Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Sound Bite From My Life

photo © Nicki Ault, 2016

It's been sixteen years and the anticipation is over. My front yard finally has curb appeal! I have had a love-hate relationship with my yard since day one. In fact, over the last sixteen years it actually became more of a hate-hate relationship. Finally, this fine September, it was time. On Monday, bright and early, City Gardens swooped in and set out to make my dreams come true. They scraped away the sunken lawn, the crumbling concrete path, the non-functioning sprinklers and the thriving crop of weeds. A clean slate was what I requested and they delivered. 

This was a different type of creative work for me; I am far from a landscape designer but I had a vision in my mind and it never wavered. My house is a one hundred year old character home and for all of its peaks and angles it deserved a curvy, maybe even sexy, front yard. However, it is not a large space, so I still had to keep it simple. My original concrete path was slightly over two feet wide- a ridiculous width given the hedge on one side and the snowbank on the other side for six months of the year. That was the first and most crucial change. 

before © Nicki Ault, 2016

I now have a wide, curving path of gorgeous Roman paving stones; slightly over four feet at its narrowest. Swoon. No longer will I snag my grocery bags on the hedge as I try to shimmy myself to the front door.

after © Nicki Ault, 2016

The rest of the yard is finished with a curving brick divider between the new lawn and the garden... I actually now have a hydrangea plant, a little weeping spruce tree and shrubs. I feel so grown up!

after © Nicki Ault, 2016

I thought I was finally going to get to the studio after months of absence, but the landscaping kept me home for three days. The City Gardens guys (who were fantastic by the way) seemed to have a good grasp of my crudely drawn vision, but I wanted to be involved in laying out the curve of the path and stone border, so it was exactly "right". I won't admit to micro-managing, but I certainly spent a bit of time hovering. Once the job was complete at the end of the afternoon on Wednesday I realized that Thursday and Friday could finally be days at the studio!... That is until my son said his throat was feeling really sore at bedtime. My heart sunk as visions of me painting at the studio quickly began to fade. In a sad and pathetic effort to keep my hope alive I said desperately, "Well, maybe you just strained it at football practice".


As soon as the words were uttered, and I heard the ridiculousness of the statement, I knew it was over. He was getting sick. His throat was not strained from playing football- I am pretty sure that is not even a thing. A hamstring, yes, a throat, no.

So a bit more time passes, but I will get there- blank canvases and new supplies await. Sunday is my goal and that is already tomorrow. The hope is returning.

Monday, September 19, 2016

I Heart Art Supplies!

photo © Nicki Ault, 2016

For some people it is shoes, for others it is purses, and yet others it is make-up and hair products. You know, that "thing" that has you weak in the knees, flush in the cheeks and heart palpitating with the very thought. For me that "thing" is art supplies

Ooooh- I actually just had to brace myself with the very thought!

I love scanning the display racks of gorgeous tubes of pigment. I could stand there and dream all day... but that wouldn't get me nearly as far as actually pulling out my credit card and buying some, so that is usually what I do! However recently I had a gift certificate given to me... the best present for an artist ever, so a-shopping I did go! It was not easy to narrow my choices down, but eventually I chose two new oil colours by Daniel Smith: a brilliant purply pink called Quinacridone Magenta and a lovely neutral called Moonglow which Darrell Bell told me about. As much as I love my tubes of paint, my next fav is a crisp new brush, so I stocked up on three sizes that day. When I left the store I was content, satiated even.

But that was five days ago.

Guess where I want to go today despite the fact that I haven't so much as squeezed out a bead of paint in more than a month? I should have a rule for myself that I can only buy more supplies once I have actually used up some supplies. I should, but I don't.

I think I need a twelve step program!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

An Exciting Weekend For My Art!

This weekend nine pieces of my art are debuting in two different events in two different parts of the country!

