Sunday, August 30, 2009


Hey ... is that ... ?







... squirrel?

Hold on a second ... where’d he .... ?

Well ... I guess we told HIM!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Portrait of a hi-tech tabby cat

Cat & Mouse • ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord

SOLD • private collection, Poway, California

I always love painting Bailey ... she’s so much fun with all her stripey-ness and her eye makeup and her stylish v-neck. I corrected the eyes from the last version; now she doesn’t look quite so cross-eyed.

It’s funny how different people will be drawn to different elements of a painting. When I showed this to my husband, his first response was, “That’s our Bailey!” Then: “I love the mouse -- you even showed the red sensory light inside. Cool.”

Here are the work-in-progress photos:

I started with a tonalist-inspired sketch using only mars black and titanium white:

Next I started playing with some color glazes to the different areas. Also, I thought her head looked too big, so you’ll see in the next few steps I tried different things to adjust the size of her head and neck in proportion to her body.

Now I’m starting to add the softness and fluffiness of the fur in her chest “v-neck” area. And a couple of little dark gray strokes define just the tiniest hint of a smile. I really had a hard time resisting adding whiskers until the very end. Sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in little details too soon in the progress of a painting.

Here in the finished painting you can see that I lightened up the window area behind her head quite a bit, creating some lost edges at the top of the pile of books, at the back of the desk, and at the window frame. The back edge of the mouse pad was very soft where the light from the window was reflecting intensely off the desktop.

Having some lost edges along with a few heavily emphasized edges – like around Bailey’s ears, the bottom edge of her top paw, and one spot at the underside of her body where it casts a small shadow on the mouse pad - makes the viewer’s brain work just a little more, adding visual interest to the illustration.

Here are some brushwork details:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Two Cats

Here’s a work-in-progress pic for Cat and Mouse, my latest painting featuring Bailey:

Not quite done yet, but it will be finished and ready for auction tomorrow. I need to fix her left eye (the one on the viewer’s right) -- I think the highlight may be in the wrong spot, because that eye doesn’t seem to be looking at the viewer.

She looks kind of funny without whiskers, and I really had a hard time resisting adding them yet, because they need to be the very last thing.

And here’s what Ray is doing right now:

What a cat.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The book is here, the book is here!

Well, it’s not exactly here yet, but according to Amazon it has a release date of October 1. You can preorder here.

And even though I’m not the author; merely a contributing artist (I have two step-by-step projects in the book, as well as several other finished paintings) I’m quite excited about it.

It’s a new book by UK author/artist Gill Barron, the fairly famous Painter of Everything -- she’s well on her way to painting everything in the entire world, and doing a beautiful job of it, too.

Gill wanted the title of this book to be: Acrylic Secrets:
300 Tips & Techniques for Making Better Paintings.

But one of the downsides of working with a gigantic publisher like Reader’s Digest is that they usually get their way, so the title is: Acrylic Secrets: 300 Tips and Techniques for Painting the Easy Way.

The book was published in the UK and will be distributed in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.

Congratulations, Gill!

And might I add: Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A different direction

Psalm 143:8

Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning;
For I trust in You;
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul.

Becoming Gold ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord

SOLD • private collection, Fort Collins, Colorado

This started out as a picture of our driveway at my favorite time of day in the summertime, when the dappled gold of the setting sun through the trees defines their shape. Somewhere along the way the driveway decided it wanted to be a little river. Sometimes this kind of thing happens when you’re in the creation zone, and the best course of action is usually just to go with it. So I did!

Here are some work-in-progress photos:

And some brushwork details:

Monday, August 17, 2009

A prayer for grace ...

O Lord,
We pray that your grace will fill our hearts,
fuel our thinking,
frame our relationships,
and follow us into the coming days.

This is a part of a prayer by Alister Begg I heard last week in one of the daily podcasts from Truth for Life

I first discovered Alistair’s graceful, loving, humble, uncompromising teaching of God’s Word when I would tune in to the radio broadcast on my 45-minute morning commute when we lived in Long Beach (California) several years ago. When we moved back here to Louisiana I really missed it, and I was happy to find out that Truth for Life has a website with downloadable podcasts I could listen to every day. It’s a real blessing, and I highly recommend it for everyone, not just believers.

Here’s a glimpse of my latest work in progress:


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

OK, now back to work!

20 x 16 x 1 • acrylic on cradled Gessobord

SOLD • private collection, Placitas, New Mexico

These black-eyed susans grow wild, along with the honeysuckle and morning glories, just about everywhere around here in the summer. I love ’em! For this painting I started out with a blending of images from two different locations; one less than a mile from our place,

and the other a few miles farther north. (I flipped the road around for my composition.)

My number one rule when I start a new painting is: Don’t skimp on the amount of time you spend on planning the composition. Sometimes I go a little overboard on this, but it’s really, really difficult to get a strong painting out of a weak composition. Some artists can do their composing as they go, but I am definitely NOT one of those artists. I really have to decide on my subject arrangement right at the beginning.

Which is not to say that I consider the initial arrangement set in stone or anything; I mean, you have to be flexible as you go. You never know when the painting might take on a life of its own and some element of the composition will practically demand to be changed.

Mostly what happens to me, though, is that the color and light change as I go, and I’ll accidentally do something and go, “oh no ... oh, cool ... I think I’ll keep that." I love it when that happens.

A few years ago I spent some time with the local art council teaching kids to paint after school, and I wrote down some of the things they would say about making art. One of my favorites: "I didn’t mean for that part to look like that, but I think it’s kind of cool, so I’m gonna let it stay that way.”

Here are some close-up details of today’s painting: