Monday, May 26, 2014


The ever-delightful Jo (artist and blogger at "Fiddlesnips!") invited me to participate in an interview-style blog hop.  Each blogger answers the same four questions, and then names three artists that inspire her, in the hopes that those three people will answer the questions themselves and keep the hop going.  It's a wonderful way to share our thoughts on the creative process with each other while connecting with kindred spirits.

Here are my answers to the four questions.

1. What am I working on?

First and foremost, the collection of snarky altered playing cards continues to grow.

 This weekend I had the brilliant idea of turning them into mini-zines (which led to the creation of even more cards as I worked to find cohesive themes.) 
front cover of one of the zines

 In addition to the cards, I'm continuing to experiment with paints and mediums
large canvas, in progress

teeny canvas board, in progress
I made this collage last night,
and it sparked an idea for a whole series.  It's still a bit nebulous at this point, but if the collection comes to fruition you'll be the first to see it.

I'm also participating in a collaborative art journal project with four other artists.  I've completed a few spreads in my own book and will soon be mailing it out on the first leg of its journey.  

Unlike other art journal round robins I've been part of, this group will be adding to each other's work as the books make their way around the circle.  I'm really excited about this project.  You'll be seeing lots more in the coming months.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This, without a doubt, is the most difficult question for me to answer.  I am still searching for my own unique voice, and could spend all day pointing out the ways I am heavily influenced and redundant.  
In spite of this, I am beginning to recognize certain consistent elements in my work.

I love bright colors.  The color orange shows up regularly, especially pared with turquoise or magenta.  

Even when I'm moving away from brights and into earth tones, I lean toward the orange/rusty shades.

I have an irreverent sense of humor that surfaces in most things I do, even when I'm not trying to be funny.  I also delight in the incongruous and the absurd.

It's rare to find a piece of my work that doesn't include a circle.  Try as I might to venture out, they always sneak back in.

I am practically allergic to doe-eyed girls, inspirational quotes, and anything sporting wings or a crown.  But perhaps it's not fair to define one's personal style by what one doesn't do.

my tongue-in-cheek page in which I tried to incorporate as many art-journal cliches on one page as possible.

Overall, I think my work reflects the collision of my sunny personality, unbridled enthusiasm and general optimism with my underlying distrust, biting sarcasm and aversion to society.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Thoughts relentlessly crowd my head and art is the release valve.  Without it, I am prone to endless inward spiraling, resulting in paralysis and a very unflattering brand of self-pity.

 Art stops the worrying, quiets the noise, and frees my mind to wander in an outward direction for a change.  Unlike getting lost in a book or a movie, art is not escapism for me.  It’s more of a liberation - an activity that requires enough focus and attention to drown out the chatter, while allowing free-flowing, unencumbered, creative thinking.

The only other thing that does this for me is driving long distances.  Since eight hour road trips are impractical on a daily basis, I'm grateful I’ve found another way to simultaneously stimulate and soothe this busy head of mine. Perhaps if I’d pursued a career as a trucker I wouldn’t have ventured into art.

4.    How does your creative process work?

I need to have a lot of things going on simultaneously and to have everything visible at once.  I rarely sit down with a specific idea in mind.  Being surrounded by colors and images and scraps gives me a point of entry.  

Although I have an elaborate system for sorting and filing all types of papers and images, it is the scraps on my desk that initiate most of my projects.  Once I’m flowing creatively, ideas will surface that send me digging through my files for just the right image or pattern or color, but I can't just open the drawer and start.

I try to create every day.  Works in progress litter every surface of my art room, allowing me to add to a piece whenever I have the time.  

 I may only have time for a quick layer of paint before work, or a few scraps of collage after dinner, so having everything spread before me facilitates those quick bursts and allows me to accomplish a lot in the span of a busy week with a full-time job.  I'm also incredibly impatient.  While waiting for paint or glue to dry, it's nice to be able to immediately dive into something else.

Another key aspect of my creative process comes from the fact that I have a hard time sitting still without falling asleep.  I love movies, but rarely make it to the end of one with my eyes open.  If I keep my hands busy, I can stay awake, but I’m not capable of making art and watching something at the same time.  I've tried sitting with a sketchbook, but I end up holding the pencil poised over the blank paper for two hours while staring glassy eyed at the screen.  This situation keeps me from watching many movies or TV shows, but it pushes me into my studio to keep myself from falling asleep on the couch at 7:30 every single night.  You can get a lot more done when you don't watch TV.

However, we have a sacred Sunday night ritual in our house of homemade pizza and a movie.  I neither want to sleep through the film, nor ditch the family for the art room, but what's a tired, fidgety artist to do?

