Saturday, November 30, 2013

New cat painting emerging … plus a location shoot

For those of you who have been awaiting a new cat painting, specifically a Jo painting …

… here she comes!

I was working on this one this afternoon when I remembered I was supposed to try to get a photo of myself “on location” for an upcoming project to be revealed later, and I wanted to do it today while it was nice and sunny, making for interesting shadow play in the background. Also because today wasn’t as cold as it’s been here lately -- not as much bundling up required!

Since Paul is unable to walk out to “the location” with me, I decided to attempt a self-portrait photo with me in the landscape I love to paint, and I set out into the beautiful afternoon with Roadie tagging along and just a tad over an hour’s worth of good light before the sun would be down behind the trees.

My goals for the photo: a good likeness and an interesting composition and a beautiful background. And not too obvious that I was taking my own picture. Oh, and I wanted to look relaxed and natural, too.

Piece of cake!

Okay, not bad for the first one. I like the background. 
Paul calls this my “driver’s license smile.”

Love the background, but I look kind of like zombie church lady.

This is Paul’s favorite. A total accidental shot: I could never have orchestrated or even predicted Roadie’s coming along right then, and I didn’t mean to click it while I was looking down, but I kind of love it.

Except for the tree growing out of my head.

Oh, wait. I forgot I wasn’t going to look at the camera.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! This is like the high school portrait where you’re supposed to be looking off into your future. I busted out laughing as soon as I saw it. Roadie couldn’t figure out what I was laughing at. Nice background, though.

 This one and the one below are probably the finalists.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret ...

This here’s the REAL me!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I love my job

Venturing out into the pasture on a 30-something degree morning after two solid days of rain takes a bit more prep than on other days. 

Let’s see … wool socks, two pair. Check.

Gloves, one regular, one fingerless (for operating the camera). Check.

Camera. Check.

Boots, coat, scarves
(or, if you’re from other climes, this last one might be: Wellingtons, coat, mufflers).

Check, check, check.

Yep, a lot more prep … 

But oh, so worth it!

Not even December yet, and here come the daffodils!

And the paper whites!

Hmmm. Looks like one of these got munched.

By one of our neighbors of the bovine ilk, I suspect.

Speaking of which --

HEY! Look! It’s a two-headed cow!

Oh. Wait.

It’s just two cows standing next to each other for warmth.

When I can’t feel my toes anymore, it’s time to head back inside.

While I download and edit my pics, answer email, update the website, print shipping labels and work up the composition for a new large landscape painting, I get to have a steamin’ cup o’ joe, mocha style.

After that I move over here to paint.


Somebody pinch me.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sophie the horse, finished! (plus more adventures of Jo & Ray)


Free Indeed II: Sophie  © 2013 Karen Mathison Schmidt
18 x 24 inches • oil on Ampersand Museum Series cradled GessobordTM
private collection • Watercolor, Florida

Limited Edition prints on paper and on canvas will be available soon.

Here she is, finished! 

Earlier in the year Sophie’s mom bought one of my “Windswept” mounted canvas Limited Editions, and during our email communications she sent me a photo of her sweet Sophie. So beautiful I just had to ask permission to paint her. She said of course, and asked if she could have first dibs on buying the finished painting. Little did we both know that Life and other projects would rush in and bump this one back to almost Christmas! But here she is, her mom is thrilled, and now this one will be whisked off to Arkansas as soon as she’s dry. (The note under the picture says “Watercolor, Florida,” because eventually that’s where the painting will live so Sophie’s mom can still see her every day when they’re away from their Arkansas home.)

When I first did the composition back in March, I had chosen a 12 x 24 dimension, but when I went back to it I started over on an 18 x 24 inch, and I like this composition much better. She just needed more room!

Just look at this sweet face … how could I resist painting her?

 Here are some close-up details. 

I sure had a fun time playing with all the little dots of light and color 
here in a shadowy corner of the pond.

And now it’s time to get up and start the painting of Jo that I have in mind for today.

But I ask you: How can I possibly go over to the easel to get started …

… when I have this going on in my lap?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

More equine painting progress …
plus Jo, International Cat of Danger

Sophie WORK IN PROGRESS • 18 x 24 • oil on cradled GessobordTM

Hey everybody! I made a sharp left turn on this one today after putting it aside for a few days. 

Okay, 18 days. 

While I was working on the garden painting commission, this one was leaning against the wall up on the mantel, and whenever I would come into the room to work I would stand there studying it for a few minutes before going on to whatever task was at hand, trying to decide what about the composition was bugging me. I still hadn’t quite figured it out when I transferred it to the easel this morning. 

I stood there looking at it, and I let my gaze drift past the easel to the window looking out on the pasture beyond.

And then it hit me! I wanted her not to be so hemmed in by the woodsy background (even though I loved all the interesting, mysterious shapes and colors in them there woods -- I’ll save those for another painting). 

I wanted her to be out in a windswept vista like our pasture! Only not the vista of today. A SUNNY windswept vista. So I rifled through my pasture reference photos (and by “rifling” I mean I scrolled down through the Pasture comma Sunny folder in my iPhoto) until I found one that I liked -- well, several really, which I stuck together without hiding the lines because it’s just a reference so it doesn’t matter that it’s obviously a bunch of photos stuck together to make one sweeping vista.

And then I started in on the transformation. The background I had already started in oils was dry by this time, so it was easy to just paint over it.

I began by defining where the new horizon line would be (the green strokes right behind Sophie’s head). High on the painting so it would appear way off in the distance.

Then I started defining some of the distant trees by painting in the negative space of the sky around them. It was a really interesting brain exercise to concentrate on painting the new trees while intensely trying to ignore the old, already established shapes which also happened to be trees.

More painting of the landscape on the left side, including adding a few subtle suggestions of reflections and pinpoints of light in the shadowy pond area.

Now defining the horizon line on the right side of Sophie’s head, and adding in the strips of sunny grass made by the low winter sun.

Interesting that with the dark areas in between it almost looks like terraced landscaping on that side.

If you squint.

And use your imagination.

Now defining the nearer pecan trees by painting in the negative spaces between the branches and trunks.

And then a little more refining and lightening of the pond area right above Sophie’s back, and more definition of shadowy strips of grass on the right. Also, “sunnying up” Sophie’s mane to fit in with the sunny light in the pasture, adding more pinpoints of light, especially in the area between her nearer ear and eye, and softening her muzzle and nostrils.

Here’s where I had to stop, because we’re going to a joyous wedding tonight and I have to get ready.

But before I go, as promised, here’s a picture of Jo, International Cat of Danger, shortening my life just a little bit by her daredevil attitude:

“So?” you may ask, “What’s so dangerous about that?”

Well ...

Right in front of her is about a twenty-foot drop to the floor below.

I know, I know, she’s a cat.

But still.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The final version of the garden painting


Garden of Grace  © Karen Mathison Schmidt, artist
16 x 20 inches • oil on cradled GessobordTM

in my eBay store

(also available in 8x10 and 12x15 -- 
just email me at the address on my profile, or message me on eBay!)

Here’s the final version of the Garden of Grace painting. What I love about this painting is that each of the flowers requested by the collector, the roses, irises, and hollyhocks, has a special meaning for her.

More on the Sophie horse painting tomorrow!

Monday, November 4, 2013

More horse progress and two tired pups

horse painting WORK-IN-PROGRESS • 18 x 24 oil on cradled GessobordTM

Here’s my current work-in-progress photo for this painting of Sophie the horse. When she’s finished I’ll post the final version along with more progress photos.

Early yesterday morning, Roadie dug a hole under the back yard fence and he, Buster and Matilda headed out on a grand adventure. As they were disappearing from view, I thought I heard Buster shout out, “Come on, guys! To the pasture … and beyond!”

Roadie came back after about 15 minutes. He’s a homebody at heart.

We saw neither hide nor hair of Buster and Matilda until they came dragging in at about 3:00 this morning. We were asleep but Trixie woke us up to let us know that they were on the front porch. I went to the front door and let them in and, immediately after gobbling down a quick supper, they sacked out in the parlor, two very tired hounds.

Except for breakfast, supper and brief outings into the back yard, they have done nothing but sleep all day today.

Paul said that sometimes he wishes we had a doggie-cam to see how far they go and just what they do when they go on these grand adventures. (Sometimes, it seems, the outings are more adventurous than others: one time a couple of years ago Buster came back with a deep gash across his chest, and when the vet was cleaning it out, preparing to stitch him up, he pulled a coyote tooth out of the wound!)

I, for one, am just glad they’re home again, safe and sound, 
with just a few scratches and worn out paws.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A horse named Sophie

horse painting WORK-IN-PROGRESS • 18 x 24 inches • oil on GessobordTM

Here’s where I had to stop today on this portrait of Sophie, who lives in Arkansas. 
I love her delicate face, so sweet, but with just a glint of mischief in her eye!

Because of the large size, and because (being a portrait) I wanted to get the proportions just right, before starting the sketch I drew a light grid with a regular No. 2 pencil on my board, corresponding to lines I had drawn on the photo that Sophie’s mom emailed me. Then I commenced to drawing, starting with Sophie’s nearest eye and working my way out from there.

 I was loving drawing so much that it was a little hard to put the pencil down and start my underpainting …

 … with Mars Black acrylic (mixed with glazing medium in those large “washy” areas). Note that I defined the shapes of the tree branches by painting in the negative space around them. I love doing trees this way.

After the black was dry, I filled in the three main areas, woods, pasture, and Sophie herself, with glazes of magenta, Prussian blue, and Naples yellow.

Here I’ve added a cadmium yellow light glaze to the parts of Sophie that will be her cream coloring, and a magenta glaze to her darker, tan areas. I used that same yellow glaze to warm up the tree trunks and branches.

I also added a little cerulean blue glaze around her eyes, on the inside of her ear and on the front of her nose.

Next, I darkened the woodsy background with Prussian blue glaze in the spaces between the tree branches. Then I added a very light magenta glaze all over Sophie.

After the acrylic underpainting was dry, I started in with the oil paints, keeping things nice and LOOSE!

And here’s a close-up of Sophie’s face at the point where I had to stop today.

Check back to see where this painting ends up!