Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Greetings and Merry Christmas,

It was for me---look who came to our house!

sisters on the left, cousin on the right. They just don't come any sweeter, do they :)

Later, Cooper

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Ignore the title, I really have not been slacking. The posts have all just landed on the other blog. But today, you get one here!

So you know who Buddy Holley, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper were, right? Fifty years ago this coming January/February, they made the little town of Clear Lake, Iowa and a place called the Surf Ballroom famous, by playing a concert there, and then trying to take a plane ride out during a blizzard. Yeah, as the story goes, they didn't make it.

But every year since, "The Winter Dance Party" happens at the Surf to commemorate 'the day the music died'. This year being the 50th anniversary, they are pulling out all the stops. If you google their website 50winterslater, you'll note that a week's worth of concerts are already sold out. Sorry. BUT: The Clear Lake Art Center is helping out with the party by putting together a retro-50's art exhibit, or at least various artist's interpretation thereof.

I promised to have a couple of paintings ready, and there is a fun one going on the easel right now. We'll keep you posted.

Later, Cooper

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reasons To Paint, Why Artist Paint The Way They Do


This fall we stained our concrete patio, and could not decide if we wanted to seal it with "high gloss" or "natural". This morning as it is sealed in about 1/4 inch of glossy ice, we decided we like that look but wish is was artificial :)

I have a lot on my paint brush schedule today part of which is a throw back to my ongoing exploration into why artists paint the way they do.
Last spring I posted a bonus package for you, a real two-fer! Today you get the update:

Liberty Jean, and Mia Corrine, tucked into their Burley and ready for a good walk/run!
And then on September 15th, along comes their Colorado cousin, Arridian James Cooper. He needs a painting for his room, and then because his aunt Abbie is getting married soon, she needs a new painting for her new house. So much for the business end of studio work, eh? Time to go spread some paint!
Later, Cooper

Friday, November 7, 2008

Snow On The Rooftop


It's official. Summer is a now-fleeting memory.

This is the view out my studio window today. So we expect something unusual to happen inside the studio, right?
You know the line, 'what makes artists paint the way they do?' Too much white stuff outside the studio, two white canvases leaning on the wall inside the studio, ----I had no choice. I covered them up. I grabbed the big brush, found two of the thumbnail sketches I have been working on, and slathered them onto the canvases. In purple. Now, I'm going to go make chicken noodle soup for dinner tonight, and after that, hopefully have a few spare minutes to add some paint to these canvases, so that they are a little more explanatory to all the rest of you. Fortunately, I, myself, know with perfect certainty what they are saying :)

Later, Cooper

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daily Painting, Acrylic Painting On The Small Canvas


What a great day! What are the odds that it ran over into the "effectiveness column" of that list I keep about "why artists paint the way they do"? What scales were tipped because it was a great day? Did I paint with more confidence? Did I paint with abandon, and not even care? Oh yeah, wait, that's what abandon means, right? Were my brush strokes stronger, more definitive? Did I find that great and perfect contrast of values? Was I smiling because it was a great day, and then the colors became even brighter, friendlier, than normal? Was it such a great day that I sensed the attitude of this simple little compostion, and added to it, rather than obsessing over whether it was correct?

Whew, that all makes me question attitude in realms other than painting---what if I operated on every day being a great day, even if most of what was on the schedule was just paying bills and cleaning the house? (Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people, eh? (Ephesians 6:7) What would happen then?!

Ok, here's a painting for you:

Little Canvas, Swirly Red Skirt, 12 x 12 inches, acrylic painting on canvas

Later, Cooper

Thursday, October 23, 2008

DesMoines Art Festival Poster Kids


So if you are on the mailing list for the Des Moines Art Festival, you probably found one of these (ahem) posters in your inbox tonight. Heheheheh. Don't you just gotta love artists with a sense of humor? Whoever at the Des Moines Art Festival is the artist behind this winner, my hat's off to you! Here's a portion of the email:

I’m not asking for your vote, but I am asking you to apply to the 2009 Des Moines Arts Festival!

HootHootHoot! Makes politics seem almost human!

Later, Cooper

ps. do ya think I should get sued for libel? :) Yadayada, lighten up.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Series: What Makes Artists Paint The Way They Do?


I have been doing some reading about painters who work in series, or groups of paintings that explore the same subject.

You see, I have been feeling a bit repetitious---here's a canvas that I just blocked in:

Yup, we're back in June-time in Minneapolis at the Great River Energy Bicycle Races. And yes, I've already painted a painting where there is a spectator on the left and there is a blur of cyclists coming right at you. But this one is different---I have a photo reference from in front of Brit's Pub, and there are flags/banners flying much in the manner of Manet's Rue Mosnier Decked With Flags. And then there were the crowds, and the excitement, and the cyclists going by in a blur of speed (again!)---and it's impossible to say all that in one painting. Series.

I met a school principal in Boulder this summer who liked my painting Higher Education, except that it needed to be elementary school aged readers rather than college-aged readers, and could I possibly paint something like that? Well, that was the wrong question. The correct question was "could I possibly paint something like that ONCE?" Series.

