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.
I am working on a big commission... it is on my mind 24-7: when I am at the studio, when I am home, grocery shopping, driving my kids places and when I am at my part-time job. It is almost finished and then I will have to reveal it with bated breath to the lovely people who have asked me to create this skyscape for them. It has taken a few twists and turns- especially today when I made a few large, eleventh hour adjustments to the overall feel of the thing. Two steps forward, one step back, but at least moving in the right direction... and getting really close to the final brushstroke.
I spent a good part of the day at the studio yesterday since my youngest son was feeling well enough to go back to school. My oldest, however, had his first ever high school final exam in the morning, so we had a little time together after that to debrief. It was math and he said it was easy-peasy so hopefully his grade will reflect that!
Anyway, I worked hard on the commission and it is really moving along. I spent most of the time working on the water/reflection and eventually things were just too wet to continue, so I had to stop. I still had an hour on my meter, though, so I grabbed the random sky I started on Monday and went to town on it. I have been so incredibly inspired the artists I have discovered on Instagram. Gosh there are some mind-blowing things happening. I looked at my random sky with fresh eyes and it just seemed lethargic. I didn't get a photo of it with my camera, but I did get one with my phone. Here is what it looked like before I took my brushes to it yesterday...
It was okay, but I was craving drama and more emotion. The bold reds, corals, oranges and pinks helped me get there in the final version, I think! It really is "ablaze" now!
If you are on Instagram, please check out my page. Hmmm, is it called a page on Instagram? My profile? My gallery? I am still on a steep learning curve; learning the lingo, learning the ropes. It's fun and I find I am posting more things than just paintings there. If you click the Instagram camera on the top right-hand side of this page it should get you to me. I am nicki.ault.studio.
Major laptop stress yesterday. And I was home with my son who was still sick. In the evening I had to take my teary self to the studio to calm my nerves and paint. Since my laptop is in rehab I have had to dig out my old printed photos to use as reference. I found one from the trip to Georgian Bay and tackled it again. Here is a link to the original effort... "Viewpoint, Georgian Bay".
The plan for the day took a bit of a turn when we woke up yesterday morning and my youngest announced he had a sore throat. I had every intention of sending lunch to school with both my boys so I could take the full day to work on the commission. Painting has been going really well lately and I want to stay in the zone. Anyway, when he said he wasn't feeling well I stopped in my tracks. In my head I heard tires screeching to a halt. Or maybe it was the sound a record makes when someone lifts the needle, but kind of drags it along the record before fully lifting it off. Either way it was a sound you might hear in a cartoon and then silence as I scanned my brain for options. I actually said to myself "recalculating".
In the end he came to the studio with me for a little while. I decided I to make lemonade from the small batch of lemons his sore throat handed me. We got him all set up with two chairs, a blanket, ginger ale, and his DS (he is under the blanket so he can see the screen better). I figured he could do this on the couch at home or he could do it in my studio. I was able to make a bit more headway on my painting which made me happy. I will have to make up for the lost hours in the coming days. I see some night-time sessions in my future.
Well that was fun! After five hours on the commission, I had to stop so it could dry, but I still wanted to paint. I messed around with a random sky and then I got looking through some of my photos. One from the canoe trip in 2013 jumped out at me. The water was really calm that day and the colours of the forest popped against the dull gray sky. To top it off there was a little dead pine that appeared rusted out, the burnt red colour was perfect on the green backdrop. I had to go back in the evening to paint it! I love how abstract the lower portion of the reflection looks.
It's a busy weekend... two kids, one with a soccer tournament and one with a basketball practice and game, plus a husband playing hockey. Yesterday, between everyone else's coming and going, I managed to squeak in a brief jaunt to the studio. I couldn't work on the big commish because it needed to dry from the six hour run I had at it on Friday, so I did this little painting. I am extra loving the marks making up the grasses on the left-hand side.
I heart the Waskesiu River. You would think I would get tired of painting it, but no.
I am extraordinarily grateful to have had a successful Open Studio last November 27. Success, in my mind, comes in several shapes and sizes: new people finding my art and connecting with it, returning clients curious to see what I have been doing lately, kind words of support offered to me from my colleagues, business cards being snapped up so people can watch for my art online, family and friends taking the time to come to yet another show, excited young artists reaching out and engaging with me, and my artwork being bought and finding a forever home. All of these things happened during that six hour stretch of time in November. It was fantastic.
I made a deal with myself awhile ago that whenever I have good fortune and success shine upon me in the form of art sales, I will save and use a portion of that money to purchase a piece of fine art or craft for my small and humble art collection. After the Open Studio the opportunity came a-knockin' to do just that. I went to an artist reception at Hues Art Supply on December 3 for Wes Schafer who was my drawing instructor for a weekend workshop at the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus in 2011. Wes had never shown his work publicly before, so I know this day was a big deal for him. I have always admired his skill - he is mostly self taught and in constant pursuit of honing his drawing craft. There were several beautiful drawings of the female figure that I could have happily chosen, but my heart settled on this one and now my home is its forever home!
It is an absolute thrill to have a painting created by my hand be "chosen" by someone and to know that they want to invest their hard-earned money in my art and in me. It is an honour really. I am humbled every time it happens. It is equally an absolute thrill for me to find a piece of original art that I want to own and in return give another artist the thrill of a sale. Spread the love, I say! Sell a little art, buy a little art! It helps make the world go 'round.
Years ago my dad was really into photography and recently he has been going through many of his old photographs. The other day he popped by my house with an envelope of Waskesiu sunsets that he thought might interest me. I paint almost exclusively from my own reference photos, but I couldn't resist tackling one picture he gave me. It looked like the sky was on fire, but it was just the way the diffused clouds were catching the glowing sunlight. I only had a short time at the studio yesterday so the commission had to wait; I had just enough time to get the thought of this scene off my chest.
It was a great day at the studio today... I mapped out the basic feel of my commission and I am loving it in this initial, simple state. I don't usually post works in progress, but this one has got me thinking- the soft, neutral colours may inform another commission that is in the queue. This will change over the next several sessions and I won't show it now until it is done. I hope I can hold on to my idea for it- if I do, I think it will be my favourite big sky to date. Big drama coming up!
I spent about three hours at the studio yesterday and I was far more productive than the day before. It really feels fantastic to be getting back into the groove. I managed to get a preliminary under-painting started on my big commission and then I painted "Climb Inside The Sky" as another study. I also set up my light box and started to prep 20 boards.
As I worked on the above painting I was listening to Norah Jones. I have listened to her CD "Come Away With Me" many, many times while working, but today one song stood out more than the others...
(Lee Alexander/J.C. Hopkins)
If I were a painter
I would paint my reverie
If that's the only way for you to be with me
We'd be there together
Just like we used to be
Underneath the swirling skies for all to see
And I'm dreaming of a place
Where I could see your face
And I think my brush would take me there
If I were a painter
And I could paint a memory
I'd climb inside the swirling skies to be with you
I'd climb inside the skies to be with you
And so I arrived at the title for this little sky.
I went to the studio today with every intention of starting the groundwork for my big commission, but I froze up. I had a little case of stage fright I think. I moved things around, stared at the big blank canvas on the easel, washed some brushes and finally cut myself some slack and decided it would be okay if I did another little painting to loosen myself up. It's all good, I am trying to get my mojo back.
It has been awhile... far too long actually. As it turns out I got really sick on December 30 and it didn't subside until January 2. I am not sure I have ever had such pain and pressure in my sinuses before... and that is saying a lot because I generally get pretty bad head colds when a virus hits me. I haven't been in bed so early on New Year's Eve since the kids were little and we used to pretend that when the ball dropped at midnight in New York it was the same time here!
In other news, I have been having trouble with my laptop for awhile, so my most excellent brother-in-law offered to use his computer prowess to help me get it running better. Long story short, I told him my files were backed up on my external hard drive because I thought they were. Nope. The last three years were not. Clearly I do not know what I am doing where computers are concerned and as a result I should never speak with such confidence. From this day forward I shall always finish any statement I make regarding computers with "... I think... maybe we should double check". The most current status on my files and data is that my most excellent brother-in-law downloaded some sort of recovery program and has hopefully found the lost files, but there are thousands and thousands of images to sort through and weed out and put back in folders and rename. I have a bit of a job ahead of me, but lesson learned.
Finally, yesterday I was able to slot in some time to get to the studio and paint. this is the first time I have painted since before the Open Studio, in other words about six weeks. That shocks me. I decided to do a little study to get my head in the game for a commission I am about to start. I was rusty and working rather slow. At about 2:15 I realized I only had another forty-five minutes before I had to leave, so I tried to step up the pace. In a bit of a fluster I proceeded to drop the painting face down on my palette. UGH! When I turned it over I stared at the three blobs of paint down the centre of my sky and almost wiped the whole thing clean. The teeny tiny side of me that can be tenacious reared its head and decided that 2017 wasn't going to get the best of me one week in. I grabbed my metal palette knife and carefully scraped away the mess trying not to disturb the image below too much. It worked! I finished up the painting and left the studio on schedule.
My take-aways from the last week go something like this:
1) your eyeballs won't pop out of their sockets no matter how much pressure is in your sinuses
2) back up your back ups and then assume it didn't work, so double check and then back them up correctly and then get someone else to double check because you don't know what you are doing where computers are concerned, and finally...
3) all is not necessarily lost when you have a studio mishap, so keep calm and scrape on.