Thursday, October 13, 2016

Red River Revel recap ...

Burning Bright  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 16 inches • oil on 1 ½ deep cradled GessobordTM
gloss varnish (UV protective) • sides painted dark umber


 the original painting from my eBay store

here in my eBay store

The Red River Revel arts & music festival last week was full of good fun, food, music and art of all kinds, with beautiful weather all the way through the eight-day event (nine if you include the Preview Party on Friday night before the first official day).

This is my third year to be juried into the Revel, and ever since that first year my sister Kathy has come out every time to help. I look forward to the “sister time” as much as the Revel itself!

Kathy designed and built our display. (Note the “Joanna Gaines” dusty blue shiplap touch in our corner storage area.) My brother Alan did the lighting.

Meet Madyson, one of my collectors. Last year she got a big horse picture, and here she is with this year’s acquisition, “Birdwatching,” which she has renamed “Darla” because of the resemblance to their family’s barn cat. We had a very nice conversation about pets and art (she’s an artist, too) while I signed her art card. We also discussed horses, and she told me that for her recent fourth birthday she had a horse party. (I’m not sure whether it was a party with her friends that was horse-themed, or a party where horses were actually invited. Either one sounds fun.)

As she walked away with her family, she called back over her shoulder, “See you next year!”

I’m honored to be included in her collection.

One of my favorite things about the Revel: meeting new artist friends.  Ana Maria Andricain, who designs and makes beautiful jewelry, was one of our “tent-mates” this year. We really enjoyed getting to know her and her Dad, who was there helping her all week.

Fellow artist Chase Mullen was one of our Revel neighbors for the last two years. A wonderful Louisiana wildlife artist, here he is tending his booth, talking with his wife on the phone, and working on a painting one of his collectors had commissioned at the beginning of the week. Who says men can’t multi-task?

I love the look of the Revel at night!

Farewell, Revel! Hope to be there next year!

Monday, September 19, 2016

A teaser ...

... for what’s on my easel right now.

And yes, I’m painting this as a shameless and not-at-all-subtle marketing ploy targeting any LSU or Grambling (or Auburn perhaps?) alum and/or fans who may be prowling around the Red River Revel arts festival in a couple of weeks ...

And I’m having fun doing it, too!

Simple gifts

Early morning sun on my studio door.

A visual poem.


Friday, September 16, 2016

The mind of the illustrator: Scattered Showers

Scattered Showers  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 16 inches (approx. 40x40 cm) • oil on 2" deep cradled (archival) GessobordTM
gloss varnish (UV protective)
sides painted dark umber • can be easily displayed with or without a frame


Very often it happens that when I’m planning a composition (especially landscapes), my reference photo serves as a springboard rather than strictly a map. The paintings that result usually end up being the ones I like best when they’re finished. They’re definitely my favorites to paint! 

My reference photo for this painting was a composite of about three photos I took one day on the way to town. (And before you start yelling at me for taking photos while driving, it just so happens that – this time! – Paul was behind the wheel whilst I wielded my trusty Canon EOS 7D Mark II.)

The main part that made me want to paint this was the billowy clouds. And I wanted a composition that would emphasize the sweep of the clouds up from the horizon. I exaggerated the curve of the road, the angle of the horizon and the height of the crest of the hill in the foreground to get the effect I wanted. 

It wasn’t my intention at the start to make the road into a dirt road, but by the time the underpainting was finished – and going totally against my own advice when I caution my students against falling so much in love with the underpainting that you don’t push the painting to an even more glorious destination – I had REALLY fallen hopelessly head over heels with all those great reds and oranges, so red Louisiana dirt the roads became. 

Hey, I think I just came up with a new maxim. Here, I’ll make it big and colorful and put it in italics so it has more authority:

Part of being an artist who also teaches art 
is knowing when to go against 
your own advice. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Morning fun

Sun Drop  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
3½ x 2½ inches (ACEO) • oil on ⅛" (archival) Ampersand EncausticbordTM
gloss varnish (UV protective)
NOTE: Fresh off the easel! Will be dry enough to ship September 24


Only September, but I’m already looking forward to when these little drops of sunshine appear in our yard in February.

A lot of fun this morning painting the shadows with fauve-a-fistic colors. And now that my color-loving juices are flowing, it’s back to the easel to work on something a bit larger ...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tabby cat painting, plus step by step photos


On the Veranda  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 inches • oil on ⅛" Ampersand Museum Series (archival) GessobordTM

private collection • Shreveport, Louisiana

Our Bailey, sometimes grumpy, but always as beautiful as a southern belle. Really she’s hanging out on the back porch, but I imagine she would refer to it as “lounging on the veranda.”

