Moving on.

A couple of weeks ago my husband accepted a job at UW-Oshkosh as the Director of the School's Recording program.  We'll be packing up and moving to Wisconsin sometime late in the summer (fingers crossed).  We're already neck-deep in packing and prepping our house to sell while both trying to close out the semester here and continue working on our personal artistic works.  I'm prepping for a show next month, and Nate is working on getting his next album released.  We have a knack for unintentionally overlapping time-consuming commitments!  

I'll be taking a break from teaching in-person to focus on my studio work and teach online.  We are also hoping to get a house that we can really customize and make our own, so I'm sure I'll be occupied with 'projects' for the near future.

We'll really miss our South Dakota family though - we've made such great friendships while living here over the last five years that will be hard to leave.  I'll also really miss my students at DSU - they are a great bunch!  But, we're familiar with the commute from WI to SD, so I know we'll be traveling back to visit.  We both attended UW-Oshkosh for our undergrad degrees though, and have kept in touch with a lot of our friends in the area, so at least we'll be moving someplace that is familiar this time around.

Keep your fingers crossed for us that our move will go smoothly and will time out well. :)  To our South Dakota friends: you'll always have a place to stay/visit in WI.

In the Studio - Small Paintings and Small Sculptures

Underpainting on a commissioned piece - flocked jackalope. :)

I finished the underpainting on this little jackalope painting last night - it is a commissioned piece for a friend of mine who searched high and low for the perfect flocked jackalope.  I'm hoping to knock out the rest of the painting next week after this layer dries.

Waiting to get my clay in the mail.  In the meantime I am building little  armatures.

I'm also going out on a limb and trying to make some small figurine sculptures of my own.  I just bought some additional sculpture tools, so this should be a lot easier the next time around.


I'm toying with the idea of casting these in resin, and making a bunch of blank figurines.  I may also be going crazy.

I need to get some real sculpting tools. Playing around with #sculpey and making my own figurines.

I used Super Sculpey clay over a skeleton made from wire, tin foil, and tape.  I also bought this Stainless Steel Carving Set which I used on this little duck.

Making tiny sculpey sculptures.  Thinking of casting these in resin...

Now I just have to figure out the best way to cast these in silicone, and look for a good resin to work with.  Maybe I'll take it full circle and make a painting of the figurines I make.

Slow Moving Glaciers

En route to Indianapolis.

I've had one of those semesters where I'm trying to juggle working on about 2 million things at once.  I'm making slow progress on all of my studio projects, but it feels like I'm standing still. I'm not someone who enjoys stagnancy.  One of the hard things about being an artist and working as an adjunct in academia is that there are very few ways to truly feel accomplished.  As an artist, there are always bigger fish to fry (and always lots of rejection), and as an adjunct, there is always the uncertainty of your job disappearing each semester despite your best teaching efforts.  I've been yearning for more stable ground the last few years, and am doing a lot of thinking about what my next move will be.  I'll keep you updated, but at the present moment I'm just trying to keep my head above water.

Perfect afternoon.  Painting and a fancy pants carrot/sweet potato/pear/ginger juice that tastes like heaven.

In good news, I've been selling a few paintings lately to some collectors I really admire, working on some commissions, and recently travelled to Indianapolis to present at the national FATE conference with some colleagues from our neighboring university SDSU.  I loved visiting the IMA - they had a great collection.  Sometimes a trip to an art museum can re-energize your art-making in a profound way. 

The last few days have been wonderful - I attended the #fate2015 conference and presented with my good friend Mariam, got to attend some great panels by friends, and was really inspired by keynote speaker #waynewhite 's talk.

I also really enjoyed the keynote speaker of the conference, Wayne White.  I totally recommend watching the documentary that focused on his work, Beauty is Embarrassing.  I think seeing an artist's development over time is really important.  One of the things he addressed in his talk was how he always followed and produced things that interested him and caught his attention - with no mind to whether or not they would 'amount' to anything.  Yet, even these things that he thought were strange (puppet making, installation, historical reproductions) all came back into his work in really important ways as his career progressed.  

I'm hoping to show this documentary to my students.  One of the things I try to do as an educator is introduce a ton of new techniques and challenge students to follow their interests.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will encourage them to keep experimenting.

Float Framing Artwork Tutorial for Prints, Drawings, and Artwork on Paper

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I’ve set a goal of framing a bunch of prints/drawings that I’ve purchased from artists over the last few years so we can enjoy having them on display.  I’ve put together this tutorial for you all so you can feel confident in framing work without damaging it or plunking down serious cash at the frame shop.  This method of framing hinges the artwork from the top and lets it hang freely in a deep set shadowbox frame.  It lets the deckle edge show, and is easy to make with minimal material costs.