I finally found the perfect solution: I sit with scissors, old books and magazines and cut out anything that piques my interest.  It provides the right amount of work for my hands to keep me awake, without requiring the thought or focus that takes me away from the movie.  As a result of this habit, I have a ready supply of text and images at hand.  The playing card series came about this way.  One night I clipped phrases from an old large-print romance novel (bought at the library book sale for fifty cents.)  Another night I cut images from a vintage magazine.  It was only in seeing those two different piles side by side that connections were made and the cards were born.

So that's it for the interview.
Now let's talk about those kindred spirits.
Blogging and mail art have brought an amazing group of people into my life.

Several of my favorite people do not blog, and so can't answer these questions (I'm talking to you Mandy and Gina!) but I am ever so thankful for their friendship and inspiration and shared sense of humor.

But speaking of humor, Lynn is my blogging friend most likely to make me blow milk out my nose.
(couldn't resist re-posting this one)
She has a delightfully dark and cynical view of things, and has a commanding grip on the use of profanity (one that rivals my own.)
I suspect she is going to roll her eyes at this series of questions and at my proclamation of her greatness, but that's just another reason why I like her.

Terrie is a regular source of inspiration in my life.  Her talents are many and varied.  She has a designer's eye, and a knack for composition.  Her blog is a delight, she sends great mail art, is a wonderful photographer, and was among my earliest supporters.
Get to know her if you don't already.

Carlene is another person who has been inspiring me for years.  I adore her sense of color, her use of pattern and the different ways she adds stitching to her work.  Her journals are lovely and eclectic workhorses, chronicling her daily life in small authentic ways.  She binds beautiful books, and sends great mail.
I met her through Daisy Yellow's Index-Card-a-Day challenge in 2011, and I'm so excited she's doing it again this year.  Go check out Carlene's work  (and consider joining ICAD with us!)


Many thanks to Jo for her blogging friendship, and for inspiring me to answer these questions.  It was a really good exercise and I came away with some insights about my creative work.

As for all you lovely artists I've named, feel free to disregard the questions and blog-hopping part of this.  I wanted to share the link-love whether or not you wanted to participate.  On the other hand, I strongly encourage any and all readers to answer these questions themselves, and to share the names of artists and friends who support and inspire you.
My life and my art practice are so much richer for knowing you all.


  1. I sure enjoyed this...thanks for sharing with us! I wonder if the needing to have one's hands busy is in our DNA? My great-grandma was like that, and so am I.

  2. This is a very influential blog post Karen! I love reading how other artists became/become inspired and how their creative process works. I also relate very well to the struggling to define your style part. It's always easier to identify someone else's style rather than your own. I'm also very jealous that your doing a collaborative art journal! I've been trying to either start one or find one to join for a while .. Soon!! :)

  3. Aw shucks, K, thanks for the mention :D. Straight back at cha 10X! Haha, and now can I hurl profane language at Lynn too and have it not be misunderstood? :D Keep up all the greatness; You Rock. XO, G

  4. Wow, I LOVED reading your Q&As and I drooled over the photos of your artwork! I am a huge fan of your work and really enjoyed finding out what inspires you and makes you artistically tick.

    I'm so glad you agreed to take part in this blog hop thing.

    I really rather like being referred to as the 'ever-delightful' Jo ;)


  5. Great post! Many of your thoughts and processes resonate deeply with me. I too fall asleep when I sit down and rarely see a programme on TV through to the end. LOVE your collages, and your sense of humour. Will be following your links with interest.

  6. Fab post, I recognize all those things you said from having spent time with you and I am so glad someone else's desk looks like mine..xox

  7. Everything about this post makes me smile! I love hearing you talk about your creative process.

  8. Great post, Karen. I feel like you took the words right out of my head in terms of staying awake after working a full time job and of having a million different projects going at once and spread out in your art space. I also have to have some thing in my hands, or I will fall asleep. So much of my art has been created watching Netflix- no tv in my house, but lots of Netflix .I love your wonderful warped sense of humor. I love your art. You are someone who has inspired me.

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and it reminded me why I've often thought that I'd like to hang out with you!! I love your synopsis of your style.

  10. OMG, I about blew milk out my nose when I read this:
    Overall, I think my work reflects the collision of my sunny personality, unbridled enthusiasm and general optimism with my underlying distrust, biting sarcasm and aversion to society.
    Hysterical, and I relate completely.
    Great responses to the questions and so much fun to get to know you a bit better. You're very articulate!

  11. I would say a resounding, YES, you do have a distinctive style and I think you nailed it in this blog. I am with you (and other commenters, it seems) on the boredom of trying to sit through a movie without something to do. And you had meet spurting milk (or something else) with "I am practically allergic to doe-eyed girls, inspirational quotes, and anything sporting wings or a crown." I hear you, sistah!

  12. Thank you Karen for the kind words. These are great questions for us all to ponder. Thank you for your humor, infectious passion and stamina. You always give me a laugh and a boost when I really need it.