Saturday, May 30, 2009

A visual prayer

In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.

Isaiah 30:15

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

I can’t believe I get to live here. I may talk bad about the hot, humid summer and the yucky bugs and snakes, but early in the morning when I’m out walking with the dogs and we get to see things like this ... well, it’s sort of like a visual prayer ... the earth quietly praising God ... I’m just so blessed to be a part of it all.

Oh, and I’ve discovered another favorite color: Old Delft Blue. Deep and rich, and slightly on the purple side. But not too much. Just enough.

Oops, I only took 3 work in progress photos! When I went to download them from my camera, I thought, is that all I took?

Well, here they are:

The initial sketch in a mixture of black and that Old Delft Blue

Blocking in the color areas.

Here I added a fuschia glaze to the sky and started adding color layers to define the land and the water. This is where I slipped into the zone and totally forgot to take any more progress pics. I’ll try to do better next time!

Oh, and somewhere along the line I changed the trees from May trees to February trees. Artist’s perogative.

Here are some close-up details:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sweet Memories

Translucence ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
18 x 24 x 1 • acrylic on cradled Gessobord
SOLD • private collection, Puyallup, Washington

My favorite flowers. Next to my favorite little decorative tin container. In the bay window, one of my favorite spots. Sweet!

Back at the end of April I sold a little daffodil painting to one of my faithful collectors, who lives up north. She sent me a note saying that she propped up the little painting next to her computer to remind her that spring weather had to be just around the corner. Down here in the South I tend to forget how blessed we are to have daffodils in February!

And now that we're hurtling headlong into that withering season that has us shutting our windows and doors against the humidity (and the bugs!), pulling up a chair in front of the air conditioner with a tall glass of ice cold tea, and counting the days until October, here's a painting to remind us southerners of those cool, refreshing mornings of just a few weeks ago.

Ahhh, those sweet, bygone days of spring. *sigh*

Here are some close-up details. I used a lot of color glazes to add depth of color and enhance the effect of the light in the painting.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fresh off the easel ...

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path.

Psalm 119:105

Reflection ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
11 x 14 x 1 • acrylic on 1" cradled Gessobord
sides painted dark umber
SOLD • private collection, Point Richmond, California

(see yesterday’s post for work-in-progress photos)

A while back I went with a photog friend of mine to the expansive gardens at Norton Art Gallery here in Shreveport, to take pictures and generally enjoy a perfect spring morning in these beautiful surroundings. When I rounded a curve in the path I was walking, I spotted this young woman seated on the steps near a decorative wrought iron bench beside the reflecting pool. Although there were quite a few people in the gardens that day - a couple of young women getting their bridal photos made, moms with kids, people exercise walking - she had found a secluded spot and was totally engrossed in her book, seemingly oblivious to all the rest of us.

When I was first planning the composition, I cropped this square, but then I decided that a tall orientation would better show the majesty of the garden surrounding this simple figure. The Japanese maple on the right, the girl’s top and her reflection in the pool gave me more opportunities to use my new favorite paint color, Old Holland New Masters Naphthol Red Medium ... yum!

Here are some close-up details:

Monday, May 25, 2009

On the easel ...

I hope everyone had a meaningful, fun and safe Memorial Day weekend!

Here’s what’s on my easel right now ... a painting of a young woman reading in the gardens at Norton Art Gallery here in Shreveport. It’s 11x14, acrylic on cradled Gessobord.

Here’s the work in progress so far:

I decided to use red as the underpainting for the grassy areas, so the red showing through the green would make the lawn seem extra vibrant.

It’s a little hard to see a difference in the photos above and below, but I added a cobalt blue glaze to the trees and the pond, and a red glaze over the middle ground.

Now starting to add some layers of color to the trees.

Now adding the green of the lawn, making the brushstrokes really loose so the red underneath shows through in places:

Developing the reflections in the pond:

Here’s a close-up of the figure:

And developing detail in the bench:

The painting so far:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Go out in joy!

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12

Woodland Stream ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
5 x 7 • acrylic on Gessobord
SOLD • private collection, North Attleboro, Massachusetts

A few years ago, back when I was single, I went on a road trip with a few of my girlfriends to see the Passion Play at Eureka Springs, Arkansas. While we were there we walked all around Eureka Springs, an extremely charming 19th century Victorian village nestled in the Ozark Mountains.

Recently, while organizing my photos, I came upon some of my pictures from that trip, including this beautiful mountain stream. I decided it would make a good painting, and voilĂ ! -- that’s French for “Ta Da!” -- Woodland Stream.

The dappled light through the trees is one of my very favorite things to paint. I also love the word “woodland.” So far I think I’ve used it in about six or seven painting titles: Woodland Garden, Woodland Path, Woodland Hideaway, Woodland Tabby, Woodland Lunch, Woodland Bistro, Woodland Piano. (Those last few aren’t really paintings yet, but I have ideas!) I’m just partial to the woods, I guess.

Oh, and I have a new favorite color. There are few colors quite as beautiful as a daub of Old Holland New Masters Naphthol Red Medium freshly squeezed onto the palette.Yum! I just had to add a few little dabs of that pure red in strategic places in the picture.

Here are my work in progress photos for this:

The initial sketch in black, white and Venetian red:

Blocking in color areas, and adding a Cobalt Blue glaze over entire painting.

Continuing to add layers of color and detail, working mostly from dark to light, and and keeping in mind that the darkest area is the riverbank on the right and the lightest area will be the sunlight trees at the head of the stream.

Adding in the light behind the trees in the background. Fun!

I really like defining the tree branches by painting in the negative spaces between them.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Another airplane painting

Daredevil ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord
SOLD • private collection, Point Richmond, California

Here's another painting of the yellow cropduster, only for this one I left off the spraying apparatus because I wanted a crisp clean look for the yellow plane against the jewel blue sky.


Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see work-in-progress and close-up views of this painting. Or better yet, read the story of the serendipitous way this painting came about, look at all the groovy photos, and then, as a reward for getting through it all, you’ll finally get to the work-in-progress photos!

Corn Dustin’ ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord
SOLD • private collection, Camanche, Iowa

Remember Ryan? The big great dane mix that appeared in our yard one day and stayed with us until we found his owners (or actually until they found us), who it turns out live just about a mile down our road?

Well, now he comes down to visit us about 2 or 3 times a week. Whenever he feels he needs a little outing he finds a way out of his back yard or pushes open an unlatched screen door in the house and moseys on down to our place. Austin, Ryan’s 14-year-old owner/brother, says he comes down here because he knows he’ll get a car ride back home. He loves car rides. Well, you know, what dog doesn’t? Most times we roll the back seat window down a bit so he can stick his head out and let the wind blow his ears back.
Classic dog stuff.

Anyway, Ryan showed up at our back door Tuesday around lunch time, and I gave him a treat and a ride home. I had just delivered him into Austin’s custody (Austin is home-schooled, so he and his mom were home) when the local cropduster buzzed out of nowhere and swooped down over the cornfield right across the road from where we were standing. So close!

And you know, a few minutes earlier as I was pulling out of our driveway with Ryan I had thought I probably should have grabbed my camera just in case I see something photo-worthy. But no. After all I was only going to take Ryan home and be right back.

Man! The plane was so close! If I had my camera I could get some really great pics!

So I hopped back in the car and hot-footed it home for my camera, and back down the road to take some awesome photos. Only now the cropduster was nowhere to be found. I couldn’t even hear the buzz of the engine anywhere in the distance. So I figured maybe he took a lunch break. Or maybe he was through for the day. Bummer.

I drove a little way further down the road, to where it turns from a smooth blacktop to a really rough, unmaintained blacktop, and discovered that the mimosa trees out here were in full boom.

So I pulled over and spent a little time walking around taking pictures of those.

I love these trees. A sweet touch of exoticness (it’s a word - I looked it up), here amongst the woods, country roads and hayfields.

After about 15 or 20 minutes, I heard that familiar buzz ...

and suddenly the cropduster appeared over the treetops,

turning and swooping down in the cornfield on the other side of those trees from the hayfield where I was standing.

Hot dog! I jumped in the car and drove down to where he was and began snapping away.

By the way, the auto focus on this lens doesn’t work, so I was manually focusing like mad, while following the plane through the viewfinder.

Not bad, huh?

After about 10 minutes of this, he disappeared on the other side of the trees for a few seconds and then reappeared, swooping down really low and passing right by me, so close, and so low his wheels were practically skimming the tops of the still-young cornstalks!

Then he did it again. These last two passes were obviously for my benefit, because he didn’t release any spray.

I mean, look how close to the corn he is!


I’m glad, though, because I got some great reference shots for my painting!

Then he headed back to home base. Wherever that is.

Who was that daredevil?

Serendipity. If Ryan hadn’t shown up right then, I might have missed this.

If I had run upstairs first to get my camera before driving Ryan home, I might have been too late to see the cropduster in the first place and not even know to hang around to see if he would come back.

If I hadn’t decided to drive just a little further down the road, but just turn around and head home, I would have missed the mimosas and the plane, I wouldn’t have painted this painting, which I’m sure is just the perfect thing someone out there has been looking for!

And now here it is, the promised work-in-progress:

1. The beginning. Sketching in the main areas with mars black, indigo and naphthol vermilion. I put more defined corn leaves only in the foreground.

2. Filling in the underpainting with a glaze of pthalo blue.

3. Adding a vermilion glaze in the trees and on the foreground leaves, adding some more vermilion and orange to the horizon line. I’m not sure what kind of plants these were, maybe some dried hay, but it looked really orange right in front of the dark tree line.

4. Filling in the leaf areas and shadows in the trees. Beginning to add color and detail to the plane.

5. Adding color and detail to corn in the foreground, developing the overall color graduation of the cornfield from darker in the foreground to lighter in the distance. I tried adding light color to the spray to indicate the darkness of the background trees showing through, but it wasn’t working, so I ended up painting the trees in dark where the spray is, and then adding a white glaze of varying thickness over the spray area. You can see the result in the final painting at the beginning of this post. You’ll also see that I darkened the trees right behind the plane to make it stand out better.

And here are some close-up details.

Here you can see that there are a bunch of little highlight daubs of paint detailing the plane.