Happy Valentine’s Day

In a recent rollicking phone conversation with a fellow Nature Printing Society member, Jeanne (who lives near Chicago) divulged that she’s now pulling out prints from her stash to give as gifts to friends—to the delight of her friends.

I’ve been doing the same thing, as shown by the composition below. I was in a hurry (what else is new?) to make a Valentine for my husband. After assembling some disparate nature prints on my work table, I took a photo of the physical montage. I then scanned a watercolor/pastel heart that originally was the image in an ad for heart scans offered to patients by a radiological-practice client of ours. In Photoshop, I drew the swirly, transparent path through the artwork. The images were assembled from two layers in an InDesign layout and reproduced as a card. What’s in your stash that will delight your Valentine?

Hearty thanks

It was another eventful year of learning and sharing. Thank you for participating in a hands-on demo, taking a class, visiting with me at sales and seminars, and purchasing my work. I very much appreciate it. Thank you for your interest in nature printing. I look forward to sharing with you more creative adventures in the fresh new year.

American Highbush Cranberry, snipped from a bush that grows on the north side of Minnehaha Parkway near 10th Avenue in south Minneapolis. I’d been longing to print this plant for about three seasons and finally achieved that goal this fall just before really cold weather arrived.

Boutique wrap-up

The first time I participated in the Women’s Art Festival was in 2011 when I met Juli Henricksen, who designs and produces artful, one-of-a-kind dyed, felted, stitched, embellished jackets and vests from wool, silk, and other fibers. I was mesmerized by the stunning creativity of her work and the dazzling range of her vision. In the course of visiting with Juli, she mentioned that her best show and sale was the holiday boutique at Christ Presbyterian Church (CPC) in Edina, MN.

In 2012, my friend, Terry, and I made a circuit of holiday shows and exhibits, starting with CPC. The vendors displayed creative work, and the church was swarming with women, many of whom were carrying shopping bags. Juli sold seven or eight of her marvelous garments that day.

This past weekend, I had a great location as a participating artist in the CPC boutique, which was well organized and well attended. However, Juli Jackets, whose garments sold well last year, sold only one jacket all day. My friends, Sandra & Kim, whom I invited to the boutique, were marooned in a desolate, dead-end room. Sales were disappointing for them, too. And I sold only $31.50 in note cards to guests other than friends. In fact, I sold more note cards in two hours on a Memorial Day Saturday at the Midtown Farmers Market (with the help of my friend, Lynn)—before a sudden thunderstorm roiled into the marketplace—than I did at this suburban church boutique.

Twenty people participated in my drawing to win one of my prints that was won by a friendly woman from Burnsville named Sandy.

The bright note of the day—besides talking a lot and meeting new people 8-)—was that my new Hanes support pantyhose (under $9/pair at amazon) did wonders for my gusto, although getting into those stockings is a bit like dealing with a heavy resist band attached to your front doorknob.

On Sunday, I felt as though I was recovering from the flu, or perhaps a colonoscopy, but perked up enough to conquer the laundry & make a reasonable supper later in the day.

I’m looking forward to participating in the always-inspiring Women’s Art Festival on Dec. 14 & hope to see you there! http://womensartfestival.com/



Noticing the light

As I prepare to participate for the first time in the CPC Holiday Craft Boutique at Christ Presbyterian Church on 70th St. and highway 100 in Edina, MN, I’m reminded of the importance of light. The winter solstice—the darkest day of the year—occurs in a month, but right now, before turning on the double-fluorescent lights (one warm, one cool) in my basement workspace, the light from a nearby window is almost magical. Perhaps this special light will guide me as I finalize framing prints, and fold and package note cards, in anticipation of meeting you tomorrow, November 23, 2013, from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M.

This event is a fundraiser for the church. “All monies received from application fees go toward mission projects sponsored by The Christian Fine Arts Committee at CPC. All persons associated with running the show are unpaid volunteers.” (This quoted material was provided to all participating artists.)

My next creative adventure as an exhibiting artist will be at the uplifting, inspiring 21st-annual Women’s Art Festival, Saturday, Dec. 14, from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. at the Midtown YWCA in south Minneapolis. All day long the gym will be filled with the creative work of 125 women artists, music performed by women musicians, food created by women, and warm hospitality. I hope you’ll stop in. http://womensartfestival.com

Monarch Festival

On Saturday, September 7, 2013, at the Monarch Festival, my friend Lynn and I will guide a hands-on demonstration of nature printing. We—and you!—will apply Speedball water-soluble printmaking inks with a soft-rubber brayer to milkweed leaves. The female monarch butterfly lays eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves which provide food for the caterpillars when they hatch. We print the underside of the leaves because the veins are more prominent on that side of most leaves. Please stop by to have some fun and make your own print, which will look something like this.

