Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:8-14

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

"This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

This morning I'm getting our dining room ready for a family Christmas dinner. Our first in this old house. Hallelujah!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Sophie ©2008 by Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord
SOLD • private collection, Poway, California

Here's our Sophie, in all her fauve-a-listic splendor! I didn't intend at the beginning for this painting to be so fauve-ish (i.e. wildly colorful), but somewhere along the line the subject started to demand it. She's just so ... well ... enthusiastic! I know, I know, what puppy isn't?

Here are some progress photos:

First, I sketched her in blue colored pencil, then went over my pencil sketch with ivory black. I love this preliminary sketching ... seeing what I can do with different line weights and washes:

Next, I blocked in some color glazes:

Usually at this point I go ahead get the eyes to an almost finished state, because once you get the eyes right, that's 78-93% of the battle of making a good portrait. I just made that statistic up, but it seems true for me!

Next, adding more color detail and developing the highlights and textures ... and emphasizing the outlines in a few places, just to add a little interest:

Here are some close details of the finished painting:

I love Sophie's eyes ... they're so dark that they look black most of the time. I had fun trying to hold her still long enough to see those little color flecks in them!

And now for some photos of our actual subject!

All together now - aaawwwww!

And here are some from before she grew into her Dumbo ears:

Mmmmmm ... I think this must be a Yum Yum tree!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Thankful Heart

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!
--Henry Ward Beecher

O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!
-- William Shakespeare

Today I was listening to one of my absolute favorite CDs, Margaret Becker’s Just Come In, and it occurred to me that this song, "All I Ever Wanted" (just about my favorite one on the CD), would be perfect to share for Thanksgiving:

From where I lay
I can see the sun
Rising through the trees
Before I face
This morning rush
I get down on my knees

I lift my eyes
And thank You for
This life you've granted me
I pray that every day I live
Your heart will be pleased

I pray for
Hands that hold You
Higher than anything else
And a heart that loves You
More than life itself
This is all I've ever wanted
This is all I want to be
All I've ever wanted
Is to love You

From where I stand
I can see the dreams
That you have fulfilled
Such kindness I did not deserve
But You gave it still

What do I have
That You did not give
There's nothing that I can see
So all I have to give to You
Is what You've given me

I know I don't have the power
To love You like I should
But every day with everything I have
I wish I could
I'm standing here now
These words I pray
I want to love You better
Whatever it takes

I pray for
Hands that hold You
Higher than anything else
And a heart that loves You
More than life itself
This is all I've ever wanted
This is all I want to be
All I've ever wanted
Is to love You

-- Margaret Becker

Amen, sister!

And happy thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So New ... So Useful ... So Modern ... and So Beautiful!

Grateful Praise ©2008 Karen Mathison Schmidt
30 x 30 • acrylic on 2" cradled Gessobord

No, the title of this post does not refer to my painting, but to this:

YESSIREE! It's the Rival Two Way Ice-O-Mat, circa 1945-50, in lemon yellow, which I found in its original box yesterday when I was cleaning out one of the storage closets in the tiny room at the end of the downstairs hall. The Guarantee was a little mouse eaten, but the info card is still in good shape.

This little card is chock full of information, like that the Two Way Ice-O-Mat not only crushes ice, but it does it in either one of 2 ways: coarse or fine. That makes it at least twice as good as the plain old Ice-O-Mat.

Also illustrated are the many uses for crushed ice from this baby – you can use the crushed ice in chilled fruits & salads, cold drinks, ice bags, vacuum bottles (which I gather from the picture is what we new millenniumites call a “thermos”), making ice cream & chilled desserts, electric mixers (which from the picture is really a blender). Yes, ladies & gentlemen, these are just a few of the reasons the Rival Two Way Ice-O-Mat belongs -- yes, belongs in your Kitchen ... Home Bar ... Recreation Room!

I especially like the blurb under the SAFER heading:

"Patented metal fingers within cover guide the ice. You do not use your own fingers because of this exclusive safety feature."

... Whew! What a relief! It's nice to know that I can grind my ice cubes without risking grinding my actual fingers in the process.

And if you think the Ice-O-Mat is the cat's pajamas – or the living end, or the most, or groovy, or far out, or the bomb, or tight - which is about as up to date as my knowledge of slang gets - just get a load of the other swell products available from Rival:

The Juice-O-Mat (3 different models!)
The Vogue Ice-O-Mat (for the oh so fashionable kitchen)
The Can-O-Mat
The Grind-O-Mat
The Broil-O-Mat
The Shred-O-Mat
The Steam-O-Matic Deluxe Steam and Dry Iron

plus so much MORE!

Dude. I don't know about you, but my mind is officially blown. I think I need a nap.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Cow of a Different Color

Thanksgiving Pecan work in progress

Here's the latest work in progress photo of the tree painting I've been working on. As you can see, I've added some different glazes to deepen and change the color over the whole piece. Now the fun part: adding layers and playing with texture. Using a palette knife in places adds a bit of the uncontrolled, the unexpected. I love it!

And now, changing the subject ... Sunday afternoon, cleaning out the tip top shelf of a little storage closet I'm just now getting to (I'm telling you, there are so many nooks a crannies in this house!) I found a couple of neato, keen and swell treasures. I'll take some pics and show you those tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here's a photo I took from our balcony a couple of days ago. Some cows in the rain. There were these cows up under my favorite pecan tree out in the pasture.

