Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rose Queen


Rose Queen II  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
12 x 12 x 1½ inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled GessobordTM
private collection • Shreveport, Louisiana

Here’s Bailey, a beautiful gray tabby striking a regal pose amongst the potted tea roses out on the brick patio. I had fun delving into a sort of art nouveau, craftsman, Golden Age illustration style of the early 20th century for this one!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Almost there ...

Oh, so close to finishing this work in progress!

  Rose Queen II WORK IN PROGRESS  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
12 x 12 x 1½ inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled Ampersand GessobordTM

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Today in my studio


12 x 12 x 1½ inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled GessobordTM

Here’s Bailey, lurking amongst the tea roses on the patio. My favorite part to paint so far? The bricks! No, wait … her eyes! No … hold on … the fluffiness of the fur on her chest. Well, I guess I’d have to say my favorite part to paint is whatever part I’m working on at the moment.

I’m taking lots of progress photos so I can show step by step on this later. And now, back to the easel!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sometimes you just have to stop and watch the lightning ...


Road Trippin’ II: Skirting the Storm  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
12 x 12 x 1½ inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled Museum Series GessobordTM
private collection • Athens, Texas

I love driving under storm skies through the desert. As long as the storms are not directly upon us, that is! My mom loves to tell of the time she and my brother were driving through the desert on their way back from a trip to California and the lightning display in the clouds along the horizon all around them was so spectacular they had to pull over and get out of the car just to watch the glorious show for a while before continuing on their way.

My favorite part of painting this one was the abstract feel of the clouds and the surface of the highway. 
Here are my work-in-progress photos:

1. Here’s my reference photo, with grid lines added so I can get my composition just right when I sketch the scene onto my Gessobord.

 2. Here’s my sketch, which I did with a soft graphite pencil. You can see where I started with the car just a little bit too high. After I got the mountains and the road in I realized my mistake. Notice that the horizon line is a good bit below center, to emphasize the vastness of that stormy sky.

 3. My underpainting, using my oils paints mixed with Turpenoid Natural to make transparent washes. At this point it looks sort of like watercolor.

My palette for this painting:
Dioxanine purple
French ultramarine
Cerulean blue
Caribbean blue
Viridian green light
Cadmium yellow pale
Cadmium yellow medium
Naples yellow
Cadmium yellow deep
Cadmium red medium
Rose madder light
Permanent magenta
Permanent rose
Persian (Indian) red
Yellow ochre
Titanium white

 4. Painting the clouds, using mostly diox purple, ultramarine and white, with cerulean blue and just a few touches of rose and cadmium yellow deep (which is really orange-y) mixed with white. I wanted a slightly abstract feel for the sky, so I had to remind myself the whole time not to over blend.

I also started working on making the distant mountains grow lighter as they move farther away, darker on the left, moving to lighter on the right, as they disappear from view behind that orange hill where the road curves out of sight.

Below is a close-up view of how I made the distant rain on the mountains. I took my clean, flat brush and while the paint was still wet I just made one light stroke from the top of the purple area on that lowest rain cloud, down through the cerulean strip, into the white, stopping just at the mountain top. Then cleaned my brush by swishing it in my Turpenoid and wiping it off with my rag (a paper towel in this case), before making another stroke the same way beside it.

I repeated this for just one or two more strokes. Just a SUGGESTION of distant rain … didn’t want to overdo it! This is a detail that the viewer wouldn’t notice right off, but maybe after a few seconds of looking at the painting: Oh, look! it’s raining over in the mountains!

 5. Developing the desert colors and working on the road. The shiny part, where the asphalt has melted in the desert heat and then hardened, was fun, like some sort of abstract calligraphy. I tried not to control it too much, just enough to make it look fainter and skinnier in the distance and larger as it moves down to the foreground.

I saved the car until last.

6. I got to this point, declared it finished, and signed it, but something about the colors was just a little off balance for me. I couldn’t put my finger on just why that was until after I had studied the painting on and off for a whole day. Then I realized what it was that was bugging me: the reds in the desert and in the rocky area on the right were just a little too warm for the stormy color scheme. So I layered on just the teeniest touch of magenta on those reds to cool them down a tad -- you can see it in the red area to the left of the car in the close-up picture above, which is from the final version, below.

A subtle, barely noticeable change, I know, but it did the trick for me, and now the painting seems more cohesive, color-wise. 

Oh, and I also warmed up the yellow dividing lines in the road by layering on a little more cadmium yellow medium. And I extended that dark area between the two stripes go a little farther up before the two yellow lines seem to merge in the distance. 

And NOW I’m done!

Moustachio, international cat of mystery


Moustachio’s World  ©2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 16 x 1.5 inches • oil on 1.5" deep cradled Museum Series GessobordTM

private collection • Perth, Western Australia

Yep, that’s right. This one will be flying off to Australia today. He is SO international.

And just why do I call him “cat of mystery”?

Because he bears such a striking resemblance to Hercule Poirot, of course.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Highway painting in progress


Skirting the Storm • 12 x 12 inches • oil on cradled GessobordTM

Not quite finished with this one, but close! 

I love driving through the desert with stormy skies, and rain off in the distance. Working on painting those clouds, sort of somewhere between representational and abstract, is a good exercise in keeping my brushstrokes loose, and not over-blending. Check back tomorrow for the final version!

Happy painting!