Milkweed leaf, actual size.

Gardening with native plants

It’s from my neighbor, Marie, that I first heard about gardening with native plants. That was more than 20 years ago. Marie, and her late husband, Bud, carried a pail and gardening shovel in the trunk of their car. When they encountered a plot of land that was being developed, they leaped into action, digging up and rescuing the native plants they discovered on the site.

You’ll notice that I’m not mentioning Marie’s and Bud’s last name as their activity may be interpreted as trespassing, but their intent was to save plants that grow—and thrive—in our climate and conditions; plants that send deep roots into the soil and provide nectar and seeds that support our local bees, butterflies, and birds.

Two other generous neighbors—Erlinda and Bob—have also kindly shared plants with me. I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of the plants, and admire their diversity and determination. And because I now grow many native plants, I’m able to notice and print the fleeting blossoms and leaves of the spring ephemerals at this time of year.

By looking up information online or in books such as Stan Tekiela’s Wildflowers of Minnesota Field Guide, I’ve learned more about native plant families, habitats, and their Latin names that I now place on the back of the note cards I reproduce from the original prints of the plants.

In addition to the generosity of neighbors, the best sources with which I’m familiar for purchasing native plants are local native plant nurseries. Twelve of them will convene this Saturday, June 1, 2013, at the Landscape Revival, a market and expo that is sponsored by local conservation groups and agencies. I’m looking forward to participating in this event by demonstrating nature printing and having note cards and prints available to purchase. I hope to see you there. Read more in Kim Palmer’s informative article, “Building Buzz,” in today’s StarTribune.

Fresh Art Studio & Gallery Tour

I’ll be printing—and visiting!—at site #12 & look forward to seeing you!

A matter of perspective

When a friend retired and our gift wasn’t quite ready, I rummaged through my prints, found one I liked, quickly wrote a message on the front, popped the print into a small box, and wrapped the box. Our friend opened the box and was pleased with the temporary gift.

A while later, when I saw the print in a photo frame from Marshall’s, it was as though I was seeing the print for the first time. I experienced an unexpected appreciation for the work through my friend’s simply rotating the print and putting it in a frame. There’s nothing quite so helpful as framing any artwork, particularly if its matted or the finished size suits affordable stock frame sizes. Beauty, and perception, is in the eye of the beholder—and in the manner of presentation!

Wild Ones annual conference

Are you familiar with Wild Ones? It’s a “national, not-for-profit environmental education and advocacy organization” founded in Milwaukee, WI, in 1979. There are 50 chapters in 13 states—six in Minnesota, including two in the Twin Cities area—that are devoted to native plants and natural landscapes. http://www.wildonestwincities.org http://www.wildones.org/chapters/scos/

The Design With Nature Annual Conference takes place Saturday, March 1, 2013, at the Plymouth Creek Center in Plymouth, MN. Four excellent speakers will make presentations throughout the day. In between the seminars, I will be among a dozen exhibitors as I show and have for sale prints and note cards of native plants. I look forward to seeing you there.

Conference speakers

Darrel Morrison, landscape architect, educator, and author—a pioneer in using native plant communities as models for the design of gardens and landscapes

Dawn Pape, environmental educator, author, and photographer

Bonnie Harper-Lore, restoration ecologist, educator, and author

Diane Hilscher, landscape architect and ecologist

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Nature prints on exhibition

My nature-printing teacher, Sonja Larsen, was invited to exhibit some of her original monotype botanical prints in the gallery at The FrameWorks in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota. http://www.frameworksmn.com

Friends and fellow students stopped by the opening on Saturday night to see Sonja’s latest techniques, celebrate her work, and hold a mini reunion. It was stimulating to see that some of Sonja’s work is more abstract than previously, but all of it was captivating, inspiring, and affordable. In addition to the attractive framed prints, several baskets of smaller, matted prints are also available. Sonja’s work will be on display until April 6, 2013.

Sonja Larsen’s nature prints on display at The FrameWorks in St. Paul.

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