Monday, January 30, 2012


Not quite finished....
I am planning to show a collection of my portrait paintings and drawings at the public library here in Joshua Tree next month, and I wanted to have a couple of new paintings in the show. For the first time EVER, I painted a portrait entirely from a photograph. Usually, I paint from a live sitting, and if I use a photo, it is only to finish the painting. It's always good to try new things. This is what I learned:

1.Working from a photograph is so much easier than working from life (why haven't I tried it sooner?)
2. I think I CAN paint believable tattoos now
3. it is easier to get a likeness when working from a  photograph
4. I don't ever want to paint a t-shirt with words on it ever again. (especially not upside down words.)
5. I find noses very challenging

The other part about the weekend's portrait painting that was a revelation was because of those tattoos and the t-shirt. I had finished everything else about the painting, and I was avoiding the logo on the shirt and those tattoos like the plague. I had even signed and photographed the painting. The painting sat overnight before I realized that the tattoos are part of this woman. Whether or not I successfully painted them, I had to try. If I wanted to capture who this woman really was, those tattoos were essential. It was very hard for me to pick up my brush again and tackle those tattoos. (and that t-shirt!) I was afraid that if I couldn't get the tattoos to look right, the whole painting would be ruined. That would also mean one less painting for the show. Oh, but deadlines can be a curse!
"Kate." Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches. ©Karine Swenson 2012
I have yet to hear what my lovely model thinks of this painting of herself, but I feel like I made some huge strides forward. Facing fear and overcoming it is so incredibly satisfying.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekend begins here

Friday night! Where does the time go? Well. I have no idea.

Just a quick little hello to all of you lovelies out there. "Hello!" Oh, and some photos...
"Gathering." Oil on canvas, 14 x 11 inches. ©2012 Karine Swenson
This morning held another wonder of a sunrise...

Have a marvelous weekend, dear ones.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Year of the Dragon

Every morning, God paints something new with the clouds and the rising sun. Saturday and today brought a lot of wind, but not much rain. The desert will always beg for rain.

I have been busy in the studio. This will be a post of few words, since it is already later than I thought it was, and I have a busy day ahead of me tomorrow. I started writing this when I first got up this morning, and now it is the end of the day, and I still haven't progressed much! Ah well, there is only so much one person can do in one day, and I am a firm believer in sleeping.

This is the start of the Chinese New Year - the year of the dragon. Actually, yesterday was. China is sixteen hours ahead of us.

Here is a windy day painting: (Not the best photo in the world. It was too windy to photograph it in the natural light.)
"Disturbance." Oil on Canvas, 30 x 24 inches. ©Karine Swenson 2012.
Something new, for the new year. When the wind subsides a bit I will take a REAL photo of it and post it for you.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Hey desert friends! Did any of you catch that sunrise this morning? I was tired, and sitting next to the dog watching it. I kept thinking "I should really take some photos of this." But then I told myself I was tired, and it was enough to just watch the spectacle. The thing is, it just kept getting more interesting. It was begging me to go out with my camera. So, at last, I did. I hope you realize that the photos cost me a hot cup of tea.

I have been in the studio this week, working hard on a painting that I now hate. This is the part about making art that I think the non-artist may be unaware of. I work long hours on something. The time and desire are both there. But I have nothing to show for my efforts. Nothing I WANT to show, at any rate. These are the moments when we ask ourselves if it is worth it. Self doubt comes knocking. It says "you aren't really an artist." It is an unwanted visitor, and I have no intention of opening the door to that naughty guest. Instead, I will put the painting in a place where I can't see it, and start again.

I will be hanging some work in the Joshua Tree library next month. I have been thinking I would show my figurative work. People here know me for painting abstracts, they know me for painting rabbits, but I don't think they know I paint the figure, too. I haven't been doing it much since I moved here. I will let you know when the show goes up.

Have a divine weekend, my darlings. And, as ever, thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Painting and Reading

my palette.
(both photos on this post were taken by Elena Ray.)

It's super windy outside, making it easy to spend the day indoors painting. After an absence from the studio, sometimes the first couple of days back are, well, agonizing. It's as though I have forgotten how to paint. The hard part is staying with it, when things are like that. When you do, good things will happen. They will.

Robyn asked me to tell more about the book I am reading - The Lacuna. Written by Barbara Kingsolver. I am not the kind to go into too much detail about a book, but I will say this: If you don't find a copy of this book and read it, I am not sure we can continue to be friends. It is a delight. It is the sort of book one wants to savor, in the way you would a box of fine chocolate. Hide it in a safe place and take one bit out. Read it slowly, swallow it down. Then, spend the next 5 or 10 minutes thinking about how good it is. You fight the urge to sit down and devour it at once. Some may succumb to the overwhelming urge to do just that. Not I. I have been trying to make it last as long as possible. I do carry it around the house with me, so I can look at the cover. Take another divine little bit in. Like that. So, are you convinced yet?

Today, I got two disks with photos taken by Elena Ray of me yesterday. They sat on the table for a couple of hours. I am not the kind of person who usually likes pictures of myself. I admit, even though I know Elena is a great photographer, my own fear of what I might see kept me from putting the disks in the computer and taking a peek. FINALLY, I managed to do it. WOW! I am so happy with the photos. For the first time ever, I have pictures of myself painting. And quite a number of pictures of myself that I can actually look at without cringing. It's amazing. Elena, you are one talented photographer! My personal hero. And now I can put photos on the blog and website that are actually current. Yay!

Mixing paint.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Alone again

Just about the time I was getting used to having a husband at home, he has gone again. Dropped him off at LAX yesterday, and he is certainly in Thailand by now. The house is emptier than usual, and cold. Yesterday was spent feeling a little sorry for myself, and for him. At least I have the fuzzy dog to bury my face in. And then there is the studio, to bury myself in. So back to the easel I go.

Today I hired a local photographer to come and take photos of me for some updated images on this blog, as well as for my website. She took this fun little video of me painting with her iPhone:
Many thanks to the beautiful and talented Elena Ray for this fun little clip! (Isn't modern technology a wonder?)

What I am currently reading and loving: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 - Ready or not

It has arrived. A new year! WOW.
"Privacy." oil on linen, 24 x 30 inches. ©2011 Karine Swenson

I have been writing and thinking about goals. I am not interested so much in resolutions, but I do like to set goals. When I first started setting goals, there was a certain amount of doubt or maybe even disbelief. Would it be helpful? Would I feel more satisfied or fulfilled? Time has shown that goals do help me. I do feel more satisfied and fulfilled, even when I don't achieve all of my goals, or when I fall short. I look back on what I did achieve, and realize that I have become a more productive, more successful, and even more financially viable  artist by setting goals. Even goals involving my health and personal life have given me a greater feeling of satisfaction. And so...Onward!
This week will be about sitting down and writing down a list of proud accomplishments for last year. I will also be fine tuning the goals for this year. I have also been reading my friend Patrica Scarborough's blog, and she wrote about choosing a word for the year. I love that. I think I will come up with a word of my own, for 2012.

How about you? Are you a New Year's resolutioner? Do you set goals? Do you have some New Year's ritual?