In Saskatoon a huge, new, first-of-its-kind art show is taking place over the weekend at Prairieland Park on the exhibition grounds. If you love art you will want to get there. Art Now: The Saskatchewan Fine Art & Craft Fair is a three day event and admission is free! You will find my four little 6"x6" paintings for sale at the Saskatchewan Craft Council booth at Prairieland Park (Hall B). I have them framed in lovely, chunky, white shadow boxes so they are ready to go home with you and be displayed immediately!

A couple of provinces over you can find the below five pieces of my art at A Square Affair in St. Catharines, Ontario.

This event sounds like a great time and is a part of the HandMade Market running on September 16 and 17 at the 13th Street Winery. All of the paintings by about thirty artists are 12"x12" and are going for the set price of $195.00 (+HST)! A Square Affair will be open for preview at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, September 16 with a queue starting at 6:30 p.m. and doors to the sale opening at 7:00 p.m. It is first come, first served - I wish I could be there to watch it all happen. It could get crazy! I believe they are planning to keep any remaining work available and for sale in the gallery space on Saturday as well.

A great weekend for art, artists and art lovers! Please feel free to pass this information on to whomever might appreciate it... and have fun out there!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Bridget's View

Bridget's View
12 x 12"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2016

Oh my, how much fun was this project?! It was actually a year in the making! Last September my art buddy, Monika Kinner-Whalen, and I were both part of the Solar Gardens Art Show and Sale in the country out near Pike Lake, Sask. It just so happened that my studio mate, Bridget Aitken, had recently bought a beautiful acreage in that area so Monika and I dropped by to take photos and enjoy in the scenery. That experience was fun and productive, so we decided to prolong the creative energy by agreeing to collaborate with each other. We selected a photo from that excursion (it was one of Monika's) which we would then each interpret in our own medium- mine being oil paint and hers being fibre!

Above is my effort... a painting which now belongs to Monika; we traded art on Friday. My wish is that she loves it and finds hope and friendship in this piece every time she looks at it. I am happy with the neutral, grayed-down backdrop with the brighter orange and red foliage in front. I so desperately wanted her to love it when she saw it. I do think she was pleased because as the day went on I kept getting Facebook messages with her "auditioning" it in different rooms of her house!

I am so thrilled with the piece she created for me. It is called "September Three Sixty" which is fitting because Bridget's acreage has a height-of-land where Monika and I stood and literally turned in a three-sixty while taking resource photographs.

September Three Sixty
5 x 5"
© Monika Kinner-Whalen

In her version she decided to edit out the branches in the foreground because they would have taken away from the delightful stitch-work that developed along the bottom of the piece. I agree and I love looking at her type of "mark-making".
photo © Nicki Ault, 2016

Please do yourself a favour and browse through Monika's blog and website. I also wrote a "spotlight" on her a few years ago which you can read here. As it turns out, in that bog post I mentioned how much I hoped to have a piece of her work someday! I actually now have not one, but two of her pieces because I bought a gorgeous, abstracted yarn work from her solo show at Hues Art Supply in June called "A View From Shelby's Garden". Yay me!
photo © Nicki Ault, 2016

Thank you Monika! It was fun and I will always cherish both of these unique pieces created by you!

Note: Here is a link to Monika's blog where she writes about our swap!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Saskatchewan Art Fair - It's Happening Soon!

I am excited to announce that my application was successful and the Saskatchewan Craft Council selection committee chose four of my small (framed) 6x6 paintings to be represented in their booth at the Sask Art Fair! It sounds like it will be an amazing show - the first of its kind ever to be held in Saskatchewan. Here are two links where you find even more information about this great event:

Mark your calendars! If you love art and fine crafts you will want to find time to get to Prairieland Park on this particular weekend. I know several of the artists whose work will also be available at the Saskatchewan Craft Council booth and I know you won't be disappointed with the offering (think Bobbi Clackson-Walker, Monika Kinner-Whalen and Paula Cooley to name a few). There will be booths showcasing many other Saskatchewan galleries and I can only imagine that this event will grow in the coming years.