(1) We always read that a good compostion is edited, that picking and choosing from your inspiration source is mandatory. The surest way to mess things up is to think that you can include everything. Series.

(2) A successful painting is about something you know. So you observe and you sketch, and you observe and you photo, and you observe some more and then maybe sketch again---all in an attempt to really get to know your subject. You end up with a massive amount of stuff on this subject. It's like school pictures of your kids, they send home this pile of pictures of your darlings knowing that YOU KNOW that if you don't buy them, then you have to send them back and they will just throw them away. Isn't that like a sin? Who can throw away all those good images, kids OR reference material?! Series.

(3) What about strength through repetition? Something interesting happened in our life drawing group. We have one very consistent model, who wanted to take the summer months off. During those summer months we had numerous models, seldom repeating. Two friends and I just opened our show "Go Figure"at the Pearson Lakes Art Center, with much of the work based on those life drawing sessions. Of forty paintings, one was of a model from the summer months where there was no repetition. The model with whom we work on a regular basis, (can we call it a series?!) was in many paintings. Series.

(4) I suppose we could also enter the point that we've got history on our side. How many times did Paul Cezanne paint Mont Sainte-Victoire? And Monet and the water lilies? Berthe Morisot (yeah, one of my favorites) painted her daughter time after time. Series.

Let's summarize: we can't paint everything all in one painting, we have a ton of reference material, and when we paint the same subject repeatedly we get good work. Not to mention all those famous guys whose work, in series, is pretty doggone famous as well. I've got two books on the bedside table, both authors stating that the subject doesn't matter, each for a different reason. (that'll be another post) I vote that the subject does matter, and we need to be repeating it, series style!

Later, Cooper

By the way, the Morisot painting I referenced is Young Girl Writing. I saw it as part of a traveling exhibit of impressionist work at the Grinnell College Art Gallery (Grinnell, Iowa) I vaguely remember it being on loan from Smith College at that time, but can't find it in their archives now. Has anyone seen it lately? It's currently not very google-able :(

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

U of Iowa link, To The Wharf painting


Welcome to that blog that talks about why we artists paint the way we do!
Today is my day to be the featured artist on the Daily Palette, and if being featured, doesn't inspire you all the way down the hall to the studio, then nothing will :)
Feel free to click on that link. I'm outta' here :)

Later, Cooper

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Daily Painting At The Cooper Studio


I love days like this one! The sun is shining and I found a ten dollar bill laying on the sidewalk. Yay for me! It happened because I needed storefronts.

Let me explain: the next Boulder musicians painting is on the easel. It's a street scene, but the focus is the people, not the stores. However. I am having a hard time deciding if those stores should look like stores, or if they should be vague. I realized I needed to look at some stores, so trusty HP camera in one hand, and the blond one's (yes, that would be Olliver, aka golden retriever) leash in the other, we set off for downtown Spencer. We had a grand old time taking pictures, with our last photo opportunity being the hotel. One good hotel picture, the camera batteries died, and I found the $10 laying right there on the sidewalk. Perfect!

Now, if I could just decide about those storefronts in this painting. Maybe tomorrow.

Later, Cooper

Friday, September 26, 2008

Daily Painting, Ice Cream And Salad

It's a beautiful Friday morning right after an interesting Thursday! Thursday started at 5:37am with a rafter-rattling lightning strike, the kind that almost knocks you out of bed :) Coupled with the fact that said lightning/thunder caused the dog to come unglued and try to climb into bed, well, we were all set up for unusual!

So as I was stumbling about the kitchen trying to make coffee, with a dog (remember, this is an oversized golden retriever) cowering about my feet, I happened to glance at some grapes sitting in a bowl, and it suddenly occurred to me that I really ought to paint them. And so I did :)

And I kept right on going! A little more paint slinging on the ice cream stand painting, and two new canvases blocked in as well. There is a new Boulder musicians painting coming, and a painting of a playground with children reading and playing.

And tonight is the artist's reception/opening for the A.R.T. exhibit at Arts On Grand. It appears to be another busy day in the making.

Later, Cooper

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Makes Artists Paint The Way They Do?


What makes artists paint the way they do? Here's a top ten answer for you: when you get the post card in the mail announcing the show you're going to be in and everything is not quite ready yet----!

I believe the follow-up phrase is fasterFASTER.

Later, Cooper

acrylic painting and sketch books

Greetings! And happy Monday, um, I mean Wednesday to you!

Yeah, I threw out the calendar page for this week, it's all messed up in my head anyway, and today really does feel like Monday! I have been out to Longmont (Colorado) to help with a new grandbaby! Arridian James Cooper, and a handsome young'n he is. (duh, of course!) We will get that picture posted pronto!

And because it's time to get back to some semblance of work now, I was reading work related emails and found this rather interesting bit: Empty Easel has an article about using your blog as a sketch book. Seems to me I have been doing that already, but sometimes feeling a bit guilty about it. I am of the vein that sketch books are for ideas and not needing to look like perfection-honed works of art (read: my sketch books are scribble-y) At any rate, now somebody has gone and given me guilt-freedom in posting any messy sketch book page I want. whoody-ha. On that note, sketch book pages from a recent studio session:

Later, Cooper

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Acrylic Painting, Studio Model


Welcome to Spencer, Iowa, where the sky is a smidgen bit gray and probably causing concern at the Clay County Fair, also known as the nation's largest and best county fair. Sunny skies just generally work better for fair goers. Tommorrow I will be one of those. Arts On Grand plays host at the Art Barn at the Clay County Fair, and I will be an able volunteer there on both Thursday and Friday of this week. Stop by if you're in town :)

On the easel: (wow, look, I need to number them!)

