Friday, February 28, 2014

Baltimore Oriole No. 1

"Baltimore Oriole No. 1" 4"w x 4"h
I just love birds. While I find myself identifying with cardinals and capturing them on canvas, I frequently paint other birds I find around my home in northern Minnesota. So far I'm painted male and female cardinals, blue jays, robins, goldfinches, red wing blackbirds, chickadees ... to name a few. But I've been longing for spring and the songbirds to return, and so I felt like a baltimore oriole would brighten my spirits with it's distinctive markings and blaze orange chest. The orange forms a natural flame pattern and in this tiny four inch square painting titled Baltimore Oriole No. 1 I felt like the crisp birch bark and snowy background would offset this colorful little bird as I patiently wait through the sub zero weather for spring ... did I mention I just love birds?

Please contact Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, MN for more information on this painting.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

We've Been Old Friends ... All Through the Years ...

"We've Been Old Friends ... All Through the Years...",  60"w x 48"h, Sivertson Gallery
Today I'm happy to share a major work completed this week titled We've Been Old Friends ... All Through the Years ... which is 60"w x 48"h. It's kind of difficult to describe this painting, as it's so simple and yet complex at the same time. What appears to be a golden sunset over a deep ultramarine blue lake which is surrounded on all sides with golden birches is also a painting which captures my fascination with this majestic and mysterious tree called the birch. This tree carries such a visual interest to me that it finds it's way into many paintings and inspires me to carry on. This birch tree offers no color to razzle and dazzle you with, just crisp white and black color. So simple and yet so complex. So beautiful to behold and so difficult to capture on canvas. I've spent many long hours working on this piece, and at it's scale you can spend a long time looking at it and find little details every time. From the rich cobalt blue undertones to the crisp white birches and the richness of the golds sparkling and dancing across the canvas, this piece has become a friend of mine and features the birch tree which continues to captivate me ... after all ... we've been old friends ... all through the years ...

Please contact Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, MN, where the birch trees grow, for more information on this painting.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Retrospective: All That Glitters...

   For fun, I thought I'd share some early work periodically that was very influential in my development as a working artist and also for the work's influence on my style. This piece, titled All That Glitters, 12"w x 15"h was painted in January 2012 and is one of several paintings that are very dear to me.
   There is work that you just want to hold on to and not sell, and this is one of those. While this piece sold at Sivertson Gallery that month of 2012, it holds a special  place in my heart for many reasons. This is the first time I fully incorporated a single brushstroke into what some call pointillism, and others call square-alissm ha ha. I'm not trying to start something new with my work, I'm trying to speak visually as simply as possible. You could make a case that my work is closer to minimalism, but in the end I've been influenced by the neo impressionism work of Van Gogh, Gauguin and Seurat, to name a few, and hope my work reflects that influence.
   Back to the painting, this piece has many layers of gold in the leaves, the distant ridge and foreground shadows under the birches. But what really gets me is the sky. I used so many layers of blues and yellows to capture a sun setting in the sky, and the leaves of the birches have a transparency to them, which is achieved using a technique in acrylic painting called glazing. All this to say that I love this painting, and all that glitters is ...
To read my thoughts on this piece from 2012 please click here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tic Tac Toe

Here is a playful twist on a game I like to play with my kids called Tic Tac Toe. While I always let my kids win, it's fun to see their strategies for winning. Especially when they were younger, but now they always take the middle spot and know just how to beat me. The female cardinals in this tiny little painting measuring 4" square know how to play the game too. Painting a cardinal that's half an inch tall is quite a tall challenge for me, but fun nonetheless, just like that game. Please contact Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, MN for more information on this piece.

Friday, February 21, 2014


"Selfie" 4"w x 4"h
I must admit I've never liked the term 'selfie'. Perhaps it's due to the fun poked at people taking photos of themselves and posting them on internet websites such as Facebook. "Oh, so and so takes too many selfies." I prefer the term self portrait. Self portraits are artists' ways of expressing themselves in a given state of emotion, and are frequently very powerful images in of themselves. Photographers take self portraits using special lighting and techniques that express their emotion as well. In art school, I drew a self portrait of myself with a simple twist. Since we were studying life drawing at the time, looking at muscle and skeletal structures in order to be proportionally correct, I drew my face on one side as realistically as possible, and the other side I drew the muscle and skeletal structure. I thought it was pretty cool, but it did freak people out, so I don't think I kept it very long. Long story to say that self portraits are important, and the slang term 'selfie' just doesn't do the self portrait justice. I thought I'd have a little fun with the 'selfie' myself in this painting of a close up female cardinal. She's wanting you to see how pretty she is ... striking a pose in front of a crimson and pink background ... she's even batting her eyelashes, isn't she flattering? I'm sure all her friends will say '"oh, she takes too many selfies." Please contact Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, MN for more information on this selfie.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Polar Vortex

