Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ending 2017 in the Ocean

I had never painted an underwater landscape before this year. And my first one was 180 feet long by seven feet tall! This is a small section of a mural for Motts Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor. The mural utilizes a special paint that gives the water and fish a glowing quality. Much like regular landscape painting, the colors fade off in the distance, only with water, the fade off is much faster and is more blue in tint. I was stuck by the variety and populations of fish in the reefs. Although for my painting I assembled the very best combinations of color and texture, I was still was only able to capture a very small section of the massive variety of reef creatures.

My studio changed considerably during the painting of this mural. Every morning I looked forward to coming into the studio, which had transformed itself into a large aquarium. The colors were comforting and calming. I was delighted with the creatures as they emerged and developed. Some plant life I made up...just because I could...challenging divers who may one day visit my painting to identify the strange growths.

The fish took on personalities and seemed to watch me as I painted, took breaks and closed up for the evening. At times, they seemed to float and move. This mural was more real than any other I have done. Not because of realistic rendering, but because of the nature of painting water itself. It is fluid and floating. The patterns invite the eye to move and dance about the painting, not lingering too long in any one place.

The mural was painted on large sheets of special material and rolled up as each 30 foot section was completed. As I started on each new painting, there was a grieving as I rolled up the brightly colored completed section revealing stark white walls again. I wanted to start the next section as soon as possible. I found myself rushing to get the background water across the entire 30 feet within one day, just to take the bland whiteness away again. I missed the calm, floating feeling the light rays through the water gave in my studio.

The mural is installed at Motts now, and the studio walls are once again a stark white. I don't go into the studio much these days. I find it hard to be in the space. The murals brought life and light to it. And I was never alone when the fish were there with me.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Blue Man Group- 25 Years of Living in Full Color

What a blast this was! I was notified about a month ago that my artwork won the Blue Man Group's Art Competition. They asked that I not post anything in social media about it until after the unveiling on Wednesday of this week. There was a notable cash prize, as well as a 10 ft x 10 ft blow-up of my artwork on the side of the Blue Man Group's theater in Chicago. And the original hangs in their lobby (photo above). The winning artwork fits their quirky performances that utilize splattered paint and other performance arts. We were told that there were 776 entries in the competition. I'm honored that my painting was one of the six winners!

I saw the Blue Man Group perform many years ago and was struck by their grasp of what makes us human. The large screen behind them, giving instruction, is very clever in pointing out attributes of human nature that we take for granted. It's amazing to me that we are looking at artificial intelligence coming into our lives today with driver-less cars, robotic dogs, drones and even more things are on the way in short order. At the time, I thought that the Blue Men were way ahead of their time...but in hindsight, they were only a few years ahead. The real A.I. is with us already. Personally, I prefer the Blue Man Group!

I made the decision to go to the unveiling of the artwork at the last minute. I was so glad I attended. The Blue Men did a special "art" themed performance for us and then we got to go on top of a double decker bus and get our photos taken with them. If you have a chance to get to Chicago, or to see one of their traveling show, it's worth the time. It will make you think deeply about what it is to be human.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Changing the View

About two years ago, a local children's hospital put out an RFP to several artists concerning their operating rooms. They were getting complaints that the environment was too sterile and frightening to the small patients. When I visited the site, I discovered blank walls devoid of any artwork, and procedure rooms filled with scary looking equipment hanging from the ceiling and surrounding where the patient would be laying. I couldn't imagine would I could do to bring life, distraction and joy into that environment. Some ideas were to hang mobiles from the ceiling. But I kept thinking that there was no way to hide the equipment, so I had to somehow make it ok that it was there.

Eventually, an idea came that submarines had periscopes and lots of equipment in them. And if I painted portals around the room with concerned sea creatures looking in, that it would soon have the appearance of a submarine, and less of an appearance of a scary operating room.