1. An ice cream stand painting. It's got no name yet, but the scenario runs with a crowd of people standing in front of a streetside ice cream stand, all waiting their turn. That alone was enough to encourage the painter in me to get to work. The clincher will be if I can manage to get at least one of the giant inflatable ice cream cones that were swinging in the breeze included in the composition. This painting is blocked in in very messy fashion, but I can feel their attitudes when I look at these vaguely rendered folks, so I am pretty sure I am on the right trail. That image will go on my daily painting blog, where I show stages of paintings. But here's a quick peek of where I was:

2. Then, as promised to the many people who saw and enjoyed 'Wild Street Music' at Artsplash in Sioux City, Labor Day weekend, there's another one coming. The next painting inspired by those Boulder, Colorado musicians is still in the drawing stages, but it's going to be fun. At first I thought the stars of the painting were going to be two slightly ragtag musicians, but they just might be getting upstaged. Enter the hound dog and a guy with long blond dreds, who are apparently ardent fans.

3. Last night was spent at the studio at the Pearson Lakes Art Center, where our group of artists meet to paint with a model. I always say I love books that end with the heroes living 'happily ever after' :) I am beginning to wonder if that's a glitch, or maybe (hopefully) a key structual point of my personality. I am beginning to feel like I am painting happily ever after into my paintings lately. Our model last night was perfectly cheerful and always great to work with, but for this pose was not smiling. No matter, because look at that light and airy spring green that ended up around her. (The blue is another painting hanging on the wall) In reality the wall is that awful greybeige that people put on their walls to hide the fact that (1) they are scared of color or (2)they have been told that greybeige is a lovely statement for their environs. Give me a break. But I digress. On this specific studio painting, you have to ignore the fact that I succumbed to that terrible artist disease, where you get home from studio, it's late, you look at the canvas, it's late, but you suddenly see something that needs fixed, and it's late but you go ahead and get a brush out anyway. THAT is what is wrong with her hands. But I think I can fix it :) yet.

Later, Cooper

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Shut The Windows! And It's Time For Pumpkin Paintings

Good morning,

and happy Wednesday to you! Welcome to Spencer, Iowa where we had a balmy 44 degrees when the alarm went off this morning. No big deal, EXCEPT every window in the house was open! By my calculations, 44 degrees is a mere dozen from frost. We shut all the windows on the first floor, the weather guy promised we'd like them open this afternoon.

And with that, I am coloring up this post with two pumpkin paintings. Yes, they are last fall's pumpkins. I have been by my favorite pumpkin patch and noted they are ready, but haven't had a minute to stop in. Note to self: must make that happen soon :) With no further ado, two pumpkin paintings:
Still Life With Two Pumpkins, 24 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas http://karencooperpaintings.com/
Pie and Coffee, 20 x 24 inches, acrylic on canvas, http://karencooperpaintings.com/
Thanks for stopping by.
Later, Cooper

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Artsplash, Art Fair, Sioux City

Good morning!

What a beautiful one it is! We will be hopping right on that mammoth weekend 'to do' list once again. But before we go there, just a few updates.

Artsplash is an art fair held in Sioux City, Iowa at Chris Larsen Park on the banks of the Missouri River. We have the dates of:

Friday, August 29th, 4-8pm preview
Saturday, August 30, 10am-7pm
Sunday, August 31, 10am-5pm

Yours truely will be located in booth space #47. Please stop by. I have new paintings for you to see: A large (40 x 40") street scene painting, a cafe scene painting, and if I paint mistake-free this week, a painting of a group of string musicians.

Also on the horizon are two publications. The DailyPalette is a University of Iowa online publication, who with a few simple clicks on their RSS feed, gives you daily artwork by the artist of the day. Sometimes it's a visual artist, sometimes a writer (yes, lots of cool poetry) Definitely you will want to have done the appropriate clicking by October 7th so the featured artist of THAT day absolutely makes it to your inbox. October 7th featured artist: me!

Coming in October I will also be the featured artist in My Home magazine. The color and photography in this magazine are truely amazing, eye candy to the max. I am excited to see how the feature turns out!

And then there is A.R.T. That's the Northwest Iowa Artisans Road Trip. The dates this year are October 4th and 5th. It's called a road trip because YOU get to take the trip and your destination is artist locations all along the 'creative corridor' of northwest Iowa. We will be exhibiting AND demonstrating our work for you. I would love to send you a copy of the road trip book, which has bios and sample artwork from each exhibiting artist as well as a map and directions of how to reach each artist. I will be easy to find this year, as I am exhibiting/painting with a painter friend at the Pearson Lakes Art Center in Okoboji, Iowa. Again, if you'd like a copy of the book, just leave a note here or on the contact page on my website.

