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Edgewood Fine Art
paintings & illustration by
Karen Mathison Schmidt
paintings & illustration by KAREN MATHISON SCHMIDT
After a 25-year career in printing, graphic design and illustration, I’m a professional artist living in northwest Louisiana. With Jesus Christ as Lord, my daily goal is to glorify God in every aspect of my life, from the most mundane and necessary of chores to the work I enjoy the best, ever grateful for the opportunity to share the gifts I most graciously have been given.
My husband and I live out in the country surrounded by woods and tree-studded pastures, and I love it! In addition to being an artist, I’m also “Mom”-and-chief-wrangler of five dogs, and concierge to three cats, all of whom constantly provide me with inspiration enough for a lifetime of paintings.
I’ve been drawing, painting and making art my whole life; in addition to college art classes, I’ve learned from creative parents, from books, by studying the work and technique of other artists, and by painting, painting, painting. Since I made the leap into painting full time several years ago, I’ve sold paintings and fine art prints to very friendly people throughout the US, Canada, Australia, the UK and Europe. Many thanks to all my collectors!
I use the highest quality materials to ensure that my paintings and Limited Edition prints are of a quality that will satisfy the most discerning collector. Constantly challenging myself to grow as an artist, I actively seek to improve my skills and techniques with the hope that my work will steadily move toward excellence. I love learning, and I love painting; I hope to keep doing both as long as I’m able!
Each of you has been blessed
with one of God’s many
wonderful gifts to be used
in the service of others.
So use your gift well.
If you have the gift of speaking, preach God's message.
If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength
that God supplies.
Everything should be done in a way that will bring honor to God because of Jesus Christ, who is glorious and powerful forever.
1 PETER 4:10-11
I've always been drawn to the strong graphic style of the artists of the Golden Age of Illustration (1850's - 1920's), especially the work of Arthur Rackham, Howard Pyle, N. C. Wyeth, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Maxfield Parrish and others. During my career as a graphic designer, my use of illustration software (Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop) taught me to “think in layers,” and this experience, along with studying the color layering processes and techniques of some of these Golden Age artists, has been the basis for my own experimentation with the painting technique I now use to build up a picture in layers.
My paintings are also greatly influenced by the work of the California Impressionists (circa turn-of-the-20th-century), particularly William Wendt, Franz Bischoff and a few others who were known for their bold brushwork, strong composition, use of intense color (esp. Bischoff) and skillful simplification of the landscape, along with a great personal reverence of nature. Wendt in particular was a devout Christian, seeing the hand of God as Creator in the landscape, and would often take the titles of his compositions from scripture.
I admire the work of many contemporary artists, among them Richard Schmid, Susan Sarback, Hongnian Zhang and Colin Page. From studying their work I have learned a great deal about the depiction of light and the harmonious and balanced use of color, and have incorporated their methods of seeing color, choosing color, and determining a palette for each painting.
Out here in the farm and ranch area where we live there is a wildness of untamed, tangled and overgrown landscape juxtaposed with an attempt at orderliness carved out and maintained by the rural residents and farmers. The result is that the neatly planned rows of cropland, the fairly well-used roads, the mowed pastures and yards, no matter how well tended, have an air about them of being sometimes more than a little rough around the edges. I find great beauty and interest in those areas “between mischief and control” (from a song by Vonda Shepard).
My aim is to focus attention on the serenity and beauty that can be found even on the edge of seemingly chaotic wildness, and the light that will not be thwarted from breaking through even the most overgrown canopy, dense underbrush and tangled vines. I love the challenge of pulling a simple, strong and calming composition out of a landscape that at first glance may seem too busy, too randomly overgrown and too full of the distraction of detail; the challenge of sifting out the meaningless while keeping the essential and still ending up with a genuine sense of this place I call home – and a painting that communicates my gratitude for the God-given blessings of peace, hope and joy, no matter what our outward circumstances.
I do all my actual painting in my studio, which is a room in our little old farmhouse. I’ve taken hundreds (nay, thousands!) of reference photos, and sometimes will combine elements of different photos into one composite, which I then use as reference for my painting. I like to start with a fairly detailed sketch as a springboard, usually simplifying as I go, and stopping frequently to assess which elements to keep and which to lose or “paint out.” There comes a certain point in the process of almost every painting when I stop referring to the photo altogether and start ”working without a net,” continuing to completion making decisions from memory and imagination.
For every painting, oil or acrylic, I start by using acrylics for the underpainting, usally in vivid, mostly transparent colors, and glazes layered one over another. After this underpainting is dry (usually in just a few minutes) I continue with acrylic or I will switch to oils. As I add layers of more quiet and “realistic” color, both transparent and opaque, I try to keep my strokes nice and loose, to let that vivid underpainting show through in places, lending depth and liveliness to the finished piece. Sometimes I blot, scrape or wipe off paint to let the underlying layers show through in certain areas. And at the end of a painting, sometimes I coast to a stop, and sometimes I skid to a stop. (I’m sure you artists know what I mean.) When the finished painting is dry, I add a UV-protective varnish, et voilà! – the painting, she is done.
The oil paints I use are Old Holland Classic Oil Colors; they are especially pigment-heavy and tend to go a bit farther than other brands I’ve tried when mixed with or the Richeson stand oil I use as a medium. For wiping my brush clean between colors, and for cleaning and conditioning my brushes when I’m finished painting, I use Gamsol or Turpenoid Natural, a non-toxic, nonflammable turpentine substitute.
For acrylic painting I use both Sennelier Acrylique and Old Holland New Masters Classic Acrylics; and Liquitex acrylic glazing medium (matte finish).
I paint almost exclusively on Ampersand Museum Series GessobordTM. Committed to quality, Ampersand uses true high-density hardboard made from US-grown and renewable Aspen wood fibers. Sustainably-produced Gessobord is archival, eco-friendly and formaldehyde-free. The smooth surface is perfect for the glazing and layering techniques I like to use. Also, when I paint with a palette knife I sometimes have a tendency to get a little – um – vigorous, at which times I find that the hardboard stands up really admirably.
I love my brushes! After years of trying dozens of different manufacturers, bristle types and brush shapes,
I finally found a brush that I like for both oils and acrylics: the Princeton synthetic mongoose (Series 6600). “Stiffer than sable and softer than bristle.” Just right. I use flats in varying sizes for almost all my paintings. Recently Princeton discontinued this particular series. Bummer. I’ll update my recommendation as soon as I come across another brush I like as well!
And when the occasion calls for it, there’s my go-to trusty three-cornered palette knife which I’ve had forever. At least. Maybe longer. I’ve had it for so long the manufacturer’s mark has worn off and I don’t remember who made it, but it sure is a good one!
I take my camera with me just about everywhere, including frequent morning and late afternoon walks in all kinds of weather out into the tree-studded pastures adjacent to our house, and out to the woods, bayous and ponds which are within walking distance. I also like to meander through some of the older neighborhoods in nearby Shreveport and, just a bit farther away, in picturesque Natchitoches; and of course I’m always snapping photos of our canine and feline family members making themselves at home in various cozy corners around the house.
Although I love to travel, as an artist I’m fascinated by and grateful for the seemingly endless visual inspiration I receive every day right where we live.
One goal I have for my work is beautifully expressed in this quote by Joseph Conrad on the aspirations of an artist:
To arrest, for the space of a breath, the hands busy about the work of the earth, and compel men entranced by the sight of distant goals to glance for a moment
at the surrounding vision of
form and color, of sunshine and shadows; to make them pause
for a look, for a sigh, for a smile – such is the aim, difficult and evanescent, and reserved only for
a very few to achieve.
But sometimes, by the deserving and the fortunate, even that task is accomplished. And when it is accomplished – behold! – all the truth of life is there: a moment of vision, a sigh, a smile – and the return to an eternal rest.
– JOSEPH CONRAD, 1897
About our landscape
Process & technique
Materials & tools
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