Monthly Archives: December 2011

Orpheus and Euridice

I didn’t retouch Orpheus and Eurydice, but I did write a sonnet about them:

Orpheus and Eurydice

In myth, a man could claim from death the one

he loved, could find the entrance to the place,

spelunk its spacious, hallways woebegone,

Cerberus quell with serenade, retrace

his steps and charm the beasts, flatter Hades

in his lair with a voice so soulful sweet

and mien so comely, naiads, dryads, ladies

fair, languished ‘bout.  Yet how this feat

resolved in naught is cautionary, the stuff

of tales:  Eurydice lost by a backward glance

as  Orpheus led the way.  It’s like enough

his turning round was nothing but mischance,

but when I think, I’m impelled to query,

“Was her walking behind him necessary?”


Oil painting of Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice



More retouches

Oil painting of Odysseus and Circe, modern dress

Odysseus and Circe retouched

On Odysseus and Circe, I softened the contrast of the grass against the gravel on the road at the back of the painting.  I touched up the pigs almost all of them and repainted the grass.  Last year, I painted down to the wire for the Artsbuild Show 2011 and submitted the painting still wet.  I wasn’t quite satisfied though and always intended to go back to it.  I also intensified the contrast of the sun shining on Odysseus’ hair, worked on his coat a bit and darkened the frame of the doors.  I didn’t touch Circe.  I still think she’s perfectly lovely, like a French model… an American farmhouse.  Go figure!

But it’s myth, right?  So anything can happen.

Circe and Odysseus, Oil on Canvas, 12×24, 12×24, $1200 USD

Some retouches

Portrait of a girl reading

No Frigate like a Book

In preparation for being the featured artist at Longbranch Gallery (Mineral Point) in December 2011, I retouched some paintings, improving edges, heightening or diminishing contrast, or just changing things that bugged me.  On No Frigate like a Book, I softened the edges of her upper arms, her shoulder on the right, the back of the chair and repainted the shine on her hair.  I also gave the pages of the book a bit of sepia tone, though you can’t tell at all in the picture.  I immediately liked it better, because the areas of greatest contrast and interest were enhanced.  The parts I wanted to draw less attention to, even though they were well lit, like her upper arms, now have softer edges.  It’s a better painting now.

Girl holding pug

Girl with Pug retouched

On Girl with Pug, again featuring my beloved model, Anna, I softened the shadowed side of her sleeve to make it recede more.  It’s not the way it actually was.  The old, muslin fabric of the blouse became whiter where it doubled at the crease.  In reality, it looked quite bright on the underside of  her arm, but it always bothered me.  So, I changed it.

No Frigate Like a Book, Oil on Canvas, 20×24, $1000 USD

Girl with Pug, Oil on Canvas, 11×14, $425 USD

Faux Bois Bench II

Bark Sculpture on Faux Bois Bench

Sculpted Bark

The second step in making Faux Bois is pressing the concrete mixture into the wire armature.  You can see three steps in the pictures in this Blog entry.  On the right side of the bench above and in the picture below, you’ll see one coat of concrete.

Concrete forced through wire armature

Concrete forced through wire armature

  I began with the supporting legs and the back.

Second coat of concrete on Faux Bois Bench

Second coat, beginnings of bark

I didn’t immediately cover the entire bench with concrete, because I wanted to keep it from getting too heavy to lift.  I was working in my garage here in early October, with winter coming on, heating the space with an electric heater, using daylight, when it was available, and reflector lights, when it wasn’t.  The heaviest part of the bench will be the seat, so I left that concrete free for the moment.  After the initial layer of concrete had cured, I began laying on a second coat. You can see a sort of Red Pine look on the right cross-support.  In the top picture, I’ve decided I wanted Ash bark instead.

At this point, I have the entire bench covered in concrete.  It is sitting in a corner of my garage for the time being.  I’m hoping I can arrange a better (read warmer and brighter) place to work on it over the winter, but if I can’t, it will simply live in my garage until spring.

Portrait of Jessica Hanson

Oil Portrait of Jessica Hanson

Jessica Hanson

The daughter of my close friends, Josephine and Steve Ristau Hanson, graduated from high school in the spring of 2011.  Jessica is an accomplished young woman, who plays both piano and viola, writes creatively, knits, rows, and is addicted to reading.  She is now attending my (as well as Josie’s and Steve’s) Alma Mater, St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.  I did this portrait of her as a surprise gift before her Graduation Recital and Dinner on June 18.  It gratified me enormously how much they all liked it.

Here are some actual photos of the occasion

Steve Hanson, Jessica Hanson, Josephine Ristau

Jessica and her proud parents


Jessica Hanson with her mother's family

The Ristau Clan, Jess Slaek and Marie Pauls


Rosewind Studio North: Artemis

Nona Hyytinen painting Artemis in Eagle River

Painting Artemis in Eagle River


I haven’t been blogging in a while, so I’m making posts for this past summer.  In July, I spent a week in Eagle River, WI at My Brother’s Cabin.  It has that name because that’s the way it was always referred to by Matt and his brother, Mike, who co-owned the house and hunting acreage.  I always called it Borusa Stan, which means “‘Possum Lodge” in Croatian.  Fans of Red Green will recognize that name.  On rainy mornings, when the weather wasn’t good for boating or swimming, I set up in the overhang of our garage and began this painting.  I had taken photographs of a trainee of mine at Lands’ End during the past winter, who had that long-legged, gamin beauty I’ve always imagined in Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, or Diana, as the Romans called her.  My Artemis is in a northern clime, hunting on skis, with wolves as her hounds.

Faux Bois Bench

Armature with diamond lathe for Faux Bois Bench

Armature with diamond lathe for Faux Bois Bench

I have been planning to make a Faux Bois Bench for my husband Matt’s gravesite since he died in April of 2010.  Last autumn, when I made the Faux Bois Table Base or Stool — it could be used for either purpose — it was a practice effort.  I wanted especially to practice making believable bark with acid stains on sculpted concrete.  This summer I designed a sturdy bench and my welder friend, Gerald, made the armature with rebar.  I then, cut the diamond lathe and wired it on using picture-hanging wire.


Rebar Armature for Faux Bois Bench

Rebar Armature for Faux Bois Bench

This is the armature of rebar that Gerald welded.  It was modified somewhat after this.  The seat was made deeper; a crossbar was inserted in back as in front; and several more diagonal supports were added.