Monday, August 31, 2009


acrylic on canvas
This little baby is a bit of a departure isn't it? I think I will put it in my show because it perhaps introduces another side of myself... a side I am still discovering. I did it this summer when I went to a week long painting workshop at a northern lake in Saskatchewan this past July. The class was held at the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus which is a satellite to the University of Saskatchewan and is the world's best kept secret. It has a fascinating rich history which helped shape the art world in this province for many years. I first attended a class there in the summer of 2000, went back again in 2001 and then along came my kids and subsequently my hiatus. :) I finally managed to suppress my mommy guilt enough to return in 2007, 2008 and now 2009. I love it there. It is my happy place. The place where I am not a wife or a mommy... I am just me. It is a place that is helping me figure out just who that is..

But, back to this painting I posted today. It is named "Fury" and not by accident, I might add. I painted it in the evening immediately following the last critique session of the workshop. I had been one of the last students to be critiqued and had just finished hearing ( from a very obnoxious lady in the class) that I should do something with the big red blob on one painting (it was an unfinished piece) and that my paintings had all been done before and that I should loosen up in my technique (I've heard this comment before). I was stunned into silence and later burst into tears in private with my dear painting friend, Debbie, who said all the right things. About half the class went down to the beach to paint the spectacular sky as the sun was quickly setting. After I regrouped I was so angry. I hit that beach in a serious fury (well, painting-wise anyway). I was all emotion and I laid it down on that canvas for the world to see! The next morning the instructor (and probably the artist who has the most influence on me) said, "Whoa, where did that come from?" I had to giggle because it came from some deep spot I didn't even know about before then.

Now, I am all for critique sessions because I can learn so much from really good discussions, but when comments are made that are in  no way constructive, that is where I have a problem. That is likely why I bristled at hearing the comment Edward B. Gordon received about his paintings being "trivial". How is that helpful to him as an artist? And who determines what is trivial? And why do I have to loosen up? And is there something that is inherently wrong with being tight?'re not the boss of me!!!!

On a lighter note, I was beyond pumped today to actually discover I have some followers! I am so appreciative and hope my little stories and paintings always make them glad they checked back in.

A Full Day

This has been the most exciting day for me... Who would have ever imagined that I would discover comments from Edward B. Gordon on my blog?!!! I am overwhelmed that he took the time to have a look at what I have started here. And then when I realized he read the story of my sad attempt to get one of his paintings I broke into a bit of a cold sweat. Luckily he seemed to have a sense of humour about it and I am glad he was entertained. Seriously, how cool is he anyway? A master painter, a dedicated artist, an intelligent business man, a poet (in my mind anyway), and one class act.

I was so excited to find his comments that I couldn't contain my secrecy any longer. I immediately emailed "my girls"; three of the best friends a person could ask for. The email I sent them was  filled with exclamation marks and OMG's. I'm a lousy typist at the best of times ( I took art in high school instead of typing), but add in shaking hands and it becomes a true gong show. It wasn't long before they emailed back and may I just say that I love them? They were equally excited, if not more so than I was because not only were they hearing about the comments, but they were finding out about my blog for the first time. I would never have imagined that a side effect, if I can call it that, of having kids would be that I would meet the most wonderful women and they would become such a vital part of my life. I am so lucky.

I received an email from the St. Thomas More Gallery curator today wondering if I had thought of a name for my show because she is going to get started on some of the advertising later this week. She said it could be something as simple as Nicki Ault: Recent Work. It seems a bit dry and because all of the pieces are inspired by the boreal forest I feel like there should be some reference to it in the title. I'll have to think on it. My sister put in her two cents and offered up "The Boreal Fo Real". It made me laugh. I'm open to suggestions if anyone reads this.....

You Can Go Back

And here is another painting that I plan to include in the show. It is acrylic on canvas and is 16x20". It is one of my favorite places to paint en Plein air. Spruce River in Prince Albert National Park. It is the subject of the other two reflection paintings I posted a few days ago. It is a glorious slow moving river that winds its way through the forest then out into the meadows and back in again. It looks different every time I am there.

I am extremely grateful to Barbara Muir, another artist I have discovered in this blogging world, for stopping by my blog and posting such kind-hearted, supportive comments. She is an excellent portrait painter who approaches her subjects in such a unique and vibrant way. Her portraits exude character and life.

Ahhh, this has been a full day. And now to go to bed... my little people register for school tomorrow. My little Tommy will be going to Kindergarten. He is so ready for school, but I don't know if the school is ready for him... he doesn't have a library voice and he likes to use the word "poop" way too much.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Advice Where You Least Expect It

I was flipping channels the other night after the kids went to bed and I caught the last part of the make-over show "Style By Jury". They were helping transform a single mom who was a dancer years ago, but had let that part of herself slip away. One of the confidence building exercises they had her do was choreograph a ballet piece to be judged by a panel. How intimidating can you get when you have been out of that world for awhile? However it was something she wanted to get back into and she knew she still had a passion for dance deep inside. When it was all over she was completely elated to have faced her fears and gone through with the whole process. She then had this light bulb moment which really resonated with me. She basically said that so often when we have our children we put our dreams aside to focus on them and make sure they are getting all that they need. She realized that, in fact, this  is actually the time we should bring on our dreams full-force because it is our job to inspire our children. I love this advice! And when it is put that way it makes so much sense.

I hope my boys will someday see that mommy is an individual with dreams of  her own and that it is okay to chase them... even at 41...and even if they aren't the most practical of options!

On that note I have three more paintings to post which will be going into my show in November. They are all 10x10" and acrylic on canvas. I was trying to catch the sunlight filtering through the tress in the forest and illuminating the moss beds.

Deep In The Woods- 10x10 sold
Lit- 10x10 sold
Streaming In- 10x10 sold

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Galleries and Playgrounds- A Good Day

After a morning of being domestic (laundry, dishes, tidying) I spontaneously decided there was no time like the present to pack the kids in the van with a mittful of candy, a DVD in the player and head out on a little road trip. I had been wanting to get out to Rosthern, a town a 1/2 hour away, to check out a group show that some friends have right now at the Station Arts Centre. They call their group "Men Who Paint" and they are really terrific landscape artists. It was great fun to see their work all framed up and looking so official. Of course I saw a few pieces I would like to add to my fledgling art collection, but I didn't commit to anything.

The kids had been so good for me so I took them to a nearby playground at a Regional Valley Park and they had a blast. There was even a zip-line! Sammy really wanted to try, but had to build up his courage. He finally did it and thought it was so awesome he proceeded to do it 3 more times! Little Tommy decided not to and that was fine by me because I wasn't sure he could hold on the whole way.  

It dawned on me while at the gallery today that I still have loads to do for my upcoming show. Since the theme of the day was " there is no time like the present", I went to the studio after supper, put my head down and got working on the tasks associated with painting. All that finishing work that is necessary, but not creative. I signed and varnished 14 paintings and packed them up to bring home so that I can hopefully get some decent photos taken over the weekend. Once that is done I have to make arrangements for framing. And I still have come up with names and pricing. There are still 3 paintings at the studio which may or may not be finished. My show is running from November 1- December 17, so time is ticking and I need to get all of these things sorted out. The paintings will all be landscape images from the Boreal forest in Northern Saskatchewan. The following painting is likely going to be part of the show (I think I need to retake this photo- there seems to be a glare on the top right corner).

The Gift
acrylic on canvas

This one is 24x30" and is acrylic on canvas. This was the most spectacular fungus; there were actually five layers growing with the largest being the size of a dinner plate. My friend Steve took me to see it and it was like receiving a wonderful gift. As long as there is nature I will never be bored.

I am already beginning to think I may need to start a second blog! One that is more directly about my art; one with smaller entries and more images. Hmmm... must think some more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seven and Inspiring

The last two evenings have been very exciting around here. We have been trying to get Sammy (7) up on two wheels! My dad bought him a bike last summer, but he had no interest in figuring it out. When we tried again this spring he gave up after the first try. He is the kind of kid who just wants to be perfect at something from the start. He doesn't like to be embarrassed and he doesn't want to disappoint anyone.  He can be very hard on himself and for the most part things have always come pretty easy for him. Anyway, we had a bit of a chat and I said I  wanted him to try again. I reminded him that he wouldn't be such a good swimmer if he didn't practice and I thought he would have so much fun riding his bike if he could just give himself a chance to learn. He agreed so out we went... and he is really close to having it sorted out! (All the protective gear probably helped subdue his large fear of wipe-out pain). It was an absolute thrill as a parent to see the determination in his eyes and the single-minded focus which was then followed by intense pride. The speed at which his confidence jumped was amazing to see and it wasn't long before he was helping his little brother ride his bike (with training wheels). Sammy was totally teaching Tommy the way John and I had been helping him just moments before.... "that's right, you've got it. Keep your eyes looking straight ahead. Find the balance. Good job. You're doing it!!!" It was one of those Hallmark moments of life. And yes, I had tears in my eyes. 

