Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Work, New Year

Looking West 16x20"

Cory Polanek's Jewerly
Happy New Year! 2014 was great, and now that Cory and I are living at our family farm, 2015 is sure to be a year of shared creativity. We both have new work available at Blue Heron with more on the way soon. Thanks for checking my blog this year.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a great holiday. I have much to be thankful for this year, and I hope you will get to spend time with friends and family today.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Still Life

Here is a still life that I painted under a black light. The floral table cloth is funky and fun to compose objects on. Several people who saw this painting on the fall art tour commented that it appears to be a nocturne painted under moonlight. I like that idea, and am hoping to do more like these now that the snow is here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fall Art Tour 2014

We had a great 2014 Fall Art Tour at the Chicken Coop Studio. The weather plays a part in the success of the tour, and this year there was sun and decent temperatures. The autumn colors were at their height the weekend of the show, and I had 800 visitors come through the Chicken Coop.

Along with getting all the paintings ready for the show, we made some upgrades to the studio. Cortney found a great lighting solution, for the first time my paintings had light in the Coop. We also bought some new funky furniture for the space, repainted the floor, and cleaned up the brush at the farm.

The studio is literally a Chicken Coop that was built in the 1930's by my Great - Great Uncle. The plans for the Coop came from the University of Wisconsin, and they were state of the art at the time. The farm has been in the family since 1911, and my Grandma Schneider had 200 chickens in the building, which helped them pay for the farm. Eggs sold for a better price than milk at the time. I grew up around the farm, and am happy to say that we are moving into the farm house very soon! We will have a new heated studio in the house, but we will always keep the Coop as a showplace.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Its Figurative

I was fortunate enough to land a seat in Chris Gargan's summer figure drawing class. The class was three weeks long, with 8 hours of classtime per day. Some people freaked a little when I told them about the commitment, but for me it was great, even waking up at 5:30 am to get there on-time was worth it. This is the 37th year that Chris has taught the class, and he has developed a curriculum and style of delivery that is unique to him. Like me, Chris has a background in education, he got his Art Education degree and also his MFA from UW Madison. He worked as a teacher in the public schools before taking his post at MATC (I believe that they renamed the school Madison College, but it will always be MATC to me)

The class was very interesting to me because I got to see how he teaches, knowing what I know after graduating with a degree in art ed. Chris doesn't merely lecture, or demonstrate, or set the time for the pose, he actively participates in the education of his students. He does this in several different ways. For instance, the study of anatomy might not be of interest for some students, and some demonstrations might get a little long (not for me, but remember, I'm super interested). Instead of merely allowing students to die on the vine (technical educational term) and pass off responsibility onto the students, Chris takes the responsibility onto himself. He will follow some technical information with a funny story that relates to what he is teaching, which acts as a tie down in his students minds, and keeps them awake.

We covered a lot of ground in the class. We never stuck with a media for more than one day. We drew in several traditional medias including: Charcoal, Conte, Ballpoint Pen (is this traditional? It's sweet), Pen and Ink, Heightened Charcoal, Ink Wash, Pen and Ink Heightened with White Gesso, Acrylic, and Watercolor.

My favorite day of class, was when Chris gave his lecture on aesthetics. He contrasted the illustrative work of Stanislav Prokopenko with the visual economy Sherrie McGraw. Chris, of course has a deep respect for anyone who can draw at Proko's level, but asked his students to anaylize the content and feeling that they got from each of their work. This led many to convert to the McGraw edge of the spectrum. It was moments such as these that set the class above others figure room experiences that I have had. To be able to discuss the subjective nature of aesthetics with a class of 20 somethings, and to have them walk away with new, substantial ideas, was impressive.

Anybody around me knows that I am hungry to take my drawing skills to the next level, it can only lead to better paintings. I am not a naturally skilled drawer. Let me rephrase that, my temperment is not one that naturally facilitates skillful drawing. Some drawing media, like pencils, or ballpoint pen are just so small, that it's not easy to cover a large surface. I paint with big brushes, because I like to be able to do things quickly and broadly, and then move in for the specifics.So, some people are good at drawing, with those tiny pencils and pens, and because Chris has taught the class so often, he recognized that I am not, and showed me ways to combine my painterly ways with the techniques that he taught .

I know that I got my money's worth out of the class. I would pay just to hang out with Chris. I feel fortunate that he is my friend, and that he let's me tag along with him to go out painting. If you are a painter, or drawer, or sculpter, or whatever you are, who wants to take your work to the next level, do it. Figure out one component skill of the media that you are working with that you would like to improve upon, put it into words, and then attack it with passion.

We made sketchbooks in the screenprinting and binding department

My friend, Nick Loveland, and Chris showing the class how to bind the sketchbooks.

Chris giving a pen and ink demo

Pen and ink, with wash heightened with gesso.

Chris setting up for a two color acrylic demo.

