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

Ongoing: my 8x8" original oil paintings are available exclusively at Darrell Bell Gallery in Saskatoon. For a limited time several of my large oil paintings are also available at
their new street front gallery on 21st Street (formally Lifestyles By Darrell Bell Gallery).

Ongoing: a selection of my larger work is available at The Black Spruce Gallery at Northside on Highway 2 just before the turn to Christopher Lake.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Title Suggestions Needed

Low Storm II
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2011
sold 

About 3 years ago I did a little 7 x 7" acrylic painting called "Low Storm" with a similar theme. Unfortunately I had never taken a photo of it and it ended up selling at an art show I had in 2008. It would be interesting to compare them... I remember the first one had little jolts of Cad. Red peaking through in the green horizon line. Anyway, this is where I am at now- using oils, trying to create a soft smudgy effect while still trying to be expressive and show my love of the power of Mother Nature. This sky fascinated me this summer at Waskesiu Lake. A brooding, intense, dark storm crept along close to the horizon while up above there were beautiful, towering, puffy clouds going about their business as if unaware of the evil beneath.

The title I gave this one is kind of lame... does anyone have any suggestions?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

All Things Considered

All Things Considered
28 x 22"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2011  

You've heard me talk about my love/hate painting... well, this is it. It has been through quite the range of changes. It started out as a plain air painting, but by the end there was a whole lot more time spent in the studio than spent outdoors. If I knew at the beginning how much it was going to change I would have taken more photos along the way. The final change happened two days before the Open Studio when I found myself in about the third hate cycle of it's creation. (These were interspersed with about the same number of love stages as well as some indifferent stages). Here is what the painting looked like before the final change that you see above...


After getting feedback from Miranda (another artist in the studio) it was decided that the sky was not working with the rest of the painting. I was frustrated and feeling completely "over" it, yet I was still not prepared to cash in my chips. After a little self-imposed timeout I regrouped, grabbed my brushes, turned up the music and said, "What if..." (...well that's the polite version). Basically I didn't like it anyway so what if I churned up the sky with some stormy purples and blues, what if I left the brush marks looking rough and energetic, what if I made larger areas of colour in the foreground? 

All things considered, I am really happy with the end result. The emotional roller-coaster that was the making of this painting left me a little wobbly and weak-kneed, but valuable lessons were learned. Perhaps most importantly I finally remembered to ask myself one of the best questions to spur on creative work...

"What if...?"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Magnificent Storm- a better photo!

 Magnificent Storm
24 x 24"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2011
sold  

I am astounded! Ha! Well, that might be a smidge dramatic, but look at these two photos. The photo below is the one I posted yesterday, but I didn't feel it was showing the range of colours in the sky. And then after I read my friend Don's comment from yesterday's post I wondered if I wasn't doing justice with the picture I posted.  Don mentioned an initial concern about the green water and I realized the sky wasn't showing the range of colours, although subtle, that helped tie the water in. I took the above photo today just to see if I could get a better result. Wow! Today's photo is much better and way more accurate. Both photos were taken this week on days that were overcast, so why the huge variation? Well, my best guess is that the time of day made the difference. The below photo (much more blue overall) was taken around 10:00 in the morning. Today's picture was taken at about 1:30 in the afternoon.


These days in Saskatchewan it is still dark at 8:30 a.m. and it begins to get dark again around 5:00 p.m. We are approaching the shortest day of the year for sunlight hours and so all of this makes sense. The early afternoon is about as bright as the day gets and is probably the "warmest" light of the day; right now almost all other times of the day have a cooler light. Humph! I love learnin'! And Don, thanks for making me think!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Magnificent Storm

Magnificent Storm
24 x 24"
oil on cradled panel
sold

I am excited about doing some large skies and I today I have one to show you. "Magnificent Storm" is based on one of my smaller paintings called "Little Big Sky". I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out and I'm ready to tackle another, but I need to get more cradled panels. I really like how this softer, more blended technique works on the hard, wood surface.

The photo I used came from a series I took one day this past summer in Waskesiu when my family went to a camp kitchen to roast wieners and marshmallows. We started out at a camp kitchen close to the beach, but the wind was strong and cold coming off the lake so we moved to one on the far side of the park. I was completely mesmerized by the sky and had to keep running down to the beach to get photos as it changed. The lake was a wild green colour with white caps curling here and there... and was it loud!

My two little loves...

...and a bench with a view... 
 the rain is really coming down now!

Stay tuned for more storms and spectacular weather right here in the safety of your monitor (or smart phone... or iPad...)


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Feelin' Sketchy Saturday

chalk and charcoal drawing

I went to the drop-in drawing session this morning and I'm not thrilled with my results, so I also found an old drawing from about ten years ago to show you. Obviously I didn't have time to finish it, but I think it looks cool anyway.