Always a joy to paint her, with all her interesting markings. Here are the progress photos:

First I transferred my drawing to my panel with graphite transfer paper. A hint to keep the drawing from smudging and graying my paint: I paint over the entire drawing with a mixture of titanium white acrylic and acrylic glazing medium. The medium makes the white transparent so I can still see my drawing, and after it dries, that pesky graphite is sealed in place under a layer of paint. 

Next I blocked the painting in, using only ultramarine. One of my very favorite compositional elements is a lost edge. Bailey’s markings and whiskers gave me plenty to play with!

After the first layer is dry, I add a glaze of the ultramarine on Bailey and a glaze of cobalt turquoise over the flowerpot in the background. (Currently I’m using Liquitex acrylic Gloss Medium & Varnish mixed with the paint to make my glazes.) With a damp paper towel, I gently "lift" some of the color from what will be the lightest areas of the painting.

Next, I added an Indian yellow glaze in those lightest areas. I wanted the glaze to be nice and yellow, so I mixed only a tiny amount of the medium to the paint.

Now things are starting to get FUN! I added a very transparent glaze of pyrrole red over the turquoise of the background flowerpot, giving me a nice warm stone color; another layer of ultramarine glaze and then quinacridone fuchsia glaze to the dark areas of Bailey; and the pyrrole red glaze to those light areas, making them a beautiful sunset orange.

Usually at this point I stop and eat lunch, or work on another painting, or fold some clean laundry or take a little walk for thirty minutes or so, to make sure the acrylic underpainting is good and dry before I start with the oils!

I knew I wanted to leave some of the underpainting showing in the darkest areas of the finished painting, so I at this stage I painted the light areas of her face in first, to give me an idea of where I could leave that vivid underpainting uncovered and still achieve the overall look I wanted.

Notice how the lights are not all the same, some are warm (cadmium orange or red mixed with white) and some are cool (blues or greens mixed with the white

At this point I’m really getting a sense of what the finished look will be. I start adding some of the background colors to help me make color decisions for Bailey’s coat. For example, after I added the green leaves near the top of the painting, I decided to echo that in oh-so-selective places in her fur, near the bottom of the picture. Also, to make her a little less grumpy, I added the light-colored downward stroke at the outside top of each eye, which look kind of like an eyelashes or a little eye whisker. You can also see by comparing the finished photo below with this one that I changed the shape of the top edge of her right eye (her right, not ours) ever so subtly – I took out the little dip right above the pupil. This has the effect of very slightly softening her expression.

Note: I hardly ever use black on my palette these days; those dark areas in the background are a mixture of Caribbean blue, quinacridone rose and veridian green.

Comparing this photo with the one above, you can see that I made her eyes a bit lighter and glassier (remember that eyes are very reflective, and so will have a lot of different colors which reflect the surroundings). 

I also noticed that her mouth wasn’t quite right. (Actually, it was my sister the former veterinary tech and animal artist herself who brought this to my attention. I sent her this progress pic and she texted back that it looked like Bailey was pursing her lips.) After studying my reference photo for a few seconds I saw that the little line under the tip of Bailey’s nose was a smidge too long. Easy correction!

When the painting is finished, I use a plastic mechanical pencil with the lead screwed all the way down inside the tip, as a stylus to scratch my signature in the paint.

And heeeeeere’s Bailey! 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

New Original ACEO


Rhapsody in Red  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
3½ x 2½ inches • oil on archival Ampersand EncausticbordTM
private collection • Shreveport, Louisiana

I love doing these little ACEO’s (Art Card Editions & Originals) in between larger paintings I’m doing in preparation for the Red River Revel arts festival in just three weeks. Painting in this small size is a reminder that simplification of my subject along with the bold colors I love can make a big impact, even on this small scale!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fall Cleaning

This morning I’m doing some deep housekeeping and organizing in my studio. The “deep” in front of the “housekeeping” means it involves pulling EVERYTHING out of drawers, boxes and shelves, taking inventory, throwing out or giving away about a third, gathering into one place everything I’ll need for the Red River Revel in October, and then putting everything back in a neat and organized manner.

I try to do this about twice a year. The two main benefits are: 

(1) sometimes I find things I didn’t know I had, but I can really use, like the half-full bottle of Turpenoid Natural I just found in back of some bubble wrap on a top shelf (don’t ask me how it got there, but now I can cross “Turpenoid” off my shopping list!), or the twenty-three dollars stashed in last year’s Revel pouch (now I can get that tube of Vasari Indian Yellow I’ve had my eye on, which just happens to be on sale right now – yay!)

(2) when I’m done I once again have a neat and inspiring space in which to paint!

