The Painting Blog

Started as a daily painting blog but this is easier to live with-
the once-in-a-while blog of a painter who also writes.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Wonderful Wadena

I grew up in the Wadena area, shopped there, graduated from high school there.
Wadena held my first sense of the world. I hovered over small purchases at the Woolworth’s store and Ben Franklin. I still have a 49 cent Christmas ornament made from a real egg shell that came from one of those stores.
Both J C Penney and Sears were catalog stores. You could order from their 2-inch thick catalogs and pick up the items at the stores or have them delivered. It may have taken 6 weeks to arrive but that only built anticipation. Their Christmas catalogs were delights to the eyes and if you were the type to sniff new books, catalogs were sniffable, too.
The jewelry stores were great for window shopping and they probably had to regularly wipe down the nose prints.
I followed my dad into the hardware and feed stores and went with him to pick up the cream check at the creamery.
I was a regular visitor at Rex McDonald photography studio since my mom worked there. I worked there, too, when I was in high school.
One place I never ventured into was the old hotel. Curiosity wasn’t a good enough reason and it was a little spooky before it was restored. I suppose the train depot was open back then but like the hotel, I couldn’t conjure up a reason to sneak in.
Kerfoot’s bookstore was a little spooky, too, and I never ventured inside until my brothers and I were old enough to go in on our own. We didn’t look for books. There were fascinating and mysterious items which included magic tricks and oddities. The proprietor was an old man who probably cultivated a little fear in young visitors just to keep his collection from disappearing.
The Cozy Theatre was a little smaller back then but what a memorable experience it was to go through the doors into another world. One of my earliest memories is of a scene of a beautiful woman floating down a river on a raft and another much scarier memory of a small boy being chased by a huge spider. The Saturday Christmas matinees were exciting and ended with the gift of a bag of peanuts from Santa.
Creating a set of Wadena images sparked lots of memories. These images are on note cards and more recently in “A Little Art” portfolios. Ask Lina at the Wadena Museum and Bookstore and she’ll show you the current supply of "Wonderful Wadena."

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Holmes City

The one little thing I regret from a summer jaunt through western Minnesota is that I didn’t follow my nose to the scent that pervaded the weekly outdoor market we visited. I have a strong suspicion that it was bug spray; but not a toxic scent that repels humans as well as mosquitoes. This was a lovely scent that could have easily been sweetly perfumed homemade soap. Since aromas are memory triggers, whatever this one was will take me back to Holmes City when I smell it again.
            Holmes City is an unincorporated community, which means, in part, that there’s no sign announcing how many residents live there. Their signage, however, was very welcoming announcing both the weekly market and the weekly community breakfast.
            Lack of signage on the part of another small community’s Saturday event is what determined where we landed that day. I had heard about the ongoing restoration of another small town in Pope County. Their Saturday event was to include art shows in two locations, a tractor show and a potluck dinner. We thought we’d check it out and arrived at the advertised starting time of 10:00 a.m. We took about five minutes (it’s a small town) to drive all the streets looking for signs and/or a gathering of people. We didn’t see anyone on foot and just two people in a pick-up who had apparently unloaded a tractor. No signs for the art show. An electric drill resting on the door sill of one of the venues made it look like something was happening within but to me it said they weren’t ready for company just yet. The main venue had one car parked out front but no sign of artists.
So, we did a pass through on this one and headed back toward franchised coffee. But when we saw the Holmes City Farmer’s Market sign, we turned right into an unincorporated community with a strong sense of self.
We looked over the vendor’s offerings first: wooden items, quilts, jams and jellies, barbed wire sculptures, baked goods, and produce. What caught my eye, if not my nose, was the three air-pots of coffee next to a display of bags of whole coffee beans. Bryce, the young man behind the display, explained he is a home-based coffee roaster and invited us to try three of his varieties. We were on a quest for good coffee, after all, so we tried all three. He explained the blends he had devised and the attributes of each. We bought the sales pitch as well as a 12 ounce bag of his “Bryce’s Beans Original.”
By then my travel companion was sensing that first breakfast had worn off and maybe it was time for second breakfast.  The church and hall adjacent to the parking lot, and its members who put on the weekly event throughout the summer, host and serve.  Judging by the new blue steel roof on the building, their efforts have been well rewarded and put back into the church community.  We put in our free-will offering and loaded up on baked eggs, French toast, fresh fruit and sausage. Oh, and see-through-to-the-bottom-of-the-cup Lutheran coffee. I was glad the taste of Bryce’s Beans still lingered on my tongue. We spooned special toppings onto our French toast and I was half-way through before I remembered to take a photo. One of the toppings was a lovely seasonal sauce of rhubarb and strawberries. The other had a gourmet flair. “It’s bananas foster,” explained the man who refilled our coffee cups. “It’s usually served on ice cream,” he added. But oh what a marvelous addition to breakfast! It may be that the brown sugar, butter, bananas and cinnamon had not been enhanced by a conflagration of rum, but it was a delicious surprise.
We rolled back out into the parking lot and chatted with the mushroom forager whom we had missed on the first run through. His baskets of oyster and sulfur shelf mushrooms and hard-to-find  chanterelles were a mushroom lover’s dream. He explained that he only wild-crafts mushrooms, as well as the spring offerings of ramps and fiddleheads. The farm to table restaurant in the neighboring town puts his hard-found fungi on their menu. He described that amount of time and effort he put in on the treasure hunt to bring these decidedly Minnesota offerings to this weekly market. “I spend five hours of windshield time just going to the places where I can find them,” he said, of course not revealing exactly where he finds the chanterelles or the 60 pounds of morels he amassed last spring. He didn’t say anything about the amount of mosquito repellent he goes through.
My second regret of the day is that we didn’t buy a quarter pound of chanterelles to try along with the lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms my travel companion is growing on specially inoculated logs at home.
Next time I’ll follow my nose and leave with no regrets.

