Sunday, January 31, 2010

Color Explosion Workshop with Niki Gulley

"Afternoon in Taos" by Niki Gulley
14" x 11" oil painting • SOLD

I just finished teaching my Color Explosion workshop and it turned out great! Here is one of the paintings I completed, which demonstrated one of the color schemes we talked about – how two sets of complementary colors work together. Starting with a black and white photo so that I could invent my own colors and not to be married to my photographic reference, I selected orange and blue for my dominant colors to suggest later afternoon sun on the adobe building and adding to a sense of it glowing in the sun. For my second pair of complimentary colors, I chose red and green for the hollyhocks, giving the overall scene a warm, summery feel.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Venice Painting Workshop

Venice oil painting • 10" x 8" • by Niki Gulley • SOLD

This is one of my favorite paintings I completed during our Venice workshop last spring. I found us the perfect quiet spot to paint with almost no onlookers, however it turned out to be a major thoroughfare for the gondolas. We were serenaded the whole time by various baritone gondolier voices breaking into "Amoré" and curious passengers craning to see what we were painting. It only added to the ambience!

Once I blocked in the background of this piece I started painting the gondola, which was quite a challenge since they didn't stay still for more than a few seconds. Luckily there was a constant stream of boats so if I waited a little bit, another one would come floating into the scene. Painting moving gondoliers also proved to be difficult, and I was struggling with his hair when right at that moment, a new driver came into view with this great hat and navy scarf wrapped around it. Voilà! Problem solved.

If you'd like to join us for our next painting / photography adventure in Venice this May, e-mail me There are only 2 days left to sign up for this amazing workshop!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book cover for "The Art of Virtue" by Niki Gulley

16" x 20" pastel by Niki Gulley • SOLD

I was commissioned to create this unusual floral painting for The Art of Virtue, a book that was just published on the writings of Benjamin Franklin by Charles T. Warren. The publisher wanted a painting that could be used in its entirety for the cover art and then also as eight individual paintings that could be broken up to be the artwork for each of its chapters. Also, with Franklin's interest in and influential development of horticulture in Philadelphia, florals seemed like a perfect fit.

At top is the original painting, along with the cover of the book and some interior pages above and below. For more information on commissions, e-mail me at

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tuscany Painting by Niki Gulley

12" x 12" oil painting • Tuscany • by Niki Gulley

The NLAPW invited me to demonstrate my technique and approach to oil painting this weekend. With only 30 minutes for the demo, I thought about what I could actually paint that quickly when it usually takes me a lot longer to finish an oil painting in the studio or on location, and often times I have to complete the final layers a couple of days later when the earlier paint has dried. So I thought if I stuck with a small canvas, started with squeezing out more paint that I'd need, premixing my colors, having the underpainting and drawing completed, and stuck with a subject I was familiar with, I could accomplish enough for the group to take away a nugget or two of information.

Having visited Tuscany a couple of times and painted numerous scenes plein air and from photos and memories, I chose this Tuscan landscape with the lone clump of cypress. I love the rolling hills, wildflowers in the foreground, and especially that bizarre grouping of trees in the distance. Why are they planted that way? How come they are the only trees for a mile around? The site intrigues me, so I was excited about sharing it with the group. Thank you for having me as your guest, ladies! I hope you enjoyed the demo.

For more information about my paintings from Italy or about upcoming painting/photography workshops in Tuscany and Venice, e-mail me at

Details are soon to come on my website,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Painting Venice with Niki Gulley

"Afterglow," Venice, Italy by Niki Gulley
14" x 11" pastel

As we're approaching the deadline for our plein air painting and photography workshop that my husband and I are teaching in Venice this May, I'm getting more and more excited about the trip. Venice is such a fascinating place with its architecture being 100s of years old, and the only modes of transportation being by foot or boat, that it really feels like you've stepped back in time. It's difficult not to see a painting opportunity around every corner.

In "Afterglow" I wanted to capture the beautiful sunset that night over the main lagoon. The buildings in the background were kind of hazy with the sun setting, and the gondolas in front of me had just finished dropping off then final love-struck passengers and were being put away for the night. I felt like I could be in the middle of one of Claude Monet's paintings!

If interested in other paintings from Venice or in more information about our upcoming workshops in Italy, e-mail me at or visit Jan. 30th is the cut off for the Venetian workshop, and space is limited to only 12 participants, so sign up today and join us for this amazing opportunity!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Color Explosion Workshop with Niki Gulley

"Backyard Aromas" ©2010 by Niki Gulley
12" x 24" pastel

In this pastel I wanted to capture this beautiful lavender field, but so many artists paint lavender that I wanted to put a twist on the subject matter. Rather than recreate the realistic colors as I saw them, I thought it would be fun to see how far I could push my colors. I love the way complimentary colors vibrate when next to each so I chose oranges and yellows for the sky and sand in between the rows since they are opposite of the blues and purples of the lavender on the color wheel. I love the energy and color contrasts of the finished painting!

On Jan. 30th, I'll be teaching an all day workshop at my studio, "Color Explosion," where we'll cover color theory and meaning so that you can use color with confidence. Registration deadline is this Friday, Jan. 22nd, and I have just a few spots left. Let me know if you have any questions or would like to participate in the workshop. For more information, e-mail me at or visit

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Intricate Rooftops II - pastel by Niki Gulley

"Intricate Rooftops II" - China
5" x 7" pastel by Niki Gulley

Here is another small study from China.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Floating on Water pastel by Niki Gulley

"Floating on Water," Thailand
10" x 8" pastel by Niki Gulley

Having our friend, who lives in Thailand, to help guide us while we were visiting Bangkok allowed us to get off the beaten path and see all sorts of sights besides the main tourist attractions. One of my favorites was a trip to this temple park where they had recreated all of the major temples in Thailand on a smaller scale, but still life-size so that you could still tour inside the buildings in addition to viewing the exterior details and grounds as they would appear in their natural setting.

I was particularly drawn to this Chinese temple which appeared to actually be floating on water from certain angles. I loved the deep red exterior with jade green detailing and the way the exotic looking spider mums in the foreground framed this view. Late afternoon light also added a sense of peacefulness to the scene.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thailand pastel by Niki Gulley

"Intricate Rooftops," Bangkok, Thailand • by Niki Gulley
5" x 7" pastel

On the last leg of our Asian adventure, we visited our good friend who had been living in Bangkok, Thailand for the past year. We welcomed having our host and much appreciated tour guide help us navigate the 18 million person city, especially after having toured around the other countries on our own.

Our first stop, which is a must for all tourists, was the lavishly gilded Grand Palace. The elaborate, ornate Thai architecture was so different than the more understated temples we'd seen in China and Japan. At first, I almost felt overwhelmed by all of the colors, scrolling details and vibrant gold. But when I focused in on just a small section of the grandeur, such as in this pastel close-up of the wat rooftop, I could really appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship more fully.

If you'd like to see more small works in my temple series from Asia, e-mail me at

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bridge to Yesterday pastel by Niki Gulley

"Bridge to Yesterday" - Guilin, China - by Niki Gulley
11" x 14" pastel

Once we finished visiting Tokyo, we proceeded on to mainland China for an adventure of a lifetime. After a harrowing 15 hour ride west into the countryside from Hong Kong on a jam-packed floor-room only overnight sleeper bus, we finally began to see the mystical mountain formations that make Guilin one of the most beautiful areas of China and the source of artists' inspiration for centuries. The way in which the mysterious karst mountain formations rise and disappear amongst the misty, foggy atmosphere is truly magical.

We came across this park on our last day in Guilin. After such an exhausting journey, and the hustle and bustle of the big city, this slice of tranquility was just what we needed. In this pastel, I wanted to convey the peacefulness and the mystical quality of this quiet spot. The precipitation was heavy in the air, which created a nice contrast between the red foot bridge in the foreground and the distant hazy mountains.

For more information about "Bridge to Yesterday," e-mail me at

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Imperial Palace, Tokyo by Niki Gulley

"Imperial Palace" Tokyo, Japan by Niki Gulley
10" x 8" pastel

This pastel of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo is inspired by a trip we took to Asia about this same time last year. Our layover in Japan allowed us to explore Tokyo for a couple of days. While the afternoons were cool and crisp, we lucked out with beautiful blue skies and could explore most of the city on foot and subway. I loved the architecture and the unusual flora we encountered. In this pastel, I wanted to convey how peaceful it was on this winter's morning along with the beauty of the bridge and palace framed by the weeping willow.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twilight, Venice by Niki Gulley

"Twilight, Venice" by Niki Gulley
11" x 14" pastel

In anticipation of our upcoming painting/photography workshop that my husband and I are teaching in Venice, Italy this spring, I thought I'd put my excitement down on canvas. I can't wait to get back to the beauty and magic of Venice. I love entering a different world and time when we visit. This piece is inspired by the glow cast from the sun setting beyond the lagoon. Most of the gondolas have returned from their romantic cruises and have been put up for the night. There is a calmness to the usually bustling waterway that I thoroughly enjoy this time of day.

If interested in "Twilight, Venice" or in more information about our next painting/photography workshop in Italy, e-mail me at

Or, visit my website The registration deadline of Jan. 30th is quickly approaching!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Oil Study by Niki Gulley

7" x 5" oil painting by Niki Gulley

Another chunky sculpted oil painting with 1/4 inch thick paint.

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