Here are two sketches from this morning. I'm not sure why, but everything I drew today was small and not placed well on the page. I am also finding myself a bit frustrated because the lighting is very bright (no spot-lights) which means I really have to search hard for contrast. It is especially difficult when the view or angle of the pose is like what I had today...

 10 minute pencil sketch

...it's hard to make it interesting. And this one was no better...

25 minute pencil sketch

Oh well, as I have said before and I'm sure I will say again, they can't all be winners!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Allow Me To Introduce You...

 
St. George Studio Artists' Group


I've been meaning to upload a photo to introduce you to the other artists that work in the same studio as me. This photo was taken on Nov. 27 after the Open Studio and unfortunately three had already left. They are a diverse and wonderful group of artists and I feel so fortunate to be among them... I'm like a sponge trying to learn as much as I can from their wealth of experience and knowledge. My being part of the studio is a much better deal for me than it is for them!

Going clockwise from the only dude in the group, they are:

Peter Mac Mahon- sculptor
Jane Harington- painter (website)
Miranda Jones- painter, metal worker (gallery, gallery)
Jan Corcoran- painter (website, gallery)
Moi- painter
Bridget Aitken- painter, sculptor
Gale Hagblom- painter (website)

Not in photo: Degen Lindner- painter (gallery), Carol Wylie- painter (website), Amira Wasfy- painter

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunset Swamp

Sunset Swamp
18 x 24"
acrylic and oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2011
sold   


This past summer, after visiting a friend in Emma Lake, I came upon the most beautiful sight on the drive back to Waskesiu. It was a water-logged area, in part because of the work of some beavers and in part because of the unprecedented amount of rainfall the lake country had this season. The early evening light was absolutely magnificent causing the grasses to glow (you guessed it) the most beautiful chartreuse. The water was calm and the reflection was something out of a fairy tale. Many, many Spruce trees in the Boreal forest are dead because of an infestation of Spruce Beetles. These dead trees almost look burnt- they are a very unhealthy golden brown, but in this light they looked beautiful. "Sunset Swamp" is one of several paintings I would like to do from the photos I took that evening.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Deer Bed at the Grasslands

Deer Bed at the Grasslands
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2011
sold  

In October when I went with the Grade Two class on the field trip to the Saskatoon Natural Grasslands I received quite an education. Among the things I learned was how to spot clues of wildlife in the area. Sure enough we came upon a relatively large area where the grass was packed down; not in an interesting crop circle kind of way, but more in a random free-form sort of way. This is a deer bed! Deers took a load off and chilled here! That thought made me happy, so I painted it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Feelin' Sketchy Saturday

 10 minute contour 

 2 minute gestures

 2 minute gestures

 10 minute sketch

25 minute sketch

Happily I made it to the drop-in drawing session again today. I am enjoying the result of the contour drawing! Her right arm looks like it is only a bone and her left arm looks like it has no bone in it at all!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Incoming

Incoming
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2011
sold  


I have really enjoyed painting these soft, stormy skies. I've got a 24 x 24" cradled panel all gessoed and ready to go. I am planning to paint a larger version and can hardly wait to get started, however, I am planning to wait until I have a good stretch of time because I know when I start I won't want to stop. Plus I will need to work while the paint is wet so I can blend and smudge. Fun!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Successful Open Studio



 



Here is my space as it looked for the Open Studio this past Sunday. It was a fantastic event; busy right from 11:00 onward and only slowing down around 4:30. I met some great people and felt so much more comfortable this year. I remember feeling quite shy last year and tired before the day even began. This year, however, I had a good sleep the night before and felt more comfortable in my own skin as an artist, so approaching people was much easier. I had so much fun! I made some new contacts, I have a couple of opportunities to mull over and I sold 12 paintings! Plus the obnoxious man who told me my colours were too bright and that it must have to do with estrogen didn't even phase me!


I have been thinking a lot about the beautiful gift I received in the mail two weeks ago (read about it here) and how it affected me. To really honour that gesture I wanted to pay it forward. Well, an idea of how I could do that came up on Sunday at the Open Studio when friends dropped in to see me and my work. Their little 9 year old girl is a budding artist and she fell in love with one of my 6 x 6 paintings. We talked about it, I told her why I named it what I did and we chatted about art. She is the most precious thing and if she became say, my daughter-in-law in about 18 years I'd be AOK with it! Anyway, on Monday morning I wrapped up the painting with a "from your secret admirer" note and delivered it to their mailbox! She has her own little art show coming up this Saturday as a finale to an art class she is taking. Her parents plan to give her the gift after that. I hope it makes her day!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kindness and Joy: Life on the Prairies

Kindness and Joy: Life on the Prairies
48 x 30"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2011 
NFS 

I love this painting. Love it. It makes me happy beyond words. It is exactly as I wanted it to be. Every brush stroke on this painting was made with a pure and genuine love of creating art. It was one of those magical times when everything was flowing so well that I almost felt like I was on a different plane. It was like the elixir I needed to get into the spirit of painting again and stop the inexplicable funk I've been in with my art lately. Here is the lovely back story to which I eluded the other day...

