Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The beginnings ...

… of a new poppy painting. 

PLUS an announcement, coming soon …

… which may or may not have something to do with Savannah, Georgia.

Happy Painting!

Monday, March 30, 2015

A walk before breakfast


Early Morning Walk  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 12 x 1.5 inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled Museum Series GessobordTM

private collection • Salem, Oregon

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Garden Purrennials on parade

Garden Purrennials  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
9 x 12 inches • oil on cradled GessobordTM
commission • Shreveport, Louisiana

(these will also be available in 9 x 12 and 15 x 20 on my website beginning Monday)

Here they are! The Garden Purrennials, aka Archie, Horatio and Mrs. Bush.

Their “mom,” Lisa, who commissioned this painting, told me that one very hot summer day over two years ago they just showed up on the doorstep. After not being able to find their owners, the family decided they would adopt him into their family, and as at the time they had been watching the “Horatio Hornblower” miniseries (a family favorite video), they named the kitties after their favorite characters: Horatio, of course (in the middle), Archie (on the left), and Mr. Bush, the gray and white. After their first trip to the vet it was discovered that Mr. Bush’s name would have to be changed to Mrs. Bush.

Here’s the original photo taken when they first showed up:

I suggested that we could put them in a garden setting, and Lisa said she would like that, so I put on a search in my photo files for just the right reference photos. I needed to find one looking down at a similar angle as the kitty pic. I found this one I took a few years ago of the flower garden in front of my parents’ house ...

… perfect! Now I need a rock for the little gray and white kitty to be standing on.

Here we go! This is a photo I took a couple of years ago at Norton Art Gallery gardens.

And look …

 … this rock is slanted down at just the right angle -- looks like we have a winner! I used it for positioning, but the top of the rock at the extreme lower right in that first photo above had a more interesting look … 

… so I combined the two to use as the rock in my reference photo.

So here’s my final composition for my reference:

As the painting progressed, I dropped a few details out of the garden to keep the background from getting too fussy and pulling focus from those adorable kitty faces.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Almost there ...

Garden Purrennials commission in progress • oil on 9 x 12 cradled GessobordTM

Thursday, March 26, 2015

More kitties in progress ...

Garden Purrennials commission in progress • 9 x 12 oil on cradled GessobordTM

Well, not more kitties, but more progress.

Kitty painting teaser ...

Garden Purrennials commission in progress • 9 x 12 oil on cradled GessobordTM

The bright underpainting for the painting I’m working on today. 
Check back tonight for more progress ...

Happy painting!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Anatomy of an illustration

Moustachio’s World  ©2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 16 x 1.5 inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled Museum Series GessobordTM
will be finished with a gloss varnish (UV protective) • sides painted dark umber
can be beautifully displayed with or without a frame


from my eBay store

Here’s the finished Moustachio painting (except that I just this minute noticed I haven’t signed it yet; I’ll do that first thing in the morning)!

And here was my inspiration, ...

… the ’Stache Man himself, lounging on top of my big printer in front of the open window.

I switched the view out the window to our front drive ...

 … on a pretty summer day.

THEN, I decided to give our subject a prettier surface to lounge on. 

Since all my pretty tablecloths are packed away, I grabbed this pillow from one of my studio chairs and set it on top of the printer (recently vacated by Moustachio) in order to get the right light on the surface, snapped a photo, et voilà! Reference photo for my tablecloth. Since I didn’t want it to look like the table had a curved surface I used only the very center, relatively flat part of the pattern for my painting.

 Hmm. Fascinating. I like this network.

Even better than Animal Planet!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Feline extravaganza!

 Moustachio’s World work in progress • 16 x 16 • oil on GessobordTM

Did some more on this one today, and I have a new kitty commission (maybe two!) that I’ll be starting in the next day or so.

And, since it looks like I’m going to be painting kitties for the next little while, just thought I’d throw a bone to all you dog lovers (see what I did there?) and post a couple of pics to remind you ...

... that around here …

… it’s not always all about the cats!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The painting progresses ...

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.


Moustachio’s World work-in-progress detail
16 x 16 • oil on deep cradled GessobordTM

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

’Stache Man

Moustachio’s World painting in progress
16 x 16 inches • oil on cradled GessobordTM

After taking the photos for yesterday’s update on Moustachio, I just couldn’t resist starting a Moustachio painting. I changed the view out the window to be as if we were looking out to where the driveway winds around one of our pecan trees out front, and instead of sitting on top of my big printer, Moustachio is now sitting on a table covered by a pretty tablecloth. 

I first planned for this to be an 8 x 8, but after talking it over with the subject himself, he convinced me that his personality is much too big to be confined on such a small board. And since I’m fresh out of the 96 x 96 canvas that he suggested, I went with a 16 x 16 instead. I’m so glad I went with the larger format; this is FUN!

I’ve really been enjoying everyone’s comments yesterday’s post; thank you all for chiming in! Maureen pointed out that Moustachio reminds her of Salvador Dali ...

… and I have to admit they do kind of favor each other.

Actually, we thought he bears a close resemblance to Hercule Poirot (à la David Suchet) ...

… and we almost named him H.P. when he first started coming around eight years ago.

I mean, look: you can almost see “zee little grey cells” 
stirring around behind those eyes, trying to solve a mystery ... 

