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The 100 Day Project

This is a stack of 100 freshly washed handkerchiefs.

and here they are ironed and ready for painting.  I'm doing the #the100dayproject so every day I'll be posting a new painting on a handkerchief on my instagram.  I'm starting out by taking inspiration from my collection of security envelopes.

It's been 5 days so far and I'm already starting to venture pretty far from the inspiration.  I can't wait to see where I go.







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About My Process


This is my old press.  I don't use it much anymore.  When I was in college studying printmaking it was this way or the photocopier.

This is my new press.  Lately there has been a lot of discussion about what constitutes "hand made." So I thought I'd show some of the tools and techniques that I use to make things. 

Most of my work starts with a painting.  Here is one of my recent landscapes, my gouache, and some favorite tools.  I also used my computer to view some pictures of Muir Beach and Muir Woods. The redwoods don't really come to the edge of the water, but now they do. The more I paint, the more I appreciate basic tools and techniques and simple paintings that aren't trying too hard.

It may seem like a contradiction that I like the old simple things and use a new inkjet printer, but it's all in the process.  It used to be that the folks who used the press in the top picture were considered graphic designers and the "fine artists" were the painters.  In fact my press came from a clothing store and was used to make signs that were thrown away as soon as the sale was over. Now, because of the invention of that printer in the middle picture, things seem to have flip flopped.

 The process is basically the same for most creative pursuits: get an idea, make a big mess, then tidy things up because they never end up looking just like the original vision in your head. In painting, the messy part of figuring out colors, textures, layers, and the push and pull of space and focus comes before the duplicating process.  In printmaking it happens right in the middle. But then, if I spit 100 prints out of my inkjet printer, they would be considered to be of a lesser value then the numbered edition of hand pulled prints. I'm ok with that.

The goal of my new line of paper products is to hand-make gifts with the look of fine art paintings for when the occasion calls for more than a card, but less than an original. And to add a high level of craftsmanship that people want to keep around long after the occasion.

I often mount my paintings of wood. Which means I draw a cutting outline in AI and laser-cut it. They come out covered with tape and smelling like a barbecue. All the sooty edges need to be cleaned.

Then I put on some reading glasses and hand-cut all the tiny painted shapes that I have printed.  I make and stamp tags, string everything together, and tie lots and lots of knots before packaging it.

Sometimes I use a paper cutter instead of the tiny scissors.  It makes a great noise.

Sometimes I use a mat knife to cut wood veneer or paperboard.  Everything needs to be hand-glued.

And then they spend the night in another kind of press.

I designed the bases for the book boxes and had them made here in California out of recycled chip board. Then I cut and glue the covers myself.

I try to keep all the little bits organized in my vintage mail sorting station, but I won't pretend it looks this tidy all the time.

Can't wait to show you more. I hope you like to look at it as much as I like to make it.

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Painting Plaids

I've been painting plaids lately. I use them for my craft kits, on the cover and inside. On the back of the instruction sheet there is a nice big piece of plaid paper to upcycle in some way. I love that I never know how the pattern is going to end up looking. There is no pressure to get it right, if there is no right way in the first place. So they've become my version of zentangles. I start with a basic idea of a color palette, but I usually don't stick to it. Plaid_01

First I pencil in a grid. These are centimeter squares. Usually I paint every other square solid, and then fill the spaces in between with diagonal stripes.


Then I fill in the remaining white paper with another color. That's the basic plaid. I like to keep going, because it's a rare opportunity to just be decorative.


Add some blue lines. I try not to be super symmetrical, but it is important that the lines all end up at the same place on the edges of the grid. That way I can put it into a repeat pattern in photoshop later. Plaid_04

Add some green lines.


Add some light green lines. I like how the lines are starting to look woven. Plaid_06

Lastly I add some light blue squares at the intersections. Plaids often change colors where lines intersect.


It's important to know when to stop. There has to be a little breathing space left.

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Show at Castle in the Air


February 8 through March 25, 2011
Opening reception Tuesday, February 8, 6 p.m.
In Cleo Papanikolas' novella Cook Until Desired Tenderness, layers of paintings, sketches, recipe cards, and handwritten notes tell the story of a young gourmand learning to live each day as a banquet, even when things get a little messy.
The tale, with its patchwork presentation, isn't far from the truth. When Papanikolas was two years old her parents went back to the land, launching the family headlong into a world of vegetables, sheep, chickens, and mud. The experience followed Papanikolas into adulthood where - as an artist, cook, and mother of her own young children - she perfected her recipes, both real and make-believe.
With familiarity and humor, the paintings in Fancy Mud Pies capture what Papanikolas calls "the sense of beauty and chaos that is food."  Whether picturing canaries perched atop popsicles or a faun encased mid-stride in a luminous serving of Jell-O, her juxtapositions offer a taste of a culinary wilderness which, while reverie, is remarkably recognizable as a metaphor for life.
"A Studio for the Imagination," Castle in the Air's shop and classroom have inspired local and visiting artists since 2001. Since its opening in 2009, the gallery in our upstairs loft has quite literally taken inspiration to new heights and provided a venue to showcase current and historical works.
Gallery open 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. every day



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Culinary Wilderness


Clint called my paintings "culinary wilderness" when he was writing the description for the show invitation. Here's a little bit more about my art process.

Wheat Paste: formerly a fine art material that I used when printmaking or bookbinding. Now it is the familiar coating on every surface of my kitchen after cooking with my boys.

When I was writing and illustrating Cook Until Desired Tenderness, I worked the pastry and salad stations in two very nice restaurants in The City. The plating of food was a delicate art. The due date for my manuscript was the same as for my first baby. Then cooking and painting changed.

Cooking up a batch of wheat paste starts with the intention to make muffins. Stir together dry ingredients using two citrus juicers, a melon baler, two pairs of tongs, an ice cream scoop, two whisks, all the measuring spoons and cups, a bunch of stickers, a Lego, toothpicks…toothpicks? But toothpicks make better blow-darts then they do muffins. Show little brother how to insert a toothpick into a cocktail straw and shoot it out like a spitwad into the sugar canister, pick it out and suck on it then repeat, repeat, repeat, grab a slobbery handful of sugar and use the toothpicks for a swordfight. The muffin tin becomes an arcade game that is a mix of basketball and whack-a-mole. Clean up the floury mess with a bench scraper, used like a bulldozer, and a wet sponge. When the little brother wants to use the only sponge, the big brother convinces him to rub his bare stomach in the wheat paste instead. He tries, but it’s not good enough. Above the ensuing fight, I hear a distinctive shout, “LAUNCH.” The rolling pin. A red knot begins to form on the little brother’s forehead. Game Over

I used rabbit skin glue to make these new paintings. Cooking it smells just like cooking Knox or Jell-o. The subject of the paintings is a combination of my childhood art: mud pies, and my grown-up art: Still life oil paintings, and the culinary arts. First I make the actual mud pies, running around getting Jell-o in my garden and mud in my refrigerator. Then I photograph them. I print the pictures in many tiles on “rice paper” that I have crammed through my desktop printer. The tiles are reassembled and bonded to crinoline fabric using rabbit skin glue. This becomes the canvas on which I paint the still life, changing and adding to the photograph. Creating the sense of beauty and chaos that is food.


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all paintings: oil, ink jet print, thai mulbery paper, crinoline, rabbit skin glue.  Soup 48" x 64"  Spoon 26" x 39"  Pasta with Clam Sauce 47" x 70"  Cupcake 56" x 38"  Banana Split 53" x 54"

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