Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Ballad of Firecracker Pearl

Last night Paul and I went to a little birthday dinner party at the home of some good friends in town. At the request of our hostess, Paul brought his guitar and after dinner we sat around the living room talking (too hot for the front porch) while Paul played. At one point he broke into a bluesy riff and our friend Ramona asked him to sing some blues (which he’s famous for making up as he goes along).

“But I don’t feel blue,” he replied, all the while continuing the bluesy riff on the guitar.

So Ramona spontaneously broke out into a blues ballad which she made up as she went along (kind of talk-singing along with Paul’s playing) about her recent minor auto accident in which her beloved long-time vehicle was totaled. Her bright red Honda Accord, aka “Firecracker Pearl.”

A car “so red it made you lose your mind.”

By the end of the song, where she told about calling her husband to tell him the car was totaled:

“No ... she’s not driveable ... you better come pick me up, Hon --
Firecracker Pearl ... well, ... she’s made her last run.”

... the rest of us were all in tears -- not because it was so sad, but because we were laughing so hard.

Good times.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Irresistible Inspiration ...

a new Bailey portrait in progress ...

Here's a new one of Bailey. I've started it off with a tonalist method, using only mars black and titanium white for the initial stage. Then I’ll layer on some color glazes and develop it that way. I think her head is looking a little too big, or maybe her paws aren’t quite big enough, but I’ll fix that as I go along.

When I walked in my studio/office yesterday morning and saw Bailey relaxing there on my desk I saw the finished painting in my mind along with the obvious title, and I couldn’t resist. So instead of the larger landscape I had planned, I started this one.

And the title?

Yep, you guessed it ...

Cat and Mouse

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Moo Cows

Spice of Life ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
12 x 12 x 1 • acrylic on cradled Gessobord

SOLD • private collection, The Plains, Virginia

I love painting cows. Well, not painting the actual cows, but painting pictures of them.

Although now that I think of it, painting the actual cows might be kind of fun. With non-toxic paint of course.

This painting is a bit of a departure for me, color-wise. The day was lightly overcast, calling for a softer palette than I usually use. There’s always a wide variety of cow colors and shapes in Farmer Mike’s pasture across the road. I love these cows. The way they move around in different arrangements, always a pretty picture. Sometimes after watching them for a while I think that the way they keep rearranging themselves into different groupings seems almost choreographed. Like a big ballet of some kind.

A really, really slow, lumbering pasture ballet.

And here are some close-up details:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blue ... then and now

Today my nephew Brian turns 12 (happy birthday, Bri!) and in honor of his birthday I’m posting pics of one of his favorite canine pals, our Blue, then and now. The “thens” are from September last year.) It also happens to be my brother’s birthday today, so happy birthday, David!

Here are Blue and Sophie, BFF’s, then:

a little later:

and now:

They grow up so FAST!

And finally, going down those scarey back steps, then:

and now:


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Fresh Start

Morning Becomes Annie ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord

SOLD • private collection, Poway, California

(scroll down to the bottom of this post to see brushwork details)

Here’s Annie, in her favorite spot to relax after an early morning breakfast. The way she was backlit by the summer morning sun streaming through the window, she seemed to be absolutely glowing. Our Annie has only had one eye since kittenhood when we found her as a stray, but I give her two eyes when I paint her. She’s usually pretty elusive, having a tendency to flee the immediate vicinity whenever I approach carrying a strangely shaped object (like my camera), but she must have been feeling especially mellow this morning because she let me snap a few photos (from the doorway, with the zoom lens of course) before I tiptoed on my way and left her to her morning meditations. As you can see in this previous painting of Annie, she crosses her front legs the same way whenever she’s kicking back and chilling out. So cute.

I had a hard time with this painting at first. I finished one and was thoroughly unhappy with the way it turned out. It was way too stiff and stilted. Plus, because her little face and her eyes are so round compared to most cats I’ve seen, it was really hard not to make her look like a person made up to look like a cat. Which she totally did in the first painting.

So I called do-overs, took a few minutes to freshen my palette and to pray sincerely for inspiration, and started again. This second painting captures the light much better. And she looks like a cat, too, not a little girl wearing cat make-up (whew!)

Just for fun, here are a few more rare photos of Annie:

Um ... were you planning on serving us our dinner anytime soon?

Here she is on the stairs ...

... making sure that no danger lurks above before she heads up to her favorite spot ...

And here are some close-up details:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Complementary, my dear Watson ...

Evensong ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord

SOLD • private collection, Salt Lake City, Utah

This is an offshoot of a small bayou which runs through the field a little way down the road from us. It doesn’t have an official name; I call it Cornfield Bayou. (You can see the edge of the corn crop running across the horizon line in the right 2/3 thirds of the painting.) This is my favorite part of the day in the summertime: that slow stretching out of the afternoon into evening, when the light just lingers and lingers.

Only one work-in-progress photo on this ... I just dove in and painted it from beginning to end without stopping.

Then after I scanned the finished painting, I decided I wanted to make the sky a little warmer, a little more to the green side of blue, rather than the purple side. I thought that would give the painting more harmony, in keeping with the red/green palette I had chosen for the subject (no true blues, no true yellows).
I also made a few of the red highlights a truer red rather than an orange-y red. Here on the left you can see the painting before I made those final changes, and the finished, final, final version on the right.

I really think this final version has a more harmonious, cohesive color scheme.

And here are some close-up details:

The Fine Art of Cat Napping, revisited

Today -- my nephew Michael’s birthday, by the way ... happy birthday, Mike! -- I wanted to share a new napping idea from the ever expanding repertoire of Ray, MCN.*

Here Ray demonstrates his recently developed Using the Pencil Sharpener as a Pillow Technique.

Ray has spent many a productive hour in the research lab over the last few days perfecting this technique. After more than a few failed experiments, he now knows just how much cuddling force to use to snuggle up to the pencil sharpener without scooting it over enough so that it falls over the edge of the desk onto the floor.

*Master Cat Napper

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Sunnyside Up ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord

SOLD • private collection, Leonding, Austria

Another one from the sunflower patches in Gilliam, Louisiana. I usually don’t like depicting outdoor subjects at midday, in full sun ... like most artists, photographers and film makers, I prefer the “magic hours” of early morning, late afternoon or dusk, when the natural light and shadows are more dramatic and fleeting. But the color of these sunflowers against that summer sky was just irresistible!

This afternoon we’re going over to my parents’ for hamburgers and such. I had to break the news to the dogs this morning that we won’t be doing sparklers this year because of the drought. The pasture is really dry, and we certainly don’t want everything going up in smoke!

I gave them all a couple of extra Milkbones at lunch time to make up for it.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July, everyone!

Brushwork details:

Work-in-progress photos:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Enough is as good as a feast

Sunflower ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord

SOLD • private collection, Arroyo Grande, California

Last Thursday I drove with my friends Sandra and Ramona to Gilliam, Louisiana (north of Shreveport ... if you get to Arkansas, you’ve gone too far), where the Sunflower Festival was to be held on that weekend. We were anticipating seeing acres and acres of sunflowers, as Sandra had remembered from a couple of years ago when driving through that area, so I had made sure to charge up my camera battery and pack some extra memory cards, and Sandra had even brought her laptop along in case we needed to download photos to make more room in our cameras.

Well, there must be more income in corn than sunflowers these days, because what we found was acres and acres of corn, with a few smallish patches of sunflowers tucked here and there. Oh, well, it was fun anyway, just spending the afternoon with good friends. Sandra and I spent almost an hour taking photos of one little patch of sunflowers, while Ramona just tried to stay cool in the shade and enjoy the view.

It’s probably just as well that there weren’t acres and acres of these sunny beauties, or else we might still be there!

Here are my work in progress photos:

The first sketch, in purple and vermilion:

Blocking in some shadow areas with purple, then a fuschia glaze over the entire painting:

Starting to add opaque color to the petals:

Filling in the sky with a mixture of cobalt and pthalo blues with some white, painting with energy, but loosely so that the fuschia underpainting shows through in places:

And here are some close-up details: