Thursday, November 10, 2016

DPW Spotlight Interview: Nicki Ault

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Nicki's painting, "Road Closed go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Nicki's DPW Gallery:

Like many, I have loved art my whole life, but for various reasons I have only recently begun to pursue this passion. In August 2009, as an exploration of this artistic side, I began my blog "Nicki Ault: Me, Myself And Who Am I?". In Dec. 2009 I was fortunate enough to join the St.George Ave. Artists' Group in Saskatoon and happily set up my first studio space. In 2013 the building was sold and we had to move. Three months later a new studio location was established with eleven Saskatoon artists; I have been painting at Studio On 20th since early 2014. It has truly become a home away from home. I love working in the studio, but I am a huge fan of painting en plein air, in particular, I love painting in the northern Boreal forest of Saskatchewan. My 8" x 8" original oil paintings are carried exclusively by Darrell Bell Gallery in Saskatoon. My work can be found in private collections in Canada, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.A. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

When I turned thirty, I realized I didn’t want to let any more time pass without pursuing my love of art, so I actually started out by taking figure drawing classes. Two years later, I decided it was time to start painting so I chose to immerse myself in a week long class at a campus in northern Saskatchewan (Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus) using acrylics for the first time. I really didn’t know what I was doing; I didn’t even know what gesso was or why it was on my supply list. I learned a lot from the group critique sessions, discovered plein air painting and loved the instructor, but unfortunately I didn’t gain much technical help. Rather than feeling defeated, I came home with a burning desire to learn more and I immediately signed up for a technical painting class.

Road Closed
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Nicki's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

Yes. After two years of taking several classes to learn more about painting with acrylics, I discovered I was having my first baby. Once he arrived in 2002, painting was put on the back-burner and after his brother arrived in 2004 it was put on the back burner’s back burner! Being a new mother pretty much consumed me and I was very sleep deprived, so making art just seemed too impossible energy-wise. I ended up being away from art for five years until my husband encouraged me to return to the northern Saskatchewan art campus in 2007. That experience was transformative for me; I realized I had been ignoring a vital side of myself and one way or another art had to become a priority. Since then, there have been minor breaks in my painting journey, but I think they have just been the ebb and flow of a creative life.

The Ceremony of Fall
(click to view)

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Mediums: graphite, charcoal, oil pastels, acrylic and oil paint
Genres: figure/portraits, landscapes, floral still lifes, abstract reflections

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

My main love is landscape painting- it has definitely stuck- and I seem to reach for my oils way more than acrylics now.

Golden Reflection, Lynx Lake
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I feel like my entire foray into floral still lifes was exploratory- the subject (flowers), the medium (I layered oil paint and oil pastels over acrylic washes!) and the support (terraskin paper). I feel like I have some unfinished business and would like continue to experiment with these ideas.

Who or what inspires you most?

My kids certainly inspire me to keep trying to make this art thing happen. I could make a very long list of who inspires me and it would include musicians and authors, but for the sake of a focused answer, I will say that I have been most significantly inspired by early 20th century Canadian painters Tom Thomson (my favourite) and the Group of Seven (especially A.Y. Jackson and Fred Varley). However, I am perhaps most inspired by the artists in my community- the “real” people I know who are actively engaged in making art and bravely sharing their work with the outside world. It is not an easy thing to do. My beloved Saskatchewan landscape provides endless inspiration for new paintings; the northern boreal forest, fresh lakes, big skies, open prairies and wild grasslands. Most recently my studio mate’s new acreage has inspired a whole new series that has me very excited about painting!

On the Edge of Canola
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Scanning social media, chatting with my studio mate, eating Lindt Sea Salt dark chocolate bars.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

Actually scheduling in painting time on the family calendar. Occasionally, sending lunch to school with my kids (rather than feeding them at home) so that I can spend longer stretches of time at the studio.

The Descent
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Ideas come to me by getting out into the landscape- drives in the country, hikes in the forest or on prairie trails, and even boat rides in the summer! I take tons of photos to use as resource back at the studio.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

Hmmmm, I am not sure I have always been successful at this. When things feel stale or forced (this happened earlier this year) I have learned to allow myself to take a break from creating so I can recharge. Instead, I look at art books, visit with friends to “talk art”, I go out and experience the landscape to practice “seeing”… and I take naps!

Flutter By
(click to view)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Right now, I am learning to use neutrals in order to make colour really pop and I am experimenting with different layering and scratching effects in my underpaintings. I think right now I am learning to be more focused on the process of painting rather than being focused on the outcome.

What makes you happiest about your art?

That when I am making my art I feel like the most authentic me I know.

Thanks, Nicki!

© 2016 Sophie Marine

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