Black Water

June 20, 2019
by Karen Phillips Curran
For many years I have been painting images of water. It began at a stressful juncture of my life and I have used the images as a continuing challenge for creativity as well as mindfullness. Creating rythmic imagery has a calming effect on me, the artist. I can tell from feedback about the works, that they create that same calm feeling when looked upon. I am grateful for that. These three acrylics are called ‘Black Water’. They are for sale on Artbomb …or from me here 560$ plus shipping and taxes  
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                A hay wagon rattles past me, again. Its dust settles on us here, country roads in the summer…that smell, the dust, the sounds… I spend a fair amount of time on country roads, I have to in order to get anywhere from here. the sights I pass are iconic in a purely Canadian way. They reflect my environment. Here I’ve created some interesting pairs. They are acrylic painted on canvas that is attached to wooden ovals. They are ready to hang.                     Some of these are favourite fields, all are places that made an impression on me each time I saw them. They are familiar to me.                 These are all summer images, they feel hot, sultry and dreamlike. Let me know if you want them for your wall…$350 to 450 for the pairs…shipping would be extra.  
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I awaken. I’m in the country. The sound of fog is in the air. I know it before I open my eyes, it is a quiet like no other. An early morning fisherman appears then disappears. His orange vest glows eerily until he is gone. Silently, I wish him luck. Later the sun starts to break through the mists, and green is everywhere, the shoreline, the rising stand of cedar and spruce, the water’s reflections, and if I use my artistic insight I can get the foggy air to feel green too. Here are two new pieces I’ve been working on lately. They are acrylic and graphite on canvas and board. the larger one is 43″ x 5.5″ and the smaller one is 33″ x 5.5.
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Recently I was commissioned to paint a landscape in my Local Colour series. Landscapes have long been a series of mine, first in watercolour and now I do more acrylic landscapes. This one is called Summer Breezes and I do hope the reason is obvious. It is in what we call landscape format, a long thin one, designed to fit in a specific area of the clients beautiful rural home. It gently reminds the viewer of the hills and trees seen from their windows. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, appreciating the input the client gave me during the process. They were happy to receive their piece and had the hammer and hanging hooks at ready! So If you see something you like here on my website but want to commission me to do another in a different size or format to fit a specific wall, get in touch! i would be more than happy to talk to you about it! It’s as easy as that!
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Those words appeared in my morning digest of information. They stopped in in my tracks. I’m just waking up, and they just woke me up. They woke me up to my mission, my like as an artist. Currently, I am working on a largish (64×20) landscape commission ( yes! I do commissions!). I have a series I call ‘Local Colour’, landscapes from the region I live in, the upper Ottawa Valley. 99% of them are impressions, only once in a while are they of a specific place. There is much about this part of Ontario I love, the rolling hills, trees galore, mixed woods, rivers lakes and rocks and sky. The fall colours are astonishing, spring and summer too. I adore the gently sloping shadow studded vistas of winter. The client hasn’t seen the painting yet so i can’t show you, but i can show you from whence it came…
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Winter tales

December 16, 2017
by Karen Phillips Curran
It is a wintry day here in Springtown and nowhere near that time when thoughts of spring appear, unbidden. I have several of my paintings here in the house that can remind me of the promise of spring. The bright blue light of a mid-winter day outside is blinding in contrast to the warm enfolding colours of spring. My patience wanes as the weather intimidates us with its burden of, yet again, more fresh fallen snow and ice. Winter will run its course like it always does. This year my partner’s newly built studio is a short walk through the woods. It means will be in touch with winter walks on a daily basis, back and forth through the woods like little red riding hood, except my coat is a plum colour. So I remind myself to be patient, that spring will appear one day. The maple bush will come alive with activity. Snow will be tramped down to mud and old maples will lovingly be bled of sap. The smell of wood smoke and the distant call of returning geese will once again reign. A new cycle of growth and rejuvenation will begin. I can’t wait.
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I am most inspired by light. My subject matter may change and shift, but light remains the constant. Sometimes it’s the light through the trees, or on a path, in a puddle. Other times it is the dappled light on a wall, a gate, a shutter, or a door. The contrast of a blackbird in a snow-covered field holds the same attraction. Light and contrast are visual candy. It is sweet, occasionally bittersweet. I choose a medium to suit the flavour and the intensity that I want to impart. Sometimes I use my tried-and-true watercolour, but my facility with acrylic, pastel, collage, alternative photography, or a mix of any of these, can satisfy the muse. Part of the journey is to tactilely manage the medium, with the message. I always ask myself which is the best voice to use for this . . . Unlike many other professional artists, I tend to move around my media, asking them to play with me, to capture even more of the essence required, to create the message.
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The smell of ice is still in the air. The nearby stream rustles and rumbles, as water passes from place to place, not unlike my thoughts. It feels like spring, but it is only a teaser. What else is spring, but a teaser? She shows her face beside a winters day,  flashing her warm smile on our expectant faces, then she disappears behind a bank of new fallen snow. Then one day, some green appears. A group of small leaves appear, who have had their heads resting under the whorls of dead grasses that lay recumbent. The weight of winter lay upon their collective shoulders and they fell to embrace the earth in a bruised dance. But crocus and snowdrops, trout lilies, and my favourite, scilla, all vy for their showplace in the forest floor. One at a time and in scattered groups they open their tiny flower faces to the spring show. A gentle wave of birdsong accompanies their appearance, calling out “its spring” in no uncertain terms. A chorus will soon join the chicadees, the distinct scree of the red winged blackbird alongside the distant honk of incoming geese while careening towards the wet fields. More will follow in […]
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Every artist experiences change. It is that which can either compel creativity, or thwart it. I am in the midst of an artistic change right now. After 17 seasons as the head scenic artist for Canada’s National Arts Centre,  I am moving on. I have called it ‘retiring’, mostly to signify it’s job like status. I was, have been, contracted each season since the 1999-2000 season, to paint all the English Theatre productions as well as various Theatre Francais sets, the Governor General Awards sets, as well as other special projects around the building. It has been a rewarding experience. I was renumerated for the work I did on an hourly basis. The workshop is a large well equipped studio to work in, it has its faults, but we worked within those boundaries.  It has a typical 70-s building issue, poor ventilation,  and so I have been spared many of the toxic chemicals I may have been seconded to use. I learned to paint with what I call the ‘30 foot eye’, seeing the images from that distance, when you are actually only 5 feet away. (I am 5’4” and that is as far away as I can be holding […]
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