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.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Burning Sky, Waskesiu

Burning Sky, Waskesiu
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2016

I spent half the day at the studio yesterday and it felt great. I didn't get there once last week, things just kept coming up. Anyway, I tackled some odd jobs including painting a bunch of edges on my 6 x 6's and signing and dating some of them. Wanting to start an under-painting on a big canvas with my acrylics, I cracked open my stay-wet palette and got a shock with what I found! 

EEK! They aren't kidding when they say the palette stays wet... it also stays very dark when sealed up- a bit of a problematic combination for extended periods! I had quite the culture growing. Thankfully someone at the studio had a jug of bleach in the cupboard so I soaked the sponge like there was no tomorrow. After that diversion I was able to focus and get a bit of a composition sketched out on a 40 x 36 canvas. I'm ready to start a painting of the Kingsmere River in Prince Albert National Park.


It doesn't look like much, but it makes sense to me.

I capped the day off by painting "Burning Sky, Waskesiu" while sipping my coffee and listening to some great music. I left feeling centered and motivated.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Winding River, Waskesiu

Winding River, Waskesiu
6 x 6"
oil on board

I keep going back to this subject. Obviously I love the river. I look forward to seeing it this year, walking the trails and getting more reference photos. I may even try to make a quick trip to visit it when I go to Prince Albert to pick up the work from The Mann Art Gallery at the beginning of April. The hope will be to find it with some snow cover. I would love to see it in a different season.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Throwback Thursday

Sunset Outside The Grey Owl Howl
8 x 8"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2012
sold

This painting was among the first I ever delivered to Lifestyles By Darrell Bell Gallery. It has been a good run and I am forever grateful for the experience.

From this little painting I received a commission to do a much larger version for above the fireplace of a fellow Waskesiu Lake lover. She immediately took to the subject as she had taken her children to the family dance, The Grey Owl Howl, in summer's past. She knew this view and she had seen the sunset shine through the trees in this way before. We settled on a size and then I got down to the challenge of working on a big canvas. And a challenge it was! Happily, when I finally delivered the piece, she was thrilled and even shed a tear. Her painting is below...

Sunlight Through The Pines
36 x 40"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2013
sold

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Snow And Stubble

Snow And Stubble
6 x 6"
oil on board

We have enjoyed such a mild winter this year- it has been a real treat thanks to El Nino. Not only has it been mild compared to our usual prairie winters, but we have not had a lot of snow. Out in the country the farmer's fields seem to have only a skiff of white, not a full blanket like other years. The warm yellow of the stubble from the past year's crop pokes through easily, creating lovely contrast and pattern against the snow.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Moss On The Pine

Moss On The Pine
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2016

I visit this tree every summer and every summer it seems to be one step closer to its demise. In fact, in this location, there used to be three trees standing close together. I painted them in the past as you can see below:

 Northern Marsh
8 x 8"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2016
sold

The elements had their way and now there is one.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Among The Wolf Willow

Among The Wolf Willow
36 x 36"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2016
available

Imagine walking out into the meadow on a warm, breezy spring day. Imagine sitting down among the beautiful silvery wolf willow and looking through the branches to the wide open field. Imagine the smell of the grasses and the sage. Imagine the sound of the insects and soft wind across the land. Imagine there are no ticks and you are not stressed about getting one. These are things that passed through my mind as I worked on this painting. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Throwback Thursday

Takeover
30 x 24"
acrylic on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2007
sold

Wow, this takes me back. At the time of this painting I was working with acrylics. It would still be a couple of years or so before I would try oils. This photo isn't the best; the moss is not as white as it seems here. 

Mmmmm. I remember working on this at the University of Saskatchewan Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus. I was a relatively new mom and I somehow gave myself permission to take a week off to indulge myself in something I loved and missed desperately: creating art. With a five and a three year old under my wing at home there was not much time to squeeze in a shower let alone time to paint, so having a week-long retreat to take a workshop at the campus in the northern forest was in many ways a life-saver. Certainly it was a sanity-saver. I was sleep deprived and worn to a frazzle. I was losing touch with myself as a unique and individual woman with dreams and aspirations of my own. Having that time restored my energy and tapped into my dormant passion.

photo © Nicki Ault, 2007
painting near the beach at the Kenderdine Campus


There is something to be said for concentrated, uninterrupted work in an inspirational setting when you are a creator. I would eat breakfast at 8:00 and then head to the studio to work all day and into the night, breaking only for meals and the odd coffee. The opportunity to do that for seven consecutive days was invaluable. And it has been lost to our arts community because the university closed the campus in November 2012 for three years to determine its future. The loss has been immeasurable. A rich history of seventy-six years of operation has been cast aside. Why? Because they say it didn't make money? It opened in 1936 for crying out loud- in the midst of the Great Depression. If it can work then, how is it possible that the current administration of the university can't make it work now?

The end date of the three year closure was up three months ago and I anxiously await news of the reinstatement of the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus. Right now the silence coming from the University of Saskatchewan is deafening.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

From The West

From The West
30 x 30"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2016
available

There is a simplicity to this painting. Often it is a struggle to enlarge a small painting ( see Westerly Clouds below) to a larger format, but this went smoothly; it flowed easily. I wish the photo was better, the lower part of the sky is quite lavender in colour, but I am not sure that is coming through. In person, the distant strip of canola pops against that purple in the low horizon. Colour is fun that way.

 Westerly Clouds
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2016
sold

This little painting is the inspiration for "From The West".

