My creative process begins long before it ‘appears’ in ‘real’ life. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become masterful at a skill. Some multitude of those hours are encoded in the thought processes that go on in the beginning, middle and end of creation. My studio is part of my home, I’ve worked like that all my creative life. When I did murals, museum work and stage sets, I would immerse myself in that place, creating the environment by being in and of it. I would live waking and dreaming of this monumental art I was creating, until it was finished. At times, the ordinary moments of life- doing the dishes, folding laundry, sweeping a floor- the kinds of activities that hardly need a lot of attention (having done them all my 60+ years), are exactly the formula for creative thought. I can go places in my mind and create pieces there. I can solve issues, imagine new colours or old colours, and explore new ideas. This exploration and extrapolation are where the creative process begins, only then does the actual, physical painting process begin. Like Life, paintings rarely turn out as planned. No matter, I don’t think they are supposed to. They […]
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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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Hope

August 10, 2017
by Karen Phillips Curran
“Hope is the thing with feathers…” The first stanza of the Elizabeth Browning poem first came to save me when my father died in a plane crash. The feather began earlier as a symbol in my work but was cemented into my psyche by this poem. The painting, “Hope”, is part of a long journey, dealing with past abuse in my life. I have paired the many coloured bruise, with the rainbow. Yellows, greens, purples and such, all appear while your most painful bruises heal. The connection fascinated me and a series of work was born. When we are in the midst of an abusive situation it can be hard to find hope, I found it in colour. I hope you find hope here too. This piece was auctioned by Lanark County Interval House as a fundraising effort. I was happy to offer it to them. Years ago I was the on the team for fundraising.  It remains one of the more daunting parts of the effort to make women and children safe from abuse. Strangely enough, when I was at the end of my second abusive relationship, their assistance was not forthcoming. I had been arrested by the police in a domestic […]
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The art of life I’ve learned that life is lived in stages, sometimes one slips into the next unnoticed, other times the changes are abrupt. One’s circumstance can dictate your progress. One’s will helps define your limitations. Some blame their life events upon circumstance, but it has been shown to me over the 6 decades of my life, that our will can clearly overcome circumstance. Some folks appear to have been handed life on a silver platter. Those platters are, in some ways, deceitful. If you could walk a mile in their shoes one would discover the cost of those apparent gifts. The one thing I’ve been all my life, (apart from female), is an artist. As such, over the years, many hundreds of well-meaning folks have told me how lucky I am to have talent. Yet, talent alone is not nearly enough to succeed as an artist. Determination and a will to pursue art making are mandatory to be able to call oneself an artist. You cannot chase something while standing still. You cannot be an artist without an artistic practice. So that is why I say, Life is an art and art is my life.  
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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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                                                                                                         Wherever I am I paint, draw and see….I am setting a new studio space in a place far from home. Love drives me there, is my motivation, that, and a thirst for new experiences, new visions, new warmth, new trust, new work….
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