Meanwhile, Moustachio – lounging atop a stack of magazines in his favorite chair, which has been temporarily scooted out to the front porch with a bunch of other stuff – is definitely NOT into the whole thing.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Gone Fishing

 I love fishing. 
You put that line in the water and 
you don’t know what’s on the other end. 
Your imagination is under there.


Togetherness in Solitude  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 20 inches • acrylic on cradled GessobordTM

Today I’m taking some time away from painting to do some badly needed updating to my website. Meanwhile, here’s a painting of two brothers fishing that I did last spring as a commission for a Mother’s Day gift.

Hope you have a joyful and relaxing Labor Day!

Friday, September 2, 2016

NEW Original ACEO painting!


Good Morning, Sunshine  © Karen Mathison Schmidt
ACEO size: 3½ x 2½ inches • oil on Ampersand (archival) EncausticbordTM
private collection • Athens, Texas

I’m not quite sure when Ampersand started making these in this size; they may have been around for a while but I just found that these sustainably-produced, archival hardboard panels (with the smooth white gessoed finish that I love to paint on) are now available in ACEO (Art Cards Editions & Originals) size, so now I can start making ORIGINAL paintings available for all my ACEO collectors! Not to mention that collecting ACEO originals is an affordable way to own original art by lots of different artists.  

I thought I finished this one of Pontoufle earlier in the week, but I let it sit on a shelf in my studio for a couple of days and then this morning I saw just a few finishing touches that I wanted to make. Nothing major, but adding just the tiniest touches of bright orange, yellow and pink highlights made him a little more “glow-y,” heightening the feeling of early morning sun on his fur.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dogs in cars

Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise 
for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.


Ready to Rock  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 inches • oil on ⅛" GessobordTM
SOLD • private collection • Bossier City, Louisiana

Here’s Sam, all ready to go! He’s not exactly sure where they’re going – maybe to the park, maybe swimming, or to get ice cream, or maybe PetSmart – but wherever it is, he’s READY!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Golden lab painting in progress

WORK-IN-PROGRESS • 6 x 6 inches • oil on Gessobord

Here’s Sam! He’s happy because he’s going to get ice cream. 
Check back tomorrow for the finished painting. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A new Louisiana landscape


Anticipating Autumn  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
10 x 10 inches • oil on ⅛" Ampersand Museum Series (archival) GessobordTM
private collection  •  Keene, New Hampshire

On a hot day like today I’m really anticipating autumn with its cooler weather, 
not to mention the Red River Revel on the riverfront in Shreveport the first week in October. If you are in the area, come by my booth and introduce yourself!

A sunny day!

I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.


Here Comes the Sun  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 12 inches • oil on ⅛" Ampersand Museum Series (archival) GessobordTM
gloss varnish (UV protective)
sold unframed


in my eBay store

What a joy to paint these sunny flowers after a slew or overcast, rainy days. And if you look closely, a fun surprise: the words “HERE COMES THE SUN” painted every-so-subtly in the sky!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Opportunities abound

An article by Lex Talamo in The Shreveport Times tells how our church extended a helping hand for some displaced youth during last week’s flooding down south. At the end of this post I put a link to the actual article (pop-up ads made it a little difficult to get to, so I copied some excerpts here to make it easier to read).

Juvenile flood victims stunned by Caddo Parish hospitality


Saturday morning, Caddo Juvenile Service Administrator Ted Cox got a telephone call from AMIKids Acadiana, a group home for teen boys. Thirty-five juvenile offenders in the custody of the Office of Juvenile Justice needed immediate placement; could Caddo Parish Juvenile Services help?

Cox called staff at Broadmoor Baptist Church at 4110 Youree Drive, who agreed to provide their gymnasium as an emergency shelter.

Isaac Williams, executive director of AMIKids Acadiana, said the sudden severity of the flooding caught the organization “off balance.”

An unexpected welcome

“On Saturday, we were watching the rain but we didn’t feel threatened. Sunday, the water came in so fast,” Williams said. “We just wanted a safe place to stay. We never expected to be received as well as we were.”

The youth arrived the next evening to a welcome their director said he never could have expected. Williams said the response from the Shreveport community was “unbelievable.”

“They had taken the time to make up the 50 cots [cots, bedding, and “hospitality bags” were provided by the local Red Cross chapter] and give it a home touch. It’s amazing what Broadmoor Baptist Church did for us,” Williams said.

“That entire afternoon, people were buying supplies,” Cox said. “One lady even went around and put chocolates on every pillow to make them feel welcome. They really opened their arms.”

Broadmoor Baptist Church members and staff partnered with Broadmoor Methodist Church to help keep the youth engaged once they arrived. Staff chaperones watched while the youth played basketball in the morning at Broadmoor Methodist and then transferred to Broadmoor Baptist’s second floor youth department to play pingpong and video games or watch movies.