Five cows, each a different color. Petty cool.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Cozy Night

Thanksgiving Pecan work in progress

Here's one I started today ... it's pretty big, 30 x 30, and I'll try to finish it tomorrow. This is one of our approximately 65 pecan trees. I can see it from my kitchen window, and this is how it looked this afternoon. I have a feeling that in a few days it will look very different because we're due for a couple of really windy days, and that will probably blow a lot of the leaves away!

Tonight is our first freezing night of the year, and I'm due in the living room in about 1 minute, for some snuggling with husband and pups, in front of our roaring gas logs.

I'll be posting again tomorrow ... good night!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Look what happened last summer!

Aaaagh! How can so much time go by so fast? And again it's almost 2 weeks since my last post.

Anyway, just wanted to catch you up on a major happening that occurred during my vacation from blogging a while back ...


Our Matilda had her puppies and instead of many puppies, as we were predicting from her belly size, she had 3 huge ones. Two male, one female. They are very fast becoming out and out dawgs, but here are some old pictures:

Here’s Sophie.

Just look at these little guys, the folds of skin, the floppy ears ... I love em! The one on the left is Blue - named by one of the vet techs who work for our veterinarian - because he has the most awesomely beautiful blue eyes.

The one on the right is Jack, who used to be known as Micky because of his rolls upon rolls of skin, reminding us of the Michelin Man. This is one of the last pictures I have of him, because shortly after this he went to his new home with our painter, Charlie, and his wife. Charlie used to raise beagles, and he and his wife recently lost a 14-year-old Pomeranian, but Charlie says he's always wanted a hound dog his whole life, so they adopted this little guy, and their granddaughter promptly named him Jack. A very fitting name, I think.

Here’s Blue again. Doing what he does best: following a scent. We have no idea where his color came from. Maybe he has a Weimeraner somewhere in his bloodline.

And here are some even older pics:

I love this one. That’s Sophie up by Matilda’s head, Blue in the middle grabbing a snack, and Jack napping under Mom’s hind legs.

After 2 or 3 weeks, Matilda would give me this look, like, ”Now tell me again, how long do I have to keep this up?”

Don't worry Matilda. When this is all over we’ll take you for a little operation so you won’t have to do this again ... you can spend the rest of your life playing. And eating. And sleeping. And treeing squirrels and raccoons. And playing some more.

And now for some more recent photos:

Psssst ... hey, it’s the paparazzi again ...


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bovine Intervention

Bovine Intervention ©2008 Karen Mathison Schmidt
7 x 5 inches • acrylic on Gessobord

sold • private collection, Milan, Illinois

After a few hours work on my commission piece today, I spent the rest of the afternoon painting this little picture. My very first cow painting. Ever. And what I discovered is that it’s fairly easy to suggest "cow" to the brain with a few basic shapes.

I love cows. They crack me up, don't ask me why. I came up with several ideas for the title. "A Penny for Your Thoughts" was the front runner, then Paul suggested "Bovine Intervention," which made me laugh. Quite heartily. I hope it makes you smile.

Which Austen Heroine Are You?

Hey, I just did this fun little quiz that Melanie of Redhead Art posted on her blog recently, to find out which Austen heroine I am.

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

I love that I turned out to be Elinor Dashwood, because the 1995 movie Sense and Sensibility (screenplay by Emma Thompson, who also plays Elinor in the film) is one of my all time favorites.

I know, I know, I’m wasting time when I should be painting ...

Ok, ok, NOW off to the easel!

Big Artistic News

Well, big for little ol’ me, anyway. I've been commissioned to do two paintings which will appear in a soon-to-be-published how-to book on acrylic painting by Gill Barron . The book will be published by Quarto Publishing in the UK, and eventually distributed internationally!

I’m trying to finish up the first of the two paintings today. I won’t be posting the painting here, but I will tell you that it stars our usually grumpy but always photogenic Bailey:

Today I was trying to calculate Bailey’s age, trying to remember exactly when it was that she came to live with me. I've had her longer than I've had Paul, and I think she’s getting up there in years, maybe 10 or 11. A granny kitty. I would say that might account for her general grumpiness, but she’s been that way since she was an itty bitty kitty. And even though she’s getting a little long in the tooth, I must say she’s managed to keep her good looks.

Here's Bailey’s first appearance in my blog.

And here's her official introduction, along with the other feline members of our clan.

And now, I’m off to the easel!

Have a wonderful Saturday, everyone!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Summer Song Finished

Summer Song © 2008 by Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 20 • acrylic on cradled Gessobord • sides painted dark brown

Sold • private collection, Puyallup, Washington

I think I’ve mentioned before that the natural landscape around here has a wildness to it, much different from the manicured beauty of the lawns and gardens of our old neighborhood in town. And I love them both. Walking through our old neighborhood, and walking down these country roads. Most of the time with one or more of our dogs.

I started this painting a while back, let it rest a while, then put it back on the easel a couple of days ago. It has everything I love about painting: a carefully planned composition, but with loose brushstrokes, lots of layered color – a complete joy to paint!

Here are some details: