Behind the Scenes

Last week I started to talk about my artistic process. This week I am continuing to work my artistic process for a piece I plan to exhibit at the Box Show at the Artists’ Gallery in Frederick, MD in March. I started this process by revisiting a series of sketches that  I had created for another show called Wild Imaginings a few years back. However, life got in the way and I never did finish the idea. But now I am revisiting the idea and developing it into a painting. So this week I am in stage 2.wild-imaginings-1

I started a book of inspiring images that I culled from Pinterest and Google image searches and pasted them into my sketch book. Then I combined these images into Photoshop, using the sketch as a springboard to develop my composition.

My topic for this piece is to illustrate how reading can unlock your imagination. And my inspiration for this piece is primarily from Emily Dickinson’s poem, There is no Frigate Like a Book. The following lines captured my initial inspiration and gave me some concepts and images to work with pertaining to journeys, travel, imagination and creativity. Here are the first few lines of Dickinson’s poem:

There is no frigate like a book (1263)

Emily Dickinson, 18301886

There is no Frigate like a Book  
To take us Lands away,  
Nor any Coursers like a Page  
Of prancing Poetry –   
This Traverse may the poorest take         
Without oppress of Toll –   
How frugal is the Chariot  
That bears a Human soul.

Behind the Scenes, The Art Process

Several years ago a custom art client of mine mentioned that he was looking forward to seeing what “magic” I would come up with in the painting I was working on. Hmm, and yes, while there is an element of “magic” in art making, for me, the process is really about a combination of imagination, hard work, determination, and a system of organization I use to flesh out my ideas for a painting or drawing…My basic system to create artwork starts with creating a sketchbook of ideas in which I attach printouts of artist’s work that inspire me, and then I select images from Pinterest, Google images, books, or my personal photo collection, that illustrate my concept. Then I make a collage of these images in PhotoShop. After that, I start making three value drawings of the subject, in which I shade the subjects in values of black, gray and white, using pencils or soft pastels. My final step is to create a color “sketch” in watercolor or acrylic paints to select what color themes I want to incorporate in the work. With color, I try to think about what mood I want to imbibe the artwork with. Is it mysterious, happy, nostalgic, sad, angry or some other emotion that I want to communicate?

Case in point. I am now working on an art project for an art show I regularly participate in called, The Box Show, at the Artists’ Gallery in Frederick, MD. See the following link to learn more about this year’s box show: It is a silent auction art show that is open to the Frederick, MD community, meaning that there is no jury to approve or reject the work. So I am back to the drawing board so to speak, and I am utilizing this very same strategy, starting with the sketchbook, looking for pictorial ideas on Google image searches and Pinterest, and yet, I am feeling stuck. Although I have an idea, I am not feeling excited about it, after starting to print out some photo references. And so I have decided to do something I usually don’t do, and that is to look at old sketches for projects that I never finished.

Today I returned to some sketches for a call for artists that was issued some years ago at the Carroll Art Center in Westminster, MD, called Wild Imaginings. And I felt excited about finishing the sketches I had started making several years ago.  I collaged the ideas in Photoshop today. I felt not only excited, but I could also “see” how the art would look as a finished piece. In this artwork, I am illustrating the concept of how reading can unlock your imagination. I reference several sources here for inspiration, such as the sculpture by Bart Walter, “Wild Imaginings”,–034-photo.html and Emily Dickinson’s poem, There is no Frigate Like a Book, . I have attached some of my initial concept sketches for this piece.  Stayed tuned for the continuing saga of my art process! wild-imaginings-1wild-imaginings-sketch-2

Stories We Tell, Part 2

What stories do we tell as artists in the work we create? In my work, I am finding that poetry is a wonderful jumping off point for creating artwork which tells a story. There is so much feeling, and sometimes imagery to mine, which can be easily translated to the fine arts. For instance, in my pastel drawing, Ghost House, (2015), I interpreted the Ghost House poem by Robert Frost. After I had read the poem, I tried to pick lines out of it that seemed to lend themselves to visuals. First I thought of a haunted house, and then I began to think about who might inhabit it. Later on, the idea of including a ghost bride and some crows popped into my head. Thus, the story of a haunted house was born.DSC_1470c This excerpt was cited on:
I dwell in a lonely house I know 
That vanished many a summer ago, 
   And left no trace but the cellar walls, 
   And a cellar in which the daylight falls 
And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow. (Robert Frost, Ghost House)

Stories We Tell

Stories are a universal element in the arts, such as music, film, opera, theater, poetry, literature, dance and fine arts. They help us to know that we are not alone, that someone else has traveled down a similar path as ours, whether it is loss, uncertainty, joy, expectation, happiness, etc. As an undergraduate art student, I spent a lot of hours making content based work, mostly self-portraits that told a story about some event I was experiencing or a feeling I was working through. I primarily used color to express my feelings. For my senior thesis, I did a series of self-portraits, which were inspired by Sting’s songs on his album, Mercury Falling. These songs dealt with subjects such as depression, in  Lithium Sunset. Lately, I am feeling pulled back into more content based work, and this time I am taking my cue from songs and poetry of Sting, Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, and Maya Angelou, among others. Here is a photo of my painting, Lithium Sunset, inspired by Sting’s song, Lithium Sunset:

Fill my eyes
O Lithium sunset
And take this lonesome burden
Of worry from my mind
Take this heartache
Of obsidian darkness
And fold my darkness
Into your yellow light. (Song excerpt from Sting’s official website:

I will post my sketches for this new series based on poetry and songs soon. For now, here is my painting, Lithium Sunset, Oil on Canvas, 2005. Enjoy!

Oil painting self-portrait inspired by the song Lithium Sunset by Sting.


Exhibit at the Frederick Coffee Company

Frederick Coffee Co Exhibit
Photo of Jodie Schmidt’s oil paintings at the Frederick Coffee Company.
I (Jodie) am showing my artwork at the Frederick Coffee Company at 100 N East St., Frederick, MD 21701.  They will be up from February 1st to the 28th. They have coffee, food and live music, too.  All of  my oil paintings are for sale, unless otherwise marked. I also have art cards if the paintings are not in your budget.  They are going for $12 a pack.  For directions, menu or calendar of music events, go to their website,

The Artists’ Gallery Box Show

Jodie and I have each submitted our own pieces to The Artists’ Gallery 11th Annual Box Show and Silent Auction.  Opening reception is March 3rd, 5 – 9 pm.  They will be on display until March 31st, and bidding ends at 8 pm sharp on March 31st.  We will be donating 50% of the sales to the gallery.  They provided the 8″ x 8″ x 8″ wooden boxes, and we turned them into art.

The picture’s aren’t great, so I encourage you to see them in person if you can.  Jodie did five copies of master artworks, self-portraits of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot and Edgar Degas.

Copy of Master Artists' Self-Portraits
Copy of Master Artists’ Self-Portraits (SOLD)

Here is my sculpture, a jumping spider made with the box, river stones, steel wire and dried grape vines.

Jumping Spider
Jumping Spider (SOLD)