Sunday, November 7, 2010

Karen Martin Sampson

Karen Martin Sampson is another of Vancouver Island's many great artists. Karen writes that she lives "on the north third of Vancouver Island in Sayward Valley quite near Kelsey Bay. It is a semi remote area with a population of both valley and village at around 1200. We have one set of street lights which allows access to cross the one lane bridge over the Salmon River."

Karen shares her life in the area with bears, elk, cougar, grey whales, and orcas, and more recently a bear has claimed her yard as part of its territory.

As an artist, I cannot help feel a sense of envy when I look at pictures of Karen's studio. Imagine being surrounded by such natural beauty!

But it wasn't always so. Karen's life took her along many diverse pathways before she got where she did. Like many artists, she came by her artistic skills naturally. Her father had been accepted to study under Group of Seven painter Arthur Lismer, but was unable to pursue his dream.

Because of childhood illness, Karen drew from her innate artistic talents to express herself and explore her life situation. After a time in Toronto's Sick Children's Hospital and recovery, she moved to Cleveland Ohio with her family.

Karen's home

Karen's artistic nature flourished in the States. As a youth, she attended classes in the Cleveland Museum of Art and she later attended the Cleveland Institute of Art and she earned a Fine Arts degree. And for good measure she followed it up by earning her Masters in Fine Art at Syracuse University. All of this led her into commercial art and illustrating. She worked in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Rochester, NY. Karen became an instructor of illustration at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She also taught classes in figure painting.

Karen, in all has over 40 years of experience in art. Her personal journey took her back to Canada where she gained much from her association with the Alton Mill art group. It was during this time that she met her second husband,Bob Sampson whom she married.

The ribbon of art has flowed down through Karen's family genetics to her son from her first marriage; Tristan Tomiselli. Tristan has become an English Professor and a writer.

Not just that but Karen says that her maternal grandfather was a Sunday painter. Like many of us, Karen was the "Classroom artist," as a child and she has had a life long interest for painting the human face and human forms. She writes that "The variation in skin tones and the magic of lighting and shadows are of great interest to me."

As with most artists, Karen becomes excited by a good sale, or when she wins an award for her work. Most of us, I expect, are motivated by recognition and acknowledgement. The most exciting moment for Karen was when she won the Gund award in Cleveland, which gave her a full year scholarship to continue her art studies at the University Level.

One of the problems of moving to a rather remote and rural area, is that while your spirit is fed by the environment, you become far removed from the sales potential of urban centre. Her internet exposure through her blog has helped her to a degree bridge the gap of not having gallery exposure.

While others label her work as photographic, she isn't troubled by it. She recognizes it as their way of being complimentary. But, Karen, through necessity sees her work evolving into a leaner and more simple style which is born in part out of her necessity of not being able to replace wasted materials. She has to stretch what she has to their limit.

her studio

Karen sums up her understanding of her art and her place in our world by saying:

I can not change much in the world but I can paint how I feel about things. Most of it is understated and not terribly obvious but I have found that when people really look at my work they get the point. I love the planet and the beings on it. We're losing species every day, every minute another child dies from hunger or sickness, and injustice and craziness seem rampant in world governments. I work at not giving in to despair and hope to show that to others. Despair solves nothing, but the joy of living and being part of this world, learning to feel the interconnectedness of everything, can save it all. I just paint a tiny part of that. That is what art is for, to remind us that just being here is pretty special.

1 comment:

  1. I know Karen, she's really, I mean really good. Congrats Karen on winning that award!


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