Ok, Saturday morning list, here I come.

Later, Cooper

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Tea And A Book At The Unicorn", acrylic painting, Artsplash in Sioux City, Iowa


It's Friday and almost quittin' time for this artist. I just got done with 3 (yup, that's THREE) photo sessions with the HP and the SAME painting. Aaargh. I wonder if that's why I need to gather up the newly finished paintings and head downtown to my favorite photographer's studio soon. He's got skills, while the little HP and I just get by. But, just getting by, means I can post a somewhat passable image of the newest painting out of the Cooper studio yet today. It's the cafe scene which at this point is titled "Tea And A Book At The Unicorn" I should share that I am just very pleased with my efforts on this one. Take a look:

So, "Tea And A Book At The Unicorn", acrylic painting on a gallery wrapped canvas, which measures a lovely 24 x 30 inches.

Later, Cooper

PS. For those of you in the Sioux City, Iowa area, Artsplash, the art fair presented by the Sioux City Art Center is just one weekend away. I am scheduled to be there, so that will be the first public viewing of this painting!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Spencer Daily Reporter story

Hi there,

I am going to commit a visual artist crime today. I am posting without a visual image for you. How can it get any worse than that, I ask you?

So today I was over at the church working on the mural, and several people stopped by and asked if I'd seen the paper (Spencer Daily Reporter) yet today. Of course not. Turns out it has a story about said mural and Sunday school project, written way better than I could have ever. So if you click, THEN you get an image, see, I'm making you work for it! :)

Later, Cooper

Saturday, August 16, 2008

acrylic painting, on the easel: Tea And A Book At The Unicorn

Good morning and happy Saturday to you! It's a very beautiful one in Spencer, Iowa, to be sure.

Why do artists paint the way they do? Today, that question and often searched topic on this blog, has hidden meaning :) The Cooper family lives in a 1920's vintage home, which we very much enjoy, but every now and then, you have to do the elbow grease thing. It appears today is that day, and the list is enormous. I don't think today's paint slinging will involve an easel!

But I have been at the easel this week. I've got several images on the daily work blog, one of which is a painting well underway of a group of string musician that we saw while at the Boulder Art Fair. And here's another, a friendly little cafe scene I saw earlier this summer in Evanston, Illinois. Yup, I am working on both at the same time, and sandwiched in by the mural project, which is also progressing nicely. See, I don't just sit around!

Oh, and we are calling this one Tea And A Book At The Unicorn. 24 x 30 inches, a gallery wrapped canvas, it's progressing nicely and feeling special already!

Later, Cooper

Thursday, August 7, 2008

open studio results


So why do artists paint the way they do? Tonight I went up to the art center (Pearson Lakes Art Center) to see a new exhibit by artist Thaddeus Erdahl, had a glass of wine, listened to him tell about his work, which was pretty interesting by the way. He has an unusual concept of communication and the breakdown (or futility?) of it.

Right after that we had a model sit for us at open studio. Very easy going kid, but I think we bored her, until we told her it was okay to get out whatever video game was in her bag :) Two quick paintings and some drawings which in retrospect are unidentifiable. I will post two paintings, but the one has a definite problem. I brought them home and sat them on the kitchen counter to take another look, and said "oh, this one needs more here" That's usually a fatal mistake for most paintings at that hour of the night. At any rate, her legs were crossed at the ankle until that moment and now they just look confused---so maybe I'll fix it and maybe I won't! Update at eleven :)

Later, Cooper

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mural, Kid-style takeoff of the Last Supper!


So I wrote earlier today maybe you'd get mural progress pics. Will you settle for half? Somehow even thought the whole plan is drawn on the wall in charcoal, my painting efforts to date have been confined to the left half. That's probably related to all my paint containers sitting down at that end. :) So here you are:

I think we're calling it 'Big, Big Table', at least for now.

Later, Cooper

"To The Wharf" Painting

Good morning!
Spencer, Iowa is enjoying a pleasant little rain shower as we speak. Ollie and I had just rounded the corner back into the alley from our morning run as the first few drops descended, what timing!

I spent yesterday working on the mural project, but sorry to report, no photos yet. Maybe today.

Next on the art show schedule is ArtSplash, held in the Chris Larsen Park in Sioux City, Iowa. The festival schedule:

Friday, August 29th, 4pm to 8 pm
Saturday August 30th, 10am to 7pm
Sunday August 31st, 10am to 5pm

The varnish on the latest painting is finally dry, and it has a title. "To The Wharf" is an acrylic painting on a gallery wrapped canvas, measuring a lovely 30 x 30 inches. I will plan on bringing it to Artsplash so you can see it up close and in person!

Later, Cooper

Thursday, July 31, 2008

art and blues (the musical kind) combo


We are on a roll in northwest Iowa with the hot and sticky weather. Here's my theory on all of that: Do you remember this past winter? It was cold. Very, very, excessively cold. And it took forever to go away. But that's what winter is known for, right? But it maxed out all of it's winterly qualities.

Then came spring. In Iowa. Spring is noted for windy and wet, right? And it did it to the max, and it took forever for it to stop.

It's summer now, and what is summer in Iowa famous for? Humid and hot and more humid, plus a little more humid. Considering the track record of this year's seasons to date, I am forcasting that we we will have hot, humid and a little more humid until probably Thanksgiving time. But that's ok, summer is my favorite!

Speaking of summer, what could be better than summer at the lake? Maybe summer at the lake with art in the park and a blues fest? So here's your big chance: August 2, Art In The Park And The Blues Fest @ Preservation Plaza, Arnolds Park, Iowa. And I think I have a new painting almost ready to take along---what do you think?

Later, Cooper

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Another painting look at the Great River Energy Bicycle Race


It's official, it's now a series. I just put a signature and a layer of varnish on the second painting inspired by the Great River Energy Bicycle Race that happened in Minneapolis early June. I have promised before that part of the mission of this blog is to explain (try!) why painters paint the way they do. Inspiration is a big part of it.

And Ragbrai is gearing up too! For the few of you who don't know what that is, Ragbrai goes like this:

R the Register's (as in the DesMoines Register)
a annual
g great
b bike
r ride
a across
i Iowa

and I do believe this is Ragbrai #36. The resident highschooler works at Bikes, Boards, and Blades, a great bike shop here in Spencer, Iowa, and even though Spencer is not on the route this year, they are still feeling the push. Lots of hours today, but a whole bunch more cyclists have road worthy bikes ready for the week ahead!

Ok, back to work.

Later, Cooper

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

another painting from the Great River Energy Bicycle Race


It's a good thing my studio is of the second floor sort WITH a door that opens to a lovely tree shaded balcony because it was definitely too nice a day to be locked away in a stuffy little room somewhere. As a result of the aforementioned locale, I managed to get some pretty fair painting done. The second painting stemming from the Great River Energy Bicycle Race is almost 'there'. I have been pushing the energy button (is there such a thing as an energy button??) to get some of what was at the race into the painting.

And on another front, the next art fair hosting Cooper paintings will be in Boulder, Colorado. The dates are July 19th and 20th. It's held downtown on a neat ped-mall---shade trees there, too! If you are reading this from the 'front range', then you are probably close enough to stop by, so do! Of course, with two kids in Longmont, Colorado (the next town over), we are planning a little R and R on the side :)

Ok, now let's add some color to this post: I have alternately been referring to this painting as the 'second bicycle race painting' or 'helmet heads'. I will consider all other good title suggestions. Hey, sometimes titles happen before the paintings do, and sometimes the titles are just a little slow in coming!

I suppose I should mention at this point, that it's not quite done yet. Maybe tomorrow. It's chronicle of progress is on my work blog.

Later, Cooper

Monday, June 30, 2008

Fountain Square Art Festival---wham!


I wrote on my last post that I was "ready" to head east for the Fountain Square Art Festival in Evanston, Illinois. Wrong!!! There was no way of being ready for that. The show opened breezy on Saturday morning, and picked up even more during the day, to the point that it was annoying. About an hour before closing time, I took a quick break at the artist's hospitality room, and the return trip to my booth gave me a dead-on view of a lovely black cloud perched on the west end of Church Street, which just happened to be the cross-section street of the fair. I ran the rest of the way back and sent my weekend compadre (daughter Abbie) after the car. I started bracing for the hit, which is really ridiculous in a nylon covered tent with aluminum legs! But a person's gotta at least try, don't you think? Abbie pulled the car in as close as she could get, which was actually the alley about 25 feet north, and I got two boxes of paintings loaded and headed back for more. You know, when a 70 mph wind gust is descending, running back into that aforementioned nylon and aluminum tent was probably not wise, but there I was. At first I had the crazy idea that I could hold it down, but then I realized that IT thought it could make my fly. I would say the definition of the word surreal was formulated at that point. That surreal moment?---as it dawned on me, I was next to the panel holding my brand new painting of the Minneapolis bicycle races, and in an ahah! moment, I decided I'd save that one at least, and yea for me, I did. With 45 pound weights dragging from each tent leg, and me and my propanels full of paintings on the inside, we ended up in a heap out in the middle of Sherman street. Amazingly the stupid EZ-up (often referred to in the art show world as EZ-downs) stayed on it's feet. All my apendages seemed to be working (!) so Abbie, a good samaritan named Rod, and I started grabbing paintings and putting them in the front door of the shop that was right behind us, because at that point the bucket of rain over our heads decided to start dumping. Net result: stupid EZup has a slight bend in one cross bar, one section of propanel has an interesting curl at the top, and five paintings have scuffed corners that will have to be touched up. Oh, and we do have a few bruises, but nothing serious. Incredible! Because at the south end of the show, it rolled about 40 exhibits down the street, and there was nothing left to salvage. We talked to an Evanston policewoman who was checking people, and she reported artwork flying up to the fourth story windows of the buildings. The organizers put out a newsletter the next morning--injuries included two broken arms, a sprained ankle and some lacerations. Yowza! So do you want to see the painting I decided to save first? :) (sheesh-crazy artist!)

"Between Laps" from the Great River Energy Bicycle Races, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches, it's formative stages are shown on my project blog.

