Author Archives: cmnicklay

Crystal Falls

acr15_crystalfalls_16x20acrylic_web When I think of simple pleasures, I think of the soothing sound of running water, or better yet, a water fall. “Crystal Falls” is a tribute to the calming sound and beauty we enjoy from a waterfall. You can almost hear the roar of the water as the cool mist sprays your face.

“Crystal Falls” – 16×20 acrylic on canvas
Price: $225.00 USD

PRINTS of this piece are available through Fine Art America and ArtPal.

Acorns & Pine Cones

pinecone acorn-1Continuing on with my “botanical venture”… Lesson 2 was studying an acorn — the nut, its capule and the many scales found on it. I really had fun with this exercise and loved the rich brown color I was able to recreate on my drawing of the acorn.

The advanced part of the exercise was drawing and shading a pine cone, preferably one with its scales opened. My goal has always been to create an illusion of depth and realism. My pine cone was no exception.

acorn-pinecone-page_finalA regular part of any drawing exercise are the little studies I do on the page. My completed page for this lesson features the bare acorn, the acorn with its capule, the capule alone and from different perspectives, and lastly, the pine cone with a couple dissections of the scales.




A Botanical Venture

branch-sketchbook-pageI’ve decided to turn over a new leaf — pardon the pun — by focusing my drawing and painting on botanical illustrations. If you look back through my paintings, you’ll find my Dandy Dandelion. As simple as this painting was to paint, I completely lost myself in its creation. The more I think about it, the more I realize that drawing plants is my go-to subject when I’m not sure what to draw. Once again inspired by the life around me, I’m going to pursue botanical illustration and share it all with you here.

To kick off this new venture, I signed up for a year-long botanical illustration course in which I receive and submit monthly assignments. Unfortunately, I signed up 6 months into the program, so I have some catching up to do! The rest of the class is working on Lesson 6 for June and I’m just wrapping up January’s lesson. Better get crackin’!

Lesson 1: Branch

branch-darkerThe first lesson was to find and draw a simple branch depicting 3D quality and realism using colored pencils and watercolor pencils. At the right is a snapshot of my sketchbook page as I worked on this assignment.

My first attempt result in what I thought looked pretty realistic; however, once reviewed by Wendy, she pointed out that I needed to go darker to more closely match my actual branch. So I worked on it a bit more.

The second part of the lesson was to create a composition using multiple branches. When I dropped the branches on the table, they formed somewhat of an ‘N’. I thought…hmmm…’N’ for ‘Nicklay’…so I went with it!

N-branchcompositionbranchcomposition_origHere is a photo of the actual branches along with the final drawing of the branch composition.

Finding my artistic muse

Muse /myōōz/

muse; plural: muses
a person who is a source of artistic inspiration (especially a woman)
mused, musing
to reflect deeply on a subject
inspiration, creative influence

In mythology, a muse was one of nine goddesses who symbolized the arts and sciences. Today, a muse is a person who serves as an artist’s inspiration. Often filmmakers talk about a certain actor being a muse — meaning the actor inspired a movie. Writers, painters, musicians, and other artists have muses.

I’ve been creating art most of my life. It wasn’t until I created this website that I really began to think about where my ideas come from…what inspires me to paint or draw what I do.I’m not one to just sit around and wait for inspiration to smack me in the face in an ‘a-ha’ moment. I had to go out and find it. Merely living my life has lead me to my ‘muse’. I’m inspired by the life around me! My flower gardens inspire me. My husband, Dan, inspires me. My son and step-sons inspire me. My mother and sisters inspired me. My grandchildren inspire me. My pets inspire me. My life inspires me! My artistic muse presents itself to me every day. It’s all around me. My LIFE is my muse!

Even so, I still have days when I stall out and don’t know what to draw or paint — much like writer’s block. Unfortunately, these uninspired moments seem to permeate to other areas of my life be it daily tasks, work, relationships, etc. In my opinion, creativity is intertwined with our mental health and performance and is also linked to how we brainstorm and see things from a different perspective.

I don’t believe there are ‘creative’ or ‘non-creative’ people, but rather people who use certain habits or actions to kick-start a creative process. Despite people having different personality types, and thus different ways in which they assimilate information, everyone has the basic internal ability to be creative.

In my years of creating art, I realized that there are certain ‘triggers’ that initiate my creative process, setting off ‘a-ha’ moments in my head. Some are an interactivity with external sources and others involve more introspective or internal activities.

There is also an abundance of external resources that motivate and inspire me. If I am surrounded by things that are inspiring or impressive to me, I will undoubtedly be influenced by it.

One resource I use is the World Wide Web. There is no doubt, the internet is a plethora of ideas from which to get inspired. No surprise there. Inspiring discussions, videos and short documentaries are popular venues for inspiration. My personal favorites are Google+ and Pinterest. Both are places where outstanding people share great ideas with the potential to change one’s view on the world in some awe-inspiring way. If you aren’t a Pinterest or Google+ fan already, spend some time there. You won’t be sorry, but you will be inspired.

If you’re looking for your artistic muse…or any kind of muse, it’s out there. You just have to find it. Start by looking right in front of you, like I did. I’m inspired by the life around me. My artistic muse is my LIFE.

If you’d like to receive updates about new pieces in my studio or ramblings from The Artist’s Muse, contact me and I’ll add you to my mailing list. And I promise you that I’ll never sell your name or contact information to anyone else.