Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New inspiration

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.

PSALM 143:8

Just wanted to share this photo I took one morning last week: sunrise on the overflowing pond out in the pasture. Inspiration for my next big landscape. After I’m through with Henry, who is oh-so-close to being finished!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cirque d’ Easel,
starring Jo, acrobat extraordinaire

Henry Commission • WORK-IN-PROGRESS

Here’s more progress on Henry. 

I had almost forgotten how much I just love using oil paints. 

For the past few months, ever since Jo came to be part of our family, I’ve been sticking to acrylics. Just until she learns the ropes of being a studio cat. You know, basic rules like No Walking On The Palette. 

I’m proud to announce that after only two or three foot-washing episodes, she’s mastered that one. 

We’re still working on No Drinking the Pretty Paint Water, and No Climbing on the Easel When Mom Is Painting.

This last one may take a little longer, since at least three or four times a day, she likes to go through her acrobatic routine:

And now, a few maneuvers on the empty easel:

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!

Friday, January 25, 2013

More progress on Henry ...

“My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet.”



I got a late start on this one today, but starting with his eyes, got quite a bit done on his face. What a joy to work on this little guy ... hopefully I can get an earlier start tomorrow!

Painting with oils over acrylics

Is it okay to paint with oils over acrylics?

Yes! I’ve done it many times.

That’s my answer and I’m sticking to it.

But I wanted to find out a more complete explanation to share, so I googled the question yesterday, and here’s the best, clearest, most concise and complete answer I found, at ACRYLIC PAINT REVIEW.

By the way, my favorite quote from this article is this one concerning doing it the other way around, and trying to paint with acrylics over oils:

“Never, ever, ever, in a million, zillion years should you paint acrylic paint on top of oil paint.”

So there.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Henry ... new work-in-progress


Today I started on this commissioned portrait of Henry, a little teddy bear of a dog who had me smiling all the while I was working on him this afternoon. I wasn’t the only one painting Henry today; Kimberly Santini put it perfectly on her blog when she said that Henry’s Grandma couldn’t decide between us, so she invited both of us to paint Henry! We’re both delighted, because now we’re becoming friends and we might even be able to meet in person soon when she comes from Michigan down to Baton Rouge to teach a workshop. So cool.

Anyway, Kim has already posted her painting here on her blog. And be sure to check out her website, too. I love her lively use of color (of course, because I’m a color nut, like so many of you out there.)

Today I finished the acrylic underpainting, and tomorrow I will continue in oils. Remember, it’s perfectly fine to paint oils over acrylics, but not the other way around. Unless you’re the adventurous type who just wants to see what happens. Far be it from me to prevent experimentation! What could happen? I mean, I don’t think the universe would implode or anything if someone tried to paint with acrylics over oils; it just wouldn’t turn out like they expected, and it’s not generally recommended.

Hey, I just googled what happens if you paint with acrylics over oils? and got a lot of interesting information. If you’re like me, you might want to set a timer before you go wandering off, or you might just spend more time than you intended to in internet-land when there are other things you really need to be doing.

Just sayin’.

Here are my work-in-progress photos for Henry so far (above is my initial sketch, in Prussian blue):

Here, I’ve started adding color glazes to the different areas, phthalo blue and quinacrodone fuschia Henry’s fur, Hooker’s green for the throw in the background, and burnt umber and fuchsia for the blanket in the foreground.

And here I’ve layered more color glazes in: burnt umber to deepen the green in the background throw (which will be mostly sort of burnt orange/red in the finished painting), some yellow-orange in the highlighted area on Henry’s head and ears, and that same yellow-orange and vermilion on the foreground blanket (which will be kind of turquoise blue and lavender in the finished painting). I had to laugh when I took these last two photos, because it looks kind of like he’s wearing a Raggedy Ann wig.

Check back tomorrow for more progress ...

Happy painting!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Ensconced V: Trixie  © 2013 by Karen Mathison Schmidt, artist
7 x 5 inches • acrylic on GessobordTM
gloss varnish for UV protection

Here’s the finished portrait of Trixie, our eight-year-old border collie mix. Her mother was a border collie, and the family we adopted her weren’t sure who her father was. 

All we know is she’s our first-adopted, our eldest and our smartest. She knows about sixty tricks, and she’s a stickler for the rules, excels in obeying the rules, and likes to make sure the best she can that everyone else knows and follows the rules as well. And if they don’t, well, she’s out there carrying her clipboard with the pen attached to it by a little chain, taking names and giving out demerits.

