Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mountain Ranch Road

Mountain Ranch Road © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
9 x 12 x 1½ inches • oil on 1½" deep cradled ClaybordTM
gloss varnish (UV protective) • sides painted dark umber
can be displayed or hung with or without a frame

or view the auction • ends evening of Monday, May 4

This is one of the side roads we passed on our road trip out west for a family reunion in Colorado a couple of summers ago. Out in those wide open spaces you can follow one of these gravel roads with your eyes until it diminishes to a tiny point on the horizon or disappears at the crest of a distant hill. I like to imagine that at the end there’s a good old-fashioned home cooked meal waiting, and probably a good ol’ dog runnin’ out to meet the pickup.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

new works in progress!

A good artist has less time than ideas.


Untitled WORK IN PROGRESS • 9 x 12 inches • oil on cradled Ampersand ClaybordTM

Here are some new ones in progress. 

It’s just near impossible to keep up with the ideas that just keep on coming. 

“… less time than ideas.” Don’t we all pretty much fall into that category? For me the key to productivity is to zero in on a few ideas and be able to concentrate long enough to execute those, even while myriad others are swirling around trying to distract me. 

I have a feeling it’s going to be a very busy summer!

 Gigi WORK IN PROGRESS • 8 x 8 inches • oil on cradled GessobordTM

Paperwhites WORK IN PROGRESS • 16 x 12 inches • oil on cradled GessobordTM

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Colorado Summer


Colorado Summer © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
12 x 12 x 1½  inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled Ampersand GessobordTM
private collection • Athens, Texas

Here's another roadside view from our Colorado trip a couple of summers ago. These wildflowers were growing everywhere. 

Practicing painting loose, quick and thick. Fun!

Color Me Wild!


Color Me Wild © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
8 x 10 x ¾ inches • oil on ¾" cradled archival Ampersand ClaybordTM
private collection • Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Here’s a fresh-off-the-easel wild fauve oil painting of Bailey, a gray tabby, sitting in the morning sun on a chair in my studio. 

I'm loving painting on Claybord. The clay ground absorbs the oils really quickly, so I'm practicing using thick, quick, loose strokes to capture the essence of my subject. Sometimes difficult, but always FUN!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Welcome to the Land of Enchantment


Enchanted Highway I  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
9 x 12 x 1½ inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled Ampersand ClaybordTM
private collection • Wayland, New York

Here’s one of several small southwest highway paintings I’m in the process of completing; I’m experimenting with oils on Ampersand Claybord, and so far I LOVE it! The surface is perfectly smooth with no tooth at all, and the clay ground is super absorbent, shortening the drying time of the oils and allowing for cleaner layers. Perfect for these beautiful colors of the southwest desert landscape. This one is from a photo I took just as we were entering New Mexico (aka “Land of Enchantment”) from Colorado, on our way back home from a family reunion. The sky was still dark from a rainstorm which had just passed. 

Now that the painting has almost dried to the touch, it has taken on a look almost like a piece done with oil pastels. I like the dry brush look in some places balanced with blending in others. I’m finding that the first layers of paint dry almost as fast as acrylics, so if I want to blend, I have to add fresh paint and do it fairly quickly. Subsequent layers give me a little more blending time, but not much, but that’s okay because I REALLY like the cleaner layers and the broken color effect. I’m looking forward to doing some more of these highway landscapes!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sun Kissed, plus: I’m in the Red River Revel again!


Sun Kissed © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
8 x 8 x ¾ inches • oil on ¾" cradled Ampersand Museum Series GessobordTM
private collection • Athens, Texas

Here’s a picture of Ray, sitting on a chair in my studio, bathed in the morning sunlight streaming through the window.

This one was somewhat of an experiment for me, trying for a true impressionistic feel, simplifying the details and keeping the brushstrokes nice and loose. My favorite part is the sunlight on the edge of the chair seat.

