Art by Niki Hilsabeck News The latest news from Art by Niki Hilsabeck. en-us Wed, 20 Jun 2018 00:47:09 CDT Wed, 20 Jun 2018 00:47:09 CDT What I Learned From Painting the Same Bird Almost 10 Times <div>A few years ago, I painted a Sandpiper with pastel and brushed it with water for a soft, calming effect.&nbsp; It was one of those times where I used art to ease my anxiety-- I painted the bird during a summer thunderstorm.&nbsp; Thunderstorms in cool weather don't bother me, but the ones we occasionally get in the summer can be stifling--with an added touch of electricity in the air!</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;<img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Calm_WEB.jpg" width="400" height="283" alt="" />&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; "Calm" 9 x 12 Water-Brushed Pastel on Paper&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;<a href="" title="Click here to view large or purchase">Click here to view large or purchase</a>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I put the painting away, bringing it out a couple of years later so that I could frame it and bring it to a festival.&nbsp; One visitor passing by my booth got excited at the sight of the bird and asked what kind of bird it was-- I started to answer "Sandpiper," but she blurted out "That's right, it's a sand-peeper!"&nbsp; Her husband arrived shortly after, and she enthusiastically pointed the "sand-peeper" out to him.&nbsp; He agreed it was a nice "sand-peeper."&nbsp; I dutifully held in my laugh until they moved on to the next booth.&nbsp; &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So, I feel I have some history with this bird.&nbsp; When I began to create my third online class for Skillshare, I decided that the&nbsp; bird would make a nice, easy subject for exploring different methods of using soft pastels.&nbsp; I decided to go ahead and use this painting for my class demos.&nbsp; I re-created a simpler version of it with dry pastel, water-brushed pastel, over acrylic, on oil pastel, and on a torn paper collage.&nbsp; Add in the several drafts I created throughout the filming process, and I think I painted the bird at least 8 or 9 times.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>By the time I got to the final painting, I was of course a bit tired of re-creating the same composition over and over.&nbsp; I did find, though, that it was a good experience for me to try it with the different techniques.&nbsp; The one that surprised me the most was the collage!&nbsp; You can see some of the various outcomes on the cover image I used for the class:</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/3_Ways_to_Play_Cover_WEB.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="" />&nbsp; &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I've often read that painting the same subject over and over yields a new understanding of it.&nbsp; I have a hard time doing this on my own (I'm always afraid I'll get bored, which I know is a sad excuse), but approaching the same subject repeatedly with the different uses of pastel was less tiresome than I had been expecting.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If you'd like to try these activities yourself, here's my free link to the class:&nbsp;</div><div><a title="3 Ways to Play with Soft Pastels" href="">3 Ways to Play with Soft Pastels</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>You can post your own samples in the "Projects" section of the class once you've tried the exercises!<br />&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I'm not sure now what to do with all those extra "sand-peepers"&nbsp; I painted-- they'll probably be turned into new paintings somehow when I'm feeling creative.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If you like ocean-themed art, check out my&nbsp;<a href="" title="&quot;By the Sea&quot; gallery on this website!">"By the Sea" gallery on this website!</a>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sat, 16 Jun 2018 20:11:22 CDT Overwintering (Newsletter March 2018) <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt;">Do you go dormant in the winter?<img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Bit_of_Moonlight_WEB.jpg" width="500" height="326" alt="" /></span></p><div><span style="font-size: 13.5pt;">"Bit of Moonlight" 3 x 5 inch pastel on paper</span></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; line-height: 115%;">I've written before about having developed a gardening habit-- and that it's something I struggle to do successfully.&nbsp; Having had so much rain last year, I was looking forward to a "normal" winter this year, with slightly less rainfall.&nbsp; We ended up having repeated bouts of heat and Santa Ana winds, and have just now had episodes of rainfall in the last few weeks.&nbsp; I finally decided to just let everything rest, and keep the plants watered and trimmed as needed until the weather became a little more consistent.&nbsp; This probably sounds funny if you live in a climate with real seasons, but in Southern California it's tempting to just keep planting new things all year round!</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; line-height: 115%;">This year, I experienced something similar with painting-- January and February were busy teaching months, so I decided to focus on preparing for classes rather than painting new things.&nbsp; I enjoy teaching art as much as I enjoy making it on my own (sometimes more!)&nbsp; I have a friend who has been regularly giving me nice new sketchbooks.&nbsp; To stay connected to drawing and painting, I decided to turn one into a "family album." Using watercolor pencils, I've enjoyed making small portraits from old family photos.&nbsp; This is a great activity to practice capturing likenesses-- for me, it's also a chance to really focus on some faces from my childhood-- faces of people I don't get to see anymore in person.&nbsp; If you've been missing people from your past, this is a great activity to feel closer to them again (and as a bonus, you'll have a unique piece of your history to add to your photo albums!)</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; line-height: 115%;">I did catch a pretty sunrise with the moon glowing above the trees one morning this winter, which meant I had to paint it:&nbsp;</span></p> <p><a href=";ga_search_type=all&amp;ga_view_type=gallery&amp;ga_search_query=niki%20hilsabeck&amp;ref=sr_gallery-1-20" title="&quot;Morning Moonset&quot; 9 x 12 on Etsy" style="font-size: 13.5pt;"><img src="/admin/../resources/img/blog_img/3713/Morning_Moonset_WEB.jpg" width="500" height="356" alt="" />"Morning Moonset" 9 x 12 on Etsy</a><span style="font-size: 13.5pt;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; line-height: 115%;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; line-height: 115%;">Now that it's spring, it'll be time for the warmer weather, art shows, and of course watching out for snakes&nbsp; (they show up every year with all the weeds!)&nbsp; If you've got some time on spring break and would like to take a free online pastels class, I'm including a link to my first class on Skillshare: Easy Ocean Pastel with Soft Pastels.&nbsp; The link is good for the first 25 people who use it before April 8th!&nbsp; This is a step-by-step class with demonstrations for each stage.&nbsp; If you enjoy pastels (or want to try them out), this is a great way to do an easy project in the comfort of your own home!&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; line-height: 115%;">If you do try the class, please let me know how it works for you in the reviews and feel free to share a project.&nbsp; I'll be adding more classes, so if there's something you'd like to see me teach in the near future, send me your suggestions!&nbsp;</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; line-height: 115%;">Here's the link:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; line-height: 115%;"><a href=";teacherRef=212866&amp;via=free-enrollment&amp;utm_campaign=teacher-discount-1081352727&amp;utm_source=ShortUrl&amp;utm_medium=teacher-discount" title="Easy Ocean Pastel Free Access">Easy Ocean Pastel Free Access</a>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; line-height: 115%;">Happy Creating!&nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; line-height: 115%;">Niki&nbsp;</span></p> Fri, 23 Mar 2018 18:07:16 CDT 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