The egg bake was as light and fluffy as I’ve ever tasted. The kitchen ladies happily shared the recipe. I’m sharing it with you exactly as it was written. You’ll have to figure out for yourself how to make a quantity that suits your own appetite. And you might have to stop in at a weekend coming up if you need to know the size of the pans and if the 12 eggs and 2 cups of milk are used for each pan. (The recipe page also showed biscuits and gravy and bread pudding so it must be that the menu changes from week to week.)
                                 Holmes City Egg Bake
“I line each pan with parchment paper and start by cutting up bread that loosely fills the pan. I usually make 18-20 pans. I buy 2 large stalks of celery, 5 pounds of onions and grind them in the food processor. I put them in separate bowls and split each ingredient between all the pans before adding the bread. Then I use the mixer to beat 12 eggs, 2 cups of milk, salt and pepper to taste and pour that into the pan filled with bread and stir. It should be a little juicy. Then add chopped up sausage or ham bits and put that on top. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and put into the refrigerator until Saturday. Start baking at 6 a.m.—you can get 6 pans in each oven but you have to watch them carefully, switching them around occasionally. At 350 they can take about an hour since they are cold going in.”

Visit to see the art of NPL.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

To Begin Again

To begin, again, let’s take a moment or two to explain the absence of several years of blog entries.
To be creative takes a tremendous amount of brain power, as well as discipline, and time. Living in our modern society doesn’t give a hoot if you have much of any of that short list to apply to inspired pursuits. Of course, it preaches that creativity is primary but when it comes down to it, most jobs require that you show up and do the task list of the day. And, you have to have a job unless you want to pay out of pocket for health insurance. Sure, if you’re truly a starving artist, you can, at least in the state where I live, get by with a state sponsored health plan. But I’m one of the fortunate ones whose husband retired with an income that provided enough for the costs of daily living. However, it didn’t really bargain for paying a thousand dollars a month for my health insurance.
That means for the last decade, I’ve either worked to pay for health insurance or worked in a job that provided health insurance. I’ve learned a lot in those jobs and am thankful to have been able to work in capacities that challenged my mental faculties, i.e. learned a half dozen different computer programs. But, boy, was my head tired when I got home each day. I didn’t have much left to put into studio time. BUT, and it’s a really big BUT, by virtue of reaching an age of wisdom and seeming decrepitude, I have been able to set aside the 9-5:00, 8-4:00, 7-5:00, 3-11:00 and all the other daily work schedules and go back to creative time. That’s like standard time, daylight savings time, and the gold standard all rolled into one!
I’ve taken stock. I’ve accumulated a huge work portfolio from when I could follow the creative urges over the last 50+ years! And it’s time to get on with it!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Falling Star

Falling Star is a crisp delicious South American wine. Our trip to Peru and Bolivia this last spring opened my eyes to the richness of this region's delicacies. 18" x 24" acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas.

Monday, May 23, 2011

New work, 2011

Here are two new graphite portraits.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Update, January 2011

While I haven't painted on a daily schedule since last spring, I have done a few rather important paintings. Ellie commissioned a double portrait of her grandsons, Barb requested a small portrait of her chocolate lab,  a Rose City couple ordered a whimsical rendition of their home and a watercolor of their Jacob's sheep and Burger King commissioned its eighth annual Christmas card design. Good business.

Now, in this somewhat slower time of the year, I'm attempting to clean my studio all the way to the corners. That's meant disposing of perfectly good small pieces of paper and matboard, actually parting with some paintings and less than fresh materials. I'll also pack away some treasures. After the sorting and tossing, the walls will get a new coat of paint and my life will be less cluttered. How's that for a New Year's resolution?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I painted on Saturday

Yup, Yup...I got the paint out again. We put new counter tops in the kitchen; tore off the old wall paper above the stove and between the cupboards and the counter top. That little project was way over due. The wall paper was from the mid 80s, when earth-tones ruled interiors and shag rugs reigned over, or under, living rooms.

The adjoining rooms to the kitchen are a lovely blue gray but of course we couldn't find any paint left over from when they were painted. So, I dusted off my pallette, mixed white, black and blue and got a nearly perfect match. It wasn't a challenging painting job but a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

I just had an art lover stop in to purchase a painting. The lovely little winter scene from January 12 will be traveling to Germany. Lovely place for it to go.