Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A little reminder ...

I sometimes think there is nothing so delightful as drawing.

– VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890)

Every now and then I need to remind myself how much fun it is just to draw.

To play with line weights, angles and curves, shading. You know ... just draw.

Here’s an easy way to do a pretty accurate drawing for a portrait: if you look closely at my drawing you’ll see very light lines where I divided the board into thirds, across and down. Then I used this grid on my reference photo, and drew Bailey on a 6x6 Gessobord with a No. 2 pencil. Nothing fancy, but a whole lot of fun!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Another neighborhood painting in progress

Oak Tree on Slattery WORK-IN-PROGRESS, detail:

This is a progress detail from the second of two “neighborhood” paintings I’m doing as a print commission. That is, my client wanted large prints similar to two of my previously sold paintings, and the images I had were too small to make good 16 x 20 prints, so, per the request of my client, I’m creating new versions of those two paintings from which to make prints, and making the originals available for purchase.

Below is the entire painting so far:

As you can see, I’m sort of working from the left side of the board to the right, So the left side is mostly finished, while on the right the vivid underpainting is still fully visible.

Check back soon to see further progress ...

Good night ... colorful dreams, everyone!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cat antics

And the painting ideas just keep on rolling in ...

I just can’t seem to shake the feeling I’m being watched.

... and we’re blending in with the crowd ... 
and we’re blending ... and ... we’re ... blending ...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Daffodils! or ... a very long post about gathering daffodils while ye may, complete with horses and cat

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

– William Wordsworth, 1804

We must be having just the right combination of cold days, warm days, rainy days and sunshiny days, because this year our daffodils and paperwhites are lasting and lasting. A few days ago I donned my trusty boots ...

 ... and walked out into the soggy pasture to gather a couple more bouquets for the season. We don’t have quite “ten thousand at a glance,” but what we do have are bee-yoo-tee-ful!

I love these little teeny ones. A little less than half-inch in diameter. So cute!

I wasn’t quite as lonely as a cloud, either, 
as Moustachio decided to join me on my quest.

Just a side note: last summer I got a little worried about Moustachio because he wasn’t eating as much as usual, probably because of the heat, and he got really skinny.

As you can see, I needn’t have worried.

Another side note ... when we were considering names, Paul and I being avid Agatha Christie fans, “Poirot” was a front runner. But “Moustachio the Magnificent” is the one that stuck. “Moustachio” for short. And his closest friends get to call him “Stache” for really short, although secretly I think he prefers “Your Magnificence.”

It was kind of a long walk over to where I was, 
so Moustachio, being the multi-tasking cat he is,

... decided to catch a quick nap on the way.

Here he is, guarding the loot.

A treasure well worth guarding!

What, you may wonder, is the secret behind so many glorious blooms?

Well ...

Yep, another good reason for wearing my trusty boots out in the pasture!

And here’s our bounty, waiting on the kitchen table 
to be made into little bouquets to share with friends. 

Hasta mañana, amigos!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Morning Commute II finished and available!

The artist does not draw what he sees, 
but what he must make others see.
EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917)

Morning Commute II • © 2012 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 20 inches • oil on cradled GessobordTM
$675 • free shipping in US

Here’s the finished painting ... as soon as it dries I can scan it, make the commissioned print from it, then this original will be available for purchase on my website.

I hope everyone had a fine Valentine’s Day ... and evening!

Happy painting!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Use every bit

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”

After spending a good bit of time on the Morning Commute painting today, I suddenly had a hankering to do a quick dog sketch. So here he is, our Blue, in blue. Indigo acrylic, that is. Love those sweet eyes!

Continuing on to the underpainting, here he is with glazes of phthalo blue and cadmium yellow light (making greenish areas in his ears and snout where the finished color will be a pinkish tan) and, in the background, quinacrodone rose with cadmium yellow light glazes, combining to make a delicious warm red (where I’m planning for the finished color to be on the coolish side of green).

And this is when I had to stop and clean my brushes, change my clothes and head out with my hubby to a gathering of good friends where we:
  • ate scrumptious taco soup with cornbread, salad, and various sweet desserts
  • played and listened to guitar and piano music (singing along of course)
  • made valentines for our 92-year-old friend Miss Gertrude (the guys were curiously absent from this activity)
  • had a wonderful, beautiful bonfire complete with roasted marshmallows and s’mores.
A fun time was, indeed, had by all. 

