“In My Studio, I am…” By Ken Christensen

Every year the Open Studios Art Tour falls closely on the heels of the Plein Air Festival, another regular event on my calendar which makes October a very hectic and pressure-filled month for me. Perhaps with both events so close together, I am distracted so as not to place too much emphasis on either one.

After about ten years of doing both, I do have my routines so the process becomes easier. First, its paint, then clean up and present. And most important of all, do I have enough frames? I have no shortage of work as you may tell from photos of my studio, but the problem is how to present so many paintings in so many different techniques and subjects without overwhelming and ultimately confusing my visitors?

The Open Studios Art Tour is the perfect time to pull out wonderful work that may never have been in an exhibit or show a technique I am proud of, but rarely seen. And yet, there is not enough wall space! Some people like the haphazard mess of canvases stacked against the wall. This gives visitors the thrill of discovery: hunting for something that others have overlooked.

What about prices? It’s not possible to price everything and have stickers and price tags everywhere. I try to have prices on the framed pieces hanging on the walls that match my gallery prices but all of those paintings packed into storage racks, well, they have to find a home too.

Just recently my collection has grown even more. I took a trip back to my home state of Michigan where I still had a few hundred paintings in storage from when I moved here about twelve years ago. I was thrilled to see some old friends, paintings of Michigan, California and Europe, redolent with memories of all the places I’ve painted and experiences had while painting. Being a plein air painter, every work keys the time and place where I executed the piece, the weather that day, the people I met, and what I was going through in my life at that time. Plus, I brought back about five large portfolios of watercolors.

I began my professional career exclusively as a watercolorist. After about five years I gradually shifted into oils, but I still paint both and love both techniques. The portfolios are jammed and I have many wonderful full-sheet watercolors, especially from the winter I spent in San Sebastian, Spain in 1996. So many memories, but now is the time to turn them into gold (in order to buy more frames) and keep on painting. I hope I have a large turnout at my studio as the first step as an artist is to get the people to take a look.

You can stop by and visit Ken’s Los Osos studio both weekends of Open Studios Art Tour.  Examples of Ken’s work can be viewed on his page in the ARTS Obispo’s Visual Artist Directory.

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