Early last week I arrived home with the kids for lunch and found a small pile of mail in the front porch. A package had been delivered with my name on it, but no return address. It was a tad mysterious- I couldn't recall ordering anything. I opened it up and the most beautiful book on The Group of Seven was inside with a small note...


It was from a friend who had been reading my blog and wanted to encourage me to accept the lows with the highs and to remind me that I am a good artist. How beautiful is that? The very next day I went to the studio and this painting happened. (I love this painting, just so you know). And since then I have been creating non-stop and can hardly wait to do more.The friend who sent it to me has the initials K.J. and so the title "Kindness and Joy" is a reference to her and the beautiful gesture that got me back on track.

I love this painting.

And now I am heading to the Open Studio! Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Feelin' Sketchy Saturday

20 minute pencil sketch

2 minute gestures (charcoal)

20 minute pencil sketch

I have loads to do for the Open Studio tomorrow, but now that I am in the rhythm of sketching on Saturdays, I had to go for a short while. I only stayed for an hour (out of three) but I'm glad I went. I had a few good laughs with my friend Kerry so that put me in the right mood for the rest of the day. I've just zipped home to eat supper with my family and now I am heading back to the studio to get the finishing touches done for tomorrow.

If you are able to come to the Open Studio, please note that the entrance to our space is in the alley. It sounds shady, but it really isn't!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bleached Blonde

Bleached Blonde
6 x 6"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2011 
sold 

A new little grassland scene. I enjoyed switching up the colour palette for this one. The grass is so pale at this time of year... very blonde... which reminds me, it's time to make a hair appointment!
Two more sleeps until the Open Studio! I actually just got home from wiring, signing and hanging all (well, most) of my art and my space is looking pretty pulled together. I also spent some time tweaking my love/hate painting and now things are leaning a bit more toward love. And I painted another little stormy sky. 

Bed, here I come!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Day The Lake Became The Sea

The Day The Lake Became The Sea
(Waskesiu)
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2011 
sold 

Have I had fun painting these skies! Mmmm. I had been thinking about these reference photos since I took them in the summer on a dark and stormy day. We went to a camp kitchen near the main beach in Waskesiu and had a wiener/marshmallow roast. The wind really picked up and the sky got wild. I kept running down to the beach to get more photos as the weather changed. It really was spectacular. The lake became this crazy green colour and the sky was blue and then purple and then even pink down by the horizon. And the waves! Wow. Waskesiu Lake is not particularly large so it really has to be windy to get decent size waves and these ones were rolling and crashing. If I didn't know better I might have thought it was the ocean.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Little Big Sky

Little Big Sky
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2011  

sold

I have so much to show you! I have been getting loads of painting done for the upcoming Open Studio. Things have clicked and I am enjoying myself again. It's all thanks to a beautiful gift I received in the mail last week which I will tell you about soon. For now enjoy this new little sky... and there is another tomorrow!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Memories of Spruce River

Memories of Spruce River
24 x 24"
acrylic on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2011  

Here is the most current version of this painting. I think the upper left and lower right corners look more complete now and the eye moves around the canvas without getting stuck. the changes are subtle, but I think they make the painting a bit better. Thank you to those who offered suggestions. I love doing these abstract reflections, but I could keep tweaking them forever... at some point it just has to be done.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Feelin' Sketchy Saturday

15 minute pencil sketch

10 minute pencil sketch

quick charcoal gestures

10 minute contour drawing

I was unexpectedly able to attend the live model drawing session this morning. I thought I would have to miss it so when I realized I could go I felt quite excited. The model today was one that we had a couple of weeks ago. She is marvelous. She was even talking about how she was studying a book of poses last night so she could try some new things. I'm feeling really good about how it is going; I am still struggling with proportion (perhaps you can tell), but the practice is helping.

I am in a love/hate relationship right now... I have a painting that is really busting my chops! I received some good feedback from another artist today so if I can implement her suggestions I hope I will be feeling more love and not so much hate! Pictures soon... of it and the final (?) version of Memories of Spruce River.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Alone on the Range

Alone on The Range
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2011
sold  

This is a tree I came across while on a field trip with my son's Grade Two class to the Saskatoon Natural Grasslands. Apparently long, long ago, Bison were plentiful all across our province. In fact, at that time there were more Bison roaming the prairies than the current population of Saskatchewan, which is over a million (gosh, I hope I am remembering this detail right... I haven't been in school for a long time!). Because of this fact fewer bushes and shrubs were able to establish themselves- they were always getting trampled and nibbled! Today the landscape of our grasslands (which are now a little low on Bison) is different than it would have looked back then because bushes and shrubs are able to live longer lives; really "put down roots" so to speak. Ba da boom! Thanks, I'll be here all week!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

You're Invited



I will have five paintings in this juried show of small works. I'm familiar with several of the artists whose work will also be in the show and it promises to be good. It's a perfect time to get a bit of holiday shopping done and to top it off it is a fundraiser for the Saskatoon Food Bank.


