Linus Galleries, Fine Art Gallery
2015 Artist Interview Series
Linus Galleries, a Los Angeles contemporary art gallery, presents The Artist Interview Series. Our Linus artists are from all over the world and come from a variety of different practices and backgrounds. Read on to gain insight into the creative process and personality of our featured artist. This week we feature artist Karen Kramer who recently exhibited one of her pieces for our Bontanicals 2015 exhibition.
My name is Karen Kramer and I am an Watercolor Painter residing in Oakland California.
Are you self taught or did you formally study art?
I was always drawing as a child, and all through high school, but no one in my family was an artist so I didn’t really think of art as a possible career path. I took a couple of art classes in college but it was only after I had worked 25 years as a lawyer that I started studying art full-time at community colleges in Oakland, California. I had the good fortune to have wonderful teachers and learned a great amount.
What subject matter appears most in your artwork? What do you love about that subject? What do you dislike?
My artwork is all about the plants, trees, flora, and landscapes that inhabit the earth. I love celebrating the incredible richness and mystery of nature and all of its contrasts: it is both wild and peaceful, cool and warm, light and dark, wet and dry, living and dying, all at the same time.
I also love the spontaneity and constant motion that is ever-present in the natural world, which I try to reflect in my painting process. I always begin a painting by first creating the ground—which I do by spilling and in turns adding different colors of paint onto the paper. You never know exactly what you are going to get.
What is difficult for you about your chosen medium?
People often remark, “watercolor is so difficult!” I think it has that reputation because once the paint is on the paper you can’t ever retrieve the white of paper again and get a complete “do-over.” Watercolor paints, however, are more forgiving than people think. You can lift off a good amount of the color in some cases if you need to and you can add colors and glazes. The watery nature of the paint also creates an element of unpredictability especially if you add enough water to let the paint move around on the paper but I actually like that.
I also use charcoal in some of my watercolor paintings which is not a typical combination. Charcoal is not a particularly difficult medium but it requires vigilance to keep the pencils from breaking.
What is the first answer that comes to mind when you think of your favorite color??
I’ve always loved the color yellow because it is so warm and inviting and full of possibilities. But then the dreamy cool hue of turquoise is a very close second, and also my birthstone.
What musical artist/band are you currently listening to when you are creating?
When I’m painting my favorite music to listen to is from Zimbabwe and South Africa, especially artists like Luis Mhlanga, Thomas Mapfuno, and Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens. I find the harmonies and rhythms inspiring and uplifting.
What type of art don’t you do but greatly admire?
I think the three-dimensional quality of sculptures of the human body is very compelling. I saw the Rodin sculptures at the Musee Rodin in Paris many years ago. They are very powerful and expressive, and made a great impression on me.
Any parting advice for budding artists?
Don’t be afraid to just be yourself.
Also, if there’s a little voice telling you that there’s something not quite right in the painting, don’t ignore it; it won’t go away.