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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Butterflies

December 20, 2017
by Karen Phillips Curran
Butterflies are beautiful. Their life cycle is amazing and not as yet completely understood… I painted the walls recently for the new butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Nature in Ottawa (Canada). It is a joyful design done by Jennifer Kwong . It was a pleasure to re-create onto the walls of the museum. In addition to her design, I was asked to add bugs and small creatures near ground level to entertain young ones as they waited their turn to go into the solarium where all the butterflies live. Its a magical place in there, lush growth, humid air, sunlit, and lots and lots of butterflies flitting about. If you wear colourful clothes they will land on you! The last time I was in, I dressed in brown, but a huge brown butterfly with wings resembling an owl eye landed on me. I watched with wonder as its probiscious searched for something yummy to eat. I had plenty of time to look at the wonderful pattern on its wing back… It is well worth the visit folks, closes April 2, so make a date and bring your childlike sense of wonder along with you….its worth the trip!
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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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The sun casts itself over towards the yard arm, on this, my first day of the rest of my life. The last show I’ll be painting, for Canada’s National Arts Centre, English Theatre, has been a baroque rendition of 12th Night. The Old Trout Puppet Company has designed an outrageous interpretation for me to manifest for them. It was certainly a labour of love. It opens in a few days and I am expectant…. to see the costumes, the props, the actors, the lights and sounds, bringing it all to life, if only for a little while… this is how it all begins… a small part of the floor…
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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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season of change

September 15, 2012
by Karen Phillips Curran
Time to pack up and get to the city….its theatre season. Here, I awaken to the sound of distant gunshot, it’s hunting season, and time to leave. The first set will be  a delicious array of warm and cool greys, depicting a coastal scenario. I am looking forward to it. Glace Bay Miners’ Museum…  
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home again

February 7, 2009
by Karen Phillips Curran
Image shown is one of the projects I did while at Cobalt Studios. It is 9′ x 12′ painted on muslin in traditional theatrical style designed and painted by…me. Ahhh, that delicious feeling of arriving home again, all that familiarity kissing you on the face.Life switches gears now, and the self~directed approach reigns again., the keystone, or the baine of existence, of the artist. My house and studio are full of post it notes with ideas of things to do, I’ll be sifting through them all this weekend to figure out where to start!My time away at Cobalt Studios in White Lake New York taught me many things, new ways to look at the paint surface, new ideas about things to do!Creative energy abounds right now.Off we go~
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motivation

January 26, 2009
by Karen Phillips Curran
Shoot for the stars , I always do, guess I’m an idealist. Here I am at Cobalt Studios, learning all I can about scenic painting. The best tool a scenic artist has is ingenuity- how can I get this done, the fastest, most efficient, physically easiest method? (You begin the think this way after spending 8 hours hunched over, on your knees on the floor drawing with a magic marker…). Process is as important as inventiveness. What to do first, then what, these are the important questions, think ahead. To have to go backwards is a nightmare, a waste of time and resources, not to mention spirit. I beautifully finished foreground usually precedes a fast and easy application of background. The question of tools comes into play, what tool is best for the job, most efficient. Often scenics use tools in unique ways, as well as a raft of unique tools of their own. Bow lines, scenic foot, snap lines, long handles brushes…But, I was talking about motivation. What is artistic motivation? In this instance it is a project, a challenge. I am beginning work on a small canvas, (by scenic standards) only 9×12 feet. I am planning it to […]
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week one!

January 13, 2009
by Karen Phillips Curran
I am having a great time here at Cobalt Studios, today is one whole week! It has flown by, as well as a sense of having been here forever. I am comfortable, warm, engaged in activity all day long, so no time to be bored or restless. I am learning new things all the time but not in a pressured environment, all very easy going. I even have an opportunity to occassionally teach them a tidbit or two. The environment is great, the workshop is well equipped and bright. The processes used here are more traditional so I get a chance to learn the good old ways, see the tools, use them, nothing like hands on to embed a teaching….
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