My idea was selected and I am now in the process of completing these rooms for the hospital. What a joy to know that my art will be bringing peace, joy and a pleasant distraction to little ones in discomfort. There can be no higher calling for an artist.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A long time has passed. Nearly two years have gone by since my last entry into this blog. A short list of events tells you why:
• House sold for a loss, gave 1/2 of everything I had away..
• Had no home for several months, lived in a rented art studio and a friend's pool house.
• Father died.
• Established new friendships in a new city.
• Bought a much smaller house (1/3rd the size) on some land far from the city.
• Built an art studio
• Painted 15 murals
• Learned WordPress for building websites and designed 4 sites
• Changed the way I did business
• Published another book (the illustration above is from this book entitled: Life is Wonderful, It could be Verse!, By Art Holst) You can see it on my website at www.katherinelarson.com
• Found God again.

Sometimes you have to tear down everything you think you wanted and start over again. Sometimes it's life that does it to you, and sometimes you have to do it yourself. As a writer, painter and singer, these acts of destruction are required quite often. But the ability to do them rests on how stable the rest of your life is. This is the first time in my life that I have "subtracted" from what I was building, making, collecting...amassing. And I have to admit that it was very painful during the process. However, as I got further along, it began to get easier...quite literally lighter. My head was less cluttered with chatter, decisions became easier, goals became clearer.

As the dust from the rubble cleared, it was easy to sweep all the destruction away. Easy to start over, wiser now, more certain of what was needed and what was burdensome. His yoke is easy, his burden is light.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Out of the Depths

Sometimes ideas come and I have to paint them. This painting started a new series I'm calling "Vessels." I'm not really sure what they are, nor do I think it really matters. Some people think this is coral, others ice crystals, others energy or space creatures. I saw it in my mind's eye and had to paint it. The creative process has always been a mystery to me and I try not to examine it too closely. Often I have found that experimentation can open me up to other avenues..and the paintings that I do along the way may not be the destination...but rather the path to it. I am on a path at the moment. Abstraction is not one of my strengths, or even one of my passions...but I am captivated by the patterns that are emerging. Patterns that I recognize are in nature on many levels.

On this bitterly cold and dark January night, I'm emerging from the depths. Slowly.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chasing the Light

As artists, we always seem to be recording things. Sometimes it's difficult to separate real life from the process of recording. As I'm painting a scene, I'm recording what's happening, or what has happened, or what I wish was there. So am I really "in the moment" or chasing a moment that has already passed. While painting "En Plein Air", we call this loop "chasing the light." As light continues to change on the scene, the question always arises: "Do I change the painting to match the current light, or do I try to remember what the light looked like a few moments ago?" If one chooses to change the painting, there is a risk that the painting will never be completed because you will always be "chasing the light." It's a dangerous loop.

Recently, my life has been an exercise in "chasing the light." As each day dawns, I have a list of projects that need completion, but as the sun arches across the sky, the list grows longer. Some items on the list are crossed off, but many more are added and the sun keeps moving. I find there isn't time for me to capture every detail, to finish what I've started before the light is gone. Is this the onset of age? Has time begun to move more quickly, or is it my imagination?

When I am painting in the studio, 6 to 8 hours can go by without notice. Often, with some shock, I realize that it's 4pm. This doesn't happen when I'm painting outdoors. I am more aware of the passage of time and more spontaneous in my reaction to the changing light. Leaving the studio is healthy. When there are deadlines for murals, illustrations or other projects, the temptation to "chase the light" is always present, and it never works. Now and then, one needs to stop, get off the treadmill, and take a walk in the woods.

I took a walk in the woods today and pushed the deadline into tomorrow. No chasing the sun for me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Earlier this week I was notified that my design won the Whole Foods Detroit Mural competition. There were close to 100 designs submitted, so this was quite an honor to be selected as one of the four finalists. The murals will appear on the exterior of the building on the north side of Mac just east of Woodward in downtown Detroit. My design is based on health, vitality and community--a true reflection of what is currently happening in Detroit. The city is in the middle of a revitalization and it's exciting to see. I was there during Noel Night this December and was amazed at the crowds, the activity and excitement. It felt young and fresh and I wanted to be a part of it. I am truly honored to have been chosen and look forward to starting this project. Completion will be in early spring. I'll post photos of the dedication ceremony when it occurs. 

Painter and Classical Singer in Michigan

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Please visit my website at: www.katherinelarson.com To order my books and prints of my work go to: https://squareup.com/store/cottage-and-farm-llc