mine was based on the horn from a steer. The oval shape proved to be wanting to play the dominant role, so I let it. At some point some of they reminded me of calamari. About two minutes before we were to finish up, I took the Char-Kole and placed the large central one on the upper layer. It was a risk, but I think it worked.

Helen – No longer lost.


This is a story I wrote for an English Composition class in 1995.  The story is factual, with the exception of my “thought” interjections.  I have been looking for this written work well over a decade and probably close to 15 years.  Today, I found it stored among other important papers.   The essay was turned upside down and stored carefully away apparently waiting for just the right moment to be found.  As a preface, Helen is my grandmother.  Betty Lou, is my mother and never knew Helen as her mother.  Read the paper and then read my comments after the images.




I was extremely moved when I read the comments by the prof.  I just re-read The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins, less than three days ago.  My daughter and I attended her father’s funeral 2 weeks ago.  She never knew him.  Life beyond what we know it has some forces that are so strong.

Off to the presses!

Having just finished a portfolio print, I’m now on to creating two more.  The first one will be for this project and I’ll be printing this afternoon.  The second one is in the incubation stage as I was just invited to participate in that one.  Looking forward to again being a part of  a print portfolio exchange.

If you’re not familiar with printmaking in terms of the fine arts, here’s what some of the tools and equipment I’ll be working with today.

Half Pram Press

The press has a bed that is 6″ wide and about twice as long.  It’s a very small press in terms of printing presses and there are few and far between.  I believe I have one of the last ones made.  I’ve tested out several prints on it and so far so good.  The beauty of it is that is so portable, so maybe this summer, I’ll take it on the road with me.  Somewhere.

Resingrave Block

Additionally, I’ve taken up engraving and will post a photo later of the print.  Engraving is definitely an art form that takes patience and skill to master.  Out of let’s say 10 Levels of Mastery, I’m a .5.   Regardless, I’m enjoying the process. I’ve only done one before and love the overall look that can be created with the engraving tools.

Ready to Ink

I’m hoping to run the entire edition this morning yet.  Ink is ready, press is ready, paper is ready…time to print.




The above image titled, “Who’s Holding the Strings” puts things back into perspective for me.  Painted in 2009, this represented a chaotic time in my life where I felt betrayed, manipulated and out of control.  Not that I’m in any more control, but I was able to take the symbolic scissors and cut the cord to allow some sense of freedom.  Tornadoes keep coming into my work as well when I feel out of control or overwhelmed.  I just posted a response on facebook and realized that I have too many irons in the fire again.

In addition to that, I’m trying to control the process of etching using non-toxic processes and find I am not getting the results I want.  A couple more works with tornadoes.  “Blow Me Out of the Chaos…please,” which is a collage of prints and an untitled monoprint.Blow Me  OUt Chaos