I've moved!

I'm happy to report that my blog has moved to my shiny new website! 

Thank you for your interest in my work - I hope you'll continue to follow me at my new home.

(This blog will maintained as an archive only.)


No new site yet...

Lordy. Ain't  nuthin' easy...

I thought that by now the new website would have been up for well over a week, but nooooo!

One problem after another. I've now got a straight line to Apple Senior Advisors. And to the same level at Epson. Trying to solve the problems had both groups working hard, but in the end I had to erase the hard drive on my iMac because it refused to cooperated with any of the "fixes". Once I reinstalled everything (well, mostly since my last backup to the external drive had been 10 days prior) sweet iMac refused to recognize my printer. Finally got things back on track, but it took more than a week.

Anyway, what to do when you feel way behind? Get right back at the task at hand? Heck no! You jump in and do some new work, right?

Ecstatic to have the printer working again I printed an image I took in September on our trip to Quebec; a closeup of a stainless steel panel on the ship we were on. Glorious, shimmering, silvery texture. Printed the 12 x 16 inch image in black and white and then added added circle of perforations. The resulting work is reminiscent of a quiet day at sea:

Felt so good to do something more creative than re-installing software. I can get back to the website tomorrow...

Hope you're all well and having a good summer. Thanks for your patience and for hanging in there with me!

May the Gods of Technology always be on your side,

: : Karen Anne


Moving on...

As you read this, I'm busy behind the scenes constructing my new website on Squarespace.

2015 greeted me with an overwhelming urge to simplify my life; to rid myself of clutter and embrace the quiet of solitude and open space in my physical environment, my relationships, and in my creative work. It seemed only right that my online presence should reflect the changes I have made thus far. The new site will have a fresh, new look and consolidate what I present online.

Here's what you'll see now if you go to my URL right now:

If you go to the page and click on the block reading "to be notified",  you'll be able to submit your email address so I can notify you when the new site goes live.

In the meantime, thank you for your interest in my work, and for following me on this Blogger page which I will maintain only to serve as an archive of past work and thoughts.

I look forward to welcoming you to my NEW home, and hope you will continue to follow me there.


: : Karen Anne


A Start...

As I've thought about the journey my grandparents and great-grandparents made when they stepped off the shores of Norway and headed to America, I've wondered about what they chose to bring and how they packed their few belongings.

I've moved 29 times and have packed more times than I care to dwell on. But their move...not at all sure I could have done it. (Truth to tell I do think about packing up and moving back to Norway, but that's a whole other post!)

Anyway, the idea of bundles kept surfacing in my thoughts.

I decided to revisit the work I made several years ago; small bundles constructed with window screening and rug canvas:

I've had trouble sourcing the super stiff rug canvas I used in the earlier work, so I decided to work with hardware cloth from Lowes. I like the durability of the material and the fact that it will take paint - if I choose to paint it - easily without loosing its form, and I like that it continues to the reference the warp and weft of textiles that is important in my work:

These trial pieces are 2, 3, and 4 inches respectively - with the grid measuring about 1/4". Hardware cloth can be purchased with larger grids, too, so I'm excited about the possibility to work larger if I need/want to. Combining materials - the hardware cloth with window screening and/or rug canvas - is an idea I'd like to explore, too. Experimenting with ideas of size, enclosing, stacking, hanging, etc. as well as incorporating other materials should keep me involved and busy.

I'm feeling encouraged and optimistic, and look forward to seeing where this start will lead and how the pieces will change as I go. 

: : Karen Anne



Untitled. Embossing and graphite on Arches watercolor paper. 3.75 x 5.25 inches. 2014

In the quiet of the past months, I've had time to reflect on my work and think about the direction I want to take in the future. I came across this small piece the other day and it revealed so much to me; how my work over the past two years has become more subtle even as my vocabulary has become more defined. It's become easier to see the progression from one piece to the next; the connections are clearer. There is a consistency and maturity - and a focus that has been absent.

Today I reworked my Artist Statement - an exercise that is essential for me to do regularly so that I can more easily talk about my work:

My work explores the light, line, and texture of both inner and outer landscapes. It gives form to impressions and memories I have of people and places - near and far, past and present - that continue to inform my way of being.

I create two- and three-dimensional abstract works that unfold through a quiet, responsive dance with materials. The solitude and silence of my studio is reflected in work that expresses ideas distilled to their essence, devoid of decorative, superfluous elements. 

I employ a variety of techniques and materials. I sew, draw, print, sculpt, and paint, and capture moments with my camera. I make marks with thread and perforations as well as with pencil, ink, and paint. I use gloss and matte surfaces, color, embossing, layering, and the raw and torn edges of fabric and paper to define space and form.  I use real and implied references to stitching, quilting, weaving, and mending as metaphors for connecting the past with the present. 

