Art by Niki Hilsabeck News The latest news from Art by Niki Hilsabeck. en-us Fri, 23 Feb 2018 04:16:21 CST Fri, 23 Feb 2018 04:16:21 CST An Artist's Guide to Cataract Surgery <div>I don't really have a bucket list, but if I did, cataract surgery would <em>not</em>&nbsp;have been on that list!</div><div><img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/His_Own_Path_WEB.jpg" width="192" height="278" alt="" /></div><div>"His Own Path" pastel on paper&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It started with &nbsp;cloudy vision in the lower half of one eye--which quickly progressed to the whole eye. &nbsp;I went in, had my eyes dilated for the first time ever, and within a couple of hours was scheduling surgery for a cataract in one eye. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;<em>No big deal,</em>&nbsp;I told myself. &nbsp;It's one of the oldest and safest surgeries to have. &nbsp;I would be in and out within a couple of hours. &nbsp;Even Monet had cataract surgery! &nbsp;I spent a fair amount of time looking up what other artists experienced with cataracts, and the consensus seemed to be that cataract surgery would be a positive move.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As my vision continued to worsen, I tried to cope-- stopped driving, stopped painting, focused on gardening and sewing (I've spent so many nights up late sewing, I can actually do it with my eyes closed at times!) &nbsp;I taught a wonderful children's class on writing and illustration, which pushed my surgery back a couple of weeks. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Since I love to paint, I always figured that nothing would stop me from painting. &nbsp;I was wrong. &nbsp;It was so distressing not to be able to clearly see what I was doing with both eyes, I put it away. &nbsp;I told myself that it was because I knew this would be a temporary hiatus, but deep down I was worried-- what would I do if I had permanent vision loss? &nbsp;My eyesight's always been terrible, but I see fine with glasses or contacts. &nbsp;Not being able to see bright colors, light and shadow, my children's sparkly eyes-- I hadn't realized how dependent on these small joys I am until this summer.&nbsp;<img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Blue_Morning_WEB.jpg" width="133" height="251" alt="" /></div><div>&nbsp;"Blue Morning," pastel on paper-- the last piece I attempted before the surgery (went back and finished it afterward)</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As for the surgery, it was quite manageable-- they used twilight sleep instead of full anesthesia, and I didn't feel any pain. &nbsp;My vision adjusted each day (I was a little afraid the first day, as the colors were intense enough to give me nausea!) &nbsp;Within a week or so my vision was about the same in both eyes again. &nbsp;If you wear contacts, you do have to wait a month or two before you can put one in your eye again. &nbsp;The prescription drops are expensive and annoying (several times a day the first week!) &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I began drawing and painting again within a couple of weeks, but waited almost a month to use pastel because of the dust. &nbsp;I'm still adjusting to my vision changes (you basically have to decide on up-close or distance vision, unless you choose a multi-focal &nbsp;lens, which also comes with vision changes!)</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>My vision will never be the same as it was before the cataract, but I feel like it's close--since my cataract wasn't age-related, I'm guessing I'll get to go through this experience again later in life. &nbsp;In the meantime, I'll be diving back into painting and teaching-- and learning to enjoy some hobbies that don't leave me quite as dependent on my eyes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One last tip: have the person driving you to your post-op appointment the day after your surgery check your outfit. &nbsp;I didn't realize until I had been sitting in the waiting room for a while that my shirt was on inside out.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If you're in the area and would like to come to an art workshop for the whole family, check out our schedule: <a title="" href=""></a>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Click here to see my gallery Daily Paintworks!</div><div><a href="" title=""></a>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Wed, 02 Aug 2017 22:21:48 CDT Welcome Art Friends! <div>Welcome! &nbsp;Please feel free to browse my blog posts, check out new work, or sift through my galleries to find something that connects with you.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If you are inquiring about workshops, paint-sips/coffee-paints, or private lessons, please email me at</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I am also available for in-home art instruction for kids and teens (great for home-school families or students who are tired of shuffling around!) &nbsp;Please email to see if I am able to travel to your area and to inquire about hourly rates.