On the Edge of Fairy Island
acrylic on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2009

Watching Sammy struggle with his fear of failing and all of the emotions that go with it really made me think about how afraid I am of failing as an artist. I'm still not convinced I have the right to call myself an artist. It is something I need to get to the bottom of. The fear of failing can be almost paralyzing. Today, however, I was inspired by my seven year old and so I will take a deep breath and post another painting. This one is going in my show this fall because, well.... I like it! How is that for mustering confidence?!

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Upcoming Show

What a delightful treat... I went to the studio yesterday morning and was able to stay for about 4 hours this time! Woo hoo! I worked on my big abstract reflection and then took a bit of time to tweak some other paintings and sign ones I thought were finished. I left actually feeling like I might have a handle on the show I am preparing for this fall. It was a good feeling for sure.

What show? Well, I have a solo show in an actual gallery here in town! It's all extremely exciting and feels so official! At least official compared to my other two solo shows which were held in a local coffee shop; one was in spring 2004 and the other was in spring 2008. The coffee shop was an excellent location for a newbie like myself and a great first step, but the owner really had no standard for the art she agreed to show other than the subject matter had to be restaurant appropriate. She didn't even look at my work before it went up and she wasn't even there when I hung it! Anyways, I took a painting workshop in the summer of 2008 and a fellow student reminded me of a gallery in town, St. Thomas More Gallery, that is a big supporter of student art and emerging artists. She encouraged me to approach the curator which took me 6 months to do, but in Feb. 2009 somehow I got the nerve up to talk to her. I had to submit jpegs of my work and she responded very favorably! That was one of the best emails I ever recieved; the acceptance from her gave me some sort of validation that I needed. And it really does feel more official. I am having a solo show in an actual gallery! It makes me giddy!                     

 The Muse
acrylic on canvas
 Water Striders- Big Broadway Number
acrylic on canvas
Above are a couple of the pieces I will have in the show for sure. Others are still being decided upon and I will post them as they are finalized. They are both 40"x30" and done in acrylic on canvas.

Man, even though I have no readers it is still nerve-racking to post these images! I actually haven't told a soul that I have started a blog... I haven't even shown it to my husband yet! Just the remote possibility that someone would find this blog and consider commenting makes me aware that I am opening myself up to potential judgments and criticism. I am just now struck with new-found admiration for the artists I have come across in this blogging world and appreciate even more their willingness to share their art and really "put it out there".

Speaking of judgments and criticism, when I looked at my beloved Edward B. Gordon blog yesterday I was stunned to read that somebody had the nerve to tell him that his subject matter is trivial! What the...?! Seriously?!! I would like to know the context of the conversation, maybe then I would know if I actually had the right to be as offended as I was when I read that. Actually, I probably have no right to be offended at all since it has nothing to do with me, but I'm a Leo and I'm loyal, what can I say? Honestly, the only explanation that makes sense is that this is a person who has looked at Mr.Gordon's paintings, but has not actually seen them. The beauty and worthiness he sees in the moments of every day life are so far from trivial... I'm just exasperated by the notion...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Outbid and Out-to-Lunch

Okay, so besides trying to establish myself as an artist I am also interested in assembling my own humble collection of original artwork from artists I admire. I want to support the community of which I want to be a part. This is a new venture and over the last year I have bought 2 original paintings and I was given one by my parents for my 40th birthday last year. It's a start. Yesterday I hoped to add to my fledgling collection when a "daily painter" I have been admiring from afar put a gorgeous little gem up for auction. He is located in Berlin and makes a small (5.9"x5.9") oil painting every day without fail and has been doing so since 2006! Talk about dedication! (I don't think he has kids, hee hee). Anyway, for each painting he posts he has a hidden auction where you email him your bid and the highest bidder at the end of a 24 hour period wins. His paintings all sell without fail by the end of the 24 hour period; day in and day out. I am a huge admirer of his commitment, his skill, his compositions, his choice of subject and use of colour and even his written word- I think he would make a great poet. Anyway, on this particular morning I finally decided to jump in to the bidding war (I say "finally" because I have watched his blog for about a year now and never tried to get any of the many paintings I loved. And the whole notion that I "jumped in" after a year once again makes me realize that I have my own special version of spontaneity). Anyhoo, The bidding always starts at 150 EURO which is about $233.00 CAN, so I decided to go in at 220 EURO or about $341.00 CAN. There was 2 hours left in the process and I figured I was low, but once I found out the other bids I thought I could go up a bit until I reached my maximum which would have been about $500.00-$600.00 CAN. Anyways, I hear nothing back. Finally the two hours have passed so I go to his blog and sure enough the painting is sold. Sigh. No painting for me and I am no more the wiser as to what the bids might have been. I check my emails later on and to my surprise the artist has emailed me back! He seems so kind and just wanted to let me know that the highest bid was... are you sitting down... the highest bid was 850 EURO!!!!!!! That is about $1320.00 CAN! Sweet Jesus!!! I felt like bit of a jackass with my piddly offer, but seriously who could have predicted that? Obviously not me! I was way out-to-lunch with that offer! So I will just tuck that little dream away for awhile... but mark my words... one day I will own an Edward B. Gordon!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Paint and Preciousness

