New Representation: my art is now available at the Assiniboia Gallery in Regina! They are located at 2266 Smith Street, a vibrant, bustling part of town.

July - October, 2017: A small selection of my work,
courtesy of Darrell Bell Gallery, is available at Boffins restaurant (111 Research Drive, U of S campus).

Sunday, November 19, 2017: Studio on 20th Open Studio Art Show and Sale. The studio where I paint will be open to the public from 11 am - 5 pm on this one afternoon only. Current work by our eleven artists will be exhibited and available to purchase. Please come and bring a friend! We are located at 236A 20th Street West (door to the left of the Odd Couple restaurant); not wheelchair accessible.

Ongoing: my 8x8" original oil paintings are available exclusively at Darrell Bell Gallery located in the Canada Building in downtown Saskatoon. As well, some of my large oil paintings are now available in this beautiful local gallery.

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sunbeam On Moss Bed

Sunbeam On Moss Bed
8x8
oil on MDF board
© Nicki Ault, 2010

Sunbeam On Moss Bed
8x8
oil on MDF Board
© Nicki Ault, 2010
finished?

I needed to go small the other day at the studio. Everything I have been working on for my upcoming show has been quite large. It sounds strange, but I wanted to do something loose, quick and free... so I went small! Actually I think the reason I went small was because I decided to make it a "Twenty Minute Challenge" and that always makes me work a bit quicker. The top image is how far I got when my handy-dandy Ikea timer rang at twenty minutes in. The second image is the (possibly) finished painting after I put in about another hour or so. My apologies both photos are not the best quality. My camera has not been the same since I had it repaired.

Thanks to everyone who has been leaving such wonderful and supportive comments lately. Without boring you with the details, I could really use some positive energy in my life these days and it gives me such a boost to get feedback on my posts. I'm sorry I haven't been that good at reciprocating; I'll get back on track soon. Thanks again.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Backlit Birch

Backlit Birch
24x36"
acrylic and oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2010
sold

Ahhhhh, trees. I can't get enough of them! Here is another of the large canvases I have been working on this fall. I really enjoyed it and will experiment with back-lighting again. I still have not worked out the best way to photograph these larger canvases- they are definitely more difficult than the 7x7 size I am used to. At any rate, this picture was close enough.

Guess what I did tonight? Shoveled snow! Yup, snow! And a lot of it! I am not mentally ready for this!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lily Pads At Spruce River

Lily Pads At Spruce River
24 x 36"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2010
sold
 
Here is one of the large paintings I have done this fall at the studio. I don't think the colour here is entirely accurate, I'll have to check when I go back to the studio. I'm pretty sure the orange/rust colours at the top are not that obvious in reality. Anyway, it's a bit of a different composition, which I always like. There were way more lily pads and grasses flowing in the reference photo, but it was too much, so I did some big-time editing. These lily pads were different than most I've seen. They were very pointy as opposed to the round floppy ones you think frogs might sit on.

My camera is fixed, but I am having a difficult time getting decent photos of these larger pieces. The walnut alkyd I have been using as a medium dries to a bit of a gloss finish, so the glare is really bad when taking a photo (even without a flash). Any tips?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Camera troubles

The lens on my camera got jammed the other day so I have been unable to take any photos of the work I have done at the studio. I just picked it up from the repair shop late yesterday afternoon and it seems all of the settings have gone back to the factory ones. I will fiddle with it this weekend and hopefully get it to where I like it.

 River Thawing
7x7 
acrylic on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2010
BEFORE

 River Thawing
© Nicki Ault, 2010 
AFTER
sold

 In the mean time, I am re-posting a painting I did en plein air this past spring as well as the final, tweaked version which has never before been on the blog. After receiving a bit of feedback on the original piece I decided to make the foreground ice more interesting and I also pulled the right hand side of the ice up ever-so-slightly to make the angle less intense and to keep the viewer from feeling like they were sliding off the edge. I was looking up river while I painted this, so my eye saw the shoreline at an angle. Someone did mention to me that the water line should be level, but I think the angle makes it more visually dynamic- so it stayed.

I have to say I liked the original piece and wasn't sure if I wanted to change it, but after sitting with it awhile, I agreed that the ice wasn't interesting enough. So if I liked the painting before, I love it now! I feel excited when I see the "after" picture! Thanks to all who offered feedback 6 months ago!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Underpainting? Finished Painting?

Fire In The Belly I
acrylic on canvas
22x28"
under painting vs. finished painting
-a controversy!!!
sold

In my last post I mentioned that I had started a painting in the studio at Emma Lake for which Bark Study was an experiment. I had taken a photo of a fantastic tree on the same day that I wasted a ton of time painting on the wrong (untreated) side of the board. I was very excited about finding this dramatic tree and the idea I had for painting it. At any rate I began my under painting as I usually do, with a wash of strong colour straight out of the tube and then I began laying in the composition with quick, loose strokes. I had just begun my next stage which was the grays you see here. All of this initial work was done in acrylic and my plan was to use oil paint after the ground work was done. At this point, however, some of the new people I met at this workshop wandered by with a bottle or two of wine and I got severely sidetracked! It was probably 9:00 p.m. and I had been in a bit of a funk all day because it was my fifteenth wedding anniversary and I was feeling guilty for not being home. Needless-to-say wine with these new, hilarious friends seemed to be just what the Doctor ordered! My painting ground to a halt for the night leaving my work just as you see it above. 

Fast forward to the next day.