She loves kittens, babies, going for walks, peanut butter, The Twilight Zone and Edith Piaf. 

One time she was in the car with us when an Edith Piaf song started playing -- in French, of course -- and she left off looking out the window and sat, riveted, with ears at attention and head cocked, her eyes never leaving the radio dial until the song was over. We don’t have any Edith Piaf recordings in the house, so we’ve never tried to see whether she would have that same reaction again. I like to think she would.

Anyway, this is Trixie, and these are the work-in-progress pics:

The initial sketch in Mars black acrylic. I almost always start with a pencil sketch or a transfer of a sketch that I did on paper first, then I go over that sketch loosely with my acrylic. I had started washing in some phthalo blue when I remembered to stop and take this progress photo first!

Oooo, zombie eyes. Scary, kids!

Here I added glazes of Prussian blue, Hooker's green, burnt sienna. And filled in her eyes with burnt umber. The pillow at the top right is going to be green, and the blanket in the left foreground is going to be red, so I’ve used complements (sort of) of those for the underpainting in those areas.

A quinacrodone fuchsia glaze is added on top of the phthalo blue, for Trixie’s undercoat.

Usually I start with the eyes and work out from there, but here I did a little on the eyes and then started adding the white and light tan around her muzzle, and adding details to her nose. I never really notice how really big our dogs’ noses are until I start drawing or painting them. Unlike cats’s noses which are small and delicate-looking. As long as I had the white on my brush, I went ahead and tested out how some highlights would look on the edge of her ear. I like it. Already the highlights on her nose, ear and eyes are bringing her to life!

Now I continue adding the soft highlights and shadows of her face and ears, making little decisions along the way where to keep the vivid blue underpainting showing through. I love her orangey-tan “eye dots” above her eyes.

I added a few little details to her eyes, and it was at this point when my husband said,
“Now there’s our Trixie-Doodle!” Here’s a close-up detail of her face from the finished painting:

After adding more details to her ears I start sketching in the darker areas of her chest and shoulder areas, and the medium lights of her white “chest ruffle” and paw. I like to work from dark to light in those white areas.

Collar details, with that shiny gold-colored tag, and more work on her body, keeping it really loose there, with more of that blue showing through. Most of Trixie’s coat is smooth, but her white chest and some of the fur around her collar area is more fluffy and  cow-licky, growing in a lot of different directions. Fun to paint. 

Also, now I begin adding in the details of her comfy surroundings, starting with her nubbly soft faux-sheepskin-like light blue blanket. Just a suggestion of texture on the blanket is enough to show the softness.
Working on the green pillow behind her head, and her right leg where her paw is tucked under. Also, a few dashes of pale colors added in to her white fluffy chest. Rose madder mixed with white, and a little raw sienna mixed with white and even some light green in the shadowy area where the bottom of her chest almost meets the blanket. And some very subtle light pink (a touch of rose madder mixed with white) on her white paw to give a little more depth. White is never just white!

Here, you’ll see that I added just a little bluish green (phthalo blue plus Hooker’s green plus white) in a few of the shadows of the green pillow. Just about three or four places. And in the shadowy area away from the light coming in from the left, I have let a little of the orangey/burnt sienna underpainting to show through. 

After adding the detail of the pillow at the back left, I decide that it’s a little busy and is clamoring just a little too hard for attention ...

... so I tried to calm it down a bit. Then, once I started working on the red blanket in the left foreground, I decided that the pillow was a little too pink, so I started over by painting out the design in dark teal ...

... and after I got the red blanket finished, I liked the teal and green together in the background. So I added just a little botanical detail (below) to bring in the spring green from the big pillow. Also here you can see a few more subtle turqoises and yellows added in to the soft white-blue blanket to give it a little more oomph in color dimension.

Since I was imagining the teal pillow, I had to imagine how the light coming in from the left would highlight the top of the pillow. I’ve decided it’s a velveteen pillow with embroidered botanical design. Wish I had it in real life, it would go really good with that spring green pillow! 

And finally, I made Trixie’s tag just a touch bigger, and gave the highlight on her red collar just a touch of vermilion to make it even more highlighty (yes, I just made that word up). And while I had that brush loaded with vermilion, I added a touch of it to the shadow at the bottom of the green pillow, and in the little dark shadow of the light blue blanket (far right edge of the painting about one-third of the way up from the bottom) ... just for fun!