Monday, May 18, 2015



’Stache Man  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 inches • oil on Museum Series GessobordTM
private collection • Poway, California

Here’s Moustachio, a.k.a. The ’Stache Man, King of the Front Porch. This painting is going to join the Pontoufle painting in Poway, California, but I do have signed Limited Edition prints and ACEO’s (Collectible Art Cards) available!

Edition limited to 25, signed & numbered • archival inks on smooth heavy fine art paper
8 x 8 inches:  $37.50   •   12 x 12 inches: $55  •  FREE SHIPPING IN US

Choose Size


Edition limited to 25, signed & numbered • archival inks on smooth heavy fine art paper

3.5 x 2.5 inches: $7.75 ea. (FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Kitty painting finished!


Pontoufle  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 inches • oil on Museum Series GessobordTM
private collection • Poway, California

Here he is, all finished!

This painting will be winging its way to Poway, California as soon as it’s dry. Meanwhile, I’ve added a new ACEO Limited Edition collectible art card version of it to my eBay store:

2 ½ x 3 ½ inches • printed on Ultrasmooth fine art paper
signed and numbered on the back in pencil

$7.75 (free shipping in US)

to purchase from my eBay store

Thursday, May 14, 2015


 Pontoufle WORK IN PROGRESS • oil on 6 x 6 GessobordTM

Here’s my latest work in progress: the first painting of Pontoufle (pronounced pahn-toof; French for bedroom slipper, and named after the imaginary Kangaroo -- or WAS he imaginary? -- in the movie Chocolat). All grown up at almost 11 months, relaxing in his favorite chair by the window. 

I think this painting may be spoken for, but Pontoufle is proving to be so much fun to paint (as I knew he would) that I’m sure there will be many future paintings featuring his furry self.


The following link will take you to some ALARMINGLY ADORABLE 
pics of our furry hero when he first came to live with us.

Oh, and before I forget, here’s the finished version of the paperwhites painting, which was snapped up by one of my collectors here in Shreveport before I had a chance to even post this picture. 

I love it when that happens!


Wild Bunch III: Paperwhites  © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 12 • oil on deep cradled Museum Series GessobordTM
private collection • Shreveport, Louisiana

Monday, May 11, 2015

Floral painting progress ...

 Paperwhites work in progress • oil on 16 x 12 cradled GessobordTM

Almost finished! 

After this one is done I have a Pontoufle painting or two waiting in the wings ...

 All together now ...

… aaaaaawwww!

Happy Painting!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother’s Day!

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always
followed me. They have clung to me all my life.


I hope all you moms out there have a wonderful and relaxing Mother’s Day!

Here’s where I stopped on this painting today. Deciding on a favorite kind of flower would be near impossible, I think. But I have to say, paperwhites are definitely in my top ten!

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

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Different Point of View

I’m always trying to turn things upside-down 
and see if they look any better.


The world is wrong side up. 
It needs to be turned upside down 
in order to be right side up.


A Different Point of View ©2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
8 x 8 x ¾ inches • oil on ¾" cradled GessobordTM
gloss varnish (UV protective) • sides painted dark umber
can be easily displayed or hung with or without a frame

or view the auction • ends evening of Wednesday, May 13
10% of proceeds benefit Mercy Ships

Here’s our Ray, in a typical pose. He was a big, fluffy gray and white “cap-and-saddle” cat who thought he was a ragdoll. We could always depend on him to have a different take on the world.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Storm Break


Storm Break © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
9 x 12 x ¾ inches • oil on ¾" cradled GessobordTM
private collection • Salem, Oregon

This is from a photo of the pecan trees in the south pasture. It had been thunderstorm-y all day, and just before sunset the clouds broke and that glorious late afternoon light came streaming through the trees!
Even though I started with an impressionist palette on this, it has a kind of tonalist feel to it. I made my darks really deep and rich so the bright light through the branches would have a strong impact.

I have two more paintings-in-progress waiting in the wings: the paperwhites, which I hope to finish tomorrow; and this one, inspired in part by a photo I took in New York’s Central Park last October:

Old Friends WORK-IN-PROGRESS • 12 x 24 inches • oil on cradled GessobordTM

Saturday, May 2, 2015



Gigi © 2015 Karen Mathison Schmidt
8 x 8 x ¾ inches • oil on ¾" cradled GessobordTM
private collection • Seminole, Florida

Here’s Gigi, a big Siamese cat, princess of the household at my husband’s parents’ in Fairfield, California. “Gigi” comes from “G.G.” which stands for “Good Girl,” although according to my Mom-in-law she sometimes thinks they should have named her “Bee-Gee” instead!

Here are my work-in-progress photos:

The underpainting in acrylic glazes of cadmium yellow light, phthalo blue, quinacrodone fuchsia and pink madder.

 After the underpainting is good and dry (about 20 minutes) I start with the oil paints. Oops! I made her nose a bit too long …

 … so I shortened it a bit here. I’m not using black on my palette, so these dark areas of Gigi’s face are dioxanine purple, permanent mauve, permanent magenta, French ultramarine, cerulean blue, Caribbean blue, and sometimes a bit of permanent madder light.

 Between the last photo and this one, I made a tiny adjustment to her right eye (the one on the left in the painting) so she’s looking right at us.

Impressionism is so interesting to me. I find it fascinating how just a few little dabs of paint make our brains go, “oh, she has a jingle bell hanging on her collar.”

Happy Painting!