Art Studio · Cat Life · foster kittens

My favorite color palette. . .

Unlike some artists who have just the perfect wooden palette, I typically use repurposed items. Pretty sure the friend who festively delivered Christmas cookies on this gingerbread plate last December would not recognize said plate today. But seriously, I challenge you to think of a better use for my gingerbread plate than mixing paints! Well, Simon my first “foster fail” would like to suggest that a napping hammock is even better. Honestly, though, look at that cute face: how could that be a fail?

A short (or long. . . who keeps up) time ago, rather than trying to manage the spay and neutering of all of the stray cats near my home in Leesburg, I joined forces with some wonderful local programs that support catch and release or foster for adoption. Catch and release was easy, so I felt assured when I proudly worked with two litters of kittens and their moms. Getting those little kittens to trust a human hand, teaching them to play, and nursing any nutritional or physical issues went even better than I expected. “I can do this,” I thought. Artist by day and kitten playmate by night, no time to be bored. All went well UNTIL Simon waltzed into my life. He came to me all alone and afraid, but soon joined forces with a sister and a brother from an earlier litter, both of whom were well acquainted with human contact and thus less skittish. A couple weeks went by, and Pee Wee and Dora checked out as ready to adopt. But my Simon–notice how I just said “my”–exactly the problem. I love all the kittens who find me, but I knew that as an official foster mom, not to mention keeping peace at home with the other adult cats, I need to surrender the fosters. But Simon, my little skittish guy, even though he has grown and is a healthy boy, well, he is now the newest member of the studio. And as a beginner, he had to start at the beginning. . .mixing paints, of course. Well actually, that is not the beginning step, but it sure is fun!

I laugh when I posted to my Instagram that Simon was “FosterFail” because just as in art, is there really a fail? Is it really so bad when my finished painting looks nothing like what I intended, yet the next time it might look exactly what I had envisioned? Creativity for me is organic. . .it accepts the unexpected, it considers expectations a nuisance, and it is always filled with love. Certainly I enjoy collaboration for commissions; the learning takes place in the dialogue. Hearing the stories of my customers brings a level of depth and richness to the artwork that is unachievable otherwise. I know that my customers appreciate my style and could care less what my palette looks like. How do I know this? Well, simply put, the palette isn’t what they have commissioned or purchased. They know and trust my creative style, my zest for life, and my desire to allow the art to emerge and take on a life of its own. Whimsy, love, plants, animals=Drawing On My Heart: the perfect equation for authentic design, masterfully mixed paints, and a whole lot of fun — Nicki (and Simon)

Art Studio · Positivity

Eyeing Perspective. . .

Last month as I reached for my glasses that had, of course, been placed who knows where, I found myself becoming agitated that I needed glasses. Yes, the time has arrived that I need glasses for close up, not just far away. Sure I could solve this perceived issue with progressive lenses, but instead I chose to battle and be grumpy until I “saw” a lesson. The lesson. . .well, let’s just say that for artists, perspective is everything. From the tiniest of details to the largest of imaginations, how I see the canvas, my paint palette, and my subject blend together to create the final piece. I was so busy fussing about looking for the right pair of glasses to see the details, I was missing the larger picture. . .but perhaps even more troubling is that I was pushing my imagination and creativity to the side. I was relying on exact details of my reference and suggesting my imagination take a backseat. In my daily living, I strive to release myself from expectations. So I’m letting go of the expectation that my art piece is going to be a replication of the reference; for that type of creation there is a copy machine or laser printer. Rather, my art piece will reflect the experience, the joy, and the whimsy of the reference and me! So yes, I no longer need to panic if I am not wearing the “right” pair of glasses for the task before me. . .my perspective is perfect. —Nicki

Art Studio · Portraits · Positivity

Negative Space as Positive?

Like everyone else, my routine has shifted–no Friday night markets, no art festivals. With this shift, has come more studio time. Rather than rushing to ready everything for the markets, and trying to creatively pack my MiniCountryman, I have been graced with the time to fulfill commissions. One such commission was a portrait of a customer’s granddaughter. Human subjects make me a bit nervous, especially when I need to capture the likeness and essence of the person. Doing “Fridas” for my own basic amusement is a lot different than a portrait of someone’s beloved granddaughter so I was enormously relieved when after several days of careful work I discovered this strong and beautiful young woman looking back at me from the canvas on my art table.

But, the space behind her–that negative space–oh my! I can hear art teachers from my distant past pointing out my lack of attention paid to the negative space. It’s a thing, I can assure you! So, as usual for me, I wrestled with how to fill that space in a fun light-hearted way and it made me think about the lack of negative space my day planner use to have… because after all, hasn’t life taught us to fill every moment, every space on our calendar, with a scheduled activity? Don’t we wear our completely booked calendars as badges of honor? How then could I leave the space behind this beautiful young woman blank? And then it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks: life with COVID has taught us that indeed we can survive without old routines, old expectations that every moment of every day be completely booked. Life circumstances has forced negative space on my calendar pages. Ironically, however, this void or blankness has not been void at all but rather has become filled with creativity in the studio. So, what did I end up painting in the negative space of the granddaughter? Beautiful, whimsical patterns. . .patterns that suggest wind, motion, and fun because what else would a creative young soccer player wish for? The negative is positive.


Art Studio · Love is the heart of everything

Choosing Love over Fear

Looking outside of the studio window, I see sunshine, new green leaves on the oaks, and butterflies dancing among the milkweed. Looking inside my studio, I see original paintings drying on the easel, prints all packaged and ready to share, pillows all fluffed to add to my art show tent, all tucked within the atmosphere of anticipation, creativity, and love. But the universe has other plans. . .the Leesburg Art Show is officially postponed until October 24 and 25 due to the virus. City officials of Leesburg in coordination with the Director of the Leesburg Center of the Arts decided to postpone the event in an abundance of caution. Upon the surface, it is quite easy to read this “caution” as fear. However, upon a closer look, this same caution can be viewed as love. Love? Yes, love: love for our community. Perhaps we have forgotten to shop local or learn to know our neighbors or local farmers. Time is always in short supply, it seems, and we may find it easier to one-stop shop at big box stores where the crowds and deals seem huge. So perhaps this virus gives us the chance to return to the community, to local. . .and ultimately to ourselves. Love for self: sure, why not. . .have we forgotten how much fun it can be to reconnect at home either with family, friends, animals, or garden? I am choosing to spend the gift of time in the studio painting and creating…remembering that love is indeed the heart of everything. So even during a time of, or perhaps especially at a time of, great fear that itself seems to be the pandemic, we need to change our perspective to love. Love our local medical personnel, respect the resources our cities and local governments provide for us, but most of all love ourselves enough to reconnect to self–loving the time that we can unplug from the chaotic cyber world and reconnect locally with our family, friends, and neighbors. Off to paint. . .I’ll share more next week, and until then, since we won’t be able to meet at the Leesburg Art Festival this weekend or the WomanMade Art Exhibit Opening at Mount Dora Center for the Arts tonight, please find and enjoy peace and love at my ETSY shop where I have recently posted much of the art that we could have smiled over, giggled about, and loved on this weekend. Nicki