My first website is up!

Representation: My work can be found at these professional galleries:
Darrell Bell Gallery in Saskatoon, the Canada Building on 21st Street
Assiniboia Gallery in Regina, 2266 Smith Street
Webster Galleries in Calgary, Unit 2 625-77th Ave. SE

March 21, 2019: I was interviewed by Galleries West Magazine. Read the article here.

November 10, 2016: I was interviewed by Daily Paintworks as their Spotlight Artist for a week! Read my interview on the DPW News blog!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Learning Curve Continues

I have no artwork to post today... well, I could dig something up from days gone by, but I actually just feel like writing.

I was at the studio this afternoon and got working on the larger version of "Lit" which felt really good. I'm excited that I actually feel a bit motivated to get some work underway. The four days of plein air painting last week seemed to be just what I needed. It has turned cold again, but I'm okay with being back in the studio because I know this cold spell won't last forever and Spring truly is on the way.

Anyway, I had my four plein air paintings set out on my table at the studio and two other artists that were working in their spaces came over to say they liked what I did last week... but then an impromptu critique ensued! It started with one of them saying I needed to be careful when doing the horizon line of a river or body of water- it should be level and not on an incline because water doesn't flow like that. The painting she was referring to was "River Thawing" and I was quite confused at the time, but I think I am starting to understand what she meant. When I painted it I was looking down the river (not straight across to the other bank) and my eye saw an angle, but maybe in the painting it reads like there is a slope to the river which, of course, is not the way rivers run unless they are going over some sort of water fall. This is where things got interesting, if not a little heated! The other artist piped up and said that this angle didn't bother her, she felt it made the composition more dynamic. My head was going back and forth between them as if I was watching a tennis match! What bothered her was that the water and the grayer edge of the ice were about the same size making it look like two equal bands running across the width of the painting and as a result this section was quite boring. Humph and how about that?!! I can see that point too! How does a person miss these things when they are painting? I caught it on "Ice, Water, Snow, Frost", but missed it on this one. I actually really like "River Thawing", but maybe with these suggestions I can make it even better. I'm thinking if I drop the left side of the bank down a bit to reduce the angle of the horizon line then maybe that will help the flow of the water look more natural. After that maybe I will tweak the grayer edge of the ice so it differs from the size of the water itself. Lots to think about. I am thankful for constructive critiques... if done right, I can really learn something.

Speaking of which, I feel I have so much to learn that I am overwhelmed most days! This is possibly one of the reasons why I have had a hard time getting back at it after our car accident. During the couple of months I was in too much pain and too uncomfortable to go in and work at the studio, I kept looking at and finding all kinds of art blogs. I've thought it before, but in these months it really sunk in.... I know very little about what I am doing in this art world! All these amazing artists can write about their knowledge... values, temperature of colour; warm and cool, how light works, etc., and although I get the gist of what they are saying, I don't think I have the full understanding so as to put it into practice- especially where colour mixing is concerned. I don't mean to make it sound like I don't think I have any clue at all and oh, poor me, but I have realized that when I paint I am not relying on a whole lot of theory! Right now I am painting, I guess, from my gut- what I like, what I don't like... my choices are intuitive rather than, well... informed! I don't necessarily think this is entirely a bad thing, but the unfortunate result of this self awareness is that I am feeling like a bit of a sham! I don't think there will ever be a day that I think I know enough about art. Therefore this desire, passion and quest of mine will be lifelong. But I can think of worse things! :o)

Thanks to all of you who take the time to leave wonderful, supportive comments as you watch me climb this learning curve. It is a steep one and I'm happy to have you join me on this journey!


Barbara Muir said...

Bunkum! Is that a swear word? Sorry. The danger in listening to criticism, and in your case it is a danger, is that you'll change something totally original and fabulous to fit in with some preconceived notion of what a landscape should be. The artists who follow those "rules" to the letter are a dime a dozen and you are not. You are an original. Sometimes when we are "learning" from other artists, what we are learning is to quiet our own vibrant voice so that we can be part of the chorus. You aren't chorus material. You are one of the world's truly great artists. Go with your instincts and guts and leave the rules to the people who need them.


Barbara Muir said...

P.S. Please don't touch your paintings. They are perfect.


-Don said...

I agree with Barbara. I personally don't think you should change these paintings. I think you made the right choices in each of them. Both of the things argued about by your studio-mates were things that I liked about the works - the dynamic angle of the river, and the ice cutting halfway across it. You're right to trust your gut.

As for all the art how-to's out there in the blogosphere, be careful to not become too overwhelmed by them. Think of everything you had read as if you had been reading a cookbook. There are a lot of great recipes out there, but you can only cook one meal at a time. So, if you want to learn something new, get out ONE recipe and start cooking. If you want to cook something up different the next day, fine, get out another recipe. Once you master each recipe you'll be able to cook those meals without referring to the recipes anymore and you'll find that you will naturally begin adjusting those recipes to your taste. Don't lose that special "Nicki flavor" in your work. It's too tasty...


Pierre Raby said...

What a heartfelt post. You are true with yourself just like your works.
I agree with Barbara and Don, you are an authentic artist and human being, continue to trust your gut it never lies. Enjoy the ride!

Nicki said...

Whew, it is like I dropped off the face of the earth for about a week! The kids were sick and then I got sick, so I really didn't look at my blog at all. Sorry I am replying to these comments so late.

Thank you so much for everything you said. You have a wonderful way of putting things into words. I think what you are talking about is definitely something to really consider... I most certainly want to stay original and hopefully stand out in some way, yet I know that I have lots to learn so I have to find that delicate balance somehow. Thank you for your comment- it has given me much to consider.

Hi Don,

That is a great analogy. I have so much swirling around in my head at any given time that I am thinking about art that it would probably be very prudent to choose one thing to focus on and really give it attention. More wise words to ponder. Thanks. And I will try not to get overwhelmed... I think a little vacation from surfing around more and more art blogs might be a place to start! I'm just going to visit my favorites for awhile (yours included).

Thank you so much Pierre. That is also something for me to consider... hopefully if I can stay authentic people will respond and I will always be pleased with the work I produce. Glad you stopped by.

Thank you wonderful blog friends for your support. It means the world.

XO Nicki

Anonymous said...

all the comments so far i would agree with Nicki. i would like to add my own experience to this very interesting subject: i have always found that some of the toughest feedback has been pivitol in making changes to my work. yes, i was winded, gutted, and stabbed my canvas but i couldnt say i respected that artist and not respect their feedback. without reflection and food for reflection i don't have a chance to develop. you know what they say: those who never make mistakes never make anything:) (i tell my students that becasue i want them to see it as part of the process)

Linda Popple said...

Just discovered your blog and I look forward to exploring it further!

I agree with everyone! What a journey this is! The path you have chosen is yours and your work is unique. I feel overwhelmed at times and I think that is part of the growing process. I love the fact that with art we are learning all the time and it never stops! We are so blessed!

Nicki said...

Hi Rahina,

Thanks for your input. I do agree with you that if you respect the artist who is giving the critique then their viewpoint should be taken into consideration. I definitely want to learn and grow and I think one of the best ways of doing that is to gather information from those who know more than me (not hard to find those people!) The problem rises when the critiques are not asked for, or when they come out as more of an attack and when they are not constructive.

As always, thank you for stopping by. I love your most recent portrait. Way to go girl!


Hi Linda,

Thank you so much for coming by to look at my blog. It is always nice to meet another artist! What you say is true... being overwhelmed is part of the learning process, and the fact that this process is ongoing really is a blessing.

And now I am heading over to visit your blog!