Friday, January 18, 2013

More Trixie progress, and I finally
start watching Downton Abbey

 Ensconced VI: Trixie • WORK IN PROGRESS

In between a few other projects I have going right now, I’ve managed to make some more progress on Trixie. Now that I have it this far, I think the pillow on the left behind her head may be a little too busy, so I’m thinking I’ll probably simplify that one a little. The blanket draped across the arm of the chair in the left foreground will be reddish, which will complement the spring-green pillow in the background. I’ve been a little lax in posting work-in-progress photos in my last few posts, so tomorrow I plan to show the full-blown work-in-progress of this along with the finished painting.

(Oh, that reminds me ... if you enjoy seeing other artists’ processes like I do, Karin Jurick has started a work-in-progress blog you might want to check out.)

And now I’m going to have some relaxation time with my husband and Downton Abbey. For the last year or so several of my friends have been telling me I would really enjoy this series, but we never got around to watching it. 

Until last night. 

We started watching Season One on DVD, which one of said friends lent me a few days ago.

Oh. My. Goodness.

We watched five episodes in a row. We knew we were staying up way too late, but we just couldn’t help ourselves. At the end of each one, we would look at each other and say, “Whoa.” ... pause ... and then, “Let’s do another!” We tried to watch a sixth, but we were about to lose our battle with sleepiness (plus I knew that in the morning the dogs and cats would not care a flip how late I had stayed up; they were still going to be clamoring for their breakfast at the crack of dawn). So that leaves two more episodes for tonight.

Only two.

Oh, well, at least we’ll get to sleep at a decent hour tonight. 

Before I sign off, I just have to introduce you all to this little guy. His name is Henry and he is the “grand-dog” of Cindy in Paradise Valley, Arizona. She has commissioned a portrait of him, which I will be doing next week. 

Can hardly wait to get started ... just look at that face!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Trixie by any other name ...

 Ensconced VI: Trixie • WORK-IN-PROGRESS

A while back on Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, my FBEHW (Favorite Blog Ever in the History of the World), Ree Drummond published a post telling all the names she calls their Bassett Hound, Charlie, none of which is his actual given name.

We have nicknames for our dogs, too (don’t we all?)
Here are our most often used ones for Trixie, our first-adopted:

Trixie Doodle
The Doodler
Poodler Doodler
Trixie Goose
The Gooz
and (because we also sometimes call Sophie “Gooz”)
Gooz Classic

In addition to these endearments, we also play an ongoing game with derivations of her name, which goes like this:

If Trixie was a Mexican maiden, she would be called Trixorita.
If Trixie was a cold medicine, she would be Trixoral.
If Trixie was an ancient civilization, she would be Trixalonia.
If she was a discount superstore she would be Trix-Mart.

 If she was a branch of mathematics, she would be Trixonometry.

If she was a theme park with lots of fun rides and overpriced snack foods, 
she would be Trixieland.

If she was a ...

Okay, I’ll stop now.

But you get the idea. The possibilities are endless. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Camo kitty


Hidden Treasure  © 2013 by Karen Mathison Schmidt, artist
6 x 6 inches • acrylic on GessobordTM
private collection • St. Albert, Alberta, Canada

At first you may think this is a painting of geraniums. But if you look real hard you can see Jo, ready to pounce whatever poor unsuspecting soul happens by.

I do have work in progress photos for this as well as a couple of other recent paintings, but I’m a bit under the weather tonight so I think I’d better put off posting them until a little later, and head to bed with a cup of hot tea.

Oh, hey, before I go ... I’m having a sort of “Flash Sale” of a bunch of my Limited Edition Prints, which I listed yesterday and today for three-day auctions starting at 49¢. Visit my eBay store to check them out and maybe get a couple at a FAB-ulous final price!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Find the hidden kitty ...

Hidden Treasure WORK-IN-PROGRESS

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Oh, she do make me laugh!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Unexpected blessings

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”



New Every Morning  © 2013 Karen Mathison Schmidt, artist
10 x 8 inches • acrylic on cradled GessobordTM

private collection • Saint Martinville, Louisiana

I had planned to work on something completely different yesterday, but when I finished feeding the dogs their breakfast and looked out over the fence, those original plans flew right out of my head. I ran upstairs to fetch my camera, put on my boots, and headed out to the pasture for a little impromptu photo session with these guys.

How could I resist?

 Work-in-progress photos to come ...

Happy painting!