December 04, 2018
Artist: Karen Israel
Title: Roaming Charge
Size: 24” x 18”
Medium: Pastel on paper
“The moment changes once you ask to take a picture” says pastel artist Karen Israel. As we talked about her portraiture and the difficulties of a fleeting moment, she reflected on the man in Roaming Chargewhom she had seen many times before. And while they had not formally met, she had a connection to him, “the way he seemed to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders… subjects are always changing, even a still life changes from its original state.” These small details and nuances are what drew me in most to Karen’s work.
After her earlier years as a Physical Therapist, Karen has now been a professional artist for over 12 years. Her motivation to make art better and more meaningful then a camera can capture is an honorable pursuit. However, this is exactly the magic of her work. She even let me in on a secret. Choosing a word ahead of time to set an intention for a painting (i.e. windy, lonely, quiet) can help bring that quality into the work.
Beyond her initial and thoughtful intentions, Karen never loses sight of the basics – shapes define a composition. In Roaming Chargethere is a strong, triangular presence that lets the viewer in on the stability and strength of the man portrayed. This not only plays into his character but, makes it enjoyable for the viewer to linger. Whether it’s the tilt of his hat, the folds in his clothes, or the smoke diffusing quietly into the air, there is lonely presence to the man in the picture.
In time, Karen has found her voice and a more consistent style. Depending on the subject matter at hand, she will prepare her surfaces with a more or less textured medium. There is always room for more experimentation and Karen is not afraid to push the boundaries of her comfort zone. Moving into the new year, Karen is looking forward to studying more portraiture and possibly exploring oil painting.
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