Friday, January 29, 2010

Influenced By:

I wanted to share and give credit to some of the artists that have influenced me in my life and my art. I'll start this series with Wolf Kahn, an artist that greatly influenced my palette and encouraged my ongoing love of painting landscapes.

"The unique blend of Realism and the formal discipline of Color Field painting sets the work of Wolf Kahn apart. Kahn is an artist who embodies the synthesis of his modern abstract training with Hans Hofmann, with the palette of Matisse, Rothko's sweeping bands of color, and the atmospheric qualities of American Impressionism. It is precisely this fusion of color, spontaneity and representation that has produced such a rich and expressive body of work." - Wolf Kahn Website

I really fell in love with this man's art a few years back when my friend Binky Bergsman lent me her book on Kahn, filled with luscious vibrant images of his work. It was difficult but I eventually returned the book and now just occassionally visit his website for new inspirations. I had been working in encaustics then for about a year and created these 2 paintings "A Walk in the Woods with Kahn" based on the inspiration of his work, the colors, the trees, a place I wanted to be. I've since sold one of the 2 paintings and the other hangs in my studio.

"A Walk In The Woods With Kahn"
12" x 36" each - encaustic on panel
Karon Leigh

Who are you inspired by?

Check out this video interview with Wolf Kahn at age 80 - still painting!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Evolution of a Painting

I love seeing other artist's works in process and how they complete them so I thought I would share my process as well. I often start with one thing and end up with something completely different as I usually let the painting dictate to me how to paint it. I am not one to draw out and stick to a plan, being methodical and tight with what I hope to accomplish. I have an idea in regards to a theme or a vision or even a color pallet - but that is usually the starting place. The ending place, well, you never know with me.

These two 20" x 24" cradled panels are the largest size encaustic paintings I've ever done. I decided for the new year I was going to push my boundaries, in size and type of work (o you should see what is in process after I completed these paintings! That's another post.) I accepted a personal challenge to participate in an abstract show where every piece entered has to be 36" x 36". So waiting in the wings in my studio is a custom built cradled panel board at 36" x 36". I'm working my way up with the pieces posted here.

I started with a few layers of medium, some purples and red. I then collaged in some grass paper and while fusing the next layer of medium over the grass paper, parts of the paper kept catching on fire. (well ventilated studio is important!) I hadn't planned on burning the paper or leaving burn marks in the piece but it worked and it was fun.

Although I was on the edge of abstract, my subconcious love of landscape found its way into the painting with my next brush strokes of orange across the width of the painting, suggesting a mountain range of sorts.

I've done photo transfers in a lot of my encaustic paintings recently but had never done Joss Paper transfer so - the next step was working the bottom of the painting with Joss Paper transfer. I had gold foil Joss paper and when transferred, it looks pink. Did this transfer process with the water method of eliminating the paper backing by dissolving it with water.

I decided to follow the suggestive landscape and incised some shapes into the top of the painting which I then filled in with graphite to define the line work. I also painted the graphite over areas at the bottom of the painting including over some of the foil Joss paper transfer. More layers of medium. I then painted the shapes at the top of the paintings with titanium white oil paint allowing some of the underlying encaustic and graphite to show thru in areas.

Knowing when to stop has often been an issue for me. Is this painting done? Perhaps, for now at least, as I've learned to step back and live with it for awhile. It will speak to me, but now - it says leave me alone, I'm ok, walk away.

Update Jan 26, 2010:
Apparently the paintings weren't done after all. Couldn't connect the top to the bottom and too much open space in between. So the patterns in the background again dictated landscape and these rolling hills and tiny little buildings appeared. A little bit of a Taos Pueblo feeling perhaps. The places I visit in my dreams.

"Alchemy Between Dream & Awake #1"
Karon Leigh

"Alchemy Between Dream & Awake #2"
Karon Leigh

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010: What "ism" are we in?

During a recent discussion with an artist friend, a question was asked that neither of us were able to satisfactorily answer. My friend, Kim asked "What "ism" are we in? I thought as we start a new decade in 2010, it was an appropriate question to ask and answer. I found this particularly interesting as I am often struggling to narrow down the topics of my almost A.D.D. interests in order to create a cohesive body of work while also expressing a personal yet relevant statement.

Throughout history there have been art movements that are often spawned by a rebellion to current events and defined in a new "ism". Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Modernism, etc.

Currently I feel that I personally can relate to "Stuckism" as I feel "stuck, stuck, stuck" with my art at times. And who decides what is unremarkable or boring in art anyways?


A neo-conservative movement in the United Kingdom formed in 1999 by the leading founder artists Billy Childish calling themselves 'the first remondernist art group - the stucists.'
They are to be seen as 'opposed to the current pretensions of so-called performance art, pop art, BritArt, minimalism, conceptualism, installation art, video art and anything claiming to be art which incorporates dead animals, tents or beds - mainly because they are unremarkable and boring'.

'The name of the group was derived, in the best art historical tradition, from an insult, in this case from current Turner Prize Nominee Tracey Emin's evaluation of ex-boyfriend Billy Childish's 1,500 paintings over a 15-year period which was:
"Your paintings are stuck, you are stuck!
Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!" - taken from Wildbrush's Art.To.Day

Terry Marks "The Hazmat Question"
Proclaimed "Stuckist Painter"

If our current "ism" is in any way a response to our current social and political climate then surely we would be seeing more angry art, more political art, more in your face wake up call art.
The most relevant comment I found in my search for the new "ism" was on

The Middle Class Art Movement:

Constructed Perfection

"The new art movement will be born out of the most devastating idea to hit America in ages - a retrograde motion in status and opportunity for the middle class. This art will based on the perceived attitudes about what the middle class was supposed to be and represent, its expectations and opportunities either lost or placed askew - temporarily or permanently. It will be unique in expressing the middle class perspective and the current struggle set amid a backdrop of commodities that have either slipped out of grasp or have lost meaning. And most importantly it will be set amid a backdrop of a cultural wasteland centered around consumption, excess, and discontinuity. Eschewing the most meaningless archetypes one should expect these artistic manifestations to be straightforward and simple in their presentation but carrying with them a poignant and loaded message. Born out of frustration and the desire for efficiency and meaning this art movement from the middle-class will be some of the most clear and focused art that we have seen in recent years."

Alternatively, people are more focused on a spiritual awareness moving away from materialism and perhaps the "Energism Art Style" is the new "ISM".

"First Dream" by Julia Watkins - Founder of Energism Art

About Energism Art - from "Free Press Release"

"Ms. Watkins has pioneered perhaps the most innovative new form of art, Energism. Based on Tai Chi, these paintings use large colorful swirls representing energy to demonstrate how man, animal and landscape are all interconnected through a natural flow we can sense, but not see. To see the collection go to:

Energist art is meditative. Its goal goes beyond simply creating a representation of spiritual energy. The artist seeks to draw the viewer in so he or she actually experiences the energy. The epitome of Energism Art would be a piece that when simply viewed would give the viewer a profound spiritual experience, a vision of pure energy, love and joy beyond expression."

Perhaps we can be in multiple "isms" at the same time or perhaps we don't have to be defined at all as long as we are still creating, that's what's important.

What are your thoughts on this? What "ISM" do you think you are in?