After painting "Feathery Pine", "By The Lake" and "Bark Study" I was on my way back to the studio with "Bark Study" sandwiched between two cafeteria trays (so as not to get wet from the rain) when the instructor and a couple fellow students stopped me in my tracks with their excitement over the painting they saw on my easel. I had no idea what they were talking about until I remembered my "under painting" from the night before. As it turned out, that is the one they were talking about. They loved it! They all thought it was a finished piece and didn't want me to touch it. I was flabbergasted and I still am to this day. That evening at the critique the general consensus was that I should leave it as is. What the %@*!!! (pardon my censored "French") I am still baffled two months later. Maybe I'm troubled by this because I know what I wanted to do with the painting and this is not it. Maybe it's because it looks nothing at all like anything I have ever done before. Maybe because it is simply doesn't look finished. I am still trying to sort it all out. One lady even said that, for this piece, she would pay twice what I would normally charge for a canvas this size. 

I get that I am always being told to loosen up, to be freer, to get rid of my inhibitions and so maybe this is just another way of people saying that. But I have been messed up for two months wondering what the reaction to this painting truly says about what people think- or don't think- about my art. I've stewed about it for many hours. I don't want to always play it safe as an artist, but calling the above a finished piece of work just may be too far out of my comfort zone.

I decided to leave this painting the way it is as I continue to ponder what it all means. I have since created a new painting of the same subject on a larger canvas; one that is "finished" in my mind. I'll show it to you very soon. But for now I ask you wise blogging friends, what do you think? Is this an under painting or a finished painting?????

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bark Study

Bark Study
(for Fire In The Belly)
8x8
oil on board

After I completed "By The Lake" (seen in my last post)- or at least did as much as I was going to do outside- I did a quick (and I am mean quick) study of bark using rich, thick, not fully mixed smudges of paint. I had done an under painting the night before and wanted to play with this idea I had for what I might do over top. It was so fun playing with the oils this way. I wanted it to look rough and chunky, which it does, I think. The colours are intense, especially the oranges, which I wanted. Sometimes I am shocked at the colours I see in the forest. I mean, really you just think green, green and more green, but if you get looking around and what you find is quite amazing. In this instance I had taken a photo (the day I painted on the wrong side of the board- good times) of a tree near me that was lit up by a sun beam. The fantastic part was that the lit area was a section where bark had pealed off revealing this raw, burnt orange, glowing sap covered area. It was specatcular! I have been working on a large canvas at the studio back at home with this as the subject.

I mentioned this was a quick study and that is: a) because working fast keeps me loose and b) because this was approaching...

It was a deceiving storm... it looked like I had more time than I did! When it hit, it hit hard. The rain was pouring down and erased any view of the lake past the beach!  


I ran to the cafeteria building and waited it out. The downpour lasted about 15 minutes and afterward there were rivers running down the paths of the campus! When it stopped raining I had to sandwich my painting between two cafeteria trays to get it back to the studio because there was so much water dripping off the trees. I do love a good storm, and a good adventure.

Friday, October 1, 2010

By The Lake

By The Lake
16x20
oil on canvas

After I did "Feathery Pine", which I posted the other day, I decided to take this new brush and toned down palette to a larger format. I didn't use as limited a palette as I did in the study- I think I was up around 10 colours (including white). I really enjoyed working on this one and tried to keep things loose- click on the image to get a better idea of the brush work. I'm sure it could be looser, but it was an accomplishment for me. It's one of the larger pieces I have tackled en plein air, but it was definitely manageable. There was a time when 16x20 seemed so large to me, but now that I have done a few 30x40's this size is no longer as intimidating. When I got it back to the studio and received feedback from the instructor, she suggested I amp up the action in the sky even though the day didn't necessarily look like that. It needed to be a bit stronger to balance the strength of the left side. I totally agreed so I increased the contrasts and activity in the clouds and I am happy with the result. Sometimes you have to just make the painting work regardless of what your subject shows you.

This was a wonderful location to paint. I set up in an Adirondack chair near, but not on, the beach. It was a bit sheltered by the trees, so as the wind picked up it didn't bother me too much. It was so peaceful listening to the water lap against the shore and to hear the bustle of nature around me. Well, to be honest, time may have softened the memory. The bustle of nature I speak of was not particularly calming so much as life threatening! Okay, I might be exaggerating, but you feel another plein air adventure coming don't you???

Again I was happily painting away when I suddenly noticed I was not alone. You know when you hear something darting around, but when you look up, nothing? Well, that went on for a short while and finally I spotted the varmint... a [ninja] squirrel! He had a real glint in his eye that one. He was nothing like the sweetie I told you about in this post that had a nap on the branch above me at Spruce River. It became clear that I had set up in his part of the woods as he ran circles around me from tree to tree, up and down, around and around. Eventually, as I continued to paint, he realized he wasn't going to spook me that easily, so he got down to the business of collecting pine cones. Here is where it got interesting.... he would shoot up a tree and then drop little pine cone bombs all around! You could almost hear them whistle through the air before they, thwack!, landed! Then he would zoom down, grab them and eat them on a nearby rock while staring at me with the evil eye. It was H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S! It was funny because he could have been a cartoon the way he acted and ate. He sat on the rock shredding through the pine cones faster than anything I've ever seen before. Literally pieces and bits were flying everywhere as he spun it around in his little paws.. feet?...hands? What do squirrels have anyway?

Here is a photo of my evil  little companion. Just look at the debris on that rock! He never did hit me with a pine cone bomb, but I was definitely picking bits of bark and twigs out of my hair from when he was racing around on the branches above me!

Okay, just a bit more to show you from my course at Emma, so I will do that in my next few posts, then I am excited to show you what I have accomplished at the studio back in town. I'm working on some larger pieces for my show at Moka.