Thursday, January 27, 2011

From my back door ...

On a morning when I walk in the kitchen to brew a fresh pot of coffee, reach up to the shelf where the coffee canister resides, startle a tiny mouse who was hiding behind the canister, and who then scurries along the shelf, makes a daring Mission Impossible type leap down to the countertop, disappears behind the crockpot, reappears peeking out from behind the toaster, then base jumps from the countertop to the stove to a chair to the floor and races out the open back door, all within the space of about six seconds, I let loose a semi-involuntary yelp, almost drop the coffee, and exclaim alound, even though there is no one around to hear me: “I think I’ve had just about ENOUGH of life in the country!”

Then I turn around and see this view out my back door.

Well ....

... hmmm.

I guess maybe I can tough it out here just a little longer ...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Neighborhood Watch painting complete ...

This is our big hound dog, Blue, one of our Redbone Coonhound mixes, all legs here in this picture. After a grueling 10-minute photo session, he decided it was time for a nap.

I must mention that the grueling 10 minutes consisted of 9 minutes and 58 seconds of him sniffing around the coffee table to see if someone might have left something worth chewing on, jumping up on the sofa, trying to lick the camera lens, running out to the back yard to see what Matilda and Sophie were barking at, running back in, taking a five-minute water break, rolling around scratching his back on the rug, and, FINALLY, glancing out the window for 2 seconds, just long enough for me to get a quick reference photo for this painting.

Neighborhood Watch III © 2011 Karen Mathison Schmidt
8 x 10 inches • oil on 1 inch cradled Gessobord

SOLD • private collection • Jacksonville, Floriday

Here are the work-in-progress photos:

I started with my underpainting in acrylic, using mainly indigo, cadmium yellow light and cadmium orange:

Next, an overall acrylic glaze of purple and magenta; I kept the glaze on the window area light, because I wanted those bright undertones there in the finished painting:

After the underpainting is completely dry (this only takes a few minutes with acrylic) I start painting with the oils. I really had to make myself slow down and made a decision about each stroke before I even put the brush to the board. With acrylics, I usually start with dark colors and work my way to light, but in this oil painting I decided at the beginning where the light areas would be and sketched them in first.

As the painting developed, I made specific decisions about where I would let the underpainting show through, in some places more than others, and where I would enhance the sketch lines, to give the painting that "illustration" feel. Making some lines heavy and other very thin, it adds interest and balance to the overall picture. Whenever I had the feeling that I really liked the way an area looked, I did my best to leave it alone while I finished other areas. For example, I really liked the angular feel of his doggy nose from the beginning, so I did very little to that area throughout the painting process.

If I feel I’m getting too caught up in little details, I switch to a different area for a few minutes; this helps me not too “overwork” the painting. The close the painting gets to being finished, the more often I step back for an overall look.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Every Blessing ... plus our big Blue

Note: When I first published this one, I saw that the greenish gray background on my blog was really affecting the way the colors looked, so I decided to add a white frame to the blog photo; now the colors look more true to the original painting.

Every Blessing ©2011 Karen Mathison Schmidt
30 x 40 x 2 inches • oil on 2" cradled Gessobord

I think this one is finished.

I’ll let it be for a couple of days before I sign it, because I can’t decide if it’s really finished or if I’m just anxious to get started on my next one, which will be another of my Neighborhood Watch series ... this one featuring Blue gazing out the window.

I finally got a good reference photo after several like this:

and this:

Seems Blue was much more interested in what I was doing with the camera than what might be going on out in the front yard.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bailey’s Response

Hey, I am not fat ... I’m just a little extra fluffy for the cold weather.

Um ... is that a donut you’re eating?

Webbing vs. Painting

30 x 40 inches • oil on deep cradled Gessobord

Yesterday I spend about half my work time updating my website, and half my time painting.

I prefer painting.

Here’s Bailey keeping me company as I paint into the night. Well, as I paint into 7 p.m. or so. I don’t really like painting by artificial light, but since the sun goes down early on these winter days, I got these daylight spectrum bulbs for the light fixture in my studio, and they seem to work really well. By that I mean that the colors in the painting by this light looked almost exactly like they looked in the daylight when I walked in this morning, as you can see by comparing the photo below with the photo above, taken this morning.

I shouldn’t be talking, but it looks to me like Bailey needs to spend a little less time napping in the studio, and a little more time on the playground.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The glass is always half full

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.


No, no, don’t get excited ... this is a photo of the south pasture after last year’s big snow.

We were so looking forward to waking up to a snowy winter wonderland yesterday morning, but no. Nada. Zip.

Just this:

Not bad, but not snow.

But there’s always a bright side. Even though we couldn’t go out and make snow angels like we were planning, we were able to get to town for some much needed groceries.

So now, with a little space heater under my desk to keep my feet warm, a pantry full of provision, and the dog and cat food bins full of dog and cat food, I’ve been spending yesterday and today doing some updating to my website. I should be able to finish that up tomorrow and publish the new pages, then back to the easel in earnest.

Good night, all!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Here in Shreveport we say that if you don’t like the winter weather, just wait ten minutes.

It’s been raining all day today. All day.

Freezing, messy, icy rain.



It’s supposed to snow starting sometime in the middle of the night. But right now it’s still just icy, sleety, messy rain.

Yesterday, however, was just beautiful. Very spring-like. Farmer Mike’s horses were out in our pasture in the morning so I decided it would be a good time to get some good horse photos. We let Farmer Mike use our pasture for his horses and cows, and he maintains it for us and pays us a little rent. Good for him, good for us.

Fun for me because I can go walking with the horses now and then.

Hey, I wonder if she brought any snacks today?

Let’s go see!

You wouldn’t happen to have a carrot in your pocket, would you?

Or some apple slices, maybe?


Sorry, fellas, not today.

Fine! We’re outta here!

While this guy was busy scratching his nose on the fence,
I slipped through the barbed wire and headed off after the others.

I noticed he was following me, so I offered him a doggy treat I found in the pocket of my jacket.

But he wasn’t interested.

After a while everybody ignored me and I just walked around taking pictures.

I noticed that some of my equine buddies liked dining alone ...

... and some liked to eat with friends.

After a bit, I sensed I was being approached.

Hey, here’s a little advice ...
if you want to get some really good shots, next time ...


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Surrounded by Inspiration

Every Blessing work in progress
30 x 40 inches • oil on Gessobord

This morning when I let the dogs out after breakfast, I walked out into the yard to see if I could find any new daffodil leaves poking their way up through the grass. After roaming around the yard for a bit, I climbed up on the back yard fence to look over into the pasture, and spotted a bit of white peeking through some tangled grasses ... the first paperwhites!

Late this afternoon I took a break to walk out there and take some photos of these early blooms.

Here’s a glance back at the house and our seven-foot high back yard fence. It looks so small compared with the sweeping landscape of the pasture.

What a beautiful time of day, right before the winter sunset when the light is tinged with gold. I’m truly blessed to be surrounded by such inspiration!