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.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Story of the Commission

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

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)

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

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:

"Nicki:
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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Eventide

Eventide
20 x 24"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2017
sold

This painting will be going to auction in March. It is my fourth time being asked to participate in the biennial art auction which is a major fundraiser for the Sexual Health Centre Sasktoon. Two committee members made a studio visit last month to select work for the event. Truthfully, I didn't have a lot on hand for them to choose from and two pieces were already earmarked for the Mann Gallery show. They zeroed in on a prairie scene I painted earlier last year and I reluctantly agreed. As days passed, doubt began to creep in and even though the piece was not that old, I started to feel less excited about it being my contribution to the auction. I decided to paint a piece with the same dimensions that was more in keeping with where I am now with my art. "Eventide" is the result and I feel way more excited to send it off to the auction block. 

You can learn more about the auction here and, if you will be in Saskatoon on March 26, please consider purchasing a ticket. It is a fun event and it sounds like there will be some great art/artists this year!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Citrus Clouds

Citrus Clouds
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
sold

Every now and then it is fun to tackle something a bit weird and quirky as far as landscapes go, just to see what will happen. Quite frankly, there was a point during the process where the biggest cloud actually resembled a Goldfish cracker and I had to decide just how weird and quirky I wanted to get!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Spring Storm

Spring Storm
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
available

This one was fun...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Blue Spruce

Blue Spruce
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
sold

Sweet memories of the canoe trip of 2013.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Climb Inside The Sunset

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

It is done and on its way! What a ride this one was! It went through many changes and that water gave me a run for my money, but I am so happy with the end result. The big commish is done! It is currently en route to Portland, Oregon! I am over the moon that my client sought me out and asked me to take on this project. He actually saw my show at the University Club last summer and contacted me in November to discuss ideas for a big painting. I think I have the best job ever in the world! ("Ever in the world" is a quote from one of my boys when he was about five.)

professionally packed and shipped by UPS
photo © Nicki Ault, 2017

I listened to Norah Jones' album "Come Away With Me" over and over again while I worked on this painting. It was basically on a continuous loop. I never got tired of it; each song is magic. The mood of the music matched  my energy, my thoughts and my emotions. The process of creating this painting was a wonderful experience. I actually feel like I know myself a little better. Pretty cool gig I have.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Collecting The Light

Collecting The Light
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
sold

I love evenings at the lake: a shower after a full day at the beach, BBQ supper on the deck and then out for a walk to watch the sun set (and maybe even some ice cream). Every time I see the sunlight coming through the trees I am captivated by the kaleidoscope of colours. It is almost like the branches are trying to collect the beauty of it all.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mann Art Gallery 41st Annual Winter Festival Show and Sale


Festivities
20 x 20"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2016
available

Rusted Out Pine
16 x 20"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
available

It's that time of year again... the Mann Art Gallery Winter Festival Juried Art Show and Sale. Above are my two entries which I was happy to find displayed in the main gallery. There were two hundred and fourteen pieces of art submitted this year with the guest curator being Zachari Logan- a Saskatchewan artist who has made it big to the International art scene. Please look at his fascinating work here.

I had heard that my colleague and fellow Studio On 20th artist, Carol Wylie, had received some sort of honour for a piece she entered, so I was excited to go to the opening reception with her this past Friday night to take pictures and cheer. Except I forgot my camera at home. Boo.

big wall, main gallery
photo © James Clow, 2017

Luckily we have phones with cameras and all was not lost. I was able to get a few shots with mine and some from friends.

detail, main gallery
photo © Nicki Ault, 2017

detail, main gallery
photo © Nicki Ault, 2017

corner, main gallery
photo © James Clow, 2017

 Carol Wylie by her painting "Odalisque"
photo © Nicki Ault, 2017

As it turned out the Mann Art Gallery purchased Carol's painting "Odalisque" for their permanent collection which was extraordinarily exciting. She was thrilled with that and then at the end of the program the big prize of the night was announced... Carol won The Mayor's Prize & Best of Show for that same painting!!! 

