March 26 from 3-6 p.m.: I will have a painting in the biennial art auction in support of the Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon. Learn more about the auction and how to get tickets 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!


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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Against The Sky Revamped

Against The Sky
20 x 16"
acrylic on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2012(revised)
sold

An older painting I tweaked before the Open Studio last November. Deepening the blue at the top made the fluttering, sunlit leaves more intense and also quieted the pine branch coming in on the top right. I think I glazed over some of the mid-tone greens to darken them up a bit as well. Below is the original state of this piece.

© Nicki Ault, 2010

Thoughts?

I painted this up at The Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus using a photo I took while walking around the campus looking up at the trees. I then used the small image on the digital camera screen to paint from. I started with a very dark ground on the canvas and used the lighter colours to carve out the positive shapes like the silhouette of the little tree on the right. Much of the darkest colour you see is the original ground showing through. It was a bit of a brain workout painting from negative to positive space.

In another battle with this never-ending month of January, I recently got hit with a bug that knocked me out for a few days. I am feeling better today, just in time to enjoy the -42 degree Celsius temperature (with wind chill). I am ready to turn the page of the calendar to February. On a positive note, the sun is now coming up before 9:00 a.m.!

Friday, January 25, 2013

My New Portable Photo Studio


Ooooh, isn't it lovely? My brand spankin' new portable photo studio! I am so excited and I can already tell it is going to save me a lot of grief over getting a good photo- especially when I do a lot of small paintings and want to get them posted ASAP. It all folds up into a compact case with a handle so I can easily take it to and from the studio and also store it away when I am not using it. And how cute is the little tripod that came with it? I can comfortably say that this is making me as happy as a new pair of boots!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fall Foliage On Meewasin

Fall Foliage On Meewasin
36 x 24"
oil on canvas
 © Nicki Ault, 2013
sold

Here is my first official painting of 2013! I began working on it late last November right before the Open Studio and it has been in progress ever since. My jaunts to the studio have been sporadic and any painting I did in December was focused on the 8x8's for Lifestyles by Darrell Bell Gallery. It feels good to have a large piece completed. This one was a challenge because it was done in fits and starts; I never really seemed to get in a rhythm with it. To draw a parallel with my life, that is how I have felt the entire month of January- I have not found a rhythm and this month seems eternal! When will it be over? I honestly thought this Friday was February 1st! Ack! Still another week of January!?!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ray of Light

Ray of Light
16 x 16"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2012
sold

As I was looking through my archives for a painting to donate to an event some family friends are holding for "The Walk For Memories" in support of Alzheimer's, I realized that I had never posted this painting. I did it last November right before the Open Studio. I love those moments on the prairies when the sky is ominous and dark, sometimes almost black, and yet the sun will still shine through any little gap it finds in the clouds. A ray of light, which to me, symbolizes hope. Life can be hard, no one leaves this world unscathed, but no matter how bleak things seem, the sun is always there waiting to shine again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

River View

River View
8 x 8"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2012
available exclusively at Lifestyles by Darrell Bel Gallery
sold

This is a different version of "The Buffer Zone". I'm intrigued by the river these days and need to take some more photos. I just did a painting of the Waskesiu River and I love how it turned out. Maybe that will be the next one I show you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Beach Day

Beach Day, Waskesiu
8 x 8"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2012
available exclusively at Lifestyles by Darrell Bell Gallery
sold

Simple, fresh, bright and blue... just like a great day at the beach. Now if I painted the way my eight year old would like, I would have included the seagulls!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sweeping the Prairie

Sweeping the Prairie
8 x 8"
 oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2012
available exclusively at Lifestyles by Darrell Bell Gallery
sold


This photo is maybe a bit dark... another one from the "not-such-a-great-photo" batch. I'm anxious to fire up my new portable photo studio and I have three new paintings eager to christen it!

I tried to keep this one a bit abstract... I had a Fred Varley (Group of Seven) painting in mind as I painted "Sweeping the Prairie". It is entirely different, but what I liked about Varley's was how he arranged the cloud and land mass to kind of bracket the sky:

  Fred Varley, "The Cloud, Red Mountain"

My husband didn't quite get it, but maybe someone else will! :)


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wind Song

Wind Song
8 x 8"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2012
available exclusively at Lifestyles by Darrell Bell Gallery
sold

Ugh, I hate it when I don't get a good photo. I finished this one in the evening and then had to get it delivered the next day. Because I try to take my pictures outside on overcast days, I am really hooped when I need to take a photo and those particular conditions are not available to me! I know, I know, there are other options, but I have still never gotten quality results taking photos of my art any other way. That and I guess I am a creature of habit- I find something that works and I stick to it. Anyway, my fingers are crossed that as of now I may have a solution. I have been looking at a little kit for a year (I am not exactly what you would call an impulse shopper) and finally bought it. It is a portable photo studio! It will be perfect for my little paintings, both the 8x8's I am doing for Lifestyles by Darrell Bell Gallery and also the 6x6's I paint for my daily painting projects. This way when I need a good photo ASAP I will not be weather dependent.

