Monday, January 26, 2009

Chewy Fun on a Wintery Day

or ... Thank goodness for chew bones!

Except on rainy days and the very coldest days, these yahoos spend all day long outside, playing themselves silly and exhausted. Good for them, good for us. On rainy days they get to come up on the screened in back porch, and on very cold days they spend most of the day inside, where they are prone to exremely rambunctious wrestling matches and bouncing off the walls.

That's when I break out the chew bones.

Yep, giving a dog a chew bone on a rainy day is like giving a little kid a coloring book and some crayons.

Only better, because the dogs don't color on the walls with their bones.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Further adventures of Queen Bailey ...

You Talkin’ to Me? © 2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
5 x 7 • acrylic on Gessobord
gloss varnish for protection and easy cleaning

SOLD • private collection, San Jose, California

Sitting on my desk is a Mexican pottery vase filled with dried flowers that were part of an arrangement a good friend gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago. Messing with this little arrangement when I’m not looking is a favorite pasttime of Bailey’s. She loves the smell of the dried flowers and the rustling sound they make when she bats at them. Whenever I catch her at it, she stops and sits very proper-like and looks at me with this priceless look on her face.

Who ... me? What flowers? Why would I EVER even THINK of touching your precious flowers?

Here she is after I’ve demanded that she "step away from the flowers, sister!"

I think you might have left the stove on. Don't you think you better go check it?

Here are work in progress photos:

First, the ever popular black and white initial sketch:

Next, blocking in some color:

At this stage, I think it’s a good idea to start developing the part of the painting I’m most afraid won’t turn out right. In this case, the face, starting with the eyes. (hey, it looks kind of like she's wearing little boots, doesn't it?)

At this point I noticed that the vase looks crooked, so, as you can see in the finished painting above, I painted over a few key lines to correct it.

And here are the details!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The painting of my dreams ...

Dream Sailing ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord
gloss varnish for protection and easy cleaning

SOLD • private collection, West Chicago, Illinois

I dreamed this one up this morning while I was still partway between asleep and awake. I still don't know what made me think of it, but the feeling I had was deeply peaceful. I wanted to keep the painting kind of ethereal and dreamy, so I used a lot of layered glazes applied with a painting knife. The only part of the painting where I didn't use the knife is the sailboat, because I wanted that to be a little more defined. I had a lot of fun with the texture on this one. No work-in-progress photos on this one, but I've included some close-up details, so you can see all the little nuances.

I love that word, "nuances."

And here they are:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Moo moo mooooooooo.

Moo times three © 2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord
gloss varnish for protection and easy cleaning
SOLD • private collection, North Attleboro, Massachusetts

Seems like the calves are coming early this year. Every day there are more and more little moo-ers appearing out in the pasture. The very newest ones are very woolly and cute. These two here are just a little older, picking up on mama's cue as to how to act when there's a human in the near vicinity. Stop whatever you're doing, stand stock still and stare. Don't move a muscle until said human has turned her back and is heading away. Very good. Gold stars for both of these young'uns.

I kept this painting very loose and blocky, so it has more of a folk art feel to it. The buildings in the distance are an abandoned turn-of-the-last-century red brick cotton gin and an accompanying storage facility. Back in the day, all the land around here belonged to the same plantation, and they ginned their own cotton before taking it to market. Just a bit of local history for those of you interested in the olden days.

Here are some work in progress photos:

and some close-up details:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oh what a beautiful morning ...

Hey everyone, be sure to scroll down and see the work-in-progress and close-up detail pics I've added since I first published this post.

Warming Up ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord
SOLD • private collection, Berwyn, Alberta, Canada

A while back (and when I say “a while” I mean years) I attended a horse show where a friend was riding in competition. I went with her early in the morning and took a lot of pictures. I was watching some of the riders warm up in the arena, when I turned around and saw this scene a little distance away. The perfect light, the color of the horse, the attire of the rider, the stately oak ... it took my breath away, literally. I zoomed my lens in and began shooting. I took hundreds of photos that day at the horse show, and this is my favorite. In fact, I might go so far as to say in all the pictures I’ve taken in my entire life, this is in the top 100. And seeing as how I’ve taken probably a zillion photos all told, that’s no small honor.

Today I finally decided to make a painting of it. And here it is.

And here are the work-in-progress photos:

The initial sketch. Hmmm ... the horse looks rather cartoonish, but I’m not worried.

Block in the large areas of color. Still not worried about the horse. OK, well, kind of concerned.

Getting frustrated with trying to add the dapple to the horse’s coat (man, I’m never gonna get this horse right! I don’t know what I was thinking!) so I decided to paint it all gray and work backwards by lightening around the dapples.

Whew! That’s working a lot better. Here I’ve started adding some color to the lead line that the trainer is holding. I’m not worried about it looking too thick, because later I can make it thinner by painting in the negative space around it. I do the same thing with the tree branches, defining the shapes by painting the space around them.

See? The lead line looks thinner now. I’m starting to add layers of color to the foreground.

I love this stage ... adding color details to the tree and also developing the foreground. Starting to shape up the figure of the trainer by adding some highlights.

And here are some close-up details:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Knee Deep in the Good Stuff

Tres Amigos ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord
SOLD • private collection, Attleboro, Massachusetts

These handsome fellas were hanging out in the pasture just on the other side of our fence a few days ago. I used a super zoom lens to capture the scene, but you’ll notice that the one on the far left has spotted the paparazzo. Even though technically we’re in the dead of winter, the day was so spring-like I just couldn’t resist adding the merest suggestion of blooms here and there in the painting.

And after I finished the painting and walked out in the yard with Trixie just a couple of hours ago I saw that today, while a lot of the country is still waist deep in snow, the paper whites out in the pasture have already started blooming.

Yeah. That’s what I love about the South.

Oh, and just to top off this wonderful day, I just got an email from a good friend letting us know that her brother, who has been on a waiting list for 2 years for a liver transplant, has received a new liver and will be having it installed tonight at midnight. Praise God for answered prayer! (Just to show you the sense of humor my friend Mona has: the subject on her email was "LIVER!!! (but not with onions)." That really cracked me up. And that's one of the reasons we've been friends for 20-something years.

Lest you think I forgot, here are the ever popular work-in-progress photos of today's painting:

And a few close-up details:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chardonnay Ray

Chardonnay Ray ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
5 x 7 • acrylic on Gessobord
gloss varnish for protection and easy cleaning
SOLD • private collection, San Jose, California

I'm pretty sure I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again -- I love painting my pets! Ray is forever forging ahead on the search for new and different napping places. Here he is lounging on a wine carton in my studio. It must be noted that the carton no longer contains wine, but various and sundry items which are destined someday to be unpacked and put in their proper place. Someday. Some other day. Not today. I’m too busy painting.

Here are my work in progress photos:
First, the sketch using only black and white paint.

2. blocking in some color, using glazing medium mixed with the paints. At this point I'm not too concerned about the fact that his face looks kind of like a feline version of the joker. I know I can fix that later.

3. adding a glaze of burnt sienna over the whole painting:

4. now, developing the details. The fast drying time of the acrylics enables me to work from dark to light, which I love.

5. I always like to finish the eyes first. That's where most of the personality is! And see, I'm starting to fix his mouth so he doesn't look so joker crazy.

Here are some close-up details, so you can see how I layer colors loosely over the background layers. I think the colors look so much richer when you let the viewer's brain do the mixing.