Friday, December 18, 2009

A Brave attempt at Catching Up

The Christmas Letter is finished at last - thanks to a lovely cup of real coffee at Stillwater's The Bikery - the best mix of coffee-shop and bike shop in these here parts. It made for a great place to follow Lance Armstrong's Tour de France adventures this past summer.
It's not summer anymore - although this morning's temp is a toasty twelve ABOVE zero at present - 8 AM. Hardly took any time to defrost the Buick's front window - simple pleasure.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Season's Over Season's Starting

Greetings -
We are still unpacking from our last show of the year. It was the lovely Landmark Center Holiday Bazaar in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. No blizzard, no ice, great music, wonderful customers and friends. The lighted trees in Rice Park are always a delight each evening as we headed for home.

Now the bears are bunched upstairs in our booth at American Gothic Antiques, 236 S Main Street, in Stillwater, Minn., where all this fuzzy fun begain. To think that a single not-good pencil drawing in October of 1997 began the torrent of bears that we've made is still quite mind-boggling. Take advantage of any inspiration - ya might create a whole new life for yourself.

We have more bruin goodies in Minnesota at Duluth's Blue Lake Gallery, and in Bayfield, Wisconsin's Eckels Pottery. We are thrilled that the colored reproductions of the "pretty" bears are going over so well with customers. And next year, cross paws, we will offer our first ceramic pieces, starting with a standing "Larry" Bear.

I've vowed this season to eat less and exercise more, so will quit typing and head for the spinner. We've hidden the chocolate-covered cherries from me - Thanks, Todd - and there's lots of turkey soup left.

On to all of our grand adventures!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

After Thanksgiving

Now through the Holiday Season we will have a great gang of our bears downtown Stillwater, Minnesota upstairs in American Gothic Antiques,the shop where they all began.

There are also some piles of older pieces downstairs here at home waiting to be sorted through. Most are smaller 8 by 10 things - some will probably be stripped of frame and mat and spoken to kindly with the usual sad yet truthful, "Sorry, old pal, but you didn't make the cut....,"and, sigh, ripped in the ritual four quarters and tossed gently in to the waste basket. Some will be rescued, and some will hang around to inspire further pieces. A few will graduate to be new cards and magnets - if not offered as Art.

We bought some baked goodies for this weekend's Open House at the shop, but also got out the recipe cards and whipped up brownies and dream bars from scratch. it's been a while since eggs, flour and sugar have been beaten in our kitchen. the new oven is much more the pal than our last one. I can trust this beast to do what it says it's going to do - sigh,

So, on to the wonders of black Friday (I'm not venturing out till daylight) and the coming weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all-
- Sue

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Recent simple pleasures -

!)Fixing the muddy sound on the good old stereo Record Player by daring to play around with the wires in the back.

2)Receiving a forwarded e-mail picturing a black bear sow and her five cubs - wow.

3)Appreciating the recent warmish weather, with no snow on ground yet. Still time to cover the flower bulbs with wire to fend off the chomping rodents.

4)Having a near-forest of thriving large jade plants now that Todd and his sister, Linda, split up Mr. Jade this summer.

5)Cub grocery store having their butter on sale for $.98 a pound for two weeks in a row.

6)Having work to do and the ability to do it.

7)Finally figuring out our Christmas card design at 4:10 A.M. this morning.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all -


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Heading up tomorrow for the Bayfield Apple Festival in Northern Wisconsin. Having been raised about 45 miles from this large fall festival, and never going as a kid, it's fun to now be a part of the whole deal.

Weather will be iffy again this year, so I hope to be able to tie the booth down to the old park bench embedded in concrete. A little security is a wonderful thing, and Lake Superior often keeps one looking for just one more way to keep a canopy from going airborne. It's fun, too, to wear Green Bay Packer stuff amidst fellow fans. Being married to a Minnesota Vikings fan is "interesting" this season. I do say "Go Brett!" AND "GO PACK!!," and will tune into the The Monday Night Game with mixed emotions.