Today I went to the studio (I sublet a corner of another artist's space) to work on a painting. I've been working on this one for a while now... an abstract that is inspired by a river's reflection/surface. I've been a huge fan of reflections for a year or so now... maybe longer. I can't seem to get enough of them. By the end of the session I think I was finally starting to see on the canvas what I envisioned in my mind. There is still work to do on it, but I am feeling closer. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I had to pick Tommy up from my sister's. The time melts away when I am painting... I was there for 3 hours (which is a rarity), but it seemed like 2o minutes. I don't know what I think of for that length of time. It is like meditation. I was listening to music; enjoying the lyrics of some of Paul Simon's classics and Jann Arden's greatest hits. Next thing I knew I had to get my brushes washed and palette put away.

I am still trying to get comfortable with calling myself an artist even though I know it has been part of who I am from almost as far back as I can remember. I have acknowledged the creative side of myself on and off my whole life, but as I enter this journey of digging deep into who I really am, I think I already know that the creative side of me is essential and I must never allow it to take the backseat again.

Over to the other side of my life... my precious seven year old Sammy gave me the biggest hug before bed this evening and said to me, "Mommy, you are the best cuddler in the family. You are the perfect shape and size to snuggle." Ahhh, that extra 10 pounds I've been packing is appreciated after all!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who am I?

I am at this crossroads, to an extent, in my life where the way things have been for awhile now are starting to change.

My youngest is heading to Kindergarten in two weeks and my house is going to get a lot quieter... if only for half the day. I have found Motherhood to be all consuming and I really am "Myself" in this role. The mothering instinct has come much more naturally than I ever expected and I truly love what I am doing, but it is exhausting and at the end of the day I find I don't have much energy for anything more than opening a can of Coke and flipping channels! It hasn't helped that my youngest just started sleeping through the night this spring... yup, right around the time he turned five!!! I fully understand why sleep deprivation is used as a means of torture.

I just celebrated my fourteenth wedding anniversary with my first (and hopefully last) husband. We were together for 3 years before we got married, so the majority of my adult life has been spent with him. My identity has naturally just become so intertwined with him, how could it not I guess, that Nicki the wife is just "Me". When you share your life with someone you make decisions together and choices that might not be ones you would have made if you were only thinking of yourself. You have to compromise and sacrifice sometimes or pick your battles. C'est la vie.

So that is Me and Myself, but if you take those two major roles away... Who Am I? With half of my (week)days opening up this fall when Tommy goes to Kindergarten, I hope to begin exploring that very question. What is the next chapter of my life going to bring... will I be able to find a way to put myself first.. at least occasionally?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Big Day

Today is my birthday... my 41st birthday, in fact. I have been thinking of starting a blog for about a year now... and today just seemed like the right day to start. I sort of feel like today I'm biting the bullet and just jumping in... "going for it" so to speak. But really, since I have been toying with the blogging idea for a year it is hard to label this move as spontaneous! I guess it's my version of spontaneity. Last year when I turned forty I had high hopes that simply by virtue of this milestone a lot of things would fall into place. That is not really the way it went. It was actually a difficult year.

Bottom line is... I want to start a blog. I want to journal some of my thoughts. I want to record memories of my kids. But most of all I want to figure out who I am. Maybe next year when I turn 42 I will be a bit closer to having that figured out.

So I gave myself a blog for my birthday! How cool is that? Oooooo, what will I do next? Join Facebook? :)