This trip was unusual... in the fact that it was not a teaching trip for me. I was just painting, photographing and taking in the cultures of Italy and Switzerland. Mary Ann Cope and I met artist Angela Powers and her group in Tuscany at Tenuta di Spannocchia and painted at that beautiful farm for a week. Then, Mary and I painted our way through the village of Neive in the Piedmont Region of Italy. We took cooking classes, wine tours, a photography class and generally painted little studies every single day.
The trip was capped off with a week of (more painting) in Switzerland. It was a very and inspiring journey. The food and wine were a big part of it and those "characters" have starting to show up in my paintings.
In the South, the clouds in our sky are a huge part of our landscape. They sometimes play a starring role. Our skies around the Islands here are so vibrant and ever-changing and we get to see it all, not blocked by mountains or buildings. They're important to us, soothing, stirring & inspiring. I am struck by the beauty around me and I want to capture it and am so happy when I'm painting out on Kiawah or Seabrook or Sullivans Island (or any Island for that matter.)
I have a pretty severe case of wanderlust, but I think if I were marooned in Charleston for the next hundred years it would be a pretty wonderful thing. Just a short stroll down almost any of our quaint city streets and you'll see breathtaking and awe inspiring vistas. I enjoy painting those scenes. I love the colorfulness of Charleston, the character of things old and new juxtaposed and the warm friendliness of our people.
The poppies that are part of this collection are from the Contessa Hamilton's farm in Tuscany. I have taught a painting class there for 3 years in mid June, usually and most of the time the poppies are sparse and have started wilting by then. One glorious year in June when the weather had been particularly wet, I was greeted with bountiful stands of red Italian poppies. Wild, growing everywhere. Lovely. The students and I spent loads of time that week studying them, painting them, picking and wearing them. They continue to be a great inspiration to me, now working their way onto ever larger canvases.
Look for my paintings in the grand ball room upstairs at Charleston Place Hotel during the famed Southeastern Wildlife Expo Feb. 11-14, 2016. My booth is located in the center isle near the back of the ballroom. These animals in my collection come from the shore birds that grace our harbors and soar over our marshes. The cows are from ranches around the South and the roosters from the Party Animal Series are from Rosebank Farms at Kiawah Island, SC. The Poppies are from the Contessa Hamilton's Olive Farm in Tuscany. The Japanese Koi paintings were inspired by my Koi pond at my former home.
It's been a dream come true to be invited to teach and paint in Italy & France. I never understood why people returned to Europe every year. Now I know and thoroughly understand. Italy is a loving, lush, rich, vibrant, sensuous kind of landscape. For several years we stayed at a beautifully aging Contessa's home in Tuscany, then we were treated to a finely restored monastery, following that, a working monastery on Lake Garda and most recently we've been hosted at a grand villa in San Giovanni d'Asso. Many of my smaller paintings are from those trips, the larger ones, done upon my inspired return.
"A decade ago, I had never heard of the Abaco Islands. After selling the house and moving aboard a boat full time, I set out exploring them. Titles like Hope Town, Marsh Harbour, Great Guana, Mermaid Rocks and Lubbers Cay grace the paintings from these tiny Bahamian Islands. It was an incredible two year journey through the quaint, sparsely occupied islands. I hikes across island with my easel, painted the scenery and then explored the rest, daily. Their people are gracious and welcoming the islands colorful and vibrant. (And the rum was good.) It was an special painting experience that influenced a large change from my tonal colors I had used in the past to a more colorful vibrant feel." - Karen
At the water's edge or on a boat, it's where I have felt the most at home. Before my odyssey of living aboard for 8 years, I could be found painting on the docks at marinas. There's something magical about boats; maybe it’s the symbolism of a journey or adventure yet to unfold? Or the excitement and the possibility of a little danger? It was certainly the most exciting thing I've done to date, living and painting aboard. love painting romantic figures, they're a small but important part of my work.
My love affair began with the ballet as a child when I was given a hand- me -down tutu. I never trained to dance but about a 15 years ago I took a course at the Gibbes Museum School where we were treated to sketching during live ballet rehearsals. After that, I started hiring the ballet dancers to pose in my studio and eventually that led to shooting photographs during performances at the Charleston Ballet. To have the opportunity to observe the dancers backstage during live performances is incredibly inspiring. My paintings of dancers, children and people on the beach and of the occasional romantic nude are always small in scale, but have been an enduring passion of mine for a long time now.
With Charleston being such a foodie town, it's only natural for me to want to paint our wonderful restaurant and bar interiors. I find it very inspiring to watch what's going on in the kitchen or at the tables nearby when I'm out. I love walking by the windows of restaurants at night and peeking in to see our vibrant night light unfolding.