I love this time of year. When the shackles of winter are removed. When winter’s icy veil is lifted from our eyes life can renew itself. Going past the front door requires no coat, no mitts, no scarf, sigh. Green creeps into view slowly at first, then jogs along at a clip, like a happy pony will on its way homeward. The scent of lilac pervades the air right now. It is a distinctive aroma, and quite dear to me. It has a romantic sense to it.  I breathe it in deeply as I pass by the bushes to my rural mailbox. It soothes the chill deep inside me, this winter past was a difficult one. The verdant green this time of year is a balm to the soul. I,  like may artists throughout history, have struggled with the colour green. Its a delicate balance making that colour reveal the sense you want it to impart….it is spring,full on summer, the waning days before the leaves change? Different plants have a genetic tendency towards different greens. Some green for you   Summer Fantasy 20×16 1801 I recall my early days of painting in Bermuda. By chance I was in the gallery […]
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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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Passing Time – a series of historic family collages I never met my grandfather, yet the “Passing Time” series of historic family collages begins with his photo album. The photographs depict candid and posed shots of the places and people he knew and loved. He finds them at their homesteads, out camping, picnicking, in the city, or out in their fields. Their names are lost in the mist of time. The more I looked at his album, the more his, and their, stories began to emerge. Once we are gone, our story, as we would tell it, is lost. Passing time takes over. I felt I needed a more complex medium to depict the stories apparent in the photos. I turned to using my favourite kind of charcoal drawing, for spontaneity, Polaroid image transfers for their intensity, and collage, for a mixed media approach. These three mediums, combined with healthy layers of shellac give the historic family collages an amber like finish. Just like amber, they are caught in a golden glow of the past, recorded for us all to see, even years from now, when we have passed. As the bulk of the population ages, our past and family ties […]
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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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Riverstones

February 15, 2018
by Karen Phillips Curran
Water is my most prevalent muse. I must admit even puddles entrance me…  Like my life, it flows, rages, trickles, stagnates, surrounds any obstacle then continues on its journey.  “Stones and Lilies” is a 22x 30 watercolour on paper mounted on 1.5″ deep cradleboard, ready to hang in your home. $975 plus shipping. The accumulation of water-washed stones tells us of time and the irrefutable strength and magnetic power of stones. These basic elements struggle to live in harmony, soothing, rubbing and, to us, timeless. They share a dimension. They seem immortal, yet, each stone’s individuality can be examined. Who has not felt compelled to pick up and examine a washed stone? They all call out, they speak to us. The water laughs, menaces, pleads, caresses and more. It can entice us to fall under its hypnotic spell. We fall into it. We are lulled. We can dream our dreams See more of Karen’s work soon at The Riverstones Studio in Springtown, Ontario. https://www.phillipscurran.ca/ Images of the Madawaska  
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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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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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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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Bermuda

March 24, 2017
by Karen Phillips Curran
Wandering I lift my head and open my eyes. My second-hand camera hangs heavily around my neck. I walk, setting out in a direction that matters not. I will find my muse, she awaits me just up ahead. I follow the warmth of Bermuda’s winter light, well below the 49th parallel. This is the light that will permeate my paintings for years to come. That first day, I fell in love, and began my life long affair with light and shadow I am a studio artist, so I take the colour from here the texture from there and shapes and light from somewhere else. A new world is created from my experience.
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