Traintime

April 20, 2016
by Karen Phillips Curran
The train rattles and rocks it’s way eastward,  bringing me back to my studio, to my commitments and the solitary life I lead there. The water rushes and defines the sky by way of reflection. The fields are marginally greener since my trip west only a few days ago. I’m struggling with choices I must soon make and the train offers me time to think. Life is shifting for me, it’s partly the time of life and partly serendipity, that is offering these  divergent paths. Only patiently waiting for the right answer to be obvious is the answer to the questions posed. Life is a continuum and I’ll put one foot in front of the other and ask the questions that need to be asked and all will be what will be. Save Save Save
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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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It is a wintry day and getting to that time of winter when thoughts of spring appear in my mind, unbidden. I have several of my paintings depicting spring here in the house, that can trigger it. 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. It has actually been a relatively easy winter, and I am not overly burdened with the need to drive in it on a daily basis as, now, I have no “job”. For me, my irritability at winter’s overstay, is predicated by the fact that I usually spend time painting in Bermuda in the winter. It is my favourite time to go there, I love the light, the balmy air and the vacant beaches, the vibrant winter exhibit schedules and seeing all the long time art buddies I have nurtured there over the years. I’ll miss them this winter. But I rest assured I will see them again one day. So I remind myself to be patient, that spring will appear soon. The maple bush […]
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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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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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The Bermuda journey

September 17, 2015
by Karen Phillips Curran
I’ve a few hours before I leave Bermuda, yet again. I am packed and ready to go. I have come and gone too many times to count, though I have made it a mission to count when I get home…passport stamps will tell me the exact number of visits to this fair isle. Its colours and texture have been a source of inspiration and a dedication to a purpose since 1986, when I first visited. Bermuda opened my eyes to a new world of colour, texture, form,  and drama of the skies. The turquoise waters enthralled me and my artistic journey began. Many visions repeat themselves and, the expanded new me, on each visit, relishes its connection with my past. Goodbye bermuda, until we meet again
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Viridian

September 15, 2015
by Karen Phillips Curran
Everywhere I look, there is that colour, viridian. It is used extensively in maritime areas all over the word. Its a much loved, old fashioned colour here in Bermuda too. All of Bermuda is maritime, it is a small country, an island,  (or rather, a series of connected islands) situated mid altantic. It has no near neighbours, but enjoys the company of many visitors, all of whom have come to shape the history of this idyllic  place. The architecture here has fascinated me since the first moment I set eyes on it. I began my artistic journey here in 1986. In those days the color range of the homes,  cottages, was more limited to traditional white, pink, coral, brick red, blue and viridian. The pink came from mixing whitewash with local rich red soil. The coral colour replicated the beaches,  who’s peach coloured sand is actually a mix of tiny broken pieces of the magnificent coral reef that surrounds the island.  The blue and viridian have origins I am not aware of. All the rooves here are made of stepped flat stone, historically limestone slabs cut from the island structure. They are laid upon cedar rafters and sealed with whitewash. […]
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Open studio

August 5, 2015
by Karen Phillips Curran
This week is my open studio. It has been a labour of love …a few years ago I built my studio, on the foundation of 45 years of making art. This past year I joined my cold water cabin to it….literally. it was lifted from its place in the lowlands of my  property here in Springtown, and transported to its new position, almost ajacent to my studio. Then, a place I call the new room,  was constructed between the two. Heaven on earth I have created here for myself. It has become a rambling telescoping structure. I have lived in a 14′ X 19’space for several years now, and so, just about anything is rambling from my perspective. ….  
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morning

April 1, 2015
by Karen Phillips Curran
The kiskadee sounds his morning wake-up call and the sun’s eastern rays begin their journey towards me. My window here faces north so the morning light traverses across the rooflines just outside the window. They highlight the neighbour’s stepped roof. Each morning, the light is slightly different and I awaken, eager to see the difference. The last time I was here I did this small series of roofline paintings…          
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First Shamrock, then Clover

March 17, 2015
by Karen Phillips Curran
A few years ago I painted two steel doors for a magnificent, historic, local movie theatre, in Renfrew, The O’Brien. The building has  a long history and is a real gem. The owner has kept the place up,  and currently uses a digital projector for his nightly, and matinee, screenings. But this is about  painting.  The first O’Brien commission involved painting two steel doors, here, in my then newly built studio. It was a vast place then, unencumbered by clutter. There was room to house the two doors readily.  But it was summer, and for the initial background painting I housed the doors on sawhorses, under a tent in the gravel driveway. This was ideal.  One afternoon, as the process continued, tsp, wipe, sand, fill, sand, prime, paint, turn, tsp, sand, fill, sand, wash, prime, paint, turn. Two doors, four sides, all to appear the same. They were heavy steel doors to turn on my own, so the owner would appear at just the right moment to help me flip them over. One afternoon the wind started to pick up, and a sudden freak microburst came and tore the tent apart, along with half the countryside. After that, the doors came inside, […]
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