We had the good fortune of connecting with Karen McLain and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karen, how do you think about risk?
My work is based on paintings done from life. The experience of painting in the filed, whether it is a wild horse, wildlife at a zoo, or a landscape are spontaneous and inherently comprised of risk. My subjects are not restrained and the light is always changing. That risk is a form of exhilaration, focusing my attention and energy into the painting. These paintings become the basis for my studio work.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In 2009, I saw my first herd of wild horses. I was a horse owner and had just started painting from life. The experience of watching the dynamics of this large herd in Utah deeply touched me. There were horses napping, grazing, mares with foals and stallions thundering across the range. At that moment, I knew I wanted to paint them from life. All the energy, beauty, power and risk inherent with living wild in nature. The direct experience appealed to me. It is challenging, but very rewarding. Sometimes, they are only in the area long enough to make a quick sketch. But that sketch is full of their vitality. The adventure of locating and spending time with them defines my experience. I spend weeks every year traveling to different herd management areas, camping with them. The quest is part of the adventure, part of the painting.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to the river, to see the horses and other wildlife. Head over to the Phoenix Zoo, and to the W Scottsdale for sushi. The Thursday evening Art Walk would be on our list as well as Los Olivos , and Mailee’s Thai Bistro.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
A painter who greatly influenced my process is Ned Jacob. I met Ned through the Scottsdale Artist School and have had the opportunity to take several workshops with him through the past several years. His philosophy is that we need to have big adventures to have big paintings. In that statement, he is referring to the content and experience rather than the dimension of the painting. Getting out of the studio into the outdoors heightens our senses and that goes into the painting. The practice of working from life sharpens our skills, translating a 3-D object into a 2-D. (Rather than simply relying on a photograph). Ned talks a lot about going out and searching for the experience of the painting, and that has greatly influenced my approach.
Photography selfie, and photos of me painting/taking photos are taken by and used with permission by Meredith Hudes- Lowder.
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