July and August 2017: A small selection of my work, courtesy of Darrell Bell Gallery, is available at Boffins restaurant (111 Research Drive, U of S campus) throughout the summer months.

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.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Here Goes With The Abstracts!

 Literally Shapes
acrylic on paper
© Nicki Ault, 2012

Okay, I've spent two weeks decompressing after my week at Emma Lake and I am ready to "put it all out there"! First I have to say that I could not have had a better week- for lots of different reasons. The Kenderdine Campus is truly one of my happy places. Alicia Popoff had been on my radar for awhile as being someone I wanted to learn from; I had heard such good things about her as an instructor. She is a wonderful abstract artist who sees the world in a gloriously quirky way. She builds layers of textures in her work through different mediums and various techniques and I love her colour choices. Anyway, when I saw she was teaching a class called "Abstract Expressionism" at Emma Lake I decided my time had come to learn from her.

The first day she sent us out to explore the forest around the campus looking for shapes. We were to focus only on the outlines of shapes and hopefully find one or two shapes to focus on. We took our sketch books and had roughly half an hour to gather some information. I reverted to my school day "good student" mode and took her very literally, wanting to stick to the rules! I immediately got stuck thinking solely about geometric shapes - organic shapes didn't even enter my mind!!! Honestly! For someone who enjoys using her right brain, I sure got caught up in the left hemisphere for this exercise! I did a sketch of the rectangular boards of the dock and the circle shapes of the buoys and then I wandered in to the forest and did a couple of sketches of trees... focusing of course on the rectangular trunks, long thin branches and even the rectangular negative shapes between the trees. Back at the studio we were to then take one shape that appealed to us and create a piece of art by repeating that shape in a composition.

I spent a good chunk of time staring at my blank paper not wanting to make a wrong move. Sometimes there is nothing more daunting than a white sheet staring back at you! Finally, just to get started, I decided to put a wash of yellow on the paper and then it made sense to choose a limited palette otherwise I would have been there all day staring at all my tubes of paint. Eventually I began with the rectangles, thinking about the tree trunks, negative shapes of the forest and the horizontal branches.

Afterwards I had a good laugh with another artist in the class- the only male and a lawyer- because we were the only two who were so literal with the rules. Everyone else was much more free and interpretive and, well, abstract-y in their thinking! Ahhh, day one jitters got the best of me!

6 comments:

-Don said...

Deconstructing what you know and love... What a perfect beginning exercise. I look forward to following along...

-Don

Barbara Muir said...

Cool Nicki,

It sounds like it was an exciting time. Thanks for this.

XO Barbara

Nicki said...

Hi Don,

So great to hear from you! Huge congrats on your second place win... although to me yours was #1 by a long shot!

Yes, it was a great starting exercise and she built on it as the week went along. However, Alicia was not pushy about her exercises, she really wanted people to feel freedom to work as they needed. I tried to use her as a guide, though, as I explored thinking and painting in an abstract way that week.

Nicki

Nicki said...

Thanks Barbara! I hope you enjoy more of the tales I will tell in the next week or so.

Nicki XO

Kim Rempel said...

Thank you for sharing this Nicki! I felt like I was wandering around in the woods with you. A cool exercise and I like what you did. It's hard to let go like that sometimes! I really look forward to the rest of your posts from Emma Lake : )

Nicki said...

Hi Kim. It is really hard to let go. Really hard. You have done such a great job with your exploration of abstracts- you seem to have found a great rhythm. I'm inspired by you!