"Polar Vortex" 6"w x 6"h, Sivertson Gallery, Grand Marais, MN
On the eve of weather forecast that's charting a system predicted to drop up to fourteen inches of snow with forty mph. winds and subsequent sub zero twenty below temps following ... I thought this piece titled Polar Vortex was appropriate. As a working artist, it's easy to lose the artist in you as you endeavor to paint the next best painting, try to keep up with demand and balance all other aspects of life in the process. The artist in you refers to expressing your emotion via artwork. With this piece, the darkness of the foreground, icy pine ridge and distant foreboding sky are influenced directly by the sub zero weather we've had this winter. I used a simple palette of ultramarine blue and titanium white for this paining, letting the black canvas dictate the contrast and give that mysterious cold darkness to the background. The stark birches in the foreground are resolutely standing through the bitter cold, just like the people who live up in this winter wasteland, toughing out the weather, waiting for better days. I've heard that this polar vortex weather is the coldest on record, with the U.S. receiving the brunt of the cold this winter while other parts of the world experience record warmth. Today 'm going to lay down the paintbrush yet again and pick up the shovel, stock the wood in case of a power outage, and prepare to stand resolutely against this polar vortex. Please contact Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, MN for more information on this painting.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Spring Light

"Spring Light" 4"w x 4"h
On a sunny day I thought this painting was appropriate. Although this piece, titled Spring Light, is a mere 4"w x 4"h, it represents spring, which is a season everyone I know is longing for. Today the high is expected to approach 40 degrees, the highest temp since early fall. While next week looks to bring sub zero temps and single digit highs, there is a small glimmer of the hope of spring in the warm temps today. Please contact Siiviis Gallery in Duluth, MN for more information on these paintings.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Warm Winter Ridge & Golden Light

"Warm Winter Ridge", 10"w x 8"h, Siiviis Gallery, Duluth MN
"Golden Light", 4"w x 4"h, Siiviis, Duluth MN
Featured today are two winter inspired pieces titled Warm Winter Ridge and Golden Light. These include the rocks and birches that have been the subject of many of my paintings as of late, along with the deep blues and crisp whites of the winter landscape. I added gold to both paintings, which is why I chose to include them here together today, as the gold is a natural complement to the blue hues in the pieces, and I long for winter to end and warm temps to return. 5 plus inches of snow here today, and it looks like I'll have to be patient for spring temps. In the meantime, I'm being inspired by white snowdrifts and frosty air, or inspired by the thought of these things melting away ... Please contact Siiviis Gallery in Duluth, MN for more information on these paintings.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow Queen Series

"Snow Queen No. 1-4" 4"w x 4"h each
I had fun painting this series of female cardinals with the birch trees and snowy background providing a high contrast field of white to make the birds really pop. When you're dealing with a more subdued color, such as the mottled browns of the female cardinal, you have to do something to the background or else the birds just don't stand out. So these lovely little ladies are enjoying the snow, as are my kids. Not so much for me though, I'm ready for spring. 8 below zero this morning and my cocker spaniel was hobbling around on frozen paws.... and so was I. 
Please contact Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, MN for more information on this piece.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Night Shift

"Night Shift" 24"w x 24"h, Siiviis Gallery Duluth, MN
Here is a fun 24"w x 24"h painting titled Night Shift. I suppose I would call this a playful take on texture. Texture can be achieved by the tactile feel of a work of art to the touch, and it can also be found visually as well. At least in my humble opinion, which was often times disregarded when I was in art school but that's a story for another day. Anyways ... this piece features a rocky shoreline with icy cobalt underbrush that is highlighted by the moon, which is centrally located in the composition. The moon reflects off the deep ultramarine blue lake. Across the lake, the repetition of rocks, along with underbrush, deep blue pines and a distant blue stand of trees are layered to really add that visual texture I was referring to earlier. The birches, along with their male and female cardinal covered branches are standing out against this stark blue landscape. Winter has been so cold here, it was just bound to make it's way into my work, influencing me with the blues and darkness associated with this time of year. The cardinals don't seem to care in this piece however, they're busy gabbing when they should be working the night shift. Please contact Siiviis Gallery in Duluth, MN for more information on this piece.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Night Lady

"Night Lady" 4"w x 4"h, Sivertson Gallery, Grand Marais, MN
...just another lady cardinal perched on a birch and out enjoying the stars. This piece, titled Night Lady, is part of a series of female cardinals. Please contact Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, MN for more information on this painting.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cardinal Star

"Cardinal Star" 4"w x 4"h
The cardinal beak and head shape with it's distinctive sharp point make for quite a directional element. With it, you can point interest in a composition in regards to where the cardinal happens to be looking ... or talking to. In this piece titled Cardinal Star, the cardinal is looking up, gazing at the stars, perhaps wondering as I often do how many stars are out there and how far away they are. The vastness of space ... in a tiny 4"w x 4"h painting.  Please contact Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, MN for more information on this painting.