Here are the underpainting, and one work-in-progress pic.

 The painting went so fast after that, that next thing I knew it was done!

Oh, and one more thing: I got my Red River Revel acceptance letter in the mail yesterday -- woo-hoo! I’m so excited to be accepted again this year; it promises to be a great one, because it’s the 40th Annual!

Here are a couple of photos from last October:

My sister took this one from the overpass. My booth is in the far corner of the first blue striped canopy. I hope I can get the same booth location this year. We were right by the restrooms and the food booths plaza, and one of the music stages is right across the plaza, so we got a concert every night.

Here’s a close-up view of my display, just as it was getting dark so the street lamps were coming on and we had our booth lights on. The artist across from me and I strung little round Christmas lights between our booths, over the walkway, giving our section kind of a New Orleans feel at night. So much fun! I’m building new display walls for this year, to neaten things up and allow me to hang more in the space, and I’m making some cool bins for my limited edition prints, too, from big metal planters that I found at Hobby Lobby. I’m so EXCITED!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ensconced VI: Matilda


Ensconced VI: Matilda  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
12 x 16 x 1½ inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled GessobordTM
private collection • Leonding, Austria

Here’s our Matilda, smallest of our four Redbone Coonhound mixes. A rescue from the bayou down the road about seven years ago, she has just about decided for sure that coming to be a part of our family was a good decision. 

Now she claims it was her idea in the first place. Of course.

Budget breakdown

Just a reminder for all you “highway art” lovers, 
the auction for this one is ending in just a couple of hours.


Road Trippin’  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
12 x 16 x ¾ inches • oil on ¾" cradled Ampersand Museum Series GessobordTM

private collection • Chicago, Illinois

10% of proceeds benefit Mercy Ships
and about 88% benefit these yahoos:

The remaining approximately two percent 
will be used to help replenish my art supplies.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mist Slowly Rising

I found I could say things with color and shapes that 
I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.



Mist Slowly Rising  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
12 x 12 x 1.5 inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled GessobordTM
private collection • Vallejo, California

Here’s another view of the bayou down the road from us, right where the pasture ends and the woods begin. Or maybe it’s where the woods end and the pasture begins.

Depends on which way you’re going, I guess!

This is another alla prima (wet into wet) painting, using some of the impressionist color techniques I learned in the Susan Sarback workshop. FUN!

I also finished the Matilda painting today, but haven’t got the final photo yet, so I’ll be posting that tomorrow.

Sweet dreams!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A quick update ...

Matilda work-in-progress • oil on 12x16" deep cradled GessobordTM

I was holding this up to Matilda herself earlier, and it’s almost life sized. Not quite but almost.

She wasn’t really interested in the painting, by the way.

Just the tortilla chip I had in my other hand.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Puttin’ on the fauve!


 Harts Island Road  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
12 x 16 inches • oil on ¾ inch cradled Museum Series GessobordTM

private collection • Jackson, Tennessee

Friday, April 10, 2015

Rediscovering Matilda

I invent nothing; I rediscover.


Matilda work-in-progress • oil on 12x16" deep cradled GessobordTM

Well, I didn’t quite finish, but it was a good work day anyway, I think. I spent a good bit of today’s painting time refining her face and ears. Refining, but being careful not to overwork.

Except that at one point I had to do a complete wipe of her nose down to the underpainting. I wish I had thought to take a photo at the point where I had made a complete DISASTER of her nose, but I had wiped it off before I even thought about it. Trust me. It was pretty bad.

