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Category: Uncategorized

Hanging With Big Ole in Alexandria, Minnesota

Wendell and I took a drive to Alexandria, Minnesota, to check out the Runestone Museum and Fort Alexandria. And of course see Big Ole!

The Runestone Museum’s website says:

The Kensington Runestone and the enduring mystery of its origin continues to be the hallmark of the Runestone Museum. This intriguing artifact was discovered in 1898, clutched in the roots of an apen tree on the Olof Öhman farm near Kensington, MN (15 miles southwest of Alexandria). The Kensington Runestone has led researchers from around the world and across the centuries on an exhaustive quest to explain how a runic artifact, dated 1362, could show up in North America.

For more information on the stone, check out the museum’s website. The museum includes the “Snorri,” a 40-foot replica of a trans-Atlantic Viking ship.

Big Ole is across the street from the Runestone Museum. He’s 28-feet tall so it’s hard to miss him! He’s got an entry on the RoadsideAmerica website if you’re interested in learning more about him.

What Have I Been Doing This Week You Ask . . .

Why I’ve been baking up a storm!

Not only is this Holga Week 2014, but for me it’s also been “Baking Week.”

I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies:

chocolate chip cookies - photo by Susan Stayer
Chocolate Chip Cookies

I bought a bunch of peaches to make peach jam (another kitchen adventure this week) and had enough leftover to make a peach pie. My Mom is THE BEST pie maker (and chocolate chip cookie maker, too) and this is the closest I’ve ever come to matching hers. It was really, really good.

peach pie - photo by Susan Stayer
Peach Pie

I recently bought a gorgeous red Emile Henry Dutch oven from King Arthur Flour to bake my sourdough bread in. Today was my first attempt at using it. I have to say I’m VERY happy with the way the loaf turned out. Crusty and crunchy on the outside, soft and delicate on the inside, with a mild sourdough tang.

sourdough - photo by Susan Stayer
My ‘artisan’ sourdough

Oh, and I’ve been taking lots of photos with my Holgas, too. You know, for Holga Week 2014!



From Photo to Photo Encaustic

In my previous blog post I mentioned a talk I gave last week to a group of people looking to pursue art, writing, and other creative practices after retiring from “regular” jobs. Several of the participants expressed interest in what the my images looked like before becoming encaustic paintings so I thought I’d post a few examples.


This leaf is actually a solar print made during a printmaking class a few years ago. I scanned the print and made a few minor changes in Photoshop, including making it a bit more contrasty and truly black and white.


(Encaustic work is always best seen in person. It’s got fabulous texture, luminosity, and dimension that just doesn’t show up in a photograph or on a screen.)

This piece is called “Rescue Work.” I won an honorable mention with it at the Dayton Visual Arts Center last year!


Here are a couple more before-and-after examples:



I took this photo on a trip to Uluru in Australia. I was blown away by the clear blue sky and the red sand. Visiting Uluru and the Red Centre was an unbelievable experience.


This piece is one of the first encaustic experiments I ever tried. During an encaustic workshop with my friend Felicia Touhey, she suggested incorporating collage elements into our encaustic paintings. I found some bark paper at the craft store and had a go at recreating the photo.



Transforming photographs and prints into encaustic paintings can be a lot of fun! The possibilities are endless.

A Shout Out to My New Artist Friends

I had the opportunity to talk to a group of creative people yesterday and I just want to thank everyone for being so kind.

The group is made up of people looking to become artists and writers after retiring from a long career in a somewhat less creative field. Many said they’re looking forward to taking art classes, working on writing projects, traveling, visiting museums –  all the fun, exciting, and rewarding creative activities they’ve put on the back burner for so many years.

Many thanks to Margie Bauer for organizing the talk. Margie is an amazing person who has lived and worked in places like Zaire and Indonesia. She’s also a watercolor and mixed media artist specializing in tropical flora and fauna.

Passiflora incarnata  Purple Passion Vine by Margie Bauer 20 x 16 in Watercolor on 300 lb Fabriano Soft Press
Passiflora incarnata
Purple Passion Vine
by Margie Bauer
20 x 16 in
Watercolor on 300 lb Fabriano Soft Press

I also enjoyed meeting Kathleen Stafford, the other artist invited to speak to the group. Kathleen has spent many years living and traveling in Africa and paints gorgeous watercolor portraits of African people. She’s also a printmaker and she enjoys making collagraph prints.

Griot/Storyteller by Kathleen Stafford
Griot/Storyteller by Kathleen Stafford

All the best to everyone I met yesterday!


Wendell and I went to Portland, Maine, for a few days. It was part of our “retirement reconnaissance” tour. I mentioned to a friend that we were going to Portland and she said that she had been there before and was blown away by the number of places selling fudge.

I found this amusing so I snapped a photo whenever I saw a place with fudge for sale. Naturally I sent the photos to my friend as I took them.

Here’s to fudge!