Art Maker: Karen Evans, painter

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    "Early Autumn Fields," oil painting by Karen Evans. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

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    "Summer Field and Clouds," oil painting by Karen Evans. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

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    "Fall Foliage with Long Shadows," oil painting by Karen Evans. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

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    "Autumn Trees with Dark Water," oil painting by Karen Evans. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

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    "Farm Near Dusk," oil painting by Karen Evans. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

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    Painter Karen Evans at her recent exhibit at Forbes Library in Northampton. Behind her is the diptych "Puffer's Pond,” at left, and “Bright Sun with Strong Shadows." STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

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    Painter Karen Evans at her recent exhibit at Forbes Library in Northampton. Behind her is the diptych "Puffer's Pond,” at left, and “Bright Sun with Strong Shadows." STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Published: 10/5/2018 9:02:31 AM

Karen Evans, who earned her BFA in fine arts from Philadelphia College of Art, likes to paint everyday scenes near her home in Turners Falls. “I like that my paintings reference familiar local spaces, shapes and colors,” she says. “I hope that my work offers a fresh view of things that can be found close by.”

But what Evans is interested in capturing is not just a particular location, but rather the quality of light and how it can change her perception of what she’s seeing. And, she adds, “I like to think I paint the connections between things rather than the things themselves.”

Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you're currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Karen Evans: My first step is to photograph sites in the area, usually not far from my home. Out of many photographs, I select a few to paint, and the subject of those paintings is the composition of the photograph, combined with the colors of the day and season. 

HL: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

KE: I have had many small "eureka" moments and perhaps they are my inspiration. It excites me to see how one small piece of the right color can brighten and add definition to a whole section of a work, or that a small variation of a line or angle can balance a composition. 

HL: How do you know when your work is finished?

KE: When all the components of my idea are on the canvas and working together. The next step is to review it for a few days or weeks when minor adjustments will be made as needed. My next painting is almost always a bit of a response to a prior work; issues explored in one painting will come up again, so the painting process continues.

HL: Name two artists you admire or who have influenced your work. What about their art appeals to you?

KE: While it may not be obvious, Giorgio Morandi has been a major influence on me for years. Things are always connected in his work; there’s a tension or a pressure between each object in his paintings. Some objects yield in part and assert themselves in another. Some objects that stand apart do so in a way that ties them even more closely to the rest.

A more recent inspiration is George Inness. I am intrigued by the way his exceptionally soft transitions of colors and shapes are used to build strong graphic form.

HL: What's the most recent exhibition/concert/book reading/other event by another artist or group that you've attended and enjoyed?

KE: In Williamstown, after visiting the Clark Museum, I stopped by Greylock Gallery. The paintings of Curt Hanson and Stanley Bielen always make a visit to this gallery a special treat. John Macdonald, Teri Malo and others at this gallery offer much to consider and enjoy.

HL: If you weren't an artist, what do you think you'd be?

KE: I think if you are an artist you almost have to make art in some form or other. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to make a living as an artist. But I try to bring art into my life whenever I can, staying alert to the small things around me that I like: perhaps the color or shape of a shadow on the pavement, or strong light bouncing off a building.

HL: What do you do when you're stuck?

KE: The first step is to move my painting to a new location. Even slight changes to the amount and quality of light can change the way it looks. Or I can show my work to somebody I respect. Sometimes just the act of putting a painting in front of others will help me see what it needs. 

— Steve Pfarrer 

Karen Evans’ website is karenevanspaintings.com.




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