Thursday, March 28, 2019


24 x 36"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2019
available at Assiniboia Gallery

This one is all about the sky, so I dabbled with a rather unorthodox composition so that all of the focus would be on the clouds. As a result it's a bit quirky. I wanted the overall feel to be soft, glowy and ethereal. I think I got it there.

This painting is part of the feature on my work at the Assiniboia Gallery for the month of March, so that means there are only three more days to stop in and check it out. I am thrilled to say that they have already sold six of the twelve paintings! You can view the featured work here and also see the full inventory of my work available at the gallery here.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Daily Painting Fundraiser - Results Are In!

Daily Painting Project 4
Fifteen Paintings in Fifteen Days (plus one)
© Nicki Ault, 2019

What a fantastic experience! I am overwhelmed by the overall enthusiasm for this fundraiser! To everyone who purchased a painting, a HUGE thank you! We are helping a really great group of about fifty Grade Nines go on an educational trip of a lifetime to Toronto this spring.

You can read full details about my painting project/fundraiser as well as a bit about Collective Voice here and here. They are not a singing group :)

I would like to mention a few additional things about Collective Voice. This is a Grade Nine program offered at only one high school in Saskatoon. There is an application process and Grade Eight students from all over the city are invited to apply. The program can accommodate about fifty kids which make up two classes. These fourteen and fifteen year olds are engaged learners, they are from all walks of life, they care about our world and our communities and, as the school year goes on, they become a tight-knit group. Both of my boys applied; my oldest was in a class two years ago and my youngest is currently in one of the classes.

The teacher, Matt Love, makes it clear at the high school information night for Grade Eights that ALL interested students should apply. He always stresses that, despite the program including a big class trip (flights and hotels), students should not feel hindered by finances because as a collective group families are expected to be dedicated to fundraising all year in order to reduce costs for everyone. Also, bursaries are available for anyone who may need extra financial assistance to cover the expense of the trip and various experiences throughout the school year.

I love that financial burden is not a reason to not apply for Collective Voice because everyone involved will do their part to take that burden away. If you are an eager learner, a responsible and motivated student and you want to experience what this program offers, you should apply.

I wanted to help raise money for this year's trip and in the past I have donated small paintings for silent auctions, but I wondered how I could raise a bit more money. I am not in the position to write a $1500 cheque as a donation, but I am able to use my supplies and my time to paint some art which can be sold to raise that kind of money. HOW FANTASTIC IS THAT?!

So, again, I thank everyone who got on board with my idea and bought, or tried to buy, one of the fifteen "daily paintings".


WOW! All fifteen paintings sold, each $100, and a few people actually e-transfered a bit more than the $100 for their paintings. Also, I made a rookie mistake and to rectify that, a 6x6 painting I had on hand from before the project was sold with that $100 being donated to the fundraiser (that is why there are sixteen paintings in the above collage rather than fifteen).

Thank you everyone and, I am sure, Mr. Love and his fifty students thank you!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Lessons Learned: Daily Painting Project - Part III

Midnight Dance (detail)

My Daily Painting Project is complete! Twelve paintings in Twelve Days morphed into Fifteen Paintings in Fifteen Days!

Here is the break-down of the three bonus paintings, all sold:


- I challenged myself to use NO WHITE in a winter scene
 Go Boldly

- For kicks, I decided to start my painting on a white board because I never do that; I always paint on a toned board. Now I know why. Painting on white is a bad idea. Ha!

- I then tried to tone my board after-the-fact with my fast matte paint, but something weird happened. No lesson was learned because I really don't know what in the bleep occurred. From that point on things just became a full-on experiment in every way and I made this painting up!
Midnight Dance

- I began on a board toned with a cool colour (Phthalo Green) when usually I tone my boards with a warm colour

- I love creating these nocturnes, so with this one I tried to push more variation and colour in the sky which has always been a struggle with the dark blues. The challenge was to get a green tinge happening in the Milky Way (hard to see in the photo)

- I attempted to show more brush work than in previous night skies

Please see Part I for the lessons learned from paintings one through six and Part II for the lessons learned from paintings seven through twelve.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Lessons Learned: Daily Painting Project - Part II

Burning Through (detail)

On Thursday, March 7th I began a Daily Painting Project as a fundraiser for a local Grade Nine program called Collective Voice. I have one son currently in the program and another who went through it two years ago. The fundraiser has gone off like gangbusters! It began as twelve paintings in twelve days, with today being the twelfth day, but at the last minute I decided to add three bonus paintings over three additional days! It is now officially fifteen paintings in fifteen days! Please read more about it all by clicking here.

