From Layl McDill

Two works in Colors of Humanity Red Show

Red. My favorite color.

Two of my pieces were selected by the Colors of Humanity Art Gallery for its February 2015 show honoring “RED, my favorite color.  What a beautiful group of paintings to be part of in this Red Show.

Three Red Cave Frogs
Three Red Cave Frogs
Ax-man Gizmo 10th Gear
Ax-man Gizmo 10th Gear


The Ax-Man Gizmo 10th Gear

The Ax-Man Gizmo 10th Gear is part of a series of paintings that I made after a Mentor-Protegee Art Adventure with Layl McDill, my WARM (Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota) mentor in the 2013-2015 cycle. We found the flat black plastic gizmo that carpenters use to measure the diameter of wire, and immediately saw ART TOOL! I made ten of these paintings.

Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul: Three Red Cave Frogs

The Three Red Cave Frogs are, of course, part of the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul. Imagined and excavated from the comfort of my living room studio, which is remarkably free of rats and bat, each piece begins with a layer of tinted gesso.  The frogs are stencilled and the whole piece is sprayed with archival spray.

FROM THE COLORS OF HUMANITY WEBSITE: This show will run February 1-31 (sic), 2015. Artists from around the world were called to submit their work and we were very pleased with the response we received. There were 117 accepted works and they came from 26 different states in the USA and 8 other countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Malaysia, Russian Federation, and Switzerland. A variety of styles and mediums were entered including, acrylic, blood, ‘bodypaintography’, charcoal, digital, ink, latex, mixed media, monotype, oil, pastel, photography, resin, scratchboard, watercolor, and woodcut. The judging criterion was originality, interpretation, quality, demonstration of ability, and usage of medium. Other factors, such as the clarity of the images provided and their ability to be viewed online, as well as relating to the theme, also contributed to the decision. “Best of Show”, “First Place”, and “Second Place” winners received a monetary award in addition to special recognition.
We were very happy to donate 10% of all entry fees from this show to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). It is our hope that this small act of kindness will blossom and grow to help someone else.

Image-a-day 2014: Gratitude

Pencil Lines: Image-a-day #1

2013 Image-a-day ended abruptly.

After rotator cuff surgery in mid-November 2013, I was forbidden to use my right hand, which meant no typing, painting, or drawing. My approach to rehab was guided by Kathleen, a pal from Vine Arts Center and a massage therapist, who said: “Do your exercises or become my patient for life.”

Exercise for rehab.

So I did my exercises. After coming out of anesthesia and two solid weeks of pain-med-morphine, my right hand shook uncontrollably. I did my exercises, harboring the fear that I would never be able to draw or paint tiny details, which are the hallmarks of much of my art. I kept quiet and continued with my exercises.

On Christmas Day, I picked up a pencil and began to make this drawing. Tiny lines. Straight lines. Lots of them. The tiny drawing was two inches long. I wasn’t able to work on it every day until January 8. I’m now ready to commit to my fourth year of Image-a-day painting.


Panda #2 In Progress
On a Black Gesso Ground

I have a long list of people to thank, and I may miss some because the first three weeks after surgery are still a blur: My beloved book group, the Mystery “Mavens” (we have another name, but I don’t want to get caught in a spam filter) who made and delivered soup and snacks, drove me to grocery stores, and, once, to the ER (Becky, Martha, Kathryn, Julie, Connie, Pat); neighbor and fellow Whovian and Sherlockian, Mary, an all-around fabulous helper who was unafraid to note that Figs Poached in Diet Ginger Ale is disgusting. (It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I was taking morphine for pain, which makes you stupid.)

Also, my friend Susan who bought the innocent figs and the other yummy treats which I did not abuse; WARM Mentor Layl, who supported my left-handed artwork and made sure that I was able to buy Black Gesso during our outing; Pal Janet, who provided chocolate and cheer; Russ and Susan, who cheerfully schlepped me and my art to various places; Josie, the very best Occupational Therapist Ever; and, finally (last but certainly not least), my great friends Nancy and Jason, who drove me and fed me cheered me throughout this ordeal.

Next week.

Cataract surgery. I can’t wait.

Ax-Man Project Gear 10: Exhibition Finalist

Ax-Man Project Gear 10

The Ax-Man Project Gear 10 is a finalist in Exhibition Without Walls’ Your Choice On-Line Juried Exhibition.

Eighty-seven photographers, digital artists, and graphic designers submitted 473 images. Twenty-five were selected as finalists, and if you click through the images, I promise that they will take your breath away.
My entry, Ax-Man Project Gear 10, was inspired by a Gizmo I found during an early-summer Ax-Man run with Layl McDill, my WARM (Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota) mentor. I now know that the Gizmo is a tool that people use to measure wire diameter.
The Original Gear 10 Watercolor
I used it to make post-card sized watercolor paintings that I scanned and then (gleefully) manipulated in Photoshop. See all 10 here.

Ax-Man Gizmo: non-stop inspiration

Gizmo from Ax-Man
Gizmo from Ax-Man

As a lucky participant in the Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota (WARM) Mentor-Protege Program, I get to spend time with my mentor, Layl McDill, an extraordinary polymer clay artist.

Third Gear Painting: Posterized
Third Gear Painting

Two weeks ago our monthly meeting/field trip took us to Ax-Man, a surplus store on University Avenue in Saint Paul, and to the Bell Museum on the University of Minnesota Campus.

6th Gear Painting

We went to Ax-Man because I’d had a tiny moment in the workshop of a very talented guitar maker where the walls were covered with (to me) unknown gizmos, gadgets, and whatsis that cried out to become painting templates. While Ax-man was short of guitar-making tools, it was long on pieces that inspired me to go home and paint.

From the Ax-Man came the Ax-Man Gizmo, and from the Gizmo came “10 Gears.” Each began as a post-card sized watercolor that I scanned into Photoshop and manipulated to make digital magic.

Gourds & polymer clay: new techniques

It is important to learn something new every day, and my head if full of new stuff from two classes that I took on Saturday and Monday. Gourds & Polymer Clay: different tools and techniques. New for me. Huzzah!

My Gourd Pin from Kristin Treuting’s Workshop
A Gourd Pin

Gourd Art and Kristen Treuting

Water Movement” is a three-artist show at Vine Arts Center. Kristen Treuting‘s unique and beautiful gourd art is part of this show, and in her workshop, she let us loose with wood burners, lovely inks, and glue guns to create our own gourd art. Thanks, Kristen. (Note to cat owners: Some cats find gourd pieces very enticing. Hide your work.)

Polymer Clay and Layl McDill

Layl McDill is a gifted, visionary, and whimsical genius with polymer clay. Last night she conducted “Clay Play” with Silly Millies for mentors and proteges in this year’s WARM (Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota) Mentor program.

Canes and Canes
Tulip Fingers

Having had a deeply disappointing encounter with polymer clay years ago, I had always been curious about how to make the intricate designs actually work. Layl showed us that “noodles and blankets” were the secret, and the designs and figures that we all made were vastly different from one another, and all wonderful.

I can’t wait to incorporate these designs into my paintings.

NOTE: Layl McDill is my WARM Mentor in the current Mentor-Protege cycle. I am deeply grateful for her enthusiasm and encouragement. If you check out her work, you’ll know that she will never, ever tamp down my whimsy.