It started with my noticing that her nostril was not quite right, and so I started in with trying to fix it, but the more I “fixed,” the worse it got until it was just a mess! So I carefully wiped her whole nose off by brushing on some Gamsol and quickly dabbing with the corner of a clean paper towel, took a deep breath, and started over. I just sat studying her nose in the photo for a full minute or two before painting, and then I went ONE stroke at a time, which is very hard, but I forced myself to evaluate each stroke before going to the next. It was almost like that Carol Marine exercise I did one time where you try to make a whole 6x6 painting using just fifteen brushstrokes, so you have to make each stroke really count. I just now counted the strokes in her nose and I think there are about twenty. This is one time when I mixed each stroke of color on the palette before brushing it on, with very little blending on the painting. Kind of like a mini-mosaic. After this I felt much better about the whole painting. Funny how one little thing can throw the entire thing out of whack!

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Don’t accept your dog’s admiration 
as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.



Here’s Matilda, smallest of our crew. But spunky enough to hold her own with the big dogs! This is a cropped detail of a larger painting I plan to finish tomorrow, so be sure to check back. Hasta maƱana!

Road Trippin’

The mountains are calling 
and I must go.

JOHN MUIR (1838-1914)


Road Trippin’  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
12 x 16 x ¾ inches • oil on ¾" cradled Ampersand Museum Series GessobordTM
private collection • Chicago, Illinois

Warmer weather gets me thinking about road trips, like this one a couple of summers ago to a family reunion in Colorado. This is just as we were crossing the border from New Mexico into Colorado. Love that glorious, crisp summer light!

The palette I used for this one is the same as in Monday’s post, and here my work-in-progress photos:

1. On my reference photo (which I work from on my computer screen) I put grid lines to help me block in my subject in just the right position on my board.

2. The rough-in, using French ultramarine thinned with Gamsol. Along the sides you can see where I made little marks with my brush to indicate where the imaginary grid lines should be, and little cross marks in the middle to indicate where the lines would cross each other. Notice how I made perspective lines along the top and bottom of the fence posts; this is an easy way to get the height of each post just right.

 3. Now I start filling the different masses with their underlying colors. In my photo I see that the sky and the road are the lightest areas, then the mountains, then the grass. The car and the trees are the darkest areas. I keep all this in mind while filling in my colors. (One thing to keep in mind is that in almost every landscape, your sky -- and any ground water reflecting the sky -- is going to be the lightest area in your painting.)

In this stage I want to keep all the colors transparent, so I’m thinning with Gamsol for a watercolor effect. The way I do this is just dip the brush in my little container of thinner, then just barely in my paint, and wash it onto my board. Sometimes for large areas I’ll brush a good bit on and then spread it around lightly with a paper towel or clean paint rag. To get a darker color, like the ultramarine I use on those dark trees, I use just a little more paint. It doesn’t take much!

The sky and the farthest mountain in my photo have warm pink undertones, so I choose brilliant pink for those, and mixing in a little white for the sky because it’s a little lighter than the mountain. The white will tend to make my pink opaque, but thinning keeps it a transparent lighter pink.

You can see in the reference photo that the road is really four main strips of color. The far left (oncoming) lane is lightest, and sort of pinkish, the tire-worn areas of the right lane are a little darker, and purplish, and the center of the lane and the shoulder of the road are a little lighter, but not as light as that far left lane. I could have used pink instead of green there, but I wanted to make those a slightly cooler temperature than that far left lane.

The mountains have three main areas getting lighter as the ridges recede into the distance. The middle one has slight green undertones, I used Caribbean blue and turquoise there, and permanent mauve for that closest, most purple mountain.

Since I’ve been practicing working with a true impressionistic palette, I have been leaving off the black, so for the fence posts and those power poles, I make a tiny mixture of diox mauve, Caribbean blue, and a little orange and red to make a rich dark brown. French ultramarine and diox mauve for the trees, and last but not least, yummy Cadmium red medium as the underpainting for the grassy areas, to make them really shimmery with summer light.

NOW, I stop to have my lunch and let this stage dry for about half an hour. It won’t be completely dry, but mostly.

 4. Now I paint in the sky, using thick paint but loose strokes to let a little of that pink show through. Most of the time the sky will be lighter at the bottom and get gradually deeper color as you go up. Notice this next time you’re outside where you can see the whole sky.

Next I paint in the mountains. For all these areas I put on some generous strokes of white and then brush in my colors, mixing right on the painting instead of on my palette.

 5. For darker areas, like the trees, I put on the pure pigment first (in this case, viridian green) and then add the highlights with a little permanent green and yellow, brushing it right into that luscious dark green on the painting.

After this I work on painting the road. This to me is the most interesting part of the whole painting. I spent a good hour painting this part. Notice how I just left a block of blue where the car will be.

6. Last, I paint in the car and the field on the right, adding some highlights along the horizon of the grass on both sides of the road.

Since I’ve used thick paint for the grass in the lower right, I can just use the handle of my paint brush to scratch my signature over there.

Oh, and I made the car red, just because. Artist’s prerogative.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Royal Nap and a painting workshop -- woo-hoo!


A Royal Nap  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
8 x 8 x ¾ inches • oil on ¾" deep cradled Ampersand Museum Series GessobordTM
private collection • Derby, Kansas

I spent a good part of the day working on a 24 x 36 painting of our Sophie and Buster napping on the sun porch, then took a break from that one to paint this one from a photo I have of Ray catching a snooze on a comfy royal blue blanket. Getting a lot of painting in these days, and loving it!

Excitement Abounds!

I will be teaching a 3-day oil painting workshop in Savannah, Georgia, next April. I’ll be teaching technique and color use, and doing painting demos where you watch and ask questions, and we will also do paint-alongs, where you and I paint at the same time. And we will have FUN, FUN, FUN! This is for beginners to intermediate, and anyone who would like to paint with us. It would be good if you have done at least a little bit of painting, but if you haven’t, don’t let that keep you from signing up! (And you have a year to experiment some before the workshop :)

The dates for the workshop are April 6-8, 2016 (that’s a Wednesday thru Friday). I’ll providing a list of supplies with an easy shopping list on the Blick website.

The workshop is being organized by Rebecca Kahrs, and you can contact her at for complete details and to sign up.

Be sure to check out Rebecca’s beautiful watercolor paintings here on her website.
You’ll be glad you did!

NOTE: I will also be teaching more workshops here in Shreveport, Louisiana, and will give those details as soon as everything is set up, so check back for more info on those!

Monday, April 6, 2015

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth”
-- Psalm 100:1

Excerpt from “Whole Earth” by Eden’s Bridge 
(Celtic Praise album):

Flashes of scarlet
And glimpses of purple
Echoes of birdsong
And the whisper of rain
So intense an outpouring
Is bemusing my senses
Creation responding
To the call of Your name.

And I hear it beginning
A feeling arising
A sense of Your presence
In all I survey

And the mountains and the hills
Shall break forth before You
With shouts of joy
And words of praise
And the sunlight that glistens
Upon the waters
Will lift my heart
Once again
And the whole earth
The whole earth will praise Your name

© 1998 Whole World Publishing


April Evening  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
11 x 14 x ¾ inches • oil on ¾" cradled Ampersand Museum Series GessobordTM
private collection • Canada

My inspiration for this was the early evening sunlight glistening on the water of the pond in the north pasture, which was spilling over from heavy spring rains. It reminds me of the Eden’s Bridge song “Whole Earth.” 

I loved painting this one alla prima (wet into wet, all in one go); laying on those luscious, buttery colors nice and thick. 

The impressionist palette for this one was heavily influenced by the workshop I went to in January, taught by Susan Sarback. Here are the colors I used (I’m putting the brand names, too, because some of the colors vary slightly from brand to brand):

Permanent Magenta (Winsor & Newton)
Permanent Mauve (W&N)
Dioxanine Mauve (Old Holland)
French Ultramarine Blue Light Extra (O.H.)
Cerulean Blue (Sennelier)
Turquoise Light (O.H.)
Caribbean Blue (O.H.)
Veridian Green Light (O.H.)
Cadmium Green Pale (Holbein)
Cadmium Yellow Pale (Holbein)
Cadmium Yellow Medium (O.H.)
Cadmium Yellow Extra Deep (O.H.)
Cadmium Red Light (Rembrandt)
Cadmium Red Medium (Rembrandt)
Permanent Madder Light (Rembrandt)
Cadmium Red Deep (O.H.)
Brilliant Pink (O.H.
Titanium White (O.H.)

