June 01, 2007

Decade of Change... Or Not?

1995 - Square Parts - 36x36

A comment from an earlier post made me pause to ponder that show from 1997... you might have also wondered where my work was among all those realistic still lifes. Have I only been painting abstracts less than ten years? No, but thanks for noticing. I could say I was in a state of transition but more accurately, it would be a state of trying to please everyone including myself.

I've been painting abstracts from the get-go ('70's) but early work that could be genetically traced to current abstracts show up in my inventory folders from about '92... 15 years. Prior to that I played with a variety of abstract ideas presented as realistic studies. My archives are a work in progress that will require a lot of slide conversion to digital... (clues to the best source appreciated) but look around if you like.

1995 - Arrangement 1 - 40x30

But back to the still lifes of '97... why? Two reasons...
1) Because I was in transition and not really sure where I was destined... and
2) Realism requires a different set of polished skills. Without a formal degree, I've always felt a need to prove myself. Satisfaction comes when you meet an MFA who can't paint... and you know you can, on several levels ;-) Nothing like envy to motivate!

At the time I had two strong galleries that handled my wobbly, uncertain abstracts, and was invited to join two start up galleries (different states) that needed more in the way of realism. I really had nothing nailed as a branded style after leaving w/c for canvas work and was still under the influence of anything that flew by. I admit that sales were the prime motivator and I was trying to determine which way was up, realism or abstraction.

You know the end of the story... or is it the end? The stronger galleries could sell my abstracts better than the smaller galleries could sell my still lifes. That's just the way the cards fell for me... the slightest twist in marketing or style change could have resulted in a different outcome. So much for artistic idealism! I still have a determination to make my abstracts read more as landscapes in a style not yet struck... but I'm open to whatever the fates have in store. Maybe that's the real artistic idealism... just let it happen.

6 comments:

Jacie said...

Karen, myself and my friend Leya(Use My Sky), both went to Art College, left without a degree and well she is a brilliant painter and the jury is still out on me. Ha!

Jacques Demers past coach of the Montreal Canadians, revealed two years ago that he is illiterate. Yet he is one of the best coachs that hockey has ever seen.

Experience and mastery, comes over time, hey. No degree required! Oh and Go Sens! Ha!Crazed Canadian Hockey Fan!

patches said...

I enjoyed thumbing through your archives. It's nice to see transitions at work, as well as the overlap in styles. Sometimes it takes time to determine which artist you want to be.

Re: Slides to digital. Find a film developer and ask if they have a slide scanner, then see if they will offer you a bulk rate. A good slide scanner (like a nikon coolpix) will yield fairly good results if you have good color in your slides. But don't be surprised if the color needs tweaking in the digital file to match the original. They should be able to burn a cd or dvd of your images. The higher the resolution of the scanned images, the better the reproduce, and the more detail the capture. If you're just using them for the web, it isn't as important. You can also ask a commercial printer if they offer the same service, but it will be pricier. Sorry this is a post within itself, feel free to email me if you have any questions about resolution, etc.

KJ said...

About that degree envy... I'm over it! But back in the days when the resume was ultra important, I was super self conscience. Never mind... the work had to speak for itself and that's what it's all about, isn't it?

Thanks for the conversion info... there are a couple of local shops that I'll start with. Procrastination has always been my worst enemy.

Daphne said...

Hi Karen.

I love your work. The markings in all of your pieces appeal to me so much.

I use technical pens in mine but my lines tend to be more drafted because of earlier influences.

I have been interested in finding a course that teaches the more expressive line work like you mark your work with.

I would take a course from you in a minute if you taught and lived here...

And being someone without a fine art degree as well (I have an interior design degree which is a good cross-over)I feel excited when I see more proof that a bfa is only one way to get there.

It would be boring if everyone learned the same things in the same manner...

And I am at the point in my work, where I am a stay at home mom of pre-schoolers, and I paint at home in the kitchen where there is space and light like you used to do.

So, thank you so much for sharing with all of us. It's inspiring.

Martha Marshall said...

Thanks for the tour, Karen. You've given me almost enough courage to show what I was doing ten years ago. But I too would have to convert slides to digital.

Annie B said...

These musings about the trajectory of your career are really fascinating to me, especially as I'm at the beginning of a shift in my own career. So interesting to hear what you did at the various choicepoints along the way -- and how seldom we recognize that we're at a choicepoint until afterwards! Thanks for noting some of the pitfalls: pleasing others, being influenced by other's work or trends, needing to prove something, reacting to the market. Your honesty is refreshing. I can certainly find these same issues in the world of illustration.