*I do believe there is a typo and the doors will be open until 9:00 on Friday evening.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Approach

The Approach
(Waskesiu Lake)
12 x 16"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2011  
sold 

I began this one awhile ago at the studio, maybe in September, and I was never happy with it. I made some adjustments the other day and it is working much better. Another dramatic sky in Saskatchewan! I added the rain across the lake to make even more of a story. I toned the canvas with Quinacridone Nickel Azo and I love how that yellow/gold colour peaks through the clouds here and there.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Feelin' Sketchy Saturday

 10 minute charcoal study

10 minute pencil study


 and for your amusement...
 
a 10 minute contour drawing
(I tried very hard not to look at the paper)


I can't believe it is already Saturday! Where did that week go? I went to the drop-in life drawing class this morning and we had another lovely model. She had beautiful hair- long, wavy and dark.. with the ends dyed green! I also did several gesture drawings which are always fun for loosening up. I didn't stay for the entire time because I had a to-do list that was weighing on my mind.

On Monday I am dropping off five paintings that will be hung in a juried show next weekend. It is the second year for this art show, "Little Gems", which is all about small work (16" or less). Last year artists were able to enter three pieces and this year they upped it to five. I think there should be loads of great work there. The opening reception is Friday, November 18 from 4-9 p.m. and it is a fundraiser for the Saskatoon Food Bank. The show will be at The Mix Artist Collective Studio, 539 24th Street East and runs all weekend.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Embrace Life - It's Been Two Years


video

  Embrace Life- please wear your seatbelts

As much as I don't want to be a Debbie Downer... wah wah wah... this topic is too important to not take the opportunity to mention. 

Today is the second anniversary of our car accident which happened to follow my first ever gallery opening. What began as a day in which a dream was being realized, ended with my family in a situation I had never before imagined- with all of us in the emergency room. On our way home after the opening reception of my art show we had been blind sided by a lady who ran the red light. She hit the passenger side of our van at full speed on the sliding door where my, then, 7 year old was sitting and she also connected with part of my door. It is a miracle my son had virtually no injuries. I still can't believe it. Every single window in the van was smashed because we rolled 1 and 1/4 times... except his window on the sliding door that was hit. It was in perfect condition. As we rolled I heard the windows breaking and I remember screaming, "Keep your arms in!!!" In those split seconds I was terrified someone's arm would flail out and be crushed under the rolling van. We came to rest on the passenger side. I looked up to see my husband safely secured by his seat belt in the driver's seat. I looked back to see my, then, five year old strapped safely in his seat, albeit up in the air behind my husband. Blood from a cut above his left eye was dripping down on my other son, who was strapped to his seat. My seat belt had me gripped so tightly that I couldn't turn to see Sammy who was right behind me. It was terrifying, because his was the door that got the brunt of the hit. It was easily the worst thing I have ever been through.... but the most miraculous. We were, and are, all right. 

Not a day goes by when I don't think of the accident, usually when I am driving. It is not a bad thing because I feel like it keeps me aware and in the moment when I am on the road. I have had people tell me that when they heard about our accident it affected them to the point that it made a difference to their driving and made them more vigilant about the use of seat belts. That is why I am writing about this again and why I will next year on November 8. 

Read more about our story...

and for the love of life.... please wear your seat belts.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Feelin' Sketchy Saturday

contour drawing

gesture drawings

15 minute sketch

 20 minute sketch

20 minute sketch

I don't know... sketching could become a Saturday thing; at least I am going to try. I went to the drop-in figure drawing session again this morning and it was great. The model was wonderful- even with a broken foot! She gave us the most beautiful poses. She was elegant and created such beautiful lines with her body, especially in her gesture poses. These are some of the sketches I did in the almost three hours I was there. I think my two favorites are the 15 minute sketch and the contour drawing. When she got settled in the reclining pose I was in a bit of a panic because of my angle. Her head was closest to me and her feet furthest away... and all of the fore-shortening had me freaked! I gathered my thoughts and decided that it might make for a really interesting contour drawing. I love how it turned out. Theoretically once a contour drawing begins you don't look at your paper or lift your pencil, you just follow the lines of the figure with your eyes and move your pencil at the same time. I probably spent about 15 minutes on it. I took my time, but admit I looked down a couple of times when, in fact, I did lift my pencil off the paper. Rules.... bah!