karen jacobs - abstraction
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Abstract American artist profile - Karen Jacobs
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American Abstract Painter Karen Jacobs
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"My paintings are a process of exploration. There are no messages or hidden agendas, other than to reveal the discoveries made during my investigations."
Karen Jacobs

Interview with an Artist - Karen Jacobs Interview with an Artist - Karen Jacobs

Karen Jacobs - Abstract Painter

Karen Jacobs - January 2004

+1 ::: Why are you an artist Karen?

I love a challenge, puzzle solving, exploring... and it's all there in creating a painting. I had no exposure to art museums or galleries when growing up, but I think I was attracted to painting by a "I bet I could do that" gut feeling. I needed time away from routine so I took a few art classes and was hooked, working in a traditional manner in oils. Later, when I was introduced to contemporary art and other mediums, I was off and running. I couldn't go back to school for a degree, but I could and did study with excellent artists and teachers wherever I could find them. Over thirty years later, I'm continuing the learning process with every painting.

+2 ::: Could you tell me some more about your art?

My images have evolved over many years, from high detail realism*, to loose interpretive representation*, to the abstract*, mostly non-representational work I do today. As one mode was satisfied, I moved on to something else that promised more depth. Today, I remain totally challenged by abstract painting and feel that everything that came before was in preparation for the work I do now. Looking back, I can categorize the varying modes as if they changed overnight, but I know it was an unnoticeably slow evolution, which causes me to wonder what might be next.

+3 ::: Your latest abstract works seem to have suggestions of landscapes (with roads, horizon lines, hilltops,etc). Are you conscious of these elements while painting them or are they just coincidental?

Actually, I never quite let go of the landscape. It's the one venue that has been a constant over the years, though never a total focus point. A landscape painting, even though super simplified, is like comfort food, an occasionally satisfying indulgence. Then too, I work closely with my galleries and am sometimes asked for a landscape series, which I certainly don't mind doing. Even if done very abstractly, it sharpens my observation skills.

+4 ::: What artists have influenced you and why?

Of course signs of Rothko*, Diebenkorn* and Johns* are evident in my abstracts, as well as Asian influences, but over the years there have been many artists who have been important to my way of painting, and most are not household names. The mentor who scolded me with a "Yes you can!" is the one I feel was most influential. I didn't know I could.

+5 ::: What do you do for fun (besides art)?

I was a gardener before I became a painter and the urge to dig in the dirt is with me still. I think of it earth sculpture, composing with dirt, rocks and plants... very satisfying. Browsing the Internet is a great past time... any curiosity can be instantly gratified and it's a tremendous learning tool. Also, we have grandchildren and trying to keep up with them are priorities which are fun and challenging.

+6 ::: What inspires you to paint and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

If art/painting came easily, if the answers, the solutions, were obvious, I'd find another occupation. It's the challenge that keeps me in the studio, digging around for a better idea, a different technique, a rule to break... that's my idea of a good time. It doesn't come easy for me, and I have to plug away, constantly move paint around even on bad days or good things are just not going to happen. Audio books (history or historical fiction) keep me from bolting when I'm less than interested in what's happening on canvas. They help me hang around long enough to break through the current fog.

+7 ::: How have you handled the business side of being an artist?

First, experience as an assistant gallery director early in my career prepared me to understand the gallery's point of view so I'm better able to understand what the director is dealing with. Also, I make no attempt to sell the work myself. I have very good representatives who earn their percentages.* Then there is the computer. I've kept accurate, detailed records of my work on my database since my first Windows 3.1 computer... transferring previous data from hand written logs. I never take work to a gallery without taking two copies of a complete inventory of everything they have plus the new work with all necessary information. Every gallery I've been associated with has remarked on the value of this kind of professionalism. It would only be fair to acknowledge that my husband handles the heavy end, taxes, investments and that sort of thing. I'm not a numbers person!

+8 ::: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I'm at a point in my career that features a very satisfying view of my life as an artist. In ten years I'll still be painting with vigor, meeting deadlines and taking advantage of whatever comes my way. Keeping my galleries stocked with quality work comes first. But I wouldn't mind having a few more regional museum shows under my belt. I have one scheduled for October 2004 and we'll see how it goes.

+9 ::: What benefits has your website been to you as an artist and do you think its important for an artist to have one? Why?

I've been very fortunate with my website, and made many profitable contacts through it. There is a disclaimer on several pages that I am happy to answer questions as to technique and availability, but sales are made only through my representatives. This makes my gallery associations much more comfortable about my site. Although it was designed for them to use as a sales tool, I think most don't have the time or inclination to deal with it. I have, however, sent a number of sales to them via my website.

As a result of the site, I've been introduced to a number of galleries and have had exhibitions in several states which I'd have missed otherwise. A movie producer spotted my work a few years ago and that resulted in 24 of my paintings being used in an independent movie "The Next Big Thing"* It wasn't a bad movie but it didn't make the big time. At least I've got a great keepsake from the experience.

I've encouraged many of my artist friends to build websites for their work, but most give up before it's effective. Perhaps a younger generation will make the internet work for them. Again, building my site was the kind of challenge that appeals to me. I guess it's not everyone's idea of a good time.

+10 ::: What are your latest works about and where are you going with them?

I mentioned that I'll have a museum exhibition next fall... I'm mentally composing the show, trying to visualize how it will look, what type of work I want to explore and present. I'll have two rooms, I think in one I'll focus on a shape or symbol and repeat it with studied variations in several different media (encaustic, canvas, paper, monotype), maintaining the same dimensions for a consistent look. The second room will have much larger work, possibly running a unifying motif through each piece... for instance, a connecting, undulating landscape horizon in each. But these are just early thoughts. I'm also thinking of working on unconventional shapes. My husband is quite handy in his workshop and can build whatever I propose.

Having said all that... I know from experience that the process will begin with my predictions... then take over and proceed in some unknown direction. My job will be to try to control the outcome in some sane fashion.

+11 ::: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

So much depends not just on talent, ability and commitment (though those are critical) but also on timing and just plain luck! Be ready for anything. Always have finished work on hand, prepared to show, to move out the door. Work every day! Even if just for a few minutes... be in your studio doing something! Work (paid or volunteer) in art related jobs. It can be a real learning experience and you can't know enough about the career you've chosen.

Information - related websites

Personal website of the artist : www.karenjacobs.com
+2 ::: High detail works: karenjacobs.com - archives
+2 ::: Loose works: karenjacobs.com - archives
+2 ::: Abstracts: karenjacobs.com - archives
+4 ::: Mark Rothko: NGA - Washington
+4 ::: Richard
Diebenkorn: artchive
+4 ::: Jasper Johns: Moma.org - Jasper Johns
+7 ::: Gallery Representation: karenjacobs.com - Galleries
+7 ::: Movie featuring Karen's work: Amazon - The Next Big Thing


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