Thanks for stopping to look, I hope you enjoy my artwork. Follow the links to my website, FB page and my Daily Paintworks store for even more! Thanks!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Comrade: Binding the Oath

One of my latest paintings is hanging in the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Reading.  It is a beautiful hotel and I feel pretty honored to be able to hang my work there.  I have had a few people ask me what the painting is all about, and someone (thank you Susan Scofield!) asked if I could write a blog post about it.  Here goes....  


In case you haven't seen the finished painting, here it is.  Below I explain how I got here.



First, let me explain that the Native American guy pictured in my painting is someone you too can visit if you happen to be in Berks County...I came across him while tooling around one afternoon looking for some good plein air painting spots and checking out the Conrad Weiser homestead in Wolmelsdorf.  I was admiring the historical buildings when I peeked into a clearing and there he stood. The light was so good that day, creating these heavy contrasts and showing off his planes and form quite nicely. I took a bunch of photos knowing I would paint him... According to what I could find, this statue is a rendition of Iroquois cheif Shikellamy whom Weiser befriended. If you are interested in reading more about that history, check it out here.    

Putting aside the statue for the time being, I must confess that I am a lifelong student of mystic philosophies and spirituality in general.  It is not something I share readily as I have learned it is better to keep my mouth shut in matters such as this.  But, in the happy spirit of explanation, I will admit this...  I recently have been studying sacred geometry and how it has been employed for centuries by artisans, architects and even computer programmers in designing amazing and masterful works of art and more..  It is a fascinating subject and too much for me to delve into here.  Just know, that if you google Sacred Geometry, you likely will be up the rest of the night following threads all over the place, to all parts of this amazing world we live in and maybe beyond.
A pretty well known explanation of sacred geometry is the Fibonacci Sequence: A series of numbers: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34 and so on.  This series and subsequent ratio is found everywhere in nature.

The Universe... Sacred geometry of course...

Sunflowers...

Humans...



Getting back to Weiser's Native friend.  As I began designing my image I saw that the Indian was going to require some type of sacred imagery to speak to his obvious posture of peace and strength. What is he doing anyway? He is holding a peace pipe and it appears he is paying homage to the sky... standing strong in the face of adversity?... Calling for peace?  Standing up for what he believes in?... (Btw, I was now calling Weiser's native friend Comrade as he indeed seemed friendly enough to do so..) Coming across the image pictured above, of rectangles designed in a perfect spiral, I overlayed it on a flipped image of Comrade, I was happily amazed to find that things were lining up...  (I flipped Comrade purely as a design choice...  wanting to emphasize the baroque diagonal vs the sinister.. if you care about this, you can read more about it here...)


Now what?  Something else was needed...  I know...Graffiti!  I have created a number of paintings that have included some kind of graffiti.  Another side passion of mine is admiring graffiti for what it is, other than the illegal defacement of private property - that is, abstract text which is often beautifully executed.  It is this combination of the abstract with that quality of 'you almost can read what it says, but not quite' that I love about graffiti. It is the same reason I often listen to music that has lyrics that are sung in a different language.  The words become abstracted and form sound, rhythm, shape and color, without the cumbersome meaning inevitably attached to the words.  I liked the idea of including graffiti for this reason, because really, Comrade didn't yet have a true meaning to me.  In other words, his image speaks of something I can almost grasp, but not quite... 

Jumping ahead, I will say this, I often work this way when designing a more complex painting.  I pick and choose imagery that feels right together, whether it is because of it's underlying design, inherent meaning or some other je ne sais quoi.. Below, you see I also chose to put the edited image through a sepia filter to negate any color... I was interested in a less descriptive background.. one that also spoke of something possibly spiritual, possibly further giving an indication of what our friend was doing...


The graffiti I settled on was chosen for it's acceptable abstracted quality as well as the fact that it worked well with the design.  I also opted for some birds radiating away from the apex which of course carry all kinds of symbolism... freedom, death (if they are crows...), flights of fancy, the spirit materialized, etc, etc...

So, there it was... the design I pretty much intended to paint... Another thing I should mention is that I often will paint on a black ground.  It's just something I have grown to like for the ability to see some pretty stark contrasts very quickly...


