My first website is up!

Representation: My work can be found at these professional galleries:
Darrell Bell Gallery in Saskatoon, the Canada Building on 21st Street
Assiniboia Gallery in Regina, 2266 Smith Street
Webster Galleries in Calgary, Unit 2 625-77th Ave. SE

March 21, 2019: I was interviewed by Galleries West Magazine. Read the article 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!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Story of the Commission

Climb Inside The Sunset
36 x 48"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2017

I realize I posted this painting not that long ago, but the story of this commission continues, so it requires another feature.

detail of Climb Inside The Sunset
© Nicki Ault, 2017

Late last November I came home to find a message on my answering machine from a man in Portland, Oregon who wanted to talk to me about a commission. I called him back and we had a wonderful conversation. He was actually originally from Saskatoon and, although we went to different high schools, we even graduated the same year! He had been "home" in the summer and saw my solo show at the University Club (formerly the Faculty Club) and wondered if I would consider doing a large painting for him and his wife. He told me they wanted silhouetted trees with a sunset behind, so I sent them some sample images of my work plus an image of "Grandeur", a cloudy sunset with no silhouetted trees, as an option. (see below)

36 x 36"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2013

That did it- they wanted something like that only a bit bigger!

I was excited to take on the project because big skies always speak to me and I always wanted to do another, but never got around to it. 

Fast forward a few months and the painting is now done, approved and delivered. But the best part of the whole story is the email I received Friday morning from my client. It literally took my breath away. When I wrote him back I did so through tears. With his permission (and adjustments for privacy) here is what he wrote:

I am overcome with gratitude! Your painting is more amazing in person than I imagined....Wow!
I took it to have it framed immediately and it is scheduled to be good to go right before [my wife's] birthday-great timing!
I will be sure to send you a picture once it adorns our home!
Many, many thanks!
I will be sure to let you know when we are next in Saskatoon so that we can meet in person.
So happy,
S. B.

PS: Some back story that I can't recall if I told you about. Last summer, my best friend from Saskatoon lost his mum in a tragic car accident. [His mum] was essentially my second mum. The service for this loss happened at the Faculty Club at the U of S and your art happened to be on exhibit that day. In a quiet moment together after most of the guests had left, my friend and I mused at how your works, particularly of the sky in Waskesiu where we spent countless summer and winter nights vacationing together, captured the essence of his mum. Graceful, beautiful, larger than life and always wide open to the world. Hence, me connecting with you.
My wife has a very strong connection to [her] as well. Among many moments, one stands out. [My wife] has commented on several occasions how [my second mum] made sure that [my wife], on our wedding day, thoughtfully pause throughout the day to take in all it would offer. What brilliant advice it was. Ironically, your painting will forever remind not just [my wife] but me as well of [my second mum] and the incredible sunset we saw on our wedding day 16 years ago in central Oregon."

Whew! Emotions were running high after reading that!

detail of Climb Inside The Sunset
© Nicki Ault, 2017

Commissions are hard, and I would not hesitate to say "no" to some, but this one felt right, as have the handful of others I have done. What I was not expecting from this situation was to receive that beautiful message and to have it absolutely, one hundred percent, fully stop me in my tracks and take stock of my purpose as an artist.

I did not see that coming.

You see, landscape painters, in these modern/contemporary days, are not necessarily viewed in the big art world itself as very relevant. It isn't often that landscapes are edgy or politically charged or "out there" or pushing boundaries or sexy or a million other things that get attention. I have actually heard that landscapes are at the bottom of the barrel in the hierarchy of what is interesting in art. Ouch. Whatever this attitude/stereotype is, it has messed with my mind many a-time. It has made me question whether I should continue down this path or whether I should switch gears and pursue another genre.

But I love landscapes. I LOVE Saskatchewan and I LOVE Canada. I love painting scenes that are so beautiful to me that I cannot express how I feel about them in words. 

detail of Climb Inside The Sunset
© Nicki Ault, 2017

Don't get me wrong, I still have a desire to explore and learn. I still have an itch to experiment with abstracts and to hone my figure drawing skills, BUT after receiving that email testimonial on Friday morning what has been wiped away is the thought that I must pursue these other interests because they might be more acceptable in the big ol' art world. If and when I charge down those paths it will be with a pure heart itching for self-discovery, not because someone "out there" thinks there is more honour in the pursuit of those things over landscapes.

I am humbled and invigorated to know that my artwork existed in a time and place where people suffering the tragic loss of a beautiful loved one were somehow comforted by my paintings and that viewing them helped in some way. Landscapes are capable of invoking deep memories and emotions.

I am proud.

And I will never, ever say I am "just a landscape painter" ever again.

detail of Climb Inside The Sunset
© Nicki Ault, 2017


Jana Scott Lindsay said...

My heart...

I sit here too as I type, tears streaming down my face, for I know how powerful your work truly is.

I gave my dad a piece of your work a few years ago for Christmas and wrote an accompanying blog post.

You continue to inspire my friend:)

Nicki said...

Thank you so much Jana, I really appreciate that and I am honoured you chose one of my paintings as a gift for your dad.


CallingForth said...

Thank you for a lovely, meaningful blog.
Let's stay with the landscapes in spite of what some think :-)

Nicki said...

Thanks Laurel,
I am glad you enjoyed reading it. Yes, let's stick with landscapes!

Sandra Busby said...

What a moving post Nicki... And it is amazing how art can touch peoples lives in different ways. That was wonderful feedback and jolly well deserved too!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Nicki,

I would never say anyone was "just a landscape painter." I am so moved by your work, and so happy it touches other hearts too. You are in the league of the Group of Seven, and Monet, and Manet, and Hockney, and Berthe Morisot.


Nicki said...

Thank you Sandra... I am so happy that he told me the back story of how he came to be connected to my work. It really touched me and made me feel small in the big scheme of things, yet vital.


Nicki said...

Oh dear Barbara! You know better than anyone that confidence has never been my strong suit! Thank you for such lovely words and support- obviously I am not comfortable being placed among these names, but I do love you for your passionate endorsement of my work!
XOXO Nicki