When browsing local art, it’s not hard to pick out a Karen Clark painting. Her wide brushed acrylic style is complemented by a stark background coat, usually a bright colour like orange or pink.
“If you're going to tone the ground, why wouldn't you use it to your benefit? Why wouldn't you let it breathe?” she said.
“With the orange coming through, there's that kind of transparency and there's a little bit of a glow that happens there.”
Clark’s artwork is on display at NorVA in March. She presented and explained her techniques at an artist’s talk March 3.
Clark worked as a teacher for decades, but said she still found difficulties in presenting her work to an audience of dozens at NorVA.
“It's different talking about yourself for 20 minutes,” she said.
“I've been encouraging other artists and other local artists to show here and to do an artist talk... But I have to say, I was nervous and it took me a while to get rolling.”
Clark’s work is displayed alongside pieces by her mother Joyce Smedegaard.
“We're different painters, but there's a lot of similarity in the boldness,” Clark said.
“[We share] that willingness to make things a little bit unfinished.”
The title of the display, Talking About Kayak Details, draws inspiration from most of Clark’s subjects found while out on kayak paddles around Schist Lake.
“I'll tell my husband ‘I'm going out on the kayak,’ and he knows better now,” she said.
“I just go until I see something I'm interested in.”
From there, Clark takes her subjects and creates miniature versions of her full sized ideas.
“I really like working from the little studies,” she said.
“All of these have become paintings. You problem-solve in the little miniature, which is so much fun, then you just go to the larger one.”
Another key to Clark’s style is her wide strokes with acrylic paint. It’s a style she said she has worked hard to develop.
“I've always admired painters who can make a stroke and just leave it and walk away,” Clark said.
“I wasn't doing that with oils. I would be playing with it because it stays wet… I found that then when I would make a brushstroke [with acrylic], it would dry shortly and then I wouldn't be able to continue painting.”
Talking About Kayak Details will be on display in NorVA throughout March.