Later, Cooper

ps. would you like to see what a pile of about 40 EZups (er, EZdowns) look like all rolled together? Here's a link. Oh, and the guy that wrote the news story with it, talked about the artists with pottery---he kind of missed "glass". Not only were there a number of glass artists there, but lots of paintings are framed behind glass, and when the glass breaks, and your roof is gone, and it's raining, those paintings don't live long---sadly.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fountain Square Art Festival, And The Mural


And happy Wednesday to you! Spencer, Iowa is a bit on the sun-free side at this hour, but when Ollie and I did our 6:30 run it was absolutely lovely.

I am getting ready for a trip east. The Fountain Square Art Festival, in Evanston, Illinois, is this weekend, June 28th and 29th. It takes place in downtown Evanston, at the crossroads of Sherman and Church. My space is #36 which is actually on the east (northeast?) side of Sherman. For those of you in the area, stop in and say hi! I've got some new paintings to show. "Shopped" just got it's signature yesterday, and I've got a large canvas of a bicycle race on the easel, with two days to spare yet! :)

"Shopped", acrylic painting on a gallery wrapped canvas, measuring a lovely 30 x 20 inches---
About the mural:

Keeping in mind one of the missions of this blog is to tell why some artists paint the way they do, let me tell you about my morning yesterday! Our church is renovating the elementary Sunday school area. Nice rich jewel tone paint is going up on all the walls, and there seems to be a need for a mural over a stage area---"Karen, you can do this, right?" Trust me, painting a mural is so much easier, and more in line with my brain function than being a Sunday school teacher! So with a copy of Da Vinci's 'Last Supper' and my trusty HP camera in hand I met up with a gang of kids to recreate that painting kid-style and record it all photogenically to develop the painting from. I made a few suggestions for poses and then told them to do their own thing, which didn't turn out too bad. I took a few pictures and then thinking I was done with them, they really did their own thing, which I kind of expected to happen. Then I got the best pictures! Would Da Vincini have let one of his models lay on top of the table with chin propped on hands? What would Jesus have said if one of the disciples had done it?! As you might have guessed, I'm thinking this painting will be a lot of fun! I'll keep you posted.

Later, Cooper

Monday, June 23, 2008

favorite book on painting the figure

Hi there,

I just got done uploading today's paint slinging episode images on my work blog. I do believe I mentioned progress that resulted from reviewing my favorite 'painting the figure' book. I should probably expound on that enough to at least give you a title and an author, huh? :)

Bodyworks, A Visual Guide To Drawing The Figure by Marbury Hill Brown
I probably appreciate it most from my overzealous visual point of view. This book does not tell you this bone goes here and that muscle does this---it SHOWS you. I always say a picture is worth a thousand words.

I do seem to be, ahem, developing a large collection of books on the subject of painting the figure. And guess what, the mailman brought me two more today. Abebooks.com sent me a handy online coupon that expired on June 19th. What else was I supposed to do? I chalk it up to continuing education, which is, I'm sure, tax deductable. :)

Later, Cooper

the venerable competitor, yup, that's me


So I got this special little email this morning from an online competition that I sent a painting to. Apparently I am a finalist, but I am guessing everybody is a finalist :) At any rate, here's the link: http://www.artflock.com/competition/emptyeasel/ so you can go look/vote!

The painting I sent, Amantes Dispuestos, is one of my all-time favs from the readers series, so even if everyone IS a finalist, I feel patting myself on the back over my entry is not a grevious error :) Sheesh. Back to the studio.

Amantes Dispuestos 20 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas
Later, Cooper

By the way, what I painted over the weekend will NEVER grace the portal of ANYBODY'S competition. Yesterday I grabbed a charcoal pencil and scribbled all over it trying to locate my error/s. For all those of you who question life drawing or painting the nude figure: aaach! The red dress (scroll way down to the bottom of the post) this person is wearing will not cooperate and I KNOW it's because her hips are crooked in there somewhere. I will of course update you on today's paint slinging at a future hour !

Saturday, June 21, 2008

new on the painter front


And happy Saturday to you! I had to take my coffee out to the patio this morning, it's THAT beautiful of a day!

Bearing in mind my promise to journal here, on things that cause me to paint the way I do, let me update you, visually, of course.

I got to go on gramma duty earlier this week. This pair was not letting their mommy get any sleep, and their daddy was sent to Cedar Rapids to help there, so gramma to the rescue. Everything times two, what an underrated statement! Pretty darn cute, huh?

Last weekend I accidentally went to my first real bike race. I happened to be in Minneapolis while the 'Great River Energy Bicycle Races' were happening. A whole section of downtown was roped off so these athletes could do their race while masses of people stood by to watch. It was very high energy and so much fun. I still have mental images of it all, but am glad I had my trusty HP with me---I think the two will very possibly combine for some great paintings :)

And yesterday's studio work gets posted also! A red dress, who can deny the fun there? Stages of this painting are posted on my project blog for you as well.

Okay then, back to work!
Later, Cooper

Monday, June 2, 2008

season opener


If you take a peek at that schedule I posted just a few days ago, you'll see that the summer art show season has begun for the Cooper camp.

