Friday, January 29, 2010

I haven’t been playing hookey ... honest!

I’ve been hard at work this week redesigning my website.

I was giving the free trial of Sandvox a go, but then I got a notice that Vistaprint, my website host, was now offering an upgrade that would allow me to change elements of my website design template without making me start all over. Woo-hoo!

I sprung for the upgrade (a mere $19.99 one-time fee) and the re-do was super easy.

Now my website is simpler, cleaner and better organized. I still have to upload images to a couple of the pages ... I put "this page under construction" wherever I still have images to upload. And I plan to put a slide show on the home page and add a paypal button and shopping cart for buying art directly off my website, but that might take a while yet.

Anyway, I’m already well underway with my goal of a new and improved website for this year. Give it a look-see and let me know what you think ...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How do you like them tomaters ...

And now, for the first time in American football history, the New Orleans Saints will play in the Super Bowl.

February 7th. Super Bowl XLIV.

Saints vs. Colts.

Cool beans.

Call me crazy ...

You’re probably gonna think I’m kind of weird, but this is one of the dozens of little household pictures that happen every day in the life of a homemaker, and I think it’s quite beautiful. After I finished making Swedish meatballs for lunch today, this is how my sink looked, with the afternoon sun streaming in making all kinds of interesting shadows, highlights, shapes and colors.

By the way, the Colts just won the AFC championship.

I’m a happy camper, because my ideal match-up for the Super Bowl this year is Saints vs. Colts.

Now then ... go Saints!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Work in progress
and a recipe ... yum!

Here is the work in progress ...

The Last Pecans work in progress
30 x 24 • acrylic on cradled Gessobord

... and here’s the recipe!

My husband and I discussed how this would be good with bowtie pasta as well, or noodles ... any pasta of your choice!

1 can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes (or chopped fresh parsley)
1/4 cup chopped red pepper or pimiento
1/3 cup chopped green onions, if desired

1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in olive oil, if desired
(I didn’t have any fresh mushrooms, but I bet they would be really good in this!)

1/2 pkg (8 oz.) spaghetti (or pasta of your choice), cooked and drained

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed. (Be sure not to overcook, as it will be baked further in the casserole. Also, I decided that next time I make this I’m going to add a boneless chicken thigh to make it extra chicken-y.)
garlic salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon of each.)

1 small chopped fresh tomato (about 2/3 to 1 cup)
about 1/2 to 3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

(Note that the chicken and pasta are already cooked.)

Preheat oven to 325°

In a large saucepan, over low to medium heat, stir soup, water, parmesan cheese, parsley, red pepper, and onions until warm and creamy. Remove from heat.

Stir in sautéed mushrooms, pasta, cubed chicken, garlic salt and pepper. Turn out into casserole baking dish and bake uncovered at 325° for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, spread chopped fresh tomato over top. Sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese loosely over top and bake for 5 more minutes.

Makes 4 servings (although we eeked 5 servings out of it.)

I served it with garlic bread and and mixed green salad, with little bowl of pineapple chunks on the side for something dessert-y.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Good bones ...

30 x 24 work in progress ...

In the winter, when most of the trees around here are leafless, it’s easy to see their beautiful structure. They’ve got good bones.

A few days ago I started sketching out this landscape of the pecans out in the south pasture. That day my Dad, who has been working hard since fall gathering and sorting and selling pecans from our sixty-some pecan trees, came out to gather up the last ones that fell during some recent windy days. He was walking around under the same trees in my painting, so I decided to take some photos and add him into the picture. I like it.
With him in there it will be easier to show how tall these majestic trees are.

This initial sketch is just mars black, burnt umber and king’s blue, with titanium white mixed in here and there to make different shades of gray. My husband said that at this stage it looks kind of like a snow scene.

And here’s Daddy, with his pecan picker-upper:

In the comments on my last post, Denise R suggested that I post the recipe for the chicken spaghetti casserole in the picture. I think that’s a great idea, so I’ll post it tomorrow ...

Hasta mañana, amigos!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Keepin’ it loose!

