Karen Smidth | Recent Paintings
"My paintings are reactions to the light, color, and shapes that I see in the landscape. I use the landscape as a pattern or skeleton for what my day as a painter brings; my attempt to understand life. Most paintings have their ugly moments. They need to be wiped, sanded and over painted and this process builds their character. Some paintings have strong connections to a specific moment is time, but they all relate to a place of belonging as well as allowing room for the hue of the day." - Karen Smidth
Karen Smidth’s new collection centers the Pacific landscape in emotionally evocative and sweepingly ethereal large-scale paintings. The works are abstracted depictions of idyllic scenes that draw from the artist’s impressions and memories. Smidth’s genius lies in her facility with color, which she mixes in layers directly on top of her linen canvas. A plane of sultry pink might have started out blue, a golden field becomes green. Thinning her oil paints so they appear like a wash of watercolor allows for a glow that can only come from a complex network of translucent layers. Color is applied liberally in some areas, and sparsely in others, so that one painting might contain opposing moments of a frothy impasto white cap; close by, a charcoal mark remains intentionally legible. These subtle tensions provide a soft dynamic drama to the surface quality of the paintings.
Made over four months, in early 2022, these works are inspired by the transition of winter to spring and feature a wide range of light and mood that comes along with the seasonal shift. Smidth describes these paintings as “full of sky” and indeed, the sky has a starring role and appears in its multiple forms. We see a night sky, a sunset, twilight and a gray expanse with sun pushing through–a reminder of the sky’s permanence but also its infinite ability for variation.
With her flat reductive approach for figuration, the artist keeps her viewer’s grounded in her highly abstracted scenes through a strong realistic perspective.
Smidth describes the act of painting as a form of problem solving, creating worlds and places where people might want to visit. In doing so, she invites her viewers to see nature the way she does, to imagine a natural world full of landscapes that are meant to be enjoyed, loved, and taken care of.