#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


#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


#8. Look/See: A winter’s walk on the High Line

Image The High Line in winter,  from Washington St. & Gansevoort St.

Last weekend, I finally made it back to New York. City, that is. You’d think that since I’m an artist living in Providence, RI, which is only three hours away from NYC, I’d get there frequently to be immersed in art + culture. Alas, ’tis not the case. So, the first big thing on my list was to walk The High Line. (Other things, like getting to the MoMA, or the Whitney, or the Balthus exhibit at the Met, just didn’t happen.)


Railroad tracks & birches& winterberry


For a wonderfully written and creatively comprehensive overview of the High Line, go see Michelle Aldredge’s blog post  from her extraordinary art blog, Gwarlingo. It’s where I first heard about the High Line project. Here you’ll find dozens of Michelle’s  stunning photos, along with lots of historical reference photographs, and you’ll learn all about this phenomenal project. Just reading about the High Line can make you want to get involved, even if you don’t live in New York.

libertyyou can’t see it, but the Statue of Liberty is right out there…

Just think– this is what can happen when a few highly creative, driven activists with vision and a lot of hutzpah get together to make something happen. And millions of people, not to mention all of New York, benefit from the beauty of this project. Since I read Michelle’s High Line piece over two years ago, I’ve wanted to get to the city to walk the High Line and revel in experiencing this incredible park, which is perhaps the most beautiful urban success story ever.

white wall

Incredible white wall, windows included

Quite the bright mural, 23rd Street, ( I think.) 

To learn more about the High Line, including its public programs and art installations, visit the High Line website.

Walking from my daughter’s tiny Lower East Side apartment up to the meat packing district to get onto the High Line, we went through Washington Square Park and were lucky enough to catch some Chopin and Debussy from the crazy piano man. Astonishing, really. Talk about commitment and creative drive, and sharing one’s passion and talent. People get to hear this guy every weekend in the park, as long as it’s not raining.

Remarkable classical pianist, Colin Huggins

The one gallery I was able to get to was Rooster, to check out Providence artist Max Van Pelt’s  solo show: an intriguing and exuberant wire, wood, string, and odd-bits-of-things installation, along with his delicate and curious counterpoised wire sculptures and works on paper. Wonderful and beguiling.

Max Van Pelt’s installation at Rooster

My all-too-brief NYC visit was all about walking (and eating), and we walked over to Brooklyn across the Williamsburg Bridge in the rain on Sunday afternoon.  I can’t wait to get back to NY and walk the High Line in the spring, and/or summer (the plantings are incredible) and get to all the other places I just HAVE to go. (Of course, that would take more than one lifetime….no more excuses!)