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter for regular updates on new work, available classes and workshops, and upcoming events!&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:27:24 CST A Cure for the Mid-Summer Blues (Newsletter 7/30/16) <div>Well, we've hit the sticky middle of summer with a vengeance this year in Southern California! &nbsp;Ordinarily the early sunrises would inspire me to wake up and get some painting done in the mornings, but I have children who seem to pop out of bed the minute the sun is out. &nbsp;So, painting time gets pushed further back each day.</div><div>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; <img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Blaue_Blume_WEB.jpg" width="300" height="303" alt="" /></div><div>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;<a title="&quot;Blaue Blume&quot; Miniature Acrylic Painting" href="">"Blaue Blume" Miniature Acrylic Painting</a></div><div>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;<a title="See it in wearable form!" href=";c=18609-nature-botanical&amp;p=contrast-tank&amp;rel=carousel">See it in wearable form!</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One of the better parts of summer is that there is a bit more time to clean up after myself, so I get to play with some of the messier items in my art cabinet. &nbsp; This year, it's leftover acrylic paint skins from the palette and found metal from the 2007 wildfire that went through our property. &nbsp; &nbsp;</div><div><img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Sonnenblume_WEB.jpg" width="200" height="199" alt="" />&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;<img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Mini_Butterfly_1_WEB.jpg" width="200" height="203" alt="" /></div><div>&nbsp;<a title="&quot;Sonnenblume&quot; Miniature acrylic painting" href="">"Sonnenblume" Miniature acrylic painting</a>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; <a title="&quot;Mini-Butterfly 1&quot;" href="">"Mini-Butterfly 1"</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I had started a couple of floral paintings on tiny flat canvasses a while back. &nbsp;As usual, I didn't feel like the paintings were big and bold enough, so this summer I began playing around with the paint skins for added texture. &nbsp;I used matte medium to stick the skins onto the painting, and built them up into layers to complete the flowers and backgrounds. &nbsp;It felt like I was working on a puzzle! &nbsp;I kept the paintings and materials in &nbsp;flat trays, so I could pop pieces of acrylic onto the paintings whenever I got a few moments. &nbsp;The unique textures of the skins gave "Sonnenblume" and "Blaue Blume" a touchable, relief-like finish when done (German names-- "Sunflower" and "Blue Flower didn't sound as appealing to me for these).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For the butterflies, I used the tray method as well-- toning the small canvasses with paint before arranging the metal pieces into compositions. Some of the metal pieces are quite sharp to the touch before they're painted, so this is definitely not a kid-friendly activity.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>These pieces take much longer to dry, because I use a lot of matte medium to make sure the metal stuck to the painted canvas. &nbsp;Once it was dry, I used a palette knife to load on the paint for an ultra-textured look.</div><div><img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/metal_mini.jpg" width="200" height="210" alt="" />&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;<img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Mini_Butterfly_2_WEB.jpg" width="200" height="198" alt="" /></div><div>Metal layer on toned canvas-- &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;<a title="&quot;Mini-Butterfly 2&quot;" href="">"Mini-Butterfly 2"</a>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;Similar to when I work with the pastels over acrylic, I enjoy finding the textures that are already there and building on them to create a finished painting. &nbsp;I call the butterflies part of my "Metal-Minis" collection. &nbsp;I have been waiting a long time to use the found metal pieces-- our old garage had a tin roof, which of course became molten metal and ended up in pieces everywhere once the fire got to our property and ripped through the building. &nbsp;I always thought the old tin roof was ugly, but in its new form, I found the pieces quite inspiring and stowed them away for future artwork. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If you find yourself creatively stuck in the summer, try using some of those materials you've stored away for experimentation! &nbsp;Give yourself an hour a day to play with something new, and you'll be surprised at what you might discover.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a title="Come find me on Pinterest!" href="">Come find me on Pinterest!