Artist Statement-2015

Karen Pettengill

Karen-b-w

River Arts - Damariscotta

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    The more I paint the more I realize just how important my life experiences, dreams, and environment, are to my work. I paint images that are not so much literal translations of the immediate world but rather ideas and feelings that come from those places to tell a story or express something about the beauty and mystery of nature.

    I work from photos taken during road trips with my husband throughout Maine, New England, and the southwestern states of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. The photos are used only as basic reference points which refresh my memories of sensory perceptions experienced along the way.

     Roads and trails have become a part of my recent landscapes, as well as New England style buildings with the simplest architecture. To me these dwellings have great presence and are representative of the resolute people who built and lived in them for generations.  I’?ve felt the same connections while standing in awe in the ancient dwellings carved from the cliffs of Gila and high plateaus of Mesa Verde National Park.

    My work is a compilation of this life journey and how I see things. Every new scene builds upon the next in my storage bank of images. Thoughts and impressions run together as I think about a new painting. In the studio I pull cloud formations from one photo and combine them with subjects from another, colors and tone values are pushed.

   Domestic animals are an interesting subject to paint. Dogs, cats, and horses have become such an important part of my life and have done more for me physically and spiritually than I can express. Their body language and character are challenging to capture in any medium.

    Nocturnal paintings are a favorite genre as well.   The hues and tone values of moonlight are complex; objects disappear and fade into the background with only small clues as to what they may be. We doubt what we think we see, or imagine, just as in a dream.

 Karen Pettengill