Spring Comes Fast

Copyright, Niya Christine

“Spring Comes Fast” Acrylic on Canvas Board. 18×24′

I have 4 paintings coming to a close at the same time. It’s this new abstraction challenge that I’m having fun slopping around in—I meant that literally. It’s also that the weather is warming up, which means the oil paintings are drying faster and the acrylics are used in between as they do. Painting hopping is fun, I recommend it.

~ Welcome new subscribers! The newsletter comes out next week. Lots of action to share. In the meantime, enjoy spring!

Abstract Painting – Pencil Notes

Copyright, Niya Christine


For the past couple weeks I’ve been utterly obsessed with abstract painting. A new frontier. I didn’t know how exciting and absorbing it could be. I’ve always considered myself a figurative expressionist; animals and people mostly. An insect here and there. Landscapes with stories in them. The beginning generally has a shape. In abstract, it’s the opposite. You are painting the invisible until it becomes what it’s meant to be. The color shapes the energy and form. Line can go everywhere and nowhere. And yet it all comes back to something the ear settles into. Compared nicely with musical composition.

Copyright, Niya Christine

Windy Conversations

What I’m sharing here is simple drawings on card stock. The paintings got to be so maddening, I came back to smaller works. I also was very excited to try out my new Derwent water pencils. Aren’t they something? It’s the little things.

Niya Christine


Karine Swenson is a fabulous teacher. She got in there with each one of us and helped us tackle the obscure issues that come up when approaching a blank canvas with a few colors mixed and no idea what you are going to do. It’s not easy teaching a class of such depth online.

Niya Christine

Under Venice

I created a space in the garage to paint in oil and to paint large. It was pretty sweet. Blasting the blues and throwing some paint. I have 4 paintings in process. I don’t like any of them yet. I have found this is what happens first. It’s a big ol’ soupy mess of pent up energy. And then the center finds itself over time. Karine introduced us to many great painters. We’ve studied: Gerhard Richter, Jasper Johns, Amy Sillman, Richard Diebenkorn (my fav), Franz Kline and more.

Niya Christine

Almost Born

Some quotes I loved:

“I paint the white as well as the black, and the white is just as important.” – Franz Kline

“Now, the idea is to get everything right – it’s not just color or form or space or line – it’s everything all at once.” – Richard Diebenkorn

“Painting is a physical thinking process to continue an interior dialogue, a way to engage in a kind of internal discourse or sub – linguistic mumbling.” – Amy Sillman

Niya Christine

Cactus Explosion

So that’s all. Have a wonderful week. I’ll be back with those large paintings soon-ish… as long as I don’t freak myself out with the primordial soup of abstraction.

Niya Christine

Morning Blobs

I am pretty excited about it, I must say. Ta ta!


What I see in my kitchen


Oh those old french fairy tales


Blondine, de Bonne-Biche et de Beau-Minon

This is a beautiful story. An old French Fairy Tale, 1920′s. It inspired me to learn more about this era for women illustrators. Gutenberg printing was an exciting time for women illustrators. I hope it returns with a vengeance.

This illustration was created on Yupo paper/watercolor and pastel. I’m still learning about this medium. You’ll likely see a few more. Next week is back to my roots – large finger paintings, abstract oil on canvas. Can’t wait. Another class with Carla. YAY.

Interview ~ Katherine Dunn :: Pie & Farm Goodness

copyright. Katherine Dunn

I met Katherine Dunn on Kickstarter. Her book, “Donkey Dream {A Love Story of Pie & Farm}” is one of the most charming inventive books I have ever encountered. I want you to know about her. I want you to be a part of this story.


Niya: I’m dying to hear anything you want to add about the talking barn and partying donkey. Who joins him? What is his favorite pie? Does the barn get annoyed by these parties? Does the barn just want some rest?

Katherine: {I love the imagination of this}

Pino and I are partners in imagination. The Old Barn is our protector as well as benefactor. Pino has no favorites. He loves food. But berry and apple are especially delicious to him or any donkey, and anything with graham in it. You have some very interesting questions, but as you can see in my paintings, there is usually a floating fence nearby-which is symbolic of boundaries. The Barn never caries a grudge, nor do the animals-however they can sense your inner core immediately and avoid those that are dangerous, overbearing.

Niya: Tell us about your pies. I know they are special. But what particularly delights you about the process? What are some sample recipe titles?

Katherine: Blackberry Pie for Theatrical Thinkers; Lemon Chess ie for Old Souls; Apple Pie for Dreams

The content of the baker’s heart is sealed in the crust. But it is the sharing of a pie, or a life, that makes love a verb-creating a catalyst for others to share and love.
I like working with the earth’s bounties too. I delight in taste and how a mixture of ingredients becomes a pie or cake.

Niya: I find your work very unique in that you integrate multi-disiplinary craftsmanship. Craftswomanship is what I meant. Story, mixed media, photography, digital illustration techniques, typography. It’s brilliant. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your capabilities? Or have you in the past? You make it look so effortless.

Katherine: As I age I am learning to focus, and this is frustrating at times as I see others painting and I get anxious to paint big or abstract again- but right now I have to focus on getting the book done. I work intensely-on whatever the project is. I play intensely too. It can be problematic, but it is how I am wired. The farm and all that goes with that is also a project-an ongoing one- and I had to learn that that it must be considered a project as it requires my energy, creative spirit and time. So I  like creating my own jobs on my timeline for that reason.

Niya: What’s your favorite pie recipe?


Katherine: Probably Chess Pie, or Walnut, or Buttermilk…you’ll have to wait for the book to see the recipes! They are written in a whimsical style, and readers will learnt the proper way to address a tree before harvesting its fruit, or learn that walnuts have a real sense of humor. http://apiferafarm.blogspot.com/search/label/Pie%20recipes%20of%20whim

Niya: What’s your favorite Pino story?

Katherine: Oh, well I don’t know. It’s like picking a favorite parent. I do like his Bucket story. http://www.blurb.com/b/3906148-bucket-donkey

Probably because Pino is gentle and optimistic in his stories. And he never has to do anything high and mighty, he does simple things that bring about good things, like helping an old bucket.



This concludes a peek into Katherine’s world of art and farm. I do hope you will visit her Kickstarter and pledge your butts off. It’s a wonderful project.


~ Katherine & Apifera ~

Help my new book/Kickstarter project!
“Donkey Dreams” {A Love Story of Pie & Farm}

Now available:
“Misfits of Love” {Healing Conversations in the Barnyard}

“Creative Illustration Workshop”


Bird in a Dream

Copyright: Niya Christine

“Bird in a Dream” Acrylic on Paper. 7×10′

Some birds live in trees. This one enjoys the dream.

Color Forest II :: {abstract painting series}


“Color Forest II” : 7×10′ mixed media on paper

Painting urges come on like a hunger for a good cooked meal. I couldn’t wait to finish Sunday errands and chores to get to the studio and get started on this painting. I’ll be working large again soon. Oil on canvas. It’s been a long time. The 365 project in 2013 was all small works on paper (to learn how). I’m signed up for an abstract painting class with Karen Swenson with Carla Sonheim’s art classes (again – I do love them). Color Forest I is here, if you are curious.

Creative Space Design #3 :: Setting up to sit down


Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 7.29.57 PM


This is a short essay that offers some ideas for carving out your creative space. To clarify the vision, claim the space and give it some visual props. Enjoy. This is the last article of this series. But there will be a new series coming soon.

* This is part 3/3 essay series on “Designing Your Creative Space.”

Part 1: Conditions of Genius

Part 2: Self Knowledge to Decor

Part 3: Setting Up to Sit Down




“Love a Chicken” Acrylic on 3 ft x 3 ft canvas

I’m a big chicken when it comes to marketing my work. If you came to me to market your work — help you identify what is special about it and it’s potential market influence, I’d be all over it. In fact, you would be bringing me a box of chocolate because then I could escape the excruciating work of turning that focus on myself.

I think it’s both more complex and more straight forward than fear alone. It’s personality and other annoying tendencies. For example, as an artist I like the freedom to explore various subject matter, form and technique. The idea of the traditional artist statement where I hot iron what type of artist I am makes me want to poke out my right eye. In a conversation with Ronnie Walter “License to Draw” she had an important insight. She said, you need to show them how to see your body of work. Packaging and demonstration is important to having the type of success you want. I agree. We are educating our marketers and business collaborators. And that’s an extension of the creative work.

Einstein said that a problem can’t be solved within the consciousness it was created. Maybe marketing can’t be solved by the mind that created the work of art. We are in a business culture where artists, writers, inventors, filmmakers are doing their own marketing and raising the money to get their products into the world. Bah, humbug… let the experts do what they do best. I still have the romantic idea I will find the perfect agent.

Perhaps it’s managing the anxiety of exposure, success, disappointment, vulnerability. The comforting thing is to keep creating. And I waddle my chicken butt up to the studio often for the comfort of color and good music.

However, since the 365 project — with books and new products coming out soon, it’s growth time. So I’ve taken out the word “marketing” in exchange for success partners. Agents, galleries, publishers don’t mind making money from my works, why should I mind chatting with them? And I am. And I’m even facing the word challenges of nailing the artist statement. Sometimes our minds make giant leaps into the task of marketing. It’s baby steps for this chicken. Baby steps…

Now where’s my chocolate?

Bunny Butt #7

Copyright Niya Christine

Full Moon Stretch

Last year while working on the rabbit series in May I kind of became hooked on painting bunny butts. I’m not sure why. Recently I’ve had a chance to explore it. I’m taking a book design class. And as I was learning about kerning and paragraph styles and such, I thought it would be more impacting to just design a tiny book to practice. So I wrote stream of consciousness for 15 minutes on all the possible reasons bunny butts make me giggle. Then I gathered up 7 paintings and plopped them in. I’m pretty happy with the result. So I’m exploring options to publish book in parallel to the “Art of Daily Cultivation” in the next couple months.

Fun, fun, fun.

…………………a little 7×7 hardback book in the making; here is a spread sample.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 11.54.11 AM

Fish with the Magic Egg

Copyright Niya Christine

Frog Princess. Year of the Fairy Tale, Carl Sonheim Class.

Studying new illustration techniques as we are working on The Frog Princess tale. I don’t know why my characters generally are so darn mischievous. Hmmm…

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