I was at Countryside Village Art Fair in Omaha this past weekend. Several paintings have new homes, a fact that pleases me immensely!

A painting that I really pushed the midnight oil on, just to have it finished in time, was amongst those. I was very pleased with how the painting turned out, and it was seriously gratifying to have someone else vote yes so quickly :) (although while it hung on my display wall and I looked at it for awhile, there was one little place I wanted to dab at with a red paint brush!)

And so it's on to Minneapolis, for the Stonearch Art Festival at St Anthony Main, June 14th and 15th. Must be time to finish off a few more paintings--it's always fun to show new ones!

Later, Cooper

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

painting the park

Hi there!

Do you remember I described this as a journal blog, hoping to tell what causes me to paint the way I do? :)
Well, I spent the last couple of nights at my daughter and son-in-law's house trying to help them get some sleep. Two little babies were trying their hardest to keep that from happening. :) I have never heard babies moan and groan like these two do. My daughter and I discussed the possiblility this morning that they (the girls) are already developing their 'special language' Liberty got to go home from the hospital about ten days earlier than Mia, but once they were back to being room mates, the 'talking' started!

So did it affect my painting? On my project blog, I talked about 'daubs and splodges' as being a better definition than 'impressionism'. The park I was painting is beginning to look like someone slung paint around with abandon. Oh yeah, wait a minute, I was. :) The true test of 'impressionism' vs 'daubs and splodges' will come tomorrow morning when (after a whole night's sleep!) we see if I am compelled to tidy up those messy brush strokes. And besides, I can show you some pretty famous impressionist paintings with seriously messy brushstrokes, so maybe I should just sign it?

Here's the painting so far:

"Park Bench Confidantes"

Later, Cooper

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cooper summer art show schedule


I have decided to stop being exhausted after long days at the greenhouse :) and just get back to being an artist again. Maybe burning calves and aching arches are really just a form of procrastination! At any rate, at the greenhouse, we are actually starting to empty out buildings, which means the 'annuals department' will be winding down the season soon.

I got in about three hours in the studio tonight and like what happened. The images are on my project blog.

Here, I decided to post my summer art show schedule, so, drum roll please:

May 31st and June 1st
Countryside Village Art Fair in Omaha, Nebraska, Pacific at 87th.
"We are the oldest and finest outdoor art show in Nebraska. Dedicated to fine art. 140 artists"

June 14th and 15th
Stone Arch Art Festival, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Riverfront District at St Anthony Main

June 28th and 29th
Fountain Square Art Festival, Evanston, Illinois, Downtown Evanston

July 19th and 20th
Boulder Art Fair, Boulder, Colorado, Pearl Street Ped Mall

July 26th and 27th
Geneva Fine Arts Fair, Geneva, Illinois, Downtown Geneva

August 2
Art In The Park And The Blues Fest @ Preservation Plaza, Arnolds Park, Iowa

August 29th, 30th, and 31st
Artspash, Sioux City, Iowa, Anderson Pavilion on the Sioux City Riverfront

September 27th and 28th
Art In The Barn, Barrington, Illinois, on the grounds of Good Shepard Hospital

October 4th and 5th
A.R.T. Northwest Iowa Artisans Road Trip

October 10th -
Go Figure, Pearson Lakes Art Center, Okoboji, Iowa
"United by subject matter, local artists Doug Genschmer, Karen Cooper and Lissa Potter will present a selction of colorful works relective of their studio time together."

And that's it for now. If there are any additions, I'll be the first to let you know!

Later, Cooper

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Two Great Photos


Wow, you can't top my day! I am a brand spankin' new Gramma!

On this blog I like to write about things that make me paint paintings the way I do--well, they ought to get interesting now!

Twenty fingers, twenty toes, 9 lbs and 34 inches, divide by two! And here they are!

Liberty Jean and Mia Corrine, pretty cool, huh?
Later, Cooper

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

acrylic painting, life drawing and current work

Hi there!

Chemistry stress, twin grandbabies ready to enter the world, long days at the greenhouse. keys locked in cars, a dog that finally realized it's not as cold as it was and now wants to go for more frequent runs :), life drawing group that can't stay on schedule, just a few of my excuse for not posting regularly lately! But I have been painting, and the proof will be in the uploaded photos.

Our life drawing group has actually met twice in the last two weeks, which is a new record for this winter. Yes, we are supposed to meet every week, but there have been a few interferences!

The two images here are from life drawing from March 3rd, and March 11th. Neither is complete, but you may refer to paragraph one of this post for already mentioned excuses for my troubles with completed paintings lately!

Then I have another image of the large canvas that has been hanging out on my easel for about a month! Slowly but surely, I do believe I'm getting it where I want it! First, a detail photo, and
then the whole canvas:

Later, Cooper

Sunday, March 2, 2008

acrylic painting, more of the 'Delta Force Reader'


So every roof line on the house is dripping, yea! It's cloudy, but it's melting, so I'm ok with that. We got home from church, and the air was so mellow that Ollie and I got a run in already!