Before I start each painting, I have been giving myself a goal or challenge or I think about something I would like to learn. Once the painting is complete, I jot down a few notes. I have never done this before, but I find that having this focused intention for each painting and awareness of the lessons learned has been extremely beneficial. It is almost as if it helps things sink in better.

You can read about the lessons from the first six paintings here.

Below are painting numbers seven to twelve, all sold.

Epic Prairie

-  A photo I took last May has been on my mind and I would like to try painting the scene on a large scale because it feels so epic. I decided creating a study to help me think about colour choices and values was a good idea so that is what this 6x6 was all about.

Tender Goodbye

- I have painted several sunset reflections and usually the values range from really dark to really light. The goal here was to keep the darkest colour in the water at a mid-value and then lighten the rest of the colours from there (with the exception of the horizon).

- For fun, I started the painting on a neon pink ground colour and left that zing of colour popping through here and there for energy. I also tried to keep my paint quite thick

Sweeping Rain

- This was all about trying a new way to blend in order to get the misty, foggy, hazy feel of sheets of rain. I began with solid stripes of colour in different proportions from top to bottom, then worked at blending them together with a dry brush

Burning Through

- I rarely do acrylic under-paintings on my 6x6's, but I did with this one. I wanted the magenta colour to show through LOTS to evoke a sense of heat, so the challenge was to keep those strong colours and fight the urge to cover them up as much as I normally might when I go in with oils.

- A big goal here was to NOT PAINT GREEN in this forest!

- This was a good reminder that new, crisp brushes are important to have on hand

Just Beyond The Hill

- The challenge was to combine three different photo references I had on hand in order to create an image of a place I have never been, but have heard about

- I was under pressure time-wise with this one, but I had to get my painting done for the day, so set my timer and worked fast!

The View From Here

- The goal was to create a beautiful sunset using unexpected colours

- I challenged myself to lay in paint and wipe it away, even if I liked how it looked. Repeat. And repeat again. I was curious to see what would happen if colours merged and built up this way. This idea has been on my mind a lot.

Since I have now added three bonus paintings to my project, I will write a "lessons learned" break down in a Part III when they are finished.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Daily Painting Project Bonus Round!

Please click here for details previously posted regarding this project.

Note: Paintings will be posted on Instagram and Facebook (links on right side of this blog)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Lessons Learned: Daily Painting Project - Part I

 Prairie Fade-Out (detail)

I am in the midst of my fourth "Daily Painting Project" and the first six of twelve paintings are complete! Here's the interesting twist... I am donating 100% of the sales to the Collective Voice 2019 trip to Toronto!!! Each original 6x6 inch painting is $100 (my regular price for this size), so if all twelve paintings sell I will be able to donate $1200 to help fifty awesome local Grade Nine students go on an educational trip they will never forget! Please read this post for more information.

I am thrilled with the response the project has received and I am equally thrilled with how it is unfolding for me personally. Right off the bat I made a conscious decision to be observant of the lessons I was learning with each painting. In fact, I will not start one of these 6x6's without having a goal or challenge in mind. I am even making notes after each painting is finished! I've always been a huge proponent of painting small and often, but, with this project, the heightened awareness of my learning has really reinforced what a wonderful role painting small plays in my art practice .

Below are the first six paintings, all sold, and the goals/challenges and lessons I have associated with each. If you are curious about the remaining days of the project, please go to my Facebook or Instagram (links on right side of this blog) as that is where the work is being posted daily.

Prairie Fade-Out

- My photo resource was actually a winter picture I took earlier this year. Since I didn't want to paint a snowy scene, I had to 'make-up' the land mass and imagine what the golden sunlight might look like on it.

- I challenged myself to mix oranges/yellows and pinks that were not harsh or garish and I challenged myself to use NO BLUE! :)

Sweet Solitary Tamarack

- I used a new product on my underpainting which I had only experimented with once before, my Gamblin Fast Matte

- I limited my palette to Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Umber with a tiny touch of Cadmium Yellow for the little Tamarack. Instead of Titanium White I used Titan Buff. I generally do not like limiting my palette this much. :)
Distant Canola & Close Cattails

- I knew the challenge here would be simplifying the grasses and cattails in the foreground. I was right.