I used baltic blue and yellow ochre in this piece.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Recipe Contest - Baraboo School District - Vegan Curry Lentils

I'm entering a healthy recipe contest for Baraboo School District, and wanted to post the recipe here on my blog.

This is an easy to prepare meal, that I make at least once a week. It keeps well, and I will put leftovers into Tupperware and bring to school for lunch. This recipe is free of the 7 major inflammatory foods, which include 1. Added Sugar or artificial sweeteners 2. Corn 3. Gluten 4. Dairy 5. Eggs 6. Peanuts 7. Soy.

*I am not allergic to any of the above foods, but I find that my body responds very well to a lifestyle that does not include any of the 7 foods listed above.

Curried Lentils
This vegan lentil curry is absolutely amazing, it’s a simple and easy recipe, but it takes time, although it’s totally worth it. It’s also exotic, spicy, tasty, creamy and it has an intense coconut flavor. If you like curry, lentils and coconut, you need to try this recipe!

The ingredients. Missing is a can of coconut milk. 
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ onion
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce 
  • ⅔ cup coconut milk 
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons curry
  • 1 Sweet Potato

  1. Cook lentils according to package. I used La Preferida brand, and cooked the entire package in 5 cups of water. Bring the lentils and water to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for around 30 minutes. Drain and set aside
  2.  Chop the sweet potato into bite size pieces in olive oil, until the pieces are cooked through.
  3. Cook the Basmati Rice according to the directions. I brought 1 1/2 cups of rice and 3 cups of water to a boil, and then simmered until it was done.
  4. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic and the onion (finely chopped) and cook them until golden brown. Add the tomato sauce, coconut milk and spices and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Add cooked lentils, stir and cook for at least 15 or 20 minutes over medium heat.
  6. Cook basmati rice according to package directions. We cooked them for 12 minutes over medium high heat. Drain and set aside.
  7. Serve the lentils over the basmati rice. You can add cilantro on top.

Getting the party started!
The lentils are cooked and set aside, and now I am starting the onion and garlic

This is where the magic happens - coconut milk!
Garam masala is a mixture of spices common in Indian cuisine. I couldn't find it in Baraboo, You could get it at Maharaja Grocery in Madison, but I ordered this brand from Amazon:
getting ready to add the lentils

The Finished Dish - Enjoy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Summer Farm

It has been a long winter. Spring is nearly here, and these cool days are great for all outdoor activities. Just smelling the air is worth going outside. There is rain in the forecast for five of the next seven days, and then it will be time for the big bloom.
I stocked up on a few of my favorite spring colors this week. I enjoy mixtures based on naples yellow light and prussian blue for some fresh spring greens this time of year. The painting shown above does not reflect that, it was painted in the summer, with plenty of lemon yellows thrown into the lit up corn stalks.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Peninsula Still Life

This still life is headed to a show at the Guenzel Gallery, at the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek. 22 painters received the same five objects to set up and paint, and the show is named Five Objects of Inspiration. I originally wanted to paint under natural light, but after several cloudy days in a row, I decided to do exactly the opposite. The still life was lit by a blue party light.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Wind

Snow covered the fresh green grass two nights ago. The car door made a convenient wind break this morning, and my easel stood solid on top of this ridge.

Here is a overview of my spring workshop series. Last weekend, I gave my first workshop in what seemed like a long time. The workshop focused on painting the interior. We talked about values, and how to create the illusion of sunlight happening outside of a window, and pouring into the space. On the final day of the workshop, a storm rolled in while I was halfway through my demo painting. The sky was so dark, that the streetlights, which were a part of my composition, turned on. This dramatic change allowed for a teachable moment. Changing light is something that we deal with daily when painting from life and I was happy to work through the changes.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Broadway Street, Baraboo, Wisconsin

This is Baraboo Wisconsin, again. This was painted in early February, when there was still plenty of snow on the rooftops and streets.
I was invited to paint on a private home's deck, and took them up on the opportunity. I was pretty secluded, and on the second day the owner was not home, but knowing that I had an open opportunity, I set up and went to work. A car pulled into the driveway, and not knowing who it was made me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Not as uncomfortable as the time the kids were shooting a gun over my head in the country, but even so. Everything turned out alright this time, as the visitor was the owners son, who was just checking the bird feeder.
These little midwestern towns are the places that I call home, and I love painting around here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Late Winter Sun

I've been painting smaller pieces, such as this 11 x 14" canvas, with the goal of clearing my voice. I will work my way back up to painting some larger pieces, but for now it seems like making several paintings in a day is the way to progress.
In painting, it is easy to second guess every move, but I just allowed myself to paint this one quickly, and let the accuracy happen. When I look at my favorite painters work, I can feel some of this as well, so I am glad when it happens to me.
The sun shines once in a while during Mud Season, and I was glad it did on this day.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Summer in Baraboo