I'm happy with it...

The "lulls" described in my last post continue, but I'm happy that my digital sketchbook is being filled and that I'm refining ideas in my mind for future work as I go about the day. I don't at all feel as though the time is being wasted. It feels rich with possibilities!

: : Karen Anne


The richness in lulls...

Lulls - those spaces of time when nothing much appears to be going on - are an important part of my creative practice.

I used to fear them.

Now I've lived and worked long enough that my fear of them is gone. I see them as another way of working. Just because I'm not working within the four walls of my studio doesn't mean I'm not working. I just work out of the Studio in My Mind...

Lulls give me important time. To think. To listen. To look. To question. To plan. To simply be...

* * *
The garden has been beckoning to me to spend more time outdoors after the long winter we endured. I've been weeding and planting and cleaning things up. Yesterday I scrubbed down a table that had been sitting out the past few summers, and was delighted to discover the intricate tracks from snails on its underside:

 Snail Paths I
 Snail Paths II

 Snail Paths III

Snail Paths IV

If I had been up in my studio, I would have missed the beautiful lace paths the snails had created. I would not have "heard" this subtle confirmation of how important simple compositions rendered in a subtle palette are to me, or that, "yes", I need to continue to create them.

I spent the rest of the day working happily in the garden and my Mind Studio. Just as I add fertilizer to the plants to help them grow, these lulls help me grow as an artist. I develop ideas, I plan, I compose, I edit...

Eventually I'll climb back up the stairs to my real studio,  ready to get to work on realizing the ideas I've been developing; culled from the richness in these lulls...

: : Karen Anne


And so it goes...

It has been quite the past six months.

First, in November, our sweet Labradoodle, Jake, was diagnosed with a cervical herniation and could barely walk. That was followed by the discovery of cancer in one lobe of his lungs. After two major surgeries performed at one time, he is walking (and running!) and the cancer is gone.

Second, while we were tending to Jake, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He has had radiation and continues to have chemo every three weeks and is doing really well. He and my sister hope to take a trip to Scotland soon!

Third, my dear Mama died. Nine days after her 90th birthday. I will be forever grateful that I had driven to see her to help celebrate her milestone day. I even took pictures which I rarely do of family; I usually capture special moments in my memory instead of with a camera.

And fourth, we celebrated the marriage of our youngest daughter, Emily, to Brian Rabe on 11 April. We are overjoyed to have Brian in our family! We now have two of the best son-in-laws in the world; truly the sons we would have been proud to call our own had we not had our beautiful daughters.

So... life is to be lived and cherished. Even in the most difficult of times there are gifts and riches to be found. It's hard to get back to "normal" though. I get distracted by little things that need to be done... hesitant, I think, to find what the new "normal" will look like. It's odd. Can't quite put my finger on what it is...

But... today I found myself back in the studio; drawn by an urge I couldn't resist. I turned my back on all the "shoulds" that needed my attention and climbed the stairs to fill my soul with the joy that comes with creating.

The first thing I did was pure play; a wee sock doll to give to my little grandniece for her first birthday. We will both be celebrating our birthdays this Friday, so I wanted to make her a special gift just from me:

I purposely used exposed stitches and mismatched colors so the bear (I think it's a bear anyway!) wouldn't be too precious. It is meant to be played with, hugged, and thrown in the wash if need be!

* * *
Then I found a scrap of the fabric that always sends my thoughts back to the 18 months we lived in Japan. I machine sewed the scrap to watercolor paper and then machine sewed something like a flower. I picked up a micro ink pen and added some designs and more lines...and then cut the whole thing up when it looked overly stiff and trite. After a few more cuts and adjustments I glued the pieces within a rectangle I had embossed on another sheet of watercolor paper:

It reminds me of the ikebana arrangements that would grace our home in Yokosuka. Not nearly as simple or elegant as the arrangements, but it has the elements that my eye would trace when I looked at them. It is very much the way I see the world; in snippets of color and shape and line. Rarely as a whole at one time.

* * *
And then... I assembled what may be a brooch or, maybe, a part of a larger assembly of similar pieces. I started with a piece of laser cut felt - adding a layer of white linen sandwiched between the laser cut felt and a solid grey piece of felt. I added stitching and then backed the whole with fuchsia felt to cover the stitches. I covered the edges with a narrow strip of felt; all black except for a small fuchsia section at the bottom. It's about 2" square:

It was good to spend time in the studio today.

My heart was happy to just play and listen to the materials that called me to pick them up.

: : Karen Anne