McConnell, a colorist, uses the pictures in her head
Karlene McConnell used to create realistic drawings. Now, it's abstract landscapes.
Karlene McConnell’s artwork isn’t what it once was.
Like many artists, she’s gone through transitions. Her artwork today, like the pieces that will hang in the James Harper Gallery during October, reflects a much more abstract view of the world, quite literally.
Her early works, as an art student, were realistic, graphic drawings. “My father was a draftsman at General Electric,” McConnell said. “So he would sit down and draw with me.” But today, she specializes in abstract landscapes.
“I’ve moved away from actually having a photo with me when I paint,” McConnell said. “I think, at this point, now, a lot of it is just ingrained in my head. I just love the colors and the choices of color that you put next to each other.”
And it’s her coloring, as James Harper says, that makes her so good.
“Stylistically, she’s a really strong colorist,” Harper said. “She thinks through it. She doesn't just do it.”
Before she worked with acrylics, painting abstract landscapes, she worked with watercolors.
“I just wanted to challenge myself to do something different,” McConnell said of the progression she made about six years ago. “As an artist, you kind of get bored. And you just try to do something (different).”
Initially, McConnell said she hated working with acrylics. It was the contrast from the spontaneous and fluid watercolors to having to almost force the brush that was frustrating.
“Watercolors will do what you want them to do,” McConnell said. “But they’ll also do these happy little surprises here and there, where they’ll just kind of blend the colors of something.”
But with time, she grew to love the acrylics and the layers and color history she could quickly create. And she doesn’t foresee another transition any time soon.
“You talk to any artist, and sometimes you get in these transition periods where you don’t like anything that you paint,” McConnell said. “But then you know you’re moving on to the next thing.
“But I like where I am now. I’m really happy.”