And oh, yes, I was planning to share details today about a workshop I’ll be teaching next April in Savannah, but there are just a couple of details I’m still checking on, so that info will be in tomorrow’s post. 


Happy Painting!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Musta been the honey oatmeal!

Not sure what got into me today; maybe it was the rockin’ good breakfast, maybe it was the gorgeous springtime weather. Whatever it was, I did two, count ’em, TWO fun new fauve-a-licious landscapes today!

Pink Path © Karen Mathison Schmidt
14 x 11 x ¾ inches • oil on ¾" cradled Museum Series GessobordTM
gloss varnish (UV protective) • sides painted dark umber
can be beautifully displayed with or without a frame

or view the auction • ends evening of Thursday, April 9
10% of proceeds to be donated to Mercy Ships

Bodega Bay © Karen Mathison Schmidt
14 x 11 x ¾ inches • oil on ¾" cradled Museum Series GessobordTM
gloss varnish (UV protective) • sides painted dark umber
can be beautifully displayed with or without a frame

or view the auction • ends evening of Thursday, April 9
10% of proceeds to be donated to Mercy Ships

Back in January I participated in one of Susan Sarback’s color intensive workshops in Fair Oaks, California. I’ve studied and recommended her book, Capturing Radiant Light and Color in Oils & Pastels, for almost twenty years; it’s one of the books I reference again and again (along with my big book of California Impressionists that I’ve had for over ten years). 

At the workshop I met a bunch of friendly painterly type people, got to see Susan paint first hand, and learned how she builds up a painting by applying layers of color with a palette knife. I was somewhat out of my comfort zone, painting with a knife instead of a brush, but had a lot of fun learning to mix the colors actually on the painting instead of the palette and practicing; by the fourth and last day I was starting to get the hang of it. 

I also have been studying the paintings of Richard Schmid, another artist whose work I greatly admire, and reading his book, Alla Prima II: Everything I Know About Painting

So, in these paintings I started trying to incorporate what I’ve been learning about impressionist color relationships and technique, painting more thickly and quickly, wet into wet, all in one go. And might I just say: it’s a blast! I felt like I had a “Helen Keller at the water pump” afternoon -- you know, where she finally GOT that the words her teacher had been signing into the palm of her hand actually MEANT something. 

After I finished the first painting (which was oh-so-loosely based on a photo I took in Norton Art Gallery gardens here in Shreveport) I thought, what ELSE can I paint like this? A few days ago I had come across a photo of Bodega Bay that I took a decade ago and thought that would be a great subject to try. I just kept going and going, and then it was time to feed the dogs and have dinner with my husband. What a great work day!

And on Monday I’ll be announcing details of a workshop (maybe two!) I myself will be teaching in Savannah, Georgia next April. And one or two here in Shreveport this fall. Woo-hoo!

I hope you all have a beautiful Easter!

Garden artistry


Wild Bunch II: Poppies © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 12 x 1.5 inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled GessobordTM
private collection • Shreveport, Louisiana

One of the things I love about the Norton Art Gallery gardens is how beautifully they are designed. Like how this poppy garden is planted in front of these large lush plants with dark purple, almost black foliage. The perfect backdrop for these bright, beautiful blooms!

Friday, April 3, 2015

This morning at the easel ...

Working on this one today, attempting to finish 
while still keeping these luscious bohemian colors!

Looking up from my easel, I made a mental note ...

… make sure plenty of windows in new studio.

At least three.