We had some nice temperatures this past weekend, never mind the wind. This is a 16 x 20" painting from late last summer. The green grass gives me a good feeling to look at. It isn't yellow ochre mud color grass, but real sunkissed yellow green grass.
The building is the back of a bar in Bararboo, I believe it's named Gem City. There is an apartment on the top of the bar, and the Baraboo river is directly to the right of where I was standing. I have been painting some larger canvases in Baraboo during the mud season, and I'm hoping to finish them soon, at least before the trees and flowers bloom.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Terrytown Barns

Sunlight is my favorite condition to paint in, I'm sure it is the same for many painters. The sunlight casts shadows, which create shapes to design the canvas with.
A barrista at the local coffee shop commented that March gives the feeling of a hangover to those who don't drink. I haven't had a drink in a while, and I sort of enjoy the overcast days for reasons other than painting.
To me, these dreary winter days feel neutralized. I do not get a big rush when painting them, it is more of a steady pace rather than a chase. These barns have also felt the steady pace of season after season beating them up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Workshop at Blue Heron

I have posted my 2014 workshop schedule on a new tab, just above this post. The first workshop is coming up quickly, and is a workshop that is going to be held in the studio space above Blue Heron. I have been teaching a 6 week drawing class at UW-Baraboo, and am excited to get back into the swing of teaching. If you would like to hear more about the workshops, you can drop me a line at blksquirl85@yahoo.com

Monday, March 24, 2014


This is Baraboo Wisconsin, a town that sits between two bluffs. I've spent time in Baraboo painting over the past five or so years, and this is an interesting vantage point that overlooks the downtown, with the Devil's lake bluff in the background.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Polar trees

I noticed these trees when I was at a birthday party. A friend of mine set up some snowboard jumps and rails to grind on on a hill in the country. They grilled out and had a couple cases of beer. The party was a lot of fun, it's always nice to hike a hill when snowboarding. It was a clear afternoon, and these trees were on fire when the last light fell on them.

Friday, March 14, 2014


The early light piece at the start of this post was done on a Wednesday. I was painting the factory, with the light intensifying the color of the smoke coming from the smoke stacks, when my friend Brian Brenner parked his car, and went to work at a different factory. I worked his car in. Sometimes there is an idea not to chase after things in a painting. I got some good advice on the subject from a seasoned painter who told me not to chase the light, unless it got better.
The barn is on Terrytown Road. I paint out there a lot, and his farm gets plenty of attention from me. I've painted the long view of his place a few times, but this is the first from inside my truck. I was parked at an abandoned school across the street from his place.

Polar Vortex

This winter was one for the record books. At one point, temperatures didn't go above freezing for 25 days. One intense cold front was dubbed the Polar Vortex, and these two paintings were created during this time. Buzz words aside, it was cold, cold enough that I would have to turn on the heat in my truck every 15 minutes or so. These were painted from the front seat.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lesters Car - Ellison Bay Pontiac

The painting above was done for the Door County Plein Air Festival last summer. The car is an old Pontiac, that is missing the front bumper. The property is undergoing a restoration, but the building to the right of the car (that is being held up by stilts) will have to be tore down.

George Bentley, the owner of the car, shared some history. He wrote:

This is "Les Tour", Lester Bentley's car that was purchased new.  The car would carry a full size portrait frame from New York to CT through its pillarless window system. They would sit inside the frame while it rested on the window doorframes back to the studio where Les painted President Eisenhower at the pinnacle of his career. It will move into the grainery threshing floor to begin restoration this winter. Thanks for painting it!
                 -George Bentley.

Here is the portrait of Eisenhower, painted when Bentley was 44 at his studio in Connecticut.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It's 2014~ How about a Workshop?

Happy Holidays! 
I graduated college a couple of weeks ago, and will finish student teaching at the end of January. Even though my college semester is finished, I will stick with my high school students until the end of their semester. I graduated with a BS in art education, so I will be certified to teach art in the public schools. I'm looking forward to finishing my student teaching in the coming weeks, and getting back to painting and teaching painting workshops full time.

Speaking of workshops, I have a couple coming up:

February 6-8 I'll be teaching a values workshop at the Peninsula School. I have taught several three day workshops over the past few years, and my values workshop is the best that I do. It's not that my other workshops are bad, I put a ton of work into writing the curriculum, it's just that the study of values and composition are extra exciting to teach. Click here to for more info or to register.

Starting March 4th, I will be hosting a 6 week night drawing course at UW-Baraboo. The class is from 6:30-8:30 pm. I have taught several night classes at UW-Baraboo, but the last one was in 2011. I enjoy these multi-week night classes, because they are filled with people who I don't know yet, but am excited to meet. The drawing night class is a great time to get to know my teaching style and you can read more about it by clicking here.

I will also be teaching a plein air workshop in Cedarburg on May 3. I will write more about that workshop once the details have been finalized.