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.

November 15 - December 31, 2017: Holiday Salon - Small Works Show at Darrell Bell Gallery (street level ), running through the holidays, Darrell and his team have installed a grid of twenty of my 8x8's as well as a small wall of larger pieces at the front of the gallery. Lots of great gift ideas to be found by the many gallery artists on display.

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!

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Wall, Waskesiu

 
The Wall, Waskesiu
30 x 30"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2013
sold

Whoops! I might have punched up the brightness on this image just a smidge too much. I'll try to get a better picture when I am at the studio today. Lots of playing with shapes and mark-making on this one. It is painted on a Burnt Sienna ground which is popping through here and there- especially in the forest (on my screen it looks like Cadmium Red, but it is not).

I am getting extremely excited for my painting trip to Georgian Bay. I leave in a week, but my travel mates are already there. They drove and I will fly. I am getting reports about the spectacular landscape and can only imagine the inspiration that abounds. I can also just imagine the silliness! Seven days and I will be part of it!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bargue Drawing #Two- Stage Two

Bargue # Two - Stage Two
graphite on bond paper

I have just completed stage two of my Bargue drawing. At this stage the lights and darks are separated into big forms. You can see that already with only the lightest light (white paper) and a mid-value dark (graphite) the shadow shape is describing the form of the subject. This definitely illustrates the power of separating the lights and the darks. With this limited information we know what this a drawing of a bust of a bearded male even though no specific details have yet been rendered. I love this stage, possibly because I love high contrast. I also find it fascinating that simply by adding a large, even-toned shadow shape suddenly (well, after a few hours of work) a line drawing takes on form and dimension. So cool.

The next step will be to transfer this image to good quality Stonehenge paper.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

On The Edge, La Ronge

On The Edge, La Ronge
36 x 48"
acrylic on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2013
sold

Oh how I wish you could see this at full scale. I wish the illumination of the moss and the colours would come through perfectly. Where you see the darkest darks, it is not black- it is layers and layers of deep blues, greens, purples and reds. This is a big painting with big impact. It took many hours and many layers, but I am extremely happy with the result. Hope you like it too!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

And They're Off!




This is really happening! The Georgian Bay trip is underway! We met at the studio yesterday and packed up Jackie's car Tetris-style. The girls left this morning at 6:00, audio books waiting in the wings, and began their journey east. I sent a text this morning and Bridget is very excited about all of the cows they have already seen! (See her below link and art-work to understand why.) I will meet them in two weeks. I can hardly wait to see the paintings and sketches they do in the days before I arrive. It is so exciting! I have sent a bin of materials with them including my oil paints which I cannot carry-on or check-in on my flights. How do plein air painters travel? Can you get special permission? I didn't look further into it because there was no need, but it does make me wonder. There must be a way around it. Anyway, in the meantime I will keep painting with my acrylics and then bring them with me when I go on October 7th (they are allowed on flights).

To get to know my travel mates please check out these links:

Bridget Aitken
Jacqueline Faye Miller

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Shield

The Shield
48 x 36"
acrylic on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2013
sold

Recently I have been working on larger paintings inspired by the canoeing and painting trip in August. Here is the first. I decided to work with my acrylics and have been having a great time discovering them again. I really enjoy watering down the paint, letting it be drippy and messy as I sketch out the composition. I then try to let those areas show through the final layers. That is one thing I now remember loving about acrylics- the layering and glazing and building up that can be done in a relatively short period of time because they dry so fast. The same certainly cannot be said for oils, but I love them for different reasons!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Spotlight - Bridget Aitken

 Amy's Garden
© Bridget Aitken

I have been anxious to introduce you to my friend, studio mate and one of my all-time favorite people! Please tip your hat to this week's spotlight artist, Bridget Aitken. This spotlight is taking on a slightly different format than the others; after my brief introduction you will find many beautiful images of Bridget's work and then at the end you will find a delightful letter written from her to you.

I met Bridget several years ago, but have really had the pleasure and privilege of getting to know her when I got my own space in St. George Studio in December of 2009. Our work spaces are next to each other so friendly chit chat and banter naturally occur and it didn't take long before we became close friends. Bridget has a great analytical eye and provides excellent constructive criticism; she has been called over to my space to lend a hand many-a-time when I have been stuck on a painting. She doesn't need me nearly as much as I need her! As you go through her images you will quickly realize that she is a versatile and multi-talented artist. Her talents don't stop with painting and sculpture, Bridget is also a wonderful singer/songwriter, curator and decorator. She is the reason "Family Tree", the show I had with my dad in the Spring of 2012, came together so beautifully. I love her gestural, loose style and I find her paintings exciting and energetic. This past Spring she took a class on abstract painting where she really embraced the new processes and ideas that were presented, despite being pushed out of her comfort zone. I think moving to abstraction is a natural progression in her growth as an artist- her "representational" work has always had a loose and abstract approach anyway. I adore my Bridget Aitken abstracted landscape...


Bridget's sculptures always seem to find a way into my heart, especially her female figures. I LOVE Esme and Market Lady, they make me extremely happy. I was so proud of Bridget as I watched them develop at the studio. She had a strong vision for both pieces and she kept manipulating the clay until what she saw before her matched what she saw in her head.

Bridget is very active in the Saskatoon arts community. Among other things, she is a member of The Mix Artists' Collective, St. George Studio, Prairie Sculptors and she sat on the planning committee for Art Trek: Studio Discovery Tour.

Now, grab a coffee, relax and please enjoy the work of Bridget Aitken. 

Market Lady
© Bridget Aitken

 
Emerald
© Bridget Aitken

Blue Jar
© Bridget Aitken

 August
© Bridget Aitken

 Jars
© Bridget Aitken

 On The Way To Perdue
© Bridget Aitken

 Mustard Fields
© Bridget Aitken

 Prussian Blue Angus
© Bridget Aitken

   Esme in the studio
© Bridget Aitken

 Esme 1
© Bridget Aitken

Royal Conference
© Bridget Aitken

 Bridget's Flowers
© Bridget Aitken

 Three Holsteins
© Bridget Aitken

 Mauve Hills
© Bridget Aitken
 
 Equus
© Bridget Aitken

 
 Equus II
© Bridget Aitken

Blue
© Bridget Aitken

 Circus
© Bridget Aitken

 Snow Bales
© Bridget Aitken

 Sunday Morning Girl in the studio
© Bridget Aitken
 
Spring Field
 © Bridget Aitken

 Summertime
© Bridget Aitken 

 Windy
© Bridget Aitken

 Temptation
© Bridget Aitken

 Clouds 'n' Cattle
© Bridget Aitken

My current aesthetic interests lie in the countryside surrounding Saskatoon. I love horses so when I set off on my photographic jaunts I look for my equine muse. It turns out that there are a lot of lovely cows leading what look like pretty idyllic lives, albeit short lived. So I have produced a number of cow paintings in the last couple of years. I cannot rely on a lot of action from my subjects as I am sure the ranchers would not appreciate me stirring them up. I like energy in my paintings so I find it in the sky or the grass and fields. I represent the cows as I see them, stolid, pure of heart and observant.


When I was a girl I loved a little Black Angus calf that I called Gus. He would gently butt at my knee in play. He got bigger and bigger and I would sit on his back as he walked around; I so desperately wanted to ride.  I eventually traded him for a pony and I remember watching him through the slats of his pen being fattened up with grain by my riding instructor with whom the exchange was made. Poor Gussy, I gave him up for my beloved pony. I see him in one of my Black Angus - or painter’s prerogative - Prussian Blue Angus paintings.


I have ventured a little bit into landscape painting. Most of these works have originated from the subconscious, similarly the horse sculptures, Esme and Sunday Morning were born without model or photograph. Market Lady, however, was inspired by a photograph given to me by Jaqueline Fay Miller. 


I have also painted a number of abstracts in the last two years. With these I don’t usually know that I have anything until long after the fact. The painting, propped carelessly, maybe even disdainfully against a wall is suddenly viewed with new eyes and I think, “Well that’s not bad, I think I like it”. It also helps to have friends in the studio whom offer encouragement boosting one’s morale and confidence when needed. 


