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I'm just beginning to blog. It's not something I'm going to do daily at this point. I'd love to hear what you have to say about my musings. Maybe you are curious about a technique or particular piece of art.  If you have a comment or question, let me hear from you on my Contact page. This will give me something to blog about when I hit a dry spell.  


How Do You Settle Your Silt?

karen spencer

I love water. Maybe you do too. Park me beside a body of water and  I'm mesmerized. So one of my favorite themes for artwork is depicting moving water, mostly creeks and waterfalls. Working on these pieces is soothing to me --- almost as if I were actually there.

We have a house in the mountains on Pond Creek. Sounds like it's raining all the time. Being there makes me mellow. I call the experience 'letting the silt settle.'

Pond Creek Falls -  Mixed Media Collage 24" X 30" X 3/4" on gallery-wrapped canvas

Pond Creek Falls -  Mixed Media Collage 24" X 30" X 3/4" on gallery-wrapped canvas

It may come as no surprise that this piece began with Pond Creek in mind. That's a bit unusual for me. Generally I just pick out some supplies that call my name and get to work trying them out in different arrangements on the canvas until they 'feel right.'

Here I tackled the rocks first. No matter how many rocks I do, they remain challenging. I'm not sure what it is, but the colors, shadows and planes can be tricky. Generally, trees, grass and water are relatively easy after I get the rocks in.

The red background in this piece surprised me. I don't really know where it came from. It just showed up. I tried other colors, but simply had to go back to the red. There's a 'knowing'  when you've got it right in process-oriented work.  

This piece, Pond Creek, relaxes me. I don't have to go to the mountains to feel its effect. I hope you find it relaxes you too.

Inspiration from a Mountain Setting: Scenic Overlook

karen spencer

Scenic Overlook Mixed Media Collage  12" X 36" X by 1-1/2"

I love the mountains.  They re-boot me. Sometimes it's the solitude that lets the silt settle. Sometimes it's time shared with others. The shared time just being out there on the edge taking in the view. No matter what season it is, there's a majesty and a bit of mystery that feeds me. 

I love the way the fog settles in the valleys never quite standing still. I resonate with its organic nature.  It's because I make art organically. It's an open-ended process for me.

I find this piece so comfortable.  Fog and friendship.  And the bright colors and varied textures of fall in the mountains.

A Painting That Almost Painted Itself

karen spencer

Appalachian Blaze  mixed-media collage by Karen Spencer, 12" X 30" X 1-1/2" on gallery-wrapped canvas

Sometimes a piece of art goes together almost by its own volition. Most of the time, that's not the case.  Wish I knew what factors make the difference. If I could figure it out, I'd have a lot more time to tie up some of life's loose ends  (of course whether I'd actually do it is another matter).

One of those flash-in-the-pan / get-r-done pieces showed up a while back. Appalachian Blaze  sort of put itself together as quickly as I pulled out supplies and laid them on the table. I never really start out with something in mind, so that wasn't a factor in this one falling together so smoothly.

I just select a surface to work on (gallery-wrapped canvas in this case). Then I pull out some paper and other material to play around with. I gather some bonding medium, a few brushes, a jar of water, a paper towel and some colored inks, watercolor or whatever else has worked its way to the front of the shelf.

I was missing being in the mountains the last few months. When I was there last, the leaves were in their glory. I'm drawn to the bright red ones mostly. So, as art imitates life, I have been reproducing my impressions of the blazing red leaves in the Appalachians a lot lately.

I'm a mountain girl. Don't know if it's genetic (Swedish grandparents on one side, Norwegian on the other).  I do know that my Scandinavian skin turns red and starts to peel if I spend more than a couple hours at the beach. It may be that I just find the mountain environment less painful.  

Living in the Triad (the Piedmont area of North Carolina) has you in between the beach and the mountains and it's only a few hours' drive one way or the other.

Whatever the case, the red leaves, the 'birch-y' bark and the rolling old Blue Ridge mountains showed up on the canvas without much effort at all on my part. There's a common intensity of color and love of texture that connects all my art. (NOTE: I've made sure to protect the surface of my work and use clear UV protection so other texture-junkies can safely enjoy touching my work as well as looking at it.)

Hope Appalachian Blaze takes you up the road a bit. Literally. Up to the lovely clear air of the Appalachians. Up where the light is clear and bright but where you won't have to hide from the sun.  Not likely you'll molt up there. Kick back a bit. Enjoy the 'high country' with me. Spend some time with the Appalachian Blaze.