Inspire Me! – Karen Krahl

Where does artist Karen Krahl get her inspiration?

“What inspires me to paint, draw or stay engaged in the process or with other art forms?  I think it’s a fairly common answer to say one is inspired by beauty, and that’s the first thing that comes to mind for me. Beauty, color, form, line quality, landscape, animals, the abstract, sound, turns of phrase, expressions. I’m sure I’ll give more thought to this as I spend more time in my new studio, and have a space dedicated expressly to this kind of contemplation and larger blocks of time the the “big brain” mode.

I like where being an artist takes me; the onlooker, the observant one, to study what I see, to listen carefully for what is said. Being in the moment inspires me, as well as the work of other artists. I am inspired by how I feel when I am creating something.

The first artist who inspired me as an 8 year old was Vincent Van Gough.  My father took me to the Baltimore Art Museum to a huge exhibit of his oils. I was captivated by the corn fields and crows, the thick brush strokes, the vivid colors. When we went home, Dad taught me how to use oils, mix colors, clean brushes, thin paint, and how to use canvas, rather than just “paint by numbers” which was very popular then. Some of those first ones were pretty muddy. I’ve been to many of those exhibits over the years, including the one at LACMA, which was one of the larger ones I’ve seen, several years ago.

This is a work in progress, of a hill town in Maremma, Italia...the sunflowers, Van Gough-ish don't have their texture on yet. This has a ways to go.

I love to draw, and have a kind of illustrator’s style when I use ink, pastel, water color, graphite or gouache.  When I lived across the Fen from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and near the Elizabeth Gardner Museum, in Boston, I spent a lot of time close up with John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Mary Cassat, Winslow Homer, Degas, Manet, Tolouse Lautrec, Pissarro, Gaugin, Cezanne and so on. The Fogg Museum over across from Harvard was a favorite haunt as well. So seeing the work of other artists, famous and not famous, spending time in galleries and museums traveling through big cities, left a lasting set of impressions that affected how I would come to paint. Being able to study these originals up close, as often as I wanted influenced me.  Ansel Adams, Alfred Steiglitz, contemporary photography, modern art, Maxfield Parish, Pre-Raphaelites….Frederic Remington, I’ve left so many out!  But here on the Central Coast of California, I am inspired by the scenery and light, and what other local artists are capturing too. It doesn’t hurt that the weather is nice enough to paint Plein Air. When I first went to Carmel I was impressed with the California School, Wachter especially. The weather inspires me too.”

Visit Karen, Catalog #87, during the Open Studios Art Tour this October 15 & 16 from 10am-5pm. Click here to access the catalog and maps to guide you there!

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