</a>&nbsp;</div> Sat, 30 Jul 2016 22:01:09 CDT Another Month, Another Creative Mess! <div>Newsletter 5/14/16</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>What are your creative rituals? &nbsp;Do you exercise, or put on music before you work? &nbsp;What about when the work is finished? &nbsp;How do you process what you've completed?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Back when I painted on more of a schedule, my artwork piled up quickly in the kitchen. &nbsp;I developed sort of a monthly ritual, during which I would take all the pieces off their boards, date and sign them, and package them up for storage. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Although I still don't paint as often as I'd like, I've been teaching more, which means I spend more time creating samples for class. &nbsp;Creating samples puts me in a better frame of mind to paint, so as the sample artwork begins to take up space, so do more new original paintings!</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Below is a sample of the collected work from the last month:<img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/May_2016_Photo_WEB.jpg" width="600" height="565" alt="" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;As you can see, I've been busy! &nbsp;I'll go in clockwise order and explain what all these pieces are.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;Top left: &nbsp;Lying flat are a couple of paper collages, one made by my daughter as a school project, and one made by me as a sample for next week's class at the Fallbrook School of the Arts (our focus will be Ancient Greece). &nbsp;Next to the flat pieces, there are a couple of pastel landscapes-- I've been enjoying the scratchy effect of soft pastel on drawing or white pastel paper, especially when blocking in those dramatic clouds!</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Top Right: &nbsp;A couple of newly-finished studies tucked back on the easel, one a pastel sketch of my rotten cat sitting with her back to me on the counter. &nbsp;The other is a water-brushed pastel sketch of bare trees on a winter day. &nbsp;I had originally put that one aside, having started it as a demo for an art workshop on cool color schemes. &nbsp;I finally took it back out and added a bit of warm color to it as a finishing touch.<img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Winter_Trees_WEB.jpg" width="400" height="612" alt="" /></div><div>"Winter Trees" 8.5 x 10 inch pastel on paper&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Middle: "<a href="" title="Lemon Corner">Lemon Corner</a>" (on the left) and my favorite piece of the last month: "<a href="" title="Oceanside Clouds">Oceanside Clouds</a>," a larger pastel painting on drawing paper. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bottom Right: <a href="" title="Family Art Workshop">Family Art Workshop</a>&nbsp;demo pieces, for our "mood collage" session. &nbsp;I tried to show four different composition styles, and realized after creating the pieces that I'd painted the four stages of a migraine, which I was still recovering from while working on these pieces. &nbsp;Can you guess which piece is the "aura" phase?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>(There is a random flower painting in the back behind the collages-- an old palette knife piece from 2010. &nbsp;I keep it out to remind me that I used to stay up late at night and throw paint around with my palette knife, hoping to be inspired to do so again some night when I have the energy).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bottom left: Demo pieces from my first session of my new class at the Fallbrook School of the Arts: <a title="Around the World in Paper Collage/ Mythological Creatures in Collage" href="">Around the World in Paper Collage/ Mythological Creatures in Collage</a>! &nbsp;I learned a few hours before class that I would be combining the two subjects together. &nbsp;Since I'd already planned to make an island collage with the younger students, I decided to have the older students make "Menehune" as their mythological creatures. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hidden behind the pieces in the middle (which had a couple of finished pieces behind them) I found a pastel painting of Live Oak Park trees I'd started a month ago, so I'll be putting that back on the front burner for this next month.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It seems I just get enough space cleared to feel creative, and then I fill it all up again with new projects. &nbsp;I'm wondering if this is hereditary, as no sooner do my children see a clear counter or table, do they feel the need to fill it up with their own creative mess!</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We'll be working on wildlife art for the next Family Art Workshop--teaching children and parents (or grandparents) together in the same class has been an energizing experience! If you have the option to take an art class with family members, it definitely provides a different spin on the traditional art class experience, and gives you a chance to interact with each other in a unique way!