Saturday, September 21, 2019

30 minute daily sketches, AGAIN!

"A Guiding Force"


I just finished teaching at Autumn Art Workshops in Aurora, NE.  They have 4 instructors there at the same time, so Soon Warren, David Lobenberg https://lobenbergart.comDavid Mensing, and myself were the instructors for this year.  It's great fun to see what the other classrooms are up to!  I was honored to be chosen by Autumn Art Workshops and be among such great artists as David L., Soon, and David M.  I had a fabulous time!  Great friendships were made!  Look them up Autumn Art Workshops and consider going next year!
I told the class how important 30 minute daily sketches are!  So, I'm taking my own advice and starting up again.  Odd to be starting on Sept. 19th, on a Thursday, but that's how I roll.  No Monday or 1st of the month for me!  :)  This time, I'm going to write a couple of sentences about the day by each sketch so that I will have a diary of sorts.  I'm committing to 3 months, but I wouldn't be surprised if I keep it up longer than that.  This truly does make me a better artist!  I can see the growth after only one month in my sketchbooks of the past.  I keep my sketches to 30 minutes for 2 reasons:  1. I don't have any excuse about not having enough time that day and 2. It will make me get the simple shapes in there.  Since I tend to do so much detail, this is a protective measure for myself.  Hope you all will decide to join me!  I use these as studies for bigger paintings.  Can't wait to paint this one!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Living your Best Life- Finding Balance!

Little Abbeys  (5" x 7" small abstracts)
Full disclosure:  I've started a new diet and welcome you to join me if you feel so inclined.  I've let myself go due to stress, poor management of time, and disorganization.  So, I'm eating mainly protein and green vegetables now.  Hoping to get the sugar cravings out of my head!  This is DAY 2 and I'm feeling empowered!  So far, so good!  It just feels so good to have a plan.  The other promise I've made to myself is to take a 30 minute walk EVERY DAY.  No excuses.  Just do it.  I always feel better afterwards, and we have so many beautiful places here in Minneapolis to walk.  Yesterday, I walked in Excelsior, along Lake Minnetonka and it felt so good to be outdoors in the open air, watching a guy throw a frisbee for his dog to retrieve, seeing young families at the beach....and even getting a little out of breath felt good! By the way, have I mentioned that our daughter is getting married in a month, so that deadline is a great motivator for me too!  :)  My master plan includes staying busy and trying to organize and think ahead.   Many new paintings will be done, I'm sure!  I make a menu for the following day, so I'm one day ahead.

My studio is being prepared for 2 upcoming home studio workshops that I will be teaching next week.  Little abbeys are so fun to paint and they really teach me to think of the important design principles of a painting.  They are my warm-ups when I haven't been painting for awhile.  If you'd like to get on my student list, send me your email, and I will inform you of future workshops.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Living your life with gratitude



I just returned from a trip to Austin, TX, where Creative Catalyst (now called Streamline Production Inc) filmed 2 videos of my painting process. The painting above, “Enduring Love”, is one of the videos.  It’s a story about a couple with the orbits of love coming their way.  And even tho there might be some hard times mixed in with the good, they lived their life with gratitude. I’ve heard several stories lately about friends who are grateful, even in tough times. It truly is a good practice. Finding the good in situations brings more goodness into your life, and makes us healthier and happier.
Check out my website soon (www.karenknutson.com) to get in on the early bird discount for my videos. The first one is a charcoal pour process.  You will love it!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

30 minute sketches- a good habit


I am so saddened by the fire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I decided to do a quick 30 minute sketch of the building. We were there in 2013 and I worked from my photo. Perspective is not one of my strong suits and in doing this, I learned that I need lots more practice. That’s how we learn and that’s how we get better. One habit that I have achieved is doing a 30 minute sketch every day. You might ask “why only 30 minutes”?  It keeps me from getting too detailed and eliminates the excuse that I don’t have time that day. This habit has been the best thing that I do to grow as an artist. I have told many students about this and a few of them have joined me.  We have a private Facebook page and we post every day. Many of them are on Day 300 by now. I’m so proud of them. And I have seen such growth in their artwork. So, now...I challenge you! I really hope you will try this even for a week. You won’t regret it.

My challenge to myself is to work on more buildings where I can improve my perspective skills. I am starting to enjoy painting Plein air and this will come in handy. I shouldn’t be afraid to work with perspective. I’m excited to grow!  Below is my photo reference.





Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Plein Air Painting- A Challenge and a Privilege!

"Beach Fun"  Image: 11" x 15"
Watercolor  $150

I painted with the Peace River Painters yesterday.  I'm enjoying plein air painting (painting outdoors) so much!  What a glorious way to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine and remember the day.  When I look back at my plein air paintings, I always remember the day's events, the sounds around me, and the smells in the air.  Every detail of that day comes back to me!  We were at Blind Pass Beach in Englewood, FL. When I arrived at 9:00 a.m., there were only a few beach people,  but it didn't take long for the beach to become packed!  Quite a change from the time I started to sketch.  One thing that I learned long ago, is to take a photo from my painting view point right away, because things will change.  It's a little like watching an ant farm when I sat there, painting the people at the beach.  Constant movement.  What I'm most excited about, is that my own style is coming out when I paint outdoors.  I used to paint traditionally, but now I start with a paper with an abstract design on it and work the scene into that!  