Tomato Trio ©2010 Karen Mathison Schmidt
4 x 4 • acrylic on Gessobord

Paul brought these beauties home from the grocery store yesterday, and this morning they were just begging to be painted. So after I worked on a larger landscape for a while, I painted this bitty one, trying to keep it quick and loose. It has a kind of a vintage feel to it, I think.

I really enjoyed it ... I think I’ll have to do more kitchen paintings.

After I painted it I used one of the tomatoes in this for lunch:

It’s chicken spaghetti in a beautiful baking dish my sister gave me for Christmas. When I took it out of the oven it was as pretty as a picture. So I went ahead and made it one.

Monday, January 18, 2010

From my front porch ...

Psalm 29:2

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

Yesterday our pastor taught about worship.

When we worship God in spirit and in truth we come away changed.

We worship God anywhere and anytime we honor, adore and glorify Him, ascribing to Him the attributes which are His:

to name a few.

This morning at sunrise I took my coffee out to the front porch and worshipped the Lord of Creation. My Creator, my Saviour, my Redeemer, Maker of all things, Creator of light.

Then I started my work day by fetching my camera and taking a few dozen photos of the new day. After that, feeding animals, cooking a fabulous breakfast (if I do say so myself), making the bed, doing a load of laundry, some vacuuming, dusting, and sweeping that I was too exhausted to do last week, washing the breakfast dishes, starting a new large painting, cooking a fabulous lunch, working on art some more, pruning a sage tree out front while my dad was here picking up pecans, taking photos of my dad picking up pecans out in the pasture, packing up some Christmas decorations I borrowed from my mom to send back home with Dad, feeding animals again, playing with the dogs, cooking a fabulous supper, and discussing our future driveway construction plans with my husband.

Simply glorious.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Resting up ...

Isaiah 26:3-4

You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.

Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

Today I’ve been resting up, drinking a lot of orange juice, having chicken soup, trying to let my body fight off this yuckiness. I feel much better tonight ... my sister recommended Airborne ... says it works wonders for her when she feels something coming on ... maybe I’ll pick up some of that tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of photos of the little bayou down the road. Hey, all you artists out there, feel free to use any of my photos as reference for painting if you’re so inclined ... I’d be flattered!

Enjoy, and thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Too tired for blogging ...

Here’s Ray grabbing a snooze in a box of old books I had set aside for recycling.

Just when I starting building my momentum, getting all fired up about art every day for the new year, I’m coming down with something. You know ... chest congestion, coughing, exhaustion ... “that thing that’s been going around.” I already had a bout of this back in November and here it is again. I’m dead tired and I haven’t really even done anything worthwhile today.

One good thing about getting sick is that it makes you really appreciate when you’re well.

Oh well.

Paul’s cooking dinner tonight so I think I’ll curl up on the sofa with my Old House Interiors magazine.

Stay well, everyone!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ordinary everyday beauty ...

I walked into the kitchen this afternoon and this unplanned still life on the drainboard struck me as simply beautiful. The pitcher I had used to carry water upstairs to the cats’ water bowl (yep, we don’t have working plumbing up there yet), and the vintage green bowl that I had used to warm up some soup for lunch. The way the winter afternoon light cast those long shadows. I’m glad I took the photo, because mere minutes later that light was way different, not nearly as dramatic.

The last couple of days have been below freezing all day long, and all the dogs get to come inside to get out of the cold. So here’s Buster, sitting on his quilt on an old chair in the living room, where he gets to spend freezing cold afternoons in comfy warmth. If Vermeer had a dog, he probably would have painted him something like this, I think.

Friday, January 8, 2010

One down, 51 to go

Winter Light ©2010 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 20 x 3/8 • acrylic on heavy duty artist’s board
• dovetail slot in back for hanging flush against wall
• sides painted dark umber
• gloss varnish

Scroll down for close-up details!

$250PURCHASE this fauve landscape painting

Even though technically this is the first day of the 2nd week of the new year, I’ve decided to post three official professional goals for the year, the better to hold myself accountable for achieving them.


52 finished paintings

I was looking back over my Just the Paintings blog, and I see that I completed 22 paintings in 2007 (there are 26 posts for that year, but four of those paintings were done before I started blogging), 28 in 2008, and 41 in 2009. So, in keeping with this trend, and this being my first full year as a full-time painter, and considering the fact that I’m doing more painting in formats larger than 6 x 6 inches, I’ve decided to set a goal of 52 finished paintings by December 31, 2010. It’s definitely do-able, but I will have to keep up a steady pace to git ’er done!


New website design.

Right now I’m using the website service provider Vistaprint, which is great, and I highly recommend it, but now I want to design a website from scratch so I can make it look exactly the way I want. I’ve downloaded a 30-day trial version of Sandvox - my inner design geek is very excited about this. We’ll see how it goes.


Get my art into a real brick-n-mortar gallery.

There are a lot of possibilities in this region. I’m really going to get serious about this art thing.

So there are my professional goals for 2010.

I’m brewing a couple of five-year goals as well ... I may share those down the line, but right now they’re in the brainstorming phase.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Frosty mornings ...

These days mornings are frosty, freezing and beautiful ... this is our view out toward the south pasture with the rising sun glinting off the pond. I thank God every day that I get to live this season of my life surrounded by such beauty!

I finished the Winter Light landscape painting today, and I scanned it, but I want to wait until daylight to post it, so I can make sure the colors of my scan accurately represent the colors of the painting in real life. So, first thing in the morning!

Hasta mañana!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Literary Cats

There are literally hundreds of books in our house. Seriously. Some are mine, some my husband Paul’s, but most were left to me by Daniel, who left me the house. Out of those, some were actually collected by Daniel and some were left from generations gone by.

I still haven’t gone through all of them to see exactly what we have. OK, so we moved into the house two and a half years ago, but hey, I’ve been busy! Recently I gathered every single book in the house into one area: the upstairs hallway (or “gallery,” as my friend Andrea the historical house appraiser calls it).

Two or three times during this process I would say, ok, I think that’s everything, only to remember that there were several stacks of books still in the storage area we refer to as “the guest bedroom.” And then, oh yeah, there are all the ones I put on the shelves in the dining room closet when we first moved in. And wait, I seem to remember a few dozen more stacked up in the downstairs hall cupboard.

It took a while, but I think that finally all the books in the house are here, except for the scattered few on and around our bedside tables and coffee table that we’re actively reading (including our Bibles).

Wednesday being chore day, today I forged ahead in my ongoing plan to sort the books and categorize them and decide what to keep. I didn’t get very far, even with Ray and Bailey’s help, because I kept coming across books I wanted to peruse. But I figure when it comes to getting a big job done, a little at a time is better than not at all.

One of the books I came across today was an old sketch book of mine, and I got kind of excited when I found it until I discovered it had two, count ’em, two sketches in it. One from 1997 and one from 2000. I must have kept misplacing it. But now I’ve found it again and I’ll add more sketches.

Hopefully more than one every three years. *sigh*

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and wishing you much success and creativity in twenty-ten! Yes, that’s what I’m calling it. Twenty-ten. It kind of just rolls off the tongue easier than two thousand ten. Plus it reminds me of when a little kid is learning to count, and is so proud he knows those grown-up numbers past twenty that he gets kind of carried away: “... twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, twenty-ten, twenty-eleven, twenty-twelve ...”

This year, I’ve resolved to try to post a blog entry every day. But Karen, you say, this is January 5th. Yes, I say, but my friend Mona and I have decided that when New Year’s Day falls on Friday, then there should be a grace period for starting all resolutions until Monday. Granted, this is Tuesday, but yesterday I was busy working on this poster for an upcoming show at one of our local theaters. For the background image I used this photo I took of the old oak tree in our yard one misty morning.

I love designing posters. Here’s one I made last fall for the women’s ministry at our church, using a combo of found art and scans of pieces of several of my paintings.

I really had fun with this one, putting together the collage electronically ... so much fun that I’ve decided to try some actual real-life collage paintings this year.

And I have been finishing up that painting from my last post ... check in tomorrow for the finished piece!