For "Wind Song" I used the same resource photo I used to paint "Bright Prairie" and "Fall Palette at the Grasslands"


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Winter on Meewasin

Winter on Meewasin
8 x 8"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2012
available exclusively at Lifestyles by Darrell Bell Gallery

Ooooh, I am happy with this one. Another foggy shot of the gorgeous riverbank and Meewasin Valley area that runs through Saskatoon. I took the resource photo for this painting from behind the Mendel Art Gallery looking across to the University of Saskatchewan. At first glance the colour palette looks quite muted, but when you really get looking you can find a lot of colours... it is better in person. I also like the scrubbily (I made that word up), fast markings in the land-mass.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ode to Tom

Ode to Tom: Point of View, Waskesiu
8 x 8"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2012
available exclusively at Lifestyles by Darrell Bell Gallery
sold

My love for Tom Thomson's work continues. My fingers are crossed that one of my goals for this year will come true which is to return to the east to see more of his work in person. I'd love to go back to the AGO in Toronto and I also want to find the Tom Thomson Gallery in Owen Sound. I have never been to the McMichael Gallery, so I would love to hit it too. It gives me butterflies just to think about it!

I often wonder how Tom would have seen and recorded the prairies and Saskatchewan if he had ever made it out this way. He would have loved the trees in our northern Boreal forest, that is for sure. There is an autumn sketch of his that I adore with a gorgeous, yellow Tamarack powerfully set against the dark greens of the forest. Whenever I am up north and see the dead Spruce trees which have been infected by the Spruce budworms, I want to try to create that same strong impression. These dead trees have turned a beautiful, rusty colour and are quite dramatic, and ironically complementary, to the rest of the living forest. This is an initial attempt to play with colours for the dead Spruce in the forest. Not the full-on drama I hope to eventually reach, but I am pleased with the way it turned out.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Winter Layers

Winter Layers
8 x 8"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2012
available exclusively at Lifestyles by Darrell Bell Gallery
sold 

Wow, the last two weeks have been a whirlwind! The stomach flu hit me really early on Boxing Day morning and once that passed a few days later I regrouped and got my family ready to attend my cousin's wedding in Regina on New Year's Eve. What a beautiful event and it was so fun to be with my extended family while we brought in 2013. I actually painted two 8x8's for Lifestyles By Darrell Bell Gallery while we were there. As you can see I created an impromptu studio space...


I've become nothing if not dedicated! In this photo I was working on a prairie scene and then the next day I painted, "Winter Layers", which you see at the top. It was inspired by the winter landscape I observed from the passenger seat on our drive to Regina. The entire time I kept wondering how people could find the prairies boring. Yes, they are flat, but not entirely and the array of colours in any given season is remarkable. Even in the winter when most people think there is only white and gray and maybe blue in the sky, there is always infinitely more going on if you just take the time to look. On this particular day I was really excited as I began discovering all of the colours... for two and a half hours my poor family had to listen to me exclaim things like "Oh, look, there is actually teal in the sky! See? Right there, right above those clouds!" and "Hey, look at those shadows- they are lavender!" I also might have given them a little colour tutorial on how the stubble from the cut crops added a pretty yellow compliment to all of the purples and blues of the snow, but I feel a bit geeky now admitting it. (I tried to incorporate some of these colours in "Winter Layers").

Happily my enthusiasm for all things art-related might be rubbing off on my children. Last night we returned  from a vacation in Puerta Vallarta and what did my boys decide to bring home as their souvenirs? Beautiful little animal statues covered in glass beads and oil paintings they "commissioned" by an artist, Pablo, working at our hotel one evening! I stored the little paintings in my carry-on backpack and every time I opened it I got a whiff of oil. What a powerful thing, smell memory. Each time I got a whiff I felt a little pang of longing and it took me time to realize what was going on...I was a tiny bit homesick for my studio and for painting! This morning I woke up really early and could hardly wait to get the kids out the door and to school so I could make my way to my studio. Thankfully it felt as good as I had hoped to be there again.

Thank you so much for keeping up with me in 2012. It was an exciting year and I am curious to see how 2013 unfolds. May this new year bring you and those you love peace and joy.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Retreating Sun

Retreating Sun- Prospect Point, Waskesiu
8 x 8"
 oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2012
available exclusively at Lifestyles by Darrel Bell Gallery
sold


Happy New Year!