Business has taken over Art these past months; few original pastels get finished. I ain't complaining. Being busy doing something one loves to do is frosting on the economy cake. But creativity gives way to production.

We are hanging in with tennis. Monday's adventure in the seriously high winds was hilarious. then we'd have to interrupt play to watch sea gulls fight to advance position in sky only to give up, circle, and try again, fail, circle, try again. Life lesson? Wind wins.

It's sunny today and almost pleasant.
On to the grand adventure -

Thursday, September 3, 2009


This morning I swept the kitchen floor - a rare occurrence, but sometimes necessary - and enjoyed attacking the corners with their little bits of dust and other questionable stuff. As kids we paid attention as Mom told us to sweep into the corners, early and often, and so we did.

In 1971, at the Windfield Manor School of Horsemanship in Fargo, ND, Gail Dark, our dressage instructor, kept reminding us to "ride into the corners," and so we did.

Sometimes I forget about the importance of corners. The pastel of"Hudson"the bear has no finished corners, and sometimes I feel guilty about this. Focus is on his intense gaze - the edges of his head simply don't exist. And yet that was how he felt right in being - I would not want to give him any edges. Perhaps art is in each viewer's filling in the details, or deciding that what is done is quite enough. Ovals and circles don't have corners and they get along just fine.

It's time to leave this coffee-shop's corner. Lots to do today - work at American Gothic Antiques, fill some orders, and appreciate this gorgeous day. But I am glad to know the corners in the kitchen have been attended to - and that we artists are free to do with shapes as we choose.


Thursday, August 20, 2009


Greetings on a dark and dreary mid-morning.
Ye olde "Be careful what you wish for...." I am starting to wish that it would stop raining.... After too many days of too dry. Oh well. I like the sun.

We have a weekend free of art fairs and we don't know what to do. Culture? Cleaning? Creating? Taking a nap? Or simply playing tennis till our legs fall off? Yes, Mr. Todd and I are playing lots of Ugly Tennis. We are getting better - but the doings are still not attractive. I will watch Rafa and Roger and Venus and Serena with even more awe than in the past. I will pay attention to the teacher giving lessons to youngsters in the other court. I will see if any of the bears are willing to grab a racket on a paper court.

Summer is tending toward heading for over. I want light skies at 5 A.M, and at 9 P.M.

Oh goody. The drip drops are letting up for a wee tad. Time to send a "Not really balanced. Don't really care." tee-shirt off to a customer. We ordered some new colors this time - Safety green and lavender and a nice light blue.

On to the day's adventures-

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Macaroon Mountain

Yup, there's one left sitting in the case here at Stillwater's Fresh Fields Cafe and Bakery. Sadly, it's not for me today..... The result of too many Cheeto, peanut buuter & butter on toast, and kettle corn art-fair travel eating adventures. Sigh. So, lovely coconut gooey, crunchy, dark chocolately yumminess - you get to make another person happy today.

Art fair adventures of late have also included - not in order:
- getting the chance AT LAST to tour the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth. Do I truly yearn now for a room's ceiling to be completely covered in gold-leaf? No. Could I deal with owning a few Art Deco-tiled fire-places? Easily. Could we use a little help with our formal and veggie gardens? You bet! But I do still like our split-level ranch house fine and dandy.

- The miracle of multi-relative and shirt-tail relative trading of working large vehicles due to our usually-trusty but ancient red Ford pick-up deciding to not want to be a part of a trip to Chicago and southern Wisconsin. Things worked out! Favors have been paid and re-paid. We appreciate the efforts of one and all.

- Meeting folks of all stripe and interest and parts of the country (and Canada!). This is why we toil through the Winter.

I'll detail more fully a tad down the pike. I have to get back to the habit of typing.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Hug for the Bears

It's that time of year when some of us artists can use a hug. We have survived the winter and are now looking to the Spring and Summer with wonder, hope, and a nagging fear of impending doom. Will our new stuff meet with approval and sales? Does it really matter if we exist in the universe? You know - the usual stuff.

So it was a tiny miracle that, when simply bringing some new greeting cards into Duluth, Minnesota's Blue Lake Gallery I was granted a joyful hug by gallery clerk, Susan C. THANKS, I NEEDED THAT! We'd never met, but through the bears she now knows a bit of my warped personality - and she can relate! So Sir Todd, my long-suffering husband, looked on once again as two chatterers take off at warp-speed. We soon went our separate ways - but my out-look for the upcoming season has been lifted. Whew.

Now, back at work, I have to keep remembering that we all never know when a gesture, word, note, or call will do wonders to make another folk's life even a wee tad better. It's time to do some small thing to pass on those unexpected hugs and pats.

On to the day!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hooray for Tara

Congrats to daughter, Tara Reich, for winning the 2009 Chicago Fashion Foundation Scholarship! Hard work and hope CAN do the deed - along with a great model,knocking wood, crossing fingers, and prayer.

Tara's come along way since bonding with the sewing machine in her junior-high home-ec class.

It's still amazing to know that Todd and I actually reared a fashion design sort. But her knowledge of antiques and anime were just the mix to do the trick, along with her uncompromising choices concerning design, fabrics, and workmanship. Having to find inspiration in the 1893 Chicago world's Fair found Tara hitting the local antique shops, reading "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson (I still haven't gotten to the first murder....), and using her corset making skill learned on the job. You just never know what skills you will need in life to accomplish the next big step.

So we're hoping that she's relaxed a little, slept a tad, and will now be able to get on with the work of finishing her senior days at Columbia College. Way to go Tara! And
THANKS! to all involved.

- Sue

Thursday, February 19, 2009


A last minute phone call and we are off this weekend to Klondike Days in Eagle River, Wi.
Two weeks ago the bears did fine in Green Bay, so it will be "interesting" to see how they fare this go-round in the land of Green-and-Gold.

Because I now live in Minnesota most folks think that I am a local...... But that can never really be.
Born and raised in Northern Cheddarland, and even with ol' Brett now gone, I still get oddly giddy seeing anything with a Packers logo on it. Even Todd, the Vikings-fan husband that he is, sometimes slips on something with the symbol of the evil enemy on it. But being practical even I plopped on a Vikings cap and wore it to the post-office a few weeks ago. This confused another customer because I also was wearing a lovely vintage Packers sweatshirt. I explained our mixed marriage, we laughed, and went on our way.

So, we will check the weather, cross the border, and hope for the best.

Go Pack! Go Vikes! Go Bears!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Photo Time

I'm trying to learn new skills - so it's time to try an image. Thanks, Tara, for talking me through this.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cleaning Time

January. Third. Two-thousand-nine......

What are we doing? Cleaning!!!!! Sorting!!! Ripping up and tossing out! Finding the "new" iron below the pile of pillow cases. Seeing empty horizontal spaces when we open certain doors.

In the studio the whole space under the table is empty. Todd will have to tell me where he put some stuff. The other stuff I know. Every piece of paper and mat-board have been touched and considered. The unused pieces have been sorted from the artwork. The artwork has been re-sorted into ripped and trashed, stuff saved for future possible inspiration, and actual showable pieces. I feel an hour of recreational burning coming on. I am not a complete hoarder - whew!

It's time to go scrape palettes now. The work desk will be tackled soon - but right now it's time to scape paint.

- Sue

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Hmmm, the post from Dec. 31 did not post. We shall see with this one.

The newest bear is a polar type, and will be titled either "Getting Harder to be Surprised" or "My name might just be Marty." I don't know why. The sentences come while I'm working so they get jotted down for consideration. This does make choosing a title a tad easier.

He's smaller than most bear heads done this past year, and was a bit boring until the Sennilier sticks started whispering "Use me.... Use me...." So the magic colors No. 197 and No. 930 (orange-yellow and intense orange) made Marty pop alive. Whew. I am a true believer in the power of blues and greens with yellows and oranges. Basic color theory that works almost every time.

So on to the Grand Adventures of 2009. Back to finishing the first bear of the new year.

- Sue