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  • Frame: a shadowbox frame that is proportionate to your artwork – I recommend buying frames in person as you can better gauge their quality.
  • Mat Board – I use archival Rag Mat Board – I don’t have to worry about it leeching acid or damaging prints/drawings over time.   
  • Mat Cutter (get one if you’re an artist or frame a lot of work – it is well worth the investment.) OR an X-acto Knife and Cutting Mat
  • Linen Gummed Hinging Tape – One small roll will last you a long time and it is reversible if you make a mistake or want to re-frame something later on.
  • Small T-Square  or a Ruler
  • Microfiber Rag – these are essential for cleaning frames because they leave no dust.
  • Scissors
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Scrap paper for making a mock-up
  • Optional: Drafting Tape  for initial positioning of artwork

Step 1:
Clean everything with your microfiber rag and some glass cleaner.  Clean your work area, clean your frame, take it apart and clean both the inside and the outside.  This may seem like overkill, but you’d be surprised at how dirty frames can be even when they are new.  This will keep little black specks of dust and errant cat hairs at bay. 

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Step 2: 
Make a template of your frame insert (or use the back of the paper that comes in your frame).  This will help you get accurate measurements for centering your artwork in your frame.

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Step 3:
Measure your artwork and center it on your template.  I like to have my artwork centered width-wise, and have a little bit more space on the bottom than on the top length-wise.   Make small marks showing where the corners are.

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Step 4:
Establish a ‘cut line’ that is about 1/3” down from the top of the print.  This is where we’ll cut a slit in the backing board to mount work invisibly

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Step 5:
Cut out mat board to use as your backing.  Use your mat cutter or your xacto knife and a ruler to produce a straight 90 degree cut.  If using your xacto knife, make sure to take your cuts slow – you’ll need multiple careful passes to cut through your mat board.  Be patient.

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Step 6:
Once your mat board is cut, lay your template over the mat board and transfer the ends of your cut line by pushing your pencil through your paper.  It should create a small indent that you can then use a ruler to connect.

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Step 7:
Using your Mat Cutter or your Xacto knife, cut a slit along your cut line through to the back of your paper.  This cut should be the opposite directions that you usually cut mat bevels, and should be at a 45 degree angle.  If using an Xacto knife, it may take a bit of practice to get this technique down.

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Step 8:
Once your bevel is cut, take some pieces of Linen tape about 2” long  and cut them to be about 1/2” wide.  If you are hinging a larger piece, use 3” long tape and use the full 1” width. 

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Step 9:
Mount the tape in a small square to the back of the artwork.  If mounting a photograph, or something on really thin or translucent paper, the linen mounting tape might not work the best – you may want to try a self-adhesive archival tape.  Make sure you don’t add too much water to the tape – I like to put the water on, let it sit for a few seconds to absorb into the tape, and then adhere it to the back of the print.  Make sure you mount it lower than 1/3” from the top – I like to mount mine about 2/3” from the top so that I have a little vertical space to work with when adjusting my artwork.  Also be mindful not to mount the tape pieces wider than your slot in your mat board.

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Step 10:
Slide the tape through the slit in the mat board and adjust it until your print sits exactly where you want it.  I like to use some drafting tape on the back once I get it situated before I adhere it to the back of the mat board to double check that the print sits just right before adhering the gummed linen tape to the mat. 

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Step 11:
Once you’ve double-checked your placement, adhere the linen tape to the mat board and take an additional piece to place over your slot.  This will keep it from bowing out or warping over time. 

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Step 12:
Place your artwork in your frame and enjoy! 
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The wonderful piece in this tutorial is a print by Michael McGovern - a grad school friend, and wonderful printmaker based in Portland - click on his name to check out his website and other work!

Paintings in Progress

I'd been working on a bunch of small watercolor paintings, and having mixed success (ok - so I made a bunch of mediocre/bad paintings and a few ok ones).  I've started working on a bunch of small oil paintings to get back on track.

Blocking in the first layer of this little block painting.

Blocking in the first layer.

Second layer down on this little guy. One more to go.

The second layer is finished, I've got one more to go to add more detail and refine the gradients/ edges.

Starting the underpainting on this guy today.

Started this one from a tiny maquette made from paper and a metallic pipe cleaner.  Note: Metallic pipe cleaners are tough to paint!

Kapow. Underpainting blocked in.

This is the second layer - I've got one more layer to go on this one to flatten out the forms and sneak in some insane detail on the pipe cleaner lightening.

First layer done on this one.

This one still needs one more layer.  I kind of love how it is turning out so far.  I used craft foam to build the little maquette for this one and foresee making more of these.  I like the combination of simplicity and realism happening in this painting.


And, last but not least, a 'lone cloud' painting.  I just blocked this one in last night.

I like having a bunch of paintings to jump around between.  It helps me to stay focused and energized.  If I run into a wall with one painting, I've always got another one I can turn to to stay motivated and engaged.