Our featured artist for October is Karen Staal, who explains, “I learned contour drawing almost by accident, when as a young child, I drew the back of a lady’s head during a long sermon in church—and it really looked like HER head.
”She adds that from that time on, she was hooked. “I drew people whenever I got a chance, and when I doodled in the borders of my school notebooks, my teachers always thought I was taking notes.
”After High School, Karen completed the three-year certificate program at Kendall School of Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan, her native town. Later, with her children in their teens, she earned a BA at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Also, while living near the East Coast, she studied abstract art at American University, portrait painting with Arthur Maynard, and often attended life drawing classes.
Today, Karen’s art hangs in the Hanson Howard Gallery, Ashland, and the subject of that art is almost always people and the relationship between them. Or as she says, “For me, a successful painting will evoke a response in the viewer, either fear, confusion, wonder, love, joy, or even humor. I use photos,life drawings and a little imagination in preliminary drawings, manipulating line, space and color.
”She goes on to say, “My focus is always on strong composition. When I find a pleasing yet challenging sketch, I transfer it to a board or canvas. As the painting progresses, I often make big changes. I find this easy to do because of the fast drying nature of acrylics.”Karen also likes to have her work reflect on what’s going on in the wider world, explaining:“Because our current political situation is so concerning to me, I have been focusing more on joy and connection, possibly an attempt to portray what is missing in our world. I hope the viewer sees this in my work as well.
”In addition to the Hanson Gallery, Karen’s work has appeared at The Manor, Medford; The Governor’s Offices, Salem; Rogue Gallery and Art Center, Medford; and the College of Marin, California.