Ahhh, Spring…

I always have a sense of relief as we move into Spring. The birds are starting to migrate through, the ice is melting off the lake, and we have noticeably more sun as the day lengthens. (Thank goodness!) And with the extra daylight, my motivation returns and spirits are uplifted.

Glendalough State Park

As usual, I have plenty of irons in the fire. I am revamping my online store. I will be offering prints and cards soon! So if you had your eye on a piece just contact me directly and we can work out your purchase directly. I’d love to hear from you anyway and what you love about it!

Plein air painting is nagging at me at the temps warm up. I’m sort of a wimp about Winter painting. If I do at all, it is from the warmth of my vehicle. I’m looking forward to paint outs with new outdoor painter friends and exploring new places now through Fall. I decided to participate in Plein Air Grand Marais and Prairie Lakes en Plein Air, both in September. Both offer several workshops that look interesting and a fun way to meet likeminded artists.

Kids printmaking project planning.

I was fortunate to receive a 2021 grant from Minnesota State Arts Board to develop online and in person kids’ art classes! I’m very excited about this project and I will post more details soon.

As far as events go, Art deTour will be June 18-20 and as part of the MSAB grant and materials donated by Cardboard Cares, I will be teaching a kids (and kids at heart) printmaking project throughout those 3 days. Kids will also be able to pick up a watercolor kit courtesy of Cardboard Cares that will go with my online watercolor classes for kids. Be sure to add that to your calendar so you don’t miss out!

Cardboard Cares is a local industrial cardboard recycling nonprofit service supporting kids’ art programming. Visit them at cardboardboardcares.org. Learn about MSAB and how they support artists and communities by visiting them at arts.state.mn.us. Thank your representatives for supporting the arts and tell them the positive impacts these programs have on you personally!

Announcements!

First off, sorry for my notable absence. I don’t really have a good excuse to be honest.

Life.

Overwhelm.

Exhaustion.

But things have come together in the last week and it is all starting to feel like it was worth it!

Lake Carlos State Park: Summer 2020

I have my first show hanging in Studio K at Kaddatz Gallery in Fergus Falls now until the end of December. Please go see it or check out the virtual tour when it is up on their website if you can’t. I put my heart into this and I’m really proud of how it came together.

Also, I am participating in Mia’s Foot in the Door! Check out my artwork in Mia’s new show online: “Foot in the Door 5: The Virtual Exhibition!” This digital exhibition showcases the work of over 2000 Minnesota artists. It is fun to see the wide variety of regional art!

Finally, I am a grant recipient from the MN State Arts Board! I applied for a Creative Support for Individuals grant to develop online and in-person youth art classes for the Alexandria area. I’m so excited to get to work on this project that is near and dear to my heart! More on this to come…

So, what’s in the works for me next?! I am looking forward to working on some larger works over the winter, more plein air painting, and following my inspiration. Winter is on its way and offers a whole transformation to the landscape that I adore. Cross country skiing offers a beautiful connection to the outdoors during an otherwise formidable time of the year. I always say, “Winter is what you make of it.” So make the most of it!

I also acquired a used kiln, wheel, and pottery supplies! As if I don’t have enough to do, right?! Pottery has always been something I wanted to pursue but it is an investment. The stars aligned and I was able to swing it. The clay work will be an amazing addition to future youth art classes. My daughter is particularly excited to help in the process! I cherish this time together.

Is there anything better than kids and messy art?!

There is a whole lot of behind the scenes work happening to bring new visual arts opportunities to the Alexandria area. Numerous local artists continue to work hard to offer safe events and classes. I’m on the Alexandria Art Guild board and we are seemingly constantly brainstorming ideas for engaging our local communities in visual art and bringing public art projects to Alexandria that will hopefully come full circle in 2021. If you would like to get involved email AAG at alexartguild@gmail.com.

As always, I hope this finds you happy and healthy. #findmeoutside

Chanda

Routines

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my daily routines. Some call it daily habits but the word “habit” leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I can’t help but associate it with something negative. “Routine” is only moderately better as it lends itself to something that is boring. And often my routines are nothing more than a mundane means to get a certain result. I’ve recently returned to my morning yoga routine and I take an afternoon walk down to the bridge and back. There is nothing exciting about those things and yet my life is better for it.

I realized that routines I choose to keep also have the potential to lead to small moments. My daughter is my shadow but she was throwing me off my plein air painting routine. I wanted to spend time with her but I had to get out to paint or draw or something. I was going stir crazy. I finally told her my plan for the day and that she could join me but I was going to be focusing on my work. If she was going to come along she needed to bring something to do.

She was perfect. She was quiet and did her own thing without being a distraction. We talked about art and nature and how good she felt being outside with me. After splitting a PB&J we packed up. That day is a small moment seared into my memory and I need to figure out how to cultivate more of this into our lives.

My kids are gone again to visit their dad for a month and I’m back to sorting out my own routines. I’m working on how to be more productive and meet my goals without feeling like I have to sacrifice family time. Maybe those goals don’t have to clash with my relationships. Maybe they are more aligned than I previously thought if I can be more open and flexible to how things get done. And just maybe that yoga routine is helping me with more than my sore back.

My Plein Air Painting Setup

Plein air set up with umbrella, tripod, and palette.
My set up for painting outdoors.

Painting outdoors comes with a whole host of unique challenges. Wind, sun, bugs, hot, cold, rain, snow. Seems like insanity but I’m hooked. What could be better than combining my incurable wanderlust with art?! Not many things give me so much satisfaction. Everyone who attempts this madness seems to come up with what works for them. Pictured above is my current setup for oils. I like to hike in quite a ways to paint away from people looking over my shoulder. So I was really trying to go compact and lightweight. I have a Kelty backpack that fits everything and a lunch, and not much more. So much for compact. If I really need compact and ultralight I use watercolors. Problem solved!

Anyway, let’s run through this setup for painting outdoors with oils that I’ve put together! I have a sturdy tripod to begin with. I could go lighter but I sacrificed carrying a little extra weight in my backpack for something that doesn’t blow over every time I step away. I tried a couple of umbrella options that were cheap in an attempt to keep my costs down. Just save yourself the headache and get an actual plein air umbrella that works for your setup. This one is a Best Brella and I’m super happy with it. For the actual easel, I opted for the LederEasel because I like to stretch my own canvases rather than pay a small fortune in artist panels. It’s adjustable to accommodate different sizes and depths if I splurge on Raymar panels. It also has bars below that attach to the legs of the tripod that I hang paper towels and a bag for garbage. I started out bringing my handheld palette and used those bars as a place to set it down. That did not last long. I needed more flat space to hold brushes, palette cups, lids, tubes of paint, and other random things. Sprawling my art supplies all over the ground is not conducive to my creativity. So I just got this Sienna Palette Box. Super handy but again I’ve added more weight to my pack in order to save my sanity.

But here’s the thing:

If you don’t eliminate some of the frustrating aspects of painting outdoors, you are less and less inclined to do it. Make it easy on yourself by investing in equipment that makes it do-able for you.

What I like about this set up is that it’s super adjustable for whatever the situation calls for. This will probably evolve over time but it is working for me for now. It’s not all that quick to set up compared to a French easel that has everything all in one box. But I think the time I spend setting up gives me time to observe the scene, slow my pace down, and get into a painting frame of mind.

I hope this is helpful to see another option for plein air painting equipment. #findmeoutside

July Already?!

Woah. Where does the time go? I know, I was all sorts of ambitious at the beginning of summer and I have 1 whopping blog post to show for it. I’m just popping in to tell ya I’ve been a little swamped. One of the things I love about working for myself is I get to have control over everything, and oddly, one of the things I hate about working for myself is wearing all of the hats. Sometimes I just want to paint but someone has to build a website and frame and photograph and edit photos and test print and… Then the kids came home… You get the idea. But I finally got some boxes of my to-do list checked and the online storefront is up and running, although all sorts of wonky alignment. Go check it out! (If you know how to fix the alignment, PLEASE message me!) And what looks like it should be so simple to throw together is so much work that I’ve done very little painting in the last couple of weeks. Thankfully, I have a system down now for getting work online and I can get back to what I love. This weekend the weather looks to be glorious and I’ll be out at Lake Carlos State Park painting my heart out.

Go outside! It’s good for you!

(EDIT: Alignment resolved! Thanks tech support!)