Zachari Logan, Carol Wylie and Mayor Greg Dionne
photo © Ken Van Rees

James Clow by "Silver Buffalo"
photo © Patti Clow, 2017

Another artist colleague, James Clow, won the Sandy & Peggy Memorial Award for his work "Silver Buffalo". He generously allowed me to use a few of his photos from that night.

back wall, main gallery
photo © James Clow, 2017

It's always interesting to see how the guest curator/juror approaches such an enormous amount of diverse work and pulls it together into a cohesive show. This year Zachari chose the artwork he wanted for the main gallery and used colour connections between the work as his guide. He then created salon-style displays in the second and third gallery spaces.

second gallery space
photo © James Clow, 2017

The show is up until March 25. Please enjoy browsing through these websites:

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Delicate Balance

Delicate Balance
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
available

The fun continues with these sunset reflections.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Last Of It

The Last Of It
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
sold

It's minus 30-something degrees Celsius (with the wind) where I live... it is a treat to be painting these sunset reflections; dreaming of warm summer nights, rippling water lapping at the shore, the setting sun glowing on the horizon and the sound of crickets... and maybe even the odd mosquito!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Cross Hatch Reflection And One Thousand Posts

Cross Hatch Reflection
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
sold

Deep Breath.

Okay. 

This day is a bit of a milestone for me.

Today this painting is marking... drum-roll.... ONE THOUSAND blog posts since I started Nicki Ault: Me, Myself and Who Am I?

That is a crazy number. Crazy!

This does not mean that since August 2009 I have painted one thousand paintings because there have been some posts that are not about new paintings, BUT it does mean I have written a lot and yes, painted a lot. And it means you are still checking in, here and on Facebook and more recently on Instagram. I am eternally grateful. That may sound dramatic, but it is true. I am truly grateful for your interest and support. I love painting. I LOVE it. Really it is all I want to do. Sometimes it is all I feel I have the energy for. I have to say that my motivation is at an all time high and I honestly attribute this to the mind-blowing artists I have found during my brief time on Instagram. I have no idea why I waited so long to join, but better late than never. Rather than being intimidated and feeling inadequate, I have felt inspired, energized and awed by what creative people are doing "out there".

Thank You! 
I am ready to take on the next thousand posts!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Late Afternoon Hot Spot

Late Afternoon Hot Spot
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
sold

Well this was fun to paint! So fun I had to return to the studio last night to finish it and then paint another sunset reflection!

Good news... I sent an image of the big commission to my client and he loved it! Once it is dry I will be shipping it off to Portland, Oregon! I need to get a big world map and start putting pins on all the places where my art is hanging.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Uncertain Sky

Uncertain Sky
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
available

For this, I partly used a really bad reference photo I found in my pile of pictures at the studio and I partly made it up. It was fun regardless of its reality.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

When I Saw The End Of Day

When I Saw The End Of Day
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
available

I think the day has come! I think I very well just may be done the big commish! I made some final marks yesterday morning and now I need to get a good photo to send to my clients this weekend. We will see if they like how it turned out as much as I do.

In the meantime I had the rest of the day to play at the studio, so I used the remaining paint on my palette to create this little sky as well as another which I will show you tomorrow. After all the struggle I had at the end of the commission, wiping-painting-wiping-painting, wiping-painting, I made my goal for this l'il fella to put a mark down and leave it. No muss, no fuss. I like how it turned out. It packs a bit of a punch in person!

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Long Day Is Over

The Long Day Is Over
6 x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2017
sold

I have been plugging away at my big commission. Unfortunately the wheels fell off last weekend. I have been painting and wiping and painting and wiping ever since. The water has been extraordinarily difficult for some reason. At the end of today's session I wiped it all off again and decided that I need to simplify. Forget what my resource photo looks like, forget what my studies look like- just make this painting work. Today I know I will settle this thing once and for all!

In the meantime, yesterday I painted this little sunset reflection. Hope you enjoy!