</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sun, 15 May 2016 00:08:03 CDT Rattlesnakes and Late-Night Potato Pancakes <div>Newsletter 3/31</div><div><p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt;">What do rattlesnakes and potato pancakes have in common?&nbsp; Well, according to some people, both are edible&#8212;but I&#8217;ve been vegetarian for 25 years now, so I won&#8217;t be eating rattlesnake any time soon!<o:p></o:p></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt;">I&#8217;ve had a couple of hard life lessons in the last week.&nbsp; I promise you, a connection to art will surface by the end of these stories.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt;">Rattlesnakes have been on my list of familiar fears since we moved to Temecula when I was about 10 years old.&nbsp; I&#8217;ve seen a few on our current property, but usually from afar and well aware that they were a likely presence.&nbsp; A few days ago, I reached down to pull a weed, and lo and behold: a baby rattlesnake sleeping inches from my hand.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt;">How could that be?&nbsp; I&#8217;d found one close to the house before, but it was under a board and gave full warning when I stepped nearby.&nbsp; I&#8217;m always on the lookout, particularly in the spring.&nbsp; Still, the adrenaline shock I get when I come across one catches me off guard every time.&nbsp; Until I get a hold of some sort of infrared snake detector that monitors every snake on the property, the sight of a rattlesnake will always catch me off guard and renew my sense of vigilance.</span></p><div><img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Rattlesnake.jpg" width="300" height="533" alt="" />&nbsp;</div> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt;">Can you spot the baby rattlesnake?</span></p><div><img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Rattlesnake_close.jpg" width="394" height="411" alt="" />&nbsp;</div> <p style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;">Follow the arrow...&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;">A few days later at about midnight, I was elbow-deep into life lesson number two.&nbsp; I&#8217;d signed up to bring potato pancakes to an Easter breakfast, although I&#8217;d never made a large batch of those before.&nbsp; I waited until the night before to begin cooking, hoping to keep them fresh for the morning.&nbsp; Following a method I&#8217;d previously used, I made a large bowl of batter and began frying.&nbsp; It was dusk and I was using olive oil, so it took me until about 8:00 at night to discover that the potatoes had oxidized and turned an unsightly shade of almost black, rendering the potato pancakes edible but unappetizing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;">Having failed many times at projects, I decided to learn from the experience and start over&#8212;making small batches of fresh batter every half hour or so (and stopping to clean all my cooking utensils in between).&nbsp; Exhausted, I tucked the potato pancakes into the fridge at about one in the morning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;">How do these experiences connect to art?&nbsp; Well, I&#8217;ve been out of the art scene for a while, but have been easing back into teaching, which has brought some new opportunities and challenges my way.&nbsp; Although teaching is familiar territory for me (as is living with the presence of rattlesnakes), each new encounter is like a shot in the arm, heightening my senses and re-opening my eyes to what is in front of me.&nbsp; It&#8217;s easy to think you&#8217;ve seen everything and know what&#8217;s out there, until something unexpected pops up in your life and renews your perspective.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;">And the late-night potato pancake escapade?&nbsp; Well, I bet if you&#8217;ve ever realized you&#8217;ve failed at a project (or painting), there&#8217;s been at least one time where you had to tear the whole thing apart and start from scratch.&nbsp; I was tempted to give up and go to bed, but I knew that using my newly found knowledge to start over would bring a much greater chance of success.&nbsp; I also needed a good reminder that patience is indeed a virtue, since my batter failure had come mostly because I&#8217;d tried to make less work for myself by making a large batch all at once.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;">If you&#8217;re feeling like your artistic senses are dulled or you&#8217;ve hit a plateau, remember that there are surprises out there waiting for you.&nbsp; And even though you might realize you&#8217;ve failed and feel too exhausted to try again, don&#8217;t forget that the hard-earned knowledge you&#8217;ve extracted from your failure is like an elixir, all but guaranteeing you a more successful experience if you give your work another shot.</span></p><div><img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Twist_WEB.jpg" width="400" height="291" alt="" />&nbsp;</div> <p>&nbsp;<a href="" title="&quot;Twist&quot;">"Twist"</a>&nbsp;Pastel on paper-- had to start over and redo this one a couple of times to show my cat mid-twist with the pastels.</p></div> Thu, 31 Mar 2016 23:15:08 CDT