In a few days I am travelling to Ontario on an adventure with Nicki Ault and Jackie Miller. We will be painting en plein air in the Owen Sound area of Georgian Bay where I spent much of my time as a youth. I am so looking forward to painting with these two friends. There will be plenty of inspiration.


Bridget V. Aitken

September 19, 2013



Note: Bridget does not have a website, but is working on it. When it is ready I will provide a link.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Exciting Trip Announcment!

© Nicki Ault, 2013

Before Colour Theory class this morning I felt compelled to take a quick stroll on the Broadway Bridge to photograph the beautiful morning light skimming the treetops on the Meewasin Trail. The leaves are just beginning to turn and in about a week's time we will see more shades of golds and oranges appearing, even some reds. The Meewasin paintings I have created to date are all from about this time of year and happily the only one that remained just sold.

Speaking of fall colours, I am extremely excited to tell you about a trip that I have been planning with two friends, Bridget Aitken and Jackie Miller. We are going to Georgian Bay, Ontario to paint!!! I can't even believe it is true, and yet it is. I have the plane tickets to prove it! Bridget and Jackie have more time at their disposal than I do, so they are driving. They are leaving on Tuesday, September 24th and will get a head start on painting the landscape, but hopefully the energy they build will rub off on me when I start painting. I will be flying to Toronto on October 7th and they will drive to meet me. It only seems logical that we would take a bit of time to visit some galleries, hopefully including the AGO and the McMichael Gallery, before they whisk me to Georgian Bay on the 8th. Can you imagine?! It will be a trip made in heaven. I do, however, go from extreme elation over the idea of the adventure to extreme guilt in leaving my family for 10 days, but it is an opportunity that I am hard-pressed to ignore. I will just have to get over the guilt. Bridget grew up in the east and her family has a cabin in Georgian Bay- I feel honoured to be invited along to share in her history and a part of the world that she loves.

So there it is... in sixteen sleeps I will be on my way to paint in Georgian Bay!



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bargue Drawing # 2

Stage Oneargue Drawing # 2
graphite on bond paper

A couple of weeks ago I started two art classes at Atelier 2302: a drawing class in which I have begun copying a second, more difficult plate from the Charles Bargue Drawing Course and a class based on Munsell's Colour Theory. Albert Munsell was a scientist who created a more specific way of charting and plotting pigments on a colour wheel with the highest chroma of a hue being on the outside of the circle and all other hues moving inward from there. Basically I am in heaven with all of this art learnin' and such, but it is almost too much when I factor in everything else: my part-time job, the kids and their activities, my regular art practice and business, the planning of a trip this fall (more on that soon) and ... drumroll... kitchen renovations! I have taken on a lot over the next few months, but I keep telling myself I can do it. I am certain, however, that I will have days when I don't want to get out of bed.

The above photo is the first stage of my Bargue drawing, the articulated construct. This is where we use a simple horizontal and vertical grid to measure and transfer the construct of the plate over to bond paper. The articulated construct is a simplified linear drawing where areas of light and dark are broken down (although at this stage the values are not shown), so a very basic structure is developed. The construct from the Bargue Drawing Course is on the left and my transfer is on the right.

I am currently working on step two which is when lights and darks are separated. I am struggling slightly because that step was not done for me as it was with my first Bargue, so basically it is up to me to figure out how and where to separate the light areas from the dark areas. Let's just say my learning curve has spiked!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Glow

Glow
40 x 30"
acrylic and oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2013
sold

I just returned home from a much needed evening out with some friends. Spending time with these girls is like therapy and we need to make it happen more often. With my spirit intact I feel good enough to share an abstract I have been puttering around with at the studio. As I have mentioned in the past, abstracts are way outside of my comfort zone, but I am intrigued and challenged by them and I love when I come across an abstract work that moves me in some way. My blogger friend, Kim Rempel, is a landscape painter who has officially delved into abstract painting full force and she is banging out some beauties. I am so proud of her for her courage and determination to push her artistic self in this way, to face the unknown and uncomfortable and work through it. You can check out her work if you go to her blog Eat Drink Paint. I strongly encourage you to take the time.

The painting I am showing you today is an extension of the 1-2-3 exercise from my class at the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus last summer where you create a painting, then from that one you take a favorite section and do another painting, then you repeat that same process. You can keep going on like that with each painting becoming more abstract. Glow came from a section of an abstract branch painting I did at that class. I really wanted to focus on the lines of the branches, but simplify the composition by selecting which ones to remove, leaving others in place to create interesting shapes and areas. Another thing I wanted to do was use colour to create a feeling of a glow behind the branches... almost like light coming through a stained glass window. Unfortunately the glow or slightly vibrating colour does not come through well on the computer screen. I have had this painting at my house for the last week and at night, in a dimly lit room, the bright areas actually do seem to emit a soft glow. It is a cool effect I hadn't anticipated.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Canoeing and Painting in the Wild - Day Four, August 18

The Island on Mekewap
8" x 10"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2013
sold

Our last morning at the Studer fishing camp was perfectly picturesque. I will never forget the absolute tranquility as I sat on the dock with Olivia, the assistant guide's daughter. Together we filtered the water we would need for the journey back to the "real world". As we performed this task, twice we watched an eagle dive from the sky to catch its breakfast. Randi and Erica joined us and we spent a lovely moment of friendship before getting packed up.




Vern Studer, the owner of the fishing camp built a museum of its history; tools, memorabilia and
equipment from the gold rush days could be found within. My favorite part, however, was what hung outside- a Roughrider/ Pilsner beer flag. You don't get much more Saskatchewan than that!

Lori and Vern
 
leaving our cabin
back: me, Randi, Erica
front: Olivia, Lori, Jane
(Missing: our guide, Cliff Speer, who was taking the photo)


 
For the entire four days we had all been looking at what appeared to be a boat right off a nearby point, but we knew logically it had to be a rock. On the last morning the girls had to paddle over for a closer look and Olivia "got onto the boat". It is one of those memories that all we would have to say to each other is "Boat Rock" and we would laugh and completely get it.

This is Cliff, our guide and fearless leader, in his solo canoe. He is a master organizer, excellent cook and fantastic photographer. He also does not like changes to bagel recipes- long story, maybe he will tell you sometime! :)

Leaving Sulphide lake was hard- especially on such a pristine morning and we knew the portages would be difficult with the trees that were down from the earlier storm. Sure enough...


Cliff cleared what he could so we could get our gear and ourselves over or under the trees. The above tree was huge and was broken off right at its base. Again, we were extremely awed by the power of the storm and grateful we lived to tell about it! When we got to the other side of the portage I found a four-leaf clover for Olivia and then everyone began looking. In one small area we had to have found ten of them! We decided that this massive patch of four leaf clovers gave us the good luck we needed when we were stuck in the storm three days earlier.

After we paddled across Duck Lake and completed the second portage we felt ready for lunch so we found a great picnic location on a rocky point.




Jane doing one last sketch

Eventually we had to accept the reality that it was time to move on and complete the last leg of the journey. We launched our canoes one last time and paddled across Lynx Lake back to our starting point, soaking in the beauty every step of the way.


 bringin' it home!

This trip was a high point of my summer. I have much to be grateful for: new experiences, memories that will last a lifetime, new friendships and the strengthening of existing ones, perfect weather (storm aside), an opportunity to do what I love and come home inspired to paint even more, delicious food that I never imagined could be prepared under these circumstances (out of a backpack on a canoe trip) and two guides who worked hard to create a unique, safe adventure for us. I am also grateful for Olivia and the sweetness she brought to each day... catching fuzzy bear caterpillars, picking berries for us, teaching us about plants (ie. I now know Labrador tea grows all over the place in this area!) and creating beautiful paintings with her own innocent style.

Thank you Cliff, CanoeSki Discovery Adventure is top notch!