Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A fresh opportunity ...


Morning Light  © 2009 by Karen Mathison Schmidt
20 x 16 inches • acrylic on archival, museum-quality GessobordTM

private collection • Puyallup, Washington

This original painting was the illustration for one of my step-by-step demos in UK author/artist Gill Barron’s Acrylic Secrets book, distributed in the US by Reader’s Digest Books. I’ve decided it’s time to send it out into the world, but don’t worry about me ... I love it so much that I’ve already made a mounted canvas print of it to keep for my very own.

Monday, June 18, 2012


We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 
In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling
shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! 

ROMANS 5:3-5 (the Message)

Perseverance  © 2012 by Karen Mathison Schmidt, artist
12 x 12 inches • acrylic on museum quality, archival cradled GessobordTM


private collection • Salem, Massachusetts

Loved, loved, loved working on this one today. Since I wasn’t working from a photo for the last 75% of the process or so, I totally got lost in creating this one. In a good way.
My husband said, “Funny how working from memory made this painting look ULTRA real, somehow.” I love that guy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

More progress on irises painting ...

Painting should never look as if it were done with difficulty, 
however difficult it may actually have been.

–  ROBERT HENRI, in his book The Art Spirit

I myself do nothing. 
The Holy Spirit accomplishes all through me.

Wild White Irises • 12 x 12 inches • WORK-IN-PROGRESS

Here’s just a part of the painting as it is so far. LOTS of layers of transparent color for the underpainting, to get that deep, rich color of the shadow at the foot of the oak tree where these white irises are growing ... I’ve been taking lots of progress photos to show, when I get this one finished. 

Thought I’d share a bit of my mental process so far:

1. At the beginning, I’m not sure where I’m going with all these colors, and how I’m going to accomplish the delicate yet hardy feel I was after for these irises. 

2. I start thinking: it’s no use. It’s never going to look the way I’m picturing in my imagination.

3. My computer crashes. Great. I won’t have access to my reference photo (which I took back in the spring) for a while. I decide to continue the painting from memory.

4. It’s not working. I start to really dislike this painting. It’s awful.

5. I take a break from this one to paint a picture of Roadie looking out the window.

6. I come back to this one with fresh eyes and a fresh attitude, letting go of what I started out thinking it should be. Just painting spontaneously. Little surprises that I really like start happening with the colors. 

7. I start really enjoying working on this painting. And I’m looking forward to finishing it tomorrow.

Just couldn’t resist ...


Neighborhood Watch V: Roadie  © 2012 Karen Mathison Schmidt
7 x 5 inches • acrylic on GessobordTM

private collection • Stamford, Connecticut

I interrupted work on my iris paintings to do this little one today. (Even though I’m still without Photoshop I figured out how to adjust settings on the scanner for a suitable image. I still can’t scan and put together the larger paintings until I get my iMac back, but I can do fine on these smaller ones.) This morning after breakfast Roadie was sitting here in one of his favorite spots, looking out the living room window, and I just couldn’t resist this light. I must confess that the urn full of roses isn’t usually in this spot, but after I sneaked a couple of reference shots I ran to the hall and dragged them in for a little added interest.

And Roadie couldn’t resist the roses, of course. Before I knew it he had taken a few out of the urn. I rescued them from sure destruction, but not before I snapped this reference for another future painting ...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Computer woes

When, oh, when is Mom’s computer coming back?

Well, my old iMac finally died on Wednesday. But not all the way. Only the hard drive. Fortunately I have everything backed up externally, so I will still have all my pictures and programs and stuff, but still waiting for my actual computer to come back from the shop with its brand new hard drive so I can get back to using Photoshop. I miss my Photoshop. Terribly. 

So meanwhile, here’s a post sent to you from my husband’s computer, which is totally decked out for music production, but not so much for visual art production or photos.

Hopefully I’ll be up and running again on Monday. Hopefully.

Meanwhile I keep painting, and I’ll have a couple of finished iris paintings to show when I get back to posting art ...

Happy painting!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

White Irises painting in progress

Wild White Irises • 12 x 12 inches • WORK IN PROGRESS

A very long but productive day. 

Just enough energy left to post this work-in-progress of some white irises blooming at the foot of a grand old oak tree, and to wish you all a good night!

Monday, June 11, 2012



Ensconced II: Roadie  © 2012 by Karen Mathison Schmidt
7 x 5 inches • acrylic on museum quality, archival GessobordTM

private collection • Poway, California

Here it is, folks: my first Roadie painting ever! And I’ll say the same thing I said the first time I painted Andy. I don’t know why I waited so long to paint him. I guess maybe I thought all his wonderful spots and half-and-half face were a little intimidating, but it turns out he was oh, so fun to paint. Here he is, sitting in my favorite chair, but looking so comfy and ensconced that I didn’t have the heart to make him move. Instead, sensing a portrait in the making, I took my phone out of my pocket and snapped a reference photo. 

As it turns out, I didn’t have to wait long before he had vacated the chair and was on to his next project: dragging a fallen tree branch out of the yard and trying to get it through the back door into the house.

Must be the Puppy Chow.