… n’est-ce pas?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Moustachio Report

Back in December I reported that since we are soon to be moving, Moustachio, who appeared out of nowhere eight years ago and took up residence on our front porch, will be going with us. Because we will be farther out from town and the woods will be quite close to our house, making it likely that coyotes will be coming around more often, we decided that Moustachio, a stalwart barn cat if ever there was one, will become in his advancing years An Inside Cat.

He wasn’t too keen on the idea at first. And neither was Jo.

Pontoufle, on the other hand, was very amenable, and it didn’t take long before he was engaging Moustachio in rousing games of Batting the Crumpled Bit of Paper, and You Can’t See Me But I’m Right Under Your Chair.

The one playtime activity that Moustachio doesn’t quite get is wrestling with the fake squeaky mouse. At first he was very intrigued when Pontoufle would start playing with the mouse and there was all this squeaking going on. Moustachio would go over to investigate, Pontoufle would proudly present the toy mouse, and M would delicately sniff at the thing and then give Pontoufle a look, as if to say: “You mean I walked all the way over here for this? What’s wrong with you? Hey, man, it’s not even REAL.” Then he’d just turn and walk back to his chair. I guess he just can’t see expending all that energy on a fake mouse that isn’t even causing any trouble to begin with.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that Moustachio’s transition has been a relatively smooth one. Both he and Pontoufle have such laid-back personalities it didn’t take long for them to become napping buds.

Jo, however, was a tougher nut to crack, and she still puts a premium on her personal space. But she’s slowly coming around. They’re not exactly cuddling yet, but maybe it won’t be long now.

After all, who could resist these rugged good looks?

Stunner painting finished!

Stunner  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
9 x 12 inches • oil on cradled Museum Series GessobordTM
Commission • Lewisberry, Pennsylvania

A couple of weeks ago a very talented mosaic artist, Jo Alexander, contacted me for permission to use my “Solace” painting:

as color reference for a landscape piece she was planning to do from a photo she had taken at her home:

I happily gave permission (and thanks so much, Jo, for asking!) and told her I would love to see her finished work:

And then (speaking of “stunning”) Jo commissioned me to do a portrait of her beautiful cat, Stunner, who, sadly, had passed away last year, and is still greatly missed. I’ve truly enjoyed painting this handsome kitty (called “a real stunner” when he was just a kitten, by Jo’s son, and the name stuck). 

Thanks and hugs, Jo!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Commission in progress

Stunner commission-in-progress (detail)

Well, I didn’t quite as far as I thought I would, but made good progress today. Painting this handsome fella this afternoon has been pure joy. I really didn’t want to stop, but I know from experience that painting by artificial light just doesn’t work for me, so to be continued ...

You’re probably an artist if ...

… you just took 74 pictures, from different angles, 
of your cat napping in the morning light.

Stunner commission-in-progress • 9 x 12 inches on cradled GessobordTM

Here’s my acrylic underpainting for this commissioned kitty portrait. I’m ready to start in with the oils and hope to finish by sundown. Taking progress photos as I go so I can post a step-by-step on this later.

Happy painting!

Friday, March 13, 2015

A delightful afternoon

 “When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college - that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, ‘You mean they forget?’ ”


Today I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting my cousin-in-law Julie for the first time face-to-face, after only getting to see her on Facebook for the six years since she and my cousin were married in her native Philippines. They have two beautiful daughters, my second cousins Sydney (three-and-a-half) and Alexandria (Allie - just turned one), whom I also met in person for the first time today. We spend a delightful afternoon visiting when they stopped at my parents’ for an overnight stay on their way from visiting family in South Carolina, back to San Antonio, where they are living near my aunt and uncle while they are here in the US for a while. This is Julie, Sydney and Allie’s first visit to the US, and there have been many memorable “firsts” since they arrived last November: first time scraping frost off the van, first time seeing snow in person and catching snowflakes on their tongues. And the girls’ first snow angels (in Granby, Colorado, where they participated in a family retreat at Snow Mountain Ranch, courtesy of Project Sanctuary). First time feeding birds on the beach in Mississippi, first time having eggnog at Christmas time. Julie’s first Green Card, which enabled her to get her first library card. So fun watching them experiencing all this through pics on Facebook.

After lunch today Sydney and I spent some time painting together at the kitchen table. Here she is with her finished painting, so intent on posing for my picture that she didn’t realize she had dropped her paint brush and it was no longer in her tightly gripped hand.

We painted garden pictures in celebration of the fast approaching end of winter. Sydney wanted us both to paint the same thing, so while we were setting up we talked about what we were going to include in our pictures, and here’s what we agree on beforehand: 

1. The sun. First and foremost.
2. Grass and flowers. Purple and red and blue ones.
3. A tree.
4. A rainbow. Of course.

Sydney has just moved out of the phase where she wants to just mix all the colors together to see what they will do. At 3½ she now has enough painting experience to know that mixing ALL the colors together will ALWAYS make the same muddy brownish gray. The first 400 times she did this I’m sure it was very exciting watching the colors change. Not so much any more. 

Now it’s more exciting to use Every Single Color In The Tray, swishing her brush in her glass of water in between each one so the colors stay nice bright. Today Cousin Karen showed her how to dab her brush on a paper towel after each water swish, so the poster paint stays nice and thick on her brush. I only had to show her once, then it became part of  her routine. Dip, paint, swish, dab. Repeat.

Here’s Sydney’s finished painting, a gift for her Daddy, she said.

Along the way, in addition to the things we had said we were going to put in our pictures, she added footprints. And rain. I love this.

I added a butterfly and a bluebird.

Thank you, Sydney! I had fun painting with you!