Niki Mitz

My artistic life began with oil painting. Over the years I have tried many other media: acrylics, pastels, wood carving, and clay. I  settled on a combination of oils and acrylics. I love the silky texture of oils and the way they can be blended right on the canvas. I love the practicality of acrylics. There is a lot to be said for a medium that dries quickly, especially when painting away from home. A wet oil painting is a hazard to everything around it. For several years I used both oils and acrylics. Acrylics are great for under-painting, and for painting away.

Several years ago I started using a palette knife, and the knife started to take over, jumping into my hand without my noticing. Brushes are necessay for signatures and painting the edges, but the palette knife became my weapon of choice.

In 2013, I discovered cold wax, and it changed everything. Cold wax is a combination of beeswax and resins. It looks like the paste wax of former days, and one mixes it with oil paint. The oil/wax mixture is applied to a wooden board rather than a canvas, as the wood does not move as canvas does. It allows the use of wonderful new tools like brayers and spatulas. These days I have a knife in one hand and a brayer in the other. A painter’s life does not get better than that. The downside is that it is extremely messy, and continues to shares its hues with anything that touches it for much longer than it should.

I have lived on three continents, and my life and art has been influenced by each. Like our Dutch ancestors the women in my family have always grown flowers. Tulips make my knees wobble; orchids make me swoon; I talk to my lilies. Flowers are wondrously beautiful; they must be painted. They seem to pop up everywhere, even when I am painting abstracts. Nine years in tropical Africa have made me see life in vivid colour. No shy snowdrops there. Life bursts forth in boldness and brilliance. I grew up in northern Ontario and the landscapes of  the north have influenced me as well. Rock formations, their interesting shapes and patterns, offer a constant invitation.

Still life and flowers were my first subjects. Landscapes followed. An impressionistic interpretation  began to overtake realism. Recently, I have succumbed to the siren call of abstraction. Non-representational work is my current passion.

My first art class was at the Dundas Valley School of Arts. Mohawk College, Sheridan College and the Haliburton School of Fine Arts followed. Loyalist College has been the most important, and I have been inspired by courses in various media.

Currently I am a member of Prince Edward County Art Association, Quinte Arts Council, Belleville Art Association, and the East Central Ontario Art Association. My work has been displayed in the juried shows held by each of these organizations. In 2014 I won an honourable mention at the East Central Ontario Art Association juried show at the Bancroft Art Gallery. In September 2014, I won a Juror’s Choice award at the Belleville Art Association’s juried show, and in September 2016, I won the Outstanding Abstract Award .

ABOUT THE PAINTINGS

Oil and Cold Wax

Most of my recent work is done in oil and cold wax. This is a traditional method that is becoming popular again because of the way the wax affects the way the colour is dispersed. A bit of wax is mixed into the oil paint and the mixture is applied directly to a wooden support. It is too thick to be applied with a brush, so I use a palette knife, a brayer, a scraper or a spatula, and apply it to to a cradled board, which is more solid than canvas.  A cradled board is a thin piece of wood glued on to four strips of wood, sold in art supply stores. This means that it is self-framed, and does not require additional framing. A cradled board is heavier and more expensive than canvas. The sides can be left as unfinished wood, or they can be painted or stained. I prefer to stain them, as the stain is smooth and does not leave brush marks. Because the oil/wax mixture is so thick, many cold wax artists sign the painting on the back rather than on the front. I sign all my cold wax paintings on the back; a few are signed on the front as well, usually incised with a pottery tool.

Mixed Media

My mixed media paintings usually have a base coat of acrylic, covered with oil paint. Some of them also have a mixture of oil paint, coldwax, and a special medium that makes it suitable for application to canvas. I paint the sides so that that can be they can be hanged with or without a frame.

Monoprints

In 2016 I started creating monoprints. A monprint is made by applying paint to a gelli pad. A piece of paper is pressed over the painting, and the paint transfers to the paper. It can only be done once, hence the term monoprint. Watercolour paper and acrylic paints are my most common choice; mixed media paper and oils can also be used.