Way back in January the Thursday night studio group had a model reading 'Delta Force' and several paintings have come from those sessions. This one:

I had earlier called done, but it wasn't signed, nor was it varnished. Maybe it won't ever be? :) At any rate, yesterday after we finished our day's work on the current remodel project, (ugh) I was shifting things around in the studio---you know how these things go---I ended up with this one back on the easel. It's got a real name now, I think when I get done posting this I'll go slap a signature on it! Another Chapter Of Delta Force Reader, 16 x 20 inches, acrylic on canvas. I'll put it up on my website as well, should it need to hang in your library!

Later, Cooper

Monday, February 25, 2008

acrylic painting, February 25th, 2008

Hello everybody!

It's a windy night in Spencer, Iowa! We started the day with husband-sliding-kind-of-ice. My spouse was supposed to leave for work at 5:30 this morning. I watched him head out the driveway and slide right across the street and into the snow bank on the other side. So he managed to get his vehicle back in the driveway and came back in the house. Aaaah, Monday. The ice was followed by snow. School said '2 hour late start' and then gave up and called the whole day. The snow stopped by mid afternoon, and I was still hoping for a slight chance to work with the Monday night life drawing group. After I was done at the greenhouse for the day, I buzzed north out of town to check the highway---yeah, the wind had decided to warp out to gale-force, and highway 71 was a white out. So, I cranked up my happy little ceramic heater in the studio and painted some more sunshine and warm breezes onto the street cafe scene painting that I have been working on. I have earlier photos posted on the project blog, and here's one that has tonight's work included.

Later, Cooper

Monday, February 18, 2008

acrylic painting

Howdy everybody!

Spring is trying to come, or maybe a few of us are trying to force it. ---Today I started working again at the garden center (Del's Garden Center, Spencer, Iowa) which means it is time to start planning your 2008 garden. Note that I said planning, not planting :) Isn't it crazy to think that all those beautiful little plants that you buy in early May need to get started now? We worked on things like spikes, ivy, springerii, etc today. It's a great fix for cabin fever, but it's also going to make me change my painting schedule a bit. I wonder if less time to spend at the easel made me put the paint on with more determination, or speed, or maybe even less caution? At any rate the evening's work is posted on the project blog tonight.

One painting note that is getting to be a frustration point: we had to cancel our Monday night life drawing group again. People are sick, the roads are covered with yucky-crappy icey stuff, and when that -4 degree temp and 30 mph wind hit me in the face, I cringe enough that my whole spine aches. Whew, listen to this painter whine! I'll be better tomorrow, I promise.

Later, Cooper

Friday, February 15, 2008

acrylic painting 'Picking Summer Flowers', February 15th, 2008

Greetings Everyone!

There's frost on the window this morning, the kind that has feathery little edges that radiate out from a center section that's impervious to vision. I am pretty sure it's illegal to say radiate and frost in the same sentence, especially when it's a minus 9 degrees that's causing it. Welcome to my town, Spencer, Iowa. I guess it encourages thinking warm thoughts?

Somewhere on this blog, or the other blog that I keep, I wrote a mission statement of giving the reader insight as to why painters do what they do. And then the 'artbizcoach' Alyson Stanfield has given the message in her newsletter, that artists need to write their purpose and vision statements as an aid to moving their careers forward. And then, being winter, and needing to drink more hot coffee--it's the build-up effect. Regarding all that, I am wondering if somewhere in what I have been pushing toward recently is my vison or purpose. I have always said I paint still lifes and people, that figures are more challenging, and when I need a breather from the challenge I paint a still life, because they're easy. So why have I given two of the three still lifes painted this year to the garbage guys? And I have a growing pile of figurative pieces? I have always been a people-watcher. [Now that will get you the remarks! "Too much eye contact, Cooper", "Mom, you're embarrassing", "That's annoying", "Quit staring", "How rude" --ok already!] But there is something fascinating about how people move their hands, their posture, a slight hesitation before they act---did I use the phrase build up effect already? :) Ok, now you are wanting me to stop and this post has been rather colorless to this point. So, how about an injection? I promised to do better with getting photos of this painting in the later stages, but I failed. The painting just wanted completion! Signed and named, here is the acrylic painting 'Picking Summer Flowers'. It measures a lovely 21 x 17 inches. It's an acrylic painting original on heavy gessoed paper. Can you see summer? :)

Later, Cooper

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Acrylic painting on February 12th, 2008 At The Cooper Studio

Greetings everybody!
Winter is still here, and in utter defiance, I am still painting summer. 'Summer School Student' got parked a little too close to the easel, so when I started the day it was begging me for just a little more paint. I obliged. I like it even more.

On the project blog I confessed to photo amnesia (or something like that) Still feeling the inspiration from the Kevin Macpherson book, I am trying to start or 'block in' a new painting everyday. (note that the word finish is not included in that phrase) So I started blocking in a nice summery-flower-picking-kind of painting, and I just kept going. I suppose I should get the book back out to read and see if that's legal, huh? :) In regard to the project blog, the idea is to take photos at various stages to show the painting's progress, and from that point of view--oops. But sometimes when you are on a roll, eh, you know what I mean. But the flower-picking painting---it needs more paint, and I'll try to squeeze in a few extra photos tomorrow.

Later, Cooper