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Being Prepared- the secret to success!

"Stepping into the Light",    Image 15" x 22"
acrylic on paper.    $1200 framed
I'm the last one to preach about being organized and prepared, but as I continue my journey as a professional artist, I find that my most successful times always are when I'm prepared.  Today, I printed out a calendar of the upcoming months and marked the deadlines of upcoming shows, because I missed a couple of important show that I had wanted to enter!  UGH!!!  So, I keep trying to be more organized.
Today, Dick and I went down to Carney's, an Irish Pub in downtown Venice to properly celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  I told him that I thought we should be early so that we could get a good table and listen to Irish music while having a Reuben and a green margarita.  Good plan, right? Well.....there was a car show in the main parking lot, so we had to park many blocks away.  Then we arrived at 11:10, and they said to eat inside, we would need to pay a $10 per person cover charge.  I thought, no problem, it's worth it.  Got sat down and asked the waiter when the music would start and it was at 2:00!  So, we enjoyed our lunch, without live music, like I'd hoped, and then left knowing we had just paid an extra $20 for nothing!  So, going forward, we will call ahead and find out all the details!  On a good note, we now have 2 plastic green top hats and some green beads for our grandkids to play with.  :)
The painting above was well thought out.  I did 2 different value sketches and worked out the problems on those.  Below is the one that I decided to go with.  These types of paintings develop stories as they go along.  This one is about the challenges in life.  If you are having one of those challenges, get help, but most importantly, do it for YOURSELF.  Until you realize that you matter, no amount of friends or family will make the difference.  You matter and you are loved!



Saturday, February 16, 2019

Finding YOUR STYLE

"Ringling Museum View"     11" x 15" image
watercolor and marker
Painting Plein Air is not an easy task.  But now that we winter in Florida, I have embraced it and absolutely LOVE painting on location.  I didn't say that my painting were successful, but I really enjoy everything about this.  The sounds, the smells, really "seeing" the scene, and growing as an artist in the process.  I'm still trying to find "me" in this process.  By that, I consider myself a semi-abstract artist, and I like that people can recognize that it is mine without looking at the signature.  I painted this alongside longtime friend, Pat Undis and her friends, Susan McLean and Michele Combs, all of which are very experienced Plein air painters.  It was a really fun day, but when Michele said to me, "I can't wait to see what you come up with looking at this view," I thought to myself, "She's right.  I should be painting just like I do in the studio, putting my abstract spin on these Plein air paintings."  So, I immediately stroked a bright red in the tree area, just to make it a little out of my comfort zone.  Then I drew a fast contour drawing of the scene and started layering to build up my values.  I'm pretty pleased that it looks like the scene, but I'm NOT pleased that it still doesn't have my "Knutson flare" on it.  So, I will keep going out, about 2 times per week, painting on location and trying to find the real "ME" of Plein aire painting.  I'd love to hear discussion of your early ventures with Plein air painting in the comments below.  Happy Painting!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Tricks to break through a painter's block


Wire drawing (7" x 10"). "The Hikers"
This is the sketch that I used for a reference for a pure watercolor painting.   I hadn't done a pure watercolor for a year, so it didn't surprise me when I failed at the first attempt.  I'm starting to really love acrylics, but the deadline for the Transparent Watercolor Society show is coming up, and since I'm a lifetime member, it doesn't cost me anything to try to be juried in each year.  I do have my signature membership, but it's still such a great challenge to try to get in!  So, here I am, trying to remember how I used to get such glowing colors.  Here's what I did to get out of my slump.
  1. Go back to what you know.  Do whatever you used to do that was so easy and foolproof.  For me, it is little abbeys.  You can look back at earlier blogs to see them.  Just put a search in for Little Abbeys. I love them because they remind me of the way that I should be painting all of my paintings.  Starting at your center of interest with bright colors, working towards the edges.  Saving your whites for sparkle.  Weaving a unifying color from the center of interest towards the edges.  Lastly, staging your center of interest with a darkest dark and then changing to a less dark color as you approach the edges.  Keep the edges simple and keep the whitest white near the center of interest.  Those are my rules for Little Abbeys (small abstract collages). (Look back to June 13, 2015 for directions for little abbeys.)
  2. Use limited colors
  3. Use limited shapes
  4. Think cool or warm as the dominant washes and then add pops of the opposite color later within the light pathway.
  5. Trust your value sketch and keep the light pathway connected.
I'm not going to post my failure, but below are my 2 small paintings that I did AFTER I went through the above rules. Now, I think I'm ready to do the big quarter sheet painting next.  These 2 paintings are 7" x 10".

Too many small shapes, but interesting colors
Good design but I miss the bright colors. 

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