And in case you’re curious about Morning Commute, here’s a tiny peek at the progress:

Later, taters!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Spontaneity and work-in-progress

Detail of Morning Commute II, WORK-IN-PROGRESS

In painting, execution should always be extemporé. Execution will be beautiful only on condition that the painter lets himself go a little, discovers as he paints.

– EUGENE DELACROIX (1798-1863)

I paint as I feel like painting ... An artist has to be spontaneous.
– ÉDOUARD MANET (1832-1883)

This morning after I squeezed my chosen colors out on my palette, I sat in front of the underpainting for a good five minutes, trying to decide where to start. 

Finally, I decided to start with this guy walking along the sidewalk, and I worked my way out from there.

The usual way that artists are taught is to start with the big brushes and work your way down to the smaller brushes for the details. And that is a very good way to learn.


I say, once you’ve learned the basics, do what you want! I like to use the bigger brushes for the large masses like the trees, keeping it loose so the underpainting shows through in places. All the while, I’m keeping an eye out for happy accidents and if I like something, I make a mental note to keep it and maybe even emphasize it a little on purpose. For example, that little spot of orange in the midst of the dark bluish-green of the tree about halfway between the top of the walker’s head and the top of this photo. That was the underpainting peeking through. Below, you can see I went ahead and switched to a little brush to enhance that little spot a little with some soft vermilion. Then back to the bigger brush.

And here I switched to a teeny brush to brighten the highlights on the street just beyond the walker, and then to a slightly larger but still little brush to brighten parts of the foliage peeking through the fence there, then ... back to a bigger brush to continue with the trees and the tree trunks ...

... then, after using a bigger brush to add more sunshiny grass colors in the left foreground, back to a small brush to develop the woman jogging with the stroller, and to add some flecks of color here and there, just because I felt like it. If you look very carefully at Colin Page’s paintings, which are chock full o’ sunlight, you can see that he puts what I like to call “sunshine dots” in various places to give a sparkling sunshiny effect. The main thing with those fun little confetti spots is NOT TO OVERDO!

Then, back to a BIG brush to develop the soft colors of the foliage in the distance beyond the woman, then back to the smaller brush for ... well, you get the idea. I just let the Spirit move me as I work!

So here’s how the painting looks so far. Check back tomorrow to see further progress!

Hasta mañana, amigos!

Gone fishin’

Because of all the rain we’ve been having, the ponds out in the pasture are overflowing, making for good fishing for the egrets. Yesterday I went stalking with my camera, quietly tiptoe-ing from tree to tree, trying to sneak close enough to capture a good picture ...

Oh, man, I was spotted!

He (she?) flew way down to the end of the pasture to join his (or her) mate. 
Good thing I brought along my zoom lens.

In ultra stealth mode, I inched closer and closer to the two birds, 
who seemed to be engrossed in their fishing ...

... spotted again! But this time he flew right by me up to the north end of the pond. 
The way the afternoon sun was hitting him makes him seem kind of two-dimensional here.

 A beautiful landing.

After a few more long distance shots of egrets I decided to head back 
to the horses, a much more camera-friendly bunch.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beginning a new painting,
plus Mustachio amongst the daffodils

Morning Commute II • 16 x 20 inches • WORK IN PROGRESS

Morning Commute • first smaller painting, 5x7 acrylic

Above is the finished underpainting for my latest project, which is a larger version of one I did several years ago. It’s a commission, sort of. The local law firm of Cook, Yancey, King & Galloway has requested 16 x 20 prints of two of my paintings which they used in some literature and on their website a couple of years ago. The original painting of this (at left) was 5 x 7, much too small to make a good print in the larger size, and, since they said that a similar picture of the same subject will do, I’ve decided to make a new larger painting from the same reference photo, use that to make the print, and then sell the original painting. Whew, did you get all that?
And as an extra added bonus for this post, I’ve included a photo of Mustachio chilling amongst the daffodils. 

He followed me out to the pasture a couple days ago to help gather a bouquet for my Mom. After a while he completely lost interest in what I was doing and decided to do something much more important: relax and catch a few rays.

I don’t know about you, but I smell a daffodil-scented Mustachio painting in my not-too-distant future.

Oh, what a beautiful morning ...

From my bedroom window this morning:

And from my studio window:

Wow. Sometimes I just can’t believe I get to live here.