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mann Art Gallery Winter Festival

Walk In The Meadow
30 x 30"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2015
available

Well, who knew what would transpire when I went to reception of the 40th annual Mann Art Gallery Winter Festival Juried Art Show and Sale on Friday evening? Not me! In the past I have heard that people who were going to receive an award were given a phone call in the days leading up to the reception. They were never told what they might have won, but it was strongly suggested that they should attend the reception. I have participated in the show two other times and have never received a call, and this year was no different. In other years I have known other artists who have gotten "the call", so it wasn't a myth. It is always fun to see the work and to support friends, but this year, I have to admit, I was not in the right head space to attend. I almost bailed until my husband pointed out that sometimes you have to do things you aren't really feeling up to and that doing so shows character which is what we want to demonstrate to our kids. Zing!!! That hit the right nerve, so I fired up the shower at 3:00 p.m. and pulled myself together.

I drove up with two of my studio colleagues and once we got to Prince Albert I began to feel happy I was there. There was some amazing art of all kinds: paintings, drawings, photography, woodwork, textiles, jewelry, sculptures, pottery and needlework. I saw many artsy friends and had a few great visits with the guest adjudicator and curator of the show... Darrell Bell! 

The evening marched along and suddenly it was time for the program. I was curious who won the awards, nobody I knew had received "the call". A few awards in, next up was The Kyla Memorial Award which went to my friend, Greg Hargarten. He looked totally stunned to have won it. I didn't expect someone I knew to win, so my camera wasn't out and ready. Congratulations to him! The program continued and then the Art Placement Media Award for accomplishment in the medium of oil was presented... to me... for "Walk In The Meadow"! What?! I went up to the front in a bit of shock. I may or may not have tripped and staggered in my heels (which were killing me) as I made my way to the front and back. I may or may not have smiled at the camera when they took the picture of me shaking the presenter's hand. I may or may not have said thank you, but I am pretty sure I did... possibly more than necessary.


So there you go. They didn't make phone calls this year! As well, Darrell explained to me that he curated the show differently than other years- he made sure that everyone who submitted something had at least one piece of artwork displayed in a good location. He used the secondary gallery space almost entirely for the work of the photographers and it was stunning. The third space was, again, a mix of work. The entire show looked really good and I wish I took more photos.

Spring On The Prairies
12 x 12"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2015

Both of my pieces happened to be in the main gallery which you can see below...




Another great surprise was that one of the colleagues I drove up with ended up winning the Second Place Award for the whole show! Congratulations to Carol Wylie for this recognition of her portrait "Linda".


It was a good night.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Throwback Thursday

All I Ever Want
40 x 30"
acrylic on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2011
sold

Because I am painting larger pieces for the show at the Faculty Club (May-August) I will not be able to complete them as easily as I can small work. This means that having new paintings to show you may happen less frequently, but never-the-less I want to stay in touch. The remedy just may be tapping into the throwback Thursday idea. Over the next couple of months I will look in my archives and find older work to show you on Thursdays- it will be fun for me to reminisce and hopefully you will enjoy the stroll down memory lane with me.

Like this painting for example. I painted this during a time when I was captivated by the water striders dancing and skittling across Spruce River causing mesmerizing swirls and ripples on surface of the water. I painted a series of, what I called, abstract reflections. This was one of the paintings that came about at the time. I am trying to remember the reason I called it "All I Ever Want" and I think it was because while I was painting I was listening to a CD by The Lightning Seeds and I kept replaying the song called "All I Want". (click the link - it is a good song). I vividly remember selling it at the open studio that year. The most unassuming, petite older lady waited patiently for me to finish another conversation and then walked up and said she would like to make a purchase. What a thrill that she chose this painting. To this day I wish I saw the room where it ended up.

Here is a link to my original post on this painting.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Westerly Clouds

Westerly Clouds
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2016

It was a long day at the studio yesterday- in a good way. I was so happy after I painted this little board that I immediately reinvented it on a 30 x 30 canvas! I painted until the very last second possible before heading home to meet my kids after school which meant I left my brushes soaking and I will have to clean up today. I will have to evaluate where it needs to go next, but for now, in my mind's eye, I am feeling really good about what I left sitting on the easel.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Storm Cloud

Storm Cloud
24 x 36"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2016
sold

This is the painting that was not going well the first time around. I feel better about it now. After the reworking, it is no longer headed for the chipper.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Bittersweet Farewell

Well, my friends, this news is bittersweet. Lifestyles By Darrell Bell Gallery is closing. I have had the pleasure of my 8x8's being represented exclusively by this beautiful store for the last few years. It has been a great relationship, however, I have seen Darrell work tirelessly to make his dream of a gift boutique a reality. He did it and it is stunning. At some point the balance in life can be thrown off and when that happens happiness can be at stake. I know how I am when time at the studio is few and far between- it isn't pretty!  I am so happy for Darrell that he is taking the steps to find a better balance and that he will be able to paint more and work a bit less hard. He will still have his beautiful gallery to tend to, but his wonderful staff will help him with that.

As they wind down they are reducing prices to move inventory, so be aware that all stock (excluding artist's work) is 20% off!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Busy Work and Sneak Peek

photo © Nicki Ault, 2016

My son has been sick for several days so getting to the studio has been low on the list, however yesterday my husband was home, so that freed me up to get out of the house. I got to the studio around 10:00 and before I knew it, music was pumpin', coffee was flowin', resource materials were set up around me and I was on my way! I got going on a 36x36 canvas that I have been dreaming about for two weeks. It felt great to finally put a brush to it. I am always amazed at how unaware of time I am when I get in the "zone". Complete focus and commitment to what is happening from eye to brain to hand - that is my happy place.

Not only did I get a great start on that canvas, but I also prepped some boards, finished an 8x8 and did an overhaul on a 24x36 that was not working. I just might have saved it from the chipper!

photo © Nicki Ault, 2016
sneak peek of what is on my easel
I got a lot done yesterday at work (why do I still feel funny about calling something I love so much "work"). After a day like that I feel optimistic about what the year holds for my art practice.