Friday, March 23, 2012

Mental Meandering

"Mental Meanderings." Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches. ©2012 Karine Swenson
Have a great weekend, all!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tea and books

Today finds the desert bathed in warm spring sunshine. I am going to write this post, and then there's a very good chance I need to go outside and soak up some vitamin D. Spring Fever.

I have been busy in the studio, but now M is home for about a week. This means a little reprieve from the studio, while I follow him around the house for a while. WOW, but it's nice to have another human in the house. Pono is happy about it, too. M has two devoted "followers." One fuzzy one, and one, not-so-fuzzy one.

New work:
"Tea." Oil on canvas, 16 x 12 inches. ©Karine Swenson 2012
I've been reading a book called In the Land of the Grasshopper Song, which was lent me by a friend. It's about two women who lived in the Klamath River Indian Country in the early 1900s. I am amazed and impressed at these two women. I think this book could be made into a movie - and wouldn't it be nice to have a movie made about two brave women who aren't fictitious characters? Hello? Hollywood? Are you listening? Some of us are getting tired of the usual role women are squished into in your movies: looking for happiness in the form of love from some handsome man. Not that there isn't happiness to be found in love, but most of us aspire to more than Cinderella's fairy tale of love's happily ever after. Right, ladies?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Library Talk

"Jaime." Charcoal. ©2002 Karine Swenson

Happy Friday, everyone! I finally have my talk at the library uploaded to It was much more complicated than I had imagined it would be. I have to thank Marjorie Franklin for her generous tech support. She is the person who managed to get the video in the correct format. Thanks Marjorie! I also want to thank her husband, Alex Prisadsky, for his skill with the video camera. Here it is! There are four segments, and the whole talk lasts about 53 minutes.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What it's about

"They Danced." Oil on Canvas, 20 x 16 inches. ©2012 Karine Swenson
I am sorry that I don't have my video of the library talk up on the internet yet. I have been distracted by other things this week, and to be perfectly honest, I do not have the technical know-how required to do it myself. Don't worry, I have a team of experts working on it now, and it is only because of their knowledge and kindness that I even have a video of my talk. (A big HUGE thank you to Marjorie Franklin and Alex Prisadsky!!! Thank you a thousand times!)

I have been asked by Patty to tell you what this new series of paintings was inspired by. So I will give it my best effort. This new batch of paintings was a direct result of my ongoing awareness that certain things in life (maybe most things) cannot be controlled by me. I have my desires and goals, and things that I want to have happen.  I think we all have that. Life has a way of taking over, and going in directions I didn't plan for. Things happen that I didn't want. (Husbands get a job working overseas, for example. Or people get sick. Or I get sick...etc.) I know that the only thing I can really control is how I react to what happens. Since art is life, I decided I wanted to find a way to deal with this topic in my art. With these new paintings, I do not have a plan when I start painting. Well, I don't with my other paintings either, but I am not even trying to push these in a certain direction, as I may have done with my earlier work. I simply take the brush or knife in my hand and say to myself "just paint." I just paint. I make every effort not to judge what happens. I want to have the painting lead me. I guess I am trying to let go. 

If I have spent a long day working on a painting, I set it out where I can see it. I like it to sit where I can see it while doing dishes or eating or cooking. I look at it and decide if I like what I see. This process can be a matter of minutes, hours or days. If I don't like what I see, I take it back into the studio, and work on it again. I work in the same way - "just paint." But I don't try to cover up or erase everything that was there before, necessarily. I try to make use of it. Perhaps a bit of blue pokes out from underneath. Or a little shape that was there before isn't entirely covered. This is a progression, where the history becomes part of the finished work. I think this is like life. There may be things in our past that we don't like. Things we wish we could cover up. But those things remain a part of us, ultimately. 

So there you have it. This is the new series. 

"To talk about painting is not only difficult, but perhaps pointless too. You can only express in words what words are capable of expressing." -Gerhard Richter

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Manzanita love

It seems like the only time I visit Joshua Tree National Park is when I have friends visiting. It is a beautiful park, and I only live 5 minutes from the entrance. However, dogs are not allowed on the trails, and since my main hiking companion is a fuzzy dog, I tend to find other places to hike near the park. Fortunately, I do get visitors, so I do visit the park from time to time. Last Thursday was just such a time.

I took quite a few photos, but today's star will be the manzanita. Also known as "little apple", manzanita is the common name for a species known as arctostaphylos. I am drawn to the wonderful red and grey bark and the tiny, urn shaped flowers.

A wonder of the desert world.

My talk at the Joshua Tree Public Library on Saturday was a success. A big thank you to all of you who came! It meant so much to me, having familiar faces in that crowd. I had prepared a talk that only lasted 11 minutes, but there were enough questions to keep me talking for nearly an hour! I had a friend video recording it, and I hope to have the video online by the end of the week. So if you missed it, hang in there! The work is still hanging at the library, and you can go and see it during regular library hours.

I leave you with another new painting.
"Spill." Oil on linen, 40 x 40 inches. ©2012 Karine Swenson.