Anyway, here are my work-in-progress photos. My palette for this painting was Mars black, burnt umber, diox purple, phthalo blue, Hooker’s green, cadmium yellow light, Naples yellow, yellow ochre, vermilion, magenta, quinacrodone fuschia, and titanium white. 

First, the initial sketch in black. I used acrylic glazing medium mixed with the black for the gray areas. I wanted the sketch to be sort of finished looking, because I wanted to use just layers of glazes for most of the rest of the painting, with opaque colors in just a few places, and let the vivid underpainting show through a lot more than I usually do.

After the black and gray layer was dry (only a few minutes) I added glazes of magenta, cadmium yellow light, hooker’s green, and phthalo blue. I had in mind that I wanted to let the underpainting colors to be the main colors of the red quilt and the green blanket ... the reason I chose the magenta and green for the glazes in those areas. And Roadie had a lot of bluish highlights in his grays, and sunny highlights on the white of his chest and paws ... the reason I chose those glazes for those areas.

Next I started layering more color glazes, deepening the colors of the background fabrics, and adding purple in some of the cooler, shadowy areas. You can see that I also started lightening up his chest and paws with some opaque white mixed with just a touch of vermilion.

Next, those two different colored eyes.

Next I added some more opaque pale colors to define the lightest parts of his spots and to develop the area around his nose and mouth.

I continued to add more whites and light grays and greens to develop his coloring, added opaque light ochre, Naples yellow and green to the little embroidered flowers in the quilt. I also added some yellow glazing in certain places on the red quilt and the green blanket, to emphasize the highlights from the sunlight coming through the window. Notice that I also “redded out” the greenish shadow to the right of Roadie’s head, because when I stepped back and viewed the painting from a distance, the dark shadow was muddying up the distinctiveness I wanted for Roadie’s shape on that side.

Here’s the final version.

And here’s the actual dog:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cat painting finished!


Rose Queen  © 2012 by Karen Mathison Schmidt, Louisiana artist
7 x 5 inches • acrylic on GessobordTM

private collection • Jacksonville, Florida

Before I did the illustrations for Amy’s book, it had been a while since I had used acrylic for an entire painting. I decided on acrylic for those illustrations because, just in case my client wanted any adjustments or changes, I wanted to be able to make them easily and quickly. I loved that process so much that I’ve decidd to do a few more all-acrylic paintings, starting with this one.

Here are my work-in-progress photos ...

First, glazes of Hooker’s green on the pillow, cushion and eyes, magenta on Bailey’s body, and vermilion on the chair ...

... followed by glaze layers of Phthalo blue in certain areas, Dioxanine purple on the bottom of the chair, and vermilion on the cushion and pillow.

When adding the finishing layers, as usual I start with the eyes (notice that her right eye is a little darker than her left, because the daylight is streaming in softly from the right edge of the painting) ...

 ... and work my way out from there, lightening the lightest areas up gradually ...

 ... bit by little bit.

As I went along, I constantly assessed which parts of that vivid underpainting I wanted to leave showing. I left a good bit more than I usually do, especially on Bailey’s body and face, because I was liking the overall effect.

After I finished painting the chair, I added a glaze of Cadmium yellow light just on the right edges, along with the top right corner of the pillow and some of the highlights on the roses, and on the wall at the top right of the painting, just to suggest a sunny glow coming in from the right. And last I lightened up her whiskers, added just a couple of brushstrokes of the palest yellow white on her chest blaze, and used a frosty white glaze to lighten up the background of the rose pillow. It gives it a kind of a frosted glass look which I like

By the way, the pillow in the photo wasn’t covered with roses. I added those to give the setting a more cottage-y feel. And that’s it for the progress on this one!

Happy painting!

Friday, June 8, 2012

A new cat painting ...

After spending the last few weeks on some lovely commissions, it’s back to my choice of subject, and for my first selection of the summer, of course it would have to be a dog or a cat. Even though I love the sketchy quality of this initial stage, I can’t wait to start adding color layers!

You might recognize the chair from this one I did of Ray earlier in the year:

Not that I’m marketing or anything.

I’m just sayin’.

(The above line of nonsense is courtesy of Ray, who just walked across my keyboard on his way to one of his favorite napping places on my desk next to the scanner.)

*pause while I take photo of sleeping cat*

And now I’ll take my cue from Ray and tiptoe quietly downstairs to join Hubby and dogs for some relaxation time ... shhhhhhh ...

Goodnight, all!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I love a mystery!

Wa-hoo! I’ve finished the illustrations for Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction by Amy Metz. The book comes out in August, from Iconic Publishing. I can’t wait to read it ... I LOVE a mystery! Here’s the link to her website so you can read all about it.

Here’s the painting for the back cover of Amy’s book:

Welcome to Goose Pimple Junction © 2012 by Karen Mathison Schmidt
14 x 11 inches • acrylic on cradled Gessobord

And the final version of the painting for the front cover: 

 Slick & Junebug’s Diner © 2012 by Karen Mathison Schmidt
14 x 11 inches • acrylic on cradled Gessobord

And finally, how the finished back and front covers will look: