Monday, October 27, 2014

In The Brush

In The Brush
12 x 12"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2014

In my last post I mentioned that I recently found two rather awful plein air paintings which I had previously started, but not finished. "Denouement" is now covering one and "In The Brush" is thankfully covering the other. Hopefully the foreground looks like dark, scrubby brush that you often see on the prairies- possibly a little patch of land that is not farmable (is that a word?) or a thicket in the grasslands.

A quick bit of business: I have added an email sign-up to the top right-hand corner of my blog. Basically, if you want notification that I have added a new painting to the blog, you will receive a simple email letting you know. Just follow the easy steps and voila! These emails will not be used for any other purpose than for what I have just described.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


12 x 12"
oil on cradled panel

Last week I was rummaging around in the studio and I found two remarkably bad, unfinished plein air paintings- both of grassy, marshy landscapes. Oooh they stunk. Not wanting to throw them away, I decided to use these boards to play around in an attempt to have fun with my paints because, sadly, I have not been having much fun in the studio lately. A couple of friends recently suggested I try to paint with larger brushes, so on this relatively small 12 x 12" cradled panel I used a 1 1/4 inch brush almost exclusively. It's possible they were thinking I should be more radical than that, but I would normally use a half inch brush for this size board, maybe smaller. It seemed like a stretch to me. It was fun, I actually smiled a bit while I painted! And I like the result much more than the miserable painting that lies beneath!  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Drawing From Life

my set-up at Atelier 2302

In mid-September drawing class resumed at Atelier 2302 and I picked up from where I left off. With three "Bargues" of increasing difficulty under my belt, I have now moved on to working from life. I spent three weeks drawing different angles of three different casts: a horse's head, a bust of an old man, and a skull. My task was to create a construct of the subject, finding the essence of the big, over-all shape in as few lines as possible. I was off to a rocky start with that horse's head, but each attempt after that continued to see improvement. 

I have now begun working on my actual project, an ear. It is really hard to see the construct in the above two photos, but trust me, it's there and I have worked out the over-all shapes of the big form without getting bogged down in details (an urge I have to fight). In this construct I have also worked out the shadow shape, separating the lights and darks into big groupings. You can see in the below photo what I was working on today. I filled in the shadow shape with a flat, even tone and as soon as that was done I could see areas that needed correcting- it was actually pretty cool. I find it surprising how much it looks like an ear considering the simplicity of the information.

The learning curve continues and sometimes I feel overwhelmed with my lack of knowledge, but I shall persevere! I hope someday this is all second nature.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Turkey Day

Fall Ride
36 x 36"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2012

It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and as I reflect on my paintings this is the one that pops into mind as a representation of the holidays. To me, it really feels like fall on the prairies. It also represents how thankful I am to all who have purchased my paintings. The woman who owns this piece said it reminded her of riding her horse on her acreage in the fall, so I named it "Fall Ride". She actually now has two of my paintings and her daughter has one. I love when customers become a bit more like friends- it makes my heart happy.

Just recently I sold a painting to a lovely woman in Ottawa and also heard that two of my paintings will be heading to Geneva! I am so grateful to know that my paintings are appreciated in so many different places. Another piece of news is that one of the Georgian Bay paintings has been purchased for a corporate collection. I feel very thankful for that.

Mostly I am grateful for the constant support and enthusiasm I receive from so many friends and Facebook "fans". My sister and I were talking the other night and she said she couldn't believe that it has been five years since I have been blogging. My response was that I am motivated by the blog and the encouragement I receive each time I post. It all boils down to you- those that I know visit from the traffic I get here and those that respond to the posts on Facebook. It keeps me going.

So thank you to each and every one of you.   

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Up Above

Up Above
24 x 24"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2014

I have taken loads of digital photos over the last several years to use as reference points for my paintings. Winters are long and hard here on the prairies, so I must be prepared. I have a bit of  a problem, however, in that I have been downloading them, but not organizing them. Now it's a huge job. I began the long road to organization last week and already I have discovered ideas that I had forgotten about- like doing a series of cloud paintings. Here is the first result. Another cloud just got a start at the studio yesterday.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Looking Back

on the easel
photo © Nicki Ault, 2014

I am feeling reflective. As I mentioned before, I have had this blog for five years and as I type this my hit counter has flipped over to 100,000. Now, I realize that this number is peanuts to many-a-blogger out there, but for me I never would have imagined five years ago that someday that many people would find their way here.

When I started this blog I rarely had an opportunity to paint; I was very busy with a preschooler and a little guy in Grade One. I was dreaming of a situation where I would have time to paint. It seemed so far off, if at all possible. In those days just making it to the end of the day was an accomplishment. I was riding on very little sleep since my preschooler was up several times a night- in fact, he didn't start sleeping through the night until he was in Kindergarten. I believe I was living on the edge of sanity and thankfully somehow I discovered a world on the internet that I didn't know existed- art blogs. Finding these artists kept me grounded and connected to something I loved, art, so when I had a quiet moment in the day or evening I could travel around from link to link and revel in what others were doing. I think I first came across Abbey Ryan, then Duane Keiser, Edward B. Gordon, Karen Jurick and Carol Marine- all "Daily Painters". I had never heard of that before. Imagine how impossible that seemed to sleep deprived, exhausted, all-consumed-by-children me. What was this concept? Painting a finished (small) painting every single day??? No way! People had time for this? My mind was blown. I couldn't even find the energy to take an art class once a week never mind paint every single day.

I began my blog with the hopes of connecting to the art world I found online. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it ultimately gave me something more- it gave me something that was mine and about me. This is not an easy concept for most mothers as we tend to take care of everyone else first and then see what we have left for ourselves. More often than not there seems to be nothing left over. But committing to this blog gave me permission to commit to myself and over time the cumulative effect of that is quite surprising. 

In the last five years since I began this blog (which is close to seven hundred posts), I got my own studio space, set up an online gallery for my small paintings with Daily Paintworks, connected with and met some wonderful bloggers. As well I have: taken painting holidays, had my work in art auctions, participated in a show celebrating the centenary of International Women's Day, found representation for my 8x8" paintings in a beautiful art, craft and design boutique, had several solo shows of my art in various locations and been part of several group shows. On top of that I have begun taking classes with Atelier 2302- which came along exactly when I was ready for it. Sleep deprived me from five years ago can't believe it. And it makes me wonder what the next five years may bring.

And I wish I knew because right now I don't really know where to go from here.