One Broadmoor Baptist church member bought enough pizza to feed all 35 teens. Another paid for the boys to attend a movie in the community, while seven more chaperoned the outing.

Rev. Tom Harrison of Broadmoor Baptist Church said the congregation saw the youths’ situation as an opportunity to extend God’s love to those in need.

“The Word of God tells us to take care of our neighbors,” Harrison said. “Our pastor has asked everyone to be a missionary, and this gave them an opportunity to be missionaries in their own city. People were crazy enthusiastic to help.”

A lasting impact

The youth returned to their group home on Wednesday, after the waters had receded. Cox said almost every young man thanked him and shook his hand before leaving. Flood waters had reached the home’s threshold without creating any lasting damage, Williams said. The experience, however, made an impact on several of the youth.

“A lot of people wouldn’t have wanted to help out juveniles who had gotten in trouble. These people at Broadmoor treated us as somebody.”

The church members did more than provide necessary care and shelter in a time of crisis, Williams added. They also sent the message to these youth that someone in the wider world cares about them.

“We asked for help, and these people showed us tremendous love,” Williams said. “I hope everyone at Broadmoor Baptist knows they made a difference in our youths’ lives for that short amount of time that will have a lasting impact.”

Friday, August 19, 2016

"Morning Glory" study


Morning Glory  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
9 x 12 inches • oil on ⅛" Museum Series (archival) GessobordTM
private collection • Lindale, Texas

Love the early morning light in summer! I did this this morning as a color study for a larger version I’m planning to do for a landscape show at ArtSpace in Shreveport this December and January. 

I’m VERY excited about being half of this two-artist show in conjunction with the beginning of John Kemp’s book signing tour for his new book, Expressionist of Place: The Contemporary Louisiana Landscape. And I’m super excited and honored to be one of the artists whose work is included in the book!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"Rainy Day" orange tabby cat painting COMPLETE!

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person 
by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, 
lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.


Rainy Day  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • oil on ⅛" Museum Series (archival) GessobordTM
gloss varnish (UV protective)


Here are the step by step photos:

Here I’ve started layering the oils on top of the dry acrylic underpainting. My palette for the underpainting was: burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, quinacridone magenta, and brilliant blue, using Liquitex matte medium mixed in for transparency of the layers. 

You can see that in the underpainting I had blocked in the bold floral design on the rug, but later on I decided the composition would be better with the rug simplified, with just a suggestion of a botanical design in the bottom left of the painting.

I started with Mustachio’s eyes ...

... and then his face and ears, then moving out to the lightest areas of his legs and body. My oil palette was: titanium white; ultramarine rose; French ultramarine blue; phthalo blue; cinnabar green deep, medium and light; cadmium yellow light; cadmium orange; Sheveningen red medium (similar to cadmium red light); quinacridone rose; and quinacridone magenta.

At this point I added the darkest areas, the shadow behind him and alongside his legs, using ultramarine blue, dark green with a touch of red. I started with it nice and dark, knowing that later I would lighten the shadow areas and add some variations with just a touch of white and some reds.

In this photo you can see also that I developed some lost edges along the outline of his cheeks and chin, where the white fur on his face blends right into the white on his shoulders and chest. Just a little lavender and blue suggestion of a shadow helps define his face shape without actually outlining it.

You can see also in this photo that in the darker, orange tabby parts of his coat, I left quite a bit of that vivid transparent blue and purple underpainting showing, which lends a liveliness and energy to his oranges and pinks.

It was at this point that I knew that the design on the rug was going to compete too much with Moustachio and make the composition too busy, so I scraped it off with my palette knife and made almost the whole rug turquoise-y green, with very loose brushstrokes, and just a touch of that botanical design.

Also note here that just a suggestion of the wood grain on the floor is enough. With impressionism, never underestimate the ability of the viewer's brain to fill in the details!

You can see here how I lightened the shadows and added some reds. Not really any blending going on, just laying the colors on top in short strokes, very loosely. A rule of thumb for these top layers is a fully loaded brush and a very light touch.

I added just the suggestion of his whiskers and eye whiskers, with the edge of my knife. I thought I was finished, but then I decided to put a bit more sunny yellowish white on the outside of his left paw.

NOW he’s done!

Friday, August 12, 2016

"Rose Queen III"

Rose Queen III: A Morning to Remember  ©2016 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 inches • oil on archival Museum Series Gessobord
gloss varnish (UV protective)


Step by step: putting it together! I wasn't going to post these until I had the commentary finished, but I decided to go ahead so you can see the progression. 

Hasta maƱana, amigos!