Perhaps you recognize the place or stance of the person Karen paints and the desire to be there again brings a memory long forgotten or a feeling of joy in your heart. Or perhaps the subject of the painting tips your unquenched curiosity and you are drawn to breath with it or wonder…” what was she thinking?” While Karen plays realism with a magical twist, her goal is to uncover the pathos, beauty, humor, or contradictions of a situation, environmental issue or personal story. Depending on subject and location at hand, she chooses one media over another to get the best effect, primarily working a series in one medium such as watercolor, oil, or acrylic and combining other materials as momentum dictates.
The Doggie Series was inspired by the passing of our 14-year-old black lab who put in thousands of miles with us from oceans to low and high desert ranges alike during our RV escapades throughout her life. When she died, I went into a tailspin of not painting for almost a year. I then slowly began to paint her in all different stages of her life in the various places we had been and then--- not been, taking the freedom of this imaginary existence to explore the elements of design in these dreamscapes. I’ve always enjoyed noticing the human characteristics in nonhuman animals ….and have wondered, “is it the human in them or animal in us that bonds us together on this earth?
Isit in my car as a very battered black stallion, “Good Ol’ Boy” crosses the highway in front of me to join his small band of mares and colts on the other side of the road. For those of us living in Northern Nevada, this is a common occurrence which calls for action by both those trying to protect the public driving on the roads and those defending the horses right to free range living. I see both sides, but appreciate the freedom of the wild horse to run in the early 21st century as it has in past centuries. Through my art, I attempt to touch that sense of wild that is freedom.
Friends, family and acquaintances have at times shared their dreams, trials and fears with me, seeding the pioneer quilt of my life. I see painting the human form as a way to share their stories, whether painting the figure itself or an environment that relates to the person or event. Occasionally I am so moved by an event, it overtakes me in the studio. The Watermelon Eater series began at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of a sudden I was unable to see my family who lived an hour away. I thought of the many family gatherings, one of which we had a watermelon eating contest. We lined up on the steps of the deck while photos recorded the event. Well, that wasn’t happening the summer of 2020. To keep it alive, I selected individual poses amongst those precious photos of family and neighbors...separating members of a family as we are living today. Then the melons started to dictate their own story for me as a metaphor representing society in the next several paintings. Still painting these; not sure where we are going.
While I appreciate the intimacy of the tiniest wildflower at my feet in the open spaces, I am transformed into a heavenly reality when I fly over mountain ranges. Seeing the earth from that perspective makes anything seem possible. The sky is endless and there appears no boundaries. I am then free to bring this feeling back into the studio to paint not what is, but emphasize the elements of time and space, distorted to give a sense of the place or object that has so moved me.