#33: Reaching for beauty in troubled times

It’s just too sad, the world.

Preliminary sketch in my 11×14″ sketchbook of “Reaching for Beauty”

Lately I’ve been trying to fend off massive attacks of feeling rather worthless in the face of what’s going on in the world— I mean, the nasty stuff. The unbearable tragedies. The unforgivable actions of hatred, anger, violence. The incomprehensible behavior of those we call terrorists. The inexcusable shootings, kidnappings, rape, and other things too awful to mention. And of course, the other nasty stuff, like outbreaks of disease, hunger, and what-have-you.

As an artist, I am not trained to deal with global tragedy. As an overly sensitive soul, I have a hard time even processing it. As a relatively privileged and fortunate person, I grapple with guilt at how I can “help.”

My simple response has been to reach for beauty, and to make art that might offer some solace in troubled times.

To that end, my recent show “Reaching for Beauty” is now installed at a lovely little gallery in historic Wickford, RI: Coastal Living Gallery. Some new work, some not so new work, some little organic sculptures, some interesting thoughts. I am reaching for beauty these days, as the long cold winter and the incredibly sad state of affairs in the world have taken a toll on me. If by chance you find yourself in Rhode Island, please come join me for some joy, lots of color, and the opening reception of my show “Reaching for Beauty” on Saturday, April 11, 4-7 pm. (Awesome views from the deck, right on the water, in Wickford, RI.) Show runs from April 1-April 28, 2015.

p.s. To read a recent article and interview about my work, click here. As the author says, “A single artist might be powerless in impacting the world, but an individual can be profoundly changed by beauty.”

36x36", acrylic on wood panels. © 2015 Karen Rand Anderson

“Reaching for Beauty” 36×36″, acrylic on wood panels. © 2015 Karen Rand Anderson

Coastal Living Gallery

83 Brown Street North Kingstown (Historic Wickford) RI 02852

Located behind Beach Rose Café on the pier.

Open Tuesday – Friday 9:30-2:30 and by appointment, chance & special event. 401.612.6121


#31. 2015: Waking up, slowly

#31. 2015: Waking up, slowly

resuscitate |riˈsəsəˌtāt|: make (something such as an idea or enterprise) active or vigorous again.

A new year… already? Time to reawaken, revive, renew, resurrect, rekindle, rework, return, restore, reinvigorate, rejuvenate, revitalize this blog, my website, my art, and my body. Having dropped the “blogging ball” for the past six months (I know I’m not alone, that’s for sure), it’s time to resuscitate “Cleaning Up the Studio”, and reclaim the challenge I set for myself a year ago when I began this blog. As a personal challenge, it’s a way for me to up my own creative game and enhance my art practice, while sharing it… A platform for creative interaction, a place to engage and be engaged with other artists, and also maybe a place to step over the edge a little bit. I’m stepping up.

“Dark Reflection II” 2014. 38×48″ acrylic on linen ©2015 Karen Rand Anderson

Resuscitation: Bringing back to life. But then, of course,  ars longa, vita brevis….

#19. “More Snow”: building a painting while wishing winter was over.


photo by Laurel Casey

This winter in New England is… enough already. I’m not alone in feeling this. But in truth, it’s beautiful, in many ways. I’ve been doing some blue and white paintings as a result. Here is the process of my recent “More Snow”, mixed media on wood panel, 24×24″ (When I say “mixed media” I refer to the fact that the painting is not ONLY made of acrylic paint, but also pencil and water-based crayon.)


First a couple of quick value and color studies in my art journal.


I toned the panel with a random mix of phthalo blue, green shade; a small amount of lemon yellow; some teal; a little white. First time I’ve decided to use this teal color as a ground. Sketched out the image with hot pink pastel pencil. I like breaking rules, although I really don’t have too many in my studio.


Laying in darks, lights and starting on some mid-tones… Also lots of scribbling. I love scribbling. Mark-making is important to me; I love the freedom of letting the marks make themselves through my hand.



After I get things pretty well established, I often begin to get fussy, which is always a no-no. I take a lot of breaks, turn away from the painting, eat lunch, check my email, go back to the painting, play with my dog Theo,  plan the next painting, go back to the painting, sketch some other ideas, read books, check FB, (oops), go back to the painting.


Anyway, after a few days, I decide it’s done, and here’s “More Snow” 24×24″ mixed media on cradled board. (My personal title is actually “More F$%^&ing Snow.” )


“More Snow” 24×24″ mixed media on panel. © 2104  Karen Rand Anderson

Theo, faithful studio assistant

Theo, faithful studio assistant