- An unexpected challenge was the values! I had to figure out how to get a rich dark blue in the lower part of the water without losing the detail of the dark greens of the grasses. Lots of wiping occurred on this one.  
Complementary Storm

- Purple and yellow are complements on the colour wheel and creating a stormy prairie scene with these two colours was the challenge. It is hard to see in this photo but the lightest areas of the sky have a very pale yellow happening.
Dusk In a Ravaged Land

- The photo resource I used was from my 2013 painting and canoe trip in the La Ronge area. I have never used it before because it's a rather boring snapshot from a gray, overcast afternoon (it wasn't actually dusk). The challenge was to get creative and make an interesting painting.
Clear Evening Sky at Ski Beach

- In reality my photo resource had clouds in the sky, but I didn't care about them. What I loved was the beautiful glow of the sky behind the clouds and on the water, so I focused on that.

- I wanted to experiment with the gradation of the sky both from top to bottom and from left to right. I would now like to play with this idea on a larger scale.

Stay tuned for the next six paintings and the lessons learned from them.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Details of the DP Project Starting March 7th

I am so excited about this project!

My son is in a unique Grade 9 program called Collective Voice at a local high school. My oldest was also in the program two years ago. The subjects of History, English and Fine Arts are covered in an innovative learning environment with a focus on social justice and teaching the students to be responsible citizens, both locally and globally.

Each spring, the two CV classes (about 50 students) go on a big trip with the teacher and several chaperones (who are not current parents). This year they are going to Toronto to explore! They will go to museums, galleries, Broadway shows, experience the subway, try different food, walk ALL over, talk to community groups and basically broaden their fifteen year old horizons!

Fundraising happens all year with the hope of covering all or most of the costs. No child will be left behind for financial reasons. Rather than donate a small painting or two as silent auction prizes, I have decided to try to raise even more money for the students through a "Daily Painting Project". Here's the kicker... I will donate 100% of the sales to the Collective Voice 2019 trip!!! You buy an original 6x6 painting from me and your $100 will help send some really awesome kids from all walks of life on an educational trip they will never forget!

The first painting will be released by 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, March 7th! I will be posting the paintings on Facebook and Instagram. I may only do updates every few days on this blog. If you are not on social media, the links below should still work, but you won't be able to comment or send a "direct message" on those platforms without an account, so email me at if you see a painting you want over the next twelve days! 

Pass on this news to anyone who may be interested. Thank you!

The Winding River, Waskesiu

The Winding River, Waskesiu
30 x 24"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2019
available at Assiniboia Gallery

This river gets me every time.

Fourth Daily Painting Project Announced

I posted this to my social media yesterday (Tuesday), but forgot to do it here, so really the "tomorrow" that is mentioned is today. :)

Details about this project will be announced later this afternoon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Final Heat of the Day

Final Heat of the Day
10 x 10"
oil on panel
© Nicki Ault, 2019
available at Assiniboia Gallery

The muted tones of this scene are given a last jolt of energy from the heat of the setting sun.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Among The Wolf Willow and Makeover Monday!

Among The Wolf Willow
36 x 36"
oil on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2019
sold at Assiniboia Gallery

The original (below) always troubled me. It was never a painting I felt excited about or really felt finished with. I tried to convince myself I liked it, yet I kept it turned towards the wall at the studio. That should have been the first clue that I didn't like it, but it took me three years. Finally I decided I either had to deal with it or it had to go to the chipper.

Realizing I had nothing to lose, I asked Bridget (my studio mate) to talk through the issues with me and after that critique I felt excited by the challenge of finally trying to make the painting work. 

I now LOVE the fresh, soft delight that it is. The "after" painting (above) really makes me happy. It is lovely in person and I feel so good about it that not only do I want it facing right-side-out from the wall, I want lots of people to be able to see it! It is now available and hanging at the Assiniboia Gallery as part of the feature they are doing of my work for the month of March.
Among The Wolf Willow
© Nicki Ault, 2016

Sunday, March 3, 2019

New Growth at the Old River

New Growth at the Old River
10 x 10"
oil on panel
© Nicki Ault, 2019
sold at Assiniboia Gallery

I love the vibrant, new growth on the tips of evergreen trees in the spring. Such a hopeful sign. This painting has a very different feel than the smaller study, "Three Little Evergreens", which I painted last fall. Here, I let the warmth of the underpainting show through and I included a few dandelions - another sign of spring!

Available as part of the feature Assiniboia Gallery is exhibiting of my work for the month of March.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Soft Summer's Eve

Soft Summer's Eve
18 x 36"
oil on canvas
 Nicki Ault, 2019
sold at Assiniboia Gallery

The goal here was to make a calm and quiet lake/water/sky image that didn't feel blue in colour. I am trying to knock myself out of the "blue" period I seem to have gone through last year. I tried to keep the palette grayed down and leaning towards purple, with a lovely quiet energy coming from the more chromatic, warm colours.