So this is how I started Comrade.  And after I blocked in the initial shapes and lines, I decided I liked the darkness afforded by the black background.  I began adding color to emphasize the spirals and radiating lines but decided to leave the bottom largely dark.  The design and patterns of light and color could also be seen as having meaning.. but I will let that up to you.


Of course now my painting needed a frame.  Yay!  Another passion of mine happens to be wood working, particularly frame making.  I knew he needed something that made a statement... something special.. Cutting to the chase, I have had the recent good fortune of both acquiring some barnwood with a lot of character (translate: very dirty, splintery and extremely cool once cleaned and sanded) and being gifted some fine framing materials by an artist friend of mine, Harry Bentz.  I decided to meld the two together... blending old with new, binding two very different materials from two very different time periods.  More layers of meaning, but exactly what it means, again, I leave this up to the viewer...




I don't spend as much time talking about my frame making, but I will say that it is an important and integral part of my art making.  I love pairing a painting with a frame that I can make custom for it. I enjoy taking raw and often difficult wood and sanding, sawing and nailing it to bend to my wishes, to create something both useful and beautiful...


And he ended up hanging here, in the DoubleTree hotel in Reading, right outside of the grand ballroom!  I love that he will be greeting all manner of folk as they make their way to a most likely splendid event.  If he gives just one person pause, to consider what the sacred symbolism, the waving Native American, the lines, the colors and even the frame.. what it all means... then I guess at the very least, we can call this Art.

Thank you for reading this. Hopefully it was an enjoyable glimpse into my process and hopefully it inspires some to visit the actual statue on the Conrad Weiser Homestead, and maybe even visit my painting in the hotel! :)






Sunday, March 12, 2017

Yayoi Kusama

Awhile back I painted a portrait of an artist named Yayoi Kusama after looking at contemporary female artists and coming across her.  She is a fascinating woman with an equally fascinating history, and she is still alive, creating artwork at 88 years old! I blogged about her a little bit and posted my painting of her ...

"Yayoi Kusama", oil on panel, 6"x6"
purchase info here
If you would like to find out more about Yayoi Kusama, I recommend checking out this link - It takes you to a page recently created on Artsy, a great website who's mission is "To make all the world's art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection."  (Love this!)  One their editors contacted me after he came across my blog post and asked if I would like to link to their page. They are showcasing Yayoi right now to coincide with The National Art Center in Tokyo's current exhibit "Yayoi Kusama: My Eternal Soul".

The Artsy page has Yayoi's bio, over 250 of her works, articles and much more! Check it out..:)


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Collage of the paintings I completed during this 30 in 30

Well, another 30 in 30 has come and gone! The last image we always create at the end of every 30 in 30 is a collage of all of the paintings we created during the challenge.  It is really a great thing to do, as all the paintings always have such impact when viewed in this way.
This challenge was a little different for me as I had so much else going on in my life that I didn't get to paint all 30 days.  That's ok though. I must admit, I was disappointed the first day or 2 that I missed painting.  I do like to challenge myself and finish 30 paintings. But, in reality, looking at the work I did complete, which amounts to 20 paintings, I can say, Let it Go, Karen! 20 paintings is not too shabby.  
If you followed me through out this challenge, you may be wondering what happened to my Glimpsed paintings.  The Glimpsed paintings are a series of 20 of the world's most visited cities all painted on very long, narrow, vertical panels that measure 4"x 18".  I completed 11 of these so far.  What I found during the challenge was that these paintings are very time consuming to design and research and I definitely need to devote more than one day to each of them. I am still pumped about the idea as I really love the concept and results - My intent is to provide an image that gives a fleeting glimpse of one of these 20 places in the world, as if you are driving by an area and catch sight of a beautiful scene but only for a fleeting moment. Anyway, there will definitely be 9 more of these to come to complete the series, but as I said, I will be taking more time to find the images and design with care.  Thanks for everyone who followed me and gave such wonderful, positive feedback through the intensity and fun of the 30 in 30!  Love you!

January 2017 Collage of Paintings



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Day 30 - "The Duck : Harmony in Red" (The Red Chair)

The last painting from me in this challenge is one that I specifically painted to hang at Art Plus Gallery in W. Reading. The member artists at the gallery are having a friendly contest to create a piece of artwork that is inspired by our sweet Red Chair.. (See pics below). I was inspired by the chair, and also by a fellow member who decided to paint the chair in a Van Gogh painting. I really loved that idea so after getting a nod of approval, I shamelessly borrowed the idea and painted my red chair in a Matisse inspired painting - in fact, one of his most famous paintings titled "The Dessert: Harmony in Red" also known as the Red Room.  I will include an image of Matisse's painting so you can compare and see the changes I have made to make it my own. Hope you enjoy!


The Duck, Harmony in Red (The Red Chair), oil on panel, 14"x18",
to purchase, please click here

The Dessert : Harmony in Red (The Red Room), 1908 by Henri Matisse
To read more about this painting, click here



The Red Chair

Friday, January 27, 2017

Day 26 & 27 - Learning to Waddle

This 30 in 30 has been much more of a challenge for me to get up to my studio and to paint every single day.  Some of that is just life keeps happening... doctor's appointments, sick kids, work, dinner, laundry... And some of it is that I also make all of my own frames, and have been doing that lately... But part of it is that I just enrolled in a design course which I am hoping will teach me the lost art of composition... knowledge that was well understood by masters such as Michelangelo, Van Gogh and Rockwell, but has been largely forgotten during the past century with the rise of abstraction and conceptual art.  I can tell you this. I have a degree in fine art and went back to college to become certified to teach art to kids k-12.  In all the years I spent in college, I never had one course that taught me what I am beginning to learn with this course.  So, anyway..
The 2 paintings I am presenting today are almost the same... Same subject, colors and almost the same composition, with some seemingly minor differences.  I call them "Learning to Waddle" (probably should include 1 & 2) I guess because it's what I feel I am doing right now with this course.  I am learning the basics again and feel somewhat that I am starting back at the beginning.  Looking forward to sharing my progress!
And if you feel inclined, would you leave a comment telling me which of the 2 compositions you like better?  Thank you!

Learning to Waddle 1, oil on panel, 9"x12"
to purchase please click here

Learning to Waddle 2, oil on panel, 9"x12"
To purchase please click here

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Day 22 of the 30 in 30 - Tourist in Seoul

Seoul is the 11th most visited city in the world.  Located in South Korea, I wouldn't have thought it would be a popular tourist destination, but upon reading about Seoul, I found that not only is it apparently beautiful, but the South Korean people are said to be kind and respectful of each other and visitors.  According to one visitors site, the South Korean's way of life is "Work hard, play hard", and Seoul is reported to have an active and fun night life as well as an amazing park system.  When you look at a map of Seoul, you can see a huge park that resides smack in the middle of the city. This scene, while not in that park, is located in the area of Seoul called Yongsandong, and is near their National Museum.  I liked the small pagoda like structure with the mountain rising in the background.  Also enjoyed painting this young lady, enjoying her day as a tourist.

Tourist in Seoul, oil on panel, 4"x18"
to purchase please click here


Friday, January 20, 2017

Day 20 of the 30 in 30 - "Roller Derby Ducky"

How many of you out there (assuming you were born early enough to not only remember the 80's but have actively participated in them) had a pair of roller skates and a "Hang Ten" tee-shirt?  Well, I lived through the 80's (showing my age here...) but, alas, I was not an avid roller skater...  But, I had an epiphany the other night....  My ducks need roller skates!  Upon looking for images of roller skates, I started coming across AMAZING images of roller derby skates and of course all things 80's.  Along with that came the iconic Hang Ten shirts with the two little foot prints on the upper left and the rainbow stripe across the chest.  It became evident that I needed to put all of these elements together, and so, Roller Derby Ducky was born.  And what better day to paint such a painting than on this day of peaceful transfer of power, when so many people out there are looking to smile just once. I hope this painting is the reason you did...  :)  